31st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
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 restoration of provisions of the Social Security Act that applied prior to the 1 978-79 Budget is of vital concern to offset the rising cost of goods and services.
The reason advanced by the Government for yearly payments ‘that the lower level of inflation made twice-yearly payments inappropriate ‘ is not valid.
Great injury will be caused to 920,000 aged, invalid, widows and supporting parents, who rely solely on the pension or whose income, other than the pension, is $6 or less per week. Once-a-year payments strike a cruel blow to thenexpectation and make a mockery of a solemn election pledge.
Accordingly, your petitioners call upon their legislators to:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Armitage, Dr Edwards and Mr Martin.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of Bongiorno & Associates respectfully showeth:
That current requirements of the Commissioner of Taxation for the lodgement of Income Tax Returns by Registered Tax Agents restricts the trading of such agents to a period of 8 months in any fiscal year. The demands by the Commissioner for lodgement of Income Tax Returns before 28 February following the tax year is an imposition and a restriction, limiting the trading from twelve to eight months.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the law should be amended to permit any registered tax agent to trade for a full year and lodge Income Tax returns to the close of the respective tax year.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrAldred.
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. byMrDobie.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That 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 1975/77, 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 1 977, 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% 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 Dr Edwards.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives will take action to require those Members who have not honoured their undertaking, to resign from the Parliament in order that the people of Australia can choose Members who will represent the wishes of the electors and who will honour any undertakings they gave.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Holding.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of we the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That we oppose any expansion of the facilities of Kingsford Smith Airport which entails the building of a new runway as it would have the following detrimental effects:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government will not consider satisfying the airport needs of Sydney by extending Kingsford-Smith Airport and that any decisions related thereto are not taken before there is an opportunity for adequate consultation with any community particularly affected.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of we the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:
The proposed introduction of a Retail Turnover Tax will-
Your petitioners humbly pray that the Members in the House assembled will not introduce indirect tax measures such as a Retail Turnover Tax or the administratively more difficult Value Added Tax as to do so would exacerbate the inequalities in our taxing system.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of Parliament. We the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully ask the Australian Government to make known to the Canadian Government our disgust and horror of the inhumane slaughter of the Harp seal pups, and equal disgust of anyone who condones such practice.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will every pray. by Mr Lucock.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, Canberra.
We, the Aboriginal people of Morwell and Bairnsdale Gippsland co-operative organisations representing the Aboriginal citizens, want Aboriginal Hostels Limited, Canberra to hand back to us-
The Lionel Rose Hostel and Community Centre at Morwell and Meerindoo Hostel, Bairnsdale for full use by the local aboriginal communities.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Ruddock.
– I move:
That this House notes with regret the death on 4 April 1979 of Mr Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, formerly Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Mr Bhutto ruled Pakistan from 1971 to 1977. He was executed after last minute appeals for clemency were rejected by the Pakistan authorities. A petition to review his case had been rejected by the Pakistan Supreme Court on 24 March. Honourable members will be aware that many countries and international organisations over the past 12 months have appealed for clemency for Mr Bhutto on humanitarian grounds.
Australia made an appeal in April 1978 and again in February of this year. There are many divisions and conflicts within nations, but we do not believe that the execution of political leaders can contribute to resolving these conflicts. Rather it risks making them deeper and more enduring. Certainly Mr Bhutto was a controversial figure. He was prominent internationally because of his energetic espousal of issues concerning developing countries. I know he had warm support from many Third World nations, a number of whose leaders had spoken to me about his impending fate, asking whether there was more that could be done to avert it. Whatever views may be held about his attainments during his term as his country’s leader, we regret that the appeals for clemency were not accepted and we deeply regret his execution. Mr Speaker, I ask that you convey to the members of his family the condolences of this House.
Honourable members- Hear! hear!
– Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was a brilliant lawyer and politician, a former Prime Minister of Pakistan, latterly treated as a felon, and most recently executed in what many have described as judicial murder. That is something on which I cannot deliberate and I believe that no other honourable member in this House can do so properly. We are too far removed from the scene and events, and we know too little about them. All one can observe is that there were some remarkable shifts by the judiciary and that some say that promotions which occurred subsequently were not unconnected with services rendered. Dead, Mr Bhutto is a more potent political force than he was alive. There is undoubted evidence that his charismatic appeal which too was undoubted, had been contracting in recent times. His execution, however, catapaults him to the head of domestic martyrs in the pantheistic order of local political heroes in his country.
Bhutto’s death, the manner of his imprisonment, trial, conviction and execution leave fair cause for disquiet. They are matters of the most serious concern not only for Pakistan but for the international community. Bhutto was a flawed national hero. He was arrogant, authoritarian and on all accounts a hopeless economic administrator. He could brutally brush aside those who stood in his way. After all, these are human flaws not unknown in politics in varying degrees even perhaps in this country in some ways in some places at some times, but they cannot be presented in exculpation for Bhutto’s ultimate fate. Neither can the presented evidence of his being an accomplice to an alleged murder- an unusual, and indeed I am told unique, judgment in Pakistan for a person not physically involved in a murder- be accepted as sufficient justification for the ultimate judgment passed upon Bhutto.
It is a matter of melancholy regret that appeals for clemency which came from throughout the international order were rejected by the Pakistan Government. The Opposition joins with the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in expressing condolences to the surviving members of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto ‘s family.
-I rise simply to place on record the fact that in 1974 1 had the honour to lead a parliamentary delegation to Pakistan which was received by Mr Bhutto. I think it is appropriate for me to say on behalf of the members of that delegation that we were enormously impressed with the dignified bearing of this man, his demeanour, the hospitality that he extended to the parliamentary delegation and the very great interest and concern he expressed about our country. I am sure those of us who spent in excess of an hour with him on that occasion must treat the event of yesterday with the utmost significance and importance. We mourn his passing and sincerely hope that Pakistan will not suffer as a consequence.
-History will probably recall that the death in Rawalpindi yesterday of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was most notable for its tragic futility. The predetermined ending of any human life is always a matter of profound regret. Mr Bhutto’s death ended the distinguished though controversial career of a brilliant scholar, lawyer, politician and statesman. It is not my right to pass a detailed judgment on his achievements or his faults. The distinguished Oxford academic, Professor H. R. Trevor-Roper unhesitatingly described Mr Bhutto as one of the most brilliant students he had ever known, and it is not without significance that the first official guest invited to Pakistan by Mr Bhutto after he was elected Prime Minister was his old mentor Professor Trevor-Roper.
The controversy over Mr Bhutto’s guilt or innocence, the impartiality or otherwise of the proceedings at his trial and subsequent appeal hearings, and the treatment of the man during his 20-month incarceration which ended so abruptly yesterday are matters which only history will resolve. The sadness of the whole affair is that the voices of countless nations and world leaders were not, in the ultimate, heard, nor was their counsel heeded. I am proud of the fact that Australia, through its distinguished Minister for
Foreign Affairs, did speak out loudly and clearly on this issue and that today, in sadness, this Parliament formally records its deep regret at the passing of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
-Bhutto’s execution is a black mark in history- one more act of mindless violence. If there is one lesson that history should teach us, it is that controversial political and social issues cannot be resolved by violence- that violence begets more violence. Mr Bhutto was certainly no saint, plaster or otherwise, but he deserved a better fate than the one that he met yesterday. Also, it is not just a matter of thinking of Bhutto himself, but of all of the hundreds of other Pakistanis who have also been executed- not all of them well known, their trials not subject to the same kind of scrutiny of world attention that Mr Bhutto’s trial and execution has had. We need to be very concerned about the situation in Pakistan, and in many countries of the Middle East and elsewhere in which violent penalties are exacted. The circumstances of his trial and execution, and particularly the humiliations heaped on Mr Bhutto in his last months, suggest that he has been the victim of judicial murder.
I conclude by reminding the House of the words that I quoted last year when the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Simon) and I proposed for discussion a matter of public importance concerning political prisioners, those of John Donne:
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
-I ask honourable members to signify their approval of the motion by rising in their places.
Honourable members having stood in their places;
-I thank the House.
-I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That this House requests the Expenditure Committee to conduct an inquiry into the financial management and staff establishments of the Canberra and Woden hospitals and to report to this House on the extent to which savings could be achieved without adversely affecting the provision of appropriate standards of care; and then to conduct similar inquiries into the financial management and staff establishments of the public hospitals in each of the States.
– I ask the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs: Is it a fact that, since November last, the average price of petrol sold in Sydney has risen by some 7.3c a gallon more than increases in the maximum retail price, largely as a result of actions by the oil companies in raising the wholesale price to discounters? Do these price increases, over and above increases allowed by the Prices Justification Tribunal, mean increases in oil company revenue of $78m on an annual basis from sales in New South Wales? Do they mean increases of up to $23 lm when applied throughout Australia? In view of the massive profit gains that oil companies have made in this way at motorists’ expense, will the Minister refer immediately the cessation of petrol discounting to the Prices Justification Tribunal for inquiry? Finally, will he give an assurance that petrol price increases will remain subject to notification to the PJT?
-The Leader of the Opposition raises a number of questions in relation to petrol pricing in Australia. I preface my reply to him by saying that no industry in Australia has been subjected to more price inquiries than have the oil industries. The oil industry at present is subject to a wide-ranging inquiry following a notification by the Shell oil company. The inquiry has been conducted over a long period. I anticipate that within the next week or so the Prices Justification Tribunal will make public the decisions following that inquiry. I feel sure that most of the matters which have been raised by the Leader of the Opposition have been canvassed before the Prices Justification Tribunal in the course of the Shell inquiry. I anticipate that the PJT will address itself to those issues in its report.
Regarding the specific question raised by the Leader of the Opposition in relation to notification, I did advise the House, in response to another question a day or so ago, that the oil industry will be subjected to continual monitoring by the PJT after the amending legislation has passed through all stages of this Parliament and has received royal assent. I said on that occasion that I had not determined in what way the oil industry would be subjected to monitoring by the PJT but that I would discuss the matter with the State Ministers concerned with pricing. I believe that it is not in the best interests of the industry, nor the consuming public, for the industry to be subjected to inquiry in a number of places. In other words, I believe that if the Prices Justification Tribunal is to have this responsibility, the industry should not be subjected to similar inquiry by State Ministers concerned with prices.
This morning I discussed the matter briefly with the New South Wales Minister for Consumer Affairs, Mr Einfeld, because I want to raise the matter tomorrow in Sydney at a meeting of State Ministers responsible for consumer affairs. The matter will be discussed tomorrow at the meeting of Ministers and I hope that within a short time it will be possible to indicate to the Leader of the Opposition and to the House the precise way in which in the future the oil companies will be subjected to PJT scrutiny. I also reiterate what I said on Tuesday when I answered a similar question. I said that I propose to have discussions with representatives of the oil industry, consumer groups and the retail section of the industry. The meeting with oil industry representatives will take place today.
– Does the Minister for Industrial Relations remember the substance of an amendment to section 22 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in 1972 which provided that the powers of conciliation should be executed by commissioners and that the powers of arbitration should be executed by presidential members and arbitration commissioners? Is he aware that one of the reasons for the change was to ensure that guideline decisions of a Full Bench should be binding on conciliation commissioners in particular cases? Is he aware that the law was substantially amended in 1973 to neutralise the effect of this change but retained the separate conciliation and arbitration functions?
In the light of the damage to the economy, particularly in the areas of inflation and unemployment, as a result of a decision of Commissioner Deverell who disobeyed the guidelines determined by the Full Bench in a work value case, will the Government take action to restore the 1972 amendment to ensure that Full Bench decisions establishing guidelines to be applied generally are applied in particular logs of claims by conciliation commissioners and that if conciliation fails the log will be referred to the Full Bench or a member of the Full Bench for the puposes of arbitration?
– It is true that in 1972, 1 think it was, an amendment was made to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which divided the powers of conciliation and arbitration. I must say that whilst the principle established by that change to the Act sounded good, it was not very successful in practice. Circumstances have changed, and the point raised by the right honourable member in relation to wage decisions which generate pressures for increases outside national wage case hearings, is causing particular concern to the Government. As I understood his question, there are two elements to it. The first relates to the division of conciliation and arbitration powers which, as I said, has been tried and was not successful in practice. The second relates to the principle that once guidelines are established by a Full Bench decision, certain processes should follow. That is an interesting point and I would be prepared to consider it carefully.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Did the right honourable gentleman say in bis address to the Australian Mining Industry Council on Monday night that attempts by some countries to insulate their economies from movements in international oil prices had led them to use excessive amounts of energy and made their ultimate adjustment to reality more painful? If so, does this indicate the Government’s willingness to adjust Australian prices to the full reality of the latest change in pricing by the Organisation of Petroleum Export Countries that is, the general price rise plus the new quality premium? What does the Government envisage will be the effect on petrol prices as a result of these changes?
– In the first part of his question the honourable gentleman quoted some remarks from a speech to the Australian Mining Industry Council and those remarks mean just what they say, that is, that if a major country pursues policies involving the maintenance of the price of its domestic oil supplies significantly below the world parity price, that country will use more than its fair share of a finite world energy resource. If that country happens to be perhaps the world’s major user of that finite energy resource, then its overuse of a finite world resource is all the more serious. It is therefore something that concerns not only the country in question but also every nation concerned about the adequacy of oil supplies. As to the other part of the honourable gentleman’s question, I have nothing to add to the statements made and the position indicated by my colleague over recent weeks.
-I ask the Minister for Transport whether he is aware of the blockages of roads in my electorate by protesting truck owner-drivers who are suffering severe financial difficulties because of unfair State road taxes? Has the Minister seen a report that the New South Wales Minister for Transport, Mr Cox, said that the New South Wales Government would be prepared to drop its road maintenance tax if the Federal Government agreed to reimburse the State in full? Will the Commonwealth Government be giving consideration to this proposal?
– I have, of course, become aware of the difficulties caused to the honourable member’s electorate and the people in it by the action taken by the truckies on the highways going through the honourable member’s electorate. This matter has a long history. It has been discussed several times by Commonwealth and State Ministers at meetings of the Australian Transport Advisory Council at which I put the view quite strongly to the States that this was an inequitable tax and an ineffective tax in that a great number of trucking companies were avoiding it by setting up straw companies. I pointed out that it was quite within the competence of the State governments to abolish that tax should they so desire and that with the increase in general revenue assistance grants from the Commonwealth, the net collections from the tax would be a mere drop in the ocean. The State Ministers argued quite vehemently that they could not do without the tax and that it was necessary. Some of the State Ministers fortunately took the matter on board and obviously have given better consideration to it than the New South Wales Government has done.
Yesterday I received a call from the Premier of Queensland, early in the morning, quite fairly asking me what implications it would have for the general relationship between States if Queensland were to abolish the road maintenance tax. I was able to say to him, quite fairly, that it would have no effect at all because, in fact, already Tasmania does not have that tax and therefore, no difficulty would be created. I did say to the Premier in passing that I thought some Premiers had been completely lousy and miserable in their approach to this question. I happened to mention that I thought New South Wales, in particular, had brought on itself everything that has happened to it. I also said that I thought it was strange that the New South Wales Premier was very quick to move in with heavy fines against self-employed truckies and yet the unionists have been playing havoc on the waterfront at the coal loaders for months and he has done nothing about it. It is a typical instance of the approach taken by the New South Wales Government.
As to the financial impact, the truth is that the Queensland Premier- being the statesman that he is- recognised quite quickly that Queensland’s road maintenance tax ought to be abolished. I was glad that yesterday the Queensland Cabinet agreed with the Premier. After a conversation with the Prime Minister and one or two other Premiers he proceeded to abolish the tax. The sooner New South Wales faces up to its proper responsibility and abolishes the tax, the better it will be for everybody concerned.
The honourable member for Lalor having addressed a question to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications-
-Order! There is an implication against persons designated by name. The question will have to go on the Notice Paper.
- Mr Speaker, may I address you?
-Order! I have already ruled.
– I wish to take a point of order. The point of order is that the question has been on the Notice Paper since 15 November 1978. 1 was refreshing the Minister’s memory.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat or I will deal with him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Are the variable levies on imports of agricultural produce imposed by the European Economic Community an unreasonable barrier to international trade? Is Australian orange juice an agricultural product? Are Australian variable levies a barrier to international trade and, if not, what is their purpose?
– The system of protection that has been constituted through the common agriculture policy of the European Economic Community has had a number of prime regressive effects on world trade. Certainly for primary exporting countries such as Australia and New Zealand the barriers have meant the closure of not only traditional markets in the European Economic Community but also they have meant- through the application of subsidies through the variable levy system, which is quite different from the system applicable to citrus goods in Australia- a build up of surpluses to the detriment of trade in Third World countries, so that the effect of CAP has been both direct in its adversity, in that markets have been closed to traditional exporters, and indirect in that through the subsidising of inefficient producers and the building up of surpluses it has led to the prejudice of traditional and developing markets elsewhere in the world.
The system introduced for citrus in Australia, first of all, has an upper limit which is not in existence as far as variable levies applicable through the Commonwealth agricultural policies are concerned. Secondly, it is designed so that Australian consumers will be protected at the time when the product is available overseas at a price which is competitive with production costs in Australia. The reason for the introduction of this form of protection which, as I said, is quite distinct from the variable levy applied in the European Economic Community, because of the presence of an upper limit on the variable levy, has been to ensure that the industry, which is so important in so many major producing areas of this country, should be able to survive against competition from particularly low-cost labour countries in which production has increased significantly. I believe that the purpose of the levy is justified. It is distinct from the concept applied in the EEC and certainly none of the consequences which have flowed from the common agricultural policy is likely to follow in the application of this form of assistance to Australian citrus producers.
-I direct my question to the Prime Minister and refer him to his answer to me yesterday, in which he said that the Parliament was the proper place in which to advise the Australian people of any industrial concessions which have been traded for agricultural concessions from the United States of America. I ask the Prime Minister If, as reported this morning by the Australian Financial Review, he already has received comprehensive advice from the Deputy Prime Minister on jobs which will be affected in the tobacco, machinery, data processing, textile, refrigeration, tractor, railway machinery and other industries, why did he not so advise the Parliament yesterday? I further ask: Why has the Prime Minister continued since May 1978 to refuse to provide to the Parliament the advice given to the Government on the impact on industry of the Government’s 40 per cent tariff cut and tariff binding offer? Finally, why did the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister choose to make misleading or inflated claims of trade negotiation -
-Order! The question will be ruled out of order if the honourable gentleman proceeds in that manner and continues to make insinuations in his question. He may ask for information.
-Thank you, Mr Speaker. Finally, I ask the Prime Minister Why is he making statements about this matter outside the Parliament and refusing to answer questions in the Parliament when jobs are affected?
– Any statements which have been made about this subject have been accurate. In broad terms, the honourable gentleman in his question regarding the 40 per cent tariff offer made in our participation in the full round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade multilateral trade negotiations- has implied or suggested- I hope not deliberately- that a much greater movement in tariffs will take place than in fact is the case. A unilateral 25 per cent tariff cut was made by a previous Administration, for which it received no credit at all in any trade negotiations. The Commonwealth has insisted that that should be taken into account in the total arrangement which we would consider. The Commonwealth has insisted in addition that any modification to tariffs must be on the basis of a reduction of a small percentage a year for five or six years on a mandatory basis. On the basis of average tariffs around the world, this would come out as something like half a percentage point tariff cut in those areas which are involved for five years, with the rest of the program being voluntary. That was the basis on which Australia was prepared to participate in the MTN. It was on the basis of full reciprocity- for whatever concessions we gave to other countries there would have to be adequate reciprocal advantages to us. All these matters will be taken into account in any such negotiations.
There are implications for a negotiation with the United States of America, a negotiation with Japan and a negotiation with Europe. It is not particularly helpful, in the midst of such negotiations, for details to be sought of any agreement which might have been reached. In addition to that, of course, there is a need for ratification through parliaments of certain countries and the congress of others of the total position which might be arrived at, not only with Australia but also with other countries. So, whilst the bilateral negotiations between Australia and a number of countries have been moving ahead on a reasonably satisfactory basis, it would not be appropriate for a full statement on the matter to be made to this Parliament until the issues to which I have referred have been concluded. It is not a matter of just one issue being concluded; it is a matter of the processes in other countries being completed and, at the same time, of the implications of negotiations with one bilateral area for another being very fully taken into account.
The only other thing that I would add is that, in relation to any assumption that anything that might have been written is in fact an accurate statement of events, I make no claims that it is accurate or inaccurate; I just say that for anything to be assumed to be accurate on this point is damaging to Australia’s own negotiating position. Therefore, any assumptions about the accuracy or inaccuracy of the article in the Australian Financial Review at this point would be highly unwise and highly unhelpful to Australia’s negotiating position. I am quite certain the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would want Australia to come out of the totality of these negotiations with the maximum advantage to all Australia’s traders and would accept what I am saying in that light.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to reports and to my previous remarks in this place that there has been a significant build-up of Soviet naval forces in the Indian Ocean and that this has, in turn, contributed to a corresponding consideration to increase the United States naval presence in that region. Are the reports and my contentions correct? If so, is there also substance to the reports that the United States naval facilities on the British Island of Diego Garcia will be expanded?
– Yes, reports that the United States of America has increased its naval presence in the Indian Ocean and is considering various options relating to its overall military presence in the region as a response to developments in the Arabian Peninsula and elsewhere are correct. So far as United States-Soviet presence in the Indian Ocean is concerned, it is well known that in recent years the Soviet Union has had more ships, up to approximately 20 at any one time of which nearly half have been combatants. The United States, on the other hand, had three ships permanently in the Indian Ocean, supplemented several times a year by task forces, usually led by an aircraft carrier.
This general pattern was broken at the beginning of 1978 when the Soviet Union, in response to its growing involvement in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, significantly increased its naval deployment in the region. In response the United States broke off talks with the Soviet Union which were aimed at stabilising their naval presence in the Indian Ocean. The United States maintained that the increased Soviet deployment in the Indian Ocean breached the unwritten agreement that both parties would maintain restraint for the duration of the limitation talks.
More recent developments in Afghanistan and the Yemens have raised further concern about increased Soviet involvement in the region. The recent upheaval in Iran introduces a new element, of course, of turbulence to the region and opens up further possibilities for foreign interference. In the Middle East too, despite the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, the prospect of continuing tensions and conflict remains. The recent increase in the United States force levels in the Indian Ocean is naturally a direct response to these developments. In this connection honourable members will be aware of reports concerning the possible further development, referred to by the honourable member for the Northern Territory in his question, of the United States naval facility on the British Island of Diego Garcia. I have received advice that to date no firm decisions have been taken in this regard.
Australia, of course, is on record as welcoming the talks on the United States-Soviet Union Arms Limitation Agreement in the Indian Ocean which, as I mentioned earlier, were suspended. We welcomed these talks, provided of course, that any agreement reached was balanced between the two super powers and was consistent with the security interests of ANZUS. It will be recalled in the latter connection that in 1977 I received a firm and unequivocal assurance from the United States Secretary of State that nothing entered into between the United States and the Soviet Union would qualify the operation of ANZUS.
Finally, it needs to be recognised that a prerequisite for any agreement, such as talks between the Soviet Union and the United States that might be resumed, would be a degree of political stability in the region which is not there at the moment. Recent developments in the area make the possibility of such an agreement somewhat more remote.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to recent reports that the Government’s minerals export control guidelines will be withdrawn in the near future? Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that the Government’s minerals export policy announced last October will be retained and that the export control guidelines will not be abandoned or weakened?
-The export control guidelines were announced by my colleague at a time of particular difficulty in certain negotiations. Those negotiations have now concluded. We indicated at the outset that the guidelines were draft guidelines for discussion between my colleague, myself and the Premiers and the industry. We indicated also that, as a result of those discussions and as a result of our experience in relation to those guidelines, the matter would be further reviewed by Cabinet. These processes are in train. I give an absolute commitment to this House that this Government will pursue policies designed to maximise the benefits for Australia from the export of its raw materials and resources. The policies that the Government has pursued have achieved that objective over the last three years and they will continue to do so in the future. Quite obviously a particular situation in recent times called for a particular remedy. The whole matter will be discussed by Cabinet in its own time scale but at an appropriate time.
-I ask the Minister for Industrial Relations whether he is aware of reports that storemen and packers employed by Woolworths Limited in Victoria have returned to work following acceptance of an offer by Woolworths of a $10 a week wage increase. Is the Government concerned about the effects of such a decision on the consumer price index? Does the Minister share my concern about wage increases of this nature being granted outside the regular system of national wage case hearings?
– I am aware of the reports referred to by the honourable member. If they are correct it does mean that Woolworths Ltd has been successful in resisting claims by the Federated Storemen and Packers Union of Australia in respect of company contributions to that union’s superannuation fund. However, like the honourable member for Ballarat, the Government is extremely concerned about wage increases conceded outside national wage case hearings. Therefore, we are extremely concerned about the reported settlement arrived at by Woolworths. The Government has already commissioned inquiries by the Prices Justification Tribunal into two items affecting the consumer price index, namely, beef marketing and processing and the price of processed foods. The Woolworths decision will be taken into account by the Government when, through my colleague, the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, it is considering whether to initiate further inquiries into items affecting the consumer price index.
– The Treasurer will recall an answer he gave yesterday when he said:
The taxation and revenue raising laws of this country should, as far as possible, be neutral towards relative social and society attitudes to various forms of behaviour and various forms of conduct
I ask: Is it a fact that since 1975-76 indirect taxes have increased by about $2,450m with half of the increase being attributed to government changes in the rates for indirect tax? Does the relative incidence of such taxes fall more heavily on those people with lower levels of income? Further, did the February and November income tax changes of last year give a greater relative benefit to people with higher levels of income than to those with lower to middle levels of income? Does this mean that, far from being neutral, the revenue raising procedures adopted by this Government have generated greater inequality of income and exacerbated social tensions in the community?
-The Leader of the Opposition has misunderstood my answer and he continues to misunderstand the effect of the present levels of taxation on the Australian community. When I spoke yesterday about the income tax system being neutral as far as possible, I had in mind that the income tax system ought not to express a government view as to whether a particular form of behaviour was desirable or undesirable. Quite obviously the Leader of the Opposition has misunderstood that answer.
As he has given me the opportunity of replying to his question, let me point out to him that in suggesting that rises in indirect taxation have occurred in recent years it should be borne in mind that they are nominal rises only because, for example, the excise rises that were contained in the last Budget had the effect of restoring the real levels that pertained after increases introduced by one of the Budgets were brought down during the Whitlam years. It is a totally false representation of the situation to talk only about the effect of indirect tax increases without acknowledging that side by side with any changes that have occurred in that area have been very significant personal taxation changes. Principal among the effects of those changes in respect of the people of whom the Leader of the Opposition speaks is the fact that under those changes 500,000 Australian people are no longer liable to pay any income tax.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. I refer to representations to the Minister about the urgent need for a major bypass road around Hornsby, north of Sydney. The present Pacific Highway through Hornsby is absurdly inadequate to cope with all northbound traffic from Sydney which must be funnelled through it and in the event of a heavy traffic accident it could become the scene of a major catastrophe. As an earnest of his interest in the problem, will the Minister visit the area with a view to reaching a decision to extend the national highway, Brisbane to Sydney, which at present ends at Berowra about 10 kilometres north of Hornsby, to Pearce ‘s Corner south of Hornsby and thus pave the way for early Federal funding of the work?
– The honourable member has made representations to me over a period on this matter. Therefore, I am aware of the problems created by the lack of a bypass at Hornsby and the difficulties created for the citizens of that part, particularly in the shopping centre and residential areas. This matter has been the subject of some correspondence between me and the State Minister for Transport, to this point without resolution. I think the best thing I can do in all the circumstances is to take up the invitation of the honourable member. Therefore, I will try to make a visit to Hornsby at some time in the near future.
The honourable member for Prospect having addressed a question to the Minister for Health-
-I am troubled about that question because the directors of the board of Associated Securities Ltd are known persons. Although their names were not used, they are clearly identifiable people. The rules of the House are that when there is an implication in relation to any named person the question should go on the Notice Paper. Therefore, I rule that the question should go on the Notice Paper.
– I take a point of order. I can draw an analogy with fairly consistent conduct of a similar nature from government members when they indulge in freewheeling attacks on trade unions in this House. It is quite clear who the leaders of the unions are although they are not named. Can we conclude from your ruling that you will treat such questions in future in the same way as you have treated this question, or will there be a want of consistency between rulings?
-There will be total consistency in ruling. If there is any implication detrimental to the character of any union person who can be identified, the question will be ruled out of order.
-I ask the Prime Minister Is he aware of the major new industrial and other developments that are to take place in Victoria? Will he inform the House of the likely effect of these proposals on job opportunities for the people of Victoria?
– In recent months, there has been a number of major investment projects announced affecting the Commonwealth as a whole, including a number of specific investment projects affecting Victoria. These projects will add significantly to the industrial strength of Australia and the State of Victoria. Clearly, decisions for investments to take place in that State occurred not only following the beneficial results of Commonwealth policies establishing an overall economic climate which is conducive to investment and forward looking policies, but also resulting from the policy of the Victorian State Government, which has also consistently supported and encouraged investment in the interests of all the people of Victoria. I will mention some of these major projects.
The ICI Australia Limited has announced a $500m petrochemical plant at Point Wilson. From 1980-81, there will be construction jobs for an average of 600 people each year for five years. It will peak at close to 1,000 jobs at the busiest time of construction. When the plant is in operation by 1985, there will be about 700 permanent jobs. There is the announcement of the General Motors-Holden’s plant, the construction of which rests very considerably on policies announced by the Minister for Industry and Commerce on behalf of the Government. It is a $220m engine plant at Fishermen’s Bend. The construction of equipment will peak at 1,900 jobs in 1980. There will be 1,000 operating at that GMH plant. In addition there will be nearly 500 jobs in component supplying companies.
There is also the expansion at Altona which is worth $250m. It is likely to have a significant impact on jobs and opportunities in Victoria. Then there is the $350m alumina plant to be constructed by the ALCOA group. During the construction stage, 1,000 jobs will be available. During the operational stage, there will be 600 or more jobs available. Those projects indicate the importance of attracting major investments to Victoria and to other States.
The attraction of these major investments over recent months is I believe a mark of the success of the Australian Government’s policies and of the policies of the Victorian Government. It is not just a question of the investment; it is not just a question of increased material wealth: It is a question of the job opportunities that are open, the additions to infrastructures and other opportunities for traders who will be encouraged as a result of these very major investments and developments. Of course, during the Labor years we would not have been able to find any investment of this kind being undertaken because Labor killed investment dead.
- Mr Speaker, you will be pleased to hear that I have changed the wording of my question which is directed to the Minister for Health. In view of the fact that in answer to my question on notice No. 3155, which he answered last week, when he agreed that registered health insurance organisations can invest in debentures, stocks and shares, and that his department does not maintain details of these investments, will he investigate reports that the non-elected directors of some of the funds, who are also directors or major shareholders of finance companies, are using health fund reserves for their own profit? Apart from the immorality of this action, how can we be sure that the money will not be lost by investment in companies which may follow the way of Associated Securities Ltd?
– I would investigate any such reports. If the honourable member for Prospect has any information that could be of value, I would be very pleased to have it.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Health been drawn to the posters currently being distributed by the Australian Medical Association to its members for display in their waiting rooms? As this campaign appears to be concerned with the accusation of alleged overprescribing of drugs by the medical profession and a concern by the AMA ‘that many patients appear to believe medicines are necessary to solve every problem when reassurance or advice to carry out simple measures may be all that is needed’, can the Minister advise the House whether this campaign to counter unrealistic expectations on the part of the public in relation to the prescribed drugs has his and the Government’s support?
– Yes, I have seen the poster. In fact, I am so impressed with it that I happen to carry one around with me. For the benefit of honourable members opposite and the benefit of all people, perhaps I might read it to the House if that is in order, Mr Speaker.
-It depends how long it is.
– It is quite short actually. It reads:
Isn’t it nice to know you won’t have to take anything. It’s natural to feel you are neglecting an ailment unless you are taking something for it. Natural but not necessarily correct. Though wonder drugs have worked miracles, a prescription is not always the answer.
So you can be pleased when your doctor says: ‘No, there is nothing to take.’ Medical science is knowing when nothing is better than something.
It has the support certainly of my advisers in the Department of Health and it has the support of the Minister for Health. It is an excellent means of helping people to understand that a pill is not always necessary to cure an illness. I am very pleased to see the honourable member for Maribyrnong and the honourable member for Capricornia, members of the medical profession, nodding their heads. It does indicate an awareness that the Australian Medical Association and the medical profession are well aware of licit drug abuse and overuse. Too many people in the community believe they have a God given right to a pill and that their doctor is not doing his job unless he prescribes a drug for them. I welcome the actions of the AMA. I hope the public at large reads the poster and takes note of it.
-Has the Minister for Health examined the national black health program submitted by the National Aboriginal and Islander Health Organisation? If so, does he agree it is a realistic proposal? If he has not examined the proposal, will he, and will he give sympathetic consideration to it?
– My Department has examined the proposal. As I understand it, there are problems with the proposal from a health point of view. I hope to see a deputation about the proposal, I think today. I am very anxious to hear the case that members of the deputation wish to put to me personally. I will certainly give them a very sympathetic hearing, but I will be guided largely by the health aspects of the proposal, because I believe that is necessary in the best interests of the people concerned. However, I certainly will be guided also by their wishes in the matter.
– Following yesterday’s incident at Sydney International Airport, can the Minister for Transport report to the House on the effectiveness of security measures at that airport? Could yesterday’s hijack attempt have been either prevented altogether or stopped at some stage before the hijacker got his victim into an aircraft? Is there a need for a review of our airport security measures. Are they in any way substandard when compared with security measures at other international airports around the world?
-I think all members of Parliament will be pleased at the way in which the security methods at Sydney Airport worked out yesterday. We can only say thank you to those officers of the Commonwealth police force, the State police force and my own Department for effectively handling the issue. Australia, as a member state of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, is required to establish an aviation security program which meets standards prescribed by international agreements. Australia has played a leading role in developing these standards.
Honourable members may be interested to know that, because of Australia’s work in this field, and as a measure of the esteem in which Australia is regarded, ICAO has asked this country to host an international seminar on aviation security. The Australian aviation security program applies at all international and major airports and involves close co-ordination between my Department and the Commonwealth and State police forces. Yesterday’s incident demonstrates that our aviation security procedures are effective.
Yesterday an attempt was made to stop the hijacker prior to his gaining access to the international concourse. It was quickly realised, however, that the life of the hostage was being placed in immediate jeopardy by such action. She was already seen to have a wound on the neck and it was considered that any precipitous action would not only have placed her life in jeopardy but also would have placed at risk any other people in the vicinity because it was not known what weapons or explosives the hijacker carried.
The rapid passage of the man through the terminal was facilitated with the idea of isolating him and the hostage. As the police were closing in on them, the hijacker ran through the aerobridge into an empty aircraft, which was still in position after having off-loaded its passengers. This action successfully confined the hijacker and the hostage and avoided risk to other persons in the terminal.
Airport security measures are reviewed continuously in the light of Australian and overseas experience. Following yesterday’s experience a further review will, of course, take place. If any further improvements are required they will be put into place. My advice is that the internal security measures adopted at Australian airports compare more than favourably with those at most international airports around the world.
– For the information of honourable members I present a report from the Industries Assistance Commission on the sugar industry. Although only a limited number of copies of the report are available, in view of the interest of honourable members in the subject, I thought that the report should be presented today rather than wait until the House resumes. Copies will be sent to all honourable members and senators as soon as printing has been completed, hopefully within this week. An additional copy is to be made available immediately to the Parliamentary Library.
-Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
-He may proceed.
-On 4 April the West Australian carried a report headed ‘Island race-war fear scotched’, in which a Mr Iain Tait, identified only as a Christmas Island resident, denied certain allegations that I had made on 27 March in the course of asking a question concerning the industrial relations situation on Christmas Island. I have checked my information and have verified that, at the time I asked my question, the two allegations were true: Firstly, that credit at the British Phosphate Commissioners’ store was denied to Asian residents and, secondly, that refuse was being collected from the houses of European residents only. Subsequently- I understand following protests from the mainland- this punitive action was suspended. In order to put the reported denial in context, I might point out that the Mr Iain Tait quoted in the article is the same Mr Iain Tait who is the BPC ‘s resident industrial officer. The current industrial dispute developed because of his inaction and incompetence. His attack on me should be seen in the light of his own sensitivity to the fact that he is responsible for the current industrial unrest on the island.
-I present the fourth report of the Joint Standing Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House.
Ordered that the report be printed.
-The report informs Parliament concerning the design brief which will be supplied to competitors in Stage I of the design competition for the new building and explains the Committee’s role in its preparation. The design brief, or competition document, describes the Parliament’s requirements in broad terms so that competitors will have sufficient information to undertake their task without being confined in developing their concepts. The Committee is satisfied that the document reflects accurately the Parliament’s requirements. Upon the completion of printing, at the end of this month, the competition document will be presented to Parliament.
In moving the motion I might intimate to honourable members that it is intended that the schedule that was distributed earlier on the proposed pattern of sittings will stand. In other words, the House will be sitting, as was suggested, on 1, 2 and 3 May and then, in the following week, on 8, 9 and 10 May. The recess that was intended for the following week will still take place. The House, it is expected, will then resume on 22 May and, depending upon the volume of Government Business, will sit on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of that week. However, it will probably resume on Monday 28 May, and conclude its sittings during that week of 28-31 May, according to the necessity of the House to sit in relation to the passage of business. I might also mention that I have had distributed a proposed pattern for the 1979 Budget Sittings to assist honourable members in scheduling their arrangements.
– I congratulate the right honourable gentleman on choosing to celebrate May Day by reassembling the Australian Parliament. I hope that the behaviour of the House will be appropriate to the celebration of such an event and not as it is usually. Mr Speaker, I seek indulgence to correct some newspaper reports that I am proposing to retire. I assure the House, that I do not intend to retire, because I have noticed a terrible anxiety, particularly among people opposite, that I may not come back on 1 May. Of course, anybody in my age group, or even one starting here at 20 years of age, should look at the future and say: ‘Well, I have got 30 seconds or 30 years ‘. However, I propose to see out this term in accordance with the contract that I have undertaken with the people of Wills to serve them as well as I may.
During this recess Mr Speaker may care to examine the efficiency of the Press Gallery in relation to the way that it reports this Parliament One would have thought that a simple matter such as the proposed retirement of a member could have been checked by asking him about it. The Australian Financial Review did not do that, and I presume that most of its reporting of this Parliament is of the same order. There is perhaps one circumstance in which I would retire from Parliament. If Her Majesty chose to offer me the position of Governor-General, I could remove 26 problems from the Australian scene rapidly- in about 10 minutes- and for that purpose I might well undertake that post.
-It is said of some people that they are shy and retiring. Apparently the honourable member for Wills is only shy.
-The Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) has set out a program for future sittings. I want only to comment that it would be appropriate if the Government were to indicate to the House what business was to come before it. It would appear that so far the sittings of the House have been for the purpose of observing formality, not conducting business; that the Government is in fact struggling on a daily basis to bring forward matters for discussion. I suggest that if the Government does not have business sufficient to occupy the time of the House it should allocate more time to private members’ business and let some of the matters, which the Parliament itself would like to discuss, be discussed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
That grievances be noted.
-A couple of weeks ago this House and the nation were exposed to a situation in which the Government, which came to office on a policy of federalism and acceptance by States of responsibility for State actions, threatened one government, which happened to be of a different political colour, with a censure because of spending or administrative proposals. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) thought that would be politically advantageous, to hum in particular. I wish to discuss in the House today the sorts of consequences that should flow from any such decision. They are consequences which have to be applied equally. I know of no suggestion from the Prime Minister that he would be looking at the spending programs in Victoria and cutting back the State ‘s allocation of funds if they are not responsibly managed and handled. To be quite honest, if the Victorian Government were subjected to that sort of scrutiny it would not get any funds at all. If the Cabinet in that State were a set of company directors it would not only be under investigation by the Corporate Affairs Commission but also it would be charged with presenting a false prospectus and with mishandling funds with which it was its responsibility to deal.
In recent months a number of matters have come before the public in this country which are connected directly with the administration of public funds, funds which are raised and distributed on an agreement basis by the Government of Australia. I wish to deal with one or two such matters. We are all aware of the public scrutiny which is required for public expenditure to be approved by this Parliament. The area of public works is a fair example of an area which receives that type of public scrutiny. The usual public tendering process does not even exist in Victoria. Certainly, there is more than adequate evidence that patronage does exist in the process of dealing with public tenders. There is equal evidence, and evidence which can be substantiated, that the funds of that State are distributed very largely on the basis of a requirement that the people who obtain work and obtain contracts should be subtantial contributors to a particular political party, which happens to form the government of that State. The major contracting firms which are listed and which obtain the most substantial contracts in that State provide members to the State finance committee of the Liberal Party.
Not very long ago a public scandal which should have brought any government down involved the sale of a building to that particular political party. When challenged in the Parliament the Minister responsible denied any knowledge of the matter. The Premier and another Minister who had negotiated on that sale and who had negotiated terms of government expenditure on the building after the sale, failed completely to inform the Parliament that he had misled it on that occasion. There was a public inquiry. In Victoria public inquiries are conducted on the basis that if the inquiry brings down a favourable report the promotion of the inquirer is fairly substantially guaranteed. Where it is not favourable to the government- Mr Beach could vouch for this- the situation will be made difficult for that person.
– Are you saying that royal commissions are crooked?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member for La Trobe remain silent.
-I wish to deal with one particular matter concerning construction, a project which could not have passed this parliament because the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Public Works would not have accepted the way in which it was done. State public offices were to be built in Geelong and the contracts were let in a situation of desperation. The Government had been promising those offices for nearly 20 years. The contracts were let on a non-tender, nondesign, non-specification basis, in very much the same way as we bought the FFGs.
A letter was written to the effect that we would have a building which would be an inverted triangle and which would be 1 1 storeys high and asking that it be built. That is the sort of contract the State Government let. When the initial designs were completed the building had not only exceeded its site, but it was also out over a road and halfway across a park opposite. That is how far out the design was. The building had to be completely redesigned. There was no government input or government control over the whole project. The building has now been completed. It is not a bad building. It has some magnificent facilities. It has a very expensive kitchen, something like $250,000 worth, which the Government has no intention of providing staff to man. That project would not have got through this Parliament. It is a case of complete lack of financial management. There is another area in which I think this Parliament ought to be concerned.
– You have just lost Corio.
-I do not think so. I think the honourable member for La Trobe will receive his gratuities from the parliamentary pension fund; I will not.
– I think you just lost Corio.
-I do not think so. I think the people in Geelong know what is honest and what is not. The fact of the matter is that this was a patronage contract. It was a contract which was based substantially on providing a quick construction of a building in order to look good in an election. The waste of public funds was of the order of 12V4 per cent to 15 per cent of the cost of the project. It was a straight waste because of the lack of administration or control by an incompetent government which has very little acceptance of responsibility for distribution of public funds in the State of Victoria.
I wish to raise one other matter which I think is equally significant. If we look at today’s Press we will find mention of a $55m loss by the finance company Associated Securities Ltd. At least one of the directors of that company, and I think all of them, have occupied positions on the Liberal Party finance committee in Victoria. Some have actually occupied the position of director of finance in that party which happens to have $1.3m in its slush fund. It had that amount after the two most expensive elections ever conducted in the State of Victoria by any political party. If that is not the result of patronage, I challenge the Victorian Liberal Party to put forward its balance sheets for the last five years so that we can see where the funds came from. An amount of $1.3m of surplus funds immediately after an election is a lot of money. It takes a lot of explaining.
Associated Securities Ltd went into receivership on 8 February this year. In January of this year one of the better-known directors was advising friends to invest in the company, with the result that people lost their savings. On 18 January a pensioner from my electorate who had some savings submitted $5,000 to the company. He received a reply two weeks after the company had gone into liquidation, accepting his investment in the company, with the result that his $5,000 has been reduced to something of the order of $150. The directors of the company knew that the company was in trouble at that time. They knew it and they allowed and encouraged people to invest in the company. If that was not a criminal act it ought to be deemed one because it robbed people of their savings by using as an incentive for investment the standing and acceptance in the community of people of very great repute. These people are said to have been dormant directors whose names were added to the company. The fact of the matter is that they were not dormant directors.
I want very quickly to raise one other matter. The New South Wales Corporate Affairs Commission and Victorian law requires regular statements of company operations to be submitted. At the vital time in the Associated Securities Ltd case these financial details were not submitted and the company at the time that the investigations to which I refer were being made was in breach of the Act. It would not publish its figures because that would have warned people not to invest. It accepted money under false pretences and used the names of such people as Sir Henry Bolte, Sir Reginald Ansett and Sir Cecil Looker to attract capital improperly.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise in this grievance debate to lament the fact that the full story of the achievements and reforms implemented by the Hamer Liberal Government in Victoria over the last three years have not been presented to the people of Victoria and particularly to the people of Australia. One continually reads in newspapers and magazines, hears on radio and sees on television varying degrees of criticism of the Victorian Government. Even the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes), has joined forces with the media. It disturbs me greatly in this time of economic difficulty and stress that politicians and the various forms of the media cannot work more closely together with the sole aim of solving the country’s many problems and eventually achieving the society we all desire.
In the short time available to me, I will endeavour to put the other side of the story by pointing out some of the many achievements and reforms for which the Victorian Government is responsible. It is important to note that Victoria has the lowest rate of unemployment in Australia, the highest savings bank deposits per head in Australia- $1775 per head in Victoria compared with $1300 per head for Australiaand the highest rate of home ownership in the world. Victoria has the lowest road toll; it has dropped from 8.1 to 4.6 per 10,000 vehicles as a result of the Hamer Government’s road reforms. Victoria has the best ratio of pupils to teachers of any State. In fact, Victoria leads the nation in so many aspects that it is quite clear that it must be enjoying good government.
During the past three years in Victoria, approved loans and subsidies of over $55m have been injected into the rural community through the Rural Finance Commission, a truly wonderful friend to the farmer, particularly during the recent rural depression. Farmers who were paying 10.5 per cent interest on Commission loans have now had their interest rates reduced to 9.5 per cent per annum. The actions of the Victorian Government have enabled substantial concessions on registration and insurance fees to be applied to a wide range of farm vehicles. Victoria is the only State which has helped dairy farmers by guaranteeing dairy produce prices. Showing its great concern for the well-being of this industry, the Victorian Government has also established the Victorian Dairy Industry Authority with a strong emphasis on marketing. A livestock market reporting service has been established, thus providing the livestock producer with accurate information on ruling market prices. During the beef depression, the Victorian Government provided a slaughter bounty and financial assistance of enormous benefit to the beef producer. It is protecting Australia’s grain exports by adopting tough measures to deal with grain insects and it has assisted this industry by establishing a single grain handling authority. It has established the Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market Trust, and also with New South Wales initiated wine grape pricing legislation to help stabilise that industry.
Over the last three years, the Victorian Development Corporation has made a major contribution to the establishment and expansion of decentralised manufacturing industry, and to the growth of tourist facilities throughout the State. Long-term concessional rate loans totalling approximately $30m have been approved by the Corporation in that period. Accumulated loan assistance provided by the Corporation since its inception in 1973 now exceeds $42m. These loans have materially assisted the creation and saving of jobs in Victorian country areas. The Victorian Government recognises that for every two new jobs created in the tourist industry, one extra support job is created. The Victorian
Government has formed a soundly based network of regional tourist bodies, financed in partnership with local government and industry, to promote Victoria as a tourist destination. Financial assistance has been given to local councils to improve the quantity and quality of publicly owned tourist facilities.
The Victorian Government is acutely aware of the benefits of decentralised industry to our society. The Department of State Development offers direct financial incentives to industries located outside an 80 kilometre radius of Melbourne and more than 675 new companies have been established under this scheme. Over 50,000 people have been employed in decentralised industries as a result of Victorian Government support. Some of the incentives under this scheme are cash grants, in approved cases, for each new staff member employed; a percentage rebate of payroll tax up to 100 per cent; land tax rebates of up to 100 per cent for approved decentralised secondary industry; housing assistance to build or buy houses for individuals or companies participating in the decentralisation scheme; grants for removal costs of personnel moving to the country; the reimbursement of whole or part of the costs for moving plant or machinery; freight subsidies and road transport rebates; and negotiated gas and electricity contracts.
The Victorian Government recognises the need to develop and expand export markets. The new Import and Export Promotion Division operates in overseas countries, finding markets for Victorian products. The Division also encourages international investment, brings in trade missions, and helps international firms establish offices and factories in Victoria thus providing more jobs. The new World Trade Centre will be built in Melbourne, linking Victorian industry with the world. This massive complex will house small as well as large businesses under the same roof as shippers and overseas legations. The project will provide thousands of jobs through the opening of new markets.
The Liberal Government in Victoria places great importance on the provision of power for industry and the growth of the community. The natural gas supply grid is being extended further into country areas, providing cheaper energy and creating many more jobs. Victoria is playing a leading role in research into the uses of solar energy and, in co-operation with the Commonwealth Government, other States and the media, is conducting a national campaign to encourage and advise on the conservation of liquid fuels. The insulation of homes at low cost is being promoted by the Gas and Fuel Corporation. To encourage the most effective and economical use of different forms of energy, the Corporation and the State Electricity Commission of Victoria operate advisory services. Crude oil produced at Bass Strait provides much of Australia’s petrol needs. Increased activity in exploration for oil and gas has resulted from Commonwealth Government incentives, fully supported by the Victorian Government.
The importance of local government, the third tier of government, is fully recognised. In Victoria, 211 local government bodies operate under a State Act of Parliament administered by the Department of Local Government. Such things as deferral or exemption from paying rates for people suffering undue and unusual hardship have been implemented, and there has been an increase to 50 per cent in pensioner rate rebate. There is a continuing close liaison between State and local government, and reviews of the role, structure and rating systems of local government are now being undertaken. One could go on for a long time listing the achievements of the Victorian Hamer Liberal Government in such areas as health, education, sport, the arts and housing. However, time will not permit. I want to emphasise to this House, to the people of Australia and particularly to the people of Victoria that these successes do not emanate from one man alone; it takes a team effort. Good leadership, good Ministers and good government members make for good government. This is what Victoria has had for the past three years, and this is what Victoria will continue to have for the next three years by returning the Hamer Liberal Government on 5 May.
-The reality in respect of the Victorian Government is far different from what the honourable member for Indi (Mr Ewen Cameron) would have us believe. The fact is that what Mr Hamer has made happen has not been spectacular economic growth in Victoria but rather maladministration, scandalous administration, unemployment and relatively poor economic performance compared with the other States. All States have been badly affected by the Fraser Government’s economic policies, but on a comparative basis with other States, Victoria comes out very badly. For instance, in the last two years, from February 1977 to February 1979, registered unemployment in Victoria has increased by 46 per cent. In that period, unemployment in New South Wales increased by only 17 per cent. So there has been a 46 per cent increase in unemployment in Victoria and only a 17 per cent increase in New
South Wales under its Labor administration. For the country as a whole, the increase in unemployment was 39 per cent, so Victoria was well above the average for the whole country.
On the Bureau of Statistics figures a similar situation prevails. Victoria is up 44 per cent on unemployment while New South Wales is only up 14 per cent. The figure for Australia, as a whole, has increased by 36 per cent. On this comparative basis, unemployment in Victoria has been appalling in the last two years. Also in respect of employment, in the total civilian wage and salary earners in employment over the last two years- December 1976 to December 1978- in Victoria, there has been a reduction of 9,400, or 0.7 per cent. By comparison, in New South Wales, there has been an increase of 20,000. So, whilst Mr Hamer ‘s administration has been losing 10,000 jobs, the New South Wales Government, under Mr Wran, has been gaining 20,000. That 20,000 accounts for almost the whole of the increase in Australia of 22,000, or half a per cent, in that period.
Victoria’s performance in this unemployment- employment area has been absolutely appalling. In the building industry- a very important area and one about which State governments can do a lot- building approvals ibr new dwellings in Victoria over the last two years have fallen by 29 per cent. The figure for Australia is down 1 5 per cent and, for New South Wales, there has been an increase of eight per cent. Over the last two years, the number of building commencements in Victoria has declined by 47 per cent. In New South Wales it has declined by 1 1 per cent and, for Australia, it is down 29 per cent. Again, Victoria has an appalling performance in this important area of the building industry. On overall performance, the Index of Economic Performance as published by the economic consultants company of Philips Shrapnel shows that Victoria’s performance is much worse than that of New South Wales. That company publishes an index which covers building approvals, new car registrations, weekly bank debits, Commonwealth Employment Service vacancies, overtime and factory employment.
This index shows that in the year to September 1978- the last figures available to me- the index for Australia increased by 4.2 per cent, by 8.0 per cent in New South Wales and by only 3.5 per cent in Victoria. Again, there is an abysmal performance by the State of Victoria. What are the reasons for this appalling economic performance by the Victorian Government? The State Government’s actions have been an important factor in determining the appalling state of the building industry. The fact is that the Hamer administration has severely cut back on capital works and, therefore, it has had a very marked effect not only on the building industry but also on the building supplies industry which is, of course, very much in the private enterprise area. It covers a large part of the manufacturing industry. Public works expenditure was cut by eight per cent in real terms in the last Hamer Budget. In the last three years, there has been a cut of 26 per cent in real terms in capital works expenditure by the Hamer Government. Despite this, the Premier amazingly claimed in his last Budget speech that a major Budget objective was to maintain a maximum public works effort. In that Budget, the amount was cut by eight per cent, and that action followed severe real reductions in the previous two years. I would hate to see what he would do if he were not putting in a maximum effort. Also in that area the Victorian Government has squandered funds in respect of public housing. We know about the scandalous overpayments by the Housing Commission for land. Millions of dollars were handed over to land developers. That money should have been used for the building of houses. Instead, the money was handed over to land developers for reasons the Victorian administration would know best. It has certainly meant that many less houses have been built than would otherwise have been the case. Building activity has been less; there have been less jobs, and fewer houses are available to the public despite long waiting lists for public housing in that State.
Another reason for Victoria’s poor economic performance is the fact that there is a high percentage of labour intensive manufacturing industry in Victoria which has poor growth prospects. This is a point which has been made by the Premier’s own department in a report to the Crawford Committee on Structural Adjustment. In the Age of 27 February 1979, an article entitled ‘Grim decade ahead: Government report dooms industries’ begins:
A confidential State Government report predicts a gloomy future for manufacturing industry and employment in Victoria during the 1980s.
The report says high concentrations of textile, clothing and footwear industries in the State could lower real incomes and produce difficult structural problems.
Overall, the report says Victoria’s manufacturing outlook will fall below the Australian average in the period 1980 to 1990.
That report was produced by the Premier’s Department. It is not an isolated prediction by some insignificant group. It was produced by the
Premier’s Department in Victoria; therefore, it is a very important finding. It is a finding which the Premier has repudiated; he has repudiated his own department’s forecast An article in the Australian Financial Review of 28 February reports the Premier as having said, in rebutting the significance of the internal report: the Premier, Mr Hamer, said that far from declining, the clothing, textile and footwear industries had great potential for outward growth.
If Mr Hamer is basing the future of Victoria on the growth prospects of those industries, he is really selling Victoria down the drain as, of course, his own department is telling him. We are going to have trouble maintaining jobs in those industries. Already in the last two years, despite high protection, there has been further job loss in those industries. It is absurd for Mr Hamer to ignore that point, stick his head in the sand and say that those industries offer some economic salvation for Victoria. It is important that jobs are kept in those areas as much as possible but we have to look for growth prospects in other industries. Also, the Premier has acquiesed to the Fraser Government’s recessionary policies. He has supported the inflation- first approach which has pushed Australia into much deeper levels of recession and which has created much more unemployment. He supported the cutting of Government expenditures, which means he will have less money to spend on Victoria. He has also supported the increases in the long term bond rate- an increase in the February conversion loan of 8.8 per cent to 9.0 per cent. Of course, that is a part of the process of taking us into higher interest rates, which are being held off by the Federal Government until after 5 May. We can be sure interest rates will rise throughout the country after that date. The increase has been held off in an attempt to save Mr Hamer at the coming State election.
Importantly, Mr Hamer has totally failed to utilise the State’s financial resources to maintain State Government expenditure on capital works. The comparison with New South Wales is particularly important. On taking office the New South Wales Labor Government found that, far from being efficient economic managers, the previous Liberal administration had been quite negligent and had wasted available resources. The Liberals simply had not used efficient money management. The fact is that the Wran Government found large under-used cash balances held by departments and statutory authorities. After carefully assessing the liquidity needs of these bodies, decisions were made about the extent of unnecessary precautionary balances. Those bodies which had high balances over long periods were allocated less in the next year’s Budget and encouraged to maintain smaller balances. This released funds for use in much needed capital works, stimulating the New South Wales construction industry and reducing unemployment in that State. This is a major reason for the much better economic performance of New South Wales, compared with Victoria.
After careful examination and consultation, the New South Wales Government found that there was prudent scope for the Government to draw upon the internal funds of these bodies to an amount of some $230m in 1977-78. There had been about half that amount used in the previous financial year and a similar amount has been used in the current financial year 1978-79. Through its own resources, the Wran Government has been able to find a tremendous amount of offsetting revenue to make up for the cutbacks by the Fraser Government to keep public works going in New South Wales. That is a major reason for the improved economic performance of that State. Victoria has the same capability. In Treasury balances, it has some $238m in short term securities at the present time. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works has $ 128m in short term securities. These funds and the funds of other statutory authorities can be used to some degree- as they have been in New South Wales, and would be used by a Labor administration- to buck up the economy of Victoria, to improve expenditure on capital works and to make Victoria a much more prosperous State. The fact is that what is most needed on 5 May is a vote to weed the Liberals out of the garden State.
– I wish to take up a couple of comments made by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) earlier in this debate. In my view, the honourable member for Corio made very serious reflections in this House on the judiciary. He reflected on those members of the judiciary who have conducted inquiries sponsored by the Victorian Government. I refer to men such as Mr Beach, who is now a Supreme Court Judge, Judge Frederico and Mr Justice Gowans. I believe that his remarks were a disgraceful reflection on the judiciary.
Anyone reading the headlines in the daily Press on Monday of this week perhaps could be forgiven for being beguiled into thinking that the Victorian Australian Labor Party had undergone a major ideological change at its State conference in Melbourne last weekend, and that it had thrown off its extreme left wing bias to become a party of moderation. Of course, the basic aim of the Victorian Parliamentary Labor Leader, Mr Wilkes, was to create this impression. I must give him full marks for trying because, after all, he will fight a State election on 5 May and he knows that his only possible hope of success must lie in his being able to fool the electorate into thinking that he is no longer controlled by the extreme left wing of the Labor movement as he has been ever since he became State leader of his party and as were his predecessors.
Mr Wilkes has been trying to fool the electorate for months now. He has been trying to promote the slogan that Wilkes provides a fresh approach. Some freshness! I wonder how many people know, for example, that Mr Wilkes has been a member of the Victorian Parliament for 22 years. Until recently no one even knew his name. Yet he has been in the Parliament for a year longer than Mr Hamer. He has been a member of parliament for almost as long as Sir Henry Bolte was a member. Yet he is still virtually unknown. But perhaps that does not matter too much because he is leader of the Victorian Labor Party in name only. The real forces and influences on the Australian Labor Party in Victoria are to be found elsewhere. They lie with men such as the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Holding), who now sits opposite in this chamber. He was the leader of the Labor Party in Victoria for 10 years and is still the State President of the Victorian ALP. That honourable gentleman obtained his safe seat in this House in a deal with the socialist Left in Victoria, which gave the socialist Left an additional seat in the Victorian Parliament- the former seat of Richmond of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports. He is an honourable gentleman whose legal firm of Holding, Ryan and Redlich some months ago obtained the brief to handle workers’ compensation cases for the communist-controlled Amalgamated Metal Workers and Shipwrights Union in exchange, it is said, for his support for two of the leaders of the extreme left wing of the Labor Party, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and Senator Gietzelt, in the Labor Party Caucus.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The statements made by the honourable member for Ballarat are completely untrue. They constitute not merely a personal reflection -
-If the honourable member for Melbourne Ports feels that he has been misrepresented, I suggest that at the end of the speech by the honourable member for Ballarat he will have an opportunity -
– No, sir. I claim that the allegations made by the honourable member for Ballarat are also unparliamentary and ought to be withdrawn. He has made allegations which involve not only me but also people outside this chamber. Mr Deputy Speaker, I remind you of the ruling given by the Speaker at Question Time, when questions were not permitted to be asked when well-known figures of a public company were mentioned. The honourable member for Ballarat has referred to a law firm of which I am a partner. There are other partners to the firm. The honourable gentleman has suggested that all kinds of odd deals have been made. Not only is that offensive to me, but also it offends the ruling of the Speaker and I ask the honourable gentleman to withdraw his remarks.
-I uphold the point of order and ask the honourable member for Ballarat to withdraw the relevant remarks.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, I will withdraw my allegation that a deal was made. However, I cannot withdraw my claim that some months ago the firm of Holding, Ryan and Redlich obtained a brief to handle workers’ compensation cases for the AMWSU.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I still take a point of order and ask the honourable member for Ballarat to withdraw -
– He has.
– No, he has not. In appearing to withdraw his remarks, he has simply repeated his statement. He has the wrong name of the firm and his claims are wrong. I suggest that the honourable gentleman ought to have the decency to withdraw his remarks and to apologise.
-Order! I have asked the honourable member for Ballarat to withdraw the term ‘deal’. He has done so. I do not see anything wrong with his claiming that the firm to which he referred has a certain brief.
- Sir, there is no such firm. The honourable member for Ballarat has used the name of a principal of another law firm. I think the honourable gentleman is duty bound to get his statements right. His claims are wrong. They are offensive and I ask that they be withdrawn.
-The Chair has no knowledge of whether the claims are correct. The honourable member for Ballarat has withdrawn the word ‘deal’. That satisfies the Chair.
-Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker. As I have been saying, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports is the Leader of the Victorian ALP. He is the power behind the Victorian throne. What he is now trying to do is to achieve for Labor in Victoria what he failed abysmally to achieve during his 10 years as Leader of the Opposition in the Victorian Parliament. So the Victorian Branch of the ALP, which controls Mr Wilkes and his parliamentary colleagues, is the most extreme Left section of the Australian Labor Party in Australia. The socialist Left exerts great influence -
– You have to be joking.
-Do I hear a comment from the honourable member who has not heard of Norm Gallagher? The socialist Left in Victoria is the most extreme Left section of the Australian Labor Party in Australia. The Socialist Left exerts great influence over the activites of the ALP in Victoria- an influence which, to an extent, is unknown in any other State. Let me describe the situation, not in my words but in the words of a highly respected former leading figure of the ALP, namely, Sir John Egerton, who said:
The socialist left in Victoria has very close connections with the Communist Parties . . . they are people who -
– When did he say that?
– He is reported in a Bulletin article of mid- 1977 to have said that. His statement appears in quotes in the article. He continued:
That was said by the same Mr Roulston who last weekend at the State ALP Conference seconded a motion moved by Mr Wilkes to the effect that a Labor government would permit the Newport power station to operate within environmental guidelines. Mr Roulston seconded that motion, despite the fact that 10 days earlier he had said that a Labor government should take action to see that Newport was not used. What is one to believe? Mr Roulston is the State President of the AMWSU. He is a very powerful man in the trade union movement and in the ALP. I mention in passing- I do not refer to Mr Roulston in this context- that 20 senior officials or employees of the AMWSU publicly identify themselves as communists. I can do no better than again to quote what Sir John Egerton said, as reported in the same article. He said:
What has happened is that a Tew years ago the Communist Parties realised that they could not progress under their own steam. A number of people, many of them I think legit.mately and in a bona fide fashion, some of them, I think, to be plants, left the Communist Parties and joined the ALP. The glorious plan now is that this unification of the Left, the Socialist Left, the Communist Left, and the Australian Labor Party Left, will all finally get together and take over the Australian system.
The results of the State ALP Conference in Victoria last weekend do not change the situation in any way at all. Indeed, contrary to the Press headlines, if anything those results probably confirmed, not diminished, the power of the extreme Left. The conference adopted resolutions which hardened still more the Left’s rigid antiuranium policy; which removed the right of State Labor members of parliament to exercise a conscience vote on the matter of abortion- against the Party’s strong pro-abortion line; and which took decisions, such as banning the use of asbestos, even when no other less hazardous materials are available. Even on the Newport power station resolution, the powerful union leader, Mr Ken Carr, stated emphatically that a number of unions will continue to maintain bans despite the passing of the resolution. As one commentator put it, all that happened at the Conference was that forces within the socialist Left were realigned so that public splits in the ranks could be avoided until after the State election. So let no one be fooled.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I do not propose to waste the time of the House in dealing with the virago of nonsense and half truths expressed by the honourable member for Ballarat (Mr Short). The reason that the honourable gentleman, who came into this House with a reputation as an economist, was not prepared to join issue with my colleague the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) to analyse the economic record of the Hamer Administration was that the honourable member knows that on any such analysis the Hamer Government has to stand condemned. So the honourable gentleman chose to endeavour to resurrect the old red bogy and the old fears of 1955. One might well ask why a man with his academic accomplishments chose to develop that line in defence of the Hamer government. The answer is simply that any honourable member on the other side of the House, no matter how dedicated a Liberal he might be, finds it exceedingly difficult to defend the corrupt maladministration which has taken place in Victoria over the past five years.
In the time available to me I want simply to reiterate the facts, not as alleged by me but as found by Mr Justice Gowans. I want to deal very quickly with the economic expertise, the maladministration and, indeed, the corruption of the Hamer Administration. In 1973 the Victorian Housing Commission bought 3,346 acres of land at Pakenham, Melton and Sunbury for $ 10.6m. During the preceding year this land had been bought by middle-men and companies from farmers for $5. 9m. In less than a year more than $4.7m disappeared into the pockets of agents, developers and speculators. Five years later there has not been a single home built on that land, there has not been a single allotment up for sale- and this at a time when there are still 18,000 people on the Housing Commission’s waiting list seeking accommodation. Much of the land at Pakenham for which $2. 5m was paid was subject to flooding. I know that two-thirds of it is now being re-zoned for farming use only.
But what did Mr Justice Gowans find? He found as a fact that too much was paid for this land- and let me quote him- ‘so that the vendors or their intermediaries achieve rewards in excess of what the community thought was fair’. There are two levels of guilt in respect of the Gowans’ finding. The first level of guilt, of course, rests on the developers and speculators who milked the public purse, in some cases, on his findings, clearly as a result of what constituted corrupt practices. So there is a level of guilt there that is not denied. The other level of guilt -
– I take a point of order.
– But the other level of guilt, sir -
-The honourable member for Bendigo has taken a point of order. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports will resume his seat.
-Sir, he just walked into the House.
-The honourable member for Melbourne Ports will resume his seat.
– He has not been in the chamber to hear the debate.
– I have been listening.
– He has not been here for the debate.
-The honourable member for Melbourne Ports will resume his seat. I call the honourable member for Bendigo to put his point of order.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I wish to raise two points of order. First, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, to whom I have been listening over the internal broadcasting system, claimed that houses were not being built on certain land. He was not telling the truth because houses are being built on this land.
– That is not a point of order. He is taking up the time of the honourable member.
-Order! The honourable member for Gellibrand will resume his seat.
– Could I put my second point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker?
-I will first of all rule on the first point of order. I rule that there is no substance in the point of order.
– My second point of order is that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports is casting aspersions on a government which was completely cleared by the royal commission into land.
Government supporters interjecting-
– They were completely cleared.
-Staff of the Housing Commission were fined but not the Government.
-Order! The honourable member for Bendigo will resume his seat. I rule that there is no substance in the point of order.
-Sir, the second level of guilt rests with a Cabinet whose philosophy and criminal negligence allowed these abuses to occur in the first place. Of course Mr Justice Gowans -
– I take a point of order. In view of the findings of the Gowans committee of inquiry how can the honourable member for Melbourne Ports be allowed to use words such as ‘criminal negligence’ in respect of the Victorian Cabinet? The Victorian Ministry was cleared in the Gowans report. The honourable member should withdraw. I ask that he withdraw.
-The honourable member for Ballarat will resume his seat. I warn honourable members that frivolous points of order should not be taken during this debate. I will have to deal with honourable members who take such points of order.
-Sir, it was not open to or possible for Mr Justice Gowans to indict the Cabinet as such because that was outside his terms of reference. But the reality- the social reality and the political reality- is, of course, that none of these transactions could ever have taken place without the generous assistance of the State Cabinet, and that is the fact. It is that assistance, which in many cases involved re-zoning applications, and the abandonment of publicly stated guidelines that allowed millions and millions of dollars to be taken out of the public purse.
That leads me to the point that I want to make. It is perfectly true that no individual Minister was found guilty of taking a bribe. Let me say this from my knowledge of Ministers of the Victorian Cabinet: I would not have ever expected such a finding because that is not the way it works in Victoria.
– Well, why do you say that sort of thing? Why don ‘t you lay it on the line?
– Let us lay it on the line. In May 1977 the balance sheets of the Victorian Liberal Party were tabled in the Victorian Parliament. These documents showed that the Victorian Liberal Party after two years of the most expensive elections on record had investments of over $1.3m. They did not get that sort of money by running flower stalls or raffling bottles of beer. What occurs in Victoria is this: Those gentlemen, including land developers, who run their own businesses who are on the receiving end of government contracts as a result of the very generous treatment they get from the government, would never dream of giving a Minister a bribe. That is far too crude. What one does is to make a donation to the slush fund of the Liberal Party. I invite the honourable gentleman opposite to get up and deny that this has not been done by some of the people who were mentioned in the Gowans inquiry. Let them get up and say that these people have never made a donation to the Liberal Party. Of course they have.
At the present time the Liberal Party in Victoria is engaged in spending over $500,000 which has been contributed in this way from its business friends who have lived fat and well out of the public purse in order to save what has to be- and this on the record- one of the most corrupt governments in the history of Australia. That is an indictment -
Government supporters interjecting-
-Order! The honourable member for Melbourne Ports will resume his seat. I would warn the House that loud interjections are not helping the situation. I would also say to the honourable member for Melbourne Ports that the way in which he is delivering his speech is not helping either.
– Let me put it as quietly as I can. The evidence is there -
– The money is there.
– The money was used. The evidence is there that people close to the Liberal Party have received considerable benefits from a whole range of government contracts, quite apart from land deals. There is no argument that the slush funds of the Liberal Party stand at over $ lm. I invite the people of Victoria to draw their own conclusions. I have no doubt that on 5 May they will cast a vote to restore honesty and integrity to the government of Victoria and return a Wilkes government.
– I would like quickly to answer a couple of points made by the two previous speakers. In passing I would like to comment how interesting it is that both members of the Opposition and Government supporters are of one mind to use the grievance debate to talk about the Victorian election. I would like to make one point in relation to the comments of the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis). I would like to answer some of the nonsense which came out of the false accusation that the Victorian Government was not able to create a situation in which jobs were available for the work force. I would like to quote from figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In 1976 when the Hamer Government was last elected in Victoria there were 1,612,300 people in the Victorian work force. In 1978 this number had increased to 1,623,800.I would now like to refer to figures released for the manufacturing sector, and these figures will lay the lie to allegations that were made recently by one Mr Jolly. In 1976 403,900 people were employed in manufacturing industry. In 1 978 there was a drop of only 22,000- not 80,000 as has been suggested by Mr Jolly- to 382,100. Therefore, overall there has been an increase in the total work force in Victoria.
I will not go into the denigrating comments made by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Holding). However, I would like to incorporate in Hansard a letter dated 12 April 1978 from Mr Frank Wilkes, the Leader of the Opposition in the Victorian Parliament, to Mr B. J. Wallis, the Shire Secretary of the Shire of Pakenham which states, inter alia:
Development by the Housing Commission of all the suitable land in Pakenham has my full support, as had Council ‘s policy of large scale housing development in the Pakenham Shire as a whole.
I seek leave to incorporate this letter in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
I very much appreciated the Pakenham Shire Council writing to me about the future of Housing Commission land in the Pakenham area.
It has never been my view that all the land in question was unsuitable for residential development, and if I appeared to make any comment to this effect in my 3LO broadcast, it could only have been a slip of the tongue, possibly confusing Pakenham with Sunbury.
Development by the Housing Commission of all the suitable land in Pakenham has my full support, as had Council’s policy of large scale housing development in the Pakenham Shire as a whole.
Yours faithfully, F. WILKES
Leader of the Opposition
-I thank the House. I make my second point by quoting the words of Shire President of the Shire of Pakenham, one Councillor Bob Bysouth, as reported in a newspaper article. Referring to the Housing Commission’s estate in the centre of the township of Pakenham, he is reported to have said:
The estate has been imaginatively planned, incorporating the retention of many existing features -
Many of those features are hills, incidentally- and the fact that such a pleasing environment will be created immediately adjoining the town centre, electric railway line, duplicated highway and first class school facilities will ensure a high demand for accommodation.
The land is, in fact, most attractive and ideally situated.
Councillor Bysouth then said that he deplored the use of the Housing Commission holdings as a political football. But apparently there are members opposite and members in the Labor Party in Victoria who seek to override the views and the opinions of local government counsellors and authorities and local planning consultants. One could answer many other points.
I did not want to talk about that matter today; I wanted to talk about the youth of Australia. In the short time available to me I wish to indicate why we need to place a great deal of emphasis on the youth as a client group. Why should we be involved? A report tabled in this Parliament in 1977 by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was entitled: ‘Report of the Study Group on Youth Affairs’. The first of the conclusions in that report states:
Young people face a series of transitions which justifies governments and others considering them as a ‘client group’ with special needs, this being already recognised by a range of youth specific programs and services.
I turn now to another report which has been tabled in the Parliament, namely, the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts on the impact of television on the development and learning behaviour of children. Why should we refer to that report? Some of the statistics referred to in that report are frightening. It also deals with the question of why we should be concerned about youth and, for example, their television watching habits. That report stated:
Clearly television has merged as the dominant experience in the life of the average Australian child, monopolising more of his or her time than any other single activity apart from sleep.
The report refers to the fart that an estimated 20 per cent or more of children are viewing television in excess of 30 hours a week and sometimes as much as 80 hours a week. If one compares that statistic with the fact that only 2.2 per cent of the total Australian population is attending the performing arts, one can see that a major effort may be required to try to correct the television watching habits of the young people of this country.
I refer now to another Government report, namely, the report entitled: ‘Drug Problems in Australia- an Intoxicated Society?’ from the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare. From that report one can see that between 1970 and 1975 drug offences committed by people in the age group from 18 to 25 years increased from 69.8 1 per cent to 73.94 per cent ofthe total. In all other age groups, apart from the 16 year olds, the number of offences has decreased. However, the important groups to look at are the 16 year old group and the 18 to 25 year old group. Drug offences by people in those age groups have increased substantially over the past few years.
Let us look at the international situation. I was privileged to attend in Jamaica the Commonwealth young leaders conference. That conference made a number of recommendations. The first one to which I refer reads as follows:
The democratic participation of youth in national decision making is an inalienable right of all strata of youth and should be an ongoing process which reflects their aspirations in pursuit of national goals.
That report, which again has been tabled in this House, referred also to a number of issues of international concern to young people in the Commonwealth. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard part of the section of the report which deals with the issues of international concern.
The document read as follows-
Be it resolved that this Conference calls on the Commonwealth Heads of Government to persuade those countries to establish and maintain non-racist immigration policies.
Be it resolved that this pan-Commonwealth meeting of young leaders supports the aspiration and struggle of the Asian youth in the realisation of its struggle to make the South-East Asian region into a zone of peace, freedom and neutrality, free from any form of manner of interference by outside powers.
Be it resolved that this Confernece urges the youth ofthe Commonwealth to help build public opinion in their state against all forms of expansionism and hegemonism. Further the Conference urges the youth of the Commonwealth to reaffirm their faith in the principle of non-interference in the international affairs of other states.
Be it resolved that this Conference calls on Commonwealth Heads of Governments to adopt policies aimed at achieving a world of total disarmament.
Whereas this meeting of Commonwealth Young Leaders has taken cognisance of the existence of racial discrimination in some countries ofthe world;
Be it resolved that this meeting condemns the existence of racial discrimination in any part of the world.
The meeting of young Commonwealth leaders, deeply concerned over the continuation of the Cyprus crisis and the continued drama of the youth of Cyprus;
Noting, in particular, the fact that a great number of them have become refugees in their own country or are missing;
Considering that a just solution to the Cyprus question will alleviate the suffering of the youth in Cyprus;
Having in mind the Communique on Cyprus, issued in Kingston in May 1973, by the Commonwealth Heads of Government;
Expresses its solidarity with the Government, the people and the youth of Cyprus;
Fully supports the Resolutions of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations on Cyprus;
Calls on all states to respect the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and the non-alignment of Cyprus;
Demands the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from the Republic of Cyprus and the return of all refugees to their homes in freedom and safety;
Condemns any attempt aiming at the change of the demographic conditions in Cyprus;
Demands the taking of effective measures for the tracing of the missing persons in Cyprus;
Notes the spirit of goodwill with which the Government of Cyprus approached the resumption of the intercommunal talks under the personal auspices and directive of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and strongly supports the immediate application of human rights in Cyprus as the only basis for a just political statement.
-I thank the House. That report indicates some of the matters which a lot of older people would perhaps say young people were incapable of considering. It certainly indicates that the youth of the Commonwealth countries have applied their minds to matters of substantial importance, not only to their own countries but also internationally. Last year the Australian Government changed its ministerial structure so that now we have a ministry to deal with youth affairs. I return to the recommendations from the Commonwealth youth leaders conference held in 1977. A recommendation was made that each Commonwealth country should have a national youth policy and, wherever possible, a Ministry of Youth responsible for the implementation of that policy. It is pleasing that that decision has now been taken by the Commonwealth Government so that we at least have that ministry. But, perhaps more importantly, the mechanisms are now being established to enable young people in Australia to have a direct input in the decision making process at the Commonwealth Government level. I refer to the other announcement which will be made shortly, namely, the personnel who will comprise the National Youth Advisory Group. In February the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) announced that this group would be set up by this Government.
I will now be somewhat parochial and follow the precedent established by other speakers who referred to Victoria. I think that without doubt Victoria has led Australia in the provision of youth services, in reaching an awareness of what is required to identify the problems of youth and in planning, at the Victorian Government level, in relation to this client group. For example, the Youth 2000 Series’ was developed by the Youth Council of Victoria. I pay a compliment to the Youth Council of Victoria and particularly to its Director, Mike Cusack, who has recently left it to take up a position in the umbrella organisation which is now being developed for structured youth organisations in Australia. I also pay a compliment to its Chairman, Peter Moss. Both of those gentlemen have done a great deal under the leadership of Brian Dixon and the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation, to develop a greater awareness of the problems of youth in Victoria and the need to take a much more exciting line in developing programs for young people.
The ‘Youth 2000 Series’ is an example of an innovation in Victoria, as was the ‘Life. Be in it’ campaign and the activities of the Youth Council of Victoria itself. One could also point to such initiatives taken by the Victorian Government as the encouragement of municipal councils to employ recreation officers. In fact an announcement has already been made that as from 1 July this year $9,000 per employee will be made available by the Government. One could continue recounting a number of initiatives which have been taken at that level.
I conclude by deploring the use of the tactic, perhaps on both sides of the House, of group allegations of corruption being made against individuals or groups of individuals, particularly in the Victorian area. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports, and I think a lot of other honourable members opposite, concede that no allegation has been made against individual members of the Victorian Ministry. I think that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports was good enough to concede that. Notwithstanding that, allegations are still made which indicate that there has been corruption. People who want facts should read the Gowans report and not pay attention to the tirade of abuse which comes from the people in this place and in Victoria who choose not to look at the facts set out in the Gowans report. The Premier of Victoria has already acknowledged that there were imperfections in the department. In fact, criminal prosecutions are pending against two people who were named in that report. That is where the facts’ lie. People would do well to remember that we should deal with facts and not abuse.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jarman)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-The Hamer Government clings to office by means of suppression, omission and deceit. The Victorian Parliament last sat on 7 December 1978. On that last night of its sittings it forced through one of the most extraordinary Bills that any government has ever put through a legislature, namely, the Port of Melbourne (World Trade Centre) Bill. It was forced through on the gag, in the face of the abstention and the opposition of a number of members of the Liberal Party and with the opposition of the National Party and the Labor Party. During that debate the Minister of Public Works, Mr Austin, spoke about the World Trade Centre. On page 741 1 of the Victorian Hansard he said:
Much has been said about its economic viability, but various surveys have been carried out and it has been unanimously agreed in those surveys that there is a demand and that, in the not-too-distant future, the trade centre will be economically viable.
The only thing wrong with that statement, of course, is that it is not true. The other aspect that is deplorable is the fact that five months have now elapsed since that date and the Victorian Parliament still has not sat. By the time the election is held the Parliament will not have met for over six months. By the time the Parliament actually meets again, which will presumably be some time in June or early July, it may have not sat for seven or nearly eight months. That is a situation in relation to which, in Australian democratic parliamentary practice, one would have to look to Queensland for an example. But the Victorian situation is even worse.
-The National Country Party concedes that the situation in Victoria is worse than anywhere else. One of the most appalling things about this proposed world trade centre -
– The inference was not there at all. A point of order!
-Order! The honourable member for Lalor will resume his seat.
– I seek a withdrawal of that statement. I point out that the inference was not there at all.
-What does the honourable member for Dawson want withdrawn?
– In the comparison between the Victorian and Queensland governments, there is no inference about the National Party at all.
-There is no point of order, and there is no need for that to be withdrawn.
-In November 1978, the Loan Council approved $56m in loans for the first stage of the proposed world trade centre, a decision which the Melbourne Age described as short-term expediency, long-term ideology’. A Tanberg cartoon on 7 November depicts punters talking to a bookmaker as Mr Hamer walks by. One of them says ‘I did not know Hamer was a mad punter’, to which the bookie replies ‘He just put $56m on a white elephant’.
The Hamer Government has an enormous edifice complex’, a desire to leave grandiose monuments all over Melbourne irrespective of cost benefit. The latest example of this is the proposed Melbourne world trade centre. It has not had the ventilation it deserves largely, of course, because the Victorian Government has absolutely refused to let the Victorian Parliament be called together so that the matter can be discussed. It is quite clear now that there were strongly adverse reports, for example, not only from the property consultants Baker, Suttie Sc. Co. Pty Ltd but also from the Victorian Public
Works Department- the Department, mind you, which oversees the Port of Melbourne Authority which proposed this white elephant. The Treasury in Victoria has also opposed it. The Commonwealth Treasury has opposed it. The Commonwealth Department of Trade and Resources has also opposed it. Yet the Victorian Government is going on with this extraordinary white elephant. A property consultant quoted by the Australian Financial Review on 15 March asked the question:
Who in their right mind would seriously contemplate establishing their prestigious new city offices at the bottom end of Spencer Street, on the docks, overlooking railway yards and old factories?
The most attractive aspect of this project has been its vivacious promoter, Miss Sue Caldwell. The next best thing has been the prospect that 1,000 to 1,500 short-term jobs in construction will be provided.
The full-page advertising campaign initiated by the Victorian Government and headed ‘A World Trade Centre for Melbourne? The sooner the better’ compares the project with world trade centres in New Orleans, Tokyo, Brussels, New York, London, Dallas and Singapore. What it fails to point out is that the New York authority is trying to get rid of its centre because it has proved to be a white elephant. There is an enormous wave of criticism within property circles about this complete misappropriation of public funds- an indefensible misuse of public funds. The site is inappropriate for importers to reach Australian users of the product imported. In fact the probability is that it will do more to increase imports and do little to help the ‘Export Now’ or Buy Australian First’ campaigns.
The Hamer Government, however, has been marked always by incompetent supervision of major construction projects such as the Arts Centre, now estimated to cost twice as much as the Sydney Opera House; the Melbourne underground rail loop, a $300m white elephant which now seems unlikely to play any significant part in relieving Melbourne’s transport mess; the West Gate Bridge fiasco, in which years of delay and scores of millions of dollars of extra expense can be directly attributed to the Hamer Government’s failure to supervise and demand explanation for what was going on; and the collapse of a $3,000m freeway program because empire builders in the Country Roads Board were able to pull the wool over the eyes of successive Ministers right down to the navel.
Classic examples of the failure to secure information about what was going on so that plans could be co-ordinated include the rivalry between the CRB, which was building the toll-free Johnson Street Bridge, and its competitor, the West Gate Bridge Authority, which was building a toll bridge at the same time to service the same area. In addition there was the competition for funds between the CRB, which hopes to increase rail usage, and Vicrail and MURLA- the Melbourne Underground Rail Loop Authoritywhich hoped to reduce rail usage. We can add the failure of the State Government to recognise and co-ordinate the traffic generation of Melbourne’s grandiose Webb Dock and the West Gate Bridge or the failure to recognise that if a major bridge, West Gate, was to be operated it was a good idea to have appropriate access roads not just for one side of the bridge but for the other side as well! This great brain wave never reached the Hamer Government. It is the greatest administrative incompetent in the history of Australian governnent and it deserves to be thrown out on 5 May.
-It is now 15 minutes to one o’clock. In accordance with Standing Order 106, the debate is interrupted. I put the question:
That grievances be noted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, I claim to have been substantially misrepresented in a portion of my speech. The honourable member for Ballarat (Mr Short), I think honestly, took a remark that I made to be a reflection on the judiciary. The remark was not a reflection on the judiciary. It was a remark about the manner in which the Victorian Government applies improper pressure to members of the judiciary by the use of appointments and subsequent appointments to the Bench. It is the practice of the Victorian Government to appoint Queen’s Counsel to these positions. Subsequently those QCs are appointed to judicial positions, almost without exception. The Government makes the appointment. It holds over a royal commissioner the right to appoint to various levels. In the specific case that I mentioned, that of Mr Justice Beach, he waited longer for appointment than any other commissioner or royal commissioner in modern history. That is a fact. It is a case of improper pressure and improper practices by a State government in its appointment procedures.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). The honourable member for Corio said that I misrepresented what he said. Nothing that he has now said would in any way make me feel that what I said was a misrepresentation, because what he has now said is that Queen’s Counsel or other members of the legal world who accept appointments from a government to head commissions or other investigatory bodies are then paid off in some way. That is a major reflection on the people concerned.
-Order! The honourable member will not debate the question.
Mr SCHOLES (Corio)-Mr Deputy Speaker -
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I did not say or assert in any way that members appointed are paid-off.
– You did.
– Look, it is a consistent practice that all royal commissioners are appointed judges. That is not a pay-off; it is a consistent practice. Therefore, it cannot be said to be in any way an attempt to bribe a royal commissioner. What I said was that the Victorian Government’s practice is improper and places improper pressure on members of the judiciary. That is all I said. I think that is a government practice that is improper.
-Order! The matter is now being debated.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, earlier this morning I made a personal explanation with reference to news reports that I was retiring. I mentioned the fact that if I were made Governor-General I would remove the 26 problems in 10 minutes. I have counted them up and there are now 27, but two of them count as only half each!
-I am sure that the honourable member for Wills would be a very fine Governor-General. All grey-haired Governors-General are.
-by leave-On behalf of the Standing Committee on Expenditure, I thank the House for the opportunity to comment on the Government’s response to the Committee’s report on the Defence Service Homes Scheme. This response is in accordance with the statement made to the House on 24
November 1978. For reasons of time, I will seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the specific comments of the Committee.
The Committee’s report was tabled on 1 June 1978. The Government’s response was made within the six month period the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) stipulated and we thank the Government for its promptness. Honourable members might recall that the ministerial statement was made by the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence (Mr McLeay)- the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) being overseas at that time- in the small hours of 24 November 1978.
There are some parts of the response which do not accept the Committee’s recommendations and which we do not disagree with. They are two minor recommendations. But we are both disappointed and disturbed, and a little irritated, by the bulk ofthe response. The Committee put in a lot of effort to state its case supported by a process of detailed reasoning and argument. The response often rejects recommendations by virtually ignoring the arguments that support the recommendations. Instead there is a sprinkling of vague words and phrases. We are told that something cannot be accepted ‘as a matter of principle ‘ when the principle is not evident and is not enunciated. We are told that a conclusion has been reached ‘on balance’ when nothing has been weighed up. We are also told a position reached is ‘for the time being’, when once again temporariness is not explained.
We are disturbed at the quality of advice given. The tone of the response concerns us, because it tends to belittle the work of this Committee. We are irritated that the response has chosen to ignore and therefore not to give the Committee credit for initiating the work that will reduce charges of the Australian Postal Commission by over $350,000 this year.
Our major disappointments are in respect of three of the recommendations in the report. The first is the optional cash grant. The Government rejected this recommendation mainly because it was not prepared to fix a level of grant and instead gave a range of grants. We are disappointed that the Government was not prepared to grasp the nettle because, in our view, the optional cash grant provided the opportunity for converting significant administrative expenses into benefits for recipients and advantages for taxpayers.
The response also said that a grant of $7,000 would be needed if an eligible person who gets the present concessional interest loan was not to be disadvantaged. The implication is that a person who gets a smaller cash grant would be disadvantaged. This conclusion is very misleading. It ignores the criteria we had specified in paragraph 77 of our report. It ignores our argument that the optional cash grant will eliminate the costs of bridging finance. It ignores the other argument that a cash grant, by giving the eligible person a greater equity in the property he proposes to purchase, would enable him to by-pass the high interest rate, short repayment period of finance companies and thus give him a considerably reduced monthly repayment. The refusal to accept the cash grant proposition is, although disappointing, understandable. What was at stake was the dissolution, in the long term, of a bureaucratic empire. The Deputy-Editor of The Economist said in the 23 December 1978 issue when referring to the growth of public sector imperialism:
Monks don ‘t dissolve monasteries.
In other words, a bureaucracy does not try to put itself out of business.
The next recommendation which has a disappointing response is that on computers. Without giving too much detail, which appears later in the statement, our concern was with improving efficiency in the future. The response said that the Government was satisfied with the past. But of all the responses, the one relating to the commission charged by the Australian Postal Commission is the poorest. For the information of honourable members, the Australian Postal Commission charged the Defence Service Homes Corporation a commission of 2.3 lc in the dollar for collecting repayments from borrowers. We examined a series of alternatives and recommended a cost-effectiveness study. The Government rejected this recommendation. It said it endorsed the user-pay principle, to which we had not referred. It said that if the APC system were withdrawn or altered, difficulties would arise for many borrowers. No explanation was offered. Having said this and only this, the response concluded that ‘on balance’ et cetera. It said ‘on balance ‘ when nothing had been weighed up.
What has disturbed the Committee, however, is what the response fails to say. We have found out that the Corporation has subsequently negotiated the following new rates with the Postal Commission: From 1 July 1978 to 30 November 1978, 2.13 percent; and from 1 December 1978 onwards, 1.76 per cent. We do not know when agreement was reached, but understand that the new rates are to be applied retrospectively. The rate of 1.76 per cent is lower than any rate from 1974 onwards. This rate when applied to a full year will realise savings of over $350,000 a year. This lower rate is still far too high.
The Committee is of the opinion that it initiated work in this area. The evidence of the Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs provides conclusive support for this point of view. On 10 April 1978, when questioned about alternatives to the Australian Postal Commission system- transcript page 273- he said:
I will certainly be pursuing this. I did not know about the arrangement before it was brought to my attention through this Committee.
The response’s failure to recognise the contribution of the Committee is surprising. Whether accidental or not, the effect is the same: The lack of recognition of the worth of parliamentary scrutiny. When introducing the motion to establish the Expenditure Committee on 8 April 1976, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said:
The Expenditure Committee will greatly improve the capacity of this House to scrutinise public expenditure and improve Parliament’s capacity to act as an able and effective watchdog over the affairs of the Government.
When speaking during the special adjournment debate on 8 November 1977, he said:
The committee had been in operation scarcely a year but the value of its work is already being seen.
Such noble hopes and sentiments run the risk of being debased if responses are not adequate, for watchdogs would have neither bark nor bite; and in the process, accountability to the Parliament would have taken yet another step backwards. I now seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the remainder of the statement of the Committee.
The document read as follows-
Recommendation 1 (paragraph 55 of the Report) sought the appointment of a suitably qualified person to assess the relative effectiveness of programs designed to attract persons into and retain them in the Services. The Government rejected this recommendation for the time being because of the costs and the likelihood of inconclusive results.
The Committee recognises that it should have obtained the views of the Department of Defence on this matter before deciding on the appropriateness of the recommendation.
Recommendation 2 asked for the objectives of DSHS to be defined and explained to the Parliament. The Government has defined the current objectives of DSHS (House of Representatives Debates, 23-24 November 1978, page 3388). Although there is no explanation why the objectives are tied to home ownership the Committee is pleased that the objectives have been redefined.
Recommendation 3 called for a change in the long title of the Defence Service Homes Act 1918 to read as follows: An Act to assist eligible people to acquire a residential dwelling. The Government said it was not prepared to accept the longer title proposed by the Committee but agreed that ‘this technical issue’ might be taken up with Parliamentary Counsel on the next occasion amending legislation is drafted.
The recommendation is a minor one. It is surprising that the Government has not acknowledged the need for the long title to be changed, so as to reflect the fact that DSHS has been changed significantly since 1 9 1 8. On reflection we must agree with the Minister Assisting the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs who said the term ‘residential dwelling’ is not as appropriate as the word ‘home’ (House of Representatives Debates, 23-24 November 1978, page 3396).
The central recommendation in the Report is Recommendation 4. The next three (Recommendations 5 to 7) are consequential to the fourth recommendation, which gave eligible persons a choice between a concessional interest loan and a cash grant (hence the term ‘optional cash grant’).
Eligible persons receive a housing loan at concessional interest rates and with the growth in the numbers receiving the loan has been corresponding growth in administration costs which now total over $16m. The concessional interest can be capitalised over the life of the loan and given as a cash grant. Since administration costs are minimal under an optional cash grant scheme this scheme, if successful, offers the elimination of most of the administrative costs. The Committee examined the feasibility of the optional cost grant against two basic criteria, namely whether the grant would- cost more than the concessional interest loan; and be attractive to at least some eligible persons.
The cash grant equivalent to a $15,000 loan at concessional interest rates was calculated at between $4,500 and $5,000, these figures reflecting long-term bond rates of 7.5 per cent and 8.0 per cent respectively. The Committee estimated some savings in administration costs of $500 on applications, thus making the total grant between $5,000 and $5,500. The Committee recognised that some of this figuring is based on broad judgments but emphasised that the optional cash grant provides governments and the Par.liament with the opportunity of converting significant administration costs into benefits for recipients and savings for taxpayers.
We next examined whether the optional cash grant would be attractive to at least some eligible persons.
Let me emphasise that being optional it need not be attractive to all eligible persons.
Based on a grant of $5,500 several conclusions were drawn. First the Committee said the grant would eliminate the waiting period and thereby realise savings in bridging finance (the RSL said this would cost as much as $3,000). It must be remembered that a cash grant would require many eligible persons to borrow from the market. For those who need only $15,000 (the 45 per cent in Table l.page 18 of Report), then monthly repayments under a cash grant would be lower than under the present loans scheme, if they borrow from savings banks and some building societies and marginally higher if they borrow from other building societies. For those whose need is for more than $15,000 (the 37 per cent in Table 1 ) and who must now borrow on second mortgage, monthly repayment would also be lower with cash grants, particularly those who borrow from finance companies. For the latter category savings would be significant.
The Government rejected the recommendation for an optional cash grant. While the Committee had put the grant equivalent of the concessional interest loan at $5,000 to $5,500 the Government said that: ‘Depending on the assumptions made, arguments may be advanced for grants as little as $3,000 and as much as $5,000.’ This response is disappointing. The Government was not prepared, despite the significant long term advantages shown in the Report, to fix a level of grants.
The response also stated that as a ‘ matter of principle ‘ the Government was not prepared to grant any of the savings in administrative costs that might result from the introduction of grants. We ask the question: what is the principle involved?
The response indicates that for the eligible person’s monthly repayments to be the same under a grant as under the present loans scheme, a grant of $7,000 is required. This size of grant is said to be beyond the resources of the Government.
The implication is that a person with a $5,500 grant would be worse off. This is very misleading.
The argument in the response ignores the savings in bridging finance mentioned in the Report. It ignores the fact that an optional cash grant of $5,500 would benefit those whose total borrowings are more than $15,000. If we take the example of a person needing $25,000 who under the present scheme would borrow $10,000 from the private market, total monthly payments would be about $217 if money is obtained from a finance company. A cash grant of $5,000 (ignoring bridging finance savings) would enable this person to borrow at first mortgage rates. His monthly repayments would be about $ 1 8 1 . So in these cases ( 10 per cent of DSHS applicants borrow on second mortgage from a finance company, see Exhibit 13, page 56 of evidence) eligible persons would benefit by about 36 dollars a month.
The purpose of the example is to show how inaccurate and misleading it is for the response to say, or imply that a cash grant of $7,000 is needed if eligible persons are not to be disadvantaged under a cash grant scheme.
It makes one worry about the quality of advice governments receive.
Recommendation 8 asked that the interest subsidy on DSHS loans be calculated for the outstanding balance of these loans at the prevailing long-term bond rate rather than the existing method which uses historical rates. The change means that the interest subsidy would reflect the true economic costs of loans. The response said the Minister for Finance might well consider some modification of the Committee ‘s formula. We look forward to seeing these modifications in the next Budget.
Most of the remaining recommendations deal with the efficiency of the administration of the Defence Service Homes Corporation.
Recommendation 9 dealt with staffing. The Government said, in effect, that the recommendation has been overtaken by a review of the Corporation. The Committee’s work in this area was acknowledged. What the Committee would have liked to have known is the Government’s views on the measurement technique (Table 4, page 28) used by the Committee.
Recommendation 10 dealt with the use of computers. The decision to instal computers was based on a study which indicated significant overall cost savings. We did not dispute this. What we did say was that the study had limited objectives. Because of this there was a two-pronged recommendation for the Corporation to undertake a cost-effectiveness study.
The Government did not accept the proposal for further study (presumably 10(b), which dealt with using magnetic tapes) because it was satisfied ‘that the equipment purchased by the Corporation, and the uses to which it will be put, are consistent with both the Corporation’s requirements and the guidelines established by the Public Service Board. ‘
This is not the point. Our concern was not with the past but with the future. The recommendation ( 10 part (b)) sought an evaluation of the additional uses of the computer in terms of costs and benefits.
The recommendation (10 part (a)) also dealt with the sharing of computer faculties. The response said the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Public Service Board will be liaising on this matter. The Committee understands that the sharing of facilities requires additional equipment; either extra discs or on-line terminals or magnetic tapes and tape units. We further understand that of the three choices, magnetic tapes may be best.
It does appear to us then, that the separate responses to parts (a) and (b) of Recommendation 10 could be at odds with each other. The ‘study’ for sharing computer facilities should include the use of magnetic tapes. Yet, the use of tapes for other purposes has been excluded by the Government’s response. Since the total benefits of the tapes and tape units are now limited by restrictive terms of reference, the outcome of the study may well be predetermined in the negative.
Once again we are concerned at the quality of advice governments receive.
Recommendation 1 1 called for a cost-effectiveness study of alternative methods of collecting repayments from borrowers. At present most borrowers repay their loans through post offices. For providing this service the Australian Postal Commission charges the DSH Corporation a commission of 2.3 1 cents for every dollar of repayment, so that for the repayment of $73.82 the commission would be $1.71. This rate, which had a total estimated cost of $ 1.6m in 1977-78, appeared very high. In 10 paragraphs of analysis, the Committee examined alternatives. It concluded that a strong case can be made for the present APC system to be replaced or to be used in conjunction with other systems. It suggested the criteria for the examination required and the criteria included ease of access for persons making repayments.
In 60 words of response the recommendation was rejected. The user pay principle was endorsed when we did not refer to this principle! It said that if the APC system were withdrawn or altered, difficulties would arise for many borrowers. No explanation was offered. In fact, any such difficulties were covered by the Committee when it said that one of the criteria for examining alternatives was the ease of access for borrowers making repayments (paragraph 147). Having said this and only this, the response concluded that on balance ‘et cetera.
As mentioned earlier the Committee believes it initiated the work that led to reductions in the commission charged by the APC. We have referred to the evidence given by the Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. There is also the evidence of the General Manager of the Defence Service Homes Corporation. On 6 September 1977, he was asked whether the Corporation was being too generous to the Post Office in respect of the commissions charged. His response was that the APC was in a monopoly position and might respond accordingly if asked for a ‘lower clearing’ (a reduced commission). In responding to possible alternatives he said: I think we should examine these thoughts you have mentioned and see if we can find a way of using them or developing them into something better’.
We are in no doubt that the Committee’s questioning was responsible for a reduction in the commission which will realise over $350,000 a year. It is therefore surprising that the response did not recognise this contribution.
It is appropriate for us to connect the two recommendations on cost-effectiveness studies. Replacement of the APC system, either wholly or partially with some of the alternatives mentioned in our Report requires additional computer equipment, particularly magnetic tape units. Such equipment would be used to reduce the work required under the APC arrangements and result in savings in the costs of financial administration. These savings would be additional to those emanating from the use of the tape units for shared facilities and alternative applications considered for the computer.
Recommendation 12 sought the publication of specific performance measures in annual reports of the Defence Service Homes Corporation. The purpose was, by means of publication, to continue parliamentary oversight of efficiency. The Government said the measure suggested by the Committee ‘is more suitable for internal management purposes than for publication’. The response added that some indicative measures of efficiency will be published in future annual reports.
Once again the response is very light on reasons. We look forward to seeing what is included in future annual reports and reserve final comments until then.
-(Mr Jannan) - Mr Speaker has received a letter from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The Government’s failure to fulfil its obligations to protect the human rights and the right to self-determination of Aborigines in Queensland.
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-
– Would this be a convenient time to suspend the sitting?
Sitting suspended from 12.55 to 2.15 p.m.
-In raising this matter of public importance the Opposition is condemning the Government for its failure to fulfil its obligations to protect the human rights and the right to self-determination of Aborigines in Queensland. The wording of the matter is selfexplanatory. The matter was submitted last Tuesday week but because of a Government decision it was not called on for discussion at that time.
The Opposition would not be raising this matter unless there was some reason to do so. In recent weeks we have been inundated with complaints by Aborigines as to what is wrong with their treatment in Queensland. It is as simple as that. In other words, many facts have been given to the Opposition and we have been asked: ‘How is it that when the Commonwealth has the legal and constitutional authority to protect and help these people it is unable to do so in Queensland?’
Every other State is able to satisfy the claims, the needs and demands of Aborigines, but not Queensland. That is the significant point.
In a referendum the Australian people were asked: ‘Should the Commonwealth Government have the authority to look after people such as the Aborigines or the Torres Strait islanders’. Eighty per cent of the people answered yes. So we have the power, and we have been able to exercise it intelligently and fairly in every State in Australia except Queensland. The reason why we must discuss this subject as a matter of public importance is that we have not only the power to legislate in respect of Aborigines but also an international obligation to protect their rights. We are subscribers to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. What do articles of that Covenant talk about? They talk about human dignity, freedom, justice, peace and all the other essentials which constitute what humanity is about. The Covenant states that there is not to be any distinction between people on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion or other matters of that type. There is to be no discrimination in granting civil and political rights. Everyone is deemed to be equal before the law.
Aborigines have the right to own property, they have the right to defend themselves and they have the right to legal aid. In other words, they are normal Australians. But this is not so for the Aborigines in Queensland. The situation is an indictment of the Government. We would say that the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner), who will endeavour to defend the Government in this debate would be the most guilty of all because, when he was Minister for Aboriginal Affairs he had a responsibility to Aboriginal people but he abdicated it. Once anybody abdicates the field he can never get back into it. If he walks away from a confrontation with anybody else, the other person is the victor. The likes of the Premier of Queensland and others are the victors in this matter. It is a pyrrhic victory. It is a victory in human terms but it earns nobody credit in this nation and it certainly earns no credit anywhere else in the world.
How can we possibly hold our head up in the United Nations or anywhere else when people from other lands can talk about the indictment of Australians by fellow Australians, namely, the Aborigines? What is wrong with them that they have to be treated as third or fourth class citizens? Why is it that when the national Parliament has the power, the obligation and the money to assist in this area, it abdicates the field in one segment of the nation only? It is an incredible situation. Is it any wonder that the
Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson) abdicated his Cabinet position for a weekend because he could not tolerate the way the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was dealing with the Premier of Queensland? His resignation was a matter of politics that is what this sad story is about- the politics of Queensland- and the politics of the Premier of Queensland, who says: ‘I will tell you what you will do whether you happen to be a resident of Queensland or whether you happen to be the Prime Minister of Australia, the Federal Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs or the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs- it matters little. I will tell you what you will do because I am the uncrowned king in this area’. The Premier of Queensland does not deserve any of the covenants that talk about international human, civil and political rights. There is no question of equal rights in Queensland.
Despite that, the rest of the population of Australia would be ashamed to admit that there are people on reserves in Queensland that are owned by the State Government and they are all subject to dreadful controls and limitations which do not comply with any international covenants. A person may not remain on a reserve if some bureaucrat representing the Premier of Queensland says he has to go. He will leave; he will be removed. A whole segment of the Aboriginal population in Queensland is not on reserves. They say to us, as members of the Opposition: ‘What about putting a case up for us because we are getting nothing from Commonwealth funds’. What is happening to the Commonwealth funds in Queensland is a very interesting matter. I emphasise that it is Commonwealth money. Why is it that the Commonwealth Government itself cannot administer those funds directly?
We have this dreadful situation of there being international covenants dealing with human and political rights and international covenants saying that there is to be no form of racial discrimination, and yet the Queensland Government thumbing its nose at the Prime Minister and the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs. The Queensland Government says: ‘You can do what you like. We own the land in Queensland. These people are on the land and we will give them rights inferior to the rights of every other Australian’. Is it any wonder that we have to raise matters of public importance such as this? For weeks we have received submissions from people on reserves such as Kowanyama, Weipa, Mossman Gorge and Yarrabah giving evidence of the seriousness of the situation. Every one of them says: ‘Can’t you help us? Can’t the national government take up legal responsibilities? Why do we have to be subjected to the dictates of the sorts of people we have controlling reserves’? I am told that the people of Yarrabah have petitioned the Prime Minister to take control of them. What a dreadful situation this portrays.
Aborigines in some areas tell us: ‘We have got some people who purport to help us’. They are the local directors or administrators. When we ask whether they have any experience we are told: ‘Yes, one is from South Africa and the other is from Rhodesia’. That is pretty good experience from the point of view of the average Australian. That is the sort of person who is appointed to be the manager of these reserves. That sort of person who, because his background environment would be inclined to say that anybody who had a different pigmentation in the skin might not be deserving of equality that is deemed to be obligatory under international covenant. No wonder we have the problems being experienced in this country.
We are putting before the Parliament what is wrong with the Government and what is wrong with what is happening in Queensland. Some time ago the Government went through the semantic exercise of saying it would protect the people of the Aurukun and Mornington Island reserves by bringing in a legislation. The legislation was supposed to protect these people. It was called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Reserves and Communities) Bill. The Opposition moved an amendment that clearly said that the best way to protect these people was to define reserves as being reserves as they were when that legislation was introduced. We said to the Government: ‘Do not leave yourself in the weak situation that if the Queensland Goverment dares to alter the definition of reserves, you then lose your legal jurisdiction over them’. We put that up as a proposition. Our amendment was defeated by the Government. This peculiar piece of legislation passed through both Houses. As soon as it did, the Queensland Government changed the status of the reserves, and we now have no legal power at all over Aurukun and Mornington Island. When we tackled the Prime Minister about this situation he said: ‘Never mind. I have a contingency plan ‘. What was that contingency plan? Where was it?
Let us look at what is to be debated today in the Senate. It is the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs on that legislation. The Committee is an all party committee. It says in broad terms:
It is the obligation of the Commonwealth to now legislate to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Queensland are free to manage and control their own affairs.
That is an indictment by the Government’s own Senate Committee. What did it say about the legislation itself? At page 30 it says:
The Committee accepts that this amendment . . .
That refers to the amendment that was moved by the Opposition but never accepted by the Government and was then used as a loophole for the Queensland Government to move straight through and nullify our legislation. It received the following acknowledgment of its merit from the Senate Committee: . . would have removed a major cause of ineffectiveness of the legislation.
That is the position. The ineffectiveness of the legislation would have been removed by the amendment that the Government would not accept. Is it any wonder that now when we talk to people from these reserves, or to any Aboriginal from Queensland, we find that he has been denied his rights. What did the Queensland Government decide to do? In his second reading speech, Mr Viner, who was then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and is now seated at the table, said concerning the legislation:
Elsewhere in Australia Aboriginal communities have been able to manage their local affairs as they wished. Only in Queensland is there legislation that gives government officials power to control, manage and direct communities on reserves.
That was the spirit of that legislation, which has now been nullified. Can we not get back to that spirit? What is wrong with the Government again legislating in this area? It should have but it has failed to do so and the question now is, what will the Government do about it? These people are coming to us in their hundreds and thousands on the basis of that with the rotten government they have in Queensland and the supine, weak government they have in Canberra, they have no protection. That is the situation.
We were told, ‘Well, we are going to get a Queensland Act that says that we will create local government authorities on the Aurukun and Mornington Island. That will be the safeguard. They will get leases’. Have we ever seen the terms of the leases? No, we have not. Despite the protestations, of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner) those two authorities were dismissed by a State Minister in Queensland. They were re-elected last week. All the Minister can say is, ‘I was not consulted.’ Is that good enough? These people now complain to us about all their fishing rights being interfered with, about people corning in and taking all their fish out of their rivers.
Nothing is being done in Queensland. They set up a phoney commission, a really phoney commission, to report- the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Commission. Who was on it? One commissioner was a Mr Stewart, who I understand came from Palm Island originally and is now, of course, a constituent of the Premier of Queensland and therefore suspect. Another was Mr Lui, who is no longer a representative of the Torres Strait Islanders and failed in any election to gain representation for them. Another was Mr Fatnowna who, I am told, has never lived on a reserve in his life. He is a South Sea Islander and has never been deemed part of the Aboriginal community. Another commissioner was Mrs Colless. In euphemistic terms, her appointment was terminated. I have seen the report of the debates in the Queensland Parliament last week and they suggest that she resigned. I understand that she was told to get out. This is the Commission that now comes in and says that everything is all right in Queensland, that we should not worry.
What about the other fundamental issue concerning which this Parliament has never been told anything? The Minister himself made a submission to the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Commission. We never heard about it. It was in many respects a good submission. He started to talk about the rights of Aborigines and about international obligations. In his own submission, which has never been disclosed to this Parliament, he spoke of what should be done by the Queensland Government to help Aborigines in accordance with our obligations. Are we to tolerate a situation in which a Federal Minister has to present a letter, a submission, to a commission that does not even give him any credit for it or refer to it in its report? He must plead with the Commission and suggest that there should be a fair understanding of the issues. The Federal submission states:
It would now be timely to consider that legislation should vest proprietary rights to the reserves in the Aboriginal people themselves.
If that is the Federal submission, why has it not been done? The submission stated further:
Legislation vesting control and/or title to Aboriginal reserves in Aboriginal trusts has been enacted in all other mainland States and in the Northern Territory in the course of the past 12 years.
It seems particularly inappropriate that a government official should have authority to grant permits to people wishing to prospect or mine . . .
How can we hold up our heads? I have only a few moments remaining in which to speak. In short, why does not the Government legislate to take control of all proprietary rights in Queensland on behalf of the Aboriginal people and the Torres Strait Islanders? Why is the Government not getting in there and solving these problems- it will have bloodshed there before long- on the issue of what has happened? Some 73 per cent of Queenslanders object to what is happening in that State now. That is the basis of this motion.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-I find the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) in support of his motion to be completely lacking in substance.
– Read your own submission.
– You are on trial.
-Order! I ask honourable members on my left to refrain from interjecting. The Minister has a right to address the House and be heard in silence.
– The honourable gentleman was, if I might say so, haranguing the House rather than providing it with something better, as I would have expected of him on a subject which is of considerable importance to Australia as a nation, and to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as people. Let me straight away, in answer to the honourable gentleman’s comments regarding the Commonwealth’s submission to the Queensland Aboriginal and Islanders Commission- ask leave to table it.
– Leave is granted. It is the first time that we have heard of it.
– I might even ask for leave to incorporate the submission in Hansard if the Opposition would like me to.
– Leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
In a letter of 28 June 1977 informing me about the appointment of the Aboriginal and Islanders Commission, the then Queensland Minister for Aboriginal and Islanders Advancement and Fisheries, Mr Wharton, invited me to write to him on those aspects of Queensland legislation considered ‘discriminatory against the people to whom they apply’. An exchange of letters followed this invitation (copies included as Appendix ‘A’). I invited Mr Wharton to pass copies of my letter to the members ofthe Commission to provide an outline of the Commonwealth Government’s views. He responded by indicating that he thought the Queensland Aboriginal and Islanders Commission would welcome any submission I might wish to place before it
This submission discusses the points made in my letter to Mr Wharton, identifying specific areas of the Queensland legislation, and administrative practices deriving from it, which have the effect of limiting the rights and freedoms which Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders would otherwise enjoy as Australian citizens; and suggesting the basis on which these provisions might be amended in order to better reflect the needs and aspirations of Aboriginals and Islanders in Queensland.
The basis of the Commonwealth role in Aboriginal affairs
In the referendum of May 1 967, 89.3 per cent of the total votes cast were in favour of the proposals to alter the Constitution to enable Aboriginals to be counted in reckoning the population and to delete the reference to the Aboriginal race which prevented the Commonwealth Parliament making laws for the Aboriginal race in any State. In Queensland, 88.2 per cent of the votes cast were in favour of the Constitutional amendments. As a result of the referendum, the Commonwealth Parliament acquired a concurrent power to legislate for Aboriginals in the States: the States did not lose their power to legislate but for the first time the Federal Parliament could legislate also.
The Commonwealth Government created first an Office and Council for Aboriginal Affairs to advise on policies and programs for Aboriginals and Islanders. In 1972, a Department of Aboriginal Affairs was established and in 1973, with the aim of achieving a more unified national approach in Aboriginal affairs, all the States except Queensland agreed to transfer to the Commonwealth administrative responsibility for policy, planning and co-ordination in Aboriginal affairs.
The Commonwealth has obligations under international covenants and conventions which it has ratified or which it has signed and intends to ratify. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (copy attached at Appendix ‘B’), which should be read in conjunction with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (copy attached at Appendix ‘C’), give effect to the Declaration by prescribing basic civil, economic, social and cultural rights which should be guaranteed to everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin. It also permits the institution of special measures taken for the sole purpose of securing adequate advancement of certain racial or ethnic groups or individuals requiring such protection as may be necessary in order to ensure such groups or individuals equal enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms’ (Article 1.4). The International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights similarly give effect to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and provide internationally accepted definitions of individual rights and freedoms (see Appendix ‘D’). Convention 107 of the International Labour Conference, the ‘Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957’ is also relevant (Appendix ‘E’).
The Commonwealth Government’s major policy commitments are set out in the document attached at Appendix ‘F
In essence, the Commonwealth is committed to: the elimination of disadvantage among Aboriginals and Islanders; the development of Aboriginal/Islander self-management and self-sufficiency; the preservation and promotion of Aboriginal/Islander identity and culture; and the recognition of Aboriginal/Islander rights to traditional areas of land.
As indicated in my letter to Mr Wharton, the Commonwealth Government has no objection in principle to legislation which provides for. the granting of special assistance to Aboriginals/ Islanders as in Sections 36 of the Aborigines Act and 60 of the Torres Strait Islanders Act; and the establishment, functions and powers of Councils on reserves and Advisory Councils.
But to the extent that existing legislation provides for government officials to manage reserves and direct the conduct of people living on reserves, we consider it inappropriate and inconsistent with our policies of self-management. Such provisions have been removed long since from legislation elsewhere in Australia.
The Prime Minister outlined the Commonwealth Government’s broad approach in March this year in the following terms:
We believe that Aboriginal communities to a significant extent should be encouraged to make their own decisions, in their own way, about their own future, giving all the assistance and help that we can in that, but building up selfesteem and pride in what people achieve for themselves.
One of the problems with policies in relation to Aboriginal people in the past has been that a Department here or a Department there, or other Australians, have come along and said ‘this is what’s good for you’. Now we believe that those days are well and truly past, and that while help needs to be provided, while finance needs to be provided, and advice, but to the maximum extent possible, that we want a situation where the Aboriginal people can make their own decisions, develop their own selfconfidence, pride and esteem in what they’re doing for and on account of themselves.
As suggested in my letter to Mr Wharton, I think it appropriate for the Commission to consider the possible amendment of the legislation to give Aboriginal and Island Councils full responsibility for exercising ‘the functions of local government’ in reserves. In Mr Wharton’s reply on 18 November 1977, he drew attention to regulations requiring a joint management relationship between the Council and Manager of any Reserve’. Regulation 19 of the Aborigines Regulations provides that ‘an Aboriginal Council shall be responsible to the Manager for the conduct, discipline and well-being of Aborigines residing within the Reserve or Community’.
The effect of the legislation and regulations is that officials, as well as Councils, manage the affairs of reserve communities and the officials have the overriding power and responsibility.
Under the Acts, the Governor in Council may appoint a manager of a reserve and may establish a community on a reserve and appoint ‘such officers, resident or visiting, as he thinks necessary for the well-being of the persons within the community’. The manager and other officers who have control of reserves are responsible to and subject to the direction of the Director of Aboriginal and Islanders Advancement.
Managers appointed to reserves are responsible to the Minister and the Director of Aboriginal and Islanders Advancement, not to the Aboriginal communities. Regulation 7 provides that a community on a reserve is ‘under the control of the Manager and Council of such a community’, but Regulation 19, in making Councils responsible to managers, dearly established that the dual control system is not a partnership of equals: the Manager is in charge.
The situation in the Torres Strait Islands is different from that on the larger Aboriginal reserves, though the law relating to Island reserves is very similar to the law applying to Aboriginal reserves. The management of Island reserves may be vested in managers and officers may be appointed to communities on Island reserves, but generally there are no resident managers on the Island reserves. The Island Councils are hence not responsible to managers but to a District Officer in Thursday Island. To this extent, the Island Councils are more independent than Aboriginal Councils, but they remain subject to the control and direction of the District Officer and the Director and thereby remain under the direct administration of the Department. The Councils, like Councils on the Aboriginal reserves, do not dispose of funds themselves and do not employ their own workers. As long as officials control the expenditure of money and employment in reserve communities there can be no real community selfmanagement of the kind exercised by Aboriginal communities elsewhere in Australia.
My submission is that both Aboriginal and Island Councils could take full responsibility for the management of reserve communities and that appropriate changes in the legislation for this purpose would enhance the dignity, self-respect and self-reliance of reserve communities.
In much the same way as the management of reserves remains under official control, the trusteeship of land in Aboriginal and Island reserves is vested in an official. I stated in my letter to Mr Wharton that in my view the vesting of the reserves in the Director of Aboriginal and Islanders Advancement as trustee is not consonant with the present aspirations and wishes of the Aboriginal and Islander people as I understand them.
Consistent with the Federal Liberal and National Country Parties’ policy commitments to grant title to traditional lands in Aboriginal Reserves in the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth Government’s view is that Aboriginal traditional lights to land should be recognised. I submit that it would now be timely to consider recommending that legislation should vest proprietary rights to the reserves in Queensland in the Aboriginal and Islander people themselves. Legislation vesting control and lor title to Aboriginal reserves in Aboriginal trusts has been enacted in all other mainland States and in the Northern Territory in the course of the past twelve years.
Such a move would be consistent with Article 1 1 of the International Labour Organisation’s Convention No. 107 on Indigenous and Tribal Populations which states: .
The right of ownership, collective or individual, of the members of the populations concerned over the lands which these populations traditionally occupy shall be recognised.
By conferring on the Aboriginal and Island people themselves full proprietary and legal rights to the lands set aside for their use and benefit, it would allow Aboriginals and Islanders to manage these lands directly for their own benefit. As landholders, Aboriginal groups would be subject to the ordinary laws of the State including laws relating to land use. But they would be in a position to make their own decisions about the use and development of these lands rather than having decisions taken for them by Government officials as at present
As indicated in my letter to Mr Wharton, it may be appropriate, in order to meet the differing needs of the situation in Queensland, to consider for some areas vesting reserve lands in Aboriginal trusts in ways that differ somewhat from the approach adopted in most other States, while following the approach which the Commonwealth Government has adopted in the Northern Territory in other areas.
The Northern Territory scheme of vesting land in Trusts which hold inalienable freehold title on behalf of the traditional owners of the land and others entitled traditionally to the use and occupation of the land would be appropriate in the Gulf and Peninsula Reserves and the Torres Strait Islands. In these places, most of the residents have, and wish to retain, traditional rights, interests and obligations in relation to the land in the reserves. A single Trust might, for example, hold tide to all the Torres Strait Island Reserves on behalf of all those Islanders traditionally entitled to the use of the Islands.
Elsewhere, in order to give a real sense of local control, there could be separate trusts for each reserve or community rather than a single State-wide trust as in South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia. Provision could be made for Trusts to grant leases of land, with the consent of the people whose traditional interests are affected, for Government, community and other non-traditional purposes.
In the case of the other reserves where the majority of residents would generally not be people with traditional rights in the land, a modification of the schemes adopted in the States might provide for trusts to hold tide on behalf of the Aboriginal people of Queensland or of the residents of the particular reserve.
The Commission may consider that leasehold title would be more appropriate than freehold in the case of the southern and town reserves where traditional rights are less important, but it should be noted that freehold title to similar reserves has been granted in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
It seems particularly inappropriate that a Government official should have authority to grant permits to people wishing to prospect or mine on reserves and to make agreements with such people, as provided in Sections 29 and 30 of the Aborigines Act and Sections 30 and 31 of the Torres Strait Islanders Act.
Consistent with the Commonwealth Government’s approach in the Northern Territory, I submit that it would be appropriate to vest in the Trust or in Councils or other bodies representing the Aboriginal people for whose benefit the land is set aside, the power to authorise entry to reserves for mining purposes and to negotiate agreements on miningpowers at present held by the Director of Aboriginal and Islanders Advancement as trustee. The present legislation requires the approval of the trustee or the Minister to the issue of a mining tenement. It would be reasonable to require that both the appropriate Aboriginal body and the Minister approve the granting of a mining tenement and to provide for Aboriginal/Islander views to be overridden only if the Government were to resolve that the national interest required the granting of the tenement as a matter of necessity.
The Commonwealth Government is concerned about any legislation which in either its intention or effect limits or circumscribes the rights and freedoms of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in comparison with those enjoyed by other Australian citizens. In 1 975 the Commonwealth Parliament enacted the Racial Discrimination Act, giving effect to the Racial Discrimination Convention, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Discriminatory Laws) Act in order to supersede certain provisions of the Queensland legislation which had the effect of discriminating against Queensland Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders (copies attached at Appendix ‘G’). In framing its overriding legislation, the Commonwealth drew upon the internationally accepted definitions of individual rights and freedoms contained in the United Nations documents to which I referred earlier.
The Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Reserves and Communities Self-Management) Act 1978 (Appendix ‘ H ‘) is another example of Commonwealth legislation designed to allow Aboriginals and Islanders in Queensland freedom to manage their own affairs.
Both the Racial Discrimination Act and the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Discriminatory Laws) Act referred to provisions of legislation relating to the management of property. Certain provisions of the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders Acts relating to the management of property of Aboriginals or Islanders were removed by the Aborigines Act and Torres Strait Islanders Act Amendment Act 1974. The amendments permit an Aboriginal or Islander to terminate the management of his property by notice in writing witnessed by a Justice of the Peace. However, the amendments left intact provisions that authorise the continued management under the present legislation of property managed without the consent of Aboriginals and Islanders under earlier Queensland legislation. Provisions remain in the legislation which allow the official management of property of Aboriginals and Islanders to continue and, as I indicated in my letter of 26 October 1977 to Mr Wharton, I do not think that there is any place today for laws providing for the management of property of people of Aboriginal or Islander descent by government officials. Such provisions of this kind that existed in the laws of other States and Territories were all repealed years ago.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Discriminatory Laws) Act identified six other aspects of the Queensland legislation which were considered to limit or circumscribe the ordinary rights and freedoms of Aboriginals and Islanders and in particular those living in reserves:
The Aborigines Act and the Torres Strait Islanders Act, subject to some exceptions, require persons, including Aboriginals and Islanders, to obtain a permit if they wish to visit or reside on reserves. These provisions have the effect of limiting the ordinary freedom of Aboriginals and Islanders to visit and stay with their families and relatives. In other parts of Australia, legislation providing for the restriction of entry to reserves has exempted Aboriginals from the requirement to obtain permission to enter reserves established for their use and benefit. It is possible to provide for the suspension of a person ‘s right to be on a reserve, if this is necessary for the maintenance of order, with proper safeguards.
The Commonwealth Act provides that it is not to be necessary for an Aboriginal or Islander to obtain a permit to enter and be on a Queensland reserve. However, the Act does not authorise an Aboriginal or Islander to enter or be on a reserve in contravention of a direction given to him by or on behalf of a Council in respect of that reserve.
Regulation 14 of the Aborigines Regulations and Regulation 1 1 of the Torres Strait Islanders Regulations provide that a person may be ‘ejected’ from a reserve ‘with such force as is reasonably necessary’ if he does not conduct himself properly and ‘to the satisfaction of the Aboriginal (Islander) Council and the Manager or District Officer’. Aboriginals (Islanders) on reserves are thus subject to extraordinary and arbitrary powers which can be exercised by a government official, and to which people living elsewhere in Queensland or in Australia are not subject.
The Commonwealth Act provides that an Aboriginal or Islander is not to be ejected from a reserve or penalised under any Queensland law relating to a reserve under such a provision if, in fact, his conduct was not unreasonable.
Sections 11 and 13 of the Aborigines Act and of the Torres Strait Islanders Act permit visiting justices and officials to enter and inspect premises in reserves for certain purposes. Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that ‘no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence’ and ‘everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks ‘.
The Commonwealth Act provides that a person is not entitled, without consent of the Aboriginal or Islander, to enter these premises unless the entry would not be unlawful if the premises were situated outside a reserve.
In relation to Aboriginal/Islander Courts, regulations provide that each party may, subject to the consent of the Court, be assisted by an advocate at the Court. Australians elsewhere have an unqualified right to legal representation before the Courts.
The Commonwealth Act provides that an Aboriginal or Islander is to be entitled to be legally represented in proceedings for an offence before an Aboriginal or Islander Court.
The Commonwealth Act also has the effect of preventing an Aboriginal or Islander from being convicted by such a Court of an offence against Regulations or By-laws made under the Queensland legislation unless a right of appeal exists in the matter to a superior Court The Queensland legislation provides merely for an appeal to a District Officer and to a visiting Justice.
By-laws in force on Queensland reserves have provided that all able-bodied persons over the age of15 years residing on a reserve shall, unless otherwise determined by the Manager of the reserve, perform such work as is directed by the Manager or person authorised by the Manager. The Commonwealth Act provides that an Aboriginal or Islander on a reserve is not to be required to comply with any direction to perform work unless the direction is given in relation to the performance of reasonable community obligations or unless the work is in relation to an obligation that the Aboriginal would be obliged to perform if the direction were given outside the reserve.
The Queensland legislation contains provisions relating to the employment of Aboriginals and Islanders in accordance with the provision of awards, but these provisions apply only outside reserves. There is also a provision that provides that an Aboriginal who is an aged, infirm or slow worker may be paid less than the basic wage or minimum wage prescribed by an award. This provision only applies to Aboriginals and does not apply generally to persons in the workforce. Article 23 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work’.
The Commonwealth Act provides that Aboriginals and Islanders in Queensland are not to be employed on terms and conditions of employment that are less favourable than those applicable to other employees. An Aboriginal or Islander is to be entitled to be paid wages at a rate not less than the rate at which wages would be payable to him if he were not an Aboriginal or Islander.
These specific points illustrate the way in which the legislation curtails the ordinary rights and freedoms enjoyed by Aboriginals and Islanders as Australian citizens. I do not suggest, however, that the Commission should focus its attention narrowly on the particular provisions referred to, but rather that it should consider the broad framework of Administration of the reserves and the communities established on them.
In summary, I submit that all special legislative and administrative measures affecting Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders should be based on respect for individual dignity and human rights and should be designed to develop selfrespect, independence, self-management and self-sufficiency of Aboriginals and Islanders. Specifically, I submit that the Commission consider recommending that:
Aboriginal and Island Councils should have full responsibility and authority for managing reserve communities; official powers of management and control of reserves and reserve communities and persons on them should be terminated; title to reserves should be vested in appropriate Aboriginal and Island trusts; the trusts or councils or other representative Aboriginal bodies should be empowered to authorise entry to reserves for exploration and mining purposes and to negotiate agreements on mining.
– That will show the earnestness of the Commonwealth in its approach to the attainment of human rights for all people in Australia, particularly with regard to Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders. One would think, from listening to the honourable gentleman, that the Commonwealth had never legislated for Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islanders in Queensland. The situation is quite to the contrary. The honourable gentleman’s own government in 1975, when it was in office, passed the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Discriminatory Laws) Act 1975. When the honourable member, in debate, says that State officials can order individuals to leave a reserve, or can preclude them for entering it, he really is not giving enough credit to the legislation of his own government. That Act seeks to entrench certain basic human rights, in favour of Aboriginal and Islanders in Queensland.
– They are not enforced.
– That legislation is available to every individual who wants to use it to support his personal rights or defend himself against any administrative or legal action brought against them contrary thereto. The honourable gentleman interjects and says that the Commonwealth has not done anything to support or enforce that legislation. Let me give him one simple but graphic illustration of what the Commonwealth Government has done. Recently, a number of Aboriginals claimed that they were underpaid as a result of a discriminatory low wage, paid to them because they were Aboriginals, for work done for the Queensland Department through the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Islander advancement. Their case was taken up by the Austraiian Workers Union and was prosecuted before the appropriate industrial tribunal in Queensland. The Commonwealth declared its intention to intervene on the side of those Aboriginals, to plead this particular Federal Act. The case was adjourned and then the parties, the particular Aboriginal who was the plaintiff representing all of them, the Queensland Government and the Queensland director of Aboriginal and Islander advancement settled the case out of court
– They were underpaid.
– I would judge that the reason it was settled out of court was so that a court would not rule on this particular legislation. It shows the force of this particular law, which can be used to support the personal rights of individuals. The honourable gentleman has also referred to Aurukun and Mornington Island and has sought to throw cold water on what has been achieved there. I will always stand in this House, and in any public forum, and uphold what was done by this Government when I was the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs for the people of Aurukun and Mornington Island. Their reserve had been abolished by an Act of the Queensland Government. We had passed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Reserves and Communities Self-management) Act 1978. We sought to obtain from the Queensland Government assurances that it would provide for the Aboriginal residents real self-management and real security of tenure for the two reserves. The result was the passage through the Queensland Parliament of Act No. 6 of 1978 for the creation of a local authority area at Aurukun and Mornington Island and to authorise the granting of long term leases to secure the traditional rights of the Aboriginal residents. I am pleased to advise that the leases for both those communities were granted on 1 8 January this year.
– Will you tender them?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! I require the Deputy Leader ofthe Opposition to remain silent. He addressed the House in silence and I ask .him to accord the same privilege to the Minister.
– Recently, local authority elections were held at both Aurukun and Mornington Island and new councils were elected. I am informed that almost all of the former councillors in both places were re-elected, including both former chairmen. At Mornington Island this Saturday and at Aurukun this Sunday, the Queensland Minister for Local Government, Mr Hinze, accompanied by the Commonwealth Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Chaney, will inaugurate the new councils pursuant to those elections under the authority of the Queensland legislation to which I have referred. As from the time of that inauguration, the administrators will cease their functions and the councils will be fully self-governing authorities in their own rights. Therefore, the twin goals ofthe Commonwealth when we embarked upon consultation with the Queensland Government leading to the Queensland legislation No. 6 of 1978 have been achieved. Self-management has been achieved in a real way which no other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island community in Queensland has achieved. The residents of Aurukun and Mornington Island have security of tenure for their land and have been granted their traditional rights in a way which no other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community in Queensland has achieved. We are at the threshold of a continuing movement in Queensland to achieve these twin goals for all Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.
I have been advised that Mr Hinze and the Queensland Premier, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, on 4 July and 11 August, assured the people at Aurukun that their leases would be for the initial period of 50 years and for a further period of 50 years. So in effect they have a lease and security of tenure for their land for 100 years. I have also been advised that details of the lease to which I have referred have been incorporated in recent amendments to the Queensland Local Government (Aboriginal Lands) Act, which is the legislation to which I have referred. I would have thought that the honourable gentleman could have looked that up for himself and obtained all the necessary details. This progress has been achieved as a result of co-operation with the Queensland Government by standing firm in a spirit of co-operation and not one of confrontation, as the Opposition would have us do.
I will refer to the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs on Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders on Queensland Reserves. I refer to page 43 of the report. As I understand the gravamen of the Committee’s recommendations, it thought that, because there was no prospect of co-operation between the Commonwealth Government and the State Government, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Reserves and Communities Self-management) Act of this Parliament was not likely to be effective. The report states in paragraph 73:
Such legislation may well have its greatest impact in overriding provisions of State legislation which diminish powers of self-management and control.
That is exactly what the legislation passed by this Parliament does. The report continues:
Furthermore, such legislation has the capacity to be entirely effective when enacted as part of a co-operative arrangement with the relevant State.
– I am glad to hear the honourable gentleman affirm those observations. More particularly, I am pleased to inform him and the House that at this very moment discussions are going on in a spirit of co-operation between the Queensland and Commonwealth governments with regard to the implementation of that selfmanagement legislation. These discussions result from a request made to the Commonwealth by the community at Yarrabah to be granted selfmanagement under the Commonwealth Act and also from a request of the Commonwealth Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to negotiate with the Queensland Government for land tenure similar to the tenure that has been obtained in the Northern Territory. The Minister commenced negotiations with his counterpart in Queensland following communications between the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Queensland Premier. As a result, communications have been taking place between officials as a prelude to further Ministerial discussions. Talks were held yesterday and are going on today in Brisbane in response to the request of the Yarrabah people.
Is is not only for them that these discussions are proceeding but for aU Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders living on reserves in Queensland. The object of these discussions is to see whether, in a spirit of co-operation, a legal and administrative framework might be worked out covering all reserves so that there will be a continuing forward movement on the basis of the Commonwealth legislation and of any amendments to the Queensland legislation or further legislation which the Queensland Government might wish to pass to give effect to these twin goals of selfmanagement and security of tenure. So, it cannot be said that the Commonwealth is not alert in responding to the aspirations of the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders of Queensland. It can, in fact, be said that through the Commonwealth Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Chaney, these aspirations are being pursued actively and in their interests.
As I have shown by the incorporation of my submission to the Queensland inquiry into the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Acts, we have a clear charter which guides us in the pursuit of our efforts for the Aboriginal and Islander people of Queensland. The advice that I have received from my colleague is that the discussions that are under way are proceeding very well and we would expect that they will be fruitful in the end and to the advantage of the Aboriginal and Islander people. What has happened, Mr Speaker, is that the Commonwealth selfmanagement legislation has been a catalyst for the advance of human rights for the Aboriginal and Islander people of Queensland. The Local Government (Aboriginal Lands) Act 1978 might very well be regarded as the flag flying at the masthead of human rights in Queensland. As I have said, those two communities, as a result of Commonwealth action, now enjoy rights which other Aboriginals and Islanders in Queensland do not enjoy. But because of the lead given by these two communities the others may well expect that some time in the future they too will enjoy them.
I refer also to the fact that the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission is active in Queensland in acquiring property on behalf of the Aboriginals. For example, at Murray Upper a freehold farm area and some forest leases have been purchased, and at Daintree a freehold farm has been purchased. I am advised that The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Chaney) will be presenting the tide to the freehold property to the people in that community in the very near future.
-Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– The Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) has put to the House a modest proposal which seeks to convince us that the Government really has done something about this flag of freedom flying at the masthead for Queenslanders. That flag of freedom is not recognised by the Aboriginal people. They have not been involved in the negotiations which produced the lease and they have not been involved in the negotiations that the Minister speaks of as going on now. They have never been involved in any of the negotiations which the Minister described as being carried out in a spirit of co-operation as distinct from confrontation. What is happening is that the Federal Government is appeasing or falling over backwards to please the Queensland Government. It is not implementing its legislation or the legislation of the Labor Government to remove discrimination. There are still people at Aurukun, Mornington Island and all the other State settlements in Queensland who are suffering under the heel of an apartheid-type rule and dictatorship which was imposed on them without consultation with them or their democratically chosen leaders or representatives. This has resulted in such things as a manager appointed by bureaucrats in Brisbane having the right to keep people off their traditional homeland, the land on which they were born and the land which traditionally belongs to their tribal ancestors. This prevents Aboriginal people visiting each other and sending messages to each other by telephone, telegram or post. It affects their right to travel to town, to call ambulances or to seek medical care. All these rights can be vetoed by a white manager who has nothing in common with the Aboriginal people, who is not chosen or employed by them, and cannot be sacked by them. He is a civil servant in the service of Mr Killoran, the Director of the Department of Aboriginal and Islander Advancement in Queensland, a man whose name is not one that Aboriginals respect, and that is putting it mildly.
Not only is there a lack of self-determination in the matter of where Aboriginals are entitled to live or with whom they can communicate, but also there are many other human rights denied Aboriginals in Queensland.
Motion (by Mr Bourchier) put:
That the business of the day be called on.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
-For the information of honourable members I present the annual report of the Department of the House of Representatives for the year 1978. This is the first annual report of the Department, which is the secretariat of the House. Among other matters, the report describes the activities and business of the House in 1978 and records the several developments and reforms of House procedures and practices which occurred last year. The Government’s decision to proceed with a new and permanent parliament house made 1978 a year of great historical significance. It was also an important year in the procedural development of the House. I refer in particular to the introduction of legislation committees which will open up great potential for improvements in the way this House examines proposed legislation. I pay tribute to the
Government’s support for this and other parliamentary initiatives taken in 1978.
But 1978 was also significant because of the growth of interest in parliamentary reform, both inside the House and elsewhere. There is much debate on how this Parliament can become more effective and how the practices and procedures of the two Houses, and of this House in particular, might be made more responsive to the demands made upon a modern legislature. I have been aware of the deepening interest of members in these matters and their belief that reform must ultimately come from the House itself. The past was a history of neglect of reform of the House’s practices and procedures. Rarely had reform been an important issue for government or for the majority of members. For 49 years the House operated under provisional Standing Orders based on those of the State Houses of Parliament whose own standing orders were in turn substantially based upon those of the House of Commons at Westminster in the 19th century. Apart from increasing controls over the time allowed to members to speak, the only wide-ranging and fundamental reforms which had taken place in this House in the previous 77 years were the reforms adopted in 1963 to modernise and streamline financial procedures.
Accordingly, a large backlog of issues has built up at the heart of the parliamentary institution and for which reform is now overdue. My own list includes the role of committees, research and administrative support for members, the organisation and functions of the parliamentary departments, a parliamentary budget, the financial procedures of the House, especially in relation to the Budget, programming of business, debating time for the Opposition and private members, parliamentary privilege, televising of Parliament and the independence, authority and powers of the Speakership. Each of these items is complex. Some could not be resolved quickly or easily. Parliamentary reform must not ignore the proper relationship between the three arms of government in the Westminster system. I wish to see a patient and careful review with full, deliberate and informed debate leading towards the adoption of a range of reforms. To do that the debate needs to be more structured and to find direction.
The Clerk of the House has great knowledge and expertise in the ways of this House its traditions, its procedures, its strengths and weaknesses. Indeed, it is the Clerk’s report which I have tabled. Therefore it is appropriate that the Clerk should prepare, for the consideration of the House, comprehensive discussion papers on parliamentary reform. The papers should provide a focus for debate in the House after consideration by the Executive and parties. After the debate, concentrated attention could be given to determination of a reform agenda and the priorities within it, identification of reforms which warrant immediate implementation and the establishment of an appropriate method to undertake long term reviews and to bring forward proposals to the House.
- Mr Speaker, will there be an opportunity to debate this excellent report?
-I have delivered the report to the House; I made an accompanying statement. It will be a matter of the programing of the House and its procedures as to whether there will be a debate.
– On behalf of the Opposition I take the opportunity of making a request of the Government that there be time allocated in the near future to enable a significant debate to take place in view of the very salient points that have been made affecting the well-being of parliamentarians and the effective operation of the Parliament. Could I have an assurance that the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) might consider making available such a debating opportunity?
-The request of the Opposition Whip will be brought to the attention of the Leader of the House.
Motion (by Mr Clyde Cameron)- by leave- proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hurford) adjourned.
-Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been mispresented?
– Yes. It has just been drawn to my attention that in the discussion on the matter of public importance yesterday I am reported at page 1489 of the Hansard record as stating:
I shall ask my old friend Ralph Nader, with whom I travelled around Australia in 1 97 1 when the former member for Lalor, Dr Jim Cairns and I brought him here on road safety issues . . .
If the tapes are listened to I think it will be found that I did not mention Dr Jim Cairns. I was referring to the present member for Lalor, Mr Barry Jones. There was one other error. It was my fault.
I mentioned 1971 instead of 1972. 1 ask that that be corrected in Hansard.
-I will ask the Principal Parliamentary Reporter to listen to the tapes and check.
– by leave- Tourism is a very significant Australian industry. It is already of considerable economic and social consequence. Even more important, however, are its prospects for growth. This industry has the potential to bring major benefits in improving the balance of payments, generating employment opportunities in both country and city areas, and improving cultural contact between Australia and overseas societies. Until recently the concept of travel or tourism as representing an integrated and recognisable industry- an industry in the traditional Australian sense- has not been accepted by the Australian people.
It is not going too far to say that the increasing acceptance of this concept of tourism is a measure of the developing maturity of Australia as a nation. The gathering recognition of the economic and social benefits flowing from tourism and the persistence and drive of people in the tourist industry have been factors to which the changing concept of tourism can be attributed.
The tourist industry has assumed particular significance in the Australian economy in recent years and this importance can be expected to increase. It is significant from the point of view of the industry’s long term growth prospects and its ability to contribute to employment opportunities and foreign exchange earnings. According to calculations made by the Bureau of Industry Economics in the Bureau’s preliminary working paper on the economic significance of tourism, the industry’s contribution to gross domestic product amounted to 2.7 per cent in 1973-74, the latest year for which data are available. The industry’s contribution to total employment was estimated at 2.5 per cent and usage of Australia ‘s capital stock at 2.9 per cent. The BIE has also estimated that a 5 per cent increase in foreign visitor expenditure would lead to the employment of 1,340 persons throughout the Australian economy. Foreign exchange earnings from tourism are currently around $325m a year.
In recognition of the importance attached to this industry and in order to be better informed as to its potential and the problems it faced, on 1
December 1976 the Government announced the appointment of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Tourism to inquire into and report on a number of issues concerning tourism in Australia. These issues included an examination of the significance and potential of tourism, its economic considerations, its special features and problems facing the industry. The Committee was requested to recommend courses of action to overcome those problems. With the prorogation of the Parliament on 28 February 1977, the Select Committee ceased to exist. A second committee was subsequently appointed in March 1977. It presented an interim report just prior to the dissolution of the House on 10 November 1977. At this point I might mention that one of the major recommendations contained in the interim report was that the Export Market Development Grants scheme should be amended to cover the travel and tourist industry. This served to reinforce the Government’s resolve to assist the industry in this regard and, as the House is aware, the enabling legislation was enacted during the last sitting of Parliament.
Since the interim report was tabled, I have also established the Travel and Tourist Industry Advisory Council, which comprises representatives of a broad cross-section of industry, consumers, trade unions and two parliamentarians. The Council has had four meetings and has provided me and the Government with significant advice regarding the various recommendations of the Select Committee. The interim report of the Select Committee confirmed the importance of the inquiry into the tourist industry and the Committee was subsequently reconstituted on 2 March 1978. After a detailed and searching inquiry, including the examination of some 190 submissions and a total of 206 witnesses, the final report of the Committee was tabled in the House on 26 October 1978. Following its tabling in Parliament, the Committee’s report has been subject to a detailed examination by my Department and comment and advice has been sought from other Commonwealth Government departments and authorities, State and Territory governments and the tourist industry.
Perhaps at this time I should briefly outline the Government’s general policy on tourism, bearing in mind that it has been agreed by Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for tourism that the promotion and development of tourism within Australia is the prime responsibility of the States, the territories and the industry. The Commonwealth’s main role lies in the creation of a stable economic climate in which the travel and tourist industry, along with other industries, can achieve its full potential. The Commonwealth, however, has a more specific responsibility and that is to encourage overseas visitors to travel to and within Australia. It is against this background that the Government has accorded top priority to restoring economic stability, with the main emphasis being on reducing inflation. Success in these endeavours is necessary in order to provide a sound basis for growth. A considerable degree of success has been achieved. Australia’s annual rate of inflation has been reduced significantly. The competitive position of Australian industries has been improved and increased interest is being shown in new investment. There is a resurgence of consumer and business confidence.
We are at the same time concerned to increase employment opportunities in Australia and to increase our foreign exchange earnings. This concern has been reflected in the Government’s recent initiatives to encourage greater export activity. In recognising the economic significance of tourism, the Select Committee acknowledges the difficulty in quantifying the extent of this economic significance. It therefore recommended in recommendation No. 2 that a study of the economic significance of tourism be undertaken as a matter of urgency. It is pleasing to record that the Bureau of Industry Economics is well on the way with its study of the economic significance of tourism. A working paper on the first stage of the study has been completed and is being circulated to interested parties for comment.
In addition to creating a sound economic base from which the tourist industry can grow and prosper, the Government has undertaken a number of initiatives aimed at encouraging the advancement of the industry. A record 37 per cent increase in funds was provided to the Australian Tourist Commission in 1978-79, which has enabled the Commission to double its marketing activities overseas. To support these activities, new publications have been printed and others are in the process of production. These are in foreign languages as well as in English. The ATC’s new publications are being well received overseas. Two films are now being produced. One is a major destination film which will replace the current ATC standard film, of which 1,000 prints have been distributed around the world. The other is being developed specifically for the United States market. As well, audio visual presentations have been developed for use in marketing promotions. The ‘Make Friends for Australia’ campaign is in progress. Every Australian leaving the country is being asked to encourage people overseas to visit Australia. The response has been very good.
Early in May the ATC will take some 30 leading Australian tourist industry executives to the United Kingdom and Europe on a mission to sell Australian travel products to the outbound travel industry in Great Britain and continental Europe. In the markets, the Commission is now undertaking promotions to the travel trade, coordinating Australian supplements in overseas publications, stepping up media publicity on Australia and undertaking its most comprehensive consumer advertising campaigns for more than five years. The travel and tourist industry has also been encouraged to extend its overseas promotional effort following the enactment of legislation to extend coverage of the Export Market Development Grants scheme to this very significant industry. In the first year of operation of the extended scheme, it is estimated that accrued grants payable to the travel and tourist industry could be as high as $3. 25m. The Commission is presently adapting its programs to enable the industry to derive maximum benefit from the grants scheme. One of the impediments to increasing the number of overseas visitors to Australia has been the high cost of international air fares between Australia and our major markets, such as Europe, North America and Japan. In addition to being relatively isolated geographically, the vastness of our country has meant the cost of travel within Australia has been an inhibiting factor.
The Government has given particular attention to these problems and has undertaken comprehensive reviews of its civil aviation policy. As a result, significant reductions in air fares between Australia and several of our major tourist markets have been announced and lower fares to other countries are currently under negotiation. Additionally, the domestic airline industry is cur.rently examining the possibility of introducing a more innovative fare structure, which it is hoped will make domestic air travel within Australia more attractive. The airlines have also been asked to explore a wider range of fare types, principally by the addition of low fares, coupled with reduced certainty of seat access. Although discussions are continuing, the airlines have already responded by the extension of advance purchase excursion fares to Darwin, Alice Springs, Mount Isa and Canberra. A further initiative has been the introduction of stand-by fares, which provide for a 30 per cent discount on the normal economy fare. I am hopeful that further concessional fares will be announced shortly.
The lower fares are broadening the profile of tourists to Australia and the Australian Tourist Commission has been active in motivating these tourists to move more widely in Australia. These new air fares are undoubtedly contributing to increased travel to Australia by tourists from overseas. However, the fares alone will of course not achieve the substantial increases envisaged. They make us more competitive in the markets, but increased promotion is necessary if one is to capitalise on them.
As a consequence of these initiatives, the Australian tourist industry can look forward with confidence to accelerated growth over the next five years. The Australian Tourist Commission has advised me that, in 1979 alone, overseas visitors are expected to increase by some 10 per cent- an increase of 60,000 over the previous year- and that the annual growth rate could be as high as 15 per cent by 1981. This would lead to over one million tourists coming to Australia annually by 1983. These forecasts of growth for the travel and tourist industry are most encouraging. I am concerned, however, that the industry provides additional capacity to handle the increased numbers of overseas visitors. Clearly, any deficiencies that do exist will need to be overcome quickly and I will be discussing this matter in some considerable detail with my tourist ministerial colleagues at the next meeting of the tourist ministers’ council in June. I might say in passing that I have already made contact with all of the state Ministers and that action in terms of reporting to me is taking place at the present time.
There is clearly a compelling need for new hotels of international standard in several State capital cities. I am aware of a number of discussions which are taking place on this subject. I hope that decisions to proceed will be announced in the near future, as of course the need is very urgent. The Select Committee’s report highlighted other problems which also must be overcome if Australia is to attain the maximum benefits this industry has to offer in terms of its contribution to employment, foreign exchange earnings and economic growth generally. The high cost of labour is a major factor inhibiting the growth potential of tourism in Australia and this problem is exacerbated by a wage structure problem. The Select Committee concluded that:
The present wages conditions in the tourist industry provide a positive competitive disadvantage to the Australian tourist industry vis-a-vis other countries, and the present penalty rate structure prejudices employment opportunities in the industry.
Whilst the potential benefits from tourism are great, Australia must face the reality that it is a very competitive industry in which high standards are demanded around the clock, seven days a week, not just on a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. basis Monday to Friday. To achieve this standard of service and to match our international competitors ways must be found to rationalise the present wage structure. The Select Committee recognised the difficulty in resolving this problem and has recommended that a tripartite working group be established’. . . to inquire into and report on the “normal” hours of work, penalty rates and related working conditions’. This recommendation has been taken up by the Government and a tripartite committee was recently established under the chairmanship of Mr Charles Trethowan, Chairman of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, to examine the effects on employment, particularly of young people, of a variety of factors including penalty rates.
There were 30 recommendations and 15 conclusions without recommendations in the Committee’s report. Whilst the conclusions of the Committee did not call for specific action, I have brought them to the attention of my colleagues who have specific responsibilities in respect of particular aspects raised. In regard to the Committee’s recommendations, most of which required specific action by the Commonwealth Government, I am pleased to report that a number have already been implemented or are being implemented at the present time. Among these are the study of the economic significance of tourism and the tripartite committee to inquire into and report on penalty rates and related issues, both of which I mentioned earlier. On the question of adequate data, sufficient funds were provided to the Australian Tourist Commission to enable it to re-introduce the survey of international visitors to Australia. The survey will commence in April.
The Government agrees with the Committee’s conclusions that the tourist industry would benefit from increased competition by rent-a-car operators at airports. Honourable members will be aware that tenders were recently called for the operation of rent-a-car facilities at airports on terms which will provide for increased competition.
As might be expected, many of the recommendations for Commonwealth action have expenditure implications- for example, recommendation No. 18 concerning depreciation allowances for income producing buildings and investment allowances; recommendation No. 22 dealing with funding for the Australian Tourist Commission; and recommendation No. 12 dealing with the new tourist village to service visitors at Ayers Rock. These matters are to be considered by the Government in the context of the 1979-80 Budget.
Recommendation No. 24 dealt with the departure tax which was announced in the 1978-79 Budget. My colleague, the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar), is responsible for administering the legislation covering the departure tax and he will be reviewing the operation of that legislation. With regard to the suggestion that the proceeds of the tax should be used for the promotion and development of Australian tourism, I remind honourable members that this tax was introduced as a general revenue measure and not as a means of financing a particular area of government expenditure such as tourism promotion. As a general principle, the Government is not in favour of earmarking or ‘hypothecation’ of particular forms of revenue to particular areas of expenditure.
In recommendation No. 32, the Select Committee recommended that the Government expedite legislation to register travel agents. Honourable members will be aware that, on 26 January 1979, 1 announced that the Government had decided not to proceed with such legislation. This announcement followed careful attention by the Government to the need for Commonwealth legislation in respect of travel agents. The Government concluded that the very heavy administrative burden which would result, and the inherent additional costs to the industry, and ultimately the travelling public, could not be justified.
Decisions in respect of a number of the Committee ‘s recommendations have not yet been finalised for several reasons. I have already mentioned that some of them will be considered in the context of the next Budget. Four of the recommendations are to be discussed at the next meeting ofthe Tourist Ministers’ Council which will be held in June of this year. For example, recommendation No. 27 called for the Tourist Ministers’ Council to consider ways to improve the methods of funding regional tourist associations. The remaining recommendations are currently the subject of further discussion and it is expected they will be resolved in the near future.
I have prepared a statement which lists each of the Select Committee’s recommendations and the current position concerning those recommendations. I would like to present that statement for incorporation in Hansard so that honourable members may have the opportunity to examine it in detail. In conclusion, I pay tribute to the work of the members of the Select Committee involved in this comprehensive inquiry and report into the tourist industry. Honourable members will recall that the initial Committee was chaired by the former honourable member for Herbert. The honourable member for Bowman (Mr Jull) was the Chairman of the Committee which produced the final report for consideration by the Government. I pay a particular tribute to his chairmanship under which the work of the Committee was brought to fruition. I congratulate members of the Committee on the contribution that they have made to the further development of the tourist industry, and particularly the former honourable member for Herbert and the honourable member for Bowman, for the work that they have undertaken. For the information of honourable members, I present details of the Government’s responses to each of the Committee’s recommendations. I seek leave to have those responses incorporated in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
Current position concerning recommendations
The Committee recommends that tourists be defined as persons who travel more than 40 kilometres from their normal place of residence for any reason other than to commute to a normal place of work.
I consider that the Committee’s recommendation should be accepted in principle although practical difficulties are likely to restrict its general adoption in research studies.
The Committee recommends that:
This recommendation is being implemented. The study has been accorded a high priority and a working paper on the first stage which outlines tourism’s contribution to GDP and total employment in Australia has already been completed. This paper is currently being circulated to interested parties for comment.
The Committee recommends that:
Commonwealth responsibility for the great barrier reef rests with my colleague, the Minister for Science and the Environment. I have been advised that the question of staffing arrangements must await the outcome of discussions between the Commonwealth and the Queensland Government concerning jurisdiction over the territorial seas.
The provision of interpretative facilities is the responsibility of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Funds for this purpose will need to be considered in the context of the 1979-80 Budget
The Committee recommends that:
Financing of the proposed Yulara Tourist Village is under active consideration with the Northern Territory Government with a view to proceeding with the project as soon as possible.
The Committee recommends that:
This recommendation will be considered by the Tourist Ministers ‘ Council at its next meeting in June this year.
The Committee recommends that the Minister for Transport invite the Chairman of the Australian Tourist Commission to accept membership of the Aviation Industry Advisory Council
This recommendation is being considered in the broader context of co-ordination of Government transport and tourism policies.
I am pursuing this matter with my colleague the Minister for Transport.
The Committee recommends that:
This recommendation is also being considered in the broader context of co-ordination of Government transport and tourism policies.
I am pursuing this matter with my colleague the Minister for Transport.
The Committee recommends that:
The Government will be considering these matters in the context of the 1979-80 Budget.
The Committee recommends that the Tourist Ministers’ Council establish a working group to co-ordinate caravan park standards.
The recommendation will be considered by the Tourist Ministers ‘ Council at its next meeting in June this year.
The Committee recommends that:
The Government will be considering these matters in the context of the 1979-80 Budget.
The Committee recommends that:
The Government will be considering these matters in the context of the 1979-80 Budget.
The Committee recommends that the Government make available to the Australian Tourist Commission sufficient additional funds to allow the reintroduction of the survey of international visitors to Australia.
The increased allocation of funds to the ATC in the 1978-79 Budget has enabled the Commission to reintroduce the survey of international visitors to Australia which will be conducted from April 1979 to March 1980 at a cost of approximately $200,000.
This recommendation has been implemented.
The Committee recommends that:
Pan (a) ofthe Committee’s recommendation is not supported as it raises the question ofthe hypothecation (or earmarking) of general revenue taxes which has been traditionally resisted by successive Governments.
The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs is responsible for administering the departure tax legislation. He will shortly be conducting a review ofthe operation of the legislation. This review will include the question of responsibility for collecting the tax.
The Committee recommends that:
These matters are receiving active consideration.
The Committee recommends that the Government in making grants under both the National Estate program and the States Grants (Nature Conservation) Act 1974 take into full account the importance of tourism when considering the preservation of both the National Estate and the natural environment
The administration of the National Estate program is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Home Affairs. The administration of the State Grants (Nature Conservation) Act 1974 is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Science and the Environment
I am pursuing these matters with the Ministers concerned.
The Committee recommends that the Tourist Ministers’ Council urgently consider ways to improve the methods of funding regional tourist associations by all interested parties.
This recommendation will be considered by the Tourist Ministers ‘ Council at its next meeting in June this year.
The Committee recommends that the tourist industry through the Australian Travel Research Conference establish the statistical and research needs of the industry and inform each State Tourism Minister and the Minister for Industry and Commerce of these needs.
This is a matter for industry in the first instance. Although I do not have any firm proposals before me at the moment my Department will shortly be publishing a booklet containing a range of statistics relevant to the tourist industry. The States and industry will then be asked to comment on areas where additional information is required.
As I previously indicated the Bureau of Industry Economics is also undertaking a major study on the economic significance of tourism.
The Committee recommends that the Government expedite the introduction into the Parliament of legislation to register travel agents.
This recommendation has not been accepted by the Government.
On 26 January this year I announced that the Government had decided not to proceed with legislation to regulate the activities of travel agents.
The Government’s decision took into account objections raised by the States and industry and advice from the Travel and Tourist Industry Advisory Council that the legislation should not proceed.
The matter was also subject to exhaustive examination by five Departments which unanimously supported the conclusion reached by the Advisory Council.
In deciding not to proceed with the travel agents legislation the Government has had regard to the degree of protection for the travelling public which already exists, including Commonwealth and State laws relating to protection of the consumer, the regulation of corporate bodies, and crimes matters generally.
The Committee recommends that the Minister for Industry and Commerce recommend to the Tourist Ministers’ Council that the Australian Standing Committee on Tourism:
This recommendation will be considered by the Tourist Ministers’ Council at its next meeting in June this year.
The Committee recommends that:
I am pursuing this matter with the Treasurer.
This recommendation has been implemented.
An amendment to the Commonwealth Banks Act in June last year empowered the Commonwealth Development Bank to provide finance for the establishment or development of all kinds of business undertakings, particularly small undertakings. Since that amendment the Bank has accepted that tourism projects in all localities qualify for consideration.
The Committee recommends that:
On 1 December 1 978 the Prime Minister announced that a tripartite committee under the chairmanship of Mr B. Trethowan had been established through the National Labour Consultative Council to examine, inter alia:
The Select Committee’s recommendations will be brought to the attention of the NLCC asking that particular attention be given to penalty rates issues within the entertainment, accommodation and hospitality sectors.
The Committee recommends that:
This recommendation has been implemented. On 23 January 1979 my colleague the Minister for Transport announced that the Government had decided that tenders will be called for two national operators, who will be required to service all Commonwealth-owned airports, as Avis does now, and a third operator on an airport by airport basis.
The Committee recommends continuing study of noise certification of aircraft with a view to the lifting of curfews as aircraft noise dimishes.
My colleague the Minister for Transport has advised that his Department is studying ways and means by which the curfew can be varied.
The Government considers that the lifting of the curfew at Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney airports would affect the scheduling of international flights, would allow more efficient utilisation of aircraft and would undoubtedly assist the tourist industry. However, the Government is concerned that operations in the early morning hours with existing aircraft would create severe community disturbance problems. A total lifting of the curfew is, therefore, not foreseen at this stage.
The Committee recommends that the major domestic airlines make available to licensed travel agents and the general public innovative fare structures including reduced fares for use in the construction of all-inclusive tours.
This matter is being considered in the context of the Domestic Air Transport Review and will be discussed with airlines when negotiations on a new Airlines Agreement have been finalised.
I am pursuing this matter with my colleague the Minister for Transport.
The Committee recommends that the Government amend the Income Tax Act 1972 to allow for the costs of leasehold improvements at Commonwealth owned aerodromes to be tax deductible.
This recommendation is being examined in conjunction with the Committee’s recommendation regarding a depreciation allowance for income-producing buildings.
The Government will be considering these matters in the context of the 1979-80 Budget.
The Committee recommends that a study be undertaken of the desirability of the designation of a Tasmanian airport as an international airport.
The question of designating a Tasmanian airport as an international airport is really a question of assessing potential traffic that would be available and the cost involved.
These matters will be studied in the context of the application by the domestic carriers to operate a service between Hobart and Christchurch.
This recommendation has been accepted.
The Committee recommends that:
The Bureau of Transport Economics has found that the provision of an international airport at Townsville could be justified by 1985.
A decision on this matter will not be required until 1980.
I am pursuing this matter with my colleague the Minister for Transport.
The Committee recommends that the Minister for Transport announce as soon as possible a specific timetable for the upgrading of Brisbane Airport.
On 6 June 1978 my colleague the Minister for Transport announced that the redevelopment of Brisbane International Airport will comprise a new runway, domestic terminal complex and operational facilities and will be ready for use by early 1986.
The Government has approved in principle a program that would achieve the redevelopment of the airport in the shortest practical time.
This recommendation has been accepted.
The Committee recommends the introduction of a standard set of road information signs for use within Australia.
This recommendation will be considered by the Tourist Ministers’ Council at its meeting in June this year.
The Committee recommends that the problem of intrastate pick-up and set-down rights for long-distance coaches be resolved by the Australian Transport Advisory Council.
This matter is essentially a State responsibility. It is proposed that the question of deregulation of land transport be discussed at the next meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council.
I have asked my Department to follow up the outcome of these discussions with the Department of Transport.
– I present the following papers:
Tourism- Select Committee- Report- Government reponse- Ministerial Statement,5 April 1979.
Recommendations of Committee and responses.
Motion (by Mr Groom) proposed:
That the House take note of the papers.
Motion (by Mr Groom)- by leave- agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Robertson speaking for a period not exceeding 20 minutes.
-Tourism is now receiving the attention that it deserves. The media, and I would say the Parliament, are at long last giving this industry the close scrutiny that it should have had for many years in this country. I point out to honourable members that when I first entered this place the standard of debate on the tourist industry was appalling. I take some credit for the fact that the Labor Party’s platform during the 1972 election campaign contained a very strong tourist policy. That policy was implemented by the Labor Government’s Minister for Tourism and Recreation, the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Stewart). I think that was a major breakthrough on the part of the Minister. However, I believe that even he had problems in getting the industry the recognition it deserved by the Cabinet of the day. I think this Government made a very bad mistake when it first came to office by slashing severely expenditure on the tourist industry. Now we are seeing what might be called a comeback. There are some signs that the Government is now taking tourism a little more seriously than it has in the past.
My complaint about the present approach of the Government is that it is an ad hoc approach. There is no national strategy. I make the point that I know it is traditional for the Opposition to criticise and that therefore the general attitude is that ‘he is just getting up here and saying these things because he has to attack the Liberal Government’. Let me assure honourable members that that is not my purpose. I would be just as critical if the Opposition in government adopted the same approach. It is my view, and I think it is the view of many members of this House, that we are in a critical situation, not only in Australia but all over the world, in regard to exactly who and what should be encouraged.
At the moment we know that the agricultural sector in Australia is booming. That is good. The mining industry is fluctuating this way and that way. Manufacturing industry is in trouble. But we also know that if there was a massive boom in the agricultural and mining industries there would not be a commensurate pickup in employment in those areas. As we all know, the manufacturing industry is becoming more highly mechanised with the greater use of computer technology. It is unlikely that the manufacturing sector will have large scope for employment in the foreseeable future.
Therefore, we turn to the service sector. It is unquestionable that the travel industry is growing and will continue to grow. Leisure travel around the world will be one of the major expansion industries in our society. At the time when my mother and father, who are not alive today, twice travelled around the world, it was considered that they were doing very well to have had two world trips in their lifetimes. Today I talk to young working people- to clerks, to typists and to stenographers- who now annually go overseas for their holidays. This is all a phenomenon of the last five to 10 years. With the increase in wages, jet travel is one area in the travel industry in which costs have come down. This is a phenomenon and we ought, if you like, to jump on the bandwagon of tourism. In my view what we require is a total national strategy. The Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch) in his speech made some points about the report of the Bureau of Industry Economics. He said:
According to calculations made by the Bureau of Industry Economics in the Bureau ‘s preliminary working paper on the economic significance of tourism, the industry’s contribution to gross domestic product amounted to 2.7 per cent in 1 973-74, the latest year for which data are available.
The industry’s contribution to total employment was estimated at 2.S per cent and usage of Australia’s capital stock at 2.9 percent.
As the Minister pointed out in answer to a question which was raised in the House, I think yesterday or the day before, this puts the tourist industry in much the same category as the motor vehicle industry. It puts it not far behind the mining industry. I say to honourable members that I doubt whether this industry has ever received the sort of assistance that the vehicle industry has received or that the mining industry has received. We think nothing of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to provide railway lines, wharves or ports; one could go on and on. The mining industry is not that far ahead of the tourist industry in the contribution that it makes towards employment and the gross domestic product.
I believe that we need a strategy which would assess the market and Australia’s potential to capture a share of that market if we are to determine what infrastructure changes are required in regard to airlines, airports, roads and so on. We need to provide the incentives to ensure that Australia can accommodate the increased population that will be coming to this country. We need to provide incentives or funds for the attractions that will be required if we are to hold people in this country. I believe that one fundamental mistake is made in the tourist industry, namely, assuming that because we have lovely beaches, beautiful harbours and nice forests people will flock here in their hundreds of thousands. I ask honourable members to examine their hearts and souls as to what prompts them to choose a place for a holiday. Is it the beauty of a country? Is it the beauty of an area? That is a great advantage but I would suggest, with due respect, that, whilst Paris is a beautiful city, I doubt that that is why most people flock to Paris. New York is a concrete jungle but it attracts people.
– It would be the birds.
-The Minister said that it would be the birds. I am sure he meant the ladies. But what is it that attracts people to New York? It is certainly not the beauty of that city. I would never accuse the Gold Coast in our own country of being beautiful scenically. But it does have an elegance, a sophistication, a throbbing night life and an excitement that attracts people to it and makes it probably the premier tourist attraction in Australia. I do not think anyone would suggest that it was one of the most beautiful areas of Australia. I say that in all honesty. It certainly would not compare with the beauty of, say, Tasmania or even places like north Queensland or my own area. It is these other attractions that I have mentioned that take people on their holidays. One could go on and on. Jerusalem is a magnificent, exciting and pulsating city. Anyone who has been there would agree that it is one of the great tourist attractions of the world. It is not a beautiful country scenically. I suggest that we need to examine the attractions that we have in this country- this does not necessarily have to be done by the national Government alone but by the whole nation- to make sure that when people come to Australia we can provide them with plenty of things to do.
I wish to discuss the statement in detail. I commend the Government and the Minister for what it is doing with regard to the Export Market Development Grants scheme- that is good- and for the setting up of the Travel and Tourist Advisory Council. The Minister has appointed me to that Council. I have been able to attend only one meeting so far but I find that an interesting body. I am sure it can do some good work. The Minister has also mentioned in his statement that it is important that the economic climate be appropriate to set the right atmosphere for the industry. I would not disagree with that. But with regard to the Commonwealth’s role, I see it playing a greater one than that which he spells out.
I think the Bureau of Industry Economics study has a lot to offer. I think that even the first interim report has provided us with some very important basic facts and figures which will enable us to nail Treasury, which has been such an enemy of the tourist industry.
– We will shock the socks off them.
– I think the honourable member for Bowman is right. Interestingly enough, I notice in the Bureau’s report a statement to the effect that it would appear, from the figures already put together, that speculation that the tourist industry is labour intensive and not capital intensive is not correct. However, we need to look at that much more closely before we make that assessment. It would be quite accurate to say that the aircraft industry and the accommodation sector are probably fairly labour intensive. I do not have the report with me, but I think the Bureau has made the point that so far it is examining only that section of the tourist industry which can be described as being directly applicable to tourism. It has been said over and over until it has become a cliche that the tourist industry is fragmented and that it is difficult to pin down exactly what is tourism and what is not tourism. I suspect that once the level of tourism reaches a certain point and we start to get a large number of tourists, the service sector that is set up to support the tourist industry will show it to be far more labour intensive than we imagined. I will look forward to further studies by the Bureau to see whether the assessment that the tourist industry is capital intensive rather than labour intensive is correct.
I support the ‘Make Friends with Australia’ campaign which the Minister launched a few months ago. We do not know whether it will work, but it is not an expensive program and it is worth giving a try. There would be no disagreement from us on the marketing of Australia overseas. We applaud those measures. Of course, we are delighted that finally the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) has been dragged reluctantly into the era of cheap fares. He finally saw the light, and I suppose it is better to make peace with the Lord on these matters ultimately than to stay and fight on forever. One question that I would like to ask the Minister for Transport, who is in the House at the moment, is: When are we going to be able to win the fight with the Japanese Government? I do not blame the Minister for this situation because the Japanese Government has been quite obstructionist with regard to cheap air fares. We have an enormous market in Japan where there are 130 million people. They have a lot of money. Their wages are very high. Three and a half million Japanese are travelling around the world- to South East Asia, to Europe and to the United States- but we are receiving only 3 1 ,000 of them. I do not know what can be done, but I hope that we can put greater pressure on the Japanese Government to lower the air fares. The figures that I got today show that the cost of a first class fare to Tokyo is $1,988 and that the cost of an economy seat is $ 1 ,400. That is absolutely absurd. It is only about a 10-hour flight, which makes it about the same distance as the distance from here to the United States. Yet the air fares are double the air fares for that journey and, of course, almost treble the cheaper air fare.
One matter on which I want to pick up the Minister is his statement that the biggest increase had been in the contribution to the Australian Tourist Commission. That is correct, but what he did not say, of course, was that there were quite substantial cutbacks when this Government came to office. I have taken out some figures which show that in 1973 $3.0 14m was provided for the ATC. If we use that as a base figure and use the implicit price deflator which the Government and the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) are so fond of using, for 1978-79 the figure would be $2. 335m. So in fact in real terms there has been a drop in the amount of funds available to the ATC.
Unfortunately when talking of all these issues one runs out of time. One could go on for hours about them. I must say that I am concerned at this campaign about penalty rates. When this matter was raised before the Select Committee on Tourism I approached it- I tell the House honestly- with an open mind. Many witnesses provided evidence about this matter and I- as did, I believe, most members of the Committeefound them quite unable to provide any evidence to prove the case against penalty rates. I draw the attention of the House to a statement by Roger Kirby, the General Manager of the Travelodge company, the largest chain of motels in Australia. He said that the abolition of penalty rates in Australia would reduce the bed cost by 50c a night. Recently I took the trouble to go to a major motel and ask the manager whether I could look at his wages book. It was a normal sort of motel with 50 rooms. I do not intend to name it. I studied the figures. I know what to look for. His total wages bill was about $1,400. The total amount of money attributable to penalty rates was $120. The gross takings were, I think, about $40,000 a month. To suggest that that sort of ratio of costs is going to make the difference between a prosperous tourist attraction and one which is not prosperous is absolutely absurd.
As the Minister knows, I get around the industry a lot and talk to many people. In the last few weeks I have heard from two separate sources, which are highly reliable, something that has caused me a great deal of concern. I have been told that hundreds of thousands of dollars are going to be poured into a campaign against penalty rates and that the campaign is to start in the latter part of next year. It is to be done for political purposes by companies and people who intend to wage a campaign against the trade unions on the question of penalty rates. It is going to be done by way of television, film and radio programs to carry the message to the people in the last six months before the election injune 1980.
The campaign has two purposes. One purpose is to help the Liberal Party to be returned to office, but the primary purpose is to abolish penalty rates. I would suggest, with due respect to those people who are planning to spend this sort of money to take on the trade union movement on this issue- I believe that they have not been able to prove their case- that they are absolutely insane because they will not achieve their aim. Penalty rates are a hard won condition which the trade unions have achieved and which they are not going to give up lightly. The only result that I could see would be industrial chaos, without any clear result. I would like to conclude my remarks on the penalty rate issue by asking leave to -
– That idea is news to me.
– I hope I am wrong, but my information came from two very reliable sources. I will not mention their names in the House, but I will tell the Minister their names later, because he knows them as well as I do. I ask for leave to incorporate in Hansard a table from the Australian Financial Review of Monday, 5 February showing a comparison of the top cities in the world and their structures with regard to tourist costs.
The table read as follows-
The index is based on the sterling cost of three night's bed and breakfast and two a la carte dinners in a first class/international category hotel, one dinner in an average restaurant, three bottles of house wine, one hotel lunch, two snack meals, one 5 km taxi journey, half a litre of beer and five whiskies. (There are anomalies relating to the availability of alcohol: soft drinks have been substituted for wine and spirits in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and for wine in Pakistan- the indices in these cases will be unavoidably low.) In spite of changes in the sample size (66 this year, 6 1 last), and method, the consistency of the information is shown by comparing the rankings at the head and tail ofthe league: ten of the top IS last year are to be found there this time and the bottom IS are similarly compatible. This year Tokyo has emerged as the most expensive business centre, sightly ahead of Paris. European and Middle Eastern dues are otherwise the chief drain on the company business travel bill. London's ranking has risen once again. There are only ten cities where the businessman can expect to pay more for a similar stay. Exchange rates are as published in the Financial Times on 14 November 1978.
– Honourable members will notice that, out of a total of 70 or 80 cities, Tokyo is at the top of the list and that Sydney ranks thirtieth on the list. It has been said by a number of people that we are pricing ourselves out of the tourist market. I have travelled to a number of countries in the last couple of years and I know that suggestion is absolute nonsense. I am not suggesting that Sydney is cheap, but this table proves that we are by no means expensive. We are about the middle. Let us look at the countries that are above us because it is claimed that they are there because of wages. Some of these citiesincluding Tokyo, Paris and Brussels- have high wage levels, but No. 11 on the list is London. English wages are nowhere near as high as ours, but costs in London are much higher. Lagos is No. 18 on the list- well above Sydney. Taipei also is well above Sydney, and we know the sorts of wage levels that exist in Taipei. Number 26 on the list is Khartoum. It is much more expensive there than in Sydney. It is more expensive in Amman. Just below is Hong Kong, Athens and New Delhi. What are these people in the tourist industry asking for? Do they want people working in the tourist industry in Australia to have wage levels the same as in the countries I have just mentioned, so that operators in the industry can make a profit? I think there are some good points in this statement by the Minister, but I am disappointed that we have not yet reached the stage where we have a national strategy for tourism in Australia.
Debate (on motion by Mr Jull ) adjourned.
– by leave- Passenger vehicle emission controls have already been debated in Parliament as a matter of public importance. The purpose of this statement is to inform Parliament in clear terms of the Commonwealth Government’s views on this matter. In addition to transport portfolio considerations, the statement reflects the responsibilities of, and advice from, my colleagues the Minister for Science and Environment (Senator Webster), the Minister for Health (Mr Hunt) and the Minister for National Development (Mr Newman). Over the past decade, the Commonwealth, the States and the Territories have had a continuing involvement in the development and implementation of vehicle emission controls. The first Australian Design Rules on passenger car emission controls- ADR 26 and ADR 27- were agreed by the Australian Transport Advisory Council in 1971 with the objective of helping to arrest the deterioration of air quality experienced in major urban areas in Australia in the late 1960 ‘s. These rules came into effect in 1972 and 1974 respectively.
A more stringent rule, ADR 27A, covering exhaust emissions of oxides of nitrogen as well as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons and evaporative fuel emissions, was subsequently agreed by ATAC for introduction in 1976. Although it was recognised at the time that the immediate response to ADR 27A would be engine modifications which would increase fuel consumption, this factor was outweighed by environmental considerations and the expectation of further technological development. However, with the deterioration in the world energy situation, fuel consumption has assumed far greater significance. I will comment on this most important issue later. ATAC discussed ADR 27A in July 1977 and February 1978. It was agreed to defer introduction of the third stage of ADR 27A until January 1981 to permit a more detailed examination of the issues involved. Implementation of the third stage was again discussed by ATAC in July 1978 and in February this year.
At their February meeting, ATAC Ministers had before them a number of studies dealing with the problem of vehicle emission controls. These studies included the interim report by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences, a report on photochemical smog in the Sydney region which had been prepared by the New South Wales State Pollution Control Commission and a report on emission levels and fuel consumption prepared by the Commonwealth Department of Transport. At the February meeting, the Commonwealth proposed that ATAC abandon the third stage of ADR 27A, in particular because of the fuel penalty involved, and take urgent action on other more effective measures to control vehicle emissions. This latter proposal was based on the view that significant improvements with regard to hydrocarbon emissions seemed to be achievable at lower cost and with advantage from both the fuel conservation and emission control viewpoints.
The Commonwealth also indicated that it was not opposed to adequate, properly justified controls on vehicle emissions and was not backtracking in respect of improvements secured to date. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth considered that ATAC should review the strategy and approach followed up till now and should examine the lessons to be learned from the wide range of problems encountered with ADR 27A. ATAC Ministers agreed to resume discussions at a special ATAC meeting in Sydney this month following a more detailed examination of the reports referred to. There are a number of issues which must be considered in relation to emission controls in general and ADR 27A in particular. At the outset, however, I must emphasise that the Commonwealth Government is committed to protect the health and the environment of the Australian people. State Governments obviously have a particular responsibility and concern because air quality in major urban areas requires special attention. However, all governmentsState, Territory and Commonwealth- must also, in the national interest, have regard to the effects of proposed measures, not only on health and the environment but also on impacts on the consumer, industry, resources and the economy.
At this point, some general background would be appropriate on the origins of the problem, its extent and its effect on health. Photochemical pollution- ozone- in general terms, the result of the reaction of sunlight with hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen. In urban areas, about 40 per cent of these hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen come from passenger cars. The problems we are trying to deal with are localised and appear to be exacerbated by geographical features and weather conditions. Among various atmospheric pollutants of potential health concern, ozone has been widely considered and its levels can be taken as being representative of oxidant levels as a whole. It is also recognised that ozone does have certain health effects depending on the level of concentration.
Attempts to relate the onset of specific health effects to varying levels of ozone in the atmosphere have been made but the difficulty of associating a particular health effect to a specific air pollutant is immense. The Commonwealth is concerned that any association between health incidents and photochemical pollution should be adequately researched and established before a casual relationship is assumed. It is important that long term air quality goals should not be seen as levels capable of immediate achievement since these goals are generally much more stringent than the prescribed levels which have been adopted by some countries as a basis for legislation. The World Health Organisation level of 0.06 parts per million for ozone must be seen in this context.
At present, Sydney seems to be the city in Australia with a photochemical problem of significance. It should be pointed out that Sydney’s experience with photochemical pollution does not parallel that of Los Angeles, which experiences higher levels. Tokyo does have a photochemical problem similar to that of Sydney but is also subject to a higher level of air pollution from other sources. As far as Sydney is concerned, the trend towards increased photo- chemical pollution experienced in earlier years may have been largely arrested. The situation appears to have improved marginally between 1976 and 1977. The best assessment we can make at this stage is that, even if no additional controls are placed on cars or other sources of hydrocarbons, photochemical pollution in Sydney should remain more or less at current levels until about 1985. After 1985, the situation could be expected to deteriorate unless additional controls are implemented. The trends for other urban areas appear to generally follow this assessment, albeit at a lower level.
I think it will be evident from the foregoing that we are all facing considerable difficulties because of inadequate data on air quality and trends. I will return to this aspect later. However, the general shape of prospects facing urban areas with regard to air quality is particularly important when the national costs of passenger vehicle emission controls are considered. A variety of estimates have been made, with the magnitude depending on the assumptions used. One recent estimate has put the additional costs of the system currently in force in 1978 at between $80m and $100m per year rising to $150m. These are costs that are met by all motorists in Australia to meet localised problems. Controls must therefore be cost effective and, in the Commonwealth view, a strategy to control photochemical pollution through limitations on hydrocarbon emissions is the preferred approach. Incidentally, this is also the view endorsed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the course proposed by the New South Wales SPCC. If it does prove impossible to agree on realistic uniform motor vehicle controls, the Commonwealth does not believe that costs of unique control measures which States might wish to implement for particular areas with higher pollution should be imposed nation-wide.
This latter consideration also raises the question of developing different emission controls for vehicles used in urban and non-urban areas. The Commonwealth, on behalf of ATAC, has requested information from the motor vehicle industry on the costs of what is called a two-car approach. The industry’s response will be made available to the States and Territories as soon as it comes to hand. Obviously the two-car concept, including the possibility of additional in-service regulation in areas with higher levels of pollution, has to be closely examined.
I now propose to comment on some detailed aspects of the third stage of ADR 27a. I think it is important that this Parliament have the basic facts. I turn first of all to the matter of in-service durability of emission control systems. In-service durability is of fundamental importance in controlling photochemical pollution. There is no doubt, on the basis of recent studies, that a significant number of present ADR 27A vehicles are not meeting prescribed standards because of the in-service problems with emission control systems. Overseas and Australian studies have indicated a number of factors which contribute to in-service deterioration. These include the ease with which control systems can be maladjusted, the low incentive to both the service industry and owners to maintain these control systems in accordance with manufacturers’ specifications as well as the deterioration of the engines themselves through time. The facilities and skills available to the service industry also need to be looked at. In-service durability must be improved if air quality levels are to be adequately controlled. A critical issue here, which applies to present and future controls, is whether levels should be initially more stringent or whether relatively lower levels can be achieved more effectively over the service life of the vehicle. The Commonwealth considers that the latter approach is more cost effective and should be addressed as a matter of priority. The Commonwealth reiterates its view that levels of control currently achieved should not be reduced or abandoned. However, efforts must be made to overcome problems associated with the present Rule.
ADR 27a was developed from a rule adopted by the United States of America. Although Australian studies have confirmed that ADR 27a has significantly reduced emissions from motor vehicles, experience has highlighted many problems not apparent at the time of introduction.
The basis of ADR 27A, which requires every vehicle to meet prescribed standards and has the built-in difficulty of relating test performance to everyday use, is now being seriously questioned. With respect to operations and procedures, the rule is cumbersome and has little practical relevance in assessing vehicle performance inservice. Vehicle certification under the rule is complex, costly and time consuming and this is important when we consider the need for a properly balanced allocation of available resources for the administration of the Australian Design Rule system. Most of the rules relate, of course, to the road safety field. Following its implementation, ADR 27a did increase fuel consumption of vehicles on a comparable weight basis. The Commonwealth does, however, agree that more than sufficient time has been expended on the fuel consumption debate associated with controls in force as of today in Australia. What is important now is to consider fuel consumption in the context of future emission controls.
Recent events have highlighted the uncertainties surrounding future oil supplies and the essentiality of energy conservation. Australia cannot afford to waste liquid fuel and every opportunity must be taken to reduce consumption. Transport is recognised as an area where significant savings can be achieved and increased vehicle energy efficiency is critically important. Although there is a trend towards smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles, fuel consumption of vehicles generally has to continue to improve. The Commonwealth considers that, given sufficient lead time, manufacturers will be able to increase their efforts to produce vehicles with both improved emission performance and better fuel economy. Fuel consumption of present vehicles has improved with technological development of emission controls, but implementation of the third stage would seriously interrupt this improvement. Technically, the third stage of ADR 27a can be met but at an estimated fuel consumption penalty of 3 to 5 per cent. This could cost the nation an additional 200,000 to over 300,000 tonnes of crude oil a year by 1985. Moves that were judged to be in the community’s interest when oil was $2 a barrel must be reconsidered with oil at $14 a barrel and future supplies uncertain.
Estimates indicate that potential improvements in air quality as a result of the third stage would be marginal. Vehicle exhaust emissions of hydrocarbons could be reduced by up to about 14 tonnes a day in Sydney by 1985. This would represent less than 2 per cent of the total projected emissions in the Sydney area in 1985. In any event, such improvements may well not be realised because the design solution which manufacturers generally indicate they will adopt to meet the third stage is susceptible to maladjustment in service. Even if hydrocarbon exhaust emission requirements were made more stringent relative to other emissions under the third stage, indications are that the fuel penalty would remain. Implementation of the third stage will have little effect on in-service difficulties and there is no doubt that the more stringent initial test required by the third stage has little relevance to durability and in-service deterioration. To proceed further with an unsatisfactory rule simply compounds these difficulties.
Although aware of the view that every additional control assists in pollution abatement, the Commonwealth cannot support the approach when, on a national basis, the costs far outweight any potential benefits of the third stage of ADR 27a. The Commonwealth therefore believes that all these considerations clearly indicate that there is no need or sufficient justification to proceed with the third stage of ADR 27a. However, this cannot be considered in isolation from more practicable immediate and future arrangements to which I now refer.
In the foregoing, principal issues and problems associated with air pollution controls have been identified. In developing a framework for future action, it is clear that a number of steps must be taken to improve the implementation, administration and durability of emission control systems in the context of realistic health, environment, transport and energy objectives. The third stage of ADR 27a is of no significance in this broader context. Practical and effective solutions must be found to meet the problems I have described. A program for immediate action and a future strategy are both necessary. Steps can be taken now towards assisting air quality through means more effective than the third stage of ADR 27a in line with the preferred hydrocarbon control strategy. We would propose that, in addition to the further development of controls on other sources, urgent work should commence to investigate more stringent, cost effective evaporative controls associated with the passenger vehicle.
New South Wales SPCC estimates, based on a 6 gram SHED test for evaporative hydrocarbon emissions from motor vehicles, indicated a reduction of 30 tonnes of hydrocarbons a day in Sydney by 1985. Latest advice indicates that some of these savings may already be accruing with some current model vehicles. Such controls will, of course, also conserve energy. Evaporative controls which reduce vehicle hydrocarbon emissions by 30 tonnes a day in Sydney could, on a national basis, save up to 40,000 tonnes of crude oil each year.
Much has been said about durability and inservice problems. The Commonwealth proposes that urgent attention be given to improving, as far as practically possible, the durability and inservice performance of ADR 27A vehicles. Although a sufficient period for design maturation of present controls should help, consideration should also be given to in-service retuning programs, to the development of systems less susceptible to maladjustment, to industry and technical training courses and to publicity to increase community awareness. I give one example of the effectiveness of such measures. Overseas experience suggests that a properly organised inservice retuning program could lower hydrocarbon tailpipe emissions in Sydney by up to 26 tonnes a day by 1985. Consideration must also be given to simplifying the administration of the present Rule.
It is essential to begin the long term task of developing adequate, co-ordinated air quality monitoring as a basis for all measures proposed for implementation. This has been highlighted by many bodies including the Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution, the Australian Environment Council, the National Health and Medical Research Council, as well as ATAC. The Commonwealth has been developing cooperative programs with the States, including the establishment of a national air quality data centre, and we will be considering further cooperative arrangements to get the facilities required to develop an adequate data base on air quality. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is also involved in meteorological and associated photochemical work. The Commonwealth, in co-operation with the New South Wales SPCC, is also implementing an emissions study of Sydney peak hour traffic to provide baseline information for future assessment and action. There is a need to upgrade vehicle emission testing facilities and the Commonwealth will give this priority attention, again in co-operation with the States.
The Commonwealth believes that, at the national level, assessment of air quality data must be examined in the context of agreed air quality guidelines. At present, the Commonwealth and the States face particular difficulties, without guidelines, in the assessment of pollution abatement measures.
The Commonwealth sees a need to define air quality guidelines for Australia with respect to health. In addition, the Commonwealth sees value in the definition of practicable and realistic air quality objectives for Australian cities which would be based on broader environmental considerations. City air quality objectives which might be defined should be practicable of achievement, take into account all sources of air pollution and be developed in such a way as to minimise differences between States. The basis for an improvement in air quality is better air quality information and the establishment of air quality guidelines and objectives.
The Commonwealth is of the view that adequate data is essential to facilitate a proper assessment of national emission control measures. The Commonwealth believes that present air quality data, although scant, indicates that action would be required on a number of points to prevent any increase in photochemical pollution levels in our major cities after 1985. The Commonwealth is therefore prepared to give a firm undertaking to examine the upgrading of passenger vehicle emission controls for implementation in 1985. Such controls would, of course, need to take into account projected pollution levels as well as other controls implemented in the meantime.
Several ideas have been advanced for a 1985 Rule and the Commonwealth proposes that these be examined in detail. ATAC and Australian Environment Council should be in a position, at their early 1 98 1 meetings, to consider requirements for 1985 standards and the development of a new vehicle emission rule to implement such standards. I should make it clear at this point that the Australian Minerals and Energy Council must be consulted in the development of future emission controls in so far as energy implications are concerned.
Any such measures must be adequately justified and be cost effective. They must be assessed for energy implications. There must also be equitable attention to all sources of hydrocarbon emissions. There is also a need to consider actively alternative or complementary approaches to vehicle emission controls. These would include traffic management and use of public transport to ease traffic densities in areas prone to photochemical pollution. Alternative fuels such as LPG should also be given earlier examination.
Finally, it will be noted that this statement has not covered lead emissions. Work is proceeding in Commonwealth and State Councils on various lead questions and the Commonwealth believes that this work should be expedited. Although not directly relevant to the special ATAC meeting in April, lead issues will form an important and integral part of future motor vehicle emissions strategies in terms of protection of health and the environment and vehicle and energy costs and efficiency.
In conclusion, the Commonwealth reiterates its desire for continuing co-operation between the Commonwealth, States and Territories in a proper and balanced assessment of air quality data, air quality guidelines and objectives and emissions standards and controls. I present the following paper:
Motion (by Mr Groom) proposed:
That the House take note ofthe paper.
Motion (by Mr Groom)- by leave- agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Shortland speaking for a period not exceeding 23 minutes.
-The statement of the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) on the Government’s proposed deferment of the third stage of Australian Design Rule 27A should be noted primarily for its inaccuracies, its broad generalisations and its almost complete lack of supporting evidence.
– You are generous.
-Generous but factual. The Fraser Government’s decision to press for the deferral of the third stage of Austraiian Design Rule 27a amounts in short to a sell-out to financial interests of the shareholders of foreign-based motor vehicle manufacturers at the expense of the health of millions of Australian urban dwellers and urban employees.
– Where is the Labor Party? There is no one here to listen to you. Why don’t you get a few of your mates to listen to you?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! The honourable member will cease interjecting or he will not be here either.
-May I have the time lost through that interjection added to my speaking time?
-I suggest that the honourable member for Shortland continue his speech. ^
-The disguise for the Government ‘s decision is a claim that nonimplementation of the third stage of ADR 27A will reduce Australia’s consumption of crude oil by some 200,000 to 300,000 tonnes per annum by 1985. That is a totally unsubstantiated assertion that is not supported by evidence, calculations or information; it is just a bland assertion. Clearly, the Government’s decision is linked to the new motor vehicle complementation plan and the result, if the decision is to be adopted nationally, will be to save large motor vehicle manufacturers expenditure that they would otherwise incur on improving the quality of emissions from engines before 1985.
It is worth noting that the motor vehicle industry in the United States of America, the country of origin of the major companies concerned in this move by the Government, have an established history of opposition to improved emission control standards. I wish to quote from an interview with a Mr Bradford Snell, which was recorded on 23 September 1975. He was speaking from his experiences as Assistant Counsel to the United States Senate Anti-Trust and Monopoly Sub-Committee on Ground Transport Industries. Mr Snell had been asked:
Has there been any active suppression of information which could lead to better environmental changes as far as the motor car is concerned? Has General Motors actually conciously gone out and suppressed innovative change?
Mr Snell ‘s response was:
Well, let’s take the whole question of pollution control equipment. Now the Department of Justice, the United States Department of Justice, sued General Motors as well as all the other automobile makers in the late sixties for a conspiracy existing since 1953 to preclude and prevent the development of any pollution control equipment for automobiles.
I note that the case was finally settled by a consent decree which, in effect, admitted the factual allegations brought by the Department of Justice. Mr Snell said further:
What that means is that from 1953 until nearly 1970, the automobile companies-
The same companies that are operating in this country and supporting the same kind of moves were, to quote Mr Snell: . actively suppressing the development of equipment which when added to an automobile wouild decrease the incidence of pollution, of petrochemical smog and of all the health effects which have been attributed to that phenomena.
Once again the conservatives in this Government are kowtowing to the dictates of foreign interests, in preference to showing concern for the health and well-being of over half of the Australian population, who live, work and move in our urban areas.
If we follow through the logic of the Minister’s statement and of the Government’s decisionthat improved emission standards should be deferred because they involve, it is claimed, a three to five per cent difference in fuel consumptionthe Government can be expected to move soon in the following directions: First, to ban power steering on motor cars, because it incurs a fuel consumption penalty of 14 per cent- four times the loss occasioned by imposing emission standards; secondly, to ban air conditioning, which incurs a penalty of 17 per cent, which is more than four times that which results from emission controls; and, thirdly, to ban automatic transmission, which incur a fuel penalty, in operation, of 20 to 30 per cent. If we look at those items, as I will a little later, we will see in more detail the kind of fuel penalties that would be involved if the Government were to adhere to any conscious and responsible policy in respect of environmental protection. The Opposition rejects the statement and the Government’s decision as unsupported and not in the best interests of the mass of Australian citizens and workers. It should be noted that the emission control standards are no higher than those presently operative in the United States and no higher than those already being achieved by some motor vehicle manufacturers. But, according to this Government, they are too high for Australians.
Further, the Government’s proposal discriminates quite markedly against those responsible and progressive motor vehicle manufacturers which have already achieved or are planning to achieve the third stage of ADR27A standards and those which have entered into capital commitments to achieve those standards by 1981? What of their investment? What of their expense? What is photochemical smog and what is its effect? I quote, for the benefit of the Parliament, from the statement made by the Victorian Environment Protection Authority:
Photochemical smog has been recorded frequently in Melbourne notably on sunny, calm days from October to June.
That is a fairly long period. The report continued:
If photochemical smog is unchecked it will become more serious. It can cause irritation to the eyes and throat, aggravate attacks in asthmatics and increase animals’ susceptability to infectious aerosols. This smog can damage plants, paintwork and rubber products and its brown haze reduces visibility and aesthetically degrades the environment
That is the Victorian Government’s definition of what ozone and photochemical smog does to the air quality above Melbourne. But the Minister says that it affects only localised areas. I want very quickly to quote from an address I made to the House on 8 March last when this matter was raised previously. I said: the problem of air pollution exists across the suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne and particularly in Sydney across the central, southern and western sectors. In all, Sydney and Melbourne constitute almost one half of Australia’s population . . .
Turning to Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra, one finds that they are already exceeding World Health Organisation air quality goals and have climatic conditions which lend those cities to photochemical smog. In Sydney, elevated concentrations of pollution usually cover a quarter or more of the central, southern and western regions for one to eight hours a day.
That is what this Government and the Minister for Transport, who is at the table, define as a localised problem. But the emphasis should not be only on the people who live in those areas. The emphasis has to be on the people who work in those areas- on the shoppers who move about in the metropolitan areas and on the people who travel through those areas. This is one of the fallacies of the Government’s argument. The indication is given that air pollution affects only those people who sleep in the areas, who reside there. It affects everybody who spends any time at all in the area. The Minister has played down the problem by saying that it is a localised problem. In saying it is a localised problem he means it affects local people. Let us emphasise that it means all people who traverse the area. The Minister stated:
The Commonwealth is concerned that any association between health incidents and photochemical pollution should be adequately researched and established before a causal relationship is assumed.
What he is really saying is that this Government is not particularly concerned about it.
– The speech reads ‘causal ‘.
– You have the wrong copy, I am sorry. It reads ‘casual’ in my copy.
– I am sorry that there are so many copies. I hope that they are all correct. In this copy it reads ‘causal’. It makes more sense.
– It is casual. A casual relationship.
– I suggest that the proper meaning is ‘causal ‘. We will discuss it later. What I am saying is that this Minister and this Government are putting to the Australian people that we should not be concerned about ozone and photochemical smog until a very serious inroad is made into the health of the Australian community. What in effect they are saying is: ‘Unless it is a thalidomide let us not worry about it. It will be right. We will just go along as we are’. The Minister made the following statement:
As far as Sydney is concerned, . . . photochemical pollution experienced in earlier years may have been largely arrested.
I put it simply that that statement is false. There is no evidence to support it. The smog level in Sydney already exceeds World Health Organisation ozone levels regularly. The Minister referred to the hydrocarbon fallout. The fart is that in 1976 there was a fallout of 661 tonnes on a summertime week day. If nothing is done, as this Government and this Minister are suggesting, and the status quo remains, the estimation for 198S is a fall-out of hydrocarbons of 729 tonnes. The Minister referred also to the cost of ADR 27A third stage measures. He said that there is one estimate. The fact is that there are several estimates. He would have helped the Parliament if he had been able to identify the estimate. The range of estimates vary considerably and to simply say that one estimate is $80m-$100m a year means nothing. It is a meaningless statement. Whatever the figure is, it ought to be related to the cost of model changes in motor vehicles.
What is at issue in this question is the standard of public health and the standard of protection provided by the government to the people of this country. If we are to determine only on the basis of cost, as the Government has suggested, we ought to relate the cost to the cost of model changes in motor vehicles. We ought to relate it to the multiplicity and the cost of those model changes. We can think immediately of a total figure around $300m for the two latest model changes to the major selling cars. If money is to be the only factor we ought to be taking that kind of approach into consideration.
I turn to the question of in-servicing to which the Minister referred. He said that in-service problems had arisen. In other words antipollution equipment has been fitted to motor vehicles at the point of sale and at some later stage the equipment has not been serviced or has been removed or adjusted in some way. Basically, the problem is one of servicing. It is not good enough for the Government this afternoon, after several years of being the prime mover in the introduction of emission control standards, to say: ‘Well, in-servicing arrangements are not working out’. We ought to have a look at the arrangements. Surely something should be done about them. It is this Government’s responsibility to give a lead to the rest of the nation. It has known for some time that the problem exists.
Let us link that problem to its real base; that is, the general question of servicing motor vehicles. Here we get into the area of fuel consumption and fuel efficiency. If they are the primary considerations then it is the incorrect tuning of motor vehicles- not simply the air pollution control equipment- that ensures that those vehicles give the best performance and are most efficient. I turn now to the contradiction that the Minister has made in his statement. He said on the one hand:
In-service durability must be improved if air quality levels are to be adequately controlled.
About 12 lines further on he said:
I emphasise that word.
What he said on the one hand was that we have the problems because the system does not work perfectly. Immediately following that statement, he said, on the other hand that the system has definitely been successful. What the Minister and the Government ought to do is to sit down and get the two speech writers together. Obviously, this speech has been thrown together. I do not blame the Department of Transport because it has not written it. The material is foreign to the Department of Transport. It has been thrown together by somebody who did not actually see the whole of the speech.
– You cannot even read it.
-We will test that later when we find out about the word ‘casual’. We must take the opportunity to reduce the consumption of fuels in a responsible and effective way and not to tinker around the edges of the problem in obeisance to foreign motor vehicle manufacturers, as this Government is doing. The primary consideration has to be the health of Australian citizens. Three weeks ago the Government said that the impact of ADR27A would be an 8 per cent to 10 per cent increase in fuel consumption. The industry generally has been saying that it would mean a five per cent increase in consumption. Today the Minister has dropped that figure further still to a three per cent to five per cent fuel consumption. Let us look at the facts. The facts show that when there has been an examination of vehicles, comparing their new condition and their run-in condition, and where the engines have been designed with the object of meeting emission standards, fuel efficiency improves. It does not deteriorate, and where it has deteriorated it is because of the use of patch-up and tack-on equipment on the cheap. That is good enough for Australia, the major manufacturers believe; it will do the colonials.
Those vehicles on which expenditure and research have not been done have caused the increase in fuel consumption. The ADR27A vehicles manufactured under the first stage, that is, vehicles manufactured between June 1976 and June 1977, returned a 17.7 per cent increase in fuel consumption when new. Once they had been run in, the increase dropped to 5.9 per cent. New vehicles manufactured after June 1978 under the second stage showed an overall increase in fuel consumption of 10.3 per cent, but once the vehicles were run in and tuned, fuel efficiency increased so much that there was in fact a decrease in consumption of 0.71 per cent. The point to be made is that the ADR27A vehicles when run in show little difference in fuel economy from earlier manufactured motor vehicles.
-I have quoted the facts based on established tests. The honourable member may say what he likes when he has an opportunity to speak later. If the Government is serious about lessening fuel consumption and promoting energy conservation, it must take that next step which, as I indicated earlier, it is considering. I refer to the banning of automatic transmission, power steering and air-conditioners. If the Government is serious about what it is putting to this Parliament it will have to do that
Let me read again from the article by the Victorian Environment Protection Authority. These are the Authority’s words, not my words, from its publication entitled Fuel Economy and the Car. The article in part states:
The article then refers to power steering in the following way:
On another tack, the article continues:
To be added to that observation is the information provided by this Government’s own body, the Australian Environment Council, in January last year. It is significant that in the Minister’s statement there was no input by the Australian Environment Council. Under this
Government, environment has received very low priority and that is what today’s statement is all about. The ministry of environment has been tacked on to the ministry of odds and sods over in the Senate. It has been removed from the main chamber- out of sight, out of mind. Quite clearly, because environment is directly linked with responsible energy conservation, there is no account taken of it.
I want to remind the House of the conclusion arrived at by the Australian Environment Council in January last year. In conclusion 2. 1 in its report, the Council stated that vehicle fuel consumption in the period over which emission controls have been implemented is linked with vehicle weight arising from model changes and the inclusion of options such as air conditioning, automatic transmission and power steering.
Let us look at another source of information, the independent experts from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. If this Government is responsible and really facing up to energy conservation and community health priorities, it must take notice of this information and advice. I refer to the letter written to the National Roads and Motorists Association by Messrs Johnston, Trayford, and Van Der Touw of the CSIRO and published in the December 1978 edition of Open Road, in which they made this point very clearly:
We found that over 80 per cent of the variation in fuel consumption between cars could be attributed to car size whether measured by kerb weight, engine capacity or cylinder number.
After we took into account the variations in fuel consumption attributable to the above three measures of car size we found that the average car’s fuel consumption increased by 3.5 per cent after emission controls were introduced.
That is quite different to the conclusions which were drawn in the statements issued at that time. It is important that the Minister provide some kind of statistical evidence for his statement that there will be a 200,000 to 300,000 tonnes increase in crude oil consumption by the year 1985. If this statement had been a proper approach to the problem, there would have been some details about that included in the Minister’s statement, but there is nothing. There is not one word other than that bland assertion. I turn now to page 9 of the Minister’s statement where he refers to the potential improvements, and states:
I draw the Minister’s attention to the point I made earlier about the fall-out of hydro-carbons, that is, that by the year 1985, if the status quo is preserved, the fall-out of hydro-carbons will be 729 tonnes per annum. At page 1 1 of his statement the Minister refers to tailpipe emissions and to his calculations that there could be a lowering of such emissions by 26 tonnes a day in Sydney by 1985. 1 will return to that matter later. I made the point earlier that a properly organised inservice retuning program could achieve that end. The simple question I ask is: What is the point in raising that matter when the Government is not concerned with implementing ADR 27A or with seeing that in-service is carried out? The Government has had many years to do something about it but it has done nothing. What the Government is mouthing are platitudes.
– You are now starting to get near it. You might even get there.
– Would the Minister please be quiet? I listened to him in silence, even though it was difficult. Perhaps I am more courteous than he is.
– Tell us what you are going to do for the farmers?
-The honourable member for Barker is reminded that all interjections are disorderly and that he is not yet a member of the front bench and should occupy his proper seat in the House.
– The matter on which I want to conclude in rejecting the Government’s decision is the central paragraph on page 12 of the Minister’s statement- again a platitude, again an undefined statement, and again a broad generality. He states:
In addition, the Commonwealth sees value in the definition of practicable and realistic air quality objectives for Australian cities which would be based on broader environmental considerations.
Nowhere does the Minister define what realistic air quality objectives are. In fact, governments around this nation are arguing every day over that matter. We are discussing it here this afternoon, but there is no definition and there is no statement by this Government on what qualities of air pollution are satisfactory to it. What is practicable and what is realistic? What are the broader environmental considerations? Should the Government be kowtowing again to the motor vehicle manufacturers in America, or giving incentive and encouragement to those motor vehicle manufacturers in Australia who have met the standards, who have planned to meet the standards, and have acted in a proper and responsible way? The Opposition rejects the statement. We believe that there is no substantiation or support for the claims made by the Minister in his statement.
Debate (on motion by Mr Roger Johnston) adjourned.
– by leave- The recent disruption of oil supplies from Iran has brought energy policy into sharp focus. It is timely to review the action taken by this Government in formulating and implementing its energy policy. In addition to this review, the Government will shortly be presenting an energy policy discussion paper which will canvass future energy needs and options. A secure and ready availability of energy is an essential pre-requisite for the wellbeing ofthe Australian community. It is essential to underpin our standard of living, our transport industries, our industrial development, our agricultural and mineral industries, and a wide range of commercial and trading activities. This Government has an active, well integrated and well co-ordinated energy policy. It is a successful policy. Our policy has the immediate aims of ensuring secure and stable supplies of energy and reducing Australia’s dependence on imported oil, and a longer-term aim of developing a diversified energy base which minimises dependence on liquid fuels.
The Government’s energy policy statement of November 1977 outlined six main objectives designed to achieve these broad goals: Firstly, to move crude oil prices in the direction of international levels; secondly, to restrain the average rate of growth of energy consumption, particularly in liquid fuels; thirdly, to achieve the highest degree of self-sufficiency in liquid fuels consistent with the broadly economic utilisation of our energy resources; fourthly, to develop our economic oil and gas reserves; fifthly, to encourage individual major energy projects to meet overseas demand for energy minerals which will provide an adequate return to Australia; and, finally, to increase energy research and development substantially.
We have pursued these objectives actively through hard but effective decisions on pricing and tax policy, encouragement of exploitation and development, support for major energy development projects, stimulation of energy research and development, pursuit of energy conservation and interfuel substitution, and active international co-operation. This Government sees itself in a leadership role in energy policy. It is carrying out that role positively and energetically. Australia is a federation and many of the powers concerning energy rest with the States. A recognition of this fact does not imply a division of approach on energy policy; rather, it highlights the role of the Commonwealth in providing leadership and ensuring close co-operation and liaison with the States.
Let me spell out the initiatives we have taken. I will do this in some detail because it is important to bring together the many initiatives we have taken and to indicate the integrated and coordinated approach we have to energy policy.
The pricing framework
Fundamental to the achievement of the Government’s energy policy goals has been the use of the market framework. Australia is an energy rich country, with major reserves of coal and uranium and substantial reserves of natural gas. However, our reserves of petroleum are limited and it is of the highest importance that the price of petroleum products to which both producers and consumers react reflects a realistic value for those products. Realistic pricing has a number of desirable consequences.
Firstly, it encourages conservation of scarce resources and helps correct unsatisfactory usage patterns which result from the maintenance of artificially low prices for petroleum products; secondly, it promotes the usage of competitive energy sources, mainly natural gas and coalbased electricity; thirdly, the relative economics of alternative energy projects such as coal liquefaction, shale oil, and solar power can be seen in an accurate perspective which allows more realistic decisions to be made about financing their development; and fourthly, and perhaps most importantly, realistic pricing acts as a major incentive to increase oil exploration activity and to maximise the exploitation of existing fields.
In accordance with this approach, the Government’s 1977 Budget provided for the price of indigenous crude oil from known fields to move in the direction of import parity, and provided for the return to producers to reach at least SO per cent of import parity by 1980-81. The Government has announced that it will review the position before June 1981 to decide upon the further progression to import parity for known fields. The policy was immediately successful, leading to an increase in recoverable oil of 115 million barrels from developed fields or fields under development in Bass Strait. In addition, about 300 million barrels of recoverable oil, which probably would not have been economic at former prices, can now be recovered. Other discoveries now under evaluation in Bass Strait may contain in excess of a further 300 million barrels. In short, our pricing policy has already led to an increase in reserves of some 600-700 million barrels, equivalent to about 3 years ‘ consumption.
In the 1978 Budget the Government further developed pricing policy for indigenous crude oil. This did not affect the scale of prices to producers as laid down in August 1977 but, through an effective increase in the crude oil levy, increased the price of indigenous crude oil to refiners and consumers to the import parity level, as determined by the Government every six months. As well as the energy policy advantages I have already mentioned, the crude oil pricing policy brings a substantial return to the community in the form of revenue to the Commonwealth. The levy alone will bring close to $ 1,300m in the financial year 1978-79. The levy brings about a realistic climate for energy conservation, substitution and research. This money is used to pay for social services, education, defence, health and all the other expenditures incurred by the Commonwealth in its Budget. It undoubtedly reduces tax incidence- revenue would have to be raised anyway if not through the oil levy- whilst improving conservation of petroleum.
Our policies have resulted in petroleum exploration being pursued actively to ensure that petroleum supplies are increased. The 1960s and early 1970s were optimistic years for Australian petroleum exploration, especially as a result of early successes in Bass Strait and the indications of favourable prospects on the North West Shelf. Under Labor this momentum was lost and exploration came to a standstill. This Government’s fundamental objective has been to restore the confidence of the petroleum industry, to get exploration moving again. (Quorum formed). We are succeeding.
The Government’s initiatives include important taxation concessions for the industry, such as making petroleum exploration and development expenditure deductible against income from any source, faster write-off provisions for petroleum development expenditure and a shareholder rebate scheme for off-shore petroleum exploration and development.
The recovery in exploration confidence under this Government is reflected in the number of exploration wells drilled in 1978 and proposed for 1979. In 1978, 52 wells were drilled, more than double the number drilled in each of the previous 3 years. This compares with the decline from 100 wells in 1972 to only 19 wells in 1976, when the loss of confidence and cessation of exploration planning during the Labor period became fully and starkly apparent. As a result of this Government’s initiatives, Australia is now seen as a stable and attractive area for investment of risk capital in petroleum exploration and over the next 5 years a minimum of $500m is committed for petroleum exploration, both onshore and off shore. This year, industry sources predict that between 83 and 143 exploration wells will be drilled; on-shore 60-97, off-shore 23-46. Even if only the lower estimate is reached, this will be the highest level for 7 years. Offshore, a total of 62 exploration permits are currently in force, 28 of which have been granted in the last two years, including 8 since August 1978. This compares with only 2 off-shore permits granted during the Labor period. Consideration is presently being given to the allocation of a further 20 off-shore permit areas around Australia. On-shore, there are approximately 70 current exploration permits.
The improved outlook for petroleum exploration is especially demonstrated by the fact that companies are prepared to face the difficulties and enormous costs of exploring the Exmouth Plateau. The plateau, lying up to 600 kilometres off north western Australia, at water depths ranging from 600 to 3,000 metres, is generally regarded as offering our best chance for a further major oil discovery. This exploration effort is one of the most intensive deep-water undertakings anywhere in the world, with companies operating on the frontiers of current technology. A single well will cost around $ 10m. Drilling of the first well there commenced last month. Of the world’s 10 deep-water drilling rigs, up to three will be operating on the plateau this year.
Australia currently has a self-sufficiency in crude oil of about 70 per cent. A few years ago it was expected that by the 1980s our selfsufficiency would drop to as low as 25 per cent. However, as a result of the Government’s encouragement of exploration and development, and our pricing policy, our self-sufficiency outlook has improved dramatically. It is now predicted that by 1985 we will be producing 50 per cent of our crude oil requirements, a figure far higher than anyone would have ventured to suggest till recently. Of course, self-sufficiency will be even further enhanced if, as we hope, additional major oil discoveries are made. Despite some limits to oil prospectivity and high risks we have succeeded in creating the climate necessary to attract scarce capital and resources into major and accelerated exploration programs. Under Labor exploration ground to a halt.
Energy development projects
Active encouragement is being given to major energy projects to ensure security of energy supplies for future domestic use and for export. A sound policy framework is essential if there is to be a flow of necessary projects in the future. We have provided that framework. It is working successfully. Investment in mining and manufacturing, including energy, has grown strongly under this Government. We have reversed the serious downward trend in real capital expenditure which was occurring in the mid-1970s. We have done this through the establishment of a sound economic climate, the restoration of sensible economic management, the application of specific policies such as the investment allowance, a reasonable approach to foreign investment and the encouragement given to the petroleum and mining industries through the taxation system.
Based on figures published by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, the average annual rate of growth in real private investment in mining and manufacturing, which includes important parts of the energy industries, will be 12.5 per cent between 1976 and 1 980. The growth in the previous four years, 1972 to 1976, was negative and averaged minus 8.5 per cent per annum.
Let me outline the major energy projects underway. Development expenditure for Bass Strait totalling $780m has been announced and further development now under consideration is expected to raise this total to over $ 1 billion. In addition, development programs are in progress or planned for Barrow Island and Dongara, with expenditure totalling $18m this year, for the Cooper Basin, with expenditure totalling $53m for 1978 and 1979, and for other localities. Of the Bass Strait developments so far announced, development ofthe Snapper gas and condensate field is in progress and production is due to commence in 198 1. The total cost for a platform and pipeline will be $160m. The platforms for the Tuna and Mackerel oil fields have been completed: Production from Mackerel has commenced and development drilling from the Tuna platform is under way. The total cost for these two fields will be $180m. Australia’s first sub-sea completion has been installed for the Cobia oil field, with further development, involving a platform, estimated at a cost of over $200m. Development of the West Kingfish oil field has commenced and the cost is estimated at $ 1 90m. In addition, a third gas treatment plant is proposed for construction at Longford, at an estimated cost of about $50m.
Another major energy development is the North West Shelf natural gas project. This project is currently the subject of detailed study by the companies concerned, at a cost of $50m, and their decision on the project’s future is expected towards the end of this year. During the Labor period, progress on the North West Shelf project was delayed by at least two to three years. However, this Government recognised the national significance of the project and has provided the framework which will enable development to take off. Measures introduced include foreign investment approval, approval for the export of liquid natural gas derived from 53 per cent of known reserves from the North Rankin, Angel and Goodwyn fields and several important taxation concessions, namely, the extension of the investment allowance by two years; the inclusion of gas liquefaction plant as an allowable capital expenditure under the petroleum mining provisions; and the introduction of the shareholder rebate scheme for off-shore petroleum.
The petroleum refining industry has embarked on or announced important refinery expansions in Brisbane, Sydney, Geelong and Perth. Refining investment increased by $80m in 1977 and an estimated $75m in 1978. A proposal for a $130m refinery at Matraville in Sydney is being actively investigated. One encouraging feature of refining expansion has been moves by several companies to increase catalytic cracking capacity, which will lift production of transport fuels vis-a-vis fuel oil production. The level of capital investment being made clearly reflects the confidence of the Australian refining industry in the Government’s policies. Not only has the Government stimulated development of our energy resources through sound economic and assistance policies, but also we have supported the sourcing of loans overseas for major energy projects of national importance. This is particularly important in regard to the construction of major electricity schemes which are basic to the future industrial development of our country.
Five of the 12 major projects approved for special borrowing by the Loan Council last year related to the provision of electricity. They were: the Loy Yang power station in Victoria- $343m; Eraring electricity project in New South Wales- $200m; power station projects in Queensland- $ 130m; hydro-electric power development in Tasmania- $75m; and power supply integration in the Pilbara area of W«»»- n
Australia- $1 1 lm. All of these projects received Commonwealth support. These projects for power generation are of major significance from the viewpoint of energy policy. Australia has abundant sources of solid fuels in the eastern States suitable for power generation. Soundly planned and timely installation of new power generating capacity is essential to facilitate the transfer of demand for energy from liquid fuels to electricity derived from solid fuels or hydroelectric resources. A ready availability of electricity generating capacity will also facilitate the establishment of new industrial development projects of a nature consistent with the Government’s objectives towards mineral processing and industry policy generally.
As an overall energy-rich nation, Australia has the opportunity to attract those industries which have a relatively high demand for energy. For instance, the continued provision of electricity based on our abundant coal supplies is an important comparative advantage to Australia when major international industry investment decisions are taken. The major expansion now underway of aluminium smelting capacity in Australia would not be possible without supplies of relatively cheap electricity. The value of our support for major electricity projects can be seen from recent industry announcements. Yesterday Alcoa of Australia Ltd announced plans to proceed with a $350m aluminium smelter project in Australia. This means that, with the $85m expansion of Alcoa’s Point Henry plant and the $500m smelter project at Gladstone, almost $ 1 billion is committed to the expansion of aluminium smelting in Australia.
We recognise that the possession of substantial energy and mineral resources gives us great opportunities for the future development of industries based on the processing of our mineral resources. This Government has commenced major studies, in collaboration with the State governments and with Japan, to investigate and pursue opportunities for increased raw materials processing in Australia. The energy aspects of these studies are of basic importance. Moreover, energy processing projects themselves represent significant investment opportunities. Ou from shale, oil from coal and methanol from gas, are all realistic and attractive prospects made possible by our policies. Through our management of the economy, we have established the economic climate for major investments such as those to proceed. Through our support of energy research, development and demonstration, we are establishing the technological basis on which major new investment projects will be based in the 1980s and beyond. The long and impressive list of major projects to which I have referred is ample proof of the success of our policies. That success will continue in the future with major new energy projects based on the realisation of new technological possibilities.
One of the major objectives announced by the Government in its energy policy statement of November 1977 was that ‘energy research and development would be substantially increased ‘. This Government recognised that we must move to develop the energy technologies suited to Australia’s needs in the remaining years of this century and beyond. Energy research and development is the foundation on which investment in alternative fuels for the future will rest. We are determined to encourage that investment. In may 1978, we established the National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Council- NERDDC. Its role is the development and co-ordination of energy research, development and demonstration in Australia. Its primary task is to recommend to me those projects which should be assisted under the National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Program. This program is a completely new initiative. Its aim is to provide Commonwealth Government financial support to stimulate increased energy research, development and demonstration in this country. No similar program, or anything even remotely resembling it, was seen to be necessary by the Labor Government when it was in power.
At the time of the 1978-79 Budget, the Government announced that funds totalling around $15m would be made available for this program to encourage a major expansion of energy research, development and demonstration activity. There is also a separate commitment to a total of about $3.8m for the joint AustraliaFederal Republic of Germany feasibility study on converting coal to oil. These commitments represent almost a doubling of previous Commonwealth expenditure on energy research. A total of $ 16.6m was spent by Commonwealth authorities on energy research and development in 1976-77. A doubling of support for energy research in one year is a very real achievement which has given tremendous stimulation to our energy technologists, who are eager to pursue the challenges of the future.
Based on the recommendations of NERDDC, I have approved 177 grants for 1978-79 totalling almost $10m. Since November 1978, I have issued, in all, six statements giving details of approved grants. A summary showing major areas supported in 1 978-79 is given below:
Coal Conversion- $2.6m; Coal Mine Site Technology- $2.6m; Technology of Coal Utilisation-$1.5m; Solar Energy- $0.9m; Power Alcohol from Biomass- $0.6m; Fossil Fuel Resource Assessment- $0.5m; Electric Vehicles, Batteries and Improved Motor Vehicle Performance- $0. 3m; Wind Energy- $0.2m; Nuclear Waste Management and Fusion Research- $0. 2m; Other Projects-$0.5m.
When other energy research expenditures by private enterprise and universities are taken into account, more than $40m will be committed to energy research in 1978-79. NERDDC has already invited applications for the 1979-80 program. In assessing applications NERDDC is guided by government priorities. Our highest priority clearly is to ensure a satisfactory availability of liquid fuels. The Government’s priorities for energy research are set out in a document which I will table later today. These priorities aim primarily at meeting the objectives of:
More effective use of existing oil and gas resources by enhanced conservation, including the development of systems of higher thermal efficiency; increased availability of indigenous liquid and gaseous fuels, particularly oil, by improved techniques of discovery, exploration, assessment and recovery; production and use of synthetic liquid fuels, particularly those derived from a non-petroleum feedstock; and substitution of more abundant energy sources for liquid fuels in fixed installations.
We intend to make the best use we can of energy research resources available within government authorities and I have set in train a major review of the research and development programs of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission research establishment at Lucas Heights. The research establishment is significant by world standards and represents an important asset to the nation in terms of facilities and skilled manpower. Although the establishment will continue to be the main centre for research and development into nuclear energy in Australia, we are evaluating the scope for broadening its research activities against the background of the co-ordinated national energy research and development program now being developed through NERDDC. In some overseas research laboratories, such as Harwell in the
United Kingdom, scientific facilities and expertise originally set up for nuclear research are being utilised to the benefit of energy research and development activities in other fields. That prospect is being examined here. The review is being conducted by a sub-committee of NERDDC. Its report will be completed by the middle of this year. In developing new technology in the energy research, development and demonstration field it is important that regard is given to the mutual benefits of co-operating with other countries. I will outline later important steps that we have taken to ensure that Australia takes full advantage of the benefits available in this way.
However, I will comment now on the arrangement this Government has entered into with the Federal Republic of Germany to study coal conversion possibilities in Australia. The Commonwealth and the State governments of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria are participating in a joint oil-from-coal feasibility study with the Federal Minister of Research and Technology and a group of German companies. The study will examine the conversion potential of Australian coals to liquid fuels and report on the feasibility of establishing commercial plants at sites in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. On the basis of the agreed schedule of work, the study is expected to be completed by June 198 1. The joint study will cost about $3.8m. The study is based on the concept of a plant using the combined hydrogenation gasification and Fischer-Tropsch technologies and having production capacity of 2.9 million tonnes per annum of liquid fuels, notionally comprising a production stream of 45 per cent gasoline, 45 per cent distillate and 10 per cent LPG.
The study is a practical one. It is well planned and it is being carried out in close co-operation with the State governments concerned. It will establish a basis for investment decisions running into billions of dollars. A single major coal conversion plant is estimated to cost $2 billion to $3 billion. The joint study is complementary to the $2.6m domestic program of coal liquefaction research currently funded by the Commonwealth. The two major elements of this program concern hydrogenation studies with emphasis on continuous reactor work, catalyst investigations, solvent regeneration and product evaluation being undertaken primarily by the Australian Coal Industry Research Laboratory and the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd, and flash pyrolysis studies, including product tar hydrogenation and char utilisation being undertaken by the
Finally on energy research development and demonstration, let me lay to rest once and for all the thought that we need to match the per capita expenditure levels of other countries. It is quite unrealistic to suggest that all countries should achieve the same average level of research expenditure. In any country energy research must be related to the energy resource endowment and outlook. Australia is an energy rich country. We do not have to match the research expenditure levels of energy deficient countries. If other countries spend enormous amounts on research into nuclear power generation, should we feel required to do the same just to reach some arbitrary figure? That would be nonsense. The only comparison of any value is performance within Australia. Let me repeat that our initiative on energy research development and demonstration in last year’s Budget has almost doubled the previous level of Commonwealth Government support. That is an achievement which speaks for itself. It is laying a foundation for the future which will prove of immense value to the Australian community in assuring secure energy supplies.
Another major objective stated in the November 1977 energy policy paper was ‘to restrain the average rate of growth of energy consumption, particularly in liquid fuels’. If Australia is to achieve and sustain a satisfactory level of self-sufficiency in oil supplies in the 1980s and 1990s we must take effective steps now to restrain the rate of growth of oil consumption in the medium to long-term.
Realistic pricing of petroleum is fundamental to conservation. There are promising signs of success already as recent statistics for 1978 show- total consumption of petroleum products in 1978 was 0.75 per cent less than in 1977. The average annual growth in consumption between 1972 and 1977 was 3.8 percent; consumption of fuel oil and diesel fuel for industrial use reduced by 2 per cent and 20 per cent respectively against 1 977 levels; motor spirit consumption increased by only 2.7 per cent during 1978 compared with 5 per cent in 1977.
We intend, however, to reinforce our pricing policies by informing and educating the community, particularly motorists, of ways in which our scarce liquid fuels can be used more effectively. We must change deeply ingrained community attitudes to make progress. We are pursuing this objective actively in conjunction with the States.
After consultation with the States the Government provided $50,000 in its 1978-79 Budget for a preliminary study to establish a plan for a national publicity campaign to save oil. I received the consultant’s study report on 28 February 1979. The report recommends that a publicity campaign should run over five years. The total cost proposed by the consultants over that five-year period is $17m. The $17m figure, which has been widely commented on in the media, is the consultant’s estimate. No decision has been made on the proposal. None of the governments concerned has any commitment to that figure. I believe a worthwhile program can be achieved for much less.
On this question of costs, the potential benefits of conservation must be understood. If a publicity campaign results in reducing our oil consumption by only two per cent, that annual saving would be equivalent to discovering a field the size of the Tuna field soon to begin production in Bass Strait. The exploration and development of the Tuna field has cost in the order of $100m. The consultant’s report was discussed in the Australian Minerals and Energy Council on 9 March. The States are generally receptive to the concept of a jointly funded campaign to save oil but agree that consideration should be given at this stage only to the first year of the program. I am hopeful that a co-operative program will be launched in October 1979- which coincides with the proposed ‘Energy Conservation Month’ of the International Energy Agency.
I have also set in train a major review of ways in which we can take action within the Commonwealth Government to show a lead in conservation of liquid fuels. One of the prime possibilities for reducing our dependence on liquid fuels is to encourage interfuel substitutionspecifically the greater use of readily available indigenous resources in place of petroleum products derived from crude oil.
Our pricing policies and specific initiatives have encouraged very significant fuel switching. Natural gas is replacing usage of fuel oil, particularly in the Sydney market; LPG is replacing usage of motor spirit, particularly in the Melbourne market. In past years cheap fuel oil had a virtual strangehold on the Sydney industrial market and without an industrial base load, commercial and domestic sales of gas could not be priced cheaply enough to gain significant penetration. Again, the 1978 oil pricing decision reversed this anomalous situation. Most fuel oil reached its appropriate market price almost immediately and industrial gas sales in the Sydney area will now be 80 per cent higher in 1979 than they were in 1978. By the end of this year natural gas will have displaced 600,000 tonnes of fuel oil in the Sydney area. That represents a saving of about one half of the previous demand for ‘inland ‘ fuel oil in New South Wales.
Let me now outline what we have done on LPG- we are well past the stage of thinking about proposals. On 29 November 1978 I announced that the Government had decided to guarantee that five years’ notice would be given of any change to the present relationship between LPG road tax and motor spirit excise, whereby any increase in the rate for LPG is only half that for motor spirit. This gave an important assurance that the LPG road tax differential would not be reduced after motorists had converted. The Government also decided that 100 Commonwealth vehicles in Victoria would be converted as a demonstration program and that an LPG task force, comprising representatives of the State and Commonwealth governments and the transport industries, would be established. The measures I announced have been successful. They have been acted on widely and welcomed by fleet owners and private motorists alike. They have also been shamelessly plagiarised by the Opposition spokesman on energy.
Let me briefly give you some indication of the consumers’ response so far. One Melbourne supplier of LPG conversion equipment has reported a 30 per cent growth in demand for equipment over last year. Victoria now has 127 outlets and new sites are planned for Brisbane and Sydney. Many towns outside of the large seaboard cities are also getting LPG outlets and growth in LPG demand is occurring there. For example, many Canberra taxis are converting to LPG. Finally, a new automotive gas engine for buses and trucks has now been put on the market by Rolls Royce.
We place a high priority on conservation of scarce petroleum supplies. Our pricing policy for crude petroleum is fundamental to this- it is bringing results. It is also bringing good results in fuel switching away from petroleum to other indigenous energy sources. It will be more productive and less costly in the future to conserve scarce petroleum and use what we have wisely than it will be to find and develop new oil fields. This fact needs to be recognised much more clearly by the Australian community.
Co-ordination of Energy Policy
The Government has set up appropriate institutions for the implementation and co-ordination of its energy policies. The National Development portfolio was established in December 1977 and given explicit responsibility for ‘national energy policy, including planning and research into coal, oil and gas, uranium, solar energy and other forms of energy’. Co-ordination of these responsibilities occurs through the National Energy Office within the Department of National Development.
The Government has two major advisory bodies to assist in the formulation and implementation of energy policy. The first of these is the National Energy Advisory CommitteeNEAC. The second is the more specialised National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Council- NERDDC. In addition, there is close co-ordination with the States through the Australian Minerals and Energy Council- AMEC. I indicated earlier that this Government recognises the role and importance of the State governments in energy matters. Through AMEC, we have close and effective liaison. We pursue liaison on energy matters in a whole-hearted way. Under Labor consultation with the States became moribund. It was this Government which established proper consultation with the States on energy matters.
International Energy Co-operation
National energy policies do not function in a vacuum; they inevitably affect, and are affected by international energy situations and movements. The Government is well aware of these interactions and has actively sought to foster international consultation and co-operation over the widest possible range of energy matters. Of outstanding importance in this regard has been the Government’s decision to join the International Energy Agency. The International Energy Agency is without doubt the most important forum for international consultation and cooperation on energy matters between the major industrialised nations.
I outlined in detail, during my statement to the House on 8 March, the advantages that Australia would derive from its membership of the IEA. These advantages, including our participation in the emergency oil sharing system, our involvement in the full range of long-term energy cooperation activities and our enhanced opportunities to promote the export of energy resources, amply justify the Government’s decision to join the IEA.
We do not, however, see the IEA as the only forum for international co-operation in the energy field. The Government has also been active in multilateral organisations in our region. Australia was prominent in establishing the Commonwealth Regional Consultative Group on Energy at the Commonwealth Heads of Government regional meeting last year. The group has India as its convenor and at the inaugural meeting of the group in New Delhi in October 1978, it was agreed to undertake two activities:
Firstly, the establishment of a regional data bank on alternative energy technologies. Australia agreed that an existing CSIRO facility would be developed for this purpose.
Secondly, it undertook the organisation of a workshop on the applications of renewable energy resources at the village level. This workshop will take place in India in June.
Australia has also been active in the energy work of the Natural Resources Committee of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific- ESCAP. The Government has negotiated agreements to facilitate bilateral cooperation in energy research and development. These agreements provide opportunities for us to tap into major research projects overseas, to spread the value of our research dollar and to avoid duplication of research.
In the field of coal there is an information exchange agreement with the United Kingdom and we have also secured two agreements with the United States Department of Energy and the United States Bureau of Mines, covering a wide range of coal mining and utilisation matters. Under our memorandum of understanding with the United Kingdom National Coal Board, coal research co-operation is already underway in two areas. Since June 1978 Australia has participated in work at the NCB Coal Research Establishment at Stoke Orchard on a joint program of production and utilisation of coal extracts. An Australian coal mining research program at Collinsville in Queensland is being supported by the NCB through the supply of hardware for gas monitoring which must be carried out as part of the mining exercise.
A Victorian Government proposal for joint development of technology for the conversion of brown coal to liquid fuel is being discussed with the United States Department of Energy. An official Australian solar energy delegation has just returned from the United States of America. The delegation dealt with the prospects for implementation of co-operative projects on solar collector development, solar systems for industrial-process heat and systems for heating and cooling of buildings. As a result of this visit there are good prospects of increased cooperation with the United States on solar energy research.
We have also established an understanding with Japan for co-operation between our countries on energy research and development, including co-operation on utilisation and liquefaction of coal, utilisation of solar energy, including heating and cooling, and energy conservation. We have reached agreement with New Zealand on exchanging information on energy policies and activities, particularly those related to research and development and conservation. On the research and development side, co-operation will be concentrated on New Zealand’s research into methanol as a petrol blending material and our research into brown coal technology. A similar arrangement with Papua New Guinea is under consideration.
All of these activities show our strong interest in pursuing international co-operation, in gaining access to the best international technology and in sharing our knowledge and skills with other countries, particularly developing countries. Our initiatives for substantial international co-operation on energy matters have been developed and implemented in little more than 12 months. The Opposition when in government made no progress at all in this field over three years.
Short-term Oil Supplies
This statement is essentially about this Government’s approach to longer-term energy policy but in view of current community interest in oil supplies in the wake of the disruption in Iran, I would like to make some comments on this aspect. Firstly, let me repeat what I have been saying since mid-February: There are no grounds for concern about the immediate outlook for supply of petroleum products to the Australian market. This outlook extends to at least May- June on current information.
The IEA concluded at its Governing Board meeting in Paris last week that the outlook for the balance of 1979 has not altered because there is still considerable uncertainty as to future production levels in major Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Political stability in Iran remains fragile and there may well be compensatory drops in oil production in other countries. The position is being watched closely. We have reactivated the Government-Industry Oil
Supplies Advisory Committee and it is meeting regularly to keep the situation under review. Commonwealth and State officials are also meeting regularly to monitor the position.
I will take this opportunity to comment on the IEA’s decision recently to pursue a reduction in world oil demand in the order of two million barrels a day, corresponding to about S per cent of IEA consumption. Australia has endorsed the IEA objective and I believe we can achieve our contribution to it without major difficulty. IEA members agreed that contributions to the achievement of the objective could be made in a number of ways.
It is not simply a matter of cutting back on petroleum or energy consumption. There is flexibility in contributing to the objective. In Australia, an accelerating trend to petroleum conservation associated with our pricing policies, short term increased indigenous oil production and interfuel substitution appear adequate to meet fully our commitment.
The increase in production from Bass Strait recently announced by the producers is equivalent to an increase of 3.8 per cent in total oil availability. The increase in daily production is equivalent to about 10 per cent of our daily import requirements. This improvement, together with the accelerated switch from oil to natural gas in the Sydney area, and the more widespread use of liquid petroleum gas in fleet vehicles referred to previously, will meet our obligations to the IEA objective. Moreover we are considering, in a prudent way, what other steps might be appropriate if in fact the world oil supply situation should worsen and higher short-term conservation objectives should become necessary.
A range of short-term measures is under examination with the States and oil companies. They fall into two categories: Technical measures designed to increase fuel supply and measures which would reduce demand. I emphasise that implementation of these measures is not intended at this stage, but prudence warrants careful advance investigation of their relevance and value. The measures under study include a possible decrease in octane ratings, which could result in a saving of approximately 1 per cent to 1 1/4 per cent of crude oil supplies, and a temporary increase in the lead content of petrol in Victoria, Tasmania and metropolitan New South Wales which could increase the supply of petrol by about 3 per cent.
We have weathered the problem well because we had sound long-term policies in place. For instance, without the encouragement we have given Bass Strait production through our pricing policy, there would have been little chance of increasing domestic oil production. Without our pricing policy there would have been little chance of bringing about the sharp change from fuel oil to natural gas which is occurring in the Sydney market.
Let me sum up. We have a co-ordinated and integrated approach to energy policy. We have assessed our energy resources and identified the supply and use of liquid fuels as the prime area for concentration of policy effort. As a short-term objective we have acted effectively to increase supplies of petroleum by realistic oil pricing policy and by encouraging petroleum exploration and development. The net result to date is that we have the highest self-sufficiency in oil supplies we have ever had and we have coped with the Iranian problem better than most other countries.
As a longer-term basis for policy to ensure security of supplies in the necessary time framethat is, towards the 1990s- we have expanded research and development into alternative fuels. This research will establish the basis for secure energy supplies over the longer-term. Our overall energy resource endowment is strong and our responses to the energy problems, both short and long-term, have been energetic and sound. Our policies, through their effectiveness in the shortterm, have won the time needed to pursue transition from our current oil dependence to a more diversified and balanced use of other energy sources, without disruption of our way of life. For the information of honourable members, I present the following papers:
National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Program- Priorities and Relativities for research and development support grants.
Motion (by Mr Staley) proposed:
That the House take note of the papers. (Quorum formed).
Motion (by Mr Staley)- by leave- agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Blaxland speaking for a period not exceeding 39 minutes.
-The statement by the Minister for National Development (Mr Newman) was read as quickly as it was written. That became obvious on a reading of the document because on page 14 it states:
Yesterday Alcoa of Australia Ltd announced plans to proceed with a $350m aluminium smelter project . . .
That means that at least every page from 14 to 36 was written today. So much for the thought, time and consistency which has gone into the Minister’s statement. This is not the promised Green Paper that we have heard so much about. This is an embarrassed response to Labor’s Green Paper which was released last Monday week. The statement is the work of a lazy Minister. Any reading of the statement indicates clearly that the whole endeavour is a cut and paste job, a stringing together of all the Press statements and speeches that the Minister has made in the past year. The statement should be dubbed ‘101 unreported Press statements’ because that is about all it is; it is just a sham.
Let us contrast it with the paper of the Labor Opposition which was released a week ago and for which there have been 200 individual requests. Can honourable members imagine 200 individual requests from departments, universities, business and interested academics for this piece of political jargon? There is no way in this world. Even the sentences in it are identical to those in the Press statements. Pages of it are straight lifts from previous speeches. We all saw the little notation in the Clancy column in the National Times on the weekend which stated that the Minister had the whips on his departmental officers to get something out to save the Government’s face because it had been creamed on energy policy. It has been in office for three years and done nothing about it. The Minister has been in this office for 12 months and we have seen not a line of sensible, integrated or coordinated policy; just a mish-mash of individual statements. It takes the Labor Opposition, without the bureaucracy and without a great staff of people, to produce a closely argued and rational energy paper for Australia which looks at the options, solutions and all the other subject matters involved.
The Minister’s statement is just a motherhood statement in many places. He talks about such things as the need to increase our energy independence- things which are just trite expressions and come very easily. Let us look at the contrast in the Labor paper. The world oil situation in the context of Australia; Australia’s broad energy position; the changing usage patterns in Australian energy; the liquid fuel problem; exploration; the distinctions between old oil and new oil; windfall gains and tax treatments of existing low cost fields; fuel substitution; conservation; direct policy initiatives for conservation; what other countries are doing; natural gas; what we have and what we will need; gas prices and pricing; gas usage; gas exports; pipelines; liquid petroleum gas and all the issues surrounding it; exports; domestic; transport substitution; methanol from gas; gas to petrol; ethanol- all these subjects were in the Labor paper. What do we get from the Government? We get a tired apologia for an inactive Minister, a man who just does not know what he is doing. That just becomes clear. There is no conservation policy; no mention of direct standards.
The Government now has motor vehicle plans up for grabs. There is a new motor vehicle plant coming along. New cars are being produced. But there are no requirements, in legislative form, on these companies to meet certain fuel requirements. The United States vehicle fleet will average 27& miles per gallon by 1985, having come from 1 3V4 miles per gallon in the early 1 970s. Yet we have heard none of these direct standards. All we get is the dubious conservation effect of higher and higher petrol prices. The whole policy is just slug the hell out of the motorist who is continuing to be ripped off for tax purposes. This is supposed to be a low tax government, yet the Minister admits in his statement that by way of the crude oil levy the Government takes $ 1,300m from the Australian motorist in one year and transfers it to Commonwealth revenue. Then he said ‘If we do not get the $ 1,300m there would be higher taxes ‘. What does he think a tax on oil or a tax on petrol is, if it is not a tax?
Of course, then we get this grubby political argument about how bad the situation was under Labor and how our policies did nothing. Who introduced parity pricing for new discoveries? In the Labor Party policy delivered by Prime Minister Whitiam in September 1975 the description of new oil is oil coming from fields found after September 1975- not when the honourable member for Bass was the Minister or when the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) came to power. It is no wonder that when Labor was unceremoniously dumped from office in November 1975 the policy had not had a chance to work- it was only a month old. How can this Government reasonably claim that it was its policy?
The Minister said nothing about the 50 per cent parity for old oil and the fact that the percentage of import parity for producers in Australia will go from 10 per cent to 20 per cent to 35 per cent to 50 per cent by 1980. The Minister said in his statement that from 1980 onwards the Government will review the policy. We want to know now what the Government is going to give the oil companies after 1980 and whether we are going to have a resource tax to give the public a fair share of the massive transfer of wealth to the companies. But again the statement contains no news. This statement is characterised by the fact that there is not an item of news in it.
The Minister claims to have found an additional 600 million to 700 million barrels. He is quite plain about this in the statementunashamed in fact. I will just read the direct quotation to put him straight on the record. He said:
In short, our pricing policy has already led to an increase in reserves of some 600-700 million barrels . . .
I know the oil industry as well as anyone in this House and I have never heard from anywhere of 600 million or 700 million barrels; and neither has the Minister. It is another piece of fantasy. He went on to waffle about self-sufficiency. How about this for a gem of a statement? On page 9 he said:
Of course, self-sufficiency will be even further enhanced, if, as we hope, additional major oil discoveries are made.
Well, what a statement- self-sufficiency will be enhanced if they find more oil! What a great statement! What news there is in that! This is a great little paper!
Then we get the sleight of hand on energy research and development. The Minister said that $ 15m is to be spent on energy research and development and he listed all the projects. But from the way the statement is put together it looks as though that $15m is for this year. In fact it is $ 1 5m over three years- $5m a year. It is $5m out of $ 1,300m. The Government is putting $5m a year back into energy research and development out of the $ 1,300m it rips from the motorist’s pocket every year. That is a disgrace; it is a scandal. Then he had the hide to say: ‘We do not have to match the per capita expenditure levels of other countries’. What an outrageous proposition this is. Of course, we are self-sufficient in coal. We are in a very parlous position with oil. At the moment we have 10 years supply at best, but this Minister is on the record as having said we do not have to match the per capital expenditure levels on research and development of energy in other countries’. He said that because his conscience was pricked by the per capita exposition on energy in the Labor Green Paper of last Monday.
Let me just read to the House what other countries are spending. We are spending $US2.30 per head on energy research and development. Germany is spending $US9.70; the United States SUS9.20; Belgium $US8.90; the Netherlands SUS7.10 and Sweden SUS7.10. Our spending is down to SUS2.30, a quarter to a third of what is coming out of these other countries. Yet the Minister said that we can alford to sit back and relax in terms of energy policy. This country is a large continent with cities spaced at great intervals and relying on motor vehicles. The design of our cities relies on motor vehicles. Our cities have been built around the quarter acre blocks and distant suburbs. People need motor vehicles. They need fuel for motor vehicles. They need liquid fuels. We heard nothing about substitutes. The Minister put in some more grubby arguments about liquid petroleum gas and what he has done for it and then said that I unashamedly plagiarised his statements on LPG. The statement on LPG was in the Labor Federal policy four years ago in 1975. 1 rewrote it into the Perth policy two years ago. That is a matter of public record. These are in printed documents.
The Government has done nothing about research and development. It is doing nothing about substitution. In fact, its whole policy is a disgraceful apologia for laziness and demonstrates the Minister’s inattention to his portfolio. Let me nail another lie. I refer to the often told lie that oil exploration under Labor came to a halt. It is often heard, but what is the record? I have here the Minister’s answer to questions placed on notice by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden). I will put them on the record again. In 1973 under Labor 69 exploration wells were drilled in Australia. Last year, under the present Government 52 wells were drilled. In 1974, 54 wells were drilled. In 1975 23 wells were drilled. In the first year of the Liberal-National Country Party Government in 1976, 2 1 wells were drilled. In 1977, there were 21 wells drilled. That is two less than the last year of Labor and 40 less than the first year of Labor. In 1978 52 wells were drilled, which is not even up to the 1 974 figure achieved by Labor. Yet the Minister has the hide to say that exploration died under Labor. Admittedly, there was a downturn, but why was there a downturn under Labor? It was because the Liberal-Country Party obstructed the passage of the seas and submerged lands legislation in the Senate for nine months. The then Opposition’s party colleagues, the State Premier of Western Australia and the Premier of Victoria, then took it to the High Court of Australia where they were defeated. That two year delay in determining the sovereignty question meant that no successful exploration company would want to put millions of dollars into holes in the seabed off the West Australian or Victorian coasts while they were in the position of not being sure whether the States or the Commonwealth had sovereignty. That was the reason for the downturn in 1975.
Yet we find Government members boasting about their miserable 52 wells. Last year in Canada 3,000 exploration wells were drillednot 52 but 3,000. Government members are sitting back, smug and content, with their 52 wells. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. Government members have made the trivial and weak political point that there are 62 exploration permits now in force. Of course there are 62 exploration permits now in force, but what the Minister did not say was that permits for 34 of them were issued by the Labor Government between 1972 and 1975. Only the balance-22- have been issued by the present Government. How many have been issued in the last two years? I will tell the House- 22! We are told that this is the great, renewed exploration effort. It is a poor exploration effort- 52 wells- and what are we paying for it? I will tell honourable members what we are paying for it- $300m extra to producers this year, $700m extra to the producers next year and, when we get to 50 per cent of import parity, which in reality will be 56 per cent, the revenue of the producers will be disgracefully high.
What is the public paying? The consumer must pay for the crude oil levy, the company taxes and excise on refined product which the companies include in the price of petrol and petroleum products. So, the consuming public of Australia is paying the Fraser Government a total of $2, 400m in one financial year on one commodity- petrol and petroleum products. What have we received for that payment? We have had 52 wells. What have we received for research and development? We have received only $500m.
The Minister talks about substitutes. Yesterday the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) and I went to the Australian National University to look at Professor Kaneff’s solar energy unit. We found that it probably embodies the most advanced solar technology in the Western World. What is the level of funding from the Government for that project? It is $100,000. The Government will not even back Australians in. It will not do anything for the people in its own country. The Government talks about being involved in research and development projects with the United States. Professor Kaneff told us that when GHH- the West German consortium and United States consortiumwas at the university, the representatives wanted to find out only the rudiments of the Australian system. There was no exchange of information. It is all one-way traffic. There is going to be no more of that stupidity because the University has had the sense to gain patents to the rights to their own exclusive process in the countries I have referred to. The Government has done nothing about research and development.
On the off-shore question, the Government is still mucking around with Charlie Court and Premier Hamer. The Government is not game to take them on when the High Court of Australia has said that the Commonwealth has sovereignty over the off-shore seas from the low water mark to the edge of the continental shelf. The Government is still persisting with the fiction that the States should have some role in the issuing of exploration permits off-shore, when that role ought to reside exclusively here in the national capital under the Federal Government. Yet the Government is to bring in some weak piece of legislation to do with some designated authority. The legislation would not stand up to five minutes of testing in the High Court.
When the Labor Party comes to power- let me make this quite plain- it will repeal the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act and dismantle the designated authority. It will administer the off-shore seas of Australia in the name of the Commonwealth of Australia. There will be no more mucking around with State Premiers or their crooked Ministers for Mines or plagiarising companies who have greased the paw of and looked after those people. There will be no more of that hanky-panky. The Labor Party will get down to some honest government when it comes to oil exploration.
The Minister spoke about the North West Shelf. I have brought into the House the publication produced by the North West Shelf Joint Venture, a consortium of Australian and international companies, which is entitled Energy from Australia. It was produced for the benefit of the banking institutions seeking to obtain the finance for a $3, 000m project. There are statements made by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony), Sir Charles Court, Mr Ron Davies and myself. Where is the Minister for National Development (Mr Newman)? He has not rated a mention. I present to the House this glossy publication- the corporate structure of the North West Shelf. Let me read directly from the document what the North West Shelf consortium printed from my statement:
In July 1977 the Labor Party approved the principle of gas exports and this is now a clear plank in the National Platform. When the Government finally announced its policy with respect to the North West Shelf Venture in August, I responded on behalf of the Opposition by positively supporting the project in a manner that I hoped would be conducive to its ongoing development and completion.
I have backed the North West Shelf Venture and the gas export commitment that goes with it because of my firm belief that there is more undiscovered gas in Australia and because the progress of the venture would be the circuit breaker, the catalyst for a renewed, ambitious oil exploration effort throughout Australia. This approach is already paying dividends.
That statement shows how irrelevant the North West Shelf consortium sees the policy of the Opposition in this matter! How dare the Government suggest that it is the brains behind this project. The Minister could not spell ‘hydrocarbon’ twelve months ago. Now he says that he knows all about it. That is a joke.
I now deal with the question of natural gas. At page 25 of his statement- this outrageous piece of duplicity- the Minister says that the Government has increased gas supplies to Sydney and that 80,000 tonnes of fuel oil has been displaced. Let me quote his exact words:
By the end of this year natural gas will have displaced 600,000 tonnes of fuel oil in the Sydney area. That represents a saving of about one half of the previous demand for ‘inland fuel’ . . .
Earlier he said that the natural gas penetration:
The Minister has claimed credit for this development. Whom does the Minister think built the pipeline to get the gas to Sydney? Who belted hell out of Connor for building the Moomba to Sydney pipeline? The Government now has the temerity to claim the credit for that. The Minister is saying that gas is now being delivered. There is no wonder natural gas is displacing fuel oil. The Government has regulated gas prices and oil prices are at import parity. Is it any wonder that fuel oil is dear and gas is cheap. It is no wonder that gas penetration has increased by 80 per cent in 12 months. In his statement the Minister did not tell the House where all the fuel oil is. The companies cannot sell all the displaced fuel oil that is lying around. It is now being sold off-shore at bargain basement prices. We in Australia pay through the nose for it from the Middle East and sell it for a song off-shore.
Where is the Government’s refining policy for the catalytic cracking of the residual fuel oils back to light end products. When we look at the fifth report of the Royal Commission on Petroleum on the refining policy we see that the Commonwealth Government has said that a refining policy is not a matter for the Commonwealth; it is a matter for the States. So, all the fuel oil being displaced by natural gas, which was once being discounted to keep gas out ofthe Sydney market, is in tanks and containment vessels all around Sydney and Melbourne. So much for what the Government has done in regard to a natural gas policy. It has done absolutely nothing! It is letting some of these authorities sell gas at prices which are so ridiculously foolish and profligate that it is a national disgrace.
The Minister said that the Australian Labor Party had done nothing about liquid petroleum gas. Our policy on LPG has been in our platform for four years and it is not a fact that the Labor Green Paper isolated LPG as the available fuel which with known technology could take the place of petrol. The heat or the British thermal unit value of half the remaining recoverable reserves in Bass Strait will be exported as LPG. One million tonnes a year is to go to Japan. Instead it ought to be sold in Australia to fuel the cars of our cities and the bus fleets which pump all their diesel residue into the concrete and steel canyons of Melbourne and Sydney. The municipal bus fleets should all be powered on LPG.
What has the Commonwealth done? It is converting a hundred Commonwealth vehicles out ofthe fleet of about 20,000. That is its LPG policy. Yet it has the hide to talk about what BHP Autogas is doing in conversions in the Melbourne suburbs. It would be doing a lot more if gas prices were sensibly adjusted to encourage domestic sales of naturally occurring LPG. Instead LPG is being sold to Japan and we are paying through the nose for crude oil from the Middle East. We are not only paying dearly for it; we are worrying about even getting it. The Minister has not come clean and told us how we really stand on energy supplies.
The Minister made a further misrepresentation in the statement when he said that the Labor Government had never entered into international agreements on energy co-operation. Now, of course, he is talking about the International Energy Agreement which the Government foolishly entered into a couple of weeks ago. He never mentions the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics science agreement, the Indian science agreement, the Australia-Japan enrichment study, the Australian- Japan oil from coal investigation, or the Australia-United States oil from coal investigation, all entered into by the Labor Government, the Nippon-Australia Relations Agreement or any of the other scientific and cultural exchanges. This was another misrepresentation, another sleight of hand, as it were, from this disgraceful Minister.
The statement is an absolute farce. It could not be considered an energy statement in any way whatsoever. It is not a Green Paper. It is a thing which has been hurriedly produced by the officers of the Minister’s Department working under difficult circumstances and instructions from the Minister to get this statement out to save the Government’s face. President Carter and Dr Schlesinger had an energy statement in the market six months after the Carter Administration took office. The Fraser Government has been in office for three and a half years and we still have not yet been given a copy of a Green Paper, a discussion paper, on energy, much less a White Paper on clear policy decisions. The Fraser Government has no co-ordinated, integrated energy policy. The Minister for National Development is just a gigolo for the oil companies. He is the Prime Minister’s puppet.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw. He is just a Sir Echo for the Department. He is just crawling up the learning curve of energy policy. He is not in a position to make any reasonable statements himself. His paper is a poor rejoinder, a cut and paste job, which I said at the beginning of my speech should be part of a volume dubbed ‘A Hundred and One Unreported Press Statements’. That is all it is; it is just an identical carbon copy of statements released earlier. It is a farrago of fact, fiction and misrepresentation and ought to receive the condemnation of the House.
– In order to stem the flow of natural gas from honourable members opposite, I move:
That the debate be now adjourned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-I have received the following message from the Senate:
The Senate transmits to the House of Representatives the following resolution which was agreed to by the Senate this day:
That in accordance with the provisions of section 8 of the Parliament House Construction Authority Act 1979, the Senate-
declares the conducting of a design competition to be a declared stage in the design of Parliament House, and
authorises the announcement of work on that stage.’
– by leave- The year 1988 will be the bicentenary of the first European settlement in Australia. In June 1978 the Premiers Conference agreed that there should be a major commemoration of Australia’s bicentenary. Following this decision there has been consultation between the Commonwealth, the States and the Northern Territory to devise and agree on a framework of administrative arrangements by which an Australian Bicentennial Authority can be established. It is only in the course of today that I received agreement from the States for the proposals that I am now relating to the Parliament.
The Authority will be responsible for the planning and staging of this historic commemoration. As befits a national endeavour of this kind, the commitment to it will be completely bipartisan. There have also been discussions with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) on the matter. The Authority, therefore, will be a joint organisation of 17 members- seven appointed by the Commonwealth, seven appointed by the States and the Northern Territory, two members drawn respectively from the Government and the Opposition in Federal Parliament, and with a chairman appointed by the Commonwealth. I am pleased to be able to inform the House that Mr John Reid has agreed to serve as the Chairman. His work and reputation will be known to many members. He is a businessman and administrator of outstanding calibre. We are lucky to have his services. I am in no doubt that under his experienced and forceful guidance the Authority will be established on a sound, business-like footing and that he will handle the task he has been given with high distinction.
The Authority will be established administratively as a company incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory. There will be companion legislation of a general kind to identify the status and role of the Authority and guarantee its autonomy and continuity. Such an arrangement will confer an appropriate degree of independence and flexibility so that the Authority can cope with changing requirements during the next decade. The structure envisaged will enable the Authority to operate expeditiously in a business-like way and will facilitate such operations as licensing, franchising and normal commerical agreements. At the same time, the Authority will be accountable to the Parliament through the Minister for Administrative Services, who will consult, as necessary, with the appropriate Minister in each of the States and in the Northern Territory.
The Authority’s accounts will be subject to audit by the Auditor-General. Any appropriation by the Parliament for the purposes of the Authority will be subject to the normal parliamentary scrutiny. The Authority will also be required to submit an annual report to the Parliament. The memorandum and articles of association of the Authority and, as appropriate, the companion legislation will give effect to the Government’s wishes in this regard.
The Authority will have both advising and operational roles. In its advising role it will be required at an early date to make recommendations in relation to a ‘theme’ and a ‘focus’ for the celebrations and on the matter of international participation. Generally it will be empowered to do all things necessary for the successful prosecution of the role given to it by governments and the objectives specified in its charter. The charter will be expressed in an appropriately drawn memorandum and articles of association designed to provide the desired wide ambit of activity and authority within the administrative framework I have indicated- subject, of course, to the decisions of Governments in relation to policy.
The bicentenary will be a most important event for Australia. Deep in any human community is consciousness of its origins and identity and its hopes and resolutions for the future- a consciousness to which it will want to return and dwell upon at particular moments in its history. The marking of a bicentenary is one such time. It will be a time for calling to mind the achievements throughout this country and by its people over two centuries. It will be a time to reflect upon our developing and changing national identity, as a united community transformed in a remarkable way by the migration programs of the years since World War II.
It will be a time for weighing the opportunities and the challenges that he ahead as Australia approaches the year 2000 and beyond, and for considering our place in the wider world community. It will, as I have said, be a matter for the Authority to propose for the consideration of governments a theme and a focus for the celebrations and, in doing this, it will need to draw upon the ideas of highly imaginative and creative people within the Australian community. It will be for the Authority to recommend the concrete programs by which the commemoration will find expression. In the drawing of these programs and for their discharge the Authority will, as far as practicable, be seeking to devolve responsibility and initiative to State, municipal and local governments. As well, the Authority will be seeking to involve all sections and members ofthe community individually and collectively. It will look to encourage initiatives at the grass roots of Australian society. Within these programs there will no doubt be a strong emphasis on history. This must under-pin any such commemoration.
We are now embarking on an exciting and challenging project for this nation, and I commend it to honourable members for their support. I present the following paper
Motion (by Mr Staley) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
- Mr Speaker, this is a unique venture, as befits an occasion of this kind. The Opposition supports these plans and looks forward to playing an active and constructive role in the planning for our bicentenary. There are far more things to unite the people of this nation than there are to divide them. The bicentenary is a fitting occasion on which to emphasise those factors- the positive and unifying elements of our community.
There is a distinctive Australian character. I believe it developed from the need of our pioneers to come to terms with an environment totally unlike any they had ever known. This land has moulded the national character into a style and a resilience which all of us recognise, though few are able to express it satisfactorily. If our bicentenary commemoration can capture a little of this spirit it will be a signal achievement. Our search for a national identity is not quite so self-conscious as it was in earlier, quite recent years. I believe that is to the good. Whatever we mean by an expression like ‘national identity’, it is not something to be dictated. Occasions like the bicentenary are, however, ideally suited to efforts to define and identify ourselves.
One thing that we can say with certainty- the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has referred to it- is that the great influx of immigrants to Australia in the post-war years has broadened and enriched this nation immensely. The process has added new dimensions to the Australian character without, I believe, changing the fundamental qualities which sprang from the pioneers ‘ response to life on this continent, a world away from Europe.
Australia has come a long way and will go much further. It is good that we should establish significant milestones at which we can pause and pay particular attention to the achievements behind us and the challenges ahead. And it is as well to stress that occasions like our bicentenary are not merely inward-looking. Our role in a world community has changed very greatly in our own lifetime. It will continue to change and, I believe, to grow steadily in importance- to ourselves, and to that wider world community as well.
From all of this, it is obvious that the Australian Bicentennial Authority faces a great challenge. I hope that its work proceeds harmoniously, that the results genuinely reflect the diversity of our society, so that the commemoration can be an occasion for pride and satisfaction for every Australian.
The Opposition welcomes this statement of commitment as a fitting one for a most important occasion, coming from the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser).
Debate (on motion by Mr Hurford) adjourned.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation for proposed expenditure announced.
Bill presented by Mr Eric Robinson, and read a first time.
– I move:
I present Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1978-79 which, together with Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1978-79, which I shall introduce shortly. comprises the additional Estimates for 1978-79. In these Bills, Parliament is asked to appropriate moneys to meet essential and unavoidable expenditures additional to the appropriations made under Appropriation Acts (Nos 1 and 2) 1978-79. The additional appropriations total $289.565m. Of this, $223.205m is sought in Appropriation Bill (No. 3) and $66.36m in Appropriation Bill (No. 4).
The additional appropriations sought in the Bills are offset to some extent by savings in other appropriations made by Appropriation Acts (Nos 1 and 2), resulting pardy from the Government’s determined efforts to achieve savings in expenditure wherever possible. These savings, amounting to $ 107.1m, are detailed under the relevant appropriation headings in a document which has been distributed to honourable members.
Notwithstanding the additional appropriations now sought, current expectations are that total outlays for 1978-79, including those financed from special appropriations, will exceed the
Budget estimate by only a relatively small margin. This reflects the Government’s continued adherence to its policies of restraint in public sector spending.
I now outline some of the main areas where the Government has found it necessary to seek additional appropriations in Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1978-79. Honourable members will recall that the Budget contained an allowance of $50m for prospective wage and salary rate increases in the Public Service but that that amount was not then appropriated. Parliament is now being asked to appropriate $43. 5m in respect of such increases since the Budget, and a further $ 12.4m is needed, mainly for essential staff increases, particularly in the Department of Social Security and as a consequence of the rearrangement of departmental functions which took effect on 5 December 1978. The appropriations for the latter purpose are offset by savings in the appropriations of the abolished departments.
Included under Administrative Expenses votes is $2. 9m for the Department of Transport due to increased activity, particularly in the air transport area, and to cost increases; $4.7m is required by the Attorney-General’s Department for legal aid payments to private legal practitioners, although a substantial portion is offset by savings in amounts appropriated for payments to State legal aid commissions, which will not now be spent due to delays in the commencement of some commissions.
Under the ‘Other Services’, heading, $ 1 6.5m is sought for the Department of Defence for replacement equipment and stores and a further $48.2m for new equipment and stores. Of the latter amount, $ 10.2m has been included for the purchase of two Boeing 707 aircraft for special transport purposes. This amount represents an addition to that which otherwise would have been decided upon by the Government for defence purposes.
An additional $3.3m has been included for the Department of Employment and Youth Affairs for the extension of the Community Youth Support Scheme and $3m for the Department of Foreign Affairs for increased contributions under the United Nations High Commission for refugees program of assistance for Indo-Chinese refugees.
Other provisions include: $2. 5m for the Australian National University for cost supplementation; $2. 8m for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, mainly to meet the cost of national wage and other awards; and $3.8m for the Australian National Railways to meet interest charges on interest-bearing advances. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Willis) adjourned.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation for proposed expenditure announced.
Bill presented by Mr Eric Robinson, and read a first time.
Mr ERIC ROBINSON (McPherson-
Minister for Finance) (5.55)- I move:
I present Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1978-79 in which appropriations totalling $66. 36m- additional to those made by Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1978-79-are sought for Capital Works and Services, Payments To or For The States, and Other Services. The proposed appropriations are needed to meet essential and unavoidable expenditures for which provision was not made in Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1978-79. I now mention some of the major items in respect of which additional appropriations are sought in the Bill.
An amount of $4. 14m is being provided as additional working capital for the Government Printer Trust Account to enable repayments to Consolidated Revenue of operational charges and other balances which have had to be withheld due to operational losses and working capital requirements; $3m will be provided as additional working capital for the Government Aircraft Factory to finance additional stocks of Nomad aircraft; $4.78m is being provided to accelerate the Tarcoola-Alice Springs Railway with a view to achieving completion by November 1980; $ 12m is needed to meet the Commonwealth’s contribution towards natural disaster relief and restoration; $llm is being provided for payment to Medibank Private to assist in building up reserves and to ensure that the fund will continue to operate in the market place without further Commonwealth backing.
Other additional appropriations include $5. 6m for payment to the Housing and Construction Services Trust Account, representing the value of assets transferred to the Northern Territory under the self-government arrangements; $2.25m for the Department of Productivity for the funding of public interest projects under the industrial research and development scheme; and $7.7m for the Australian National Railways to meet accrued interest charges on borrowings from the Budget. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Willis) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr Viner, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of the Commonwealth Employees (Redeployment and Retirement) Bill is to rationalise and co-ordinate provisions relating to the redeployment and retirement of staff in Commonwealth employment. It might be regarded as a codification of those provisions. It emphasises the efficient and economical use of staffing resources by way of redeployment of staff who can be used more effectively elsewhere; retirement of staff both voluntarily and by initiative of management; and greater mobility of staff. It specifies minimum and maximum ages for retirement. The Bill’s coverage will include departments and authorities staffed under the Public Service Act and such other authorities prescribed in regulations with their agreement. The arrangements envisaged by the Bill will enable better management of personnel across Commonwealth employment, provide greater scope for permanent heads and other chief executives to utilise and manage their staff more effectively and overall further improve the efficiency of Commonwealth bodies. In addition to these advantages the arrangements will create opportunities for promotion and transfer for existing staff, and new employment opportunities in the Commonwealth sector.
The Government placed before the House similar legislation in 1976 on the basis that it would not proceed past the introduction stage until there had been an adequate opportunity for debate and for consultation between the Public Service Board and staff organisations. In the event, the Bill lapsed on the prorogation of Parliament in 1977. The Bill before the House today has been prepared in the light of the views expressed on the 1976 Bill and following a number of discussions between the Public Service Board and peak employee councils, particularly over recent months. The Bill includes a number of changes to which I will return later.
The Government’s policy that maximum superannuation age retirement benefits should only be payable on retirement at age 65 remains unchanged. The Superannuation Act that was passed by the Parliament in 1976 provides for reduced rates of pension to be payable to staff who retire other than on invalidity grounds at an earlier age in accordance with their conditions of service. This Bill provides as a condition of service that staff who no longer wish to work in Government service may voluntarily retire after reaching age 55 with the appropriately reduced pension. The Bill does not change in any way the benefit structure of the Superannuation Act 1976.
Staff who choose to retire voluntarily would receive a reduced annual superannuation benefit as compared with those retiring at age 65. For example, pursuant to the Superannuation Act 1976, an officer retiring at age 65 with 30 years’ contributory service receives a standard pension equivalent to 50 per cent of final salary while an officer with 30 years’ service retiring voluntarily at age 55 would receive standard pension equivalent to 36 per cent of final salary. An officer with 20 years’ service retiring at age 65 would receive 40 per cent of final salary and 28.8 per cent on retirement at age 55.
The Public Service Act presently includes in sections 20, 67 and 85 provisions enabling management, that is, the Public Service Board in conjunction with the relevant permanent head, to redeploy or retire excess officers, inefficient or incapacitated officers, and officers who have attained age 60. The administration of these provisions has not been fully effective because they do not provide an adequate legal framework, nor do they contain protection of the rights of staff against arbitrary action. The approach to management-initiated redeployment and retirement contained in this Bill is based on a revised legal framework directed towards ensuring the most efficient and economical use of staff in Commonwealth employment. By emphasising redeployment as a primary step the Bill recognises that there is considerable scope within the Commonwealth sector for improved utilisation of staff by facilitating the movement of staff within and between departments and authorities to jobs that are more appropriate to the talents of the individuals.
Where there are staff in the Public Service or in prescribed authorities whose services cannot be used efficiently by the department or authority in which they are employed, whether on grounds of excess numbers, ill health or ‘for any other prescribed reason’, for example relating to efficiency, the department or authority is required to declare such staff to the Public Service Board for redeployment. The Board will be required to ensure consistent and co-ordinated action across departments and prescribed authorities and to seek to redeploy staff across those areas of Commonwealth employment covered by the Act. If redeployment cannot be achieved the Board will issue a certificate to that effect and the employing department or authority will take retirement action.
We have decided that staff between the ages of 55 and 60 years who are retired at the initiative of management ‘for any other prescribed reason’ will, in addition to the existing superannuation benefit, receive a special benefit of two months’ salary for each year of service foregone to age 60- that is 10 months’ salary on retirement at age 55 reducing on a graduated basis to 2 months’ salary on retirement at age 59. Where an officer is paid a superannuation pension this benefit may be converted into a pension. This special benefit does not apply to staff who are excess to requirements or who are retired on ill health grounds for whom separate provisions already exist. For superannuation contributors in these circumstances provision is made under the Superannuation Act. Furthermore, in the case of excess staff the Public Service Arbitrator’s Decision No. 509 of 1 977 applies.
To assist in implementing the provisions of the legislation the Bill requires the Board to issue administrative procedures concerning indentification of staff to be redeployed and principles for redeploying staff. Such procedures and principles will be published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. These procedures and principles together with the appeal provisions to which I will refer shortly will offer the protection to the rights of individual officers which does not exist under the Public Service Act. This will ensure that arbitrary or capricious action cannot be taken against officers; they will receive fair treatment under the legislation.
I mentioned earlier that the current Bill contains changes in a number of aspects from the 1976 Bill. I also mentioned discussions undertaken with the peak employee councils since 1976. The first two of the changes which I will now outline have arisen from these discussions.
The former Bill provided for staff to be indentified for redeployment and retirement ‘for any other reasons ‘ in addition to the specified reasons of excess numbers and ill health. The Bill now requires ‘any other reasons’ to be prescribed in regulations. Before such regulations are made the Public Service Board is required to consult with staff organisations on the proposed regulation and to report to the Governor-General on these consultations. There will be continuing discussions with the staff organisations on the operation of the legislation.
The Government has agreed to include in this legislation the establishment of an appeal tribunal to review declarations for redeployment and consequent actions of re-deployment or certification for retirement. In addition, the tribunal will be empowered to report on the appropriateness of the procedures determined by the Board. The tribunal is bound to have regard to the same factors in considering an appeal as was the original decision-maker. Under this Bill the tribunal will have a power to review management decisions and either confirm them or have them reconsidered by management. Unlike the 1976 Bill the tribunal will only have power to vary original decisions in cases where it has been requested to join together staff in a particular category who are excess to requirements. This could occur where for example 10 out of 20 staff in a particular category are no longer required. Where an appeal or a number of appeals is lodged the Tribunal may review on request the whole of the particular category against the procedures laid down in accordance with the provisions of the Bill. The process in these particular circumstances will ensure all involved have a fair hearing and will avoid unnecessary delay in finalising any appeals. I would emphasise that this provision can only operate where staff is identified for excess numbers reasons.
Consistent with the responsibilities given to the Board by this legislation for redeployment of staff arising from excess numbers situations, the current Bill empowers the Board where reasonable and practicable to place such excess staff, after consultation, in departments and prescribed authorities. It has been necessary for the continuing efficient operation of departments to transfer officers of the Service to the unattached list pending retirement for health reasons. This allows consequential staffing action to proceed. To give this practice a sound legislative basis appropriate provision has been included in this BUI. I mentioned earlier that the Bill can be applied to areas of Government employment outside the Public Service by regulation with its agreement. However, in this context I should mention that it is the Government’s policy that both voluntary retirement and management-initiated retirement are inextricably linked. This is reflected by the inclusion of both measures in this Bill. The Government would not accept the application of age 55 voluntary retirement to the staff of a particular authority without it taking up the other measure.
By way of summary, the legislation confers on staff an option to retire voluntarily from age 55. The legislation also provides a more effective basis for management-initiated redeployment and retirement in the interests of more efficient and economical staffing. An appeal Tribunal is established to ensure staff receive fair treatment. Finally, it enables the payment of a special benefit to those who are retired between the ages of 55 and 60 for reasons other than excess to requirements or ill health. I, therefore, commend the Bill to the House.
– I seek the indulgence of the Chair to be permitted to ask the Minister a question before I move the adjournment.
-The honourable member has the indulgence of the Chair to ask a question briefly.
– I ask the Minister whether he will advise the House whether there is a minimum age for the actions proposed in the Bill and, if staff under the age of 55 are compulsorily retired, will any benefits be paid under the Bill?
-The procedure adopted by the honourable member for Melbourne is rather unusual. I think it better that he raise these matters either in his consideration of the response to the second reading speech or in Committee after he has been in a position to study the Bill. I think it would be inappropriate for me to embark upon a debate as to the various measures in the Bill at this stage.
– By his reluctance the Minister has answered the question.
Debate (on motion by Mr Innes) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Fife, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of the Bill now before the House is to give effect to the Government’s decision to provide assistance to the manufacture in Australia of certain types of paper. Following advice and recommendation from the Industries Assistance Commission in its report No. 183 of 17 October 1978 entitled ‘Certain Paper and Paperboard’, it has been decided to accord assistance by way of a scheme providing for the payment of bounty to eligible Australian manufacturers. Bounty is to be payable at the rate of $90 per tonne on specified coated paper and $70 per tonne on specified uncoated paper which, during the period to which the Act applies, is produced and sold for use in Australia in the manufacture of certain printed matter excluding newspapers and telephone directories. The scheme will operate from 6 February 1979 until 5 February 1987.
It is considered by the Government that the proposed bounty assistance to be provided to this valuable and important local industry will lead to improved capacity utilisation, increased employment and maintenance of stable prices to paper-using industries. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Innes) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Fife, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the Bill now before the House is to give effect to the Government’s decision to provide assistance to the manufacture in Australia of self-propelled pedestrian operated rotary cultivators, hoes and tillers. Following advice and recommendation from the Industries Assistance Commission in its interim report No. 190 of 6 December 1978 entitled ‘Certain engines not exceeding 7.46 kW; rotary cultivators; and tractors, having a power of less than 15 kW’, it has been decided to accord assistance by way of a scheme providing for the payment of bounty to eligible Australian manufacturers. Bounty is to be payable at the rate of $40 per kilowatt of power output of the engine incorporated in the prime mover of a rotary cultivator, hoe or tiller which has an Australian content of not less than 60 per cent and which, during the period to which the Act applies, is manufactured and sold for use in Australia.
The scheme will operate from 5 February 1979 until implementation by the Government of its decision on the Industries Assistance Commission’s final report which is expected early in October this year. The assistance provided by the scheme will have the effect of maintaining employment in the industry while at the same time enabling manufacturers of rotary cultivators, hoes and tillers to keep the prices of their products at levels competitive with those at which imported products are marketed. For these reasons, I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Innes) adjourned.
– I move:
Section 8 of the Parliament House Construction Authority Act 1979 provides that the Parliament may, by resolutions of each of the Houses of Parliament, authorise the commencement or carrying out of work on declared stages of the design and construction of Parliament House. The stages through which the project must pass in a very short time indeed to its programmed completion in January 1988 include the architectural competition to select the designer. The purpose of the motion which I have moved is to provide the necessary authorisation for the Parliament House Construction Authority to proceed with the competition. The Joint Standing Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House considered various options for selecting a designer for the project. After consultation with the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, the Committee recommended a two-stage competition process. That recommendation has been adopted and a competition document has been prepared by the Parliament House Construction Authority to establish the conditions and design considerations to be observed by competitors.
The two-stage competition will provide ample opportunity to ensure that the final design will meet the functional requirements of the Parliament. A panel of assessors has been appointed to determine the winner of the competition. That panel will be advised by a competition steering committee, representing the Parliament and the Authority. That committee will be responsible for detailed functional checking of the designs, thus ensuring that the Parliament is directly and closely involved in the development of the design for the project. The competition entails an open first stage, in which all architects registered to practise in Australia may participate. From the entries received in stage one, ten designs will be selected by the assessors and awarded prizes. From those ten designs, up to five and no fewer than three designs will be selected to proceed to the second stage of the competition, when the designs will be developed into detailed proposals. One winner will then be selected by the assessors.
The proposed program for the competition will commence with the announcement of the competition on 7 April 1979 and registrations will close on 31 May 1979. Documents will then be distributed to competitors, who will have up to 16 weeks to prepare their stage one entries. That will be followed by an assessment period of approximately four weeks in September and October 1979 to select competitors to proceed to the second stage of the competition. The preparation of the second stage designs will commence in mid-November 1979 and registrations will close at the end of May 1980. The final assessment of the competition will take place in June and July 1980. The first stage of the project will conclude with the announcement of the competition winner in July 1980. Mr Deputy Speaker, I have much pleasure in moving the motion.
-This is rather an historic occasion. The Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Ellicott) has announced the launching of what I hope will be the most significant architectural exercise that has been undertaken in Australia. I hope that the architects who enter designs in the competition will have the vision necessary to produce the kind of building we want. I hope that in the final assessment of designs consideration will be given to the changing nature of the parliament and that we will manage to avoid all the difficulties and mistakes which have been suffered by everyone else, throughout history and throughout the world, who has designed houses of parliament. I hope that the building will represent something of the Australian spirit, as have some of the more significant works of art in Australia, both pictorial and written in verse and prose. This represents one of the greatest opportunities that the architects of Australia have ever been offered.
There has been a keenly fought battle over where the new parliament house should be built. I recall that at the beginning of the debate on the issue some opposition to Capital Hill as a prospective site was expressed because it posed architectural difficulties. This was so despite the fact that some of the greatest buildings in history- whether they be the structures on the Acropolis in Athens or others in various places in the world- have been built on similar sites. I think we are offering the architectural profession of Australia an opportunity to use one of the best sites possible for a public building. It is one of the most spacious sites possible, with possibly one of the best outlooks available anywhere for a public building of this nature. I hope that the ultimate design takes into account the needs of a representative government, being as important a part of society as it is, determining how society should operate.
I say this tonight in the hope that architects who propose to submit a design will read the Hansard record of this debate and will take note of the fact that the building of the new parliament house is not just an architectural exercise. It is a very significant political and social exercise and is not something to be executed merely on the drawing boards. I hope that the architects will come and look around this place and talk to members of parliament about their thoughts on the matter. I hope that the building which will result will be worthy of the enterprise upon which we have embarked.
-The Opposition does not oppose the motion moved by the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Ellicott), which provides for the commencement of the first stage of a long process which we hope will not become elongated with the passage of time. The motion is an historic motion in that it represents the first proposal on the construction of a new and permanent parliament house to come before this House, if my arithmetic is correct, in about 56 years. On a previous occasion the House rejected the design proposed. Since then, we have had a temporary building, which has survived the rigours of time, despite the assaults on it by all manner of people, elements and some serious assaults on the parliamentary institution by designers of its extensions.
The Opposition is a little disappointed that the Government’s construction authorities apparently will be excluded from the design competition. It might well be that within the Government’s expertise there exists people who are more competent to deal with the construction design for the new parliament house than there are available outside the Government. We hope that the competition, which is to choose an architect, brings forward a person who not only is capable of designing a major national building but also has a capacity to design a building which will function as a parliament. Around the world there are a number of examples of very beautiful houses of parliament which are architectural monuments but which bear no relationship whatsoever to the functional aspects of parliaments. In fact, they really have no capacity to facilitate the conduct of a parliamentary institution. The first priniciple to be considered is that the building is to be a parliament house. The person chosen to. design the building must understand the intricacies and the idiosyncracies of the operations of a parliament.
The Opposition does not oppose the passage of this motion. It is a machinery motion which will enable the process of at least getting to first base on the construction of a new parliament house. However, it is to be hoped that we do not go through the sorts of processes which we could go through over a period of years whereby, with changing governments, in order to meet daytoday political needs, we destroy what could be and what I am sure will be a building which is of major benefit to the nation on a long-term basis- a building which very few of us will actually use.
– I support the motion moved by the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Ellicott), because I believe that this is a very historical occasion in that the motion involves a declaration by this House concerning the next stage towards accomplishing the erection of a replacement for this building. The design competition is to get an imprimatur from the Parliament tonight. The second part of the motion is to the effect that a message is to be sent to the Senate. I suppose that that means that in fact there is to be acquiescence of the Senate. I am doubtful about that point. I know the Minister has a ready answer. It is my understanding that there is a need for acquiescence in all such matters. The motion does not make the issue quite clear. I suppose that declaration by the House of Representatives represents one part of the journey towards commencement of the selection of a design for the building and that, subsequent to that, is the need for the Senate to adopt the same attitude as the House of Representatives towards the issue. I will be interested to hear from the Minister whether that is the case.
The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes), who preceded me in this debate, made some points about the importance of this issue. I know that over many years the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) has been critical of the pussyfooting attitude of governments concerning this issue and, indeed, of people who contended that the Parliament would be wrong to proceed to edify itself and the institution of Parliament generally by proceeding with this very large-scale expenditure which will follow the design competition which is the subject of the motion before us.
Every generation has the opportunity to do great things. I cannot help but feel that the inclination to do great things in Australia is less apparent and less in evidence today than it was maybe 100 years ago in times preceding our generation. The Sydney Opera House might be a very bad comparison in this context because we are not talking about the kind of process that could involve us in an accelerating budgetary situation. I know that there will be a different approach to the new and permanent Parliament House. It is marvellous to think that in bygone days our country accomplished enormous undertakings such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the trans-continental railway. But little of great significance has been undertaken since the Snowy Mountains scheme. Here we have the opportunity of building a great new parliamentary building with all its conceptual considerations which will call for the application of the best architectural brains of this country and possibly- I am doubtful on this point as wen-the best architectural brains of other countries.
Parliament has taken on a new role. We cannot emulate any parliament in the world when we try to set up a parliamentary institution. We are taking this decision tonight at a time when there is a great tendency to demean parliament, where there is often mockery through the media and a disparagement of democratic processes. People who run other processes- media processes especially- are inclined to glorify their own role and to diminish the role of the Parliament. It just seems to me that it is in the interests of the great mass of ordinary Australians to ensure that enshrined in this new budding is the principle that Parliament is supreme in our nation- not the people who manipulate the purse strings. There should be a realisation that this country has great fundamental natural resources and human resources and that the elected representatives of the people, rather the people who get into the act of manipulating those resources, ought to be paramount. So this is a vital matter for the future. The new parliament house which will be opened to celebrate our 200th anniversary ought to be a great edifice of which all future Australians can be proud. I have been a member of this place for quite a time now and I do not think this occasion ought to be allowed to go unrecognised or to be treated insignificantly. I commend the Minister for the motion that he has put before the Parliament. I hope that the architectural profession will be sensitised and that there will be great pulsating inspirational factors which will cause a great manisfestation of all the ideals that we as practitioners have- not just about a building for ourselves as parliamentarians; heaven knows, some of us here today will not be here in 1988- so that the people can come into the new parliament house and regard it as their own. Even dissenters should be able to do this.
I have regard for the excellence of the Committee ‘s report. Members of the Committee who visited parliaments around the world have had regard for new trends and suggested that we might make facilities available for dissenters and demonstrators so that these people can come to the Parliament and the voice of the people in this place can ring out and be paramount so that Australia might benefit as a consequence.
-I have the temerity to rise in this debate because, looking at the membership of the New and Permanent Parliament House Committee I believe in all humility that I am probably the longest serving member of that Committee. I have served as a member of the Committee since it was first instituted in 1975. I agree with the comments of the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson). I am surprised that there are people in a country such as ours who would disparage and find reasons to say there is no need for a new and permanent parliament house.
– They don ‘t like politicians.
-I think many people do not like politicians. I would like to make the point that the new and permanent parliament house is not for politicians; rather it is for those who serve politicians. The new House of Representatives chamber will not be very much larger than the present chamber. The people of Australia rejected a referendum on a proposal to break the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives. As a result the Committee felt clearly that an almost 50 per cent increase in the number of Federal parliamentarians would be required to justify an increase in the size of the House of Representatives chamber. Frankly, to use the vernacular, that is considered to be just not on. Honourable members will know from the Committee ‘s report that the new House of Representatives chamber will accommodate only 130 members. At the moment there are 124 members of this chamber. So lavish provisions are not being made for parliamentarians. The figure of 130 might be wrong; I do not have the report with me.
-It is 170.
-The Minister corrects me; it is 170. So the report does not make any lavish provision for parliamentarians in that sense. It makes no greater provision for parliamentarians than is provided now insomuch as each parliamentarian will have an office of his own. Certainly those offices will be a little larger. I would have no quarrel with that arrangement in the case of my own office.
– How big is it?
-It is twice as big as a broom cupboard. When I first came to this place the brooms were taken out of my room to let me in. I do not know whether that is good or bad. Some one suggested that I might have been a test pilot on one of those brooms. I reject that suggestion; it is not true.
– It obviouslydidn ‘t sweep clean.
-My God; it is nearly as bad as the slogan ‘Turn on the Lights’, and in any event, neither thing has happened.
I support the proposition and I commend the Government. I would like to pay tribute to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the President of the Senate both of whom have been dynamic in their endeavours to carry this matter forward. I would like to raise just one point. If the community wants to be critical of this new building it ought to bear in mind that in terms of 1978 dollars we are looking at an expenditure of about $150m and this expenditure will be contained. If I may digress, I would like to pay great tribute to officers of the National Capital Development Commission who have sat with and advised the Committee. They have been trail blazers into an area that was unknown to most of us. None of us has been in this position before. We have never had to blaze the trail, to start from nothing and to come forward with a brief from which architects from within Australia and outside Australia, provided they are registered0 in this country, are able to design our new and permanent parliament house.
I know that before I came to this place the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), with other people, carried out a great deal of work on the proposed new and permanent parliament house. The committee of which I am a member used the report of his committee as a starting point. So I guess the honourable member for
Wills blazed the trail through and brought us to the position where we were able to start really to look at something and really come to taws with the problem that confronted us.
-Burke and Wills.
-I do not think one could have a better combination. The honourable member for Wills started the concept of a new and permanent parliament house and the honourable member for Burke, if I could be forgiven for saying so, put the House where it ought to be, and that is on Capital Hill. It was my Bill which came before this chamber.
Tonight I will not say kind words about the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) who is sitting at the table. The last time I did that I was very kind to him. I had him elevated almost to the bench of the High Court of Australia. He got pretty dirty about that. So I want to use this opportunity to withdraw those kind remarks. Rather than his sitting on the bench of the High Court, I think, frankly, he would have some trouble sitting in a magistrates court. But that is by the by. Tonight we are debating a motion which has been moved by the Minister for Home Affairs. I compliment the Government on its action. I say that in all sincerity. But I have been side-tracked. I want to return to the criticism that may arise in relation to the expenditure of $ 1 50m over a long period.
– That is chicken feed.
-The honourable member for Wills says that that is chicken feed. I illustrate the point that it will be 10 years from now that that place will be ready for its first occupation. I am not suggesting that it will be completed, but it will be ready for occupation on 26 January 1988 when we commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of the invasion of Australian by Europeans. However, a building has been completed at Newport in Melbourne, the cost of which was $ 1 60m. We talk about expending $ 150m on our national Parliament, but there is a building in Victoria which cost $160m. It is a power house- a place where electricity is generated. That building cost $160m. So when we talk about $ 150m -
– What is wrong with $ 1 50m for a gasworks?
-There is a need for alternative power sources in Australia, and the honourable member for Hughes has suggested an alternative source. He thinks that the outlay of $150m for a gasworks is better than the expenditure of $ 160m for a power station. I suggest that the amount of money that is being expended on this building is not out of proportion. In fact, it is probably a meagre amount of money. Everybody knows about the generosity of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and his Scottish ancestry.
– Fair go. Don ‘t be racist.
-I am not being racist, not really. I will probably live to regret having made that comment. But this is not an outrageous sum of money. It is a sum of money that is in keeping with the status of the national Parliament. I commend the motion to the House.
– in reply- I thank honourable members opposite for their creative and constructive contributions to this debate. The motion before the House is an historic one. In fact, when we pass it in a few moments it will mean that the Parliament House Construction Authority will be able to get on with the job. Already the Senate has passed a motion in similar . terms.. Each House has to approve stages of the construction of the new parliament house and the Senate has already passed its motion. We will undoubtedly pass this motion in a moment. It will be an historic moment when that occurs. Because it is of such significance, I will not delay that moment from coming.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: Royal Australian Navy Research LAboratories (RANRL)- Relocation to Pyrmont, NSW.
This proposal concerns the relocation of the Royal Australian Navy Research Laboratory from unsatisfactory accommodation at Rushcutters Bay to the Royal Edward Victualling Yard premises at Pyrmont. The works proposed include alteration and renovation of the existing eight storey building to provide office space, research laboratories and workshop space with necessary amenities areas. The work will be done in a way to preserve the historical status of the building. Construction of a perimeter security fence, gate control, official government vehicle garage, drivers’ room and flammable liquids store are also included in the proposal. The estimated cost of the works at February 1979 prices is $2.54m. I now table plans of the proposed works.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 4 April, on motion by MrEllicott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Innes had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to substituting the following words: ‘the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to achieve the following purposes:
1 ) that the powers of the Administrator as proposed in the Bill be reduced by-
transferring to the Legislative Assembly the executive government of Norfolk Island, and abolishing the Executive Council;
enabling the Legislative Assembly to make Ordinances providing for matters specified in Schedule 2 to the Bill without the need for those Ordinances to be assented to;
transferring to the President of the Legislative Assembly the power to fix the dates of elections;
transferring to the Legislative Assembly and the President of the Legislative Assembly the power to convene meetings of the Assembly;
transferring to the Legislative Assembly the power to accept resignations of Presidents and Deputy Presidents of the Assembly;
f) placing a limit of 60 days upon the period within which the Administrator may consider proposed Ordinances;
enabling the Legislative Assembly to appeal to the Minister, and thence to the Parliament, against any action, opinion or decision of the Administrator; and
changing the tide of the Administrator to one more suitable to the changed status of Norfolk Island;
that the powers of the Governor-General as proposed in the Bill be reduced by-
a ) placing a limit of 90 days upon the period within which the Governor-General may consider proposed Ordinances; and
removing the power to disallow, or recommend amendments to, Ordinances made by the Legislative Assembly as proposed in paragraph (l)(b) above or assented to by the Administrator;
that the powers of the Legislative Assembly as proposed in the Bill be expanded by vesting in the Legislative Assembly the sole power of appointing members of the Executive Council and terminating their appointment, in the event of there being an Executive Council;
4 ) that matters specified in Schedule 2 to the Bill include referendums, electoral law, the recruitment and management of the Norfolk Island Public Service and education;
5 ) that matters specified in Schedule 3 to the Bill include land use and zoning, mining, public hospitals, conservation and national parks, law enforcement and management of historical sites;
that a Bill of Rights for Norfolk Islanders be included in the Bill, ensuring, in particular, the recognition of the island as the historical homeland of the Pitcairners and the protection of their remaining rights;
that the recommendation by the Administrator in respect of a money Bill be required before the Bill is passed by the Legislative Assembly;
8 ) that moneys shall not be lent to Norfolk Island by the Commonwealth except with the agreement of Norfolk Island;
9 ) that members of the Legislative Assembly be elected by a method of proportional representation, the whole of Norfolk Island constituting a single electoral division;
that the taxation and social security legislation of the Commonwealth be extended to Norfolk Island in full; and
that Norfolk Island be incorporated into an appropriate electoral division of the Commonwealth of Australia, and that Australian citizens resident on the island be enrolled in that electoral division’.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Before the debate is resumed on this Bill and on the amendment moved by the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes), I remind the House that it has been agreed that a general debate will be allowed covering this Bill, the Remuneration Tribunals Amendment Bill and the motion to take note of the paper on government policy regarding Norfolk Island.
– I am honoured to participate in this cognate debate in connection with Norfolk Island. I am grateful that so many honourable members of the House have shown such an interest in the progress of Norfolk Island. It is some years now since I was on Norfolk Island. I visited the island on five occasions from 1960 to early 1970.I have great respect for the indigenous people of the island. I have less respect for some of the business people whose only concern, in my view, is to increase their wealth. They are as rugged in doing that as the local people will permit them to be. I had many friends on the island. One of my great friends was a former councillor who used to keep me informed of what was happening on Norfolk Island. He was the late councillor Albert Bathie. I visited his home and he visited my home in Newcastle. He had been on the island for many years. He married an island girl, one of the Christian family. Her name is Amy. She is still alive and she is a lovely woman.
When I first went to the island in the early 1960s there was one plane flight a fortnight. We know that the number of theseflights has now increased with great intensity and tourism has reached greater proportions than ever before. The number of hotels has increased. In one report I read that one hotel was to be closed and a new one to be built. The land on which that hotel stood is to be taken over by the Administration, with the agreement and at the wish of the hotel authorities. When I hear of arrangements such as that I wonder whether some agreement has been made with one of the other hotel proprietors or whether the hotel proprietor who has an interest in the hotel does not want opposition set up at that hotel. As I said a moment ago, it is stated in that report that it was the wish of the hotel owners that the council resume the property.
I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes) in this debate. I believe that in the main it is beneficial to the island people. When I first went to Norfolk Island I inquired about whether the island people were paid pensions or the unemployment benefit, which is better known as the dole. We call it a social service benefit now but people in my age group in my electorate of Hunter still refer to it as the dole. I was amazed to find that on Norfolk Island the people were paid only what was called a sustenance allowance which approximated, in the days before decimal currency, 30 shillings a week. I told some of the Norfolk Island people with whom I was friendly that they should fight for increased social service payments. They appreciated that they were not a taxed people and sometimes, in their innocence or because of their lack of knowledge, they thought it would be better if they did not fight for increased social service payments as they would have imposed upon them taxation similar to that on the mainland.
But I am firmly of the opinion, I am afraid, that whenever the indigenous people of the island oppose proposals contained in government legislation or advanced by the Labor Party, the professional business people from the mainland use skill, oratory, influence and inducements to sway the Norfolk Islanders to opinions which are not in their best interests. I say that with great sincerity. I do not wish it to be interpreted as an insult to the Norfolk Island people. I wish it to be interpreted to mean that the innocence of the indigenous Norfolk Island people is being imposed upon by their not being given sincere opinions by the better-off classes of business people who in the main are on Norfolk expressly to enrich themselves.
We know that, probably for many years before the situation received any publicity in Australia, Norfolk Island was a haven for tax dodgers. If it was a haven for tax dodgers, the statement I have just made is justified because a tax dodger’s first and primary goal in life is to enrich himself by any means, even to the point of breaking the law. At this time I think I should repeat the words of a very prominent former member of this House, Dr J. F. Cairns, a former member for Lalor, who at a private dinner said to me that any person with great riches has not obtained those riches by legal means. With some knowledge of human nature, having been involved in many investigations of serious criminal matters before I was elected to Parliament I believe that to be true.
We are all aware that the present legislature on the island, the Norfolk Island Council, is elected by a simple and seemingly fair method whereby all voters must cast eight preference votes for eight candidates and for no others. This eliminates confusion. The eight candidates with the highest number of votes form the new Council. However, minority power groupings have received a considerable number of votes but no representation, despite this very fair method. The majority power groups, usually conservatives and business people, may form a ticket for the eight vacancies and swamp the Council. Consequently, a system of proportional representation for the election of the nine members of the proposed Legislative Assembly is recommended by my Party with a quota of 10 per cent having to be gained to ensure election. This is considered fair to all concerned.
Most honourable members who have made even a minor study of Norfolk Island are concerned about its being a tax haven. I know that a former member for Melbourne Ports, Mr Crean, tried to take determined steps to close loopholes that made Norfolk Island a haven for tax dodging. But loopholes still exist and they allow the avoidance of Federal and State taxes and duties. When I was on the island, a considerable number of years ago the indigenous people were not greatly concerned about this. Specifically, it appears that Australian estate and gift duties and State death and stamp duties are avoidable. Companies are using the island to avoid stamp duties. An indicator of this is the growing number of company registrations on the island. I must say that in the main it is the legal profession, of which the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott), who is at the table, is a member, which advises people how legally to avoid paying taxes. I do not suggest that the Minister has ever been a party to this himself, but with his worldliness within the legal profession he would undoubtedly be aware that what I am saying is true. From 1 January 1972 to 30 June 1978, 818 companies were registered on the island.
– How big is the island?
– It is about five miles by three miles. I believe that one of the members of the
Norfolk Island Council is present in the House tonight. I would hope that, after listening to this debate, he would try to arouse the indignation of members of this Parliament, which expresses the opinions of many sectors of the Australian people, towards this tax dodging that occurs on his island. I should imagine that he would do everything to voice his opinion and to get the Norfolk Island people to protest at this situation, although it does not actually affect the indigenous people who, particularly when I first went to the island in 1961-62, have lived by the principle of ‘give me neither poverty nor riches’ because they want to live in contentment with nature.
I repeat the fact that 818 companies were registered on the island. Despite the 1973 amendments to taxation legislation which were implemented by the Labor Government and by Mr Frank Crean in particular in an endeavour to try to close the loopholes, over 360 of these companies have been registered in the last two years. In an editorial last March, the Norfolk Island News stated that chartered executive jets were bringing Melbourne businessmen to the island to investigate a new loophole which had been discovered in the tax laws. The local banks had kept staff back after closing hours to handle the transactions at that time.
– They are sharks.
– Yes, land sharks. They are more dangerous than the ones in the water over there, and there are plenty in the water there. The editorial in the Norfolk Island News stated further that the island rumour had it that hundreds of millions of dollars were involved. These rumours have since had more recent circulation on the island. Whilst real knowledge of the extent to which the bourgeoisie are avoiding taxes on their estates is not forthcoming, it is felt that there is little doubt that many of them are doing exactly that. Needless to say, a major priority is to eliminate the remaining avenues by which Australians are using Norfolk Island to side-step their taxation responsibilities. I believe that it is the obligation of the indigenous people of Norfolk Island not to allow their island to get the reputation that it is getting of being a tax haven and then a host to these professional business spivs who are using this beautiful island. If one were to use the words of the founder of Little Cuba, one would say that it is an island that could become ‘the paradise of man’. It has a temperature that hardly exceeds 80 degrees in the summer and rarely falls below 60 degrees in the winter.
I believe that, if Labor’s amendment were accepted, all the money recouped from taxation on the island would be spent on the island. I know that when I was there the islanders were apprehensive about the introduction of taxation laws. They had pumped into their minds the opinions of the semi-spivs and the business people- not all of them; I emphasise that- who in the main went there for the express purpose of growing rich quickly. They have passed on the message: ‘We do not want taxation here. We do not want that here’. Occasionally one could hear the voice of the European businessmen being echoed through the innocent tongue of the lovely Norfolk Island people. I remember one of my great friends, Jack Buffet -
– What about Bathie?
– Yes, Bathie and Jack Buffet. Jack Buffet was called ‘Boony’. He was a lovely old fellow. His opinions on many things, apart from government and the law, were sought on many things. He never took a great interest in those things, but his opinions were always sought. His opinion was sought as to whether the unloading of ships should be discontinued, because of his knowledge of the sea. He was a great seaman. Some ofthe last words he said to me before he died were: ‘We do not want your laws here. We do not want too many laws here. We want to remain free. You complicate the place with laws. We do not want them’. I can see what he meant. There is no doubt that if I had had more time with Jack he could have pointed out to me how the island was being used by the business spivs of the mainland to make themselves rich, with little concern for the well-being of the Norfolk Island people.
Norfolk Island is a fisherman’s paradise. Fishermen are accused of stretching the truth to bursting point at times, but I went fishing at Norfolk Island one time and Bathie was in the boat. None of the fish we caught was under 3 lb. We caught seven fish on six hooks. I brought some back for the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson). The Minister has been to Norfolk Island and has shown great interest in the island. It would be a pity if he did not have an opportunity to go fishing. I do not know whether he did.
I return to the business angle. A tragic thing happened at Norfolk Island: There was a profession which the indigenous people were ready to take up and eager to pursue, but not being fools they did not. After they came back from fishing they found that they had to give their fish away. The boarding house and hotel proprietors in the early days would not pay for the fish. So, fishing was discontinued by the indigenous people. There was a snap freezer for fish; there was a place to keep the fish. The boarding house and hotel people wanted the fish for nothing. It had been the custom. They wanted to continue the practice. When I was there we filled nine corn sacks with fish and kept two sacks for ourselves. It is a fantastic place. The islanders are a lovely people.
I noticed recently a newspaper article referring to the fellow who was arrested in the Northern Territory. It was Mr Bela Csidei. He landed on Norfolk Island with a suitcase full of notes. He was finally picked up in the Northern Territory and got a lousy three years’ gaol for farming marihuana. I am glad that the Norfolk Island people detected him. They did the mainland a good turn. They sent him back. I have been told that the police and authorities’ hands were tired from counting the notes for some hours at night. They were counting some of his ill-gotten gains.
The only regret I have when the subject of Norfolk Island arises is in regard to one of the harshest governors that Norfolk Island ever had- Major Morisset. There is a place named Morisset in my electorate. It does not reflect the attitude of this man. Major Morisset was one of the early governors of Norfolk Island. He was very harsh and cruel.
– He was worse than this Minister.
– I would not say he was worse than this Minister. I think there is a lot of good in this Minister. I place on record the fact that the elected Norfolk Island Council is firmly against the introduction -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drummond)Regrettably, the honourable member’s time has expired.
– I can assure the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) that fishing is just as good on Norfolk Island now as it was when he went fishing there- only, I caught a shark. I let it go as it got to the boat, I can assure him. We are very anxious to wind up the debate tonight, so I had better get on with it. When the Norfolk Island Council approached me with a view to amending the Bill, one of the things I was asked to do was to insert in the Bill a Schedule which showed the Acts of this Parliament that applied to Norfolk Island. I was loath to do that, but I did indicate that I would table in the House for inclusion in Hansard, if that were agreed to, a list of those Acts. I table that statement. I seek leave to incorporate it in Hansard.
The statement read as follows-
Explanatory Note: The list hereunder is a list of Commonwealth Acts, in force as at 30 March 1979 that provide expressly for their extension to or application in Norfolk Island. The relevant sections of the Act are also noted.
Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1 975 - s. 4.
Air Accidents (Australian Government Liability) Act 1963- s. 5.
Air Force Act 1923-s.4.
Air Navigation Act 1920- s. 2.
Air Navigation (Charges) Act 1952- s. 2,s. 3.
Airports (Business Concessions) Act 1959- s. 5(1).
Airports (Surface Traffic) Act 1 960-s. 4.
Arbitration (Foreign Awards and Agreements) Act 1974-s.5.
Atomic Energy Act 1 953- s. 7 ( 1 ).
Audit Act 1910-s. 2a(1).
Australian Citizenship Act 1948- s. 6.
Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975- s. 5.
Australia Housing Corporation Act 1975- s. 4.
Australian Institute of Marine Science Act 1972- s. 6.
Australian National Airlines Act 1 945- s. 5.
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1956-s. 3.
Australian Shipping Commission Act 1 956- s. 6.
Banking Act 1959-s. 6 (2).
Banking (Transitional Provisions) Act 1959- s. 4.
Broadcasting and Television Act 1 942- s. 6.
Christmas Island Agreement Act 1 958- s. 5.
Civil Aviation (Carrier’s Liability) Act 1959- s. 6.
Civil Aviation (Damage by Aircraft) Act 1958- s. 5.
Civil Aviation (Offenders on International Aircraft) Act 1970-s.4.
Commonwealth Banks Act 1959- s. 5, 5a.
Commonwealth Motor Vehicles (Liability) Act 1959-s. 4.
Commonwealth Teaching Service Act 1972- s. 5.
Companies (Foreign Take-Overs) Act 1972- s. 7.
Compensation (Australian Government Employees) Act 1971- s. 6.
Consular Privileges and Immunities Act 1 972- s. 4, s. 5.
Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Act 1968-s.9,s.5.
Control ofNaval Waters Act 1918- s. 3.
Copyright Act 1968- s. 4.
Courts-Martial Appeals Act 1 955- s. 5.
Crimes Act 1914-s. 3 a.
Climes (Aircraft) Act 1963- s. 4.
Crimes ( Biological Weapons) Act 1 977- s. 4.
Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act 1978-s.4.
Crimes (Hijacking of Aircraft) Act 1972- s. 4.
Crimes (Internationally Protected Persons) Act 1976-s.4.
Crimes (Protection of Aircraft) Act 1973- s. 4.
Currency Act 1965- s. 5.
Death Penalty Abolition Act 1973- s. 3.
Decimal Currency (Transitional) Act 1963- s. 5.
Defence Act 1903- s. 5a.
Defence (Re-establishment) Act 1965- s. 5.
Defence Service Homes Act 1 9 1 8-s. 4aa.
Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952- s. 3.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946- s. 5.
Defence Transition (Residual Provisions) Act 1952-s.4.
Defence (Visiting Forces) Act 1963- s. 7.
Designs Act 1906-s. 4(1).
Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act 1967- s. 5, s. 7.
Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974- s.4.
Environment Protection (Nuclear Codes) Act 1978-s. 5.
Explosives Act 1 96 1 -s. 7 ( 1 ).
Finance and Insurance Corporation Act 1972- s. 5.
Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Act 1966- s. 5.
Extradition (Foreign States) Act 1966- s. 5.
Family Law Act 1975- s. 7.
Federal Court of Australia Act 1976-s. 3.
Financial Corporations Act 1974- s. 5.
Fisheries Act 1 952- s. 5(1).
Flags Act 1953- s. 2.
Foreign Takeovers Act 1975- s. 16.
Geneva Conventions Act 1957- s. 6(1).
Great Barrier Reef Marine Act 1975-s. 4.
Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976- s. 3.
Income Tax Assessment Act 1936- s. 7a.
Insurance Act 1973- s. 6.
Insurance (Deposits) Act 1932- s. 4.
International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1963- s. 4.
Judiciary Act 1903-s. 3a ( 1 ).
Lands Acquisition Act- s. 5 A.
Law Reform Commission Act 1973- s. 4.
Life Insurance Act 1945- s. 6.
Lighthouses Act 191 1- s. 4.
Maintenance Orders (Commonwealth Officers) Act 1966-s. 4.
Marriage Act 1960- s. 8(1).
Maternity Leave (Australian Government Employees) Act 1973-s.4.
Matrimonial Causes Act 1959- s. 7(1).
Meteorology Act 1955- s. 4.
Metric Conversion Act 1970- s. 4.
National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975- s. 4.
National Service Act 1 954- s. 5(1).
Naval Defence Act 1910- s. 5a.
Overseas Telecommunications Act 1946- s. 6.
Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1973-s. 3a.
Passports Act 1938- s. 4.
Patents Act 1952- s. 8.
Patents, Trade Marks, Design and Copyright Act 1939-s. 4.
Petroleum Search Subsidy Act 1959- s. 4.
Psychotropic Substances Act 1976- s. 4.
Public Service Act 1922-s. 7b.
Public Works Committee Act 1 969- s. 6.
Racial Discrimination Act 1975- s. 4.
Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945- s. 6.
Repatriation Act 1920-s. 5.
Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Act 1956-s.4.
Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act 1962- s. 5.
Reserve Bank Act 1959-s. 6.
Seas and Submerged Lands Act 1 973- s. 4.
Service and Execution of Process Act 1 90 1 - s. 2 ( 1 ).
Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Act 1970-s. 5.
Statutory Declarations Act 1959-s. 13.
Stevedoring Industry Levy Collection Act 1977- s. 3.
Submarine Cables and Pipelines Protection Act 1963-s. 4.
Territory Authorities (Financial Provisions) Act 1978-s. 5.
Trade Marks Act 1955- s. 8.
Trading with the Enemy Act 1 939- s. 4.
Treaty of Peace (Bulgaria) Act 1947-s. 2.
Treaty of Peace (Finland) Act 1947-s. 2.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act 1969-s. 2.
Treaty ofPeace (Hungary) Act 1947-s. 2.
Treaty of Peace (Italy) Act 1947-s. 2.
Treaty of Peace (Japan) Act 1 962- s. 2.
Treaty of Peace (Romania) Act 1947-s. 2.
War Crimes Act 1945- s. 4.
Weights and Measures (National Standards) Act 1960-s. 6.
Whaling Act 1960-s. 7.
World Health Organisation Act 1947- s. 4.
– It was very interesting to listen to the honourable members opposite reading the amendments that the Opposition proposes to this Bill. One would have thought that complete self-government would be given to Norfolk Island. When one came to the end, with bitter disappointment, one realised that the taxation and the social security legislation of the Commonwealth would be extended to Norfolk Island in full. Of course, once one came to that proposition, which was No. 10 out of 11, one realised that what the Opposition was proposing was nothing like self-government. It was quite the opposite. The fact was that what the Opposition was proposing to give was very minor compared with what it was proposing to take away. The very essence of self-government in the long run- that is what this Bill is about- is the right to raise taxes and the capacity to provide services one wants to give to the people one represents. That is the essence of self-government. It is the basis of it.
One of the things we have to realise when we are talking about self-government for Norfolk Island is simply this: The basis of it lies in the economic capacity of the island or otherwise to sustain its own government. That is why, in the statement I put out last year on behalf of the Government, I said that we would conduct an economic feasibility study. We realise that selfgovernment will not work on Norfolk Island- I believe the Norfolk Island Council accepts thisunless the island is economically feasible. I hope that within a few weeks’ time we will have a report which will indicate that it is economically feasible. To some degree it will be based on the tourist industry. That always has some problems, wherever it is. We have it in Canberra. Norfolk Island is dependent on the tourist industry. Given the continuing success of the tourist industry it is quite likely that the report that comes out will show that Norfolk Island can look after itself and provide to all the people on the island those services that they require for their ordinary way of life
I will come back to taxation and I will come back to social services. It has never been the view of the Government that social services should be provided simply by grace and favour. On the other hand, it is the view of the Government that there is nothing magical about the social services system of this country. Some of us might well ask why we ever undertook so much and what can we do to cut it back. But that is another question which we will not have time to go into tonight. What we will have time to go into tonight is the position of Norfolk Island regarding social services. As to that I just want to make it quite clear that the Government recognises the need for a social security system as a right and a need to provide proper services and proper benefits so that people can have a reasonable standard of living on the island.
There has been a fear by some residents on Norfolk Island. Basically they are the people who are of Pitcairn descent. They feel- and I believe to some degree they have been whipped up by others- that Australia is taking away Norfolk Island. They fear that the Australian Government, this Parliament, is taking away Norfolk Island from them. I want to say- and I believe I am saying it on behalf of all honourable members- that that is not the intention of this Bill. This Bill recognises the relationship between the Pitcairn people and Norfolk Island. When we say that Norfolk Island is an Australian territory, that is a statement of law. There is a deep and abiding relationship between the Pitcairn people and the island itself, and that is not at risk. It is not under threat and the laws of Norfolk Island, I hope, will continue to protect the rights of those people who live there to enjoy their culture and to ensure that they can contain the number of people who go there to share the island with them.
Of course there is a limit to the number of people who can live on Norfolk Island. Some people think it is about 2,000. Others have different views, but it certainly has a limit. The people of Norfolk Island should have the right to limit the numbers of people who live there. Indeed those people of Pitcairn descent, who have left Norfolk Island, should have the right to go back there provided it is consistent with the overriding question of numbers and the capacity of the island to take those numbers. It may not be widely known, but there are many more people of Pitcairn descent living off Norfolk Island than there are living on Norfolk Island. If they all went back at once it might create a problem. Everything that the honourable member for Hunter said about the island and the place that it represents, the fishing, the nature of the people there and their customs, is absolutely correct. I am sure his contribution to the debate is appreciated not only by myself but also by the people of Norfolk Island, who hopefully may be listening at this very moment.
I emphasise that the Bill provides a framework within which self-government can be achieved. Self-government is something which in a sense emerges. It is not necessarily a good thing just to say to a place like Norfolk Island: ‘Take the lot and get on with it’. Some honourable members have said, and it is true, that there is a dependence to some degree by Norfolk Island on Australia. I do not think the Norfolk Island people deny this nor do they want to make their association with the mainland. Therefore, there will always be dependence to some degree. For instance, goods are exported to Norfolk Island without sales tax. That is a concession which is made and one which the Australian Governments have consistently made because they understand the need to provide goods at that sort of level to the people of Norfolk Island. That is only a small instance of what I am talking about. The important thing is to recognise- and it is not really in dispute- that there will always be some sort of dependence on the economy of the mainland. The Government does not want to use that in any way to override the people of Norfolk Island, but it means that in the emergence of selfgovernment there is a need to be realistic about it and realises that in the end that dependence will remain, and it is a good thing for Norfolk Island that it does remain.
Within that context one must recognise the need to see self-government as something that emerges. There are people on the island, I have to say, who believe that Norfolk Island is a nonselfgoverning territory within the meaning of Article 73 of the United Nations Charter. No government in Australia has ever recognised that as a fact. If it were, Norfolk would be like Cocos (Keeling) Islands; that is to say, it would be entitled to an act of self-determination. An act of self-determination embodies three things: The right to decide to be independent; the right to have a free association with the country with which it has been associated; or the right to be integrated. That is how Article 73 is applied. That is not the case with Norfolk Island.
Norfolk Island has, by the High Court and by governments successively in Australia, been regarded as a place which is in a real sense Australian territory, just as the Northern Territory is. I emphasise that this is not to say that Norfolk Island is being taken away from the Norfolk Island people. It is not to say that the historical relationship and the substantial relationship that exists between the people of Norfolk Island and the island is not real and will not continue to be recognised by this Parliament. That is why I felt it was appropriate, when the Norfolk Island Council spoke with me after this Bill was introduced, to recommend that certain amendments be made in a preamble. They will be put to the Parliament later. The preamble will recognise the history of Norfolk Island. It will record that on 8 June 1856 people from Pitcairn came to settle on Norfolk Island. It will record that under the Order-in-Council of 1855 Norfolk Island was set aside as a separate and distinct settlement by the British Crown. It will recognise that in 1914, by Order-in-Council, Norfolk Island was transferred to Australia as a territory under the authority of the Commonwealth and that it has been so since. It will recognise in a very important way the other provisions contained in the amendments, namely, that people who are descendants of the original Pitcairners form part of the present residents of Norfolk Island.
Let us understand that of the present residents 40 per cent are of Pitcairn descent. Some 40 per cent represents people who have gone there from Australian States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and some from other parts of the world. I think the other 20 per cent represents people who are itinerant, in the sense that they go there to work, stay for a period and leave. The fact is that the proportion of the population of Pitcairn descent is now 40 per cent. It is not a majority. Therefore, there is a real need to look to the position of the Pitcairn people and make sure that there is no exploitation and to make sure that they are in a position where they can properly recognise and develop their culture.
I hope, and the Government hopes, that this Bill will provide a framework within which the people of Norfolk Island, including those residents who are of Pitcairn descent, can stand on their own feet, with their own economy and run their own affairs. We, as a government, hope that this will take place within as short a period as is practicable. The Norfolk Island Council accepts the proposition that there will be a need to perform, not in a schoolmasterly sense of putting them through a test but in the sense that those of us who have had experience in legislative and executive functions know that it does not come easily. That is to say, it is an exercise that has to be learnt. Let us face it: Those of us who think that we are good at legislating and performing executive functions are not always showered with great plaudits by members of the community. No matter how one approaches the task, it is not easy.
Therefore, when self-government is accepted by a community it must be approached gradually. To acknowledge that is not an act of paternalism but an acceptance of reality. The reality is that the Australian Government and this Parliament want to help Norfolk Island get on its feet so that it can conduct its own affairs and manage its own economy. Therefore the Bill must be seen as providing such a framework.
Over the next period- let us hope that it will be no longer than five years- the people of Norfolk Island, through their elected representatives, will be able to control most of the things that affect their daily lives. There will always be some matters on which, to some degree, their interests will be interconnected with those of the mainland. For instance, in relation to immigration Norfolk Island must not become a back door to Australia. In relation to Customs, Norfolk Island must not become a back door for the entry of illegal drugs and the like. These are matters that are recognised. Therefore, the policy on the island must to some degree fit in with that of Australia generally on these matters.
Again, fishing off Norfolk Island is of some significance, but its pursuit does entail international obligations which, as honourable members will recall, are negotiated under the Law of the Sea Conventions. They are matters that must be negotiated by the Australian Government but, basically, the fishing around Norfolk Island will be conducted, one hopes, for the benefit of the people of the island. I repeat, there must always be, as a matter of policy, some acknowledgement of the fact that the conducting of that fishing must fit in with the overall policy upon which the Australian Government, as the international representative, has agreed with other countries.
The Bill provides a framework for the emergence of self-government. The first step in that process, which I hope we will see commenced by August of this year, will be a very significant one indeed. I believe that the elected representatives of Norfolk Island will have the capacity to run their own affairs. Otherwise I should not have pressed it upon the Government as fully as I have. It is to a very large degree an act of faith. I have great faith in the ability of the elected representatives, present or future, to undertake the running of the affairs of the island. We must wait and see.
At the moment the Australian Government is preparing premises in some of the old buildings for a new Legislative Assembly and court. They will be new institutional buildings. They will be ready soon and, to some degree, will represent a contribution by the Australian Government to Norfolk Island in the establishment of its basic institutions. I hope that, when the Legislative Assembly is opened, this Parliament will recognise the fact that we have a new Parliament on Australian soil- that of Norfolk Island.
A number of amendments have been proposed by the Opposition. I do not want to take up too much time in going through them; we do not have much time available. The Bill must proceed through its Committee stage tonight. I do not want to treat them with anything less than the respect that is their due. However, except here and there, they do not find much favour with the Government. For instance, the first relates to transferring to the Legislative Assembly the executive government of Norfolk Island and abolishing the Executive Council. The whole Bill is constructed on a basis that will ensure that the Legislative Assembly of Norfolk Island will follow the Westminster system, one that is well known in this country. It is well known to British descendants and well known to the people of Norfolk Island. It is the framework within which they have operated.
– That is simply not true.
– And it is the framework within which my honourable friend opposite has operated in this Parliament. It is well understood. There must be an Executive. There must be people who can undertake the various responsibilities involved. Once we reach a situation in which responsibilities must be borne right across the board- and are not merely those of local government- we must have people who are responsible for the various areas.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drummond)Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Innes’ amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr P. H. Drummond)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr P. H. Drummond)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 22- by leave- taken together.
-The Opposition is somewhat disturbed by the way in which the amendments to this Bill have been submitted. During the second reading debate last night I made reference to this matter and it must be stressed again that this procedure must be looked at. I accept that a number of the 117 amendments which were given to me the night before last may have been inconsequential but they have caused a lot of problems. There are better ways than this in which to handle amendments. It may well be that the drafting of a new Bill would have been a better proposition. The Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) has made reference to the Opposition’s amendments, but our amendments were made well known to him.
However, surely 117 amendments is a lot different from the number of Opposition amendments. I am sure that the Clerks of the House are perturbed about it. As I said last night, although they have tried to find ways and means of dealing with the very difficult and complicated task of handling all the amendments, it could never be said that the Opposition has not been cooperative in the attempt to avoid having the business of the Parliament held up to ridicule by the presentation of so many amendments.
I ask the Minister: How did the members of the Executive Council, who were no doubt privy to the discussions on the amendments, know about them is such detail that the Norfolk Island Press was able to carry details of the proposed amendments last weekend before the Clerks of the House or the Opposition had had access to the amendments? The Oppostion does not find objectionable the amendments to the clauses with which we are dealing. Very few of them are substantive amendments. They do not change the powers of the Legislative Assembly or of the Governor-General although the Administrator’s powers have been trimmed in very small fashion. The Opposition is pleased to see that the laws to be made by the Legislative Assembly are to be enactments rather than ordinances. This is more in keeping with the idea of self-government for Norfolk Island. The slight changes in the definition of the ‘Territory of Norfolk Island’ are also welcome.
Amendment No. 10 is important. The Oppostion has objected previously to the powers given to the Administrator under this Bill and has argued for a curtailment of those powers. One of the most blatant examples of such excessive administrative power was the provision in clause 1 1 that meetings of the Executive Council could be called only by the Administrator. The Opposition is opposed to an executive council, but if there is to be one -
-Order! Before the honourable member proceeds I should acquaint him of the fact that there are no amendments before the Committee yet. The Minister has not moved them. The honourable member is anticipating the moving of those amendments and is not strictly in order in addressing himself to amendments that are not before the Committee.
– When I rose I understood that they were before the Chair but if waiting until they are moved means that I will get another 10 minutes in which to speak, I will not argue about it.
Mr ELLICOTT (Wentworth-Minister for
Home Affairs) (9.44)- by leave- I move:
Clause 4, page 2, line 14, omit ‘section 8’, substitute ‘this Act*.
Clause 4, page 2, after the definition of ‘Deputy President’, insert die following definition “ ‘enactment’ means-
a law (however described or entitled) passed by the Legislative Assembly and assented to under this Act;
an Ordinance made by the Governor-General under section 27 or in pursuance of section 68; or
an Ordinance continued in force by this Act; “.
Clause 4, page 2, lines 23 and 24, omit the definition of Ordinance’.
Clause 4, page 2, lines 32 and 33, omit the definition of Territory’, substitute the following definition:
Territory’ means Norfolk Island, that is to say, the Territory of Norfolk Island as described in Schedule 1 . ‘.
Clause 5, page 3, lines 2 and 3, omit ‘Territory of the Commonwealth’, substitute ‘Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth’.
Clause 7, page 3, line 38, omit ‘, whether before or after the giving of that advice ‘, substitute ‘in accordance with subsection (3)’.
Clause 7, pages 3 and 4, omit sub-clause (3), substitute the following sub-clause:
For the purposes of sub-section (2), the Minister may give the Administrator instructions in respect of advice tendered to the Administrator for the purposes of paragraph (I) (b), and may give the Administrator instructions in respect of the referral to the Minister of any such advice.’.
Clause 11, page 5, after sub-clause (3), insert the following sub-clause: (3a) If the Administrator is not present at a meeting of the Executive Council, the members of the Executive Council present shall elect one of their number to preside.’.
Clause 11, page 5, after sub-clause (S), insert the following sub-clause: (5a) The Administrator may convene a meeting of the Executive Council at any time, and shall convene a meeting whenever requested to do so by 3 or more members of the Executive Council. ‘.
Clause 17, page 6, line 37, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
Clause 17, page 6, Une 38, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
Clause 17, page 7, line 2, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
Clause 17, page 7, line 3, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
Clause 18, page 7, line 8, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
Clause 19, page 7, line 14, omit ‘Ordinances’, substitute laws’.
Clause 19, page 7, line 17, omit’Ordinances’ (twice occurring), substitute ‘laws’.
Clause 19, page 7, line 24, omit ‘Ordinances’, substitute flaws’.
Clause 20, page 7, line 28, omit ‘Ordinances ‘ ( twice occurring), substitute ‘laws’.
Clause 21, page 7, Une 37, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 21, page 7, line 39, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 21, page 7, line 41, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 21, page 8, line 1, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 21, page 8, line 2, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 21, page 8, Une 3, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 21, page 8, line 5, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 21, page 8, line fi, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 2 1 , page 8, line 9, omit ‘shall ‘, substitute ‘may’.
Clause 21, page 8, Une 11, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 21, page 8, Une 16, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, Une 21, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, Une 24, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, Une 23, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, Une 26, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, Une 27, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, Une 28, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, Une 31, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, Une 35, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, Une 38, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, Une 39, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, line 40, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
-I hope that my time has not been curtailed because of this interruption. I had been saying that clause 1 1, which deals with meetings of the Executive Council, was an important clause and that the Opposition acknowledged the change to that clause effected by the amendments moved by the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott). We opposed that change in the first instance, but we see it now as at least a step in the right direction. The Opposition does not see the need for the Executive Council but it commends this amendment.
One of the benefits of adjourning the debate on this Bill until this evening is that people 1,000 miles away are able to listen to some of the debate on this Bill which will affect their future. There is a misconception on the other side ofthe House that the Opposition would have Norfolk Island integrated into the structure of the mainland society. When one rationally compares Labor’s proposals for Norfolk Island with those of the Government, there is no basis whatsoever for this misconception. It is not the Opposition but the Government which would clutch Norfolk Island closer to its bosom. This can be seen when the ledger of proposals is examined, and I propose to do that in speaking to the clauses of this Bill. The clauses with which we are now dealing refer to the structure of the island’s administration and it cannot be read into any aspect of the Opposition’s attitude to this matter that it has a pro-integration stance. It must be acknowledged by all that Sir John Nimmo ‘s proposition that all Australian legislation should apply on Norfolk Island is a pro-integration stance. The Opposition does not adopt that position and it does not support that recommendation. The Opposition is calling only for general Australian legislation to apply- this was probably the major point made by the Minister- in the areas of taxation, social security, and conciliation and arbitration. The main body of Australian law would not apply. Norfolk Island would be free to make its own laws in a far more democratic way under the Opposition ‘s proposal.
Under the Government’s proposals, there would be far more overseeing and control by the Australian Government and its representative. No law passed on Norfolk Island would be free of Australian veto and many of the laws would be subject to a second veto. The Administrator, an Australian Government official, would have far more arbitrary and unnecessary power under a Liberal Government than he would have under a Labor administration. It is the Liberal Party that refuses to loosen the ties sufficiently which bind Norfolk Island to Australia, except that in this Bill it will allow the Council under certain circumstances to conduct meetings when only a quorum is present. The Chairman may be wondering what relevance my remarks have to the clauses we are considering, but I think that I ought to be allowed some leniency because of the complicated nature of the amendments and the way in which they were presented. The alternative is for me to hold up the House for some considerable time by moving amendments which I had not proposed to move.
Under a Labor government, Norfolk Island would have a Bill of Rights and the Adminstrator’s powers would be curbed. Some might say that a plan for Australian social security, taxation and industrial laws to apply on the island would mean the integration of Norfolk Island into Australia. I strongly deny this. The right of Norfolk Island to be free and yet for its people to have an entitlement to Australian social security benefits is a rather clouded issue. To understand that issue requires the question relating to fundamental freedoms to be resolved. That is the situation on Norfolk Island. To argue that employers on Norfolk Island should have freedom to hire or fire their workers free from normal industrial laws and practice is something with which I will deal later. It abrogates the rights of workers to decent standards of industrial life. I have nothing further to say in regard to the clauses concerned. I have made reference to a few of them. Perhaps it will minimise the participation in the debate on further clauses. The Opposition does not oppose the clauses.
– I would like to attend briefly to the actual form of government as it is demonstrated in clauses 1 to 22. 1 take it they are the clauses with which we are concerned at the moment. The Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott), in his earlier remarks, implied that the Executive Council was an essential feature of such a form of government. I suppose Australia has seven executive councils, counting our own. On the other hand, there are over 900 local government authorities- some of them very big. The metropolitan cities of Australia are huge compared with many States of the world. The municipalities of country areas and some of the provincial cities have very large populations. Some of the country municipalities are very extensive in both population and area. They administer great sums of money and large areas of country. They do not operate this way. In fact, when one joins a municipality one becomes an executive member. This applies to most municipalities in Victoria. So councils have nine, 12 or 15 members. I think there is the odd council with a few more than that. They operate in the same way as a board of directors, a cabinet or anything of the sort.
I think the Executive Council is an unecessary aberration in this situation. I am sure that democracy is not served by the creation of inner circles. I regard it as an optional extra which, if I were given the option, I would discard. That is the first point I wish to make. The other point is in regard to the general question of selfgovernment. I think it is a phoney term inside a federal system. What part of Australia has selfgovernment? Some time ago honourable members talked very glibly about selfgovernment for the Northern Territory. Earlier, the Minister implied that if people paid taxes and received social security payments then they were not in the field of self-government; they were not looking after themselves. Again, that is nonsense. There is nobody inside the whole of Australia who has self-government if we mean total, absolute, unqualified autonomy or independence. I make passing reference to the powers of veto of the Governor-General. That means that there is no self-government. The right to withhold assent for six months removes all vestige of selfgovernment. Therefore, it is a term which ought not be used in this context.
What this Parliament is attempting to find for Norfolk Island is an area of government in which the people of Norfolk Island are able to administer the greatest possible areas of their own affairs to the advantage of the people of Norfolk Island, to the preservation of their standard of living and the quality of life as they see it, and add to it the advantages of being a part of the Austraiian scene. There has been some play on the use of the social security system. I understand that at present there are 36 people on Norfolk Island who are drawing social security pensions and there are 1 1 7 people drawing repatriation or veterans ‘ affairs pensions of some type. That is a fair number of people in such a small community. I suspect that as time goes by more Norfolk Islanders will spend their working lives on the mainland- as they must because Norfolk Island is not big enough to contain the population- and then return to Norfolk Island and, of course, draw Australian social security pensions.
The last thing one would want to do is damage the social security of the island. I refer to its security not in the monetary sense but in the social sense. We have to find a formula which supplies to the people of Norfolk Island the same security, standard of living and advantages as the rest of the people on this continent and its outlying islands receive and still preserves the rights as the islanders have had them and as we hope to see them developed. That ought not be beyond the wit of man. Of course, the British have had some odd solutions to these problems in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. I do not see any great difficulty. Perhaps this is a piece of legislation that should have been tossed to one of the legislation committees so the members of that committee could have brought a multitude of minds to bear on the problem. After all, what is the difference between the views of myself and the Minister on this matter? We both say our objectives are the same. I would say his solution is unduly conservative and rather authoritarian. What is the Governor-General? In this general context, the Governor-General is the Minister. I wish he would give away this comparison about self-government and try to examine it more thoroughly in view of what it is ali about.
I suppose we can continue to give the people of Norfolk Island the assurance that we are all seeking the same objective. I think the introduction of an Executive Council into a small body such as this for the government of a small area is a disbelief in the ability of groups of people to come together for the solution of executive problems, which is not held out by our own experience. There are 12 or 13 members of the current Cabinet; there were 27 in the Labor Cabinet. I think there are about 20 in the New South Wales Cabinet. They sit around and make executive decisions. There is no reason why the Executive Council should not be able to make executive decisions or form some sub-committees or anything of that sort. I think the Executive Council, as it is interpreted here, is not really a part of the Westminster system or anything else. The executive councils- the Privy Councils as they were called and the committees of the Privy Councils as they were instituted during the reign of Charles II- were a way in which he was able to avoid responsibility and pass it off to his friends while he got on with the serious business of enjoying the merry life. Many of these are historical solutions to other problems which have no relevance to Norfolk Island.
-The clauses we are debating at the moment are those which relate to the basic relationship between the mainland of Australia- the Commonwealth of Australia- and Norfolk Island. I take the opportunity to clear up a couple of misconceptions which apparently were gained at least by the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) from the remarks I made last night. The honourable member for Sturt indicated that he was confused by what I had to say. I want briefly to try to clarify the situation from my point of view. It seems to me that in the first instance we cannot deny- as far as I can gather, nobody seeks to deny- that Norfolk Island is a part of Australia. If we take that as a basic assumption then it seems to me that in relation to Norfolk Island Australia has a number of international obligations. The Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) indicated a few moments ago the fact that in respect of the control of fishing off Norfolk Island Australia does have international obligations. Therefore, the Minister is saying he cannot simply allow the Legislative Assembly of
Norfolk Island to have unfettered power in that regard. He is saying that in relation to fisheries, because there are international obligations, it is up to the Commonwealth of Australia to regulate fishing off Norfolk Island in exactly the same way as it regulates fishing off other parts of Australia.
That is one instance where the Minister and I are on common ground. What I do assert is that there are several other areas in which Australia does have international obligations. For instance, if we take the question of welfare, which the Minister seems to believe is an area which can develop over a number of years, it seems to me that the welfare of the people of Norfolk Island at this time is of major concern to the people of Australia. We do have international obligations to see that the people of Norfolk Island, whatever their circumstances, are able to live with a fair measure of dignity. Therefore, we do have obligations to ensure that the income security measures at Norfolk Island are at least as good as they are in other parts of Australia. That is another area in which I think we have to assert that Australia as a whole must insist that at least a minimum standard of welfare should apply on Norfolk Island.
We have international obligations as far as wages and other industrial relations matters are concerned. Therefore, it seems to me that the amendments which the Opposition will move later this evening are perfectly consistent with that attitude. What we are trying to do is to make appropriate arrangements for the regulation of industrial relations and other aspects of employment on Norfolk Island. That is because we do have international obligations as far as those matters are concerned. What I think we can conclude from this is that here are a number of areas in which, through international obligations, Australia as a whole must ensure that certain minimum standards obtain on Norfolk Island in exactly the same way as they obtain in the rest of Australia. Therefore, it goes without saying, I guess, that these are areas in which we cannot allow completely unfettered self-government.
Having said that, what we can say is that there is an enormous number of other areas in which we can provide very much more self-government than has been provided in the Government’s Bill. I suppose the point is that, in relation to those areas in which we do have international obligations, we must have legislative and overriding safeguards to ensure that the conditions on Norfolk Island are no less than they are in Australia as a whole. But, apart from those areas, we should be saying to the people of Norfolk
Island that they can do exactly as they please as long as they do not transgress basic conditions in Australia or embarrass Australia internationally. Therefore, what we are saying is that, having taken out those areas- the Minister for Home Affairs has already said that fisheries is one area which should be taken out; we are just saying that there are a couple of others which should be taken out also- we ought to provide a very much larger measure of self-government than the Government is prepared to give the people of Norfolk Island in this respect.
Perhaps one of my oversights last night was made with respect to the Northern Territory. What I should have gone on to explain was that, inadequate though arrangements in the Northern Territory are, at least in a number of respects the people of the Northern Territory have a larger measure of self-government than is proposed for Norfolk Island. I refer honourable members to the list of functions which was given to the Northern Territory as at 1 July 1978. When it is compared with the list of functions which it is proposed to give to the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly under Schedule 2 of the Bill, we find that a number of important areas which are included in the Northern Territory list are excluded from the Norfolk Island list. For instance, the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly has powers and duties in respect of the maintenance of law and order and the administration of justice. Those powers do not appear in Schedule 2 ofthe Bill.
A similar situation exists in relation to the police, corporate affairs, prices and rent control, industrial safety, mining and minerals, public and private land, environmental protection, child, family and social welfare. In a number of areas the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly has powers over and above those which are proposed for the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly. So I think in that regard we can say that the Government has gone further in providing self-government in the Northern Territory than it has gone with Norfolk Island. That is the simple point I was trying to make. But I do not want any honourable member to think that, in my view, if we went as far with Norfolk Island as we have gone with the Northern Territory with self-government that would be far enough. We have not gone far enough in the Northern Territory. Even if we did extend those other functions to the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly, in my view that would not go far enough. It seems to me that we can go a lot further. We should be giving more functions to the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly and we should be doing away, in a whole range of areas, with the veto from Canberra which so circumscribes the theoretical self-government which the Government purports to be giving to Norfolk Island.
– Listening to honourable members opposite, one would have thought that they had suddenly seen the light and had come to believe that places such as the Northern Territory should be given complete self-government; that all power should be given to the Northern Territory and that no power should be exercised from Canberra. If they ever return to the Treasury bench, I wonder what they will do. I imagine that they will start on the old process of centralisation and all power being held in Canberra. However, I remind the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Dawkins) that the Northern Territory did have a deal of involvement in executive functions before it moved towards what is practically full self-government. Consistent with the Commonwealth’s obligations to the Aboriginal people and consistent with the powers which they wish to exercise with respect to uranium, the Northern Territory has complete self-government.
Any comparison between the States and Norfolk Island in relation to taxation is quite wrong because the States have the power to impose taxes and not be part of the uniform taxation system. The fact is that no State has yet been prepared to withdraw from the uniform taxation system. But the States have self-government within their area of power under the Constitution and they can impose taxes. That is the essence of self-government. In other words, the States could, if they wanted, not be as dependent on the Commonwealth as they are at the moment. But they have chosen their present situation. What we are wanting to do in respect of Norfolk Island is to enable the Norfolk Island people to raise their own taxes, to provide for their own services and to make their own decisions. That is what this Bill will ultimately do.
A lot has been said about taxation. I remind honourable members that, from recollection, during their term of office amendments were made to the Income Tax Assessment Act. I believe that the drafting of legislation to make those amendments was commenced at the time of the previous coalition Government but, from recollection, that legislation was enacted during the Opposition’s term of office. Those amendments to the Income Tax Assessment Act had the result of removing the possibility of income tax evasion being carried out on Norfolk Island. The registration of companies is a source of revenue to Norfolk Island. But the fact is that if we look at the fees involved we find that the fees for last year totalled something like $250,000 and that the estimated fees for this year total about $140,000. That indicates that the use of the island for the purposes of company registration is falling away. That is partly because of the fact that gift duty and estate duty have been removed in the States and death duty has been removed in a number of States. Consequently, the relevance of Norfolk Island in a tax sense is disappearing; therefore, the use of Norfolk Island for those purposes is likely to diminish.
In any event, what honourable members opposite are saying to Norfolk Island when they say ‘do not let Norfolk Island be used as a tax haven’ is that Norfolk Island should impose stamp duty. If the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly, when it is set up, decides to impose a stamp duty, no doubt that will provide a source of revenue for the Island. But it will be up to the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly to decide whether to impose stamp duty. Of course, it will not be the duty of the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly to impose stamp duty, any more than it is the duty of the New South Wales Government or Queensland Government to impose stamp duty, or to raise or lower the rate of stamp duty. It will be a matter for the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly to decide. It is true that, as the Bill is drafted, until full self-government is achieved, part of the function of raising taxes will rest with the Commonwealth Government. But part of that function will rest also with the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly.
Other matters have been raised. The honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes) claimed that certain proposed amendments appeared in the Norfolk Island News or whatever he said the newspaper was called. They did not appear in such a paper. There was a summary of some discussion that the councillors had with me. In no sense did these amendments appear, on my information, in the Norfolk Island News.
The amendments are designed to meet certain objections. They will enable the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly to call its laws Acts if it wishes to. The amendments seek to delete the phrase ‘Territory of the Commonwealth’ which was considered offensive and substitute the phrase ‘Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth’. This was something that I was quite happy to do. I and the Government agreed to this change. We agreed to give the Legislative Assembly powers to appoint a member to preside at the Executive Council if the Administrator is not present and to convene the Executive
Council. Quite a large number of the amendments arise from the simple fact that we have given the Legislative Assembly the power to call its laws Acts. Therefore we seek to remove the word ‘ordinance’. So, Mr Chairman, I have moved circulated amendments Nos. 2 to 41 in these terms:
Clause 4, page 2, line 14, omit ‘section 8’, substitute ‘this Act’.
Clause 4, page 2, after the definition of ‘Deputy President’, insert the following definition: “enactment” means-
a law (however described or entitled) passed by the Legislative Assembly and assented to under this Act;
an Ordinance made by the Governor-General under section 27 or in pursuance of section 68; or
an Ordinance continued in force by this Act; ‘.
Clause 4, page 2, lines 23 and 24, omit the definition of Ordinance’.
Clause 4, page 2, lines 32 and 33, omit the definition of Territory’, substitute the following definition: “Territory” means Norfolk Island, that is to say, the Territory of Norfolk Island as described in Schedule 1 . ‘.
Clause 5, page 3, lines 2 and 3, omit ‘Territory of the Commonwealth’, substitute ‘Territory under the authority ofthe Commonwealth’.
Clause 7, page 3, line 38, omit ‘, whether before or after the giving of that advice’, substitute ‘in accordance with subsection (3)’.
Clause 7, pages 3 and 4, omit sub-clause (3), substitute the following sub-clause:
For the purposes of sub-section (2), the Minister may give the Administrator instructions in respect of advice tendered to the Administrator for the purposes of paragraph (l)(b), and may give the Administrator instructions in respect of the referral to the Minister of any such advice.’.
Clause 11, page S, after sub-clause (3), insert the following sub-clause: (3a) If the Administrator is not present at a meeting of the Executive Council, the members of the Executive Council present shall elect one of their number to preside.’.
Clause 1 1, page 5, after sub-clause (S), insert the following sub-clause: (5a) The Administrator may convene a meeting of the Executive Council at any time, and shall convene a meeting whenever requested to do so by 3 or more members of the Executive Council.’.
Clause 17, page 6, line 37, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
Clause 17, page 6, line 38, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
Clause 17, page 7, line 2, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
Clause 17, page 7, line 3, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
Clause 18, page 7, line 8, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
Clause 19, page 7, line 14, omit ‘Ordinances’, substitute laws’.
Clause 19, page 7, line 17, omit ‘Ordinances’ (twice occurring), substitute ‘laws’.
Clause 19, page 7, line 24, omit ‘Ordinances’, substitute laws’.
Clause 20, page 7, line 28, omit ‘Ordinances’ (twice occurring), substitute ‘laws’.
Clause 21, page 7, line 37, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 21, page 7, line 39, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 21, page 7, line 41, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 21, page 8, line 1, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 21, page 8, line 2, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 21, page 8, line 3, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 21, page 8, line 5, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 21, page 8, line 8, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law*.
Clause 2 1, page 8, line 9, omit ‘shall ‘, substitute ‘may’.
Clause 21, page 8, line 11, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 21, page 8, line 16, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, line 21, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, line 24, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, line 25, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, line 26, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, line 27, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, line 28, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, line 31, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, line 35, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, line 38, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, line 39, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 22, page 8, line 40, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
– I did not propose to take up the time of the Committee any further; however, I am prompted to enter the debate because of the erroneous proposition that the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) put to the Committee. The fact is that business registrations increased over the last two years. It is wrong to say that the number is diminishing.
– The fees have diminished
– We are not talking about fees. We are talking about the fact that company registrations have in fact increased. I raised this matter last night. It is all right to talk about taxation evasion and to be pedantic about words. But that is not what we are talking about. The fact is that lurks and perks are available to individuals who want to exploit them. The Minister has not satisfied the Opposition that tax evasion is not still taking place. In 1978 I drew the attention of honourable members to the fact that $30m went in and out of Norfolk Island during one day.
– You have made that point.
– I have made the point. I want to put to the Committee -
– It doesn’t improve itself by repetition.
– The point obviously has not sunk in as far as the Minister is concerned. The arrogance that you display in some areas -
– Order! The honourable member for Melbourne will address the Chair.
-Well, Mr Chairman, would you kindly protect me from interjections made by the Minister?
– The honourable member is entitled to address the Committee in silence. I ask honourable members to be silent.
– We have heard the proposition that the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly will be free and unfettered to make decisions. But that is not the case. Let us consider the relevance of the Minister’s position at the present moment. Under clause 7 of the Bill the Minister has very much the same authority as he has now. He sits there like God and in the final analysis makes all the decisions about the place. He allows some procedure by which people may offer opinions. But whether these opinions are accepted or listened to is a horse of a different colour.
If the people of Norfolk Island want an indication of the sorts of powers that are to be given to them they should look at what has happened in the Australian Capital Territory. Despite the fact that 63 per cent of the people of Canberra voted in favour of not changing the way in which Canberra is governed, the Minister has taken away from the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly the Territory’s only major source of revenue, namely, almost $2m in poker machine revenue. The Minister has taken this money away from the Legislative Assembly and literally from the people of Canberra and he will determine the way in which it will be used. I do not think that anybody on Norfolk Island would get much confidence from that action.
We also believe there is some degree of exercise of authority- the honourable member for Canberra (Mr Haslem) can look at the clock, but I have plenty of time -
– Get on with it.
-Well, we will be here all night if that is what the honourable member wants. But the fact is that the Minister used his authority even to the point of laying down the type of poker machines that would be bought in the Australian Capital Territory.
– I take a point of order. I think the honourable member is not being relevant. My administration of the Australian Capital Territory surely is not under debate. The honourable member has not asked me a question about this subject. Let him ask me next time the Parliament meets about the Australian Capital Territory poker machines.
– Order! The Minister will resume his seat. The Chair accepts that the honourable member for Melbourne was drawing a comparison. There is no substance in the point of order. I ask the honourable member to address the Chair.
– I am sorry that the Minister is so sensitive about this matter. I will ask him a question which I hope that he can answer without any embarrassment. Reference has been made to our friends from Norfolk Island. The chairman of the Council of Norfolk Island might take on board what I have said. He might compare the propositions that have been put by the Opposition and the Government. Also he might examine what I have said about the Minister’s authority and how far it can go.
Amendments agreed to.
Clauses, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 23- Disallowance of Ordinances by Governor-General.
– by leave- Amendments Nos 42 to 52 relate to clause 23. 1 move:
Clause 23, page 8, line 43, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 23, page 8, line 44, omit ‘Ordinance’ (twice occurring), substitute ‘ law ‘.
Clause 23, page 9, line 2, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 23, page 9, line 4, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 23, page 9, line 5, omit ‘an Ordinance’, substitute a law’.
Clause 23, page 9, line 8, omit ‘Ordinance’ (twice occurring), substitute ‘law’.
Clauses 23, page 9, line 10, omit ‘an Ordinance’, substitute a law’.
Clause 23, page 9, line 1 1, omit ‘an Ordinance’, substitute a law’.
Clause 23, page 9, line 13, omit ‘Ordinance’ (twice occurring), substitute ‘law’.
Clause 23, page 9, line 14, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 23, page 9, line IS, omit ‘an Ordinance’, substitute a law’.
Amendments Nos 42 to 52 are consequential on giving the Legislative Assembly power to call its legislation Acts.
Amendments agreed to.
– The question now is that clause 23, as amended, be agreed to.
-This clause provides the Australian Government with a retrospective veto over any ordinance previously assented to by the Island ‘s Administrator. It is an amazing clause. It invades and negates any supposed power devolution contained in the Bill. It provides an Australian veto over any ordinance passed by the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly. It is the sting in the tail of this legislation. The Norfolk Islanders and their representatives were assured by the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) on 8 May last that:
The Government proposes that the Assembly have complete legislative power and executive control over (the matters listed in the schedules), subject to a right of veto by the Administrator in respect of education, immigration, customs services and fishing.
There is no argument about that. That statement cannot be reconciled with the Bill. Clause 23 contradicts that statement. Either the Minister deliberately misled the people of Norfolk Island or the Bill is not as he required. Either the Bill is wrong or the Minister is wrong.
Clause 23 specifically allows the GovernorGeneral to disallow or recommend amendments to any ordinance assented to by the Administrator during the previous six months. It does not allow the Governor-General to disallow or to amend ordinances to which the GovernorGeneral has previously assented. This means that only ordinances concerned with Schedule 2 and Schedule 3 matters are subject to this retrospective veto. These are specifically the ordinances over which the Minister assured the islanders of ‘complete legislative power and executive control’. In relation to Schedule 3 matters, where the Administrator already possesses what the Opposition believes to be a necessary veto, clause 23 is not so important. This is because the Administrator may only exercise his or her veto under ministerial instruction. It is unlikely that a Minister would allow assent to an ordinance, only to later decide that a mistake had been made and demand of the GovernorGeneral a disallowance or amendment. However, Clause 23 provides the only veto to ordinances concerning the list of matters that comprises Schedule 2. This veto is retrospective and therefore open to criticism. It is unnecessary. It applies mainly to matters of only municipal concern. I has not been made clear because the Minister gave the people of Norfolk Island to understand that no such veto would exist.
The Opposition calls for the exclusion of clause 23 from the Bill. Labor believes that there is no need for a vice-regal veto of municipal matters, particularly when the only likely circumstance in which the Governor-General would act in this way is under the advice of his Executive Council, that is, under Cabinet direction. The Minister might argue that this clause is merely the expression of the Regal prerogative to disallow Bills. That it is a formalism, and expected never to be used. Labor finds this justification empty. Australia and its territories are hamstrung by such vice-regal prerogatives. They are relics of a bygone age. The tide of history is surely with us in arguing for a more rational approach to democracy. The Labor Party finds that the Minister has misled the people of Norfolk Island. We do not agree with his actions. We think that what he has done is wrong. I call on the Minister to explain to the Parliament, to Australia and to Norfolk Island why he did this. The Minister cannot sidestep this issue. It is printed in black and white in his speech delivered to the people of Norfolk Island on 8 May. We find that speech in the Hansard of 1 1 May. He promised complete legislative powers and Executive control. Yet the provisions of clause 23 do not conform with that statement.
-The honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes) has tried to put me in the dock and convict me on words that came out of my own mouth. Of course, as the honourable member well knows and as honourable members opposite well know, a clause similar to this was inserted in the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act. A similar provision is in the laws relating to the Capital Territory. In other words, it emphasises the fact that this Parliament has always reserved the power of the government of the day in the interests of the people. This Parliament has ultimate responsibility for the people of Norfolk Island. Let us not forget that point. This clause is merely an expression of that. It is very much a reserve power. It is most unlikely that it will ever be used. That is the basis upon which it is inserted in this Bill.
I can understand the Opposition trying to curry favour with the people on Norfolk Island by creating this sort of mirage of giving them self-government in the one breath and hitting them with taxation, social service benefits and all the rest of it in the other breath. I can understand the Opposition saying that sort of thing, but the fact is that this provision is designed to give expression to an ordinary constitutional practice. My memory may be faulty, but I think that to some degree we have a similar provision in our own Constitution.
– Section 64.
– No, it is not in section 64. Section 59 of our own Constitution expresses the same idea. Needless to say, because we have become a Commonwealth in terms of the Statute of Westminster, section 59 of the Constitution has fallen into disuse. But that is not the relationship between this Parliament and the new Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly. This Parliament will still have responsibility for the people of Norfolk Island. Therefore this is an essential part of the constitutional arrangements.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 24, page 9, lines 23 and 24, omit ‘, or for the disallowance, as the case may be’.
Clause 24, page 9, line 26, omit ‘or the date of the disallowance, as the case may be ‘.
These amendments follow directly from our opposition to clause 23. They seek to remove from the clause reference to disallowance of an ordinance by the Governor-General. I can put no argument in relation to these amendments that I have not already canvassed in my objections to clause 23. 1 appeal for the support of honourable members once again to remove reference to this retrospective unnecessary interference by the Governor-General in the affairs of Norfolk Island.
– by leave- I move:
Clause 24, page 9, line 20, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
Clause 24, page 9, line 21, omit ‘Ordinance’ (first and second occurring), substitute ‘law’.
Clause 24, page 9, line 21, omit ‘an Ordinance’, substitute a law’.
Clause 24, page 9, line 22, omit ‘an Ordinance’, substitute a law’.
These amendments are consequential upon giving the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly power to call its laws Acts.
Amendments agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 25 and 26- by leave- taken together.
– by leave- I move:
Clause 25, page 9, line 37, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
Clause 26, page 9, line 44, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
These amendments likewise flow from the fact of giving the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly power to call its laws Acts.
Amendments agreed to.
Clauses, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 27, page 11, lines 1-3, omit sub-clause (7), substitute the following sub-clause:
Notwithstanding the preceding provisions of this section, the Governor-General shall not make an Ordinance providing for the raising of revenues or for the expenditure of moneys out of the Public Account of Norfolk Island. ‘.
Together these amendments have the effect of removing from the Governor-General the power to make ordinances concerning the raising of revenues and the expenditure of public moneys. As the Bill currently stands, the GovernorGeneral may introduce ordinances into the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly. Provided that the ordinance does not concern matters listed in the schedules, the Governor-General may make the ordinance, notwithstanding any objections or dissent by the Legislative Assembly. For reasons of urgency and for any other special reasonwhatever that might mean- the GovernorGeneral may make an ordinance without consulting the Legislative Assembly in any way. This power applies only to ordinances not concerning matters contained in Schedule 2 or Schedule 3.
These powers to make ordinances without reference to the Legislative Assembly or in spite of the Assembly’s objections allow the GovernorGeneral to make laws concerning the raising and expenditure of public moneys. In other words, despite the protestations of the Assembly, the Australian Government, acting through the Governor-General, may raise a new tax on Norfolk Island. That is ironic in the face of the opposition. The Australian Government may even spend the public moneys of Norfolk Island. It is not good but nonetheless necessary that the Australian Government should have the power to make ordinances on the Island in spite of the wishes of the local elected representatives of the people. I repeat that that is not good but it is necessary.
However, it is a wholly objectionable situation that these ordinances provide for the raising or spending of public moneys. It is completely unacceptable to the Opposition and, once again, it points to the hypocrisy of the Government because the Minister assured Norfolk Island that Australian taxation would not be extended to the island as is enshrined in the Bill. The Labor Party does not agree with that policy. But that is what the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) told Norfolk. He said that there would be no Australian taxation. On close inspection of the Bill we find that it contains all the power necessary for the Australian Government to raise taxes on the island. Has the Minister been caught out in another misconstruction? Perhaps he can explain that.
It is abominable that the non-elected official, the Governor-General, should have that power to raise taxes and to authorise expenditure on the island. It is all the more objectionable to many citizens of this country, considering the circumstances in which related powers were last used by the previous occupant of the vice-regal top hat. In November 1975 an historical anachronism dressed in morning suit interfered in a dispute over a money Bill between the two Houses of this Parliament. He interfered without the authority of the Government or of his advisers. Many eminent constitutional analysts have argued that that action was outside his prerogative. The erupting controversy ensured with almost complete certainty that such a course of action would never again be taken by the monarchy or its representatives.
I do not want to take up the time of the Committee. I think I have made my point. I am saying that the Governor-General must not be allowed to raise taxes in spite of the Legislative Assembly’s opinions or to disburse public moneys against the Assembly’s wishes. For the benefit of honourable members I point out that the Opposition’s amendments still allow the Governor-General to introduce an ordinance dealing with the raising and the expenditure of revenues. The amendments only prevent the making of such an ordinance.
– 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 require that the question be put forthwith without debate.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I would like to point out for the benefit of honourable members that the Opposition’s amendments still provide that the Governor-General may introduce an ordinance dealing with the raising and expenditure of revenues. The amendments would prevent only the making of such an ordinance despite the wishes of the Legislative Assembly. The Governor-General having introduced such an ordinance, the Legislative Assembly may see fit to pass it. But the prerogative should rest with the Legislative Assembly.
– I trust that it is understood by honourable members that what this Bill does is to provide for two legislative authorities, that is to say, the Legislative Assembly, through which most Bills will pass, and the Australian Government with which will rest the ultimate authority in relation to matters that do not stand within Schedules 2 and 3. The whole exercise of self-government, as I have already pointed out, is an exercise whereby all the funds necessary to provide the services will be raised within Norfolk Island. Therefore, the purpose of this measure has to be seen against that background.
At the moment the Government has power to, and does, levy charges on the people of Norfolk Island; and it will continue to have that power. It is not imposing Australian taxation or extending it to Norfolk Island. That power is already there. The result of the Bill, of course, will diminish the power somewhat because the Government can raise levies only for those areas of responsiblity which will fall outside Schedules 2 and 3. These provisions are designed quite simply to deal with an emergency situadon. An emergency situation is simply where there are no funds to meet the public services of the island. That is part of the ultimate responsibility of the Government because it will be one of* the governing authorities of the island for the time being until there is a fuller measure of self-government. Those provisions are there to meet that purpose. Therefore, these amendments are opposed.
Mr ELLICOTT (Wentworth-Minister for Home Affairs)- by leave- I move:
In clause 27, page 10, line 3, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
In clause 27, page 10, line 6, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
In clause 27, page 10, line 8, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
In clause 27, page 10, line 12, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute law’.
In clause 27, page 10, line 14, omit ‘an Ordinance ‘, substitute ‘a law’.
In clause 27, page 10, line 1 S, omit ‘an Ordinance’, substitute ‘a law’.
In clause 27, page 10, line 18, omit ‘the Ordinance ‘.substitute ‘ an Ordinance ‘.
In clause 27, page 10, lines 24 and 25, omit ‘an Ordinance ‘, substitute ‘a law ‘.
In clause 27, page 10, line 27, omit ‘such’.
Most of these amendments are purely formal. They follow again from the fact that the Legislative Assembly has been given power to call its laws Acts.
Amendments agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 2 8 to 6 1 -by leave- taken together.
Mr ELLICOTT (Wentworth-Minister for Home Affairs)- by leave- I move:
In clause 29, page 12, line 20, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 29, page 12, line 23, omit ‘Ordinances’, substitute ‘an enactment and an Ordinance ‘.
In clause 29, page 12, lines 26 and 27, omit sub-clause (2), substitute the following sub-clause:
A reference in this section to an enactment or to an Ordinance shall be read as including a reference to a law made under an enactment or under an Ordinance, as the case maybe.’.
In clause 30, page 12, line 28, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 30, page 12, line 30, omit ‘Ordinance’ (twice occurring), substitute ‘enactment’.
In clause 31, page 12, line 35, omit ‘The’, substitute ‘Subject to the regulations, the ‘.
In clause 31, page 12, line 37, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 38, page 13, line 36, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 38, page 13, line 37, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 39, page 14, line 23, omit ‘or honorarium’, substitute ‘ , honorarium or reward ‘.
In clause 40, page 14, line 42, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 42, page 16, line 2, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 44, page 16, line 22, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 46, page 16, line 28, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 46, page 16, line 29, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 47, page 16, line 34, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 47, page 16, line 35, omit ‘Ordinance’ (twice occurring), substitute ‘enactment ‘.
In clause 47, page 16, line 37, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 47, page 17, line 1, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 47, page 17, line 2, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 47, page 17, line 5, omit ‘Ordinance’ (twice occurring), substitute ‘enactment’.
In clause 47, page 17, line 1 1, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 47, page 17, line 12, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 47, page 17, line 14, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 47, page 17, line 16, omit ‘Ordinance’ (twice occurring), substitute ‘enactment ‘.
In clause 48, page 1 7, line 22, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 48, page 1 7, line 24, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 50, page 17, lines 29 and 30, omit ‘, from time to time,’.
In clause 50, page 17, line 41, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 53, page 18, add at the end of the clause the following sub-clause:
Before tendering advice to the Governor-General for the purposes of sub-section ( 1 ), the Minister shall give the Executive Council the opportunity of furnishing comments to him and shall consider any comments so furnished.’.
In clause 58, page 19, line 3, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 58, page 1 9, line 4, omit ‘ , from time to time, ‘.
In clause 59, page 1 9, line 1 5, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 60, page 1 9, line 1 7, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
In clause 6 1 , page 1 9, line 1 9, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
As I said earlier, most of these amendments relate to the fact that we have agreed that the Legislative Assembly should have the power to call its laws Acts. Therefore, the word ‘ordinance’, wherever it appears, has had to be removed. There are some other amendments. They are basically formal, except for one in particular, which states in part:
Before tendering advice to the Governor-General for the purposes of sub-section (1), the Minister shall give the Executive Council the opportunity of furnishing comments to him and shall consider any comments so furnished.
I recollect that clause 53 relates to the appointment of a judge to Norfolk Island. That clause simply gives the Executive Council the right of consultation before any judge is appointed.
-The Opposition does not oppose the amendments. We agree that the amendment which has just been mentioned is a worthy amendment. We support it. Further to that, we do not object to any ofthe other amendments.
Amendments agreed to.
Clauses, as amended, agreed to.
Proposed new clause 6 1a.
– I move:
Page 19, after clause 61 insert the following new clause: 61a. (1) There shall be a Conciliation and Arbitration Commission of Norfolk Island, constituted by a member of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission designated by the President of the last-mentioned Commission.
The Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904, subject to such exceptions, modifications and adaptations as are prescribed, applies in the Territory by force of this section-
situations likely to give rise to such disputes; and
in relation to the registration of organisations in the Territory.’.
The Opposition proposes to move that a further clause- clause 61a- be added to the Bill. The clause is to establish a conciliation and arbitration system for the island. It is absolutely necessary that such a system be established. It is imperative because the present lack of scrutiny over industrial relations allows the island’s employers to rip off the employees to a shocking extent. At present companies and employers on the island operate free from any controls in respect of sick leave, annual leave, long service leave and pay, superannuation, margins for overtime or unclean work, and termination of service. There is no workers’ compensation. I understand that some proposition in relation to it has been canvassed, but whether or not that has reached fruition it seems to me from an examination of some of the material I have at my disposal that the situation is certainly not satisfactory. There is no unemployment benefit. There is no necessity for women to be paid the same amount as men doing the same work.
The administration on the island- that is, the Australian Public Service on the island- has progressed beyond this pre-industrial revolution stage. It offers superannuation, workers’ compensation and equal pay. Administration salaries are more than 90 per cent of those earned in any equivalent positions in Australia, with the bonus of being tax free. These discrepancies, which are a result of the actions of those people on the island who manage, own and control the business interests there, have led to considerable friction on the island between public servants and their brothers and sisters in private employment. People on the island in private employment labour under more than just the burden of the absence of controls over their conditions. They also work for little more than a pittance.
During my address at the second reading stage last night I said that there have been cases of workers receiving as little as $70 a week for 48 hours work. If one had listened last night to the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) one would have thought that people were swimming across from Australia to grab hold of the jobs. A similar situation exists on Norfolk Island as pertains in many areas of Australia. The fact is that unemployment, whether it be exported from Norfolk Island to the mainland or from Victoria to Western Australia, has a hidden component. Social disruption takes place because the young people either have to leave the island to go to the mainland to get unemployment benefit or endeavour to place themselves in the dole queue to get whatever might be available to them from this Government. It might be funny for the honourable member for Holt (Mr Yates) but it is not very funny for the young people who come from the island.
– I do not think that personal reflection is really necessary.
– Order! The honourable member for Holt will resume his seat and remain silent.
- Mr Chairman -
– I am prepared to stay here all night.
-The honourable member for Melbourne will address the clause.
– Perhaps I might be protected from interjections like that. I will proceed when honourable members opposite are ready.
-The Chair has dealt with the honourable member for Holt. The honourable member for Melbourne will proceed.
– They are asked to work for a mere pittance which, on the basis of a 48-hour week, works out at about $ 1.60 an hour. It is little more than sweated labour. To add insult to injury, if they lose their job they are off the island. If they transfer from one job to another or if they leave the job, they have to pay the fare from there back to the mainland and then back to Norfolk Island. An honourable member opposite shakes his head, but I have evidence to show that that is the case. There is nothing an individual worker can do about it. He or she cannot go to a union because there are no unions on the island. Of course, the employers are not encouraging the unions to set up there and neither is the island council. Four of the council members are in business and two of them are primary producers. It might well be that the Australian Council of Trade Unions could have a look at the situation on the island and see what could be done, or at least see how that exploitation might be brought to a halt.
The worker does not have residency status, as I pointed out. He or she cannot object directly to the employer, for the reasons I have put to the Committee. The permit to enter or remain is issued only to visitors who can obtain employment. Honourable members on the other side of the Committee say blithely that people are there for a working holiday, but some of the people on the island who have spoken to me were not there for a working holiday; they were there because they could not get employment or they were trying to compete with others for employment. It seems to me that that is an anomaly that should not exist. There is no minimum wage. There are no leave provisions. There is no equal pay for women. There are no anti-discrimination provisions. As I have said, there is no workers’ compensation. They ought to have some protection. Members of the Arbitration Commission with whom I have spoken say that they would see it as a very positive step. Arising out of the Treadgold and Gates inquiry, who is going to set a minimum wage or determine whatever benefits do apply? Is it going to be still by grace and favour? Who is going to determine that? Is it going to be at the whim of the employer? Until a few years ago the council paid a $10 a week pension. It seems to me that something has to be done. The Minister is looking very anxious, but I have an obligation to the people who are exploited in that sense to ensure that the Opposition takes whatever steps it can to bring the present state of affairs to a halt. Our amendment goes to the point of establishing the application of the system to apply to individuals, and to provide that people from the Arbitration Commission will visit the island for the purpose of conciliating or arbitrating, if necessary, on the industrial issues of the island.
– The Government does not agree to this proposal. It again underlines what the Opposition wants to do with the island. It provided these sops in its amendments during the second reading debate, but then it offers Australian taxation and Australian social security benefits and now it wants to involve the Australian arbitration system. The Norfolk Island people have been running the island in accordance with their own customs in association with successive Australian governments since 1914 and, before that, more or less on their own with a governor since 1856. They know nothing of an arbitration system, let alone the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904. They know nothing of the formation of unions. They know nothing of any of these things that go with an arbitration system. The fact is that the question of industrial relations on the island has yet to be worked out. The so-called oppression that the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes) talks about is not something that has been very evident to me on my visits to the island.
The fact is that there is little unemployment on the island and those who are unemployed appear to get some assistance. But when the social welfare system is being worked out no doubt the question of those who might temporarily be in need because of unemployment will be considered in the context of that sort of system. No doubt, too, one of the things that needs to be looked at carefully over the period ahead is for any sign of exploitation of people who work on the island. Responsibility for this area, of course, will remain with the Government. No doubt it will be one of the functions of the Administrator in the future to keep a watchful eye on it. At this stage the Government could not contemplate extending the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to Norfolk Island. We oppose the amendment.
– I do not want to take up the time of the Committee any further. The Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) continually misrepresents the Opposition’s position on this matter. The taxation aspect to which he referred would not apply to the individuals who would need to be protected. A basic wage at least is needed. I can see somebody shaking his head but I intend to say this. A minimum wage needs to be determined by independent people and it ought to apply. This should not happen at the whim of the Minister or ofthe employers but it should be determined by somebody who is competent to take an independent position in relation to this matter. He should take into account the information that flowed from the Treadgold- Gates inquiry.
The Minister talked about the customs of the Pitcairners. The point has been made once again that they are assisted by their own people. The fact is that that no longer applies to the same extent. It may reach the point where the Government might wake up one day and commend the people who assist. People should have thenindependence so that they can go and shop or do what they want to do. That ought to be right. It should not be offered in a patronising way by the Government or by the Assembly on the Island. That ought to be the right of the people. I refer now to the formation of unions. The Minister raised the question of unemployment. Unemployment is exported to Australia. That is undeniably true. People come to Australia because jobs are not available on the Island. The formation of unions seems to be the only way the Government can allow a system to prevail where those people who want to be organised can be organised to protect their own positions. They will not have to accept once again what is handed out to them by grace and favour.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Remainder of Bill- by leave- taken as a whole.
– by leave- I move:
Clause 63, page 19, line 24, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
Page 20, after clause 65, insert the following new clause: 65a ( 1 ) The Governor-General, acting with the advice ofthe Attorney-General, may, by warrant under his hand, grant to a person convicted by a court of the Territory exercising criminal jurisdiction a pardon, either free or conditional, or a remission or commutation of sentence, or a respite, for such period as he thinks fit, ofthe execution of sentence, and may remit any fines, penalties and forfeitures imposed or incurred under a law in force in the Territory.
Without limiting the powers of the GovernorGeneral under sub-section ( 1 ), provision may be made by enactment for the remission, for good conduct, of pan of the sentence of a person serving a sentence of imprisonment in the Territory.
Where an offence has been committed in the Territory, or where an offence has been committed outside the Territory for which the offender may be tried in the Territory, the Governor-General, acting with the advice of the Attorney-General, may, by warrant under his hand, grant a pardon to an accomplice who gives evidence that leads to the conviction ofthe principal offender, or of any ofthe principal offenders. ‘.
Clause 66, page 20, lines 16 and 17, omit ‘the senior Judge ‘, substitute ‘ a Judge ‘.
Clause 66, page 20, lines 23 to 25, omit paragraph (a), substitute the following paragraph:
regulations repealing or altering an item in Schedule 2 shall not be made except after-
a copy of the proposed regulations has been laid before the Legislative Assembly; and
the Legislative Assembly has passed a resolution approving the proposed regulations; and’.
Clause 66, page 20, line 27, omit ‘shall not’, substitute ‘do not’.
Clause 66, page 20, at the end of the clause add the following sub-clause:
A reference in sub-section (2 ) to a Schedule shall be read as including a reference to that Schedule as varied from time to time by regulations made by virtue of that sub-section.’.
Clause 68, page 20, line 34, omit ‘extends’, substitute extend’.
Clause 68, page 20, line 35, add at the end of the subclause ‘and with respect to matters relating to the Legislative Assembly’.
Clause 70, page 21, line 22, after ‘were’, insert ‘a law’.
Clause 71, page 21, line 28, omit ‘Ordinance’, substitute enactment’.
Clause 72, page 21, line 29, omit ‘Ordinance’ (second occurring), substitute ‘enactment’.
Clause 73, page 21, line 42, omit ‘by virtue of any contract or agreement’, substitute ‘arising out of the investment of any moneys in pursuance of section 1 7 of that Ordinance *.
Clause 73, page 22, line I, after ‘liabilities’, insert ‘(other than rights and liabilities referred to in paragraph (a) or (b))’.
Clause 73, page 22, lines 4 and 5, omit ‘, other than a contract or agreement referred to in paragraph ( a ) or ( b ), ‘.
Page 22, after clause 74, insert the following new clauses:
The reference in section 63 to the accounts of the Territory shall be read as including a reference to accounts prepared before the commencing date and to accounts prepared on or after the commencing date in respect of any period before the commencing date.
( 1 ) The regulations may make provision (including provision by way of modifications and adaptions of any Act) for and in relation to any matter arising from, consequential upon or otherwise connected with the establishment of the Administration of Norfolk Island as a body politic.
The power to make regulations by virtue of subsection ( 1 ) extends to the making of regulations expressed to take effect on and from a date earlier than the date of the making of the regulations, not being a date earlier than the commencing date.
Regulations shall not be made by virtue of this section after 30 June 1980.’.
Preamble, page 1, lines 1 to 8, omit the preamble substitute the following preamble:
Whereas by an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, made and passed in the sixth and seventh years of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria intituled “An Act to amend so much of an Act of the last Session, for the Government of New South Wales and Van Diemen ‘s Land, as relates to Norfolk Island.” it was, amongst other things, enacted that it should be lawful for Her Majesty, by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom, to sever Norfolk Island from the Government of New South Wales and to annex it to the Government and Colony of Van Diemen ‘s Land:
And whereas Her Majesty Queen Victoria, in exercise of the powers vested in Her by the said Act, by a Commission under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom bearing date the twenty-fourth day of October, 1 843, appointed that from and after the twenty-ninth day of September, 1844, Norfolk Island should be severed from the Government of New South Wales and annexed to the Government and Colony of Van Diemen ‘s Land:
And whereas by an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, called the Australian Waste Lands Act 18SS, it was, amongst other things, provided that it should be lawful for Her Majesty at any time, by Order in Council, to separate Norfolk Island from the Colony of Van Diemen ‘s Land and to make such provision for the Government of Norfolk Island as might seem expedient:
And whereas on 8 June 1856 persons who had previously inhabited Pitcairn Island settled on Norfolk Island:
And whereas by an Order in Council dated the twentyfourth day of June, 1 856, made by Her Majesty in pursuance of the last-mentioned Act, it was ordered and declared, amongst other things, that from and after the date of the proclamation of the Order in New South Wales. Norfolk Island should be thereby separated from the said Colony of Van Diemen ‘s Land (now called Tasmania) and that from that date all power, authority, and jurisdiction of the Governor, Legislature, Courts of Justice, and Magistrates of Tasmania over Norfolk Island should cease and determine, and that from the said date Norfolk Island should be a distinct and separate Settlement, the affairs of which should until further Order in that behalf by Her Majesty be administered by a Governor to be for that purpose appointed by Her Majesty with the advice and consent of Her Privy Council: and it was thereby further ordered that the Governor and Commander-in-Chief for the time being of the Colony of New South Wales should be, and he thereby was, constituted Governor of Norfolk Island, with the powers and authorities in the said Order mentioned:
And whereas the said Order in Council was proclaimed in New South Wales on 1 November 1856:
And whereas by an Order in Council dated the fifteenth day of January, 1 897, made in pursuance of the said lastmentioned Act, Her Majesty, after reciting that it was expedient that other provision should be made for the government of Norfolk Island, and that, in prospect of the future annexation of Norfolk Island to the Colony of New South Wales or to any Federal body of which that Colony might thereafter form part, in the meantime the affairs of Norfolk Island should be administered by the Governor of New South Wales as therein provided, was pleased to revoke the said Order in Council of the twenty-fourth day of June, One thousand eight hundred and fifty-six, and to order that the affairs of Norfolk Island should thenceforth, and until further Order should be made in that behalf by Her Majesty, be administered by the Governor and Commander-in-Chief for the time being of the Colony of New South Wales and its Dependencies:
And whereas the said Order in Council was published in the New South Wales Government Gazette on 19 March 1897, and took effect at that date:
And whereas by an Order in Council dated the eighteenth day pf October, One thousand nine hundred, made in pursuance of the said last mentioned Act, Her Majesty was pleased to revoke the said Order in Council of the fifteenth day of January, One thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven, and to order that the affairs of Norfolk Island should thenceforth, and until further Order should be made in that behalf by Her Majesty, be administered by the Governor for the time being of the State of New South Wales and its Dependencies:
And whereas the said Order in Council was published in the New South Wales Government Gazette on 1 January 1 90 1 , and took effect at that date:
And whereas by an Order in Council dated the 30th day of March, 1914, His Majesty King George V, by virtue and in exercise of the power in that behalf by the said lastmentioned Act or otherwise in His Majesty vested, after reciting that the Parliament had passed an Act No. 15 of 1913, entitled ‘An Act to provide for the acceptance of Norfolk Island as a territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, and for the government thereof and that it was expedient that the said Order in Council of 18th of October, 1 900, should be revoked and that Norfolk Island should be placed under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia, was pleased to revoke the said Order in Council of 18th of October, 1900, and to order that Norfolk Island be placed under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia:
And whereas the said Order in Council was published in the Gazette on 17 June 1914, and took effect from l July 1914, being the date of commencement of the Norfolk hand Act 1913:
And whereas Norfolk Island was, by the Norfolk Island Act 1913, declared to be accepted by the Commonwealth as a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth:
And whereas Norfolk Island has been governed by the Commonwealth initially under the provisions of the Norfolk Island Act 1913, and subsequently under the provisions of the Norfolk Island Act 1957: ‘And whereas the residents of Norfolk Island include descendants of the settlers from Pitcairn Island:
And whereas the Parliament recognises the special relationship of the said descendants with Norfolk Island and their desire to preserve their traditions and culture:
And whereas the Parliament considers it to be desirable and to be the wish of the people of Norfolk Island that Norfolk Island achieve, over a period of time, internal selfgovernment as a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth and, to that end, to provide, among other things, for the establishment of a respresentative Legislative Assembly and of other separate political and administrative institutions on Norfolk Island:
And whereas the Parliament intends that within a period of 5 years after the coming into operation of this Act consideration will be given to extending the powers conferred by or under this Act on the Legislative Assembly and the other political and administrative institutions of Norfolk Island, and that provision be made in this Act to enable the results of such consideration to be implemented: ‘.
These amendments in part insert a provision which is intended to ensure proper provisions relating to the granting of pardons, remissions of penalties and the like so that the criminal justice system can operate adequately. One provision which is important is amendment No. 106 which is designed to ensure that no amendments can be made to Schedule 2 which, in effect, would cut down the powers under Schedule 2 without the consent of the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly. That is a very important guarantee to the Legislative Assembly and that is why it has been inserted. There are some other formal amendments but I do not think I need to refer to them.
-The Opposition does not object to these amendments. We find each of them more acceptable than those parts of the Bill which they replace. There are several individual amendments to which I would like to make quick reference for the record. The new clause 65a allows the Governor-General, acting on the advice of the Attorney-General, to grant pardons, remissions or respites and to overturn any penalties imposed under any law in force on Norfolk Island. This clause somewhat mystifies me. It implies that the Government has little faith in the judicial system which it is setting up on Norfolk. It implies that the Government has little faith in its current judicial arrangements for the island. It is normal practice that the head of government has the power to allow pardons and remissions and, in this case, the head of Norfolk’s government is the Australian GovernorGeneral. Normally that head of government would receive advice from the lower echelons of government. It does not seem to be provided in this case.
Amendment 106 is also worthy of comment. It has the effect that an item may be deleted from Schedule 2 and inserted into Schedule 3, but with the approval of the Legislative Assembly. This is acceptable to the Opposition. The remainder of the amendments to clauses 66 to 76 are not objected to by the Opposition. It also recognises the wish of the people of Norfolk Island, hoping that within five years the Australian Labor Party amendments will find their way into the Bill and the devolution of further powers to the island government will be achieved.
Amendments agreed to.
Remainder of Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report- by leave- adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Ellicott)- by leaveread a third time.
Consideration resumed from 21 February, on motion by Mr McLeay :
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.
-With all due respect, Mr Chairman, I have no idea what the amendment says. It was never forwarded to the Opposition. This is in keeping with the attitude that prevails. I just have not read the amendment.
– I move:
Omit clause 3, substitute the following clause:
Section 3 of the Principal Act is amended by inserting after sub-section (3) the following sub-section: 3a. A reference in this Part to an office includes a reference to an office that, within the meaning of the Norfolk Island Act 1979, is an office of member of the Legislative Assembly, member of the Executive Council or executive member and a reference to any office in or in connection with that Assembly that can be held only by a member of that Assembly. ‘. ‘.
The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the references to the various offices in the Bill accord with the references to those offices in subclause 65 (4) of the Norfolk Island Bill 1978.
Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report- by leave- adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Ellicott)- by leaveread a third time.
Consideration resumed from 1 1 May 1978, on the following paper presented by Mr Ellicott:
Norfolk Island- Government Policy- Ministerial Statement, 1 1 May 1978- and on motion by Mr MacKellar:
That the House take note of the paper.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Ellicott) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– Within the last few days I have come into possession of certain documents which reveal a serious criminal offence against the Companies Act by certain union officials. In a letter that I have received from the President of the Australian Workers Union, Mr Charles Oliver, it is alleged that Squizzy Williams and Frank Mitchell have been guilty of harassing officers of the New South Wales Branch of the Union over their balance sheet, while at the same time being themselves party to what Mr Oliver describes as a form of corporate sharp practice involving the colossal sum of $317,000 of members’ money. I ask leave to incorporate Mr Oliver’s letter in Hansard.
The letter read as follows-
Telegraphic address: “ Unionsyd ‘ ‘ Sydney
To expedite Reply please quote number of current
Please quote our reference.
MacDonell House, 321 Pitt Street,
You may recollect that I met you in the early nineteen forties; you were a very young man with a family tradition of A. W.U. Membership, and I believe the youngest official of the Union at that time, possibly at any time- That you have played an active role in the Union as a member, and official and Parliamentarian is in evidence and beyond any question whatsoever. Like myself you have seen many changes in the Australian Workers’ Union, some good, some bad, but with due regard to your experience and judgment I venture the view that never in your experience has the Union been so poorly served as it is today by its leading officials, which is my reason for writing this letter to you.
You would be aware that The Australian Workers ‘Union, State Registered, and the Australian Workers’ Union, New South Wales branch has been under constant harrassment from our Fearless Leader and General Secretary, Mitchell, aided by President Williams and elements on the Executive Council.
While there are no unsurmountable hurdles to overcome, sample of the time wasting petty fogging rubbish indulged in by Mitchell is contained in the enclosed copy of a letter written by Branch Secretary Reg Mawbey to Mitchell in reply.
A further sample of the administrative practices of the leadership is found in the 1978 Balance Sheet presented to the 1979 Convention, pan of which I enclose.
You would be aware that Rule 19 of the Constitution and General Rules refers to a Special Purposes Fund- I quote the relevant part of the Rule:
Each Branch shall pay to the General Secretary one dollar from each contribution which shall be placed in The Special Purposes Fund which shall be used in the interest of the members as and when directed by the Executive Council.
This Fund has been used to finance ‘The Australian Workers’ Union Finance Services Management Pty Limited’.
Whatever can be said in favour of this venture, it has involved the Special Purpose Fund in a direct loss of $317,172.00.
The most damaging feature of this transaction is the deficiency of Share Capital and Reserves amounting to $121,208.00.
I am reliably informed that when this calamitous transaction was discussed by the Directors and Trustees, which is in effect the Executive Council, a suggestion was made by the Management that the total $317,172.00 could be written off- This proposal found no weight in favour. It was then proposed by the Management to transfer the liability to share capital, thereby convening the liability into an asset in the accounts- This appears to me to border on a form of corporate sharp practice- Of one thing we can be certain the members who provide the funds will get no benefits.
With kind regards,
Yours faithfully, (C. T.OLIVER)
-Another document that came to me is a copy of a letter written by Mr Reg Mawbey, Secretary of the New South Wales Branch of the AWU alleging that the union’s auditor has certified that the balance sheet does not give a true account of the state of affairs of the Union’s special purpose fund in that a huge amount of more that $ 1 38,000 is now irrecoverable. I ask leave to incorporate the auditor’s report in Hansard.
The report read as follows-
Report of the Auditors
We report on the Balance Sheet and Receipts and Payments Account set out on pages 1 9 to 22 which have been prepared under the historical cost convention set out in note 1.
We have received the information and explanations we have required.
The Balance Sheet of The Australian Workers Union Finance Services Management Pty Limited at June 30, 1978 indicates a deficiency of Share Capital and Reserves amounting to $121,208.00. The unsecured loan of $ 1 78,830.20 together with the accrued interest of $ 1 7, 1 1 3.88 to The Australian Workers Union Finance Services Management Pty Limited appear to be currently irrecoverable. No provision has been made in the accounts for this debt.
In our opinion, having regard to the preceding paragraph;
Satisfactory records have been kept;
Registered under the Public Accountants Registration Act 1945, as amended
Notes to and forming part of the Financial Statements for the year ended 3 1st December, 1978
Note 1: Historical Cost Accounting- The accounts have been prepared under the historical cost convention and have not been adjusted to take account of the current costs of specific assets or their impact on operating results.
Note 2: Interest Accrued- Bank- Interest Accrued on bank accounts amounting to $2,108.58 but not credited on pass sheets by the bank has not been included in income for the year.
Note 3: Interest Accured- Loan- By decision of the Executive Council, interest @ 8.5 per cent per annum is payable by the AWU Finance Services Pty Limited on advances made by the Special Purposes Fund. The interest due as a result of this decision at 31st December 1978 is $17,113.88. This amount has not been taken up in the receipts and payments account, not reflected in the amount due from the company.
-Mr Mawbey’s letter states that the company operating the Union’s superannuation fund now owes the Union’s special purposes fund upwards to a quarter of a million dollars and that Mr Williams recently presided over meetings of the company and the Union’s executive council at which it decided to convert the union’s irrecoverable debt to the company into $ 1 shares which will be shown in the next balance sheet as an asset. I quote from Mr Mawbey’s letter the Shares will be worthless, creating a fabricated imaginary asset for the purpose of deceiving people who are unaware ofthe true situation . . .
He also said:
There is not one iota of Tangible material in this purported asset.
On the face of it, Mr Edgar Williams, the President of the Union, in fact presided over a conspiracy to commit a most serious, corporate crime against the members of his own union and the Corporate Affairs Commission should treat him in the same way as it has treated Harry M. Miller by having summonses issued against him. He should be called upon to surrender his passport before he can leave the country. I ask leave to incorporate Mr Mawbey’s letter in Hansard.
The letter read as follows-
To expedite Reply please quote number of current
Please quote our reference
MacDonell House, 321 Pitt Street,
Sydney, NSW 2000.
I have your letter dated 13 February 1979 advising a meeting of the Executive Council held on 8 February 1979 carried the following resolution:
That the NSW Branch Secretary, Mr R. G. Mawbey, be required by this Executive Council to supply through the General Secretary to this Executive Council:
In reply to question one which reads:
Set out hereunder find a break-up of monies received for sale of Tickets, pan payments and prior years:
There were 12,577 tickets issued and there were 6,403 Complimentary Tickets (Federal) issued against Adults tickets sold at $40 per ticket. There were 158 Youths Tickets issued and there were 54 Complimentary Tickets (Federal) issued against Youths Tickets sold at $20.
If you add the amounts appearing on the first line in each district you get a total of $ 1 88,660 for tickets issued.
In addition 6,403 tickets were issued at $40. If you multiply 6,403 x $30 you get a figure of $ 192,090 plus $8 10 for 54 Youths tickets, total $ 1 92,900.
If you add $188,660 and $192,900 you get a total of $381,560.
There is an error of $440 because there were 22 Womens tickets shown to be sold at $40 instead of $20.
If you deduct $440 the gross figure will total at $38 1 , 1 20.
I am setting out a schedule hereunder for your information:
Total tickets sold: Mens-12, 577 = $377,3 10; Youths- 158 = $2,370; Womens-72 = $ 1 , 440; Total-$381,120.
Complimentary tickets issued: Mens-6, 403 = $192,090; Youths-54 = $8 1 0; Total-$ 192,900.
Money received $188,660 plus complimentary tickets issued $ 1 92,900 equals $38 1,560.
This amount does not equal by $440.
Because there were 22 Womens tickets shown to be sold in the North West District at $40 instead of at $20.
In respect to question 2 which reads:
In answer to this question I set out hereunder a schedule of all amounts received:
If you take the figures on the first line of each district you get a total of $362,660.00 which equals the sale of 9,014 Adults at $40.00 and 105 Youths at $20.00.
The remainder of money $328,532.09 was received as part payments.
I recollect when you were speaking to the resolution carried by the Executive Council you referred to the complexities of the New South Wales Branch Balance Sheet and the conglomeration of monies appearing in the Balance Sheet.
The Balance Sheet is an honest submission on all the transactions of the State Union and Branch of the Federal Union in the State of New South Wales.
The Conciliation and Arbitration Act does not require this information.
The New South Wales Balance Sheet is not the only Balance Sheet that includes money for sale of State Union Tickets- a good example being the following Balance Sheet:
Registered under the ‘Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1 96 1 - 1 976 ‘ as
There is no such Branch of The Australian Workers’ Union appearing in Rule 37 of the Constitution and General Rules.
If you peruse this Balance Sheet you will see where monies are included for sale of Tickets to 1 1,886 persons who do not come within the Eligibility Rule of The Australian Workers’ Union. These persons cannot vote in an Election conducted for Officers in the Organisation- the Steuart versus Oliver Case reported in 17 FLR 99 and AILR 21; 26IIBI clearly indicates this.
In a test of Law this Balance Sheet may not conform to the requirements of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1978.
In reply to question 3, which reads:
The expenditure on the Canberra Building which includes a Loan of $ 1 93, 1 00.00 from the Commonwealth Savings Bank and an amount of $6,900.00 paid from the Property Account totalling the amount of $200,000.00 was Capital expended on Air Conditioning equipment, Carpets, Sunscreen, Alterations, etc., to enhance the value of the property and make it more attractive.
The best example I have seen of turning a Liability into an asset was the decision of a meeting of Directors of The Australian Workers’ Union Finance Services Management Pty Limited, held on Thursday, 8th February 1 979.
This meeting after hearing a report from Mr Then decided to invest an irrecoverable debt owed by this Company to the Special Purposes Fund of The Australian Workers’ Union, in one dollar shares up to the value of $250,000.00 in Share Capital, which will show as an asset in the next Balance Sheet of this Company.
In fact the Shares will be worthless, creating a fabricated imaginary asset for the purpose of deceiving people who are una ware of the true situation.
Members of the Union who have part of the Union Contributions allocated to The Special Purposes Fund which in turn are used in subsidising a Company that they will never receive a dividend from.
There is not one iota of Tangible material in this purported asset. In fact what was done with this transaction would be equal to endeavouring to turn all wages paid by the Union which is a liability into an asset to falsify a balance sheet.
This method was not used in increasing the asset of the Canberra Building.
In answer to question four, which reads:
In answer to this question the following persons were elected to office set out hereunder.
I declare Colin Leslie BENTON, Kenneth Bruce BULMAN, Ernest Charles ECOB, Fergus LAKE, Desmond Parnaby LESLIE, Rodney Earl MacBETH, Patrick James McMAHON, Cecil Robert Newton, Michael Joseph O’SHEA, Max READING, Laurence RODWELL, William Bernard SPELLMAN and Digby Marshall YOUNG elected unopposed.
Branch Executive ALLAN, Alfred Edgar
Committeemen (5 ) MURPHY, Terrence Joseph
OLIVER, Cecil Thompson
PYE, Ross Lionel
QUILKEY, John Michael
I declare Alfred Edgar ALLAN, Terrence Joseph MURPHY, Cecil Thompson OLIVER, Ross Lionel PYE and John Michael QUILKEY elected unopposed.
Delegates to 1 978 ANDERSON, Thomas Leslie
Annual Convention BENTON, Colin Leslie
ECOB, Ernest Charles
MAWBEY, Reginald George OLIVER, Cecil Thompson QUILKEY, John Michael
I declare Thomas Leslie ANDERSON, Colin Leslie BENTON, Ernest Charles ECOB, Fergus LAKE, Reginald George MAWBEY, Cecil Thompson OLIVER and John Michael QUILKEY elected unopposed.
(C. I. WHITE)
All Officials and Staff employed have been paid wages from the General Branch Account which has been the case since the inception of this account.
Rent paid to Head Office has been paid from the General Branch Account. Motor Vehicles, Telephone Accounts, Stationery, Office Machinery, etc, have been paid from the General Branch Account.
I now come to the question of mixed funds. A good example of this is Queensland where money received for sale of 11,887 Tickets is used to pay wages to Queensland Officials. I have already dealt with this question earlier in my letter.
In answer to question five, which reads:
The answer to this question is contained in a resolution carried at an Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, 6th February 1979, which reads:
That the NSW Branch proposition proposed by NSW Branch Secretary, Mr R. G. Mawbey, that the membership ticket in the NSW Branch have the words inserted thereon as follows-
Australian Workers ‘ Union NSW Branch Registered under the Trade Union Act 1881-1970 and the Industrial Arbitration Act 1 940- 1 976. ‘ similar in principle to the wording of the AWU Queensland Branch Membership Ticket and the West Australian Branch Membership Ticket, be accepted by this Executive Council. ‘
These Tickets are being printed by D. F. Austin, Publishing Pry Limited, being ordered on 7th February, 1979, and at the date of writing this letter we have been denied Tickets to sell to members.
I did say at the Executive Council when discussing this proposition I could not guarantee Refinery Operators at Oil Refineries in New South Wales would purchase this Ticket.
Present indications are they will not entertain purchasing these Tickets. You are well aware of the Refinery Operators ‘ attitude to any matter in reference to Federal Awards or Federal Union representations.
In concluding interrogation by letter is most unsatisfactory, therefore, if the answers provided in this letter are not satisfactory, then Section 141 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act are available to you to exercise your rights, where your questions and the answers could be tabled for the purpose of ventilating all the issues that have been the subject of Convention debate, also Executive Council ‘s deliberations.
I am forwarding a copy of this letter to all members of the Executive Council who will be properly informed being able to have time to comprehend the situation.
I am also forwarding copies of the letter to all members of the New South Wales Branch Executive.
With kind regards,
Yours faithfully, R.G. MAWBEY
– It is a scandalous state of affairs that paid officials of the Union should be allowed to misappropriate Union funds in this way without any action being taken against them. I am astonished that the Minister for Industrial Relations (Mr Street) has not yet gazetted the regulations needed to give effect to last year’s amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act concerning union balance sheets. All superannuation funds should be subject to government supervision and independent audit. When I say ‘all’, I mean that not only union superannuation funds, but also private insurance companies that run superannuation funds, ought to be brought under government scrutiny. Unless this is done, there will be no guarantee that superannuation funds -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! It being 1 1 p.m., the debate is interrupted.
- Mr Deputy Speaker -
– Does the Minister require that the debate be extended? If so, the Chair will permit the debate to continue until 11.10 p.m. In accordance with the provisions which govern adjournment debates, the Minister will be restricted to speaking for five minutes only.
– I rise to a point of order, which goes to the ambit of the Minister’s remarks at this stage of the debate. My understanding is that his comments must be restricted to what has been discussed during the course of the adjournment debate.
-That is right.
-The honourable member is quite correct. I uphold the point of order.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I require that the debate be extended so that I may reply to the remarks of the honourable member for Hindmarsh.
-I call the Minister for Industrial Relations.
– The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) has a very long experience in industrial relations and, indeed, union affairs generally. Tonight he has made very grave allegations, which, obviously, have serious implications. So far as my own Ministerial responsibility is concerned, I will ensure that those parts of his allegations that are within my area of responsibility are brought before the relevant authorities.
I also noted that some of his comments could involve authorities in jurisdictions beyond my ministerial responsibility. I will examine Hansard carefully tomorrow to see whether I should refer those aspects of what he raised to people in other jurisdictions. I repeat that the honourable member has made allegations of the gravest kind. He also referred to the fact that some time ago, this Parliament legislated to require annual accounting of unions to their members, and the auditing of those accounts. For the information of the honourable member, for many months now a tripartite committee of the National Labour Consultative Council has been working on recommendations which will lead to the drafting of the regulations required by that legislation. Since the requisite regulations have not been completed, the legislation has not yet been proclaimed. The National Labour Consultative Tripartite Council has almost completed its work in this field. As soon as it has, and the necessary procedures have been followed, the regulations will be promulgated and the Act proclaimed- this on a date that will enable unions and industrial organisations generally, of both employers and employees, to comply with the new requirements of the Act.
I realise that in this matter there has been substantial delay, but it is one that is extremely complex. It involves, in a very immediate way, the reporting of many organisations. The Government has been very conscious of the need to ensure that these complex regulations are drafted in the best way that will enable the legislation to operate in the way in which it was designed to operate. As I have said before, the legislation will be brought into operation as soon as possible, bearing in mind the complexities of the issues involved. In the meantime, as I have already indicated to the House, I will look most carefully at the remarks of the honourable member and see that they are brought to the attention of the people concerned.
– I raise a point of order. Mr Deputy Speaker, I am wondering whether you could take up a matter with Mr Speaker concerning the procedures of this House. This morning at Question Time Mr Speaker disallowed a question from this side of the House which was directed towards the operations of Associated Securities Ltd. On that occasion none of the directors was named, but because Mr Speaker felt that they were well-known public figures he disallowed the question. The point I am making -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! I heard the honourable member for Melbourne Ports put this point earlier in the day. I think that he has overlooked the fact that Mr Speaker’s ruling related to the naming of individuals in a question without notice. It was in that context that Mr Speaker’s ruling applied.
– With respect, Mr Deputy Speaker, it seemed to me- I want you to take up this matter with Mr Speaker for the guidance of all honourable members- that Mr Speaker would not allow such a question without notice even when directors were not mentioned by name. In the adjournment debate it was permissible, presumably, for the honourable member for Hindmarsh to name specifically, and raise serious allegations against trade union officials. If the Chair is saying that an issue relating to personal honesty cannot be raised in a question without notice but can be raised either in general debate orin the adjournment debate it is important, as a matter of general principle for the conduct ofthe House, that that aspect be clarified.
-The understanding of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, as he has just described it, is correct. That is consistent with the practice and procedures as set out , in the Standing Orders. The debate having concluded, the House stands adjourned until Tuesday, 1 May next at 2.15 p.m., unless Mr Speaker, or, in the absence from Australia of Mr Speaker, the Chairman of Committees, shall, by telegram or letter addressed to each member of the House, fix an alternative day or hour of meeting.
House adjourned at 11.8 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 2 1 February 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Fourteen uranium mills
One uranium enrichment pilot plant at Valindaba
A nuclear research establishment at Pelindaba, which includes the Safari I research reactor
Two nuclear power reactors under construction at Koeberg.
The safeguards for Safari I are provided for in the Safeguards Transfer Agreement among the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), South Africa and the United States of 26 July 1967 as amended on 20 June 1974 (IAEA document INFCIRC/98/Mod.I). This agreement requires that all nuclear materials, equipment and facilities supplied to South Africa by the United States whenever they may be located in South Africa should not be used for any military purpose.
The two Koeberg nuclear reactors are also subject to international safeguards against military of explosive use under the terms of an agreement among the IAEA, France and South Africa of5 January 1977 (IAEA document INFCIRC/244). This agreement also covers nuclear fuel supplied by France, any other facility based on Frenchsupplied technology and all special fissionable and other nuclear material, including any subsequent generations thereof, produced in or by the use of the Koeberg facility or any other facility based on French-supplied technology.
Resolution 3324E(XXIX) of 1974 requested all Governments ‘to cease all cooperation with South Africa in nuclear and other modern technological research, particularly research with military applications’.
Resolution 341 1G (XXX) of 1975 requests ‘that the Security Council call upon the Governments concerned to prohibit any of their institutions, agencies or companies, within their national jurisdiction, from delivering to South Africa or placing at its disposal any equipment or fissionable material or technology that will enable the racist regime of South Africa to acquire nuclear-weapon capability’. Resolution 31/6D of 1976 contains similar wording.
Resolution 31/61 of 1976 demanded ‘the cessation of any form of military and nuclear cooperation with the racist regime of South Africa ‘.
Resolution 32/105F of 1977 requested the Security Council to call upon all States ‘to end all transfer of nuclear equipment or fissionable material or technology to South Africa’; and ‘to prohibit companies, institutions or agencies within their jurisdiction from any cooperation with South Africa, directly or through participation in companies registered in South Africa, in its military build-up or nuclear development ‘. ‘
Resolution 33/183G of 1978 called upon ‘all States which have not yet done so- in particular France, Federal Republic of Germany, Israel and the United States of America- to cease forthwith all collaboration with the racist regime of South Africa in the nuclear field and to take measures to prevent such collaboration by corporations, institutions and other bodies and individuals within their jurisdiction’.
No resolutions of the Security Council have been adopted which specifically apply to the question of the transfer of nuclear materials or technology between South Africa and member countries. Security Council resolution 418 of 4 November 1977, which was adopted unanimously decided however that ‘all states will refrain from any cooperation with South Africa in the manufacture and development of nuclear weapons ‘.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 28 February 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 28 February 1979:
With respect to (a) textiles, (b) clothing, (c) footwear, (d) passenger motor vehicles and (e) motor vehicle accessories, what is the approximate effective subsidy per job per annum provided by tariff protection.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Industries Assistance Commission (LAC) is the body best placed to make such calculations. Figures provided by the LAC are shown below, but are subject to certain qualifications.
The estimated net subsidy equivalent per employee for passenger motor vehicles applies to the manufacture of the vehicles themselves, not brought in components. The figure takes into account the market sharing arrangements for these vehicles, but takes no account of the local content plans.
The estimate provided for motor vehicle accessories relates to Class 3213 of the Australian Standard Industrial Classification, Motor vehicle instruments and electrical equipment n.e.c.
Subject to the above qualifications, the table below sets out the net subsidy equivalents, the amount of money that would have to be paid in order to provide assistance equivalent to tariff protection to the industries in question in 1975-76.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 7 March 1979:
Will he update the answer to Question No. 2167 (Hansard, 17 October 1978, page 1975) which sought information on the level and structure of prices for market milk in each of the capital cities.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The details requested on the level and structure of prices for market milk in each of the capital cities are set out hereunder:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 27 March 1979:
– The Minister for Social Security has provided the following response to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 22 February 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Mr Miller no longer holds the positions referred to in the question.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 8 March 1979:
What was the quantity of liquor supplied to Kirribilli House and paid for by the Government during each financial year from 1969-70 to date.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I refer the honourable member to the answer given by the former Prime Minister (Hansard, 4 November 1975, page 2776) in which he referred to the principle of many years standing that the costs of operating the four official establishments- Government House, Admiralty House, Kirribilli House and the Prime Minister’s Lodge- be regarded as a total charge against the annual Budget appropriation. I do not propose to depart from that principle.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 8 March 1979:
What are the names of those persons who received a salary or any other emolument for services rendered in connection with the running of Kirribilli House during each financial year from 1 969-70 to date.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The practice in running Kirribilli House has been to rely on a small regular domestic staff supplemented by short term temporary and casual staff to cope with particular functions. As a consequence, a list of names of all persons who have worked at Kirribilli House during the past 10 years would be very long. The names are not recorded in one place and, in relation to the earlier years, records are no longer available of all staff involved. However, if the honourable member has an individual or some circumstances in mind, I shall have inquiries made on receipt of his advice as to the particulars.
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 28 March 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
One each of:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 April 1979, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1979/19790405_reps_31_hor113/>.