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 1978-79 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 their expectation 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 Bradfield, Mr John Brown, Mr Burns, Mr Fife, Mr Jarman, Dr Jenkins, Mr Keith Johnson, Mr Les Johnson, Mr Lucock, Mr Martin and Mr Sainsbury.
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 honored 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 honor any undertakings they gave.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bryant, Dr Everingham, Mr Howe, Mr Hurford, Dr Jenkins, Mr Kerin and Mr West.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the plan to obliterate the traditional weights and measures of this country does not have the support of the people;
That the change is causing and will continue to cause, widespread, serious and costly problems;
That the compulsory tactics being used to force the change are a violation of all democratic principles.
Your petitioners therefore pray:
That the Metric Conversion Act be repealed to ensure that the people are free to utilize whichever system they prefer and so enable the return to imperial weights and measures wherever the people so desire;
That weather reporting be as it was prior to the passing of the Metric Conversion Act;
That the Australian Government take urgent steps to cause the traditional mile units to be restored to our highways;
That the Australian Government request the State Governments to procure that the imperial and metric systems be taught together in schools.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bradfield, Mr Howe, Mr Les Johnson and Mr Neil.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth submits:
That off-shore oil exploration within the Great Barrier Reef Region constitutes a serious threat to the richest and most varied living system on earth.
Your Petitioners request that your Honourable House will:
And your petitioners, as in d uty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bradfield.
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 respectively showeth:
That the decision of the Australian Government to depart from its election promise, made in 1975 and re-affirmed in 1977, that pensions would be increased twice yearly in line with CPI increases, will seriously add to the difficulties of those citizens who are wholly or mainly dependent on pensions.
Your petitioners call on the Government to review its decision and restore twice-yearly pension adjustments. by Mr Hayden.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully say we are concerned about the deteriorating standards of ABC radio and television programmes.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that Parliament take immediate steps to appoint an independent inquiry into the ABC which:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Keating.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Honourable Members of the House of Representatives.
This petition of citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth that:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your honourable House will take urgent steps to concur with the wishes of a majority of electors at every polling booth in Australia at the 1967 referendum by resumption from the States of the major traditional Aboriginal land areas and reserves and former reserves as at 3 1-3-78, to become federal Crown land pending prompt determination of freehold title for Land Trusts and eventually for defined community co-operatives.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Les McMahon.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That this House is of the opinion that the work proposed on land within the Parliamentary zone, included in the 66th series of variations to the plan and lay-out of the City of Canberra and its environs dated 16 October 1978, should not be proceeded with unless the proposal is approved by resolution of each House of the Parliament in accordance with sub-section 5 ( 1 ) of the Parliament Act 1974.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing and Construction. On 8 May the Minister claimed in the House that his Government had placed more people in reach of home ownership and brought about a recovery in the building and construction industry. Is he aware that the number of new dwellings commenced in December 1978 was 2,600 which was 13.2 per cent below the level at December 1977 and which was a 13-year low? Is he also aware that between December 1977 and December 1978 there has been a 50 per cent reduction in the number of new public housing commencements? Is he aware -
– I ask the honourable gentleman to ask his question.
– I am asking the question, Mr Speaker. After all the Minister made certain claims. I am asking whether he is aware of the fact that government caused contraction in the building industry has contributed to the loss of 50,000 jobs in the building industry since 1975 and to a situation where there are 22 unemployed persons for every job vacancy in the industry?
-I think the honourable member for Reid should give some credit where credit is due. The downward trend, which certainly had existed in the home building industry, has now largely been arrested. It is clear from the figures available that the industry is entering a period of relative stability. This is recognised by those who appreciate and understand the figures and who closely examine the figures which are available. Recently I talked about the level of housing finance that is available. At the moment that is satisfactory and that fact is appreciated by those involved in the industry.
– When are you going to answer the real question?
-The Minister will resume his seat. I ask the honourable member for Reid to remember that he has asked his question. I gave him considerable latitude in the asking of the question. I ask him now not to interject while the answer is being given.
– As I was saying, I mentioned in the House recently that the level of housing finance is satisfactory at the moment. There has been a tremendous increase in the total volume of finance flowing to those seeking housing around Australia from the private lenders, the banks and the permanent building societies. This is providing greater opportunities for those who wish to purchase their own homes. The honourable member for Reid mentioned commencements. Certainly in the December quarter commencements were not as high as we would like them to have been but the forward indicators for the industry are looking quite good at the moment. The loan approval figures are up, as has been mentioned. If we look at loan approvals for the three months to February 1979 compared with the three months to February 1978, we see that there was an 18 per cent increase -
-i rise to order. I am not seeking information on approvals. Housing approvals reflect only a wish or a thought. I am talking about commencements, and that is the real question. Will the Minister answer the real question?
– There is no point of order and the honourable member for Reid well knows that.
-I think the honourable member for Reid has to try to understand something more about the housing market. A great deal of data is available on housing and housing construction in Australia but the early indicators are loan approvals and dwelling approvals. If we look at both of those primary and early indicators, as I am endeavouring to tell the House, the situation is looking very much better than it was previously. So the total position is improving. I think that that has to be appreciated by the honourable member for Reid. I just ask the honourable member, through you, Mr Speaker -
-I would prefer that the Minister not ask the honourable member for Reid anything. I asked the honourable member for Reid to remain silent.
– There is a 1 3-year low. Does not the Minister know that?
-The honourable member for Reid will resume his seat.
– As I was saying, finance for the housing sector is up, and building approvals are up. If we look at the non-housing sector, again a significant improvement is evident. For example, private activity in the non-housing sector increased in the 1977-78 financial year. That was the first significant increase after six years of decline. I think that must be understood. So there is a very great improvement there as well. We think that that sort of improvement will continue into this financial year and into the foreseeable future.
-I direct my question to the Minister for Defence. Has the Minister divided the Materiel Branch of the Department of Defence Army Office and has he created an additional post of Chief of Logistics? Has the Minister also decided that the position of Chief of the Army Reserve will now be held by an Army Reserve officer? What are the advantages of these changes to the structure of the Department in terms of equipment procurement, greater selfreliance in logistics, and the proficiency of the Army Reserve? When will the Minister be able to announce which officers will fill the positions of Chief of Materiel, Chief of Logistics and Chief of the Army Reserve?
-If I might take first the last question posed by the honourable gentleman, the position of Chief of Army Materiel will be held by Major-General Engel. The position of Chief of the Army Reserve will be held by Major-General Maitland. In due course a recommendation will be placed before me by the Chief of General Staff for the position of Chief of Logistics (Army). In brief, the answer is that the judgment is that the position of Chief of Army Materiel is justifiable on the grounds that it is a very heavy burden for one man to carry and, at the same time, to discharge responsibilities in the logistics area. The honourable gentleman, and the House may get some perception of that assessment if I say that there are some 500 regular and reserve units located at more than 200 places throughout Australia. That, in itself, imposes a very heavy task indeed. On the materiel side, the burden is a heavy and very responsible one. The responsibility is added to by the fact that the cost of equipment is increasing all the time. With respect to the position of Chief of the Army Reserve being filled from the Reserve, this will contribute towards the total concept force of the Australian Army. It would be my expectation that for the post that has not yet been filled I will receive a recommendation in the course of the next week or so and I will so inform the honourable gentleman.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Housing and Construction. I refer to the building industry sub-contracting system. Did the Minister say recently at Surfers Paradise that he would do all he could to maintain the system? Is he aware that this system, which is also known as body hire, has proliferated in recent years and involves organising firms supplying casual labour at low wage rates and ignoring award conditions? Is the Minister also aware that, as a result, labourers are engaged on a daily basis with no permanency, no workers compensation, no leave, no sick pay and no holiday provisions or requirements for notice of termination and that they are paid in cash with no tax payments being made for them, thus encouraging further tax avoidance? Is this the same system as the one to which the Minister refers and seeks to maintain?
-I think that there might be a difference in philosophy between that espoused by the honourable member and that in which the Government has a belief. The Government does see value in encouraging those in private enterprise- especially the small businessman and the small private contractor- to be involved in the construction industry because the Government sees it as being a more efficient system. So the Government is encouraging the private sector to be involved more and more in construction in the government sector in this country. It would also hope that the State governments will continue to follow the same trend and be encouraged by the sort of things that this Government is achieving.
The position is that these people are private contractors and the individuals are protected. For example, the man working under a private contractor is protected by the safety legislation in all of the States of the Commonwealth. He is protected in regard to compensation and in other ways. The individual working for a contractor is covered by workers compensation in the same way as any other employee. There are selfemployed persons in the private sector, such as small contractors, who are employing other individuals. The other individuals are covered by workers compensation if they are working for an employer who happens to be a small businessman. The self-employed contractor who is employing individuals must cover those individuals by workers compensation. That is the situation. If he happens to be an individual, selfemployed person then he protects himself in the way any other self-employed person would protect himself. The situation is that this is private enterprise, which this Government wants to encourage.
Mr Braithwaite having addressed a question to the Minister for Transport and the Minister having proceeded to answer-
– There are questions on notice covering the same ground as the question without notice. Therefore the question without notice is out of order.
– I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to the clear examples of racial intolerance by the United States pastoral company, King Ranch, at Lake Nash in the Northern Territory. These include the closure of store and health facilities for Aborigines, a refusal to employ Aborigines on station work, a refusal to sell them petrol or to cash welfare cheques, threats to close roads to Aborigines and to drive them from the station. Has the Government investigated these instances of intolerance and has it examined the lease given to King Ranch in the light of Aboriginal land rights legislation? Finally, what does the Government intend to do to enforce a proper respect for the rights of Aborigines at Lake Nash and to restore the credibility of its Aboriginal Affairs policy which has been sadly tarnished by its neglect of the intolerant attitudes of King Ranch?
– I am aware of certain reports in the Press concerning situations at Lake Nash and that some of the Aboriginals who have been living at Lake Nash are presently in Canberra. I am quite sure that my colleague, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, has this matter under his attention. I will refer the question to him and obtain an answer for the Leader of the Opposition.
- Mr Speaker, I address a question to you on the subject of the workings of legislation committees. Are you aware that last night a very competent legislation committee met on the important Customs Amendment Bill? Are you also aware that the latter half of the evening was disrupted by the calling of quorums and repeated divisions? Mr Speaker, will you consult with the Government and the Opposition with a view to reaching a form of agreement that will immunise, as far as possible, the working of legislation committee meetings from disruption to their consideration.
- Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. Before you reply to that question will you also take into consideration the fact that an important debate on the Atomic Energy Amendment Bill was gagged by the Government?
-There is no point of order. The point raised by the honourable member for Wakefield is certainly a matter that concerns me and it must concern the House. It is not for the Chair to comment on the conduct of business in the House. That matter is entirely in the hands of the House. My concern, and I think it is the concern of the honourable member for Wakefield, is that legislation committees which will greatly serve the interests of this chamber and of the national Parliament should be put in a position where their important work can continue when the House directs them to sit at the same time as the House is sitting. A means must be worked out whereby that legislation committee can continue its work regardless of what is going on in the House at that time. I think that this can be done easily by means of the Standing Orders, provided there is the will on both sides of the House for that to happen. The solution will not in any way take out of the hands of the House the conduct of its own affairs in the House merely because the legislation committees are sitting and vice versa. I will take the matter up with the Standing Orders Committee so that a recommendation may be put to the House.
- Mr Speaker, in relation to that question and in order not to delay Question Time I will seek your indulgence at the completion of Question Time to enable me to make some remarks about this matter as a result of representations which have been made to me by the Leader of the House regarding legislation committees and the problems with which we may be confronted as an Opposition.
-I will not be prepared to give indulgence without there being some discussion between the honourable gentleman as Manager of Opposition Business and the Leader of the House. If there were to be a statement by the honourable gentleman and by the Leader of the
House then that would be by leave and not by indulgence. I think that as the matter stands I should not grant that indulgence at this stage. The honourable gentleman may be able to talk to the point when the Standing Orders Committee reports.
-Has the Minister for Foreign Affairs studied the paper published by the International Consultative Group on Nuclear Energy in November 1978 entitled ‘International Custody of Plutonium Stocks: A First Step Towards an International Regime for Sensitive Nuclear Energy Activities’, of which the authors were Russell Fox and Mason Willrich? While recognising that the views expressed in the paper by the Ambassador-at-Large for Australia may be personal, I ask the Minister whether he will inform the House of his own or the Government’s assessment of the views put forward in that paper?
-I have read the article and have had discussions with Mr Justice Fox. I am having the departments concerned also examine the matter and I will provide more detailed information later rather than express a personal view in the House at this juncture.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. What is the Government ‘s reaction to the news today that after six and a half years of negotiations the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty- SALT II- may be signed in the near future by President Carter and Mr Brezhnev? Can the Minister express a realistic assessment as to whether or not the said treaty is likely to be ratified by the United States Senate? Does the Minister see any dangers for the Western world in the signing of the said Treaty, particularly on the question of surveillance, in view of what has recently happened in Iran? Last but not least, can the Minister indicate, even though the full text of the Treaty has not yet been released, what sanctions are envisaged with respect to discovered breaches of the Treaty by the Soviet Union?
-With respect to the honourable member, it would take about six hours to go into the full detail of what he has asked. I appreciate the interest that he shows in the matter. I certainly will not take the length of time that each part of his question would require for a detailed answer.
– Don ‘t feel inhibited.
-I do feel inhibited. I am aware of the Standing Orders as pursued by the Speaker and, of course, I will not canvass them in any way. We welcome the announcement made by the United States Secretary of State along the lines that basic agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union on a second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty has been reached. Basic agreement’ was the critical terminology used by the Secretary of State. We anticipate that a summit meeting between President Carter and Mr Brezhnev will be held in the near future, hopefully to sign the SALT II treaty. The SALT negotiating process, of course, is central to the maintenance of stability and the relaxation of tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. Its essential aim is to limit as a first step and then to reduce the nuclear armaments of the two countries while preserving a stable strategic balance and maintaining international confidence.
The question of verification and surveillance was raised by the honourable member. President Carter has described SALT as being based on the powerful common interests of the two superpowers in reducing the threat of nuclear war. He has assured the United States Congress that he would sign no agreement which could not be verified and that the United States nuclear deterrent would remain strong after the conclusion of SALT II.
The Australian Government welcomes the reports of the achievement to date of basic agreement on SALT II. We regard it as an important step forward. It should, at least in theory, reduce the threat of a nuclear war and place limits on the strategic arsenals of both the United States and the Soviet Union. It should also place limits on the development of new strategic systems by these two countries and open the way to reductions in nuclear arsenals in the future.
However, one element not covered by the actual text- this is implicit in the honourable member’s question- is the bona fides of both sides. We have to look to the Soviet Union to honour the spirit as well as the letter of the agreement if and when it is signed. The honourable member asked me to speculate on the question of ratification by the Congress. Should the agreement be signed, of course it will have to be ratified by the Congress and, quite frankly, I am not prepared to enter into speculation regarding that well publicised and discussed agreement.
-Has the Minister for Transport received a corporate plan drawn up by the Australian National Railways Commission at the behest of the Minister to provide a means of reducing ANR deficits? If so, does the plan recommend massive reductions in staffing in all regions of the ANR, in particular in my own area of concern, the northern region of South Australia? Does the plan also suggest the closure of many country railway lines in South Australia and the curtailment of a number of services in that State? In view of reports of the content of the corporate plan and its adverse effect on railway services generally, on present staff morale and on the availability of employment within the ANR service, to what extent does the Minister intend to implement the plan?
– The honourable member would know that no change can be made to the present arrangements relating to the South Australian section of the Australian National Railways without the approval of the South Australian Labor Government Minister of Transport. Whilst I have received some proposals from ANR and whilst ANR was directed to draw up a 10-year plan, whatever that plan might be, whatever might flow from it and whether or not this Government accepted it, it would need to be agreed to by the South Australian Labor Minister. Therefore, no change can be made to the present circumstances without his agreement. The tragedy of the whole arrangement is that a sovereign government such as the Commonwealth Government, having taken over the second worst railway system in Australia- the South Australian railway system- is now unable to take decisions without a veto being applied by the South Australian Labor Minister.
-Has the Acting Prime Minister seen a report in the Perth Sunday Times of 29 April which intimates that he is in favour of the immediate opening of the Marandoo iron ore project in Western Australia and that he considers that in all respects Marandoo is ready to go, as against Goldsworthy Area C which has reached the stage of being more or less only lines on the ground? Is it a fact that Marandoo has been in all respects ready to go for some considerable time? Is it a fact also that Goldsworthy is in a state of complete unreadiness to supply the iron ore market anywhere in the world? Finally, would not the opening of the Marandoo iron ore project be a far more suitable birthday present for a very great Australian than some of the nonsense that has been talked about on the other side of the House this week?
– I am not in the habit of handing out birthday gifts to industrialists across this country, although I know that the gentleman referred to by the honourable member for Swan has been very persistent for many years in his attempts to get the Marandoo project off the ground. I cannot say categorically whether I read the particular article referred to, but, if it implied that I had suggested that there should be priorities in the development of iron ore projects in Western Australia, it was totally wrong and false to do so. I have always accepted the premise that any priorities for the development of mineral projects should be decided on a strict commercial basis. They should be based on the capacity of a company to get long term contracts.
– Even Mount Lyell?
– I am afraid that that one is established; it was a matter of keeping it going. The companies developing new iron ore projects in Western Australia have to get long term contracts and they have to be able to borrow enormous amounts of capital to develop those huge deposits. So their development is based very much on commercial considerations. However, if it were the wish of the State to be involved in priorities, that would be a matter for the State. I do not think that it is for the Commonwealth to determine priorities. In Western Australia there are a number of very attractive potential iron ore projects, of which the Texasgulf-Hanwright project at Marandoo is one. I have had the pleasure of visiting that project and I must say that I have been impressed by the way in which the Texasgulf company has approached the project. The survey it has done with regard to communications, a rail track or a possible pipeline, and the way in which it has assessed the mining operations and the ore body have certainly been done in a very professional manner. The Goldsworthy Area C project is another very suitable project. I think it is a matter for these companies to determine how they start. They may need the assistance of the Western Australian Government for infrastructure, but again that is a matter for the Western Australian Government.
I have made it very clear to the Western Australian Government that if new projects are to come forward and if special considerations need to be given, the Commonwealth Government would certainly look at them. Our objective is to see sound development of iron ore projects, or any sort of projects, take place in this country.
We have made reference to our foreign investment equity guideline rules. If we cannot get the prescribed amount from Australian interests, of course we will take a higher percentage of foreign investment to get the project going. We do not want to see anything stand in the way of new projects which will add to our wealth and will be of general benefit to Australia. As far as Marandoo is concerned, of course I would like to see it go ahead, as I would like to see any other iron ore project in Western Australia go ahead.
-I ask the Minister for Post and Telecommunications: Did the Australian Broadcasting Commission lose its exclusing rights to televise test cricket simply because this Government slashed the ABC’s budget and left it without the capacity to submit a competitive tender? Can the Minister give a firm assurance that the ABC will not be further crippled and that no further cuts will be made in ABC services because of government-imposed budget limitations?
-The answer to the first part of the honourable member’s question is no and the answer to the second part of the question is that it is a budgetary matter.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer and refers to the 9.7 per cent interest rate on the conversion loan, which was announced yesterday. What effect will the new interest rate have on overall interest rates within the Australian community? Is the announcement consistent with the Government’s economic policy?
Mr HOWARD The interest rates which were announced yesterday as a result of receiving Australian Loan Council approval reflect movements which have occurred in the bond market since the announcement earlier this year of the terms of the February loan. I think the honourable member will be aware that it is not my practice to make quantitative predictions about the impact of decisions about official interest rates on interest rates in the private sector. However, I can say to the honourable member for Barton that, obviously, the interest rate relates to a conversion loan only and the markets involved are different from the markets involved in building society and bank interest rates. The relationships between movements in the long-term bond rate and movements in those more sensitive areas is far less direct than is the case with movements in interest rates on Australian savings bonds.
I cannot and I will not give any guarantee about the status of private sector interest rates, except to repeat what I said at the time that the Australian savings bond rate was lifted a few weeks ago, namely, that the question of whether an adjustment in building society and bank interest rates is necessary depends entirely upon fund flows into and out of those institutions and that until there were developments in that area it was a matter of waiting and seeing. The interest rate set for the conversion loan reflects the determination of the Government to respond to market movements as far as its official rates are concerned. The pitching of the bond rate at 9.7 per cent is consistent with that practice and it fully dovetails with the moves currently under way towards adopting a full tap and tender system for the sale of Commonwealth securities.
– I ask the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs: Has the Government a preference for the site of the proposed National Companies and Securities Commission? Has the Minister noted the advice of Senator Peter Rae that a compromise is needed between Melbourne and Sydney, both of which cancel each other out, and that Canberra should be the site? Will the Minister reject that advice, which would be ridiculed by the business community and would worsen government-business relations, and support instead, as has been anticipated already, a preferable compromise, namely, a State capital with a relatively large, thriving business community, already the home of a number of national head offices- a relatively central city with good communications to and from the main centres -
Honourable members interjecting;
-Mr Speaker, I have an inkling that some honourable members have already anticipated the name of the city to which I refer. Accordingly, I need not mention it, other than to say that it is one which, for decentralisation and many other reasons, should become the white collar capital of Australia.
– It is true, of course, that a decision has not yet been taken in relation to the siting of the headquarters of the proposed national companies and securities commission. That matter will not be decided by one government. The scheme, which I hope will come into operation in the not too distant future, is a co-operative one and, because it is, decisions of this nature must be taken by all of the participating governments.
I am anxious to have this matter resolved because I believe that until it is resolved it will bug Ministers right round Australia, as well as parliamentarians on all sides of all Houses of parliament, and will be detrimental insofar as the scheme is concerned.
I will take on board the suggestion that has been made by the honourable member for Adelaide. Indeed, yesterday I received a telex from the Premier of South Australia making the same suggestion. It will be kept in mind when I meet the Ministers to try to resolve the problem. I guess it is fair to say that at least seven sites have been suggested, but I will consider the question seriously and keep it in mind. I wish also to give the House an assurance that the Commonwealth is determined to do everything within its power to have this matter resolved as soon as possible.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. It follows that asked by the honourable member for Barton. Is the Treasurer aware of the problems that local government authorities are having in meeting their loan quotas for the current year? Is he aware of the size of the debt that local government and semigovernment authorities have been building up over the last few years and their programs for the coming year? Has he any suggestion to make to them as to the way in which these vast amounts can be met for the coming year?
-The answer to the first part of the honourable member’s question is yes, I am aware of those problems. It is worth taking the opportunity to note that the problems that are being experienced by some local government authorities in raising the money that they want for their activities are a symptom of the expansion in recent years of the demands that the public sector is making on capital markets in Australia for funds. The difficulties experienced by local government authorities are but one feature of a much greater difficulty, that is, the size of the public sector borrowing requirement. Those in the community who believe that our concern about the size of deficits is just a technical and fanciful concern, that they have no real economic impact, ought to understand that the ever-increasing demands that governments make on capital markets in Australia have a very adverse effect on the private interest rate structure. To the extent that governments can make decisions to reduce the demands that they make on capital markets for funds, the better it will be so far as economic conditions generally and private interest rate structures are concerned. We have taken a number of measures. Both the Commonwealth and the State, through the Loan Council, agreed only 10 days ago to an increase in the semi-government rate.
It ought also to be observed that the wholly desirable increase in the availability of funds for housing from the savings banks has had some impact upon the capacity of those banks to service the requirements of local government authorities. To the extent that we divert funds from one area within the banking system to another we naturally impair the capacity of that system to service the areas from which the funds are diverted. They are only some of the problems. I think it is very much an overall question of the size of the demand that governments make on the available funds in the capital market. That simple economic reality has to be grasped and has to be driven home as frequently as possible.
– I refer the Minister for Industrial Relations to the rejection of the Industrial Relations Bureau’s case against the Melbourne City Council by the Federal Court in Melbourne yesterday. Will the Minister now concede that the Industrial Relations Bureau is useless and impotent and that it has no sound legal basis to carry out the functions that the Government has given it? Will the Government act immediately to repeal this iniquitous piece of legislation? Further, in the light of the court’s decision, will the Government review other legislation which is damaging to constructive industrial relations, particularly the Commonwealth Employees (Employment Provisions) Act?
-The first point I make is that since it took over the functions of the old Arbitration Inspectorate, the Industrial Relations Bureau, as part of its normal day-to-day ongoing functions, has been carrying out thousands of inspections of a routine kind, and has been giving advice to companies, individual employers, unions and unionists on their rights in relation to industrial legislation, the observance of organisations ‘ rules and things of that kind. The point I am making is that the role of the Industrial Relations Bureau in the Kane case is just one minute part of the very constructive role it has been playing in industrial relations.
– It is a destructive part.
– I am interested to hear the Leader of the Opposition say that its role is a destructive one. I am interested to hear him say that the thousands of industrial inspections that the
Bureau carries out, having taken over the functions of the Arbitration Inspectorate, are destructive. That is certainly a new view which the Opposition has not put before. So far as the Kane case is concerned, the Bureau and the Government will be examining the implications of the decision.
– Following my approaches to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, is he now aware that commercial TV stations include satellite pictures of cloud cover in their weather bulletins? Such photos would, of course, be of assistance to farmers but they are not provided in the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s weather bulletins. Is the Minister aware that the ABC suggests that it cannot afford the $ 10 required to purchase the photos from the weather bureau? Will the Minister take up the matter with the ABC to see whether it can structure its expenditure to include cloud cover pictures in its weather bulletins?
– I would be happy to ask the Australian Broadcasting Commission to consider this matter. Obviously, farmers are always interested in clouds. It would seem to me to be highly desirable for them to be able to see on television whatever pictures of clouds they can. I will not only ask the ABC to consider sympathetically the honourable member’s request but also, if the Minister for Science is involved, I will see whether he can be kind about costs.
-Is the Minister for Transport aware of reports of a proposed 10 per cent domestic air fare increase, which if approved by him would mean that he had approved cumulative fare increases of 40 per cent resulting from his Government’s actions? Has he received such applications for 10 per cent fare increases from Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia? If so, will he undertake to ensure that such applications will be subjected to a public examination to ensure that they are justified? Will he also undertake to provide a public examination of the base domestic air fare structure which I understand has been recommended by Government advisers?
– I am able to confirm that the domestic airlines have applied for a 10 per cent fare increase. This follows the increase in fuel prices of recent days. I assure the House that the applications will be given the same scrutiny as was given to applications by the previous administration. The same scrutiny will be given in the same way as it given when my predecessor, Mr Charles Jones, was Minister for Transport and approved a 47.5 per cent increase in air fares over three years. Let us see whether the effect of this scrutiny comes out at a 10 per cent increase.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to repeated charges and counter-charges by both Vietnam and China of armed incursions across their respective borders, and I ask the Minister: Has any progress been made in seeking a negotiated settlement to the conflict between Vietnam and China? Is there a danger that both sides could revert to military force if the negotiations break down?
-The current round of Chinese-Vietnamese negotiations which began in Hanoi on 1 8 April now seems unlikely to result in early progress towards a settlement. At the first session of the talks Vietnam put forward three major proposals which were rejected by China. On 27 April, the Chinese put forward eight proposals of their own, which in turn have been rejected by the Vietnamese. At a Press conference on 4 May, following the third session of negotiations, spokesmen for both sides laid the blame for lack of progress on the other. The nature of the Chinese proposals indicates that Peking is linking any improvement in its relations with Vietnam with the Vietnamese military presence in Kampuchea, and more indirectly with Vietnam’s treaty relationship with the Soviet Union. In its initial position Vietnam, on the other hand, appears to be concentrating on bilateral issues which would exclude third country relationships. The two approaches, therefore, are vastly different and initial positions reflect the wide gulf which exists between them.
In regard to the second and very important element of the honourable member’s question concerning the possibility of further military force, I have to say that a further resort to military force by either Vietnam or China simply cannot be ruled out if a total breakdown in negotiations were to occur. The Australian Government has made clear to both China and Vietnam that it strongly supports the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international principles. Accordingly, we welcome the initiation of the Sino-Vietnamese talks on the border, and other matters, in the hope that they might lead to a negotiated lasting settlement. The lack of progress is a cause for regret, but the Government continues to support negotiations in the hope that they will be instrumental in bringing about an eventual reduction of tension. But, in answer to that second part of the question, to put it simply, if there is a total breakdown in negotiations, we cannot rule out the possibility of military force.
– Pursuant to section 29 of the Dairy Produce Export Control Act 1924 I present the annual report of the Australian Dairy Corporation for the year ended 30 June 1 978.
– by leave- I move:
Mr Speaker, sessional order (9) of the Sessional Orders for the operation of legislation committees agreed to by the House on 8 June 1 978 restricts the time at which legislation committees may meet. By suspending this sessional order, the legislation committee considering the Customs Amendment Bill 1979 will be free to meet without this restriction until consideration by the committee is complete. In addition to that explanation may I address myself briefly to this question. The obvious concern that honourable members had last night of the requirement to be both in the chamber and at the legislation committee was reflected in the question which you yourself answered, Sir, in response to my colleague, the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Giles), and it is part of the problem in considering the question to which you also referred yesterday in response to a suggested change in sitting times. Unless there can be some accommodation in two areas with respect to members attendance at two places at once, there will be fundamental difficulties in achieving either an effective operation of legislation committees, and a change to the sitting hours of the House.
I see the first of those two areas as being the need for acceptance by both sides of the House that it is necessary for procedures in this place to be covered in such a way that the relativity of numbers between the Government and the Opposition can be maintained, with no disruption to the continued procedures of committees outside the House because of the necessity for members of those committees to come into the chamber to register their votes. Secondly, it is equally important that members of the public, constituents of members, who listen to the broadcasts of this House, accept that the fact that their member does not vote on an issue does not mean that he is not attending to his responsibilities about the House. Part of the concept, as we see it, of the extension of the committee role in the chamber is to ensure that there is a capacity for members to be able to participate both in the procedures of this chamber and in the procedures outside the chamber, which are at least as important in the functioning of the Parliament.
The purpose of this motion is to try to ensure that we complete consideration of the Customs Amendment Bill 1979 and that the legislation committee set up under our new procedures can meet at any time in order to conclude properly its deliberations. It is necessary that it can meet at any time because at the moment we do not have an understanding that there will be no quorums and that there will not be a requirement for members to attend in this chamber for a particular purpose. It is therefore quite imperative that this sessional order be modified for that purpose. I suspect that if we are to come to a resolution of the question about which you, Mr Speaker, spoke in answer to a question without notice this morning, we will have to write into that sessional order some understandings with respect to requirements for members’ attendance in this chamber. Unless there is some accommodation of that point, obviously the legislation committees will not fulfil their functions because it will be essential for members of those committees to come into this chamber when the bells ring. In this case, the thoughtful and considered deliberation that I know is taking place within that legislation committee could be prejudiced. Yesterday afternoon I called into the legislation committee concerned. There is no doubt that the concept of these committees is meeting the requirement of members for more deliberative discussion on matters of substance in the detail of the Bills than has been possible to date in any Committee deliberation in this chamber as a Whole. Members need to be conscious of the fact that if there is not some resolution of this problem we are likely to prejudice the efficacy of that very worthwhile reform to which in principle we have all given our approval but which in practice does seem to be falling down, at least in this instance, because of the conflicting requirements of the committee and the chamber.
– Give the grievance debate a go.
– The honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) who just interjected, referred to the necessity for providing pieces of legislation which are non-controversial, I presume, in terms of how he sees this quandary being resolved. I do not believe that at any stage a piece of legislation can be said to be beyond the bounds of political controversy. Irrespective of what piece of legislation is introduced into the House, I suggest that one is likely to find on occasions that there are quorum calls, and obviously it is and should be within the province of members of this House to call quorums. It is also likely that even on what seem to be totally -
-i take a point of order. The Leader of the House, as he usually does, is abusing the privilege of the House.
-Order! The honourable member for Reid will resume his seat.
– This time is for the grievance debate. He is taking up the time of the grievance debate.
-Order! I warn the honourable member for Reid that if he persists in speaking while the Chair is ruling on a point of order I will name him, notwithstanding his long service in this House. I call the Leader of the House.
-So far as the legislation of this place is concerned, it is almost impossible to have non-controversial legislation. On many occasions what appears to be so turns out not to be so. For that reason I do not believe that the resolution of this problem lies in not listing legislation in this chamber of a character which is thought might not lead to division, simply to meet the convenience of the continued sittings of the legislation committees. I commend this motion to the chamber.
-The Opposition is not opposed to the motion put forward by the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair). However, both sides of the House have to live with the warts of the parliamentary system in attending divisions or quorums when they are called. Up to date, the Opposition has in no way hindered the progression and introduction of the legislation committees, but there are very big differences between the legislation introduced into this House and the interest of honourable members in that legislation. I doubt very much that the Opposition would agree that in future a legislation committee should meet while an amendment to the Atomic Energy Act is being debated in the House, because obviously there is a great deal of interest in that Act and the Parliament is clearly divided as to how that Act ought to be utilised for the benefit of Australia. Legislation committees cannot succeed unless there is the complete co-operation of the Opposition. In the first place, it has agreed to the proposal that was put forward that legislation committees can meet concurrently with the House. That was not originally envisaged so far as the operation of the legislation committees was concerned.
Everybody in the House appreciates the role that legislation committees can play in expediting parliamentary debate. The Opposition agrees that that is so, but it will not co-operate to the extent that the House plays a secondary role, nor will it co-operate to the extent of asking its members to deny themselves their right to call divisions, or to call for a quorum if they feel that is necessary, or to deny themselves any other rights which they have as members of this House. The Opposition will continue to co-operate- we do so this morning by supporting the motion before the House- but I put on record that this cooperation could come apart if the Government were to think that it can call legislation committees together at any time, irrespective of the legislation before the House.
- Mr Speaker, I rise to express some views on this matter, by virtue of the implication that was put to you at Question Time today, namely that the improper use of the forms of the House last night disrupted the proceedings of a legislation committee. I want to draw your attention, Sir, and that of the House to what in fact happened last night.
-Order! I ruled that matter out of order. This motion relates to the suspension of sessional order No. 9 in relation to a specific legislation committee. That is the matter before the House.
– If I might refer indirectly to the matter as it stands, it and the statement made by the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) arose out of incidents that took place last night. I do not want to turn it into a major issue, but I think it is important to note that, although the Leader of the House said that it is important for the legislation committee system to work- I agree with that- it is not as important as seeing that this House functions properly. The prime duty of a member of this House is to see that the House functions properly. When an issue as important as the Atomic Energy Act comes on for debate, when five honourable members on this side of the House and three honourable members on the other side of the House are listed to speak, and when the debate is proceeding normally on an issue in relation to which there is genuine division and concern in the Australian community, the House cannot function in the circumstance of the Government Whip, acting either on whim -
– This is an issue which I am not prepared to allow to be debated, namely, whether or not one side of the House or the other side of the House was responsible for a series of divisions last night. That is not relevant to the question before the House. I permitted the honourable member for Port Adelaide to state a point of view. I think that is relevant, but I do not what any searching for blame for the events of last evening.
-Since that is the view you take, Mr Speaker, let me put my case in another way. I want to make my position perfectly clear. When there is an arbitrary use of the gag to prevent debate when arrangements have been made for honourable members to speak- I for one was affected that way- I do not propose as a member of this Parliament to co-operate with the Government in any way at all. If I find myself in the situation where I feel my rights are being abused- I know other members of the Opposition feel the same way- it is my intention -
-Order! I have permitted the honourable member more latitude than I said he was entitled to. I will not allow him to go further on that line. He has stated his point of view. I think that is sufficient.
– I believe that this motion proposed by the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) is of fundamental importance to the presence of honourable members in this chamber. The purpose of legislation committees, which have been set up following the discussions of the Committee on which I serve, is an ancillary one. Their purpose is to help the passage of Bills through this House and to assist the forms of this House. Let us be quite clear about the fact that if committees assisting in the consideration of legislation are allowed to sit at the same time as this House is sitting, there is no way in which I will ever be absent from a vote in this House, or be absent from the proceedings of this House, if my presence is required here. Therefore, if there is going to be a collision in relation to a member’s duties- his duty to a legislation committee deliberating on a Bill in a place other than this chamber and his duty to this House- then clearly proper arrangements have to be made between the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) to avoid honourable members being put in an extremely difficult position. They would be subject to criticism from their constituents because they were not in the House but attending a committee meeting authorised by the House when an issue, such as atomic energy or whatever it may be, was being discussed in this House. I have stated my point, which I think is a fundamental one.
-The honourable gentleman has been given latitude to do so.
– I direct my remarks through you, Mr Speaker, to the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair). Because substantial time has been taken up in this debate this morning, will the Leader of the House extend the Grievance Day debate to 1 p.m.?
– I had thought of doing that. We will see whether we can do so.
-The Leader of the House will be confronted with that issue when the time arises. It is unusual for the Speaker to intervene in a debate, but I will be very quick in doing so. It is perfectly apparent that certain issues arose last night which tested the temper of honourable members on both sides of the House. I would not like that circumstance to interfere with the long term evolution of greater efficiency in the passing of legislation in this House. When legislation creates obligations or imposes duties, then the House wishes to be able to discharge those obligations and duties in the best way. I compliment the Leader of the House for his efforts along that line and the manager of Opposition business for his co-operation in that direction. Quite clearly three matters need to be looked at: The first is quorums, the second is divisions and the third is programming. I will be writing to both the Leader of the House and the manager of Opposition business asking them to consider ways in which these matters can be considered.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) agreed to:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 22 May next at 2. 1 5 p.m., unless Mr Speaker shall, by telegram or letter addressed to each member of the House, fix an alternative day or hour of meeting.
-I have received advice from the Opposition Whip that he has nominated Dr Blewett to be a member of the Joint Select Committee on the Family Law Act in place of the Hon. F. E. Stewart, deceased.
-I have received advice from the Opposition Whip that he has nominated Mr Dawkins to be a member of the Standing Committee on Expenditure in place of the Hon. F. E. Stewart, deceased.
-The Opposition Whip has advised that Mr Hurford has been discharged from the legislation committee considering the Customs Amendment Bill and that Mr Bryant has been nominated in his place.
Industrial Relations- Income Tax Assessment Act-Government Economic and Legislative Policies- Road Saffety - Vietnam -Permanent Building Societies: Radio Talk-back Shows- Parliamentary Privilege- Motor Vehicle Emission Controls- Vietnamese Refugees
That grievances be noted.
-Mr Speaker I will begin this debate with this quotation:
As long as we live in a free society, these difficulties of industrial relations will not be removed by governmental decree. In a free society there are marked limits on the efficacy of coercion.
Those are not the words of a trade union spokesman deeply involved in one side of an industrial dispute, the comment of an Opposition speaker in the industrial area, or the thoughts of a worker involved in a dispute with his employer. They are the words of Mr Justice Staples of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, delivered on 20 April 1979 in a matter involving Australia Post and a dispute over postal drivers. It is relevant to this debate because the so-called no work, no pay’ direction was applied in a matter involving Australia Post and the Union of Postal Clerks and Telegraphists which has been before Mr Justice Staples on a number of occasions. Later I will quote His Honour again in relation to this case. This learned gentleman, who could never be accused of trade union militancy or radicalism, will be seen to be most critical of Australia Post’s role as an employer.
I expect that the remarks I quoted at the beginning, which were part of a lengthy criticism of
Australia Post’s industrial relations, were the culmination of several hearings in which the employers’ attitudes had been exposed. Those attitudes frustrated the man in the middle who was attempting to find a responsible solution. I will expand on the common sense of my opening remarks. His Honour said: . . these difficulties of industrial relations will not be removed by governmental decree. In a free society there are marked limits on the efficacy of coercion.
That remark is obviously true and logical. Yet, despite those lucid remarks by His Honour, this Government has based its entire industrial relations policy on the very antithesis of that common sense. The Government is responsible for the situation which has arisen. Its policy is based wholly and solely on coercion by governmental decree. Significantly, that policy has not resolved one dispute; on several occasions it has exacerbated disputes. I have told this House before, and I repeat it now, that in only one area has this Government shown consistency and that is in its belief that in 100 per cent of industrial disputes the employer is absolutely correct and the trade union movement absolutely incorrect. That is a remarkable record.
On the basis of simple logic there are two sides to every dispute. One might have thought that in just one or two disputes the employer might have done something wrong. But no! The employers and bureaucrats remain blameless. I too might suggest that the law ‘there are two sides to every dispute’ does not apply to industrial disputes but for reasons different from those of the Government. Employers and employees confront each other within the framework of the Conciliation and Abritration Commission. When it suits the Government it talks about the umpire, and when it does not suit the Government it moves outside its jurisdiction into the common law area. That is what it has done in this case. The Government, in its commitment to the private sector, on every occasion supports those who own and control the means of production in this country. The Government, in its commitment to destroy the public sector, supports crushing and browbeating the Public Service and applies threats and draconian legislation when public servants are forced to take industrial action.
The ‘no work, no pay’ directive is part of this program. It lines up alongside the Commonwealth Employees (Employment Provisions) Act 1977, the Conciliation and Arbitration Act (No. 3) 1977 and section 45D of the Trade Practices Act in the Government’s armoury of anti- worker legislation and the Government’s tactics. In law there are grave doubts about the ‘no work, no pay’ threat. I will return to this matter later. More disturbingly, ‘no work, no pay’ is a euphemism for not paying workers who are on the job and who are carrying out 99 per cent of their normal duties. In March the union of Postal Clerks and Telegraphists imposed bans on certain duties in an attempt to resolve three longstanding issues over which the employer was, as usual, equivocating. These bans were designed to have no effect on Australia Post’s service to the public. All Post Offices could have functioned adequately. When employees refused to sign certain documents which technically were part of their work some were told that the ‘no work, no pay’ formula would apply to them. The ‘no work’ part of that formula was applicable to only a very small part of the overall job.
The Deputy Post Master at Dandenong, Victoria, is responsible for the day to day running of the office which has a staff of 72. On 30 March, two days after the bans commenced, he declined to sign the weekly statement of office transactions and was informed that the formula ‘no work, no pay’ applied to him from 12.22 p.m. He received no notification in writing to this effect and continued to do his normal duties. He continued to provide a normal relationship with the District Manager’s office; he was asked for information relating to a whole range of matters affecting his Post Office; he received a normal amount of correspondence from the Divisional Manager’s office; and he remained responsible for the 72 staff performing their duties. His employer made no attempt to remove him from office, or to remove from him any of his responsibilities. No attempt was made to remove authority delegated to him as Deputy Post Master. The only change was that he stopped receiving any pay. He performed all but one small aspect of his duties but he received no pay. A postal clerk at Pingelly, Western Australia, is another example of a man who performed 99 per cent of his duties without pay. Time does not permit me to give many examples.
All this relates to the Government’s unrelenting attempts to create an anti-union, anti-worker atmosphere in this country. The three major requests which led to the bans were most responsible and reasonable. Had Australia Post not equivocated and shown no sincere interest in setding the dispute the bans would not have been applied. These three matters reflect on problems caused for workers by this Government’s unreal and unjustified staff ceilings within the Public Service. One involves overtime worked beyond the standard hours of 36% per week. Australia Post insists that members of the Union of Postal
Clerks and Telegraphists must work 38 hours before receiving overtime. In other words workers on a 36% hour week were asked to perform 1 V** hours overtime without pay. I wonder whether anyone else would do this? I suggest that it is unreasonable and that the national law decrees that no worker should be asked to perform *VA hours overtime without pay. After lengthy discussions the attempts of the Union fell to the ground. It was unable to obtain any satisfaction from the Postal Commission.
Let us consider the last aspect of the dispute. Again the Government has created a situation for Australia Post and its employees that goes outside the Arbitration Commission. When the umpire does not give a decision in favour of the Australian Postal Commission it is stood over by the Government and told to apply this ‘no work, no pay’ philosophy. Mr Justice Staples spelt out clearly and unequivocably that the Postal Commission acted in an irresponsible way. The people on the other side of this House, the Government of this country, were hell-bent on creating a confrontation so that they could make small political capital out of it. This was attempted in order to create an atmosphere for the election campaign in Victoria. But it failed. It failed miserably. If the Postal Commission takes the law into its own hands there will be an equal and opposite reaction. The ‘no work, no pay’ principle cannot be justified. The real title for the principle ought to be ‘slavery’. It is a grade below the normal wage slavery that is inherent in the philosophy of the Fraser Government. It is a precedent that must be stopped now in the interests of all working people and those who use the postal services.
-In the Grievance Debate today I wish to draw the attention of this House and the appropriate Ministers to some of the anomalies in the Income Tax Assessment Act which affect many Australians, particularly people such as those I represent, that is, those in northern and country areas. The first grievance I wish to raise concerns the continuing confusion and frustration that arises from the implementation of section 26E of the Income Tax Assessment Act. This section seeks to assess the value to taxpayers of, among other items, subsidised rentals on accommodation provided by employers. The section is the Taxation Office’s weapon to combat the obvious abuses that are perpetrated to obtain an advantage, through employment, otherwise than in cash or in salary. I agree that there is a necessity for this section in the Act. The section has, however, caught other areas of the tax field which are not being abused.
In the past the section taxed these emoluments in a manner that recognised in a token form the value of such rentals to employees in certain industries. I refer particularly to the rural industry and the sugar mill industry. It also applied to teachers, policemen and others who might be subject to transfer. This practice was not then, and is not now, all inclusive. The employees of many major industries were not assessed even at the token amount. But there has been a change in departmental attitude over the past 18 months. Initially, the value of benefits received by staff working in the sugar industry was reassessed, in some instances at eight times the previous value even though the consumer price index had increased in the same interval by only 130 per cent or 140 per cent. The reassessment was to apply retrospectively to 1 July 1976. However, intervention prevented this latter anomaly from arising.
In July 1978, following protest meetings by miners, the Treasurer (Mr Howard) agreed to examine the section with a view to removing some of the anomalies evident in the new values and the policy as then implemented. However, the already discriminatory method of assessing some, but not others, was compounded. An abritary decision was made to separate old initiatives and new initiatives. Where applicable, the old initiatives continued to be assessed at the new values. A recent newspaper report mistakenly said that all assessments were being withheld. This is certainly not the situation. I have argued this case with the Ministers and departmental officers and I disagree entirely with their interpretation. If this position remains in force the application of the Act will be the most discriminatory taxing device that exists today in any legislation. I feel it is unconstitutional under section 5 1 (ii) of the Australian Constitution. I have advised my constituents accordingly and, where necessary, I have encouraged them to object for that and other reasons.
I call on the Government to make a decision on this matter. The Treasurer has indicated that this will be done by the end of June, some 1 1 months after the review was implemented. I urge the Minister to expedite the decision. I suggest that the previous approach of applying a token value should be continued so as to recognise the limited value of this benefit in providing employment in the most difficult climates and terrain of Australia and in particular situations, even though these conditions may not exist in the capital cities. It certainly would assist the decentralisation of Australia’s industries. I ask also that justice be done to those paying excess taxation since the year ended 30 June 1978 by making any favourable decision retrospective to 1 July 1977. A comment made to the Taxation Office by one taxpayer working in the sugar industry is worth repeating. He said that he would pay his tax on the values at a time when every other Australian taxpayer who benefits from similar subsidised rentals payed his tax in respect of those values. I think that is a fair attitude to adopt. I would remind those who will make the decision in this matter that justice delayed is justice denied.
Another matter I want to raise in respect of taxation is the inequity that exists in the Act in respect of one and two income families. The inequity is in the fact that a two-income family can benefit from two zero tax ceilings, which are at present set at $3,893. This additional family ceiling means an advantage to the two-income family, based on a taxation rate of 33*/2c in the dollar, of a rebate of at least $ 1 ,304. Let us compare that with the position of a single income family. That family not only is called upon to live off the lesser income inherent in the one income as compared with the two-income family but also sees a tax advantage of at least $1,304 go to the multiple income family. The present recompense for these real home and family makers is a pittance of a spouse rebate of $595.
Many references have been made in this House and in the Press to the need for a spouse rebate of between $2,000 and $5,000. I believe that the latter figure is entirely unrealistic. But it has been suggested in some hope that it would reduce the incidence of married women in the work force by attracting such taxpayers back to the home. I would be reluctant to forecast the result if this were achieved. I believe that on the ground of equity alone there should be a further recompense to the single income family of this additional rebate of $1,304. This amount could be given as an additional spouse rebate or paid to the mother in the form of a family allowance. If that is not acceptable, legislation should be prepared to allow once only to a family the zero ceiling tax allowance of $3,893. This would be a positive disincentive to tax avoidance schemes based on income splitting. The first alternative of adding to the rebate for the spouse would mean an outlay of further Commonwealth expenditure; the second alternative of restricting one zero ceiling to each family would mean the collection of more Commonwealth revenue. Nevertheless the alternative is there. I have always welcomed the statements the Treasurer has made to the House on tax avoidance and tax evasion prevention measures. Perhaps as a matter of equity the single income family situation could be added to any review.
The remaining taxation matter I wish to raise concerns the zone rebate that is allowed to taxpayers in prescribed zones A and B. There has been no movement in this rebate over the last 10 years except the change from an allowance to a rebate. The value of the rebate is not reflected because of the enormous increase in inflation of about 140 per cent over that same period. As a result taxpayers in those zones, whilst getting the same monetary amounts as they did 10 years to 15 years ago, are getting nothing extra in real terms. In addition, the mining and rural development in the isolated areas of Australia in the last decade has taken place in areas outside the benefit zone areas. For instance, in my electorate of Dawson a river divides a rural and mining district some hundreds of miles from the coast. The grazier in this district gets the benefit but the miner does not. There is a need for Treasury officers to look at this section of the legislation when the Budget is being framed to ensure that the boundaries are reassessed and relocated to include all those who live in the areas of Australia where climatic conditions make it difficult to encourage development and where the costs are so much higher because of freight, storage and higher mark-ups as a result of there being fewer consumers. At times I feel that metropolitan dwellers do not appreciate what these extra costs and disadvantages mean.
One would assume that the zone allowance was intended originally to compensate persons in isolated areas for the additional cost of living outside metropolitan Australia. If this was the reason, I believe a comparison of the costs of living in, say, Moranbah or Dysart, which are in my electorate, with the costs of living in Brisbane would show that it costs at least one-third more to live in my electorate. Perhaps in computing a quarterly CPI adjustment the Australian Bureau of Statistics might take into account the costs in country towns just to establish what is the difference in the cost of essential items. The present zone allowance, where it applies, is inadequate to reflect this difference. Worse still, neither Moranbah nor Dysart are within my zone. The reason given for a no-change situation is that it is doubtful constitutionally. If this is so, why is this provision still in the Act or why can it not be examined or reviewed in order to make it constitutional?
Finally, I add my plea to those of the rural and essential industries which depend entirely on oilbased fuels for their existence and survival. Whilst agreeing entirely with the Government’s policy of pricing all crude oil at the world price, the same Government must appreciate, particularly in respect of our export markets, that this increase will make these industries noncompetitive with overseas primary industries whose fuel costs are subsidised by their governments. The result of the Labor Government’s withdrawal of the fuel equalisation policy was severely felt in outback Australia. However, the latest and continuing increase in fuel costs as a result of the crude oil levy will have greater ramifications than that in spite of the reintroduction by this Government of the freight equalisation scheme and the exemption which has existed for many decades of excise on diesel to producers. The same argument applies to aviation gasoline as it does to diesel fuel. The huge cost increases for these products could bankrupt private charter and country aircraft operators and as a result the services they provide could be denied to outback Australia. I call again for diesel fuel to be either exempt or partially exempt from the levy or to be priced on the basis of the cost of Australian produced oil. Perhaps those two alternatives amount to the same thing. It is only on this basis that Australian producers will be able to remain competitive with overseas producers and provide Australia with the extra dollars in export trade on which Australia relies.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-My grievance today concerns whether this Government really believes in market forces, competition and free enterprise or whether, by its economic and legislative policies, it creates and sustains monopoly enterprises. Beyond question the latter is the case. Let me give a clear example. As far back as 1958 Dow Chemical (Australia) Ltd was approached by the South Australian Government in an endeavour to establish an alkali plant producing caustic soda, chlorine and other chemicals. At that time the proposal was given encouragement by the Commonwealth Government. However, considerable sensitivity applied to this situation as it challenged a market situation held by ICI Australia Ltd which was the only producer of caustic soda in Australia. After more than 20 years no other company, including the Dow company, has been able to break the monopoly of ICI in the manufacture of caustic soda and chlorine in Australia.
Presently Australia imports about 800,000 tonnes of liquid caustic soda and produces about 130,000 tonnes itself. A substantial disparity exists between the Australian and overseas prices and such a disparity places a heavy burden on the cost structure of Australian user industries which have to compete with imports from countries where prices are much lower than in Australia. In addition to the high pricing of locally produced caustic soda, high tariffs apply to imports necessary to make up shortfalls in local production for domestic use. Such tariffs result in price premiums that magnify the burden on consumers and accentuate their reluctance to manufacture locally the many chemicals which lower priced caustic soda would make possible.
At the time the Dow company was first approached there was a tariff of 95 per cent ad valorem applying to imports of caustic soda. Because ICI in the United Kingdom was the only appreciable manufacturer of caustic soda and soda ash and because ICI Australia Ltd was the only Australian manufacturer, ICI clearly held a monopoly situation. ICI Australia Ltd was importing caustic soda into Australia from its parent company in the United Kingdom at a free on board price considerably higher than that charged to its consumers in the United Kingdom. Tariff Board reports at that time showed that whilst ICI Australia Ltd gave evidence to show that there was capacity in its plant to provide for domestic requirements, it was likely that a careful examination of cost and selling prices might show that under economically efficient conditions there was a market available to a more efficient producer. But the ICI monopoly has prevailed to the detriment of the Australian consumer, particularly the Australian aluminium industry.
Over the next five years investment in Australia’s aluminium industry is likely to be of the order of $3,000m, notably in smelting in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia and in alumina in Queensland and Western Australia. These developments are dramatic and not the least of their consequences will be the large demand for alkali that they will generate in addition to the substantial duty free imports of alkali for the alumina that is being exported from the plants now producing in Queensland and in the Northern Territory. The move by the Dow company to establish an alkali and chlorine industry in Redcliff in South Australia to produce caustic soda and chlorine electrolytically from salt was seen by ICI as a definite threat to its monoply. ICI was successful in opposing Dow’s move by announcing its own Redcliff project. The ICI project tied up the use of raw materials required by Dow, thus ensuring that Dow would be unable to proceed. After ICI began its detailed studies on Redcliff it became clear that its intention was not to establish a major petrochemical industry in South Australia but to avert any major competitor entering the chlorine and caustic soda market in this country; in other words, to retain its monopoly in the manufacture of these basic chemicals.
Other large American companies, including the Monsanto, Union Carbide, and American Cyanamide companies, have moved into Australia. However, these companies have introduced special chemical products rather than the basic chemicals- chlorine and caustic sodawhich were the province of ICI and, therefore, have created much less concern to ICI as a threat to its privileged position. The setting up in Australia of a second world manufacturer of basic chemicals would not only break the monopoly of ICI but would also mean that the Australian industry would benefit greatly from competitive sales. It would also mean a significant reduction in the imports of chemicals. There is no question that ICI would fight tooth and nail to prevent another chlorine and caustic soda manufacturer establishing itself in this country.
Influences in business and industry are strong, as are influences in politics, particularly on the other side of the House. The composition of boards of companies involved in oil and gas production and distribution, in salt production, in banking and in materials supplies needs to be studied, as they can all put up various forms of shutters to a new resource activity when their associations with ICI are threatened. The announcement by ICI in February of this year that it would expand its operations in New South Wales and build a new $500m complex at Point Wilson in Victoria was unquestionably made to coincide with the announcement of the Victorian State elections. The ICI announcement could well have been expected, considering that the managing director of ICI is the brother of the Victorian Premier who needed and still needs all the help he can get to maintain government. On the known facts the ICI expansion at Point Wilson could prove to be nothing more than a political stunt to knock the Dow company out of the petrochemical race. That is its clear intention.
Furthermore, from the lack of support given by the Federal Government to Dow’s Redcliff project, as compared with the support given to ICI’s Point Wilson project, one can assume only that this Government wants to ensure a monopoly by ICI in Australia’s petrochemical industry. Detailed comparisons between ICI’s Point Wilson project and Dow’s Redcliff project show that the Redcliff project’s beneficial effect on the nation’s balance of payments is probably twice that of Point Wilson. It is estimated that the annual balance of trade surplus from the Redcliff project would run at $22 lm a year on present values compared with only $82m to $134m for the ICI Point Wilson project. Redcliff would also employ more people during and after its construction as well as enabling the Cooper Basin natural gas fields to be completely exploited. Undoubtedly the Redcliff project would be the more viable of the two and would have many extra benefits for Australia than the Point Wilson project.
Yet by supporting ICI this Government has ensured that that company maintains its monopoly over the petrochemical industry in Australia. ICI has held that monopoly in this country since 1939, when it was first established in Australia, and it will continue to do so until anti-monopoly legislation is introduced in this Parliament. I regret to say that such legislation will never be introduced so long as the Tories sit on the treasury bench opposite. The Government must either establish a price framework which encourages competition and which acts in the public interest to contain costs, or continue, as it has done for as long as I have been a member of this place, the conspiracy with big business to exploit monopoly control against the interests of consumers.
-The House will be pleased to know that in my grievance today I am not going to talk about apples. The apple industry in Tasmania is booming and I am very pleased on that score. I want to talk about another very important subject, which is that every day 10 people die on the roads in Australia and that invariably one of those 10 is a young motor cyclist. I think that it is of great concern to every member of parliament and, of course, to everybody in the community that such unnecessarily high numbers of people are being killed on the roads. When one realises that 90,000 other people are injured each year it is clear that we have reached a terribly serious situation. Of course, many people are offering suggestions and ideas about how this problem can be overcome. When about 700 people were killed in the Vietnam war there was an uproar. But the fact that 3,650 people, on average, are killed on the roads in Australia every year should be a matter of great concern. I commend the Police Association of Tasmania in Hobart on its publicity campaign- I use the word publicity in its true sense- just prior to Easter, when it placed right in the centre of Hobart a car which had been involved in a very bad collision, in which five young people had been killed.
– You have a good Commissioner over there.
-Yes. Of course, some people were repulsed by that, but other people started to realise the dangers involved in taking motor vehicles for granted when they are driven on the road. Motor vehicles are man made, but I am afraid that at the moment they are running wild. Young people, and some others who should not drive motor vehicles, are placing themselves and others in jeopardy when they drive. When young people and, of course, older people lose their lives the ones who are left are saddened and sometimes their lives are ruined. What can we do about that? In this House we have set up the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Road Safety, which is chaired by a very competent honourable member, the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter), who is assisted by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). A good bipartisan approach is adopted by members of the Committee. We work towards the common aim of trying to overcome the terrific and horrific problem of deaths on our roads. We have made certain suggestions but, as one can understand, sometimes suggestions can take a long time to be brought into effect.
We have an incredible situation in Australia in that there is a lack of uniformity between the States. One State has a different set of rules from those of another. We find that young people can obtain driver’s licences at a certain age in one State, but that age varies in other States. Young people can hop on high-powered motor cycles- 300cc motor cycles- without being required to have any prior training, et cetera. Unfortunately, they cannot always control those high:powered vehicles. Because of the price of fuel, motor cycles have started to become very popular again. About 4.8 per cent of motor vehicle registrations in Australia are for motor cycles, but the percentage of road deaths in Australia caused by motor cycles has increased now from 10 per cent to roughly 1 1.3 per cent. We have to look at that and try to find an answer to the problem. We have to find out how we can give people training before they ride a motor cycle. We have to make absolutely certain that young people have training before they are allowed to get on a motor cycle, before they are allowed to ride high-powered motor cycles which can cause such sadness.
I, with many other people in Australia, watched a film on Japan where, with a population of 90 million people, they have been able to reduce the road toll to 14,000 a year. That represents a reduction of 50 per cent in the last 10 years. Many answers to the problem of road deaths might be suggested, but the one adopted by Japan seems to me to be a reasonable one. In Japan they have set up a model prison, in which a person who is involved in a major road accident which causes the death of another person is placed for a period of three years. The shame and reflection on the family of the person concerned is very important. But the point is that people go into that prison- if I may use the word prison- and learn once again the fundamentals of driving a motor car and of riding a motor cycle. The final chapter of their treatment in the prison is a form of shock treatment, in which they see the effects which road accidents have, not only on themselves and on the other people involved in the accident, but also on the people who are left- such as the families who are saddened- and the cost involved, et cetera. They start to realise what an horrific problem it is. Many of the people do not drive motor vehicles again after they come out of that model prison. They do not even ride motor cycles again. They catch public transport because they feel that they have caused people in the community to suffer such an injustice and such sadness that they just cannot go back to driving a motor vehicle.
I read with interest that the Director of Road Safety in Tasmania, when addressing the Australian Hotels Association in Hobart, made a suggestion concerning road safety. Although the suggestion has been made before, I give Mr Kelly credit for his suggestion. Sometimes 1 have differed with him. We can talk about the problem drink causes in road safety. We all know and we must face up to the fact that the factor causing the greatest number of deaths on the road is drink combined with driving. But there are other contributing factors. I wanted to clarify a point during the week when I asked, in the House, why the Police Association of New South Wales had recommended to the Police Department of New South Wales that steel belted radial tyres should not be fitted to police vehicles. Of course, the Minister to whom I directed the question was not prepared for my question. I understand that.
On the same day the honourable member for Kennedy issued a Press release indicating that the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Road Safety was going to look thoroughly into the Australian tyre industry, which produces radial, steel belted, textile, conventional and reconditioned tyres. But I believe that we need an answer to the question I raised, in which I asked why steel belted radial tyres are said by the Police Association of New South Wales to be unsafe. When one realises the number of steel belted radials which are fitted to vehicles in Australia today as original equipment, as well as on many other vehicles, one sees that the consumers in New South Wales have reason for concern. Of course, other people in Australia have reason for concern also.
I come back to the point that the Director of Road Safety in Tasmania, Mr Kelly, has suggested that $5m should be outlaid by the Federal Government on a national campaign to educate young people in the problems of” driving a motor vehicle when they drink. I believe that it is a good suggestion. I believe that such an educational program should be introduced into schools. Young people at a very early age should be made aware of the fact that, if they drink and drive a motor vehicle, they place themselves and many other people in the community at risk. I agree with Mr Kelly’s suggestion, but I believe that other factors are involved also.
– I congratulate the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) on the concern he showed about the soaring number of road deaths. I only wish that I had time to join him in debating the theme of his speech. I am one who urges the nationalisation of the liquor industry as a contribution towards controlling road deaths. I am one who urges more prosecutions of publicans for serving teenagers with liquor. Next time the honourable member speaks on this subject, I would like him to incorporate that matter in his speech, as well as the matter of restricting taxation concessions which apply to the advertising of liquor. I think that the honourable member will gain more admirers if he incorporates those matters in future speeches on that theme.
On 27 March, on the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House, the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) who has honoured me with his presence in the chamber, urged members of this House, as well as members of the Australian public, to attend screenings of the Australian movie The Odd Angry Shot. Judging the honourable member on his past performance, no doubt he will soon be recommending that we should go to see the much vaunted movie The Deer Hunter. Both films are about the experiences of young men in the Vietnam war. It is not surprising that the honourable member for St George should display interest in movies of that nature. After all, he did do a stint in Vietnam. I believe he was at the front. I do not believe he was involved in the My Lai massacres. I do not believe that First
Lieutenant Calley invited him to participate. I believe that he was one of those Australian soldiers who experienced hand to hand combat. Therefore, no doubt watching movies such as The Deer Hunter and The Odd Angry Shot help him to purge himself of his guilt, the guilt of association. Let us hope so, though it is doubtful. Only one reading of his column in the Ethnic Newsweek of 23 March-6 April is enough to convince me otherwise.
Let us look at the Vietnam that we left behind. I wish to quote from a particularly moving article by John Pilger, who visited Vietnam last year. He writes:
Much of North Vietnam is a moonscape from which visible signs of life- houses, factories, schools, hospitals, pagodas, churches have been obliterated.
Forty-four per cent of the forests have been destroyed; in many of those still standing there are no longer birds and animals; and there are lorry drivers who will not respond to the hooting of a horn because they are deaf from the incessant sound of bombs; and there are some 30,000 children in Hanoi and Haiphong who are permanently deaf as a result of the American bombing at Christmas 1 972.
The B52’s spared the spacious French-built centre of the cities but laid ‘carpets’ of bombs down such crowded arteries as Kham Thiem Street in Hanoi, where today an old nicotine-stained figure with a wispy beard keeps a vigil at a gap where 283 people died. ‘It was a block of flats’, the old man said. ‘We were mostly the old, women and children. There was not time to reach the shelters and we sang as the bombs came down. Singing is louder than bombs,’ he said. Such dignity out of such horror is representative of the Vietnamese.
More bombs were dropped on Vietnam than were dropped during World War II and Korea combined. It was the greatest aerial onslaught unleashed in man’s history. Mr Pilger writes further:
In Hanoi’s Bach Mai Hospital, doctors have discovered that Napalm B, which the Dow Chemical Company -
That company was referred to a short time ago by the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) in relation to another subject matter- created especially for Vietnam continues to smoulder under the skin’s tissues through the lifetime of its victims. People continue to die from the effects of plastic needles which were sprayed by bombs created especially for Vietnam and designed so that the needles moved through human organs and escape detection, even under X-ray.
Hamhong, like so many towns in the north, was bombed literally back to the Stone Age; every day for four years, from five in the morning till two in the afternoon, the planes came in low from carriers in the South China Sea. At Cu Chi in the south, an horizon that was once thick vegetation now shimmers in the heat, laid completely to waste ‘for maybe half a century or more’ according to the report of one member of an American Academy of Science team -
The team recently visited Vietnam-
This is the result of ‘Operation Hades’: The defoliation and poisoning of the landscape and crops, and the sowing of the seeds of human mutations for generations.
The writer goes on to say:
In 1970 I wrote about a foetal disaster at the Tu Dauc Hospital in Saigon where deformed babies were beginning to arrive by the dozen, the result, said American doctors at the time, of an aerial spray called 2,4,5-T, which is banned in the United States’.
Added to this there are thousands of heroin addicts, and a strain of venereal disease for which there is no certain cure. There are the permanently dislocated and the insane and there are the thousands of American and Australianfathered children. This, honourable members, is their legacy. I hope that the member for St George has been listening carefully, as I believe he has, for he was part and parcel of this ghastly war and should hang his head in shame. Yet we And him, as I said earlier, writing a column in the Ethnic Newsweek of 23 March-6 April supporting the decision to suspend all Australian aid to Vietnam. I hope that he will regret it and change his attitude.
It is nonsense for him to say, as he does in this column, that the provision of Australian aid is enabling Vietnam to divert resources for military purposes. He knows that that is not true. He knows that all aid is earmarked for specific purposes; that our aid to Vietnam has been mostly in the form of technical advice and agricultural projects. He knows that the recipients of aid cannot adopt a carte blanche attitude in regard to its use. The honourable member has blatantly distorted the facts of Australian aid to Vietnam. It is obvious that for him the war in Vietnam is still raging; that nothing short of a miracle will extinguish the fire, or quell his enthusiasm for it.
-Dealing first with the matters that have been raised by the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), I suggest that it would be valuable for any member of the community to see the current films dealing with the Vietnam war, including The Odd Angry Shot, The Deer Hunter, and Coming Home, which is an anti-war film. It would be particularly valuable for young persons, who would then be able to compare different sets of attitudes and make up their own minds about this important historical event.
For my own part, I believe that the loss of the Vietnam war was one of the most significant and detrimental events, as far as the democratic countries are concerned, in this century. The balance of power shifted dramatically towards the Soviet Union, and we now have the Chinese stating openly that Vietnam is the Cuba of Asia. The Chinese view bears very careful consideration. Also, the Vietnamese Ambassador to Australia has been on record recently as stating that Vietnam will provide troops and weapons, if necessary, to assist liberation forces in other parts of the world to relieve the burden of what he calls oppressed people. In other words, clearly Vietnam has embarked upon a policy of pursuing Soviet aims in South East Asia and would expand that assistance to countries beyond that region if it felt that that was in accordance with its policy.
As to the question of atrocities, nobody in a civilised community, or in his right mind, would fail to condemn the atrocities that occurred in that war, and on the evidence they occurred on both sides. There can be no justification for it, but to argue that it was all on one side would be to distort the truth and forget the discriminate terror carried out by the communists through tactics devised particularly to kill village chiefs and their families and, in despicable fashion, to put pressure on entire communities. All of this has been completely neglected by the honourable member. The heavy series of atrocities at Hue and Da Nang, the obliteration of entire villages by North Vietnamese or Vietcong forces, have been totally ignored by him. Let us put these matters in perspective and condemn atrocities as they occurred on both sides.
The question of aid is a very simple one. The North Vietnamese, having attacked and taken over the South, finished the last war with massive military force. The attacks of 1974, and the final attack which brought about the fall of Saigon, were attacks in force of a very large order. Many divisions, backed by armour and artillery, were used. Saigon was simply in no position to do anything other than surrender. However, what has happened since the war? The self-proclaimed aim of the North Vietnamese was to reunify their country. Having finished the war with a standing army and other forces of about 600,000, why did they not then demobilise? What claim have they to economic aid when, at the end of the war, they carried an army of 600,000 and have since increased it to 920,000 full-time military personnel, backed by reserves? What in the name of heaven does a country want with 920,000 men in its standing forces, if not to attack somebody else? If Australia had an army of 600,000 or 900,000 the Australian economy would be bankrupt. An army of that size would wreck the economy of most countries on this earth.
The Vietnamese chose to retain forces of such great significance having obtained their aim of reunifying the country. Obviously they required those forces for the greater South East Asia that they wish to dominate. They have as good as taken over Laos and, of course, we saw thenplanned aim of attacking Kampuchea brought to fruition. I make it plain that I have no truck with the Kampuchean regime of Pol Pot. The Vietnamese obtained aid from the Soviet Union in Cam Ranh Bay in October and November of last year. In order to pursue their aims of attacking Kampuchea they obtained more aid from the Soviet Union, according to one very important published report, than they received in the whole of the Vietnam war. There is almost no doubt that they have plans to attack Thailand when it is possible to do so, and I believe that they will lean on Malaysia when they get the opportunity. They have signed a contract, agreement or treaty with the Soviet Union which gives them a certain degree of protection. It puts them in a very similar situation to that of many east European countries. The Vietnamese are able to pursue their aims with that degree of impunity.
The other point about aid is this: Every time we give to a country aid that blatantly assists people to act contrary to the Australian national interest the Government has a case to answer. In addition to the Vietnamese being provided with monetary and technical aid, which enabled them to divert resources to military use, they completely failed to participate in international obligations with regard to refugees. The Vietnamese have adopted a most horrendous policy with regard to their own people, shunting them off to new economic zones. People have been given no opportunity to develop a reasonable state of life. They have tried to expel or get rid of the ethnic Chinese from their country. Very many documented cases of Vietnamese authorities demanding large sums of money for people to leave the country on boats were brought to the attention of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar). They were in fact exporting their problems and exporting refugees. They would not join in the international community activities to stem the flow of refugees. There are hundreds of thousands of poor, miserable, wretched refugees in camps all round South East Asia because of the direct actions of the Vietnamese Government. Why this country should be providing aid to a government which thumbs its nose at us over a most important humanitarian issue, I cannot understand. Therefore I reject the matters raised by the honourable member for Hunter.
I have only one other comment to make on the matter. If the honourable member goes to see The Deer Hunter, I am sure that he will be shocked at the scene depicting the way in which the Americans at the end of the war deserted those people in Saigon who had supported them, in particular, embassy personnel, people who had worked for the Americans and others who would be prime candidates for execution or for being sent to the new economic zones. I am sure that the honourable member will be equally shocked if he recalls the Australian Senate committee report which pointed out that the Australian Labor Government at the time had acted absolutely despicably in getting furniture, effects and material out of the Australian embassy by the use of Australian aircraft, without properly assisting the people who worked there or the people of that country who had supported us. They were used in the Australian and American effort and they were left in the lurch. The Australian Labor Government was condemned as having acted most reprehensively. That report was brought down by a Senate committee of both Labor and government members shortly after the present Government came into power.
I think I have dealt sufficiently with that matter. I had not intended to deal with it today but it was necessary to do so in view of the serious allegations raised by the honourable member for Hunter. I reject totally any implication that the Australian forces in Vietnam behaved in any way other than with the highest honour and in accordance with the highest traditions of the Australian military forces.
Because my time is running short I have only a moment to deal with the matter about which I had intended to speak. I wish to draw the attention of the House to a telegram which was sent last week by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) to the former British Prime Minister. Is the Labor Party ever going to enter the twentieth century? We have seen the result of the British elections, and I am sure that we would all want to congratulate Mrs Thatcher and wish her well. The Leader of the Opposition had the gall to make public to the world at large his telegram to Mr Callaghan which, amongst other things, stated:
Your magnificent campaign -
It did not seem to go down very well with the British people - has shown the people the real dangers they face from the Victorian attitudes of your opponents. We hope that Victorian conservative attitudes everywhere will get their just deserts this week . . .
Then he spoke about fraternal affinity. If the honourable member is still fighting the ancient battles of the nineteenth century and still has the ancient class warfare belligerent chipontheshoulder attitude of the old Labor Party in its days of foundation, he had better grow up and understand what is happening today. People want policies which will get the Government off their backs as much as possible and which will allow the country to develop. People want to reject the old doctrinaire socialist attitudes of the Labor Party. People in Australia want the country to develop as a free enterprise, democratic community in which both compassion and competence are delivered to the people by the Government. The Leader of the Opposition is living in the past. He will come a cropper at the next election. He will be totally and completely rejected by the people of Australia at the next election and the first kick will come in the Grayndler by-election.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Last week in a debate in this House concerning an inquiry into the nation’s financial system. I made reference to the important part played by the permanent building society industry in the overall complement of the Australian capital market. I pointed out that in the previous 12 months almost $20,000m had been made available to home seekers in Australia by these societies. I also made reference to the very deleterious effect upon investments in this area caused by the unjustified spreading of rumours about the stability and financial security of one of the major New South Wales permanent building societies. These rumours began on a Sydney radio station when a disc jockey made a bald statement that one very well known building society was about to go bust. This rumour was apparently taken up by other radio stations, resulting in a situation later in the day of investors in the building society, subsequently identified as the St George Permanent Building Society Ltd, storming the headquarters of the society in Hurstville, demanding the withdrawal of their investments. I ask honourable members to cast their minds back to this situation. In Sydney we had the ignominious situation of the Premier of New South Wales having to travel to Hurstville by motor car, accompanied by a police escort with sirens screaming to stop what might well have been a real civil insurrection.
What an ignominious situation it is when an unjustified, unqualified rumour can lead to such events. The permanent building societies, particularly those in New South Wales, are monitored closely by the Government. The Minister in charge, Mr Sid Einfeld, is most responsible in his attitude towards building societies and in protecting the investors in those societies. We had a situation of people storming the headquarters of this society in Hurstville demanding their money back. Fortunately Mr Wran, because of his great stature in the community, was able to a great extent to quell those rumours and order was restored. Proof of the point I am making was provided this week with the release of the statistician’s figures on permanent building societies for the last quarter. The figures show quite clearly that these rumours had a tremendous effect on investments in permanent building societies. The run-down in March- the month when the rumour started- was such that the shortfall between investments and payments was $97. 3m. That is an enormous amount of money. With home loans averaging somewhere in the area of $25,000 to $30,000, that means that over 3,000 home loans were subsequently denied.
The permanent building societies have been described as being somewhat like liners under full steam on the ocean: They build up a tremendous momentum. The real effect of this shortfall in investment will be felt in the months of April and May. When the figures come out for those months, they are going to be shattering in terms of the home loans which have been lost because of an irresponsible rumour. One Sydney radio personality has taken my mention of this rumour as a personal insult to himself. Since I made that statement, this person has launched a defamatory and vituperative attack on me for my alleged colourful language which he has taken, perhaps in a guilty way, as a description of himself. That is his choice. My grievance concerns the irresponsible use of the public air waves by disc jockeys or anyone else.
– Did you not say that you were going to apologise publicly to him?
-I spoke to this gentleman on the radio and I undertook to withdraw what he termed to be insulting remarks which he decided described him. But when I spoke to him I did not know that, while I was absent down coal mines or in aeroplanes, two or three hours previously in the morning he was giving me the best bucketing that has ever been known, in a very unjustified fashion. People who have access to the public air waves should be responsible because of the unfettered power which they have. Referring to talk back shows, these people have at their command a delay button which gives them a 7-second delay on a caller, which gives them the opportunity to talk over the caller, to ridicule callers after the interview is finished, and to add further insult to injury. I am glad that the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr
Staley) is sitting at the table because I am concerned that we cannot have more control over things that people can say on radio.
We have a very important privilege in this House- parliamentary privilege. The Parliament is our forum. If ever the situation occurs that we cannot stand up in the House and say freely and responsibly what we think needs to be said, we might as well fold up our tents and go home. Radio announcers have the air waves at their disposal for hours of each day to do what they want to do. This Parliament is our area. We are elected to this place by people within our electorates, and this is our domain.
– I rise to a point of order. I draw your attention, Sir, to notice of motion No. 39 on the Notice Paper standing in my name. I submit that the honourable member for Parramatta is clearly debating matters which are set down in that notice of motion, thereby depriving this House of an opportunity of properly, fairly, impartially and moderately discussing the matters relating to that motion, and also the honourable member’s behaviour in this House last week. I submit there is no point in having notices of motion or notices of questions if they can be debated by members in the grievance debate. I made this complaint last week.
-! have looked at this notice of motion given by the honourable member for Denison and have to rule that there is no substance to the point of order raised. The honourable member is not discussing specifically the particular matters mentioned in the notice of motion.
-The point I want to make is that unless we can bring these people to heel, everybody in the media, and make sure that whatever statements they make are made responsibly and with a sense of the duty that they have when using the public air waves, then there is something wrong with the regulatory systems that the Minister has at his disposal. At present there is an absolute formula for chaos. Unless these people are brought to heel there is the possibility of them spreading all sorts of false or malicious rumours about any subject. Either to feed their own megalomania or to bolster their ratings, they are inclined to say all sorts of things.
I would like my grievance to be registered. Unless we do something to prevent the sort of thing that happened in Sydney in relation to building societies, something more important might happen, something which might cause a greater civil disorder. We have only to look back to the thirties to realise the power of propaganda. The little lie, oft repeated, becomes accepted publicly. I would like the House to think very responsibly about the effect that this rumour had upon home owners or prospective homeowners in Sydney when it started, a rumour exaggerated beyond all comprehension. The figures, as I have pointed out, are incredibly important. There was a shortfall of $97m in one month.
-Order! Would the honourable member resume his seat for a moment? It is now 15 minutes to 1 o’clock. In accordance with Standing Order 106, the debate is interrupted.
Motion ( by Mr Staley )- by leave- agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the consideration of Order of the Day No. 1, Government business (Grievance Debate), being continued until 1 p.m.
-I have almost finished. But I would like to repeat that I think this is a perfect example of the case that I am making. These people have enormous power at their control. Unless they are prepared to handle it responsibly, I think the Minister should make some effort to see that the powers of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal are increased so that these people can be brought to public notice and made to accept responsibility for the rumours that they are prepared to start.
– What I am about to say before getting onto the subject I want to speak about is by no means said in a patronising way to the recently arrived honourable member for Parramatta (Mr John Brown). I regard the privilege which I am given in this Parliament, enabling me to stand up and say anything with complete protection, as perhaps the greatest privilege that this nation or my electorate has bestowed on me. I can understand the sensitive feelings of the honourable member for Parramatta after having been maligned on a radio station and having been given little opportunity to reply at the time. But it is pertinent to highlight the fact that throughout Australia we have six State parliaments as well as the parliament here in Canberra and there are several hundred members of parliament. Regrettably, human behaviour is such that a number of those parliamentarians do not treat the treasure which has been given to them, to the honourable member for Parramatta and to myself with the respect that is due. What happened to the honourable member for Parramatta sadly happens at the hands of politicians to many innocent individuals on the outside who have absolutely no means of defending themselves. As I said at the outset, this was not said in a patronising manner.
The grievance debate today is not just an opportunity for me to grieve; I wish to grieve for every motorist throughout Australia. I would hope that every motorist who is presently in his car and hearing this broadcast will listen very carefully to what I have to say. Recently representatives of the various State governments and the Commonwealth Government met and made a decision in relation to the final application of Australian Design Rule 27a, which is a regulation which will have the effect of bringing about, in 1981, the final application of emission controls on motor vehicles. At that meeting the States of New South Wales and South Australia would not agree with the decision arrived at by the other States to forestall the introduction of the final stages of emission control.
On Tuesday in this House I asked the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) a question relating to this matter. He pointed out that there is every likelihood that because of the percentage of cars of the total Australian market which are manufactured for use in New South Wales and South Australia, regardless of the views of other States, all cars in Australia may have to be equipped with this emission control equipment. In that question I referred to the tunnels leading to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I would concede that those tunnels probably present a problem for the New South Wales Government. But, for the life of me, I cannot understand why the South Australian Government has fallen in with this decision. I give Mr Wran his due in that when the State Pollution Control Commission of New South Wales submitted a report which expressed certain views he acted upon it. But the South Australian Government has done nothing more than make a Cabinet decision. By this small State aligning itself with New South Wales the rest of Australia will suffer. I do not say for one moment that Mr Wran was completely entitled to come to the conclusion he arrived at because there is so much conflict in that report and the interim report prepared by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences. The two reports conflict in many areas.
It is by no means certain that the benefits of this final stage of the controls will outweigh other matters which must now come into consideration. I suggest that we could well reach the stage where the Esso project in Bass Strait will be functioning simply to supply the extra petroleum or fuel that will be required as a result of the imposition of these extra controls. It is fitting and proper to draw the attention of the House to the fact that in 1977-78 some 14,41 1 million litres of fuel were consumed by Australian motorists. Five per cent of that represents 720.5 million litres. If the controls which will be imposed in 1981 had existed in the year just concluded it would have meant that the Australian motorist would have had to pay more for the extra 720 million litres of fuel that these new measures would have needed.
It is a very sad and almost selfish situation that we can have two States holding Australia to ransom. Their decision will have an effect from Sydney to Perth and from the bottom of Tasmania to the tip of Cape York. It is appropriate to draw the attention of the Australian public to the fact that the Labor Premier in Tasmania would have no truck with the view of Mr Wran and the South Australian Government. There is division in the Labor camp. I recognise that there is a problem in Sydney, but this is not necessarily the way around it. There is no problem with pollution in the very vast reaches of this country. Yet, because of this decision the people who do not live in Sydney will have to contribute to financing the cost of the use of another 720 million litres of petrol per year. It is money down the drain.
I am not for a moment, nor is the present Federal Government, abandoning considerations in relation to health; nevertheless I believe that there has to be a balance. I believe that Mr Wran is not displaying balance in this instance. If in the future it can be proved that these requirements are most necessary for the good health of Australians, particularly the people who pass through those tunnels in Sydney, and it is the only way to tackle it, I would offer my total support to a later implementation. But the report of the Academy of Technological Sciences to which I referred does not back Mr Wran’s decision. Indeed, an examination of the report of the State Pollution Control Commission indicates that there is not complete agreement in New South Wales.
– Give us a go.
-The honourable member for Reid has asked that he be given a chance to speak in this debate. As there are only a few minutes left in this debate, I will quickly conclude my comments. Already, Australian motorists are being forced to pay almost $ 100m a year extra because of the emission control devices which have already been placed on motor cars. There is no escaping the fact that people are running around everywhere trying to disconnect them. If this final stage is introduced it will mean that the Australian motorist will have to fork out of his pocket each year at least another $ 150m just to satisfy the demands of Premier Wran.
– I shall confine my remarks to the migration of refugees from IndoChina to Australia. It is a very complex and delicate issue. The development among the Australian people of tolerant understanding of the situation has not been helped by the antiVietnamese propaganda of the Australian news media. It also has not been helped by the narrow attitude and callous actions of this Government, which merely wants to make political capital out of the refugee situation. Honourable members have to understand the historical background to the present refugee problems. They have to examine the impact that these movements of people are having on the stability of the South East Asian region, and especially the internal effects of the migration on the Vietnamese reconstruction and reconciliation effort. We have to look closely at the effects that this migration is having on political and social life in Australia.
Frankly, I do not think honourable members really try to understand what 30 years of war has done to Vietnam. Vietnam had to stand up against the most powerful nation in the world- a nation which was spending $35 billion a year and which spent over $ 150,000m in trying to crush that nation. Vietnam is now faced with the complex problem of trying to unify a nation that has been divided for more than 20 years. It has been subjected to pressure from the Chinese to the north and the Kampucheans to the west and south-west. Vietnam has also to contend with the natural calamities that have occurred in that country since 1975. The problems are complex and difficult. It is a harsh life in Vietnam today. Most of the refugees who are coming to Australia want to live a peaceful life; they do not want to get involved in politics. However, there are political elements among the Vietnamese refugees in this country. The leader of that group, particularly in New South Wales, is a former colonel of the Thieu regime, Colonel Vo Dai Ton. He demonstrated in New South Wales recently for the purpose of attempting to build a National Restoration of Vietnam. On 2 May 1979 I wrote a letter in reply to what I thought was a biased report about that demonstration in the Sydney Morning Herald. I seek leave to incorporate that letter in Hansard.
The letter read as follows- 2 May 1979
Sydney Morning Herald Jones Street Broadway NSW
Your article entitled ‘soldier in tears calls Vietnamese to battle’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 30 April 1979) presents a dangerously distorted view of the Greater Overseas Alliance for the National Restoration of Vietnam and its NSW Chairman Vo Dai Ton.
Members of that organisation have, in fact, been involved in violent acts of intimidation against Vietnamese people in Australia. Their aim, as reported in the Herald on Thursday April 26, is to discredit and bring down the Vietnamese government.
Vo Dai Ton, a former colonel and Deputy Minister of Information in the Thieu regime was described in your article as having tears in his eyes and calling for a band of Vietnamese refugees to go back and ‘liberate’ Vietnam. I am quite surprised at your article which appears to people wishing to make a rational assessment of the role of this group as an implicit endorsement of the existence and activities of this dangerous organisation. This is in some contrast to your article of 1 May 1 978 in which you showed the links between the Greater Overseas Alliance and extreme right-wing Australian groups that seek to create instability in the society here. It is difficult to understand a change of attitude on the part of your paper following the events of Friday 20 April 1979 at which extremist Vietnamese refugees used knives and knuckle dusters to create a riot outside a benefit concert for aid to Vietnam at the Sydney Trades Hall.
The members and supporters of the Alliance who wore headbands inscribed with the words ‘national shame’ apparently do not consider their support of the Thieu regime and its atrocities to be shameful. The Thieu regime was a creation of American policy in Indo China that led to unprecedented devastation in Vietnam. About 2 million people were killed in the American war of aggression. Ten million people were displaced and half a million were turned to prostitution and drugs. The heavy bombing of the north and the south created large scale destruction of crops and defoliation that led to the floods of 1978 that have caused major difficulties for the Vietnamese government in trying to reconstruct and reconcile the war-torn society.
I ask rational people to consider whether this group of extremist refugees is capable of achieving what the American military failed to achieve with the expenditure of $35 billion a year.
Those Vietnamese who have come to Australia with the intention of making a new life here and who have a positive interest in the life and culture of Vietnam have much to contribute to Australian society.
Are we to condone a resurgence of violence by groups who seek to continue their political warfare in Australia and create divisions that will inflame the latent racism in our community?
TOM UREN, M.P.
– I tried to write a balanced letter in reply to the biased attitude of the Sydney Morning Herald. Previously it had given a very rational report about the linking of this extreme element of this refugee group with the extreme right wing of the Liberal Party of New South
Wales, but for some reason there has been a switch in the approach of the Sydney Morning Herald. For some reason it has imposed political censorship and does not intend to publish my letter. I have incorporated the letter in Hansard so that the situation can be understood quite clearly. We have to stop the violence that is occurring. Recently a meeting was held at the Sydney Trades Hall to raise funds for the reconstruction of Vietnam and Vietnamese people, led by this element, took violent action. They used knives and stabbed an Australian trade union official.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! It is now 1 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.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
-On behalf of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory I present the Committee’s report on proposals for the 67th series of variations of the plan of lay-out of the City of Canberra and its environs, together with copies of extracts of the minutes of proceedings.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave- This report, which is the third report of the Committee to be tabled in this period of sittings, deals with the 67th series of variations to the plan of lay-out of the national capital. There are thirteen proposed variations in this series and the Committee has approved of ten, approved parts of another two, and suggested that another be regazetted. The total cost involved in these variations is around $lm. This series of variations generated considerable public interest concerning proposed roads in Yarralumla. The only submissions and objections received by the Committee on this series of proposed variations in fact related to developments in Yarralumla. During the inquiry some 20 witnesses representing 14 organisations appeared before the Committee at public hearings. One of the witnesses to appear before the Committee was the Chairman of the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly’s Committee on Lands, Planning and Environment. The report of that Committee on the proposed variations was incorporated in the transcript of evidence. The Committee intends to follow this procedure in future consideration of variations.
The proposed variations involved many areas of Canberra. There were proposals for cycle paths in Phillip, Kaleen and Giralang which will be parts of the Canberra cycleway system. There are also improvements to the Pine Island recreation area. The present area has been subject to heavy use at peak periods and the proposals in this series of variations will provide picnic and other facilities as well as additional car parking. There are also variations aimed at improving road safety within the Australian Capital Territory. One proposal involves improving the road alignment and geometry of the intersection of Canberra Avenue, Manuka Circle and Captain Cook Crescent, which has been the site of many accidents. Another involves the elimination of a dangerous curve at the intersection of Whyalla Street and Canberra Avenue in Fyshwick.
The proposal for Yarralumla was for the construction of Stage I of a tourist road which will eventually link the Cotter Road with Weston Park and roads along the southern shores of Lake Burley Griffin. The completion of Stage 1 would provide access to the old Canberra brickworks which is now being redeveloped by private enterprise as a major tourist and historical centre. There was also a proposal for a link road to connect the tourist road to the existing residential street system. Yarralumla is a suburb which has been undergoing significant change. The population has been declining while the number of visitors travelling through residential streets has been increasing. With the redevelopment of the brickworks, the number of visitors is likely to increase, particularly as a number of these visitors might continue on to visit Weston Park or other nearby recreational areas. To preserve the residential amenity of the suburb the Committee has recommended that the second stage of the tourist road be included in the next series of variations. Such a recommendation is likely to affect a number of organisations, particularly the Royal Canberra Golf Club and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Division of Forest Research.
The Committee recognises the importance of the Royal Canberra Golf Club as a local club and as a national and international sporting venue. The Committee has therefore suggested measures which could allow expansion of the club into the Yarralumla nursery and across Dunrossil Drive into the area known as Lee’s Paddock. The Committee has supported the view of the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly that if Lee’s Paddock were to be given to the golf club then other comparable agistment in the immediate area should be made available for horse owners. The Committee has recommended that proposals on these matters, plus details of any problems likely to be encountered by the CSIRO, be presented at the hearings on Stage 2 of the tourist road. The Committee has also sought to protect the local residents from much of the tourist and visitor traffic by ensuring that such traffic goes around rather than through the residential streets. The tourist road, when completed, would provide direct access from Cotter Road to Weston Park on a route which avoids the residential part of Yarralumla.
The Committee does not approve of the proposal for the link road at this time. Such a road would provide an easy opportunity for commuters to use the residential streets. The Committee considered proposals for a cul-de-sac as an alternative, but considered that the Committee should be provided with a detailed road lay-out for the proposed residential development around the brickworks. In respect of the other variations, the Committee has recommended that Variation 12 be regazetted since there was a mistake in the Gazettal Notice. It has also recommended that part 3 of Variation 8 dealing with the ‘address frontage’ for the Hellenic Club in Woden not be approved until the Committee is provided with more details on the proposal, particularly as to the necessity for the work.
– by leave- I make this statement on three matters of interest to all honourable members: The free issue of the National Flag, cassette recording of the national anthem and national tune and the availability of colour photographs of the Queen. The National Flag is our symbol of national unity. As such, the Government is concerned to encourage the flying of the National Flag as widely as possible. The proper and dignified use of the National Flag can only encourage national consciousness. Consistent with this, the Commonwealth Government’s practice is to fly the National Flag from the main flagpoles of all Commonwealth Government buildings and establishments, on all working days during normal working hours.
For many years the Government has issued the National Flag free to schools, orphanages, recognised youth organisations and State and national sporting organisations. This has helped to foster in young people respect for and familiarity with the National Flag and also a knowledge of its correct use. In response to many representations made by honourable members and to requests from organisations within the community, the Government has decided to extend the free issue of the National Flag. In addition to the categories I have already mentioned, from 1 July 1979 the following groups will also be eligible to apply for the free issue of the National Flag: Community service groups including ex-service, Apex, Lions, Rotary, senior citizens’ and the Country Women’s Association; benevolent and welfare organisations including Red Cross and Legacy; homes for handicapped persons.
– What about the League of Rights?
– I acknowledge that interjection by saying that the free issue of the national flag could be appropriate to some people in the House. Continuing with the eligible groups: Church and religious bodies; ethnic organisations and sporting clubs. My Department, which has the responsibility for policy matters regarding the flying and use of the National Flag, will also assume the full responsibility for the free issue of the Flag from 1 July. This follows agreement with my colleagues, the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) and the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) whose separate departments presently distribute the free issue of the Flag to the groups currently eligible to receive it.
Because of the wide and personal interest that honourable members have in the Flag, it is proposed that all requests for a free issue should be made through a member of the Commonwealth Parliament. As honourable members will know the standing of organisations and groups in their electorates they will be able to recommend whether a flag should be issued free. My Department is moving to order supplies of flags in different sizes. It is anticipated that some eligible groups may wish to use their flag only indoors at meetings and functions. A flag smaller in size to the kind flown outdoors would be more suitable in these instances. I should emphasise that one flag only will be provided to each eligible recipient. Requests will be handled in the order they are received and flags forwarded according to the availability of supplies. Following established practice, free issue flags will be provided and replaced on a seven-year basis. However, should a flag be damaged because of unusual weather conditions or some other circumstances, a request for a replacement will be considered if it is supported by a member of the Commonwealth Parliament.
The second matter to which I wish to make reference concerns the special recordings my Department has had made of the national anthem God Save The Queen’ and the national tune Advance Australia Fair’ on cassettes. Honourable members will appreciate that these cassettes are now available for free issue to those groups currently eligible to receive the free issue of the National Flag. Eligibility for the free issue of cassettes will be expanded from 1 July to equate with that for the National Flag. Similarly, all requests should be made through a member of the Commonwealth Parliament. The other matter to which I wish to refer concerns new colour photographs of Her Majesty the Queen. The Queen has given approval for the distribution of new colour photographs taken at Buckingham Palace which show Her Majesty wearing the insignia of the Order of Australia. Prints of the new photograph will be made available to schools, groups and organisations which will display the photograph in a proper and dignified manner. Requests for a colour photograph should be addressed to my Department. I have spoken about government initiatives concerning three matters which identify the Australian people and our nation. These are subjects for which we all share a common respect.
-by leave-The extension of the rules on flags will take away what is a small difficulty in the community with regard to elderly citizens clubs and other groups who are regularly making requests. It may be a better idea if the Government made a package allocation of the three items. I rise to mention one other category. I think this should make it possible for persons to obtain the Australian flag. I hope that the category of community organisations will be interpreted liberally. But every year numbers of people leave Australia as direct representatives of organisations, some of which are mentioned and some are not. For example there are exchange students and people in other categories. They are supplied with a fairly significant package of material by the Information Services Division. I am sure that that material is welcome.
I think it would be unreasonable if the Government extended the issue of smaller Australian flags with the other material. I do not think that the Queen’s portrait would be appropriate but the national anthem cassette would. This could be supplied to people going overseas representing Australia in circumstances where they are entitled to fit into that categorisation, and who would be assessed appropriately by honourable members who would know the basis on which they were going overseas and who they were representing. I raise this matter for the consideration of the Minister for Administrative Services (Mr McLeay) because I think that most members of this House have fairly wide ranging requests made from people going overseas for material and related matter which is significant to Australia and which can be used to advertise their country while away.
-by leave-I think I can say on behalf of the Opposition that we generally support the arrangements made by the Government but I suggest that perhaps some trade union bodies may be interested in displaying the flag in their buildings. I am not too sure whether they would have room alongside the flag for a photograph of Her Majesty but if they have they might ask for it as well. I think the Government has recognised by this decision the enormous damage which has been done to the Australian Constitution and to our relations with Britain by the outrageous action of Sir John Kerr in 1975. He is still bludging in England on Australian taxpayers money. This is the first notice that has been given by the Government that it recognises the damage that was done during that period. I do not think this statement should hold up the business of Parliament for too long but we should not forget the action taken by Sir John Kerr in November 1975 and the everlasting damage it has done in this country and to our relations with the United Kingdom. Let us hope that this sort of action will never take place in Australia again. The action which is now being taken by the Government is going only part of the way in trying to submerge what we well remember of that period.
– I seek leave to make a statement.
– No. The Standing Orders provide -
Order! The honourable member for Wills will resume his seat. The Chair is familiar with the Standing Orders. If the honourable member for Wills, on a belated entry into the proper area designated for the business of this House- as distinct from the side benches- is serious in his protest, then leave is not granted.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek leave -
– Order! The honourable member for Bendigo will remain silent. There is no matter before the Chair at the moment. The honourable member for Hughes has the call.
– Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker. I want to be very brief.
-Order! Is the honourable member for Hughes seeking leave to speak to the matter?
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I sought leave from you and I thought you gave it tome.
-The honourable member for Hughes, in common with many honourable members, has embarked upon his statement before formally receiving the call from the Chair. Therefore I did not hear his statement.
– With great respect -
-Order! The honourable member for Hughes will not persist in addressing the Chair while the Deputy Speaker is addressing the honourable member for Hughes. The Chair understands that the honourable member is seeking leave to speak to the statement.
– Leave is not granted.
Leave not granted.
-The honourable member for Hughes will resume his seat as leave is not granted.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the House.
-Order! The honourable member for Hughes will resume his seat. If the honourable member persists in rising when the Deputy Speaker is on his feet addressing the House then he will be dealt with. The House will come to order.
-Mr Speaker has received a letter from the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen), proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The Government’s failure to inform the Parliament of the implications of the Australia/Korea Nuclear Co-operation Agreement.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.
More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-
- Mr Deputy Speaker, some eight days ago -
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:
That the business of the day be called on.
– Jackboots Sinclair.
-Order! The honourable member for Newcastle has persisted in raising his voice when the Deputy Speaker is on his feet addressing the House. If he persists in that behaviour I will be left with no option but to name him.
– May I interject now, sir?
-The Chair is prepared to accept that the honourable member for Newcastle is possessed with some strange compulsion. I repeat that he has exhausted my patience and a repetition of that behaviour will result in his peremptory naming.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr P. C. Millar)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill accompanies the Wheat Industry Stabilization (Reimbursement of Borrowing Costs) Bill 1979. Its purpose is to specify the existing powers of the Australian Wheat Board to raise moneys by the issue of approved securities and to empower the Minister for Primary Industry to provide a Commonwealth guarantee of repayment in connection with those securities. The Bill also makes provision for the exemption from stamp duty or similar taxes of securities issued by the Board and transactions in those securities as well as other documents or transactions of the Board relating to its borrowings or raising of moneys by other means.
The extremely high level of wheat deliveries this year resulted in exceptionally large financing requirements for the Australian Wheat Board to meet its first advance obligations to growers and marketing expenses for the 1978-79 season. The events of this season have brought about the need for consideration to be given to the financing of the operations of the Wheat Board. A consideration of the Board ‘s financing requirements resulted in the need to provide the Board with the capacity to obtain funds from a number of sources and in a variety of ways that is in the interests of both the wheat industry and the national economy generally.
The principles embodied in this Bill are designed to specify the existing general powers of the Board to borrow commercially to take advantage of types of money market facilities presently available to a body such as the Wheat Board for the raising of moneys. Specifically, the Bill provides for the Board, with the approval of the Minister for Primary Industry, to issue securities including Bills of exchange, promissory notes, unsecured notes or other similar instruments. The power of the Board to borrow commercially, for example by bank overdraft, with the approval of the Minister is of course also retained. The principal Act enables the Minister for Primary Industry to provide a Commonwealth guarantee of repayment of principal and interest in relation to the Wheat Board’s borrowings. This Bill specifically extends the power to provide for Commonwealth guarantees to apply to securities of the Board as approved by the Minister.
A further significant provision of the Bill is that dealing with the exemption of Board securities for stamp duty and similar taxes. Clause 5 of the Bill empowers the Minister for Primary Industry to determine that stamp duty, or similar tax imposed under laws of the Commonwealth, a State or Territory be not payable on certain classes of securities dealt with by the Board or in relation to certain borrowings by it. The objective of this provision is to remove doubts and disparities arising in respect of the requirement for payment of stamp duty in respect of Wheat Board securities in some States and so improve the marketability of the securities and provide the Board with a fund raising potential commensurate with other authorities with which it would be competing.
The exemption from payment of stamp duty has particular relevance to the accompanying Bill, which provides for the Wheat Board to be reimbursed by the Commonwealth for costs of certain borrowings. Without the provision for the exemption from stamp duty, the Commonwealth could, in effect, be paying that tax in instances where States themselves are not prepared to grant exemption. In these circumstances it would be my intention, on the enactment of this legislation, to take the necessary steps immediately to specify exemption from stamp duty of securities of the kind issued or to be issued by the Board to raise moneys commercially in lieu of the borrowings from the Reserve Bank. This exemption would apply also in respect of the roll-over of securities already issued by the Board.
This Bill facilitates the special financing arrangements entered into by the Board this season at the request of the Government. It also broadens the base for future financing operations of the Board. The Bill is intended in no way to replace the legislation that must be introduced shortly to replace the present wheat industry stabilisation scheme. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Keating) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of the Bill is to provide for the reimbursement of the Australian Wheat Board for costs incurred by it in making certain commercial borrowings to assist in financing the first advance payment to growers and marketing expenses of the 1978-79 season’s wheat pool. It is usual for the Government to announce before harvest each season the level of the first advance payable to wheatgrowers on delivery of their grain to the respective State bulk handling authorities. For the 1978-79 season, the Government set a first advance of $75 per tonne, less individual grower’s freight. This was an increase of $9 per tonne above the previous season’s level, which was a record level as far as first advance payments and the traditions of the industry are concerned.
Traditionally, the Government makes arrangements with the Rural Credits Department of the Reserve Bank to provide the Wheat Board with the funds necessary to cover the first advance payments and marketing expenses of a season’s pool. The repayment of these funds by the Board within the statutory 12 months applicable to borrowings for seasonal finance purposes has been guaranteed by the Commonwealth. Other rural industries are provided with seasonal finance by the Reserve Bank in a similar way. The decision as to the level of the first advance was taken late in November and arrangements were then made for the Board to borrow sufficient funds from the Reserve Bank to meet first advance payments and Board expenses on the then estimated deliveries of 13 million tonnes. However, the estimate of deliveries was progressively increased during the harvest because of the very favourable conditions late in the growing season that caused yields, fortunately, to increase phenomenally. The delivery estimate mounted rapidly to a final figure only a little less than 18 million tonnes, almost four million tonnes in excess of the previous record.
The record crop meant that the Wheat Board ‘s financing needs for the season amounted to an unexpectedly large sum of approximately $ 1,600m. Money advanced by the Rural Credits Department of the Reserve Bank directly contributes to the money supply in the Australian economy. The growth in money aggregates has been beyond that which was consistent with the Government’s economic policy objectives and accordingly a number of measures have been taken to stem prospective increases in interest rates. One of these measures decided on by the Government was that a change, in part, should be made this season to the traditional method of financing the wheat crop. The change involves the Wheat Board raising part of its financing requirements for the 1978-79 season through the issue of commercial bills instead of by the traditional method of financing the crop.
The Board has already refinanced $ 155m of its Reserve Bank borrowings in this way and is proceeding with a further issue of bills to raise $300m commercially for refinancing part of its indebtedness to the Reserve Bank. Honourable members will know that the exercise of the power to borrow commercially in this way rested on a resolution of the full Board and not just on a decision by its Chairman, Sir Leslie Price. In acceding to the request that it raise the further $300m commercially the Chairman stated that the Board’s decision was taken in the interests of the Australian community as a whole. The role of Board members and the Chairman in this matter has been a proper one and their decisions have expressed their perception of the interests of the wheat industry. Their decision followed the announcement of the Government’s policy and my discussions with them when I indicate to them that in no way did we see these arrangements as affecting the future of the financing of the first advance payment. Of course, these matters will be incorporated in the new stabilisation arrangements.
When the Board was asked to undertake this alternative means of funding the Government gave a commitment that any additional cost of the commercial borrowings would be borne by the Government so that wheat growers will receive the same cash payment for their wheat. The Government’s undertaking to reimburse costs relates to borrowings that would have otherwise been made by the Board from the Reserve Bank and are outstanding at any time up to 3 1 March 1 980, the date by which repayment of such borrowings would be required under the legal obligations imposed on the Reserve Bank. (Quorum formed).
I am indebted to the honourable gentleman for calling attention to the state of the House because it gives others a chance to hear these words about the contribution of the wheat industry to the state of the Australian economy. There is no doubt that it is an important message to which I am sure even members of the Opposition will enjoy listening.
This undertaking by the Government does not mean a subsidy to Australian wheat growers but means that a facility which enables the most effective handling of the crop can be continued and funded in the most effective way. That facility enables payments to growers on delivery leaving the Australian Wheat Board to negotiate sales at the highest commercial price over a reasonable time instead of at the price which the market would bear if the crop were required to be sold immediately. In accordance with the requirements of proper financial management from the point of view of the Commonwealth, the commercial borrowings that are being made in respect of the 1978-79 season’s financing requirements to which the Government’s cost reimbursement undertaking applies are being negotiated by the Wheat Board against parameters approved by the Government.
The purpose of the Bill is to provide a specification of the basis of determining the costs associated with the commercial borrowings that will be met by the Commonwealth and to provide for the appropriation of moneys for the purpose of the reimbursement to the Board. The definitions in clause 3 of the Bill limit the expenses of borrowings that are reimbursable under other clauses to interest costs and other borrowing expenses that accrue up to 31 March 1980. As I have mentioned this is the date by which borrowings by the traditional method of funding would need to be repaid to the Reserve Bank. They also have the effect of confining reimbursable costs to those associated only with borrowings by the Board in respect to wheat of the current- 1978-79- season including the borrowings made by the Board before the commencement of the Act.
As I indicated a moment ago, the question of funding the operations of the Australian Wheat Board and associated borrowing arrangements for the next five seasons is under consideration by the Government as part of the package of measures that will apply after the expiry of the current wheat plan on 30 September 1979. Legislative proposals embodying these matters will be brought before the House in due course. Clause 4 of the Bill specifies the basis for the determination by the Minister for Primary Industry of the amounts payable to the Board as reimbursement of borrowing costs. In respect of the interest costs associated with the commercial borrowings, the Board is to be reimbursed the difference between the amount of interest actually incurred by it and what would have been incurred if the borrowing had been made in the normal way from the Reserve Bank. In respect of borrowing costs other than interest, the full amount of any such costs will be reimbursed where the borrowing is for the purpose of refinancing Reserve Bank drawings as these are costs which the Board would not have normally incurred. If the Board borrows commercially for direct financing purposes, as distinct from refinancing a Reserve Bank borrowing, only the costs additional to those that would be incurred in respect of a Reserve Bank borrowing would be reimbursed.
Clause 5 provides for advances to be made to the Board against amounts expected to become payable to it under the borrowing cost reimbursement arrangements. Clause 6 provides for the appropriation of the necessary funds to meet payments to the Board under the Bill. In general, the Bill ensures that the Wheat Board, and through it the wheat industry, sustains no extra costs through undertaking alternative financing arrangements for the 1978-79 season’s crop and so contributing to the economic welfare of the nation as a whole.
I stress that, contrary to some assertions I have read in the media, this Bill and the arrangements entered into by the Government will not in any way provide a subsidy to the wheat industry. The arrangements are designed so that the whole of the Australian community can benefit from the higher price which will be obtained as a result of the Wheat Board being able to sell this record crop over a reasonable period. If the Government were not to have those types of financing arrangements, not just wheat growers but the whole Australian community would suffer. I believe that the arrangement to ensure that the cost of the additional borrowings is no higher than it would have been if the funds had been provided through the Rural Credits Department is totally justified. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Keating) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Nixon.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member for Burke will resume his seat. He knows full well that if he has in mind either drawing attention to the state of the House or raising a point of order, he should rise to his feet and immediately announce the purpose of his rising. He is not permitted to give a dissertation foreshadowing his intent.
Bill read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the Treasurer (Mr Howard), on behalf of the Commonwealth, to guarantee borrowings raised by Qantas Airways Limited to finance the purchase of its eighteenth and nineteenth Boeing 747 series aircraft. The aircraft are scheduled for delivery in November 1979. The Boeing 747 series aircraft was introduced into the Qantas fleet in 1971, thereby beginning Qantas ‘s fleet rationalisation process, which has just been completed with the disposal of the remaining 707s early this year. The Boeing 747 aircraft has proved to be well suited to Qantas ‘s major pattern of operations. The use of this type of aircraft made it possible for Qantas to pioneer low fares on the Australia-Europe routes in 1972 and for the introduction of the new low fares to the United Kingdom, United States of America and Europe which I have recently announced. Qantas had indicated that for many years to come the Boeing 747 aircraft will continue to be the main unit of its fleet as a replacement aircraft is not yet on the drawing boards.
Aircraft 1 8 will be in the combi configuration, which allows a combination of passengers and cargo, and it is intended that this aircraft will be used on the Australia-Frankfurt service, enabling Qantas to offer an improved air cargo service between Germany and Australia. The aircraft will be used also between Australia and the
United States of America. Aircraft 19 is to be in the normal passenger configuration and is required to cope with the anticipated peak summer traffic to the United Kingdom-Europe and the United States of America, which is expected to occur in 1980-81. Both these aircraft are to be fitted with Rolls Royce RB 211 engines, which have been chosen by Qantas after careful evaluation, because of the increased fuel efficiency associated with the new generation of large jet engines which will enable more efficient operations in the 1980s as petroleum-based fuels become scarcer. (Quorum formed).
Qantas also plans to increase by 455 the number of saleable seats across its present fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft by the modification of the in-flight galleys to enable more seats to be fitted in each aircraft, and by modifying the existing engines to give more thrust to cope with the extra pay-load. Qantas expects to achieve additional capacity slightly greater than one extra B747 with this project for a capital outlay that is less than half the cost of a new aircraft and only a small increase in operating costs.
As in the past, the provision of a guarantee would be limited to 80 per cent of the total purchase price of the aircraft, spare parts and associated equipment. This represents $US94m, or its equivalent in other currencies. The provision of a guarantee would not involve the government in any cash outlay, but would create a contingent liability for the Commonwealth. The arrangements for the loan are to be subject to the approval of the Treasurer and adequate security will be provided to the Commonwealth while any amounts of principal or interest remain unpaid. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Morris) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Howard, and read a first time.
This Bill contains further measures designed to counter income tax avoidance practices. It covers four main areas of avoidance that were referred to in my announcements of 24 September 1978, 3 October 1978 and 1 March 1979. With the introduction of this Bill, all proposals for action against specific schemes of tax avoidance foreshadowed in announcements by me will have received legislative form. However, it is not to be inferred that this is the end of the matter. The Government will continue its fight against tax avoidance schemes along lines that have now become well established. In addition, as I have said already, examination of possible changes to the general anti-avoidance provision contained in section 260 is proceeding.
Taking the present amendments in the order in which they appear in the Bill, the first gives effect to the proposal announced on 3 October 1978 relating to tax avoidance through modifications of the so-called ‘Curran’ schemes. The second is concerned with commodity trading schemes and the third with share trading schemes that are variations of the schemes in respect of which legislation was enacted last year. The fourth amendment is concerned with expenditure recoupment’ schemes that seek to exploit the availability of deductions for expenditure incurred in borrowing money, in discharging a mortgage, in the acquisition of trading stock, or in respect of a liability to pay interest or rent. The last three amendments were foreshadowed in my announcements of 24 September 1978 and 1 March 1979. (Quorum formed).
Modified Curran Schemes
In my statement of 3 October 1978, 1 said that tax scheme promoters were marketing modifications of the so-called Curran Schemes which they claimed were not caught by the amendments made last year. The Government advice is that the scheme is caught, but it cannot afford to take the risk. As was the case with the original scheme, the modified version depends for its success on a non-taxable issue of bonus shares. However, the bonus issue is paid out of a share premium account created solely for the purpose of the scheme, instead of out of capital profits reserves. The amendments made last year were clearly intended to cover such schemes, but promoters of the modified schemes argue that, for very technical reasons, they are not within the scope of the earlier amendments. The Commissioner of Taxation will be contesting this interpretation of the effect of the earlier amendments, but the Government has decided that it is necessary to guard against the eventuality of an adverse court decision and is, for this purpose, introducing a declaratory amendment.
The amendment will apply in respect of bonus shares allotted after 3 October 1978. At the same time, should it be held by the courts that the earlier amendments are defective, any artificial tax deductible losses arising from schemes based on the Curran decision, where bonus shares were allotted after 7 April 1978, will not be available for carry-forward beyond the 1978-79 income year. The date 7 April 1978 is of course that on which legislation to counter the Curran Schemes was introduced in the parliament.
Commodity Trading Schemes
The second group of amendments contained in the Bill will give effect to my announcement of 24 September 1978 to expand the scope of antiavoidance measures enacted last year to counter schemes that rely on the special provisions of the income tax law that apply to transfers of trading stock. Those provisions, which are contained in section 36 of the Income Tax Assessment Act, require a taxpayer who disposes of trading stock otherwise than in the ordinary course of business- including a transfer of trading stock to a partnership in which the transferor is a partner- to bring the market value of the stock to account in assessable income and for this value to be taken as the purchase price paid by the transferee.
Honourable members will recall that last year amendments were made to section 36 to deal with tax avoidance schemes that used these special provisions to generate artificial losses on the transfer of trading stock consisting of shares, debentures or other choses in action. In effect, those amendments authorised the Commissioner of Taxation to fix the transfer value for taxation purposes on a commercially-realistic basis, having regard to guidelines set out in the law. The amendments proposed in this Bill will extend the scope of the earlier measures so as to counter schemes of the same general character, involving other forms of trading stock such as precious metals, antiques and fine art. The scope of the earlier amendments will be widened so as to include all trading stock and related property that is covered by section 36 of the Income Tax Assessment Act. (Quorum formed).
- Mr Deputy Speaker, is there a Standing Order which requires that quorums be called no more frequently than, say, at 15-minute intervals? This irresponsible behaviour on the part of the Opposition is interfering with committee meetings which are going on.
Order! There is no substance to the point of order, lt is the duty of the Government to see that a quorum is present in the House.
-The Bill also proposes amendments to section 36A of the Income Tax Assessment Act that are consequential upon those being made to section 36. This is being done to close off avenues that may otherwise be available to scheme promoters to exploit the election provisions of section 36A so as to frustrate the intention to widen the scope of the antiavoidance provision of section 36. This amendment to section 36A, along with another more technical change concerning items that in legal terms are described as choses in action, will apply in relation to a notice of an election under the section given after today, unless it can be established that the change in ownership or interests occurred on or before today.
Share Trading Losses
In my statement of 24 September 1978 I mentioned that there were further schemes designed to fall beyond the reach of other amendments to the income tax law enacted early in 1978. Those 1978 amendments were intended to ensure that deductions under the general deduction provisions for purchases of trading stock in the form of shares and other choses in action do not exceed the trader’s real commercial outlays. One such scheme involves a company issuing shares at a premium to a trustee of a trust in which a beneficiary is a trader in shares. The trustee borrows the funds to pay for these shares from a finance company controlled by the promoter of the scheme. Arrangements are then made for most of the shares to be vested in the beneficiary who treats them as an accretion to trading stock and claims to be entitled to an ‘imputed deduction’ for the value of the shares. The company then makes a bonus issue of shares from the share premium account on the few remaining shares held in trust and these shares are transferred to the finance company in repayment of the original loan.
The issue of the bonus shares by the company causes the shares owned by the beneficiary share trader to fall substantially in value and the beneficiary would then claim, despite not having suffered any commercial loss at all, to be entitled to a tax deduction for the difference between the sale price and the ‘imputed’ cost. The amendments proposed in this Bill will make it clear that the law dealing with share trading losses under the general deduction provisions, as enacted early in 1978, is to apply where a deduction is sought for losses or outgoings not involving actual expenditure.
The Bill also proposes to put beyond doubt that all losses or outgoings in relation to the acquisition of shares, whether incurred on application, allotment or by way of call or premium, come within the scope of those provisions. This further amendment is to counter schemes promoted on the basis that if shares, when issued, are paid up to only a nominal extent, say one cent per share, and the balance of the capital and a substantial premium, say $99.99, is payable by way of call, the call moneys are not within the scope of the present law. These amendments will apply in relation to relevant property purchased or acquired after 24 September 1978, but a more technical amendment of the provisions, not previously foreshadowed, will apply only after today. This concerns the meaning to be given to the reference in the existing law to choses in action.
Expenditure Recoupment Schemes
The remaining provisions of the Bill will implement proposals I announced on 24 September 1978 to deal with ‘expenditure recoupment schemes’. These are schemes in which expenditure is incurred as part of a tax avoidance arrangement that results in the receipt by the taxpayer or an associate of a compensatory benefit, the value of which, when added to the tax saving arising from the deduction, more than effectively recoups the taxpayer for the expenditure so that no real loss or outgoing is suffered.
As I said in my statement of 24 September 1978 the amendments proposed by this Bill will deny a deduction for expenditure incurred in discharging a mortgage, in the acquisition of trading stock, or by way of interest or rent, where the expenditure is incurred after 24 September 1978 under a tax avoidance agreement of this type that is entered into after that date. As I said in my statement of 1 March 1979, the provisions will also apply in respect of expenditure incurred in borrowing money under a tax avoidance agreement of this type.
Let me here emphasise a point. I warned in my statement of 24 September that if further expenditure recoupment schemes were to emerge, the Government would, with effect from that date, act against them as outlined in that statement. My statement of 1 March 1979 is in earnest of that intent and I say again that the Government is determined to stamp out tax avoidance schemes in which taxpayers seek deductions for expenditure which, in a practical sense, they do not bear. I hope, for the sake of those taxpayers who may be contemplating paying fees to promoters to ‘buy’ deductions under such schemes, that this message is getting through. I do not think that I need spell out further the various types of expenditure recoupment schemes at which the Bill is directed, or the complex arrangements that are made under these schemes.
Honourable members may obtain that sort of detail from the explanatory memorandum accompanying the Bill. It is probably sufficient for me to say that the Bill is directed at expenditure recoupment schemes that have been devised to exploit deductions ordinarily available under section 67, section 67A or section 5 1 in respect of the purchase of trading stock or a hability for interest or rent. But as I say, the Government intends to act on my 24 September warning.
The major part of the Bill is concerned with countering tax avoidance under expenditure recoupment schemes and, unfortunately, it is both lengthy and complex. It would be idle to expect that this length and complexity will not be criticised. However, as I have said before it is extremely difficult to avoid complexity and length where the aim is to counter arrangements that are in themselves highly artificial and complex unless there is resort to very broad provisions incorporating wide discretionary powers to deal with particular situations. I might also note that much of the complexity arises from the necessity to cover the various situations that in practice occur. For example, the legislation must cater for cases in which a taxpayer participates in more than one expenditure recoupment scheme and where the taxpayer’s participation is in his or her own right or through a partnership or trust. It has also been necessary to provide for those schemes that take more than one year to implement, and for situations in which a taxpayer’s activities for a year have resulted in a loss. There may be a number of combinations of these different eventualities and they have had to be catered for. Mr Speaker, the Government does not seek the passage of this Bill until the Budget sittings. As I have indicated in respect of earlier Bills directed at tax avoidance schemes, I see an advantage in introducing a Bill and delaying its passage so that provisions giving effect to earlier announcements are available for study by interested members of the public and the Parliament before being debated by the Parliament. The Government is ready to examine any constructive comments that might be made about technical features of the legislation after it has been examined by interested parties. It is because the Government is not seeking passage in these sittings that the Bill is titled (No. 4). A (No. 3) Bill to amend the Income Tax Assessment Act, and relating to valuation boards, will be introduced shortly with a view to passage in the current sittings. Details of the various provisions of the Bill are contained in an explanatory memorandum that is being circulated to honourable members. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Willis) adjourned.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation for proposed expenditure announced.
Bill presented by Mr Viner on behalf of Mr Eric Robinson, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill, together with the companion Bill, Supply Bill (No. 2) 1979-80, seeks interim appropriations for the services of the Government for the period 1 July 1979 to 30 November 1979, by which date it is expected that the Appropriation Bills forming part of the 1979-80 Budget will have been enacted. Supply Bill (No. 1 ) seeks appropriations totalling some $4,06 lm for the ordinary annual services of the Government. This is $2 17m, or 5.7 per cent, greater than the amounts provided in Supply Act (No. 1) 1978-79. I wish to emphasise that the Supply Bills are not to be interpreted as in any way anticipating what amounts might be included for any particular service in the 1979-80 Budget. The provisions made by this Bill have no regard to policy decisions to be taken in the context of the Budget. This Bill includes $ 100m for the advance to the Minister for Finance, which is the same amount as the provision in Supply Act (No. 1) 1978-79. 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 Viner on behalf of Mr Eric Robinson, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill seeks interim appropriations, totalling $754m for expenditure on capital works and services, payments to or for the States and certain other services for the period 1 July 1979 to 30 November 1 979. The Bill includes $ 100m for the advance to the Minister for Finance- the same amount as was provided in last year’s Supply Act (No. 2). As I emphasised when introducing
Supply Bill (No. 1 ) 1 979-80 the provisions in this Bill are not to be interpreted as in any way anticipating what amounts may be included in the 1979-80 Budget. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Willis) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr McLeay, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of the Australian Federal Police Bill is to give effect to the Government’s decision, announced on 13 December 1978, to create an Australian Federal Police which will incorporate the existing Australian Capital Territory and Commonwealth Police forces. The creation of the Australian Federal Police was the central recommendation contained in the ‘Report to the Minister for Administrative Services on the Organisation of Police Resources in the Commonwealth Area and Other Related Matters’, by Sir Robert Mark. This report was presented to the Parliament by the Prime Minister on 13 April 1978. The Government, in implementing this recommendation by proposing to the Parliament the creation of the new single Federal Police, was concerned to: Overcome the problems that are associated with distinctions of jurisdictional boundaries for the functions of police organisations not only throughout Australia, but also in the Australian Capital Territory; provide a firm basis for more effective co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States in the law enforcement area; and more effectively and economically co-ordinate police resources in the Commonwealth area.
The importance of overcoming these problems is that terrorist and criminal activities can profit from them. The action of creating the Australian Federal Police is aimed at overcoming such problems in the Australian Capital Territory and providing a firm basis for co-operation with State police forces thus enabling the police to cope more effectively with the increasing complexity of terrorist acts of violence as well as international and national white collar crimes and other crimes against the Commonwealth. The Bill, in providing that the provisions relating to the Commissioner and deputy commissioners and the regulations are to come into operation upon the Royal Assent, identifies a creation date for the commencement of the Australian Federal Police. As announced on Tuesday, 8 May 1979, the Government has decided that Sir Colin Woods, K.C.V.O., C.B.E., at present Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales, should be designated the first Commissioner of the AFP. The Bill provides for the remainder of the Act to come into operation on a date to be proclaimed. This will necessarily follow the making of the regulations as well as the Commissioner’s general orders and instructions. The date for proclamation will identify an incorporation date for the appointment of all members of both present forces into the new Australian Federal Police. Between those dates the provisions of the Bill will enable the Commissioner to make arrangements for the appointment to the Australian Federal Police of all present members of both present forces. At the incorporation date the legislation for the present forces will be repealed.
The legislation meets the assurances that have been given by Ministers that jobs, career prospects and terms and conditions of employment of members of both present forces will not be at risk. Provisions of the Bill expressly provide for the application of existing terms and conditions to individual members of the two present forces being incorporated into the Australian Federal Police, until a new agreement or determination is made after the incorporation date. As with any organisation, new terms and conditions will evolve with the process of negotiation and arbitration before a Federal Police Arbitral Tribunal, following the incorporation date. The Bill constitutes the new single Federal Police as being of one membership, the members of which are to serve in either of two components- one on general police functions and the other on police protective service functions. The broad policies incorporated in the Bill include the principles necessary for a first class police organisation. The functions, organisation and responsibilities of the police are made clear in the Bill and it will be operationally independent yet administratively accountable as recommended by Sir Robert Mark. In developing the major proposal for the provision of two components the Government was cognisant of the special requirements of the Commonwealth in the fields of protective security and the need to retain a relationship of this form of law enforcement with the other general policing functions within the Commonwealth area. In introducing this concept, however, the Government has been concerned to ensure the opportunity, and for the present members of the existing forces a preferential opportunity, for transfer and general mobility, subject to the usual principles of competence and qualifications, between the two components. Training opportunities are to be provided to enable members to achieve the competence and qualifications that will be needed for promotion and transfer between components. The allocation of the detailed functions and personnel to the components is provided for the Commissioner to determine.
The broad functions of the Federal Police are prescribed in the Bill. In the main they provide for the functions associated with the policing of the Australian Capital Territory, the investigation of offences against the Commonwealth and the protection and safeguarding of the Commonwealth ‘s interests. These are consistent with the proposals of Sir Robert Mark. (Quorum formed) The prescribed functions also, for the first time in the Commonwealth’s history, make provision for the recognition of the traditional State police role, and place on the Commissioner of the Federal Police the responsibility to make arrangements with the State Police Commissioners for the investigation of offences against State-made laws in relation to Commonwealth places. This action will therefore for the first time require arrangements for overcoming the problems associated with the jurisdictional boundaries between the Federal Police and State police forces. This is designed to ensure that the traditional role of the State police forces is not interfered with and will enhance the opportunity for co-operative arrangements.
An important policy incorporated in the Bill is the arrangements for the Government’s control and management of the Australian Federal Police. This is consistent with the philosophy that the force should be operationally independent yet administratively accountable. Provision is made for the Commissioner to be responsible for the general administration and control of the operations of the Australian Federal Police. The responsibilities of the Minister and the Secretary, who in some limited matters also advises the Minister, are clearly spelt out. They refer to the giving of written directions by the Minister, after seeking both the ad vice of the Commissioner and the Secretary, on the general policy to be pursued in relation to the performance of the functions of the Federal police, and in the making of arrangements for the development and use of national common services. The Commissioner is to report to the Minister whenever requested to do so by the Minister. The Bill also recognises the uniqueness of the police in our society and its members’ dual accountability to the courts and the public, as well as administratively to the Government. In the case of the Australian Capital Territory, it provides that a Police Liaison Advisory Council is to be established to advise the Minister upon community policing matters in the Australian Capital Territory. The Bill provides for the creation of a separate Police Arbitral Tribunal. The Tribunal, it is proposed, will be constituted by a Deputy President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and provides for, with the leave of the Tribunal, appeal to the Full Bench of the Commission.
The Government believes that the establishment of a single Federal Police, as proposed by this Bill, will provide a basis for many of the current problems experienced between law enforcement authorities within Australia to be overcome or reduced, and thus achieve more effective cooperation and co-ordination of resources in the Commonwealth area. The increasing complexity and occurrence of crimes of violence, terrorism and white collar crimes, requires the closest cooperation between all police forces. The Commonwealth’s responsibility in this area finds a firm basis within this Bill and will be pursued in co-operation with the States, through the Commonwealth-State Ministerial Police Advisory Council which, as recommended by Sir Robert Mark, is proposed to be established by arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States, after the creation of the Australian Federal Police.
Two other matters relating to the police, that have been under consideration by the Government following reports thereon by the Law Reform Commission, deal with legislation relating to complaints against the police and with legislation to regulate police procedures in criminal investigation. The Government anticipates being able to introduce legislation upon complaints procedure later in the year. The Government is currently reviewing the draft legislation tabled in the Parliament in 1 977 relating to criminal investigation procedures. This will necessarily take some time to complete, including giving the Commissioner of the new Australian Federal Police the opportunity to comment on proposals upon it. I have arranged for an explanatory memorandum and notes on clauses to be distributed to all honourable members. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Keating) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr McLeay, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of the Bill now before the House is to amend the Albury-Wodonga Development Act 1973 in order to approve the AlburyWodonga Development Agreement Amendment Agreement No. 1 and to implement its provisions in so far as they relate to the structure of the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation. The Amendment Agreement which was signed by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria on 4 September 1978 provides for an expansion in the membership of the AlburyWodonga Development Corporation from five to eight members; common membership of the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation, the Albury-Wodonga (New South Wales) Corporation and the Albury-Wodonga (Victoria) Corporation; and the abolition of the Consultative Council. At present the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation is made up of three full time and two part time members. The Commonwealth, New South Wales and Victorian Ministers on the Ministerial Council responsible for oversight and development of AlburyWodonga were of the unanimous view that there was a need for greater local government involvement in the decision-making process and a more effective link between the Councils and the Corporation.
It was agreed that these objectives could best be achieved if the mayors of Albury and Wodonga were to become ex officio part-time members of the Corporation. The Ministerial Council agreed that provision should also be made for a prominent businessman to serve on the Corporation to ensure that its membership reflects the nature of the partnership between the three levels of government and the private sector in the development of the growth centre. The responsibility for the development of AlburyWodonga is vested in three corporations established under legislation of the Commonwealth, New South Wales and Victorian Parliaments. In practice, the three corporations act as one, and it is therefore important that they have common membership. The Amendment Agreement provides for the part time members to take their places on all three corporations. The Amendment Agreement also abolishes the sixteenperson Consultative Council, which has tended to create friction between the Corporation and local governments.
Apart from the provisions now incorporated in the Agreement to include the mayors of Albury and Wodonga and a businessman of national standing on the Corporation, the Ministerial Council has also decided that the role of the range of community advisory committees that have been established to support the Corporation should be strengthened and enhanced. The Ministerial Council believes that these measures will ensure that the relationship between the Corporation and Councils is strengthened without in any way affecting the access of interested community groups on the advisory committees to the Corporation. I understand that the measures that I have outlined were announced in the growth centre some time ago and that they have received general community support. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Keating) 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 continue assistance to the manufacture of books in Australia for a further period of seven years from 1 January 1980. The present level of assistance- one-third of the cost of productionwas previously extended to 31 December 1979 following an interim recommendation of the Commission. The Bill changes the rate of bounty after 1 January 1983, introduces certain changes in the eligibility criteria, and contains certain other amendments designed to obviate administrative difficulties and correct certain anomalies currently inherent in the principal Act. This is consistent with the Government’s desire to provide community access to information at the lowest possible cost. Following advice and recommendation from the Industries Assistance Commission in its report No. 178 of 31 July 1978 entitled ‘Products of the Printing Industry ‘ in respect of printed books, the Government accepted, in principle, the Commission’s recommendation that the existing bounty should be continued. However the Government decided that the reductions in bounty recommended by the IAC should be phased in more gradually.
In its report the IAC recommended that the bounty should be reduced to 25 per cent of the cost of production as from 1 January 1982. The Commission stated that having examined the background to the introduction of the bounty, and its history and effects, it had concluded that the purpose of the bounty was, and should remain to assist local book manufacturers to obtain work, which, in the absence of the assistance, could be lost to overseas competitors. The Government accepts the Commission’s conclusions. However, it considered that the rationalisation in the industry, which is expected to occur as a result of the reduction in the bounty, would be less disruptive under the proposals adopted, which allow for a longer period of phasing to reach the IAC recommended rate.
Under the Government’s announced proposals the rate of one-third of the cost of production will continue for books produced from 1 January 1980 to 31 December 1982, and will then be reduced to 30 per cent for books produced in the period 1 January 1983 to 31 December 1983. For books produced in the period 1 January 1984 to 31 December 1986, the rate of bounty will be 25 per cent of the cost of production. For the same reasons the Government has decided that the IAC’s recommendations in relation to paper and binding materials provided free of charge for the production of a book will be phased down over a similar period. Bounty is to be payable at the rate of 25 per cent of the price paid or payable by the publisher for those materials in relation to books produced between 1 January 1980 and 31 December 1982. This rate will be reduced to 23 per cent for books produced between 1 January 1983 and 31 December 1983, and further reduced to 20 per cent for books produced between 1 January 1984 and 31 December 1986.
Because the purpose of the book bounty is to assist local printers against import competition, bounty is generally available for books which, in the absence of bounty, would otherwise have been printed overseas. On this basis, the Bill makes certain changes to the criteria for bounty eligibility. For example, books such as workshop and service manuals, statistical publications and books containing advertisements, if of the type which, on importation, would be admitted duty free, will become eligible for bounty. On the other hand, publications produced by photocopying, commercial or industrial specifications, tender documents, et cetera, will no longer be eligible. The new criteria will also require books to be produced in a minimum run of 1,000 copies and, unless case bound, be for use in the form in which they were published. The provisions designed to obviate administrative difficulties which I mentioned earlier include, for example, in clause11 an amendment which provides that bounty will be no longer payable unless a person keeps accounts, books, documents and records showing, in particular, details of production to the satisfaction of the Minister.
It is considered by the Government that the revised rates of bounty will maintain the level of activity and employment in this industry in the short term and, at the same time, provide an opportunity for the industry to restructure so as to become competitive at a more moderate level of assistance. The introduction of the revised eligibility criteria as set out in section 4 of the Bill is designed to assist those manufacturers who have become increasingly susceptible to import competition so that they may compete more effectively in the Australian market. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hurford) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Groom, and read a first time.
– I move:
The Migration Amendment Bill is a timely initiative of the Government to provide responsible and effective regulation of the entry to and stay in Australia of people from overseas. In the 2 1 years since the Migration Act was passed the character of the Australian community has markedly changed, with radical amendment to immigration policies and in the volume and nature of movements into and out of Australia. Changing conditions in other countries tend to increase the attraction of Australia for many people, making the task of control more difficult. The Act itself is a 1958 measure being tested by 1979 circumstances, and in some respects being found wanting.
The basic mechanisms for controlling entry and residence must reflect the attitudes and interests of the community. They must operate to protect the community from the entry and residence of people the community does not wish to enter Australia or remain here as residents. The legislation must provide the powers to enable these mechanisms to be used effectively- to prevent entry, to enforce departure when necessary and to impose adequate penalties to deter would-be offenders. Most travellers respect Australia’s immigration laws. Unfortunately, there are some who enter or remain illegally in Australia, regarding breaches of immigration laws and policies as offences of small significance. Indeed, there are those in the community who actively encourage people to break the law and evade controls and who find prohibited immigrants a lucrative source of income.
Clearly, people who try to evade immigration controls should gain no advantage over those many others who, being also ineligible to migrate to Australia, are prepared to abide by the rules. The limits which must be set to the migrant intake are easily met through the regular processes of interview, medical examination and selection in offices around the world- criteria which are not applied to people entering temporarily or illegally. Individuals cannot be allowed to make their own rules about staying on and taking employment. Indeed, it is a fundamental and internationally accepted principle that every country has the right to determine who may enter and who may remain within its boundaries. Australia is no exception, and the Government reserves to itself the right to set the conditions under which people may enter Australia and remain in Australia. It believes that immigration laws and procedures should be observed and followed just as any other Australian law should be observed.
The purpose of this Bill is to make essential amendments to the Migration Act without changing the basic concepts in the existing legislation. In 1958 when the Migration Act was passed, there were an estimated 1.57 million overseas-born members of the Australian population. Perhaps almost half of these were pre-war settlers of long standing. The remainder were relatively new post-war arrivals. In total, people born overseas other than in Europe, including Britain, were of the order of only 160,000. By 1978 the overseas-born component had almost doubled to an estimated 2.8 million and it included settlers from every continent. This diversified expansion of the overseas-born component of the population reflects itself in the changed demographic and ethnic composition of Australia.
In 1958 Australia was strongly seeking migrants. Immigration restrictions applied mainly to people of non-European origin. The occupational categories actively sought by Australia almost covered the whole spectrum of occupations, including unskilled workers. Earlier policies based on an intake of migrants predominantly British had been abandoned but British migration was still seen as the dominant element in the migrant intake. The intake from the relatively few other main source countries, all of which were in Europe, was nevertheless, by 1958, quite high. Nor was it subject to restraint. There was little need or incentive for people who wanted to settle here to resort to subterfuge if they were of European origin.
By 1 973 discrimination on grounds of race had disappeared from immigration selection policy. That was a policy evolved by several governments of both political persuasions. The present level of immigration for settlement is relatively low, with an emphasis on encouraging only those skills in short supply. In 1977-78 it was about 80 per cent of the level of the 1 958-59 intake despite the wider range of source countries from which settlers came. In this regard, I draw the attention of honourable members to the Minister’s statement, ‘Immigration Policies and Australia’s Population’, of 7 June 1978 which emphasised the Government’s recognition of immigration as a necessary element in economic growth. The Government’s program acknowledges the case for caution in current conditions but is sensitive to family reunion and to humanitarian and international responsibilities. We are pursuing a longterm approach to population building in which immigration is the only directable factor. The fact that the Australian community is now barely reproducing itself must recommend an effective immigration policy and program to all persons who genuinely have the future welfare of this nation in mind. While the volume of intake of migrants for settlement is at a relatively low level, the level of people entering as tourist or business visitors, to undertake approved temporary employment and in other non-migrant categories has increased enormously, rising at the rate of about 5 per cent per year. The changes that have taken place in total movement of this category are illustrated by the figures of 395,000 in 1958 and 3.4 million in 1977-78, an increase of more than 800 percent.
I invite attention to the increase in the volume of air movement. More than 98 per cent of arrivals are by air, and have increased from 86,300 in 1958 to almost 1.7 million in 1977-78. In the same period, the arrivals by sea declined from 144,000 to 33,000. The relatively low volume of admission for settlement in more recent years inevitably prompts attempts to circumvent immigration policies and procedures either by malpractice or by entering for allegedly temporary purposes but then staying on without authority. It is estimated that there are approximately 57,000 prohibited immigrants in the country at this time. The Government is determined to stem the flow and to reduce the numbers already here competing with citizens for employment and other benefits. No Government can abdicate its responsibilities in this area. In this I am sure it has the support of all honourable members as well as the general community.
The first of the principal changes is the introduction of a statutory visa system. This is provided for by clause 9 of the Bill. A visa is a document or notation specifically in the form of a stamped impression in a passport which informs the carrier company and immigration officer at the port of arrival in Australia that the holder, prima facie, may enter Australia. However, a visa is not, in itself, an authority to enter. Under the existing Migration Act the legal entry authority is an entry permit issued at the point of arrival. In general, however, a visa holder may expect to receive an entry permit on arrival. Thus Australia’s entry control is based on the issue of a visa overseas and the grant of an entry permit on arrival in Australia. The visa system is almost universally used as a travel facilitation and control mechanism. A visa system for intending travellers to Australia has been in force administratively for many years. It has lacked statutory backing. Given the changes in the nature and volume of entry of people into Australia and the need in the light of recent review legislation for every major procedure to have its foundation in law, it has become necessary for it to be given a statutory basis in the Migration Act. The Bill provides therefore, in clause 9, that a visa or return endorsement may be granted to a person by an authorised officer and that that person may seek an entry permit upon arrival in Australia. I emphasise for the information of honourable members that Australian citizens travelling on Australian passports will not require visas or return endorsements.
It will be an offence under clause 9 for a carrier to bring a person, other than an Australian citizen or an exempt person, to Australia without a visa or return endorsement. The Offence will be punishable by a fine not exceeding $2,000. The Bill provides for the classes of persons who are exempt from visa requirements to be notified in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette and, in addition, individual carriers will be notified, as in the past, of any changes in visa requirements. The section will also provide carriers with a defence to a prosecution if the vessel was forced into Australia due to stress of weather or in circumstances of emergency, or where the carrier reasonably believed that when a person last boarded a vessel for travel to Australia, the person was an Australian citizen, a visa holder or an exempt person. The persons to be exempted from holding a visa will generally be New Zealand citizens or international travellers in transit through Australia to another destination.
Under the amendments to be made by clauses 20 and 2 1 of the Bill it will also be possible to require carriers to remove from Australia passengers who, on arrival in Australia, have sought and been refused an entry permit. This requirement will be applicable to persons arriving by ship or by aircraft. It is not an unusual requirement. There is ample international precedent. The search for persons who breach the immigration law is an expensive and an unwanted burden on the Australian taxpayer. Thus the second major innovation included in the Bill is the introduction in clause 12 of a requirement that deportees meet the cost of their detention awaiting deportation and of their removal from Australia where they are in a position to do so. There have been numerous cases where the Commonwealth has been required to pay the fares of deportees who have, by acting contrary to their conditions of temporary entry, accumulated substantial assets in this country. There are others who see it as a laudable achievement when they cash their return ticket and are sent home at cost to the Australian taxpayer. Under the present legislation deportees cannot be required to pay costs associated with their detention or removal even though they have accumulated a considerable amount of money in Australia by engaging in unauthorised employment or have valid tickets for travel out of Australia. In the period 1 July 1976 to 31 December 1978, 2,157 deportations were effected. It is estimated that the requirement for deportees to pay costs of deportation will result in savings to the Commonwealth of over $200 per deportee for fares. In addition, I believe that the deterrent effect of the provision will be significant. Legislation in respect of deportation costs is already in force in a number of countries. New Zealand has legislation to cover this, as does Great Britain.
The third significant measure dealt with by the Bill is the introduction of offences for temporary entrants and prohibited immigrants who engage in employment in Australia without authority. At present, visitors to Australia give an undertaking at the time of visa issue that they will not work in Australia, but it is not an offence for them to engage subsequently in employment. Similarly, it is not an offence for a prohibited immigrant to work in Australia. Most prohibited immigrants apprehended by departmental officials in the course of their investigations are either working or have been in employment in Australia. (Quorum formed).
In addition, there is little doubt that many of the approximately 57,000 prohibited immigrants in Australia are working partly in order to sustain themselves. Some of what they earn is sent abroad to maintain families and relatives overseas. That is perhaps understandable but it represents a notable capital outflow instigated by people who are filling jobs which should otherwise be available to unemployed Australian residents. There must be limits to our community tolerance of such matters.
Clause 4 of the Bill will provide for the grant of a temporary entry permit subject to conditions relating to work. Clause 19 will provide for an offence where a person contravenes a condition in respect of work or where a prohibited immigrant performs any work in Australia without the written permission of an authorised officer of the Department. The penalty for this offence will be a fine not exceeding $1,000. The Bill also provides in clause 19 for new offences where a person makes a false statement in connection with an application for work or uses a forged authority for work. These offences will attract a maximum penalty of $1,000. The introduction of these offences is indicative of the concern with which the Government views this growing problem. I point out that the Government’s attitude is consistent with that in many other countries, including New Zealand and Canada, where it is an offence for unauthorised persons to engage in employment.
The fourth significant change picks up the fact that the existing penalties in the Migration Act have remained unchanged since the legislation was passed in 1958. The Bill increases the penalties specified in the Act to bring them into line with current levels of penalties for equally serious offences in other Commonwealth legislation. The Bill also introduces three new penalties, two of which I have already referred tonamely, when carriers convey people to Australia without proper documentation and when temporary entrants and prohibited immigrants work without authority. The other penalty relates to deportees who return to Australia without authority.
Honourable members will recall that on 10 August 1978 the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs announced that from that date prohibited immigrants who had been deported from Australia for any reason would be barred from re-entering Australia for a period of five years, except in the most compelling circumstances. If deportees gain re-entry to Australia by subterfuge, it is only proper that they should be liable to a penalty as well as second deportation at their expense. The Government cannot, in the public interest, tolerate breaches of our entry requirements and controls. The Government considers the penalty of $ 1,000 or six months imprisonment to be reasonable punishment and a prospective deterrent. Other provisions in the Bill are of a technical nature, designed to improve control mechanisms and to correct deficiencies. They do not introduce major changes in policy or vary the basic concepts currently embodied in the legislation.
The dominance of international travel by fast jet aircraft and the large increase in the number of arrivals since the present Act was introduced have revealed a number of deficiencies in control procedures that were unknown or not exploitable in the more leisurely days of sea-travel or early international air travel. The demands on control procedures are aggravated in Australia because, due to our geographical position and airport curfews, arrivals and departures are not evenly spaced throughout the day, taking place within relatively short peak periods with necessarily brief turn-around periods.
A number of these provisions arose out of the recommendations of a management review which reported on its investigation of immigration policies and procedures in July of last year. The review conducted by a consultant, the Public Service Board and the Department, examined problems confronting the Department and their causes, and evaluated options for changes to the Migration Act. The Government believes that the Bill will provide for a considerable increase in control capacity while new immigration legislation is being developed. These are measures which deserve, and I believe will enjoy, bipartisan support. The impact will not be discriminatory nor is that the intent. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hurford) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 29 March, on motion by Mr Fife:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation. Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the Bounty (Dental Alloys) Bill and the Bounty (Paper) Bill as they are associated measures. Separate questions will, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of each of these Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering each of these measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
-As the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Groom) indicated, we are debating cognately three bounty Bills, namely, the Bounty (Bed Sheeting) Amendment Bill, the Bounty (Dental Alloys) Bill and the Bounty (Paper) Bill. As all of these Bills conform with the recommendations made by the relevant authorities- that is, the Temporary Assistance Authority and the Industries Assistance Commission- the Opposition does not oppose them. However, as the person leading for the Opposition in this debate, I have some comments to make on all three Bills. I would also like to make some general comments on the Government’s use of bounties, which are only a part of an industry policy. In addition, I will make some comments on the future of the clothing and textile industry when I deal with the Bounty ( Bed Sheeting) Amendment Bill.
The Bounty (Paper) Bill 1979 gives effect to the recommendations of the Industries Assistance Commission in its report No. 183 dated 17 October 1978 and entitled ‘Certain Paper and Paperboard ‘. This report recommended the payment of a bounty to eligible Australian manufacturers of specified coated and uncoated paper which is produced and sold for use in Australia. The IAC recommended a bounty at the rate of $90 per tonne on specified coated paper and $70 per tonne on specified uncoated paper. It also recommended that the bounty should operate for eight years. A limit of $2. 5m of bounty payable has been set. This figure represents a midpoint between the $2m to $3m recommended by the IAC.
The next Bill on my list, the Bounty (Dental Alloys) Bill gives effect to the recommendations of the Temporary Assistance Authority in its report of 5 February 1979 on this subject of dental alloys. The Bill accords assistance by way of bounty to the manufacture in Australia of dental alloys. The TAA recommended that ‘urgent action be taken to provide assistance to the industry producing dental alloy’ and that assistance be granted in the form of a bounty of $ 1 5 per kilogram of dental alloy produced in Australia up to a maximum of 3,000 kilograms; that is, a limit of $45,000 per annum in bounty payments. This assistance is to be a temporary measure until such time as the Industries Assistance Commission has conducted an inquiry into the long term assistance requirements of the dental alloy industry.
The Opposition is concerned with two aspects of this Bill. Our first concern is that in clause 3, against the general heading of ‘the period to which this Act applies’, the following words appear: period to which this Act applies ‘ means the period that commenced on 22 December 1978 and ends on 21 December 1 979 or on such later date as is fixed by Proclamation, being a Proclamation published in the Gazette before 2 1 December 1979, as the date after which bounty is not to become payable under this Act;
Our understanding of the purpose of this Bill is that it is to give temporary assistance to this industry until such time as a full inquiry can be undertaken. The Opposition is concerned that such a provision is included in this Bill, because it will allow the Government to continue to extend the period over which bounty may be paid simply by making an Executive directive. We would like to see included in the Bill a time limit on the payment of the bounty which is not subject to alteration by Executive directive. This is not to say- and I am not to be misinterpretedthat we are against bounty being paid on dental alloys. This matter concerns procedure in this House. We believe that the Parliament ought to have control over such payments and that the control should not be left to Executive directive. I believe that in many cases there is a bipartisan approach to the appropriation of money by way of Executive directive.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad to have a ‘hear, hear’ from the honourable member for Swan just to illustrate that there is a bipartisan approach when it comes to these procedures. We would like to see included in the Bill a time limit on the payment of the bounty not subject to alteration through Executive directive. In setting such a time limit plenty of time should be allowed for the IAC to make its recommendation, recognising that it has a lot of work to do. Relevant to this point also, we draw the Government’s attention to clause 7(1) which states:
The amount available for payment of bounty in respect of dental alloy in respect of which bounty becomes payable in the year that commenced on 22 December 1978, or in any succeeding year, is $45,000.
The phrasing of this clause implies that the time over which the payment of the bounty may be made is unlimited. As I understand the words, no restriction is imposed such as ‘until such time as the IAC has made its final recommendation’ or until the Parliament reviews the matter’. We in the Opposition are concerned at the bypassing of Parliament in these matters, as I have indicated earlier, especially when the bounty assistance is being introduced on an allegedly temporary basis.
The third bounty Bill being considered is the Bounty (Bed Sheeting) Amendment Bill. The purposes of this Bill are twofold: Firstly, to increase the limit of the amount of the available bounty and, secondly, to widen the eligibility criteria in respect of bountiable sheeting. The Bill incorporates the recommendations made by the Industries Assistance Commission in its report entitled ‘Conditions for Eligibility for Bed Sheeting Bounty’ of 7 August 1978 and ‘Further Short Term Assistance Arrangements for Textiles, Clothing and Footwear’ of 25 October 1977. In the report on assistance for textiles, clothing and footwear the IAC made a number of recommendations, including the following: Firstly, that short term assistance in the form of a bounty should continue; secondly, that the bounty should continue to be payable at the existing rate; thirdly, that the maximum amount payable should be raised by $100,000 to $600,000 per annum because of a continued change in the market demand away from cotton to polyestercotton; and, lastly, that the indexation of the bounty should not occur.
The other report I mentioned earlier, the IAC report on bed sheeting, recommended that the bounty be payable on printed bed sheeting, whether or not the process of making up the fabric into bed linen occurred on the premises of the same producer. Under the existing Bed Sheeting Bounty Act only a firm which weaves, prints and makes up polyester-cotton bed linen on its own premises qualifies for the bounty. Piece-good sales- sales of printed cloth to be made up by other firms- do not qualify. The IAC accepted the case that this distinction was not acceptable and so recommended that both cases should be eligible for the bounty.
In all three cases the decisions taken by the Government and embodied in these three Bills were based on independent advice from authorities respected by both sides of the House- the Temporary Assistance Authority and the Industries Assistance Commission. Accordingly, the Opposition supports the legislation. However, this debate gives me an opportunity to say something about the Government’s general use of bounties. We in the Opposition see temporary assistance, whether it be by way of bounties or by other means such as tariffs, as only one part of a package of policies designed to improve the efficiency and international competitiveness of our industries. That is the way it should be- just one part.
We are perturbed that the other parts of a necessary industry policy are not very evident at present under this Fraser Government, and I would like to draw attention to what we believe some of those other aspects of an effective industry policy should be. Firstly, a controlled stimulus to the economy to increase consumer demand for the products of industry is vital. Secondly, we need the institution of positive industry policies designed to encourage the revitalisation of existing industries and what I call the ‘restructuring up ‘of industries. Instead of ‘restructuring down’ or ‘restructuring out’ of industries, let us talk about ‘restructuring up’ into new industries and about positive manpower policies and programs to increase the mobility of workers through training, retraining and job search subsidies. These are essential parts of a comprehensive and proper industry policy and are sadly missing today.
May I revert to my recommendation that a more expansionary macro-economic policy be instituted? I draw attention to the fact that we cannot be complacent about the level of retail sales today. If we take out of retail sales the sales of automobiles in particular, we find that retail sales generally are very sluggish. I know that at the present time the Government is making great attempts to talk up the economy. I am very reluctant to say anything which would kill confidence because we all want to see not only our economy but also the world economy getting going. At the same time, I believe that it is essential for us to face nasty facts. One of those facts is that basically the Australian economy will get going as a result of Australian policy only if stimulus is applied to domestic demand in this country- if people in the market place get going and have the confidence to buy. But at the present time retail sales are very sluggish.
At this time only if a comprehensive policy, such as the one I have suggested- namely, a macro-economic policy combined with the other industry policies to which I have averted- is adopted can we reasonably expect industry to improve its efficiency and competitiveness while receiving tariff and bounty assistance, and so be able to go it alone. However, at the present time, all we see happening is that temporary assistance is being provided in isolation, which is what the Bills before us involve. Mr Deputy Speaker, I know that for a moment you were doubting the applicability to these Bills of what I was saying, but I assume from the look on your face that you now see’ that my remarks were extraordinarily relevant, lt seems to be the Government’s naive hope that business stability will result from an enforced lowering of the inflation rate and that, in consequence, market forces will magically bring about an upturn in economic activity and an improvement in the viability of Australian industry. Not only is that chain of reasoning- I am very hesitant to call it logic- unconvincing but also it has been invalidated by the experience of the past three years. The retail sales figures, excluding those for automobiles to which I referred are the best example of that. Retail sales are very sluggish indeed when we take out the automobile.
It seems inevitable that the Government’s reliance upon varying assistance alone will mean that the long-term prospects for industry will be dependent upon a series of short-term measures in which efforts to sustain struggling industriesindustries which, in our view, are struggling unnecessarily- inevitably will dominate. Each of the three industries to which these Bills apply would like nothing more than a return of community confidence. Yet, without the correct macro-economic policies being adopted, they will not have that. I am sure that those industries would prefer a return of community confidence to the temporary sort of assistance provided by the bounties. But the bounty is necessary also. It seems likely that the present Government will continue to be preoccupied with short term palliatives, offering little positive leadership in ensuring the long term viability of Australian industries, if the present signs are correct.
On the other hand, we in the La bor Opposition are optimistic that the right package of policies could strengthen our industries and could get our economy back on the road to full employment. Any pessimism we express is as a result of the limited and misguided nature of the policies presently being adopted. Until the Fraser Government recognises the errors of its ways and adopts a strategy such as the one I have suggested- if I were allowed, I would include in this debate discussion on research and development allowances, export allowances and those sorts of measures-
– You could fit it between the sheets.
-Unless a policy such as the one I suggested is adopted, we will just go on being led into a deeper recession. In speaking on the Bounty (Bed Sheeting) Amendment Bill, which is causing the honourable member for Swan (Mr Martyr) so much amusement, I am allowed to talk about the future of the clothing and textile industry I am sure because, as you will understand, Mr Deputy Speaker, the manufacture of bed sheeting is part of the functions of that industry. With respect to the clothing and textile industry, in particular I draw attention to a recent announcement made by the Australian Labor Party, when I and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) stated in a joint Press release that we were firmly committed to the survival of a strong and viable clothing industry in Australia. We in opposition appreciate the importance of the industry to regional centres, such as Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo, key areas of Tasmania, such as Launceston, and many other parts of Australia. Labor’s attitude is supported by the Crawford Study Group, which stated:
It may be appropriate to develop industry-specific policies - that is a term taken from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development which means, to put it in layman’s language, specific policies for specific industries-
Tor those Tew industries with difficult problems in order to improve their ability to cope with changed circumstances and to ease the adverse consequences of adjustment.
Clearly, the clothing and textile industry falls into that category as it is highly labour intensive and, therefore, very sensitive. This is an area which requires the adoption of a specific policy. In the statement released jointly by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and me, we announced Labor’s positive policy in this area when we said that a future Labor government would establish a textile and clothing authority to ensure better long-term planning and certainty within the industry. That decision was made after discussions were held over 12 months with all sectors of the industry, including the manufacturers and the unions.
We are concerned about the continuing erosion of regional employment, particularly in Victoria and Tasmania, caused by uncertainty in industry about its future. Mr Deputy Speaker, I know you come from a provincial centre, namely, Maryborough. I do not know whether it has a textile or clothing factory, but if it has you will be even more aware of the need for specific policies such as those which I have suggested to look after the needs of regional areas where there is no alternative employment to that provided by the clothing and textiles industry. The authority which we would establish would take over the functions of the Industries Assistance Commission and the Quota Review Committee in respect of the clothing and textile industry.
We assert that our textile and clothing authority would advise on specific policies related to the industry and would implement decisions made by government. But the final decisions must always be taken by government. Whether it be the IAC, the Quota Review Committee or our authority, they can merely recommend to government and government has the final say- it is responsible for the policies. We assert also that there is a need for an authority such as the one we propose to bring together the fragmented work of the IAC, the Temporary Assistance Authority, the Quota Review Committee and, indeed, what goes on in the Department of Productivity. We assert that there is a need for a coordination of the work performed in those various areas as they apply to the clothing and textile industry. There is a need also for a body such as our authority to monitor and to implement the policies which are decided upon by government.
Our authority would include representatives of employers and employees to permit a practical input from people directly involved in the industry. It would monitor the activities of the industry and recommend policies. But, as I have said, it would not make final decisions. It would not only suggest measures to improve efficiency but also aim to provide a base for confident investment and development. In particular, it would be concerned to consolidate a sound base for opportunities in regional employment over a medium term of, say, five years while a longer-term future was being planned. This is not, as one commentator suggested, a policy of high protection. We recognise that in this country we need to be internationally competitive if we are to provide real security for any sector of manufacturing industry.
Ours is a policy decision relating to the machinery to oversee a particular industry. Just because the machinery has been changed in order to make it more efficient, we cannot come to the conclusion that that action will lead to the provision of higher protection, per se.
In looking to increased efficiency in the industry, a Labor government would be looking also to greater efficiency in the supervisory administration which would reflect concern for the social and regional implications of its advice. On behalf of the Government, our authority would consult and plan with our trading partners so that Australian production of clothing and textiles was integrated, to the greatest extent possible, with the production of countries which were exporting to us. It is vital that we have good relations with the people of the Association of South East Asian Nations and, indeed, with our other neighbours, the people of East Asia.
– And cheaper bed sheeting.
– I would hope that one of the results of setting up an authority such as this would be not only cheaper bed sheeting, as the honourable member for Swan has suggested, but also cheaper clothing generally- in the context of the provision of at least as much, if not more, employment in the industry, employment provided in an efficient way. The Australian Labor Party is confident that the flexibility that would be provided by the authority that it intends to set up should lead to increased international competitiveness and reduced protection, which would mean better value and a higher standard of living for Australian consumers.
I repeat: These bounty Bills give honourable members an opportunity not only to talk about industry policy generally, but also to review these three industries in particular. The decisions taken by the Government, as embodied in the Bills, have been based on the advice of independent authorities, and the Opposition supports the legislation. (Quorum formed)
-Bounty Bills are pretty mundane and unexciting measures. In this case they relate to bed sheeting, paper and dental alloys. Nevertheless, they are surely worthy of something less pedestrian than the dreary speech that we have just heard from the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford), who is the spokesman for the Opposition on these matters. The Government is certainly pleased to have the support of the Opposition for these measures, but the honourable member does not seem to have done his homework on them any better than he did it on the
Bounty (Rotary Cultivators) Bill which was before the House yesterday.
We heard much said about industry requiring more than mere temporary assistance measures to be provided by these Bills. I assure the honourable member- I hope that he will do his homework- that these Bills, and certainly the major Bill, provide much more than temporary assistance. Indeed, they embody some pretty hard decisions by the Government and, all in all, represent sound and good administration, sound decisions on quite complex matters which do not, of course, attract much publicity but are the stuff and substance of good government, fostering a sound economy and the enhancement of employment opportunities for all Australians.
– The gallery agrees with you.
– Yes. I am pleased to see the family approval coming from that direction. The honourable member also sought to treat them as isolated measures and accused the Government of not putting them in the framework of a more comprehensive industry policy. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was speaking of a government that, in its last Budget, increased research and development grants by virtually 100 per cent and export incentives by the order of 80 per cent. He was speaking of a Government which, earlier this year, took the necessary action to encourage the General Motors- Holden’s corporation to set up a world-scale plant for the production of engines, thus adding a whole new dimension to the motor industry and saving jobs therein not merely for next year but for five and 10 years hence. The very spokesman for the Opposition- he has now left the chamber-
– There is no one in the place. Where are they?
– It is perhaps no commentary on my speech, but there is not a single Labor member in the House. I note that one has now arrived. (Quorum formed). I repeat: The very spokesman for the Opposition who accused this Government of bringing forward these measures in isolation was the member who led his colleagues in opposing what the Government had done to encourage the General Motors-Holden’s corporation to establish in this country a worldscale engine plant- the only possible direction in which the industry can go if it wishes to survive and provide jobs five years and 10 years hence.
– I wish to raise a point of order. Before the quorum was called the honourable member for Berowra, Dr Edwards, was talking about the motor car of General Motors-Holden ‘s in particular. He is now continuing to refer to the plant of General Motors-Holden’s. The House has before it several bounty Bills.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! I think the honourable member for Reid has made his point.
– The Bounty Bills deal with bed sheeting, dental alloys and paper. In no way are we dealing with a motor car plant. If we deal with that it will broaden the debate a great deal.
-Order! The honourable member for Reid has made his point. The Chair elected to give considerable indulgence to the honourable member for Adelaide who, by considerable cunning- in its proper connotation- was able throughout his speech to maintain relevance to the Bills before the House.
– You have no right to reflect like that on a member.
-Order! The honourable member for Hughes will resume his seat. The Chair was prepared to extend similar indulgence to the honourable member for Berowra and to other honourable members for that matter. The honourable member for Berowra had not proceeded to a point where I was persuaded that his remarks were any more irrelevant than those of the honourable member for Adelaide. The Bounty Bills invite some responsible comment in relation to industry in general. I have ruled on that point of order. I accept the indignation of the honourable member for Hughes in relation to what he believed to be a reflection on the honourable member for Adelaide. If the honourable member studies the Hansard report tomorrow he will learn that the Chair said ‘. . . cunning- in its proper connotation- . . . ‘. That word simply means wit, and in that sense I applauded rather than condemned the honourable member.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. It concerns the frivolous points of order and the calls for a quorum which have been made by the Opposition. I point out that a committee of this Parliament, the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, is meeting -
-Order! There is no point of order.
– On a further point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker, are you ruling that no matter what commodity is dealt with by a measure before the House, a member has a right to talk about any commodity? In other words, can I enter into the debate and talk generally about manufacturing industries which are dealt with in any Bounty Bill?
-Order! The honourable member for Reid will resume his seat. The Chair has ruled on the matter. The Chair will continue to exercise its judgment, underpinned by the Standing Orders, to facilitate the proceedings of this’ House. I trust that honourable gentlemen will’ accept the good intentions of the Chair. The honourable member for Reid may rest assured that the Chair will remain alert to the Standing Orders and the question of relevance.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, you will find that it does not take cunning, wit or anything else for me to maintain relevance. If the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) listens he will see the relevance of my comments to the Bills. His colleague was suggesting that these Bills were short-term, expedient measures and that the Government had no long term policy. I make the point that the honourable member for Adelaide did not do his homework, which was also the case yesterday, and that the Bounty (Paper) Bill- I hope the honourable member for Reid has registered the name of the Bill to which I refer- is anything but a matter of short-term expediency. It is a very significant measure. An amount of up to $2.5m a year is involved in the subsidy for the fine printing and coating paper industry. The measure does have relevance to what I was saying a moment ago about General Motors-Holden’s- I hope that the House will be able to see the link between the two matters; it is very important to do so. The paper making industry is one which, on just about every criterion one could suggest, ought to attract support. It is a resource based industry. Indeed, it is based on a renewable natural resource.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, may I quote Standing Order 84 to you?
-I call the honourable member for Burke on a point of order.
– I am not taking a point of order, sir. You ignored me when I called you.
-The honourable member for Burke is not entitled to the call while another honourable member is speaking except in the circumstance that he wishes immediately to take a point of order or to call for a quorum. He cannot simply rise and expect to be called by the Chair while another honourable member is speaking. If the honourable member has a point of order he may rise and signify to the House what it is.
– I take a point of order, sir. How can I draw your attention to the state of the House unless you first recognise me? I draw your attention to Standing Order 84, which reads:
No Member may interrupt another Member whilst speaking, unless ( 1 ) to call attention to a point of order or privilege suddenly arising; (2) to call attention to the want of a quorum; (3 ) to call attention to the presence of strangers; (4) to move a closure motion; or (5) to move ‘That the business of the day be called on ‘.
The point that I make is that I can do none of those things unless you first recognise me. My anger, if it was such- I am a very gentle person, as everybody knows- was incurred because I stood and you ignored me. I called to you to draw your attention to the state of the House and you ignored me.
-The honourable member for Burke simply repeats in his inimitable fashion that which I informed him immediately preceding his rising to his feet. I say again that the honourable member for Burke, in common with any honourable member, may rise without receiving the call from the Chair and either declare immediately that he calls the attention of the Chair to the state of the House or proceed to take a point of order. They are the circumstances, along with the others referred to, under which a prior call from the House is not required.
– In that case I draw your attention to the state of the House. (Quorum formed).
-As I was saying, the Bounty (Paper) Bill, which I point out for the information of the honourable member for Reid is the fourth order of the day appearing on the blue sheet, provides for a subsidy not exceeding $2.5m per annum for the fine printing and coated paper industry. As I was saying, this industry is based on a renewable natural resource, namely, forests. It is a capital-intensive industry. It has considerable exporting potential and it is a large employer of labour in regional areas. The honourable member for Adelaide had a great deal to say about what the Opposition intended to do for regional areas. As distinct from merely talking about employment in regional areas, this Government is doing something. It is, inter alia, providing this subsidy to the paper industry. The principal recipient will be Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd, which all told employs some 5,200 persons, most of whom reside in regional areas.
As I said, it is a capital intensive industry which requires to make very substantial investments in new plant at regular intervals. In its traditional market for ‘wood-free’ paper, the company supplies the bulk of the market. Imports, subject to a 20 per cent tariff, supply the remainder. But in the case of so-called ‘mechanical’ papers for use in the production of magazines, in particular, the major part of the market is supplied by imports. This, together with exports, is the growth market. Australia is the logical supplier of paper to Hong Kong and Singapore. It is to the magazine paper, together with exports, that the company can look for a major expansion of its sales and activities. With initial assistance to capture that market, the circumstances are set for the installation of a worldscale plant, as is about to occur over the next few years in the motor industry- hence the relevance of my earlier remarks. In that way, from economies of scale, lower unit costs of production could be achieved to hold the market in competition with imports and to increase further export sales. The prospect within the grasp of this industry is a world-scale level of manufacture and sales, and all that that implies for increased efficiency, lower costs, and increased export sales. Achieving that would add a new dimension to the shape and operation of the industry.
By introducing this legislation the Government is playing its part in bringing about that development. The legislation provides that the bounty will operate for 8 years. That is essential if the bounty is to inspire confidence both within the industry and on the part of potential investors. I would make the point that this is a clear case where the subsidy proposed is superior to the alternative, which would have been to make operative the 20 per cent tariff which applies in respect to these mechanical papers but which is presently waived by by-law. The reason why it is superior is that this paper, the output of the industry, is input to the user industries to the magazine publishers and others, and the tariff would represent a significant increase in their costs. The case for assistance to foster this resource-based, capital-intensive, potentially low-cost export industry is clear. That the assistance should be given by a bounty, a predictable amount for a specific period, so that user industries are not adversely affected, is equally clear.
In the case of the other Bills, it is true that in the case of dental alloys the subsidy proposed is a temporary measure. It will prove temporary, despite what the honourable member for Adelaide had to say, because the Industries Assistance Commission is to report on long-term assistance by 9 October 1979. Following that, the Government will consider the long-term position. If that consideration is not completed by the end of the year, the Bill provides for the period of bounty to be extended by proclamation. There is nothing sinister about that.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Staley) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 3 May, on motion by Mr Fife:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Staley) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 5 April, on motion by Mr Fife:
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.
– Two amendments have been circulated by the Government. I seek leave to move them together.
– I move:
Amendments agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report- by leave- adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Staley)- by leaveread a third time.
Debate resumed from 9 May, on motion by Mr Howard:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Dr Everingham had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after “That “be omitted wilh a view to substituting the following words: “the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to remove all reference to taxation on mineral royalties for Aboriginal organisations”.
Before the debate is resumed on this Bill, I remind the House that it has been agreed that a general debate be allowed covering this Bill and the Income Tax ( Mining Withholding Tax) Bill.
– I follow an Opposition spokesman- the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham)- in speaking to the Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1979 and the Income Tax (Mining Withholding) Tax Bill 1 979. Some comments were made by the honourable member for Capricornia that speakers on the Government side would contest. This applies particularly to the comments that were made in connection with the report presented by Shann Turnbull on 27 October 1977. There seemed to be a great silence from the honourable member as far as the second report is concerned, that is, the one presented on 9 June 1978. 1 wish to deal with some of the comments made by the honourable member for Capricornia. I also wish to deal basically with the Bills.
The Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill (No. 2) is a little unusual as far as taxing arrangements throughout Australia are concerned in that it seeks to define income in a different form from that normally acceptable within the Australian connotation. It is similar in a reverse way to section 79 of the Income Tax Assessment Act, which involves superannuation funds and which sets the deduction for income tax purposes at a percentage of certain assets, and to section 115, which involves life assurance deductions, and which sets a percentage according to the liabilities of life assurance. The figure for final approval within this Bill works out at 32 per cent of 20 per cent of the amount received in connection with various payments, amounting in all to 6.4c in the dollar for payments made. I believe that the Bill, which encompasses some ten pages, is necessarily lengthy because it departs from the normally accepted practice as far as defining income is concerned.
The amounts that will be assessed will be the total payments, not the payments less any distributions or expenses, but once assessed it will be a one-up operation. In other words, the amounts of the royalties- whatever they will be- will not be followed down the line and accounted for in a proper income sense as far as normal procedures are concerned. I make the point that there is one deviation from this procedure, that is, that any remuneration or salary paid to an individual, even though it might come from these funds, will be assessable to that individual in the normal course. Yesterday the honourable member for Capricornia made the point that the tax will be collected on a variety of payments, including compensation for various land acquisition and usage as well as royalties, but basically the amounts will go back to royalties more than anything else.
It is necessary to write into the record for this debate the actual meaning of the words ‘mining payments’. It will be seen from this legislation that the majority of them do comprise the royalty aspect. The explanatory memorandum states that mining payments will include, amongst other things:
In other words, it applies mainly to royalties. It is important to note that the Legislation that the House is now debating will become operative as from 1 July 1979 and that payments prior to that will not be so caught. The memorandum continues:
any other payment under the provisions of a law ofthe Commonwealth, a State or a Territory that relates to Aboriginals, or under an agreement made in accordance with such a law where the payment is-
It has been suggested that in looking at the mining payment situation, and the tax thereon, we should extend this debate by talking in terms of accountability- socially and financially- in connection with the payments and the tax. I am no expert in this area but 1 do not believe I am any less an expert than the honourable member for Capricornia. Surely, if the Act aligns itself with the reports we have been given and the negotiations that have been carried out, it is now time to pass this measure so that it can become functional by 1 July 1979. In many respects the debate has developed in terms of the social consequences this Bill has for Aboriginals and its influence upon whites. Last night it was mentioned that whites would be exploiting the situation- be that as it may. 1 think it would be quite unreasonable to suggest that we can keep the two races apart.
I believe that all legislation referring to the Northern Territory has attempted to integrate the two societies, not to cause them to drift apart. The responsibility placed on the Aboriginal leaders to administer these funds is very real, particularly when one considers the comments made by the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) as to whether the payments will be spent on ‘booze or investment’. Evidence has been given to a Select Committee on the effects of drinking alcohol within the coloured community. I do feel that this Government has a responsibility in that regard. The use of funds to pay for high living costs, taxi fares and plane fares cannot be helped, but certainly the alternative to the frittering away and wastage of funds on alcohol is investment. That is certainly a big responsibility on the people who will control the funds before distribution is effected.
Section 78 of the Act deals with gifts. The proposed alteration is only a formality to indicate a change of a department within the framework of the Act. I would like to deal with the question of gifts in another sense. What I have to say is relevant to the Act because I am speaking about the subject of section 78. At the 1 982 Commonwealth Games to be held in Brisbane there will be a considerable outlay of funds. Some of this outlay will be reimbursed in various ways; for example, by gate takings, sponsorships, television broadcasts, Press coverage and things like that, but I understand from the organisers that they are concerned about the fact that on their figures between $4m to $5m will have to be raised from the public. Whilst 1982 may seem a fair way off at this time, certainly we would not be wasting time in the meantime by closing this gap between the funds available and the funds needed. I suggest that the Government should look realistically at the granting of a tax deduction under section 78, for any contributions from the public for the holding of the 1982 Commonwealth Games. I believe that in doing that the Government would foster sport and athletics in Australia so that Brisbane could be proud of the games it would be holding.
In conclusion I come back to the social, financial and other consequences that royalties will impose on the coloured community of the Northern Territory. Certain people would like to close overnight the gap between the Aboriginal and European races in Australia, which has been created over thousands of years by the two races living apart. My only comment is that this cannot be done overnight, it cannot be done quickly and it cannot be done without quite a number of mistakes being made. I believe that many mistakes have been made in the past and that it would be more realistic if these same people who are now critical put their weight behind the integration of the two races, using the facts of the past, and not into an attempt to achieve what they would like to see happen in the short term. In debating these Bills we should bear in mind that while we seek to assess taxation and give some sense of responsibility to the recipients of these funds, we should do this in such a way that the overall framework of integration can be best carried out. I support the two Bills in their entirety and certainly will not be supporting the Opposition’s amendment.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the House.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, there are legislative committees sitting at this very moment. Can these people be counted as being at work? It seems to me to be totally unfair to disregard them.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jarman)Those people cannot be counted. The honourable member knows that very well. (Quorum formed).
-In speaking in favour of the amendment moved-
Motion (by Mr Bourchier) proposed:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. ( Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr A. W. Jarman)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Dr Everingham’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr A. W. Jarman)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr A. W. Jarman)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Clauses 1 to 3- by leave- taken together.
– Clauses 1 to 3 involve the basic principles of this Bill. I ask members of the Committee to pause and ask themselves the simple question: On what basis were royalties paid in the first place to Aboriginal communities in respect of the use of their land by mining companies? It is extraordinary that a government which has spent some time and money through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in an endeavour to establish within the community the very special relationship that exists between art Aboriginal and his land should introduce this legislation. That relationship, which is part of the total being of an Aboriginal, has absolutely no counterpart in Western culture. Having acknowledged that, every member of the Committee would accept that, in respect of every negotiated agreement with Aboriginal communities, the original position of the Aboriginal people was that they did not want mining in any shape or form on their land. However, they found themselves negotiating from a position of very considerable disadvantage because of pressures from government and companies. In that situation, regardless of the expertise upon which they could call, their original resentment that their land was being taken from them and was being used in this way was not overcome.
I make that point because in our community if the government of the day decides that it will compulsorily acquire a house or a property for its own use, whatever payment is made to the owner of that house or land is made on the basis of compensation, and as compensation it is clearly not taxable. I believe that the basis upon which payments were made to the Aboriginal people was seen clearly by them, and by the Government initially, I believe, as compensation for being deprived of the use of their land. They also saw it as compensation for the problems which would arise subsequently for their communities by virtue of the attitude of this Government, the attitude of a dominant Western-oriented community which says: ‘There is mineral wealth in your land and, no matter what you say, it is going to be developed. Of course we recognise that you have some claims in respect of it, but we will pay you compensation. ‘
There is no other area of our law in which compensation is treated in that way. If any honourable member on the other side of the chamber were to be injured in an accident when he left this building tonight he would receive compensation for his injuries and that compensation would not be taxable. The attitude of Mr Zorn, the person who negotiated on behalf of the Aboriginals, is perfectly clear. He concedes that the amounts that were extracted for and on behalf of the Aboriginal communities were very low when compared with the results of other negotiations in which he was involved on behalf of tribal groups such as Indians in the United States of America. He justified his acceptance of the low level of those payments on the basis that the mining companies were making contributions also for the preservation of the environment. It is equally true that had this Government made clear the extent to which it intended to tax these Aboriginal communities, at that point of time those communities and Mr Zorn might well have argued for a greater level of compensation. I believe that involves a second aspect of this legislation which ought to make it anathema to every member of this chamber. It is bad enough to tax people for what is in essence a compensation payment, but the Government is to tax them retrospectively. That is what has occurred in this situation, and I find it extraordinary. In almost every issue of the Australian Financial Review and many of the other financial journals one will find advertisements by professional accountants and other people advising individuals in our community how they can avoid paying income tax.
If Aboriginal communities had been confronted with the extent to which the Government was to try to extract further funds from them by the sort of exercise which has bedevilled them since white settlers first came to Australia, whereby we give with one hand and take away with the other, does anybody seriously believe that at the time those contracts were being negotiated there would not have been available to the Aboriginal communities the same sort of income tax expertise which is available to large corporate structures or wealthy private individuals to write those contracts in a way which would have made it perfectly clear that what was being paid was a capital amount by way of compensation which, therefore, was not taxable? Of course, that would have been possible. For those reasons members of the Opposition believe that these Bills are bad in principle.
On any view, Aboriginal communities in Australia are amongst the most deprived of our citizens. Having recognised their rights on the one hand and their particular relationship with the land on the other hand, the Government said to them: ‘Although you, as communities, are reluctant to have mining companies cutting a swath across your land and plundering it for whatever mineral wealth is there, whether or not you like it the only thing that is open to you to negotiate is how much compensation you will get. ‘ Having created that situation, some months afterwards the Government said to them: Having got the compensation fixed, the amount that you believed you were going to get, the amount that you believed you were going to have in your hand by way of compensation, is going to be taken from you. ‘ This Government has now found it necessary to say to the communities that they will be taxed on these amounts. They will be large and significant amounts. As I said earlier, this is simply an exercise by the Government of seeming to give with one hand and taking away with the other.
The principle involved in this legislation is a bad principle. I do not see how the Treasurer (Mr Howard) can rail, as he has done from time to time, at any concept of a capital gains tax, because the only capital that Aboriginal communities have is their land, and by virtue of the usage of that land they are to be placed in a special position in which no other group in Australian society has yet been placed. This is the first group which is going to have to pay tax on payments which are essentially compensation. I reject that principle and I reject the concept of retrospectivity that is involved, I believe that those dual principles are dangerous principles to establish. I do not think that they are good principles to operate in terms of a dominant white community. But the adoption of them in terms of Aboriginal communities- most of which are struggling and deprived communities- is another example of a swindle being performed on Aboriginal communities by a government which, while talking about Aboriginal rights and sensitivity in understanding their problems, is prepared in the final analysis to give with one hand and to take away with the other.
– I make the point, first of all, that I agree with the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Holding) that the basic thrust of the Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill is in clauses 1 to 3. Therefore, it is appropriate to direct my remarks to the same sorts of comments that he made in his address. But I wish to make it clear in my first few remarks that there is no basis for suggesting that taxation of royalties in this instance or in any other instance is retrospective. There have been taxation obligations upon Aboriginals in relation to the receipt of royalties, and it is to clarify the obligation that has existed for a long time that this legislation has been introduced into the Parliament. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports implied that the rate of taxation is harsh and unconscionable in some way. In fact the taxation is much lower in terms of its quantum than any other group in the community might be called upon to pay. It is 32c in the dollar.
– The question is whether it is compensation.
-I will come to the alleged compensation aspects in a moment. The rate is 32c in the dollar on one-fifth of the income earned. About 6 per cent of the total royalty payments will be taxable. That is a very low rate of tax. Members of the Opposition have attempted to argue that in some way this ought to be seen as being compensation for dispossession. We know of their interest in this subject. There is on the Notice Paper a notice of motion which deals with the subject in the broad and which calls upon us, as a government, to legislate for compensation for the Aboriginal people for the dispossession of their land. I was pleased to hear honourable members opposite assert that the compensation in this instance, namely, the royalty payments, would be regarded as compensation for dispossession. I thought they were arguing about something else when they were speaking of legislation to deal with compensation for dispossession, and I suspect that we will hear them argue that it is something else as well. In other words, they are arguing that there ought to be not one piece of compensation legislated for but a number of situations in which there is compensation for the same dispossession.
The fact is that when compensation is in the form of income it is taxable. If a person receives workers’ compensation and has other income that makes him liable to pay income tax, he will be taxed upon his compensation payment. If a person receives compensation in a lump sum form and invests it and it then becomes the basis for his livelihood, he will be taxed upon that compensation. The question of taxation of compensation has exercised the minds of our courts for a long period. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports would know that the question of taxation of compensation exercised the mind of the High Court recently and caused it to distinguish its approach from that of the House of Lords. The taxation of compensation is not a new principle in our law. It is something which has been recognised and which has happened when the nature of the compensation has been income. In this situation there will be over a long period regular payments which by their very nature are income. That is the point that has to be looked at and understood. In those circumstances taxation is quite proper.
Last night the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) directed our attention to reports by Shann Turnbull, concerning the impact of mining royalties on Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, the first of which was issued on 27 November 1977. Other than reading the conclusions, he did not direct our attention specifically to how it might be relevant to this legislation, particularly its taxation aspects. But I intend to make what he had to say relevant to the legislation because I think some very important points can be learned from the reports of Mr Shann Turnbull.
The fact of the matter is that Mr Shann Turnbull wrote two reports. The honourable member for Capricornia might be somewhat surprised to learn that Mr Shann Turnbull has produced his second report. It is available to us. Obviously, the honourable member for Capricornia had not read the second report when he referred in his speech during the second reading debate to a report on the economic development of Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory and said that it was to be followed by a further report on how the money might flow and might be regulated to increase community self-sufficiency. In fact, the report has been followed by another report. I commend that report to the honourable member. It deals specifically with taxation and it is most interesting. If the honourable member wants to read about that matter quickly, perhaps he should read the conclusions. I direct his attention to paragraph 9.2.9, of the report, in which Mr Shann Turnbull has this to say about taxation:
Self-sufficiency in settlements and towns could be very substantially furthered for both Aboriginals and Europeans by extending the principle of co-operative Federalism to local government so as to eliminate the need for the Federal Government to collect taxes from individuals . . .
The honourable member for Capricornia will say that that is supportive of his proposition that Aboriginals should not have to pay taxation on royalties they receive. But Mr Shann Turnbull went on to add: . . and the need for cither Federal or State bureaucracies to provide health and education, social security and other services.
I would be interested to know whether the honourable member has really thought out his position in respect of this matter. He acclaimed the report and suggested that this Government had not acted upon it. Mr Shann Turnbull advocated in his report that the Aborigines should not pay taxation on the royalties, but he went on to advocate that the Commonwealth Government should not provide funds for health or education services. I would be interested to know whether the honourable member is basing his basic argument that there should be no taxation of Aboriginals upon the sorts of suggestions which were made in the report from which I read.
– He was talking about taxation of royalties, not individuals.
– He was talking about the taxation of Aboriginals as individuals. The concept of the taxation of royalties was, and is, a taxation of individuals. The individuals, collectively, are seen to be receiving that money through their organisations. The legislation before us is designed to provide for the imposition of a withholding tax so that the tax is collected at the first instance. That is done for convenience. In fact we are speaking about the taxation of money which is to find its way into the hands of the Aboriginal people. That is the very nature of the thrust of the speech made by the honourable member for Capricornia last night; the very reason that he drew upon the report of Mr Shann Turnbull, which dealt with self-management and self-determination. This Government has accepted a policy of self-management and self-determination.
I draw attention to the fact that, when one reads both of these reports collectively, one sees that there are wider ramifications than those pointed out to us by the honourable member for Capricornia in the debate last night. I think that that is pertinent. We ought to look at one of the ramifications. I am not advocating what it suggests- I am not putting it to honourable members. But I think the honourable member opposite, by relying upon the reports, was putting it to honourable members. If that were not so, he would say: ‘I really must withdraw everything I said and suggest that these reports warrant a closer look’. But that is not what he said last night. The fact of the matter is that these reports contain suggestions which go to the thrust pf this debate, namely, taxation. Mr Shann Turnbull suggested that there should be no taxation and no provision of services. That is not the proposition I heard honourable members opposite put. What they said was that no taxation should be imposed and funds and services should be provided.
Quite frankly, as one who has taken a great deal of interest in Aboriginal welfare, I believe that it is quite proper for money received from that source- namely, royalties- to be taxed. I think it is quite proper for the Commonwealth to make clear, as it does in this legislation, what the obligation of the Aboriginals will be. In the past the matter of enforcement has been unclear and proper enforcement has been difficult. 1 believe that it is quite proper for the Commonwealth to establish a framework so that Aboriginals will know their obligations and will know thai proper procedures for the collection of the money involved will be laid down. But it should be noted- I emphasise this-that the rate of taxation proposed is a rate which applies to nobody else. It is a special rate, a concessional rate. The rate is only 32c in the dollar in relation to one-fifth of the income earned. I think that that ought to be commended and not disparaged in the way in which it has been disparaged by the Opposition.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m. (Quorum formed).
– I wish to correct a few of the observations that were made. by the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock), who suggested that when I was referring to a report by Mr Shann Turnbull I ignored and neglected recommendations contained in a second report by the same gentleman. The honourable member suggested that under the figures produced by Mr Turnbull money need not be provided by any government department for health, education or other services for Aboriginals; that, in fact, there would be no need for taxes- all services could be paid for from the proceeds of royalties. Last night I referred to that suggestion, which was intimated in the first report of Mr Turnbull. But I referred also to the figures produced by Mr Stephen Zorn, who was mainly concerned in the negotiations when the rate of royalty payment to Aboriginal organisations was agreed upon. His figures differ greatly from those of Shann Turnbull. He suggests that on the figures available to him- the mining of 3,000 to 6,000 tonnes of uranium ore at $30 to $40 a tonne- the Aborigines of the Northern Territory could expect to receive between $160 and $600 each per annum, which is less-
– Zorn was on a percentage.
– He arrived at a percentage, and it was agreed to. The figures that he produced showed that a few hundred dollars- at the most $ 12 a week- would be received by each Aborigine. That is not as much as the allowances that most of us receive when we are out of work.
– You did not relate that to what Mr Turnbull said at all.
- Mr Turnbull, as the honourable member for Dundas suggested before the suspension of the sitting, said that there would be available so much money that there would be no need for any taxes to be levied- it would provide for health, education, roads and other services. I dispute that. I believe that the figures of Stephen Zorn are far more realistic. I believe that the amount involved will be far below the sum that is presently provided in the Northern Territory for services to Aborigines. I suggested last night, in the course of the debate, that if the Government felt so disposed it would be possible for it to eliminate a corresponding proportion of the money that it now spends on services for Aborigines, as Aboriginal organisations will be getting royalties. I do not think that Mr Zorn’s figures were unrealistic. I believe that the sum that will be obtained under the formulas set out in the existing legislation will come nowhere near paying for all of the services that
Aborigines now receive let alone, as Mr Turnbull would suggest, all of the other public services provided in the Northern Territory. What is more, I do not see the royalties as providing adequate compensation. If these royalties, in themselves, provided good and sufficient compensation for all of the suffering of Aborigines at the hands of the Western commercialised society of whites, we would not be quibbling about 6.4 per cent of it being taken away for taxes.
– What would be adequate?
– The honourable member asks what would be adequate. He has studied this matter in great depth and knows very well what would be adequate. He has made a submission to the Remuneration Tribunal, which sets his rate of pay. I wonder how many submissions he has made on behalf of the Aborigines. I consider it would be adequate if the Aborigines were allowed to make decisions for themselves as to what they need. The first suggestion that they made was that they would be happier without any royalties at all, without any mining. That suggestion was rejected, not by Aborigines, not by the Northern Land Council, not by any of their legal advisers, not by the Aboriginals Benefit Trust Account, or any of the organisations that will be collecting royalties on their behalf; it was rejected by white bureaucrats- administrators- and the Government whose members sit opposite. That was one of the propositions that would have been acceptable to Aborigines, but the cost was too much for the white people.
Another proposition they advanced was that they get 1 5 per cent of the royalties, which is the level that is normally and usually accepted by the white rulers of the United States of Amercia when they take minerals from land owned by tribal Indians with whom they have made treaties of commitment- treaties signed by both the tribal leaders and the white rulers. In this country we do not have such treaties, yet years ago our Senate passed unanimously a motion which stated that the Aboriginals and Torres Strait island people deserved compensation for deprivation of their land, culture and social structure, which are inextricably bound one with the other. Every time a mining project intrudes on Aboriginal land, additional destruction occurs of their culture, structure, indentity, dignity and self-regard.
– Why did you buy Ranger?
– We bought Ranger on terms which we said would be negotiated following the principles of the Fox report, which we set out. Those principles have not been met. The principles of the Fox report were sold out by the land rights legislation, which was emasculated in 1976 by the change of government. They were sold out again by the Northern Land Council, which refused to carry out its obligations under that emasculated Act because of pressure from Ministers who sit opposite, who went to Galarrwuy Yunipingu and said: ‘Sell it or else you will not have any Northern Land Council, or any other land councils and you will not have any legislation. You are not going to go to arbitration. Sign or lose the lot’. That is how it was done.
– You sold them out. The Labor Party sold the Aboriginals out.
– Do not give me that gaff. The Government bought Ranger and sold out the Aborigines. The people who sold them out, the people who leaned on them, are the people who sit on the opposite side of the House and talk great pious hypocrisy about land rights, human rights and Aboriginal culture and then torpedo it whenever there is a mineral, pastoral, State government or Northern Territory government interest which says: ‘We cannot afford those blacks; we want the minerals at any price’. They want at any price the minerals which they can sell to the Australian people and make it look as though they are being fair. This Bill is a bit of the back-door treachery that torpedoes any concession that was originally given to Aboriginals. It is all very well to say that taxation was provided for 10 years ago when Gove and Groote Eylandt commenced to be mined. That taxation was never mooted, never spelt out, until last year. It is to apply to Aboriginal organisations, nonprofit welfare organisations. That is what the Government is taxing. It is not taxing private entrepreneurs. It is taxing welfare organisations that have miserable income far less than is needed for Aboriginal welfare in the Northern Territory. Honourable members opposite ought to be ashamed of themselves. There is no morality, no consistency and no honour in the Bill before the House.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. I am reluctant to interrupt the honourable member for Capricornia and cost him time which he has available to address the Committee. All honourable members are aware that each member has the right to address this Committee or the House in silence. Interjections are contrary to the Standing Orders. I have requested honourable gentlemen to observe silence. If they persist in their action they will leave the Chair with no option but to deal with them.
– Unfortunately this debate was gagged earlier in the evening so we are now speaking in Committee.
A quorum having been called and the bells being rung-
– On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker, I refer to the Standing Order which condemns disruptive and frivolous action on the part of any member. I wonder whether these continuous quorum calls on the part of the honourable member for Burke, while members are out working, are in order.
– There is no substance to the point of order. (Quorum formed)
– The honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham), who in my opinion is endeavouring to drive a wedge between the black people and the white people in the Northern Territory, in his speech last night stated one of the worst things that I have ever heard. He accused the Northern Territory -
Motion ( by Mr Innes ) negatived:
That the honourable member be not further heard.
-I thank the House. The honourable member for Capricornia was taking part in a debate on a Bill which in fact deals with taxation, in my opinion a taxation which is at a very low level. It is a taxation of 32 per cent on 20 per cent of the total income which will accrue to the Aborigines from uranium mining. But he harangued -
– Is that less than 6 per cent?
– I cannot hear the honourable member. The honourable member for Capricornia harangued the House mainly in relation to the Shann Turnbull report, and he made a scandalous accusation against such people as myself. He said that the Territory built its wealth mainly on cattle, using Aborigines as slave labour. That is one of the greatest lies that I have ever heard. He should go there and see what people like myself and the pioneers of that place did. They worked alongside the Aborigines and are continuing to do so. His speech last night was inflammatory. He was endeavouring to drive a wedge in regard to what we are doing in the Northern Territory; that is, trying to develop the Northern Territory with the Aborigines and the Europeans- balanda or whatever we like to call Europeans. That is what the top Aboriginal people will tell us. We can go to Silas Roberts, Nanrjiwarra or Obed Raggett, to name three people in vastly different areas of the Northern Territory, and they will all tell us the same thing. This fellow last night and today has spoken in a manner of complete inflammatory racism. That is what he is trying to do. Let us face the facts with regard to this income withholding. All the mining companies in the Northern Territory pay company tax. Of course they do. They include the Groote Eylandt Mining Co. Pty Ltd, Nabalco Pty Ltd at Gove, Peko- Wallsend Operations Ltd at Tennant Creek. No doubt they also include Magellan Petroleum Australia Ltd, which has had a claim of 17 per cent put against it. It will really have to make an income in order to get anywhere.
The thing to realise is that a lot of these claims and counter-claims on behalf of the Aborigines are not doing the Aboriginal cause any good at all. It is not money that will make the difference with the Aboriginal people. That is something that the honourable member for Capricornia and various other members of this chamber have to realise. I am certain that the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) would know it. As I have told honourable members for the last 12 or 13 years- ever since I have been in this House- it is a matter of getting the right people to work with Aborigines so that they will develop alongside the whites, in the Northern Territory or anywhere in Australia. The sort of debate that we have had on this matter in this House from some honourable members is doing the cause absolutely no good whatsoever.
– The Labor Party is racist.
– I warn the honourable member for La Trobe.
– Why don ‘t you chuck him out?
– I warn the honourable member for Burke.
– We have heard criticisms of what would be niggardly royalties of 4 per cent, less so and so. Steven Zorn, who has been mentioned in relation to the royalties to be paid by the Ranger operators, worked it out that by the time he had the environmental clauses written in to the agreement it was 9Vi per cent which would be paid. So it is not insignificant when it is looked at from that point of view. Let us face it. These people- the land councils- will be paid an income from the result of mining operations. Everyone else in the Northern Territory pays tax- mining companies and everyone else. I think I pay 50 per cent of whatever I earn up there. I think one mining company, PekoWallsend Ltd in Tennant Creek, mines some gold, but it mines mostly copper. It pays company tax, and so does every other mining company in the place. They pay tax at a far greater level than that laid down, which is virtually 6.4 per cent. That is the amount at which the Aboriginal organisations will be taxed on the funds that they receive from the receipts of the Ranger operations. The thing to remember is that it is income. If anyone thinks that it can be collected from the Aborigines individually, that is just not on. It has been written this way, so that it is taken from the royalty payments which they will receive.
As all honourable members would know, most Aboriginals, and a lot of other people- I am not criticising them for that- would not be able to fill in an income tax return. This is why this payment has been worked out in this way, so that the money can accrue. It is a very small amount, considering that Peko- Wallsend has outlayed $9m already, and it has not seen a cracker. Magellen Petroleum has laid out $19m, and it is still battling with the urgers who are trying to tell the Aborigines that they do not want that oil explored and brought into production, as do the Yuendumu miners. Tonight we have heard that the Aborigines do not want mining. They do. The Yuendumu mining company wants the uranium mine opened and operating. The Hermannsburg Aborigines want the Magellan Palm Valley oil and gas field opened. Why do they want it opened? It is because they will be partners in it. It is the Aborigines in the north who have been pressured by the Labor Party -
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-Mr Chairman -
Motion ( by Mr Hodges) put:
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman-Mr P. C. Millar)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That clauses I to 3 be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman-Mr P. C. Millar)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 4 (Certain mining payments not included in assessable income).
-Clause 4, read in conjunction with clause 7, goes to the heart of the matter of the way in which the various incomes will be assessed for taxation purposes. I think it is worthwhile considering what we are really about. My friend the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) said a while ago that it is not money that matters. Apparently money does not mean anything in this situation. It is certainly true that the Aboriginal situation will not be solved by any amount of money, but money is a big help and one cannot get anywhere without it. This piece of legislation is a most miserable attempt to withdraw from the Aboriginal people the results of many years of campaigning for their own land. The honourable member for Parramatta talked earlier about taxation.
-That is right, the honourable member for Dundas (Mr - Ruddock). They changed the name; Parramatta was too hard for him to spell. The honourable member for Dundas raised the point that we all had to pay taxation and therefore in this situation taxation ought to be paid. Surely that is uniformity carried to the point of injustice. It is ludicrous to consider this payment as being in the same category as payments received by anybody else. For whose land is it? Whose minerals are they? For two centuries the people of Australia have deprived the Aboriginal people of a fair place in this society, and I would be the first to admit that it is very difficult to lay the blame on anybody in particular. It has been a most difficult social and economic problem. But over the last 20 years there has been a great advance in the attitude of the Australian people towards the rights of the Aboriginal people. By about 1976 I thought the battle had been won, but we have at last realised that there are some things that we have to do to make recompense for our actions of the last two centuries. That realisation could not be sheeted home to any government in particular, but over the last three years or so there has been a constant chiselling of the progress of the Aboriginal people and of the rights that have been established for them. The honourable members opposite called out by way of interjection what they thought was happening in various parts of Australia.
I just remind honourable members of four issues involving the lands and the rights of the Aboriginal people. Prior to 1975 steps were taken to rehabilitate the people from Wyndham in the northern part of Western Australia and to let them go back to their land. I refer to the Forrest River and the Oombulgurri people. During that period the land rights legislation was established! Its purpose was to give permanent rights to the Aborigines and to establish absolute, unqualified obligations on the part of the Australian people. The legislation encompassed such places as Oenpelli and Groote Eylandt in Arnhem Land and Aurukun on Cape York. It also established the rights of the Torres Strait Island people.
In the last 12 months or so we have seen a total unsettling of that situation. Diamonds have been discovered in the north-west part of the Kimberley Ranges, and so there has been a move to unsettle and to take away the rights of the Oombulgurri people in particular. They are the people who are likely to be affected. Uranium is to be found where the Oenpelli people have settled in Arnhem Land. Of course, bauxite is in the land on which the Yirrkala people are living. There is bauxite also where the Aurukun people have settled. Our relations with the Papua New Guineans have to be considered where the Torres Strait Islanders are concerned. Whenever some other interest comes to the fore, the Aboriginal people are pushed aside.
In this instance we are taking the attitude that because royalties have been granted- the word royalties’ has been used but it is simply another word for the reparation, the recompense or the compensation they are being paid to make them equal to the rest of the people of Australia- they ought to pay tax upon them. What a miserable and befuddled piece of thinking. Of course, they ought to be doing nothing of the sort. We should be working out some satisfactory payment to the Aboriginal people, if that is possible, as compensation for the trespass upon their land. We should then attempt to ensure that the Aboriginal people get their money without any let or hindrance.
What are we dong? We have no satisfactory figures before us which indicate how much money the Aboriginal people will receive. Honourable members opposite suggest that the Aborigines are going to be rolling in wealth. What utter rubbish. It would be worth while looking for a moment at the situation in Arnhem Land. It covers an area of 31,000 square miles and is inhabited by about 4,000 to 5,000 Aboriginal people. How much money has been spent on capital works and how much has been provided for the recurrent expenses of that group of people compared with the amounts provided for the average Australian town? Let us look at what it costs to establish an Australian town. It costs $7,000 to $8,000 just to prepare a block of land in this city and that is probably done in the most efficient and economic way in this country. It will cost anything up to $2m to put up a satisfactory modern high school. It costs thousands of dollars a mile to put down a decent road.
Those honourable members opposite who think that we have gone too far should take a look at a Northern Territory community. I am not blaming anybody in particular for that situation. During the Labor Party’s term in office, it did the best it could to launch projects. One would have to admit, as has the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), that the difficulty of finding satisfactory people to work in the field was immense. But nobody can say that those people in the Northern Territory live at the same standard with the same services as those applying to the rest of us. This is a miserable piece of legislation unbecoming of even this Government or this Parliament.
Because the Aboriginal people are to receive, say, a million dollars in some sort of payment for the trespass upon their land and the threat to their social life and their security which flows from having mining communities next door, we intend to take back some portion of it- perhaps $100,000- to pay into Consolidated Revenue. I think that is a miserable attitude indeed. There is no possible justification for this legislation as far as the Aboriginal people are concerned. I suggest to honourable members opposite, many of whom have had successful business careers and many of whom when faced with questions of justice and injustice fall on the side of justice, that they should take away and examine very thoroughly this legislation to see what it really means to the people involved in terms of dollars and cents.
How should we determine the amount of compensation? For instance, nobody knows how much wealth has been garned from the bauxite at Yirrkala. Nobody knows how much the company involved in that operation has received. Nobody knows whether we can disentangle how much the aluminium people have made out of places such as Weipa. We do not know the facts of this case. We are toying with a set of figures which does not necessarily have relevance to the case at all. Instead of attacking my colleague the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) for what he said, honourable members opposite should take seriously what he said and read very carefully what has been done. Honourable members opposite should examine their consciences closely and ask themselves whether what we are doing here tonight is not unjust, inequitable, and unfair, and whether it is a total and improper use of the power of this Parliament to take away from the most dispossessed and disadvantaged people of Australia something they are at last stalling to get.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-The honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock) took the Opposition to task on the question of compensation. In the first instance he referred to a motion which has been placed on the Notice Paper by the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham). Let me just read the terms of that motion:
That the House accepts the fact that the indigenous people of Australia, now known as Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, were in possession of this entire nation prior to the 1788 First Fleet landing at Botany Bay and urges the Australian Government to admit prior ownership by the said indigenous people and introduce legislation to compensate the people now known as Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders for dispossession of their land.
I know that I do not have to remind the honourable member for Dundas, but I may have to remind the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Baillieu), because he was not around at that time, that that motion is in identical terms to one that was not simply passed but carried unanimously by the Senate. That means that it was carried with the support of the Liberal Party and the National Country Party in the Senate. I hope that we in this House will also be able to carry that motion unanimously. If Liberal Party and National Country Party members were prepared to vote for that motion in the Senate in 1975, as it was proposed by Senator Bonner, a Liberal senator, then maybe we can emulate the Senate and do exactly the same thing in this chamber.
– I did not take the motion to task. I was talking about compensation and what you mean by that.
– What the honourable member for Dundas said was that the honourable member for Capricornia mentioned compensation in that motion. Indeed, he did. But let me remind the honourable member for Dundas that the motion states:
I do not really accept that what we are debating here tonight, namely, the question of royalties in relation to mining in the Northern Territory, represents a fair measure of compensation for the Northern Territory Aboriginals or the Aboriginal people of Australia as a whole. Even if honourable members opposite want to see it as some sort of compensation- and I do not -
– You have been arguing it as compensation.
-If the honourable member for Dundas will keep quiet for one moment, I will tell him that I do not believe that what is proposed is complete compensation, because it seems to me that even if the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory resisted totally all mining on their land, there would still be an obligation upon us to provide some sort of compensation to them- at least for the land which we had removed from them. I will take up the position put by the honourable member for Dundas. Accepting that this is some measure of compensation, not a capital settlement but income, I invite him to think for a moment of what this represents in the way of income per Aboriginal family in the Northern Territory. It is necessary for me to explain briefly how these royalties are paid. Forty per cent of the royalties is paid to the various land councils, 30 per cent is paid to the particular communities who represent the traditional land owning group, and the remaining 30 per cent is paid into a trust account used to benefit Aboriginal people throughout the Northern Territory.
In order not to complicate the matter too much I will assume that the whole of the royalty is to be spent equally amongst all Aboriginal families and, as suggested by the honourable member for Dundas, is some form of income. Let honourable members accept that proposition. Well, what does the royalty from Ranger represent per Aboriginal family in the Northern Territory? The honourable member for Dundas may be surprised to know that it represents an annual income per Aboriginal family of less than $1,000. Other people in Australia with an income of less than $ 1,000 do not pay any tax. Yet the Government is proposing, according to the argument of the honourable member for Dundas, to assume that this royalty is compensation payable in the form of annual income and therefore should be taxed when it reaches the recipients. Leaving aside the argument as to what the money is spent on and leaving aside the argument that most of the money does not get into the individual’s hands, even if all of it got into the individual’s hands each family would get less than $1,000 a year. Yet the miserable Liberals on the other side of the chamber want to tax a family income of $ 1,000 a year at the rate of 6Va per cent. We have now uncovered where the honourable member for Dundas stands in relation to the welfare of Aboriginal families in the Northern Territory.
– There is no need to shout. We can hear you.
– I will not shout so long as you promise to listen. But the point is that this money does not get into the hands of individual families. Firstly, 40 per cent goes to the land councils and most of that money is spent on two things. Firstly it is spent on processing claims before the Land Rights Commissioner in relation to unalienated land. That takes a lot of money. Secondly, the money is used by the land council, the decision-making and governing body, for the Aboriginal communities within various parts of the Northern Territory. Consequently, far from going into the hands of individual Aboriginal families, most of that money finds its way into the pockets of lawyers, advisers and administrators, many of whom have the same complexion as the honourable member for Dundas.
Another 30 per cent of the money goes to the traditional land owning community- not into the individual pockets of members of those communities but into the incorporated bodies which represent those communities. That money, presumably- as has been the case at Yirrkala- is spent on community activities and on building a capital infrastructure to assist the community as a whole. Again, substantial sums go into the hands of building contractors, sellers of motor vehicles, manufacturers of motor vehicles and so on. So again, even the money that goes directly to the community does not go into the pockets of individual members of those communities but is spent to the benefit of the community as a whole and finds its way into the wider Northern Territory and Australian communities.
The remaining 30 per cent goes into the trust account. That money is dispensed throughout the Territory to various community organisations. Consequently, it is only in rare instances that the money finds its way into the hands of individual Aboriginals. I do not understand how the honourable member for Dundas can see this as compensation in the form of annual income. I will draw another analogy which I am sure will appeal to the honourable member for Dundas. Consider the situation of Mr Lang Hancock. It is true that he receives royalties from Hammersley Iron for the exploitation of mineral leases which he holds. However, there is a very clear difference between Mr Lang Hancock and the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory. The main difference is that Mr Lang Hancock owns the leases and is able to determine whether or not they will be exploited; and if so, by whom and at what price. On the other hand the Northern Land Council does not own the minerals. All that was built into the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act was a requirement that mining companies negotiate with the Northern Land Council. As far as the Aboriginal people are concerned, this is not a position of negotiating strength. They were put under pressure by the Government to ensure that the royalties were kept to a very low level. In addition, they were put under substantial pressure by the Government to ensure that an agreement was reached quickly. Therefore, honourable members cannot say that the Aboriginal people -
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 7- by leave- taken together.
-Clause 7, read in conjunction with clause 4 and a few other–
– You are not going to make the same speech again, are you?
– When I am dealing with slow learners I have to be repetitive. I am going to assume that particular charm tonight and deal with some of the matters raised which seem to be misunderstood. I will take up the remarks of my colleague the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Dawkins) about the difference between the situation of Mr Lang Hancock and that of the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory. Let us consider a particular group of people in the Northern Territory, those who live in Arnhem Land. Arnhem Land has been a reserve since, I think, about 1931. Most of us considered that that land was inviolate; that it had been set aside by promulgation for the Aboriginal people and would remain that way. On the other hand, Mr Lang Hancock pegged out some sort of mining leases under Western Australian legislation. By some mysterious alchemy of law he has an absolute right over that land, as my friend from Fremantle said. But the Aboriginal people, having only lived in the area for anything between 20,000 to 30,000 years, so far have not managed to establish a proper claim to it.
What kind of society do we operate when there are special rights for miners? My friends opposite often say that in these circumstances you cannot treat Aboriginal people differently from the rest of the community. Those of us who have a piece of land somewhere on this continent do not own the mineral rights, although I understand that in parts of New South Wales they do. Honourable members opposite are saying that Aboriginal people must not have special rights. However, in this country miners do have special rights. In clause 7 mining interests, mining rights and mining are defined in the traditional terms of the miners of Australia whose rights transcend those of anybody else, even those who have lived here for countless thousands of years and for whom the land is something spiritual and not proprietary. That is what we are debating today. As far as I can see the battle about the absolute right of the Aboriginal people to say that for the time being one must not mine their land has been lost. As I understand the situation, as outlined by my friend the honourable member for Fremantle, Mr Hancock was able to say: ‘We will put that aside and leave it there ‘.
The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) referred earlier to the Magellan rights about some seven or 10 miles from Hermannsburg. That company discovered gas there. It sealed its gas discovery and it has stayed sealed, apparently inviolate against all the law that one could muster. I am fairly confident that if we had exercised our constitutional rights to take it over under just terms we could have done so. Unfortunately I was not in the Aboriginal Affairs portfolio long enough actually to get round to that. There we have an example of a corporate body made up of people who, one might say, are completely nameless under the provisions of our laws and who were able to seal the minerals they found against use by anybody until they find the appropriate time to mine them. On the other hand the Aboriginal people have no rights whatsoever. It is useless to point to rights any more. The land rights legislation has been fought over for so long. Both sides of the chamber and committees have spent hours of traumatic debate in consideration of it. Despite that the Aboriginal people have not been given one ounce of protection because one will always be able to find some way around it. This legislation is part of the system of getting around those things which have been already established.
I appeal to honourable members opposite, particularly those who have had a good deal of experience in law and accountancy, to examine what is going on and to find out why this legislation is going ahead. In my judgment it ought not to go ahead. In my judgment the mining of uranium at Oenpelli and even the mining of some of the bauxite deposits ought not to go ahead. But if it goes ahead, what is a fair return? How do we even determine what the companies make out of this mining? If we are to charge something for it why do we not charge so much a tonne instead of having royalties that are based on a percentage of the profits that can be discovered out of the intricacies of modern accounting practice? I hope that when this legislation gets to the other place it will be given even closer examination. Tonight we are taking back from the Aboriginal people a small proportion of the miserable portion they will get out of the mining. I should think that all the royalties and all the money which have been paid to the 30,000 to 40,000 Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory would not amount to what Mr Lang Hancock, for instance, has made out of his rights. So where are our standards and what sort of attitudes do we really have?
Three or four things with which honourable members opposite might not be familiar are mentioned in the legislation. An Aboriginal land council established by or under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 is to become a distributing body. What is an Aboriginal land council? In early 1973 Mr Justice Woodward was appointed to examine the land situation of the Aboriginal people of Australia and to make a recommendation. He recommended that land councils be established. I think the first ones were appointed in August 1973 or thereabouts. Later- by the time all laws had been drafted it was 1976- the councils were given the sanction of statute. They are now statutory bodies operating for the Aboriginal people to protect and to develop the interests of Aboriginal people. They are not mystical bodies in the hands of mischief makers or stirrers from the south or anything like that. They are simply bodies of Aboriginal people charged with the responsibility of protecting their own people’s rights. Aboriginal associations operate in a similar way.
I hope that those honourable members who have not been here long enough to remember all the arguments that were put in this place about this matter will take time off to study some of the history of and battles about the land rights situation. I believe that it would be worth while for them to take a look at the situation at Yirrkala. The Aboriginal people at Yirrkala were among the first victims of what is referred to on page 4 of the Bill as a miner’s right or mining interest. Honourable members should read the debates that took place on this subject. The people of Yirrkala live in the far north-east corner of Arnhem Land. This area is one of the more desirable parts of the Northern Territory. Bauxite was discovered on their property and, without much regard at all for their welfare, agreements were made with a mining company to mine it.
Legal battles took place in respect of the mining. I took a case in the Darwin court in 1963 after I found in one of the Northern Territory newspapers a mining warden’s notice which said that objections could be lodged in the mining warden’s court. I did that. I suppose that out of that action grew the first battle in the courts about land rights. A piquant note came into the matter when a committee was established by this Parliament to examine the grievances of the people of Yirrkala and I was appointed by my party to be a member of the committee. The Government took steps to try to get me ofT it. A former Governor-General, a man of great distinction in this country, was the responsible Minister at the time. The Government intended to remove me from the committee. Unfortunately at that time honourable members opposite had the advantage of only one over us in the House and they were not sure that they would all be available to make sure that I was removed. They appealed to my better nature to get off the committee. However, I thought that my better nature demanded that I stay on it. But, as I have said, it has been a long battle which has involved many people on both sides of the chamber.
I still think that this piece of legislation is a part of the surrender of those things that so many people on both sides of both Houses of this Parliament and outside it, certainly many Aboriginal people, have given so much to try to secure. I think that this piece of taxation is nearly as miserable a piece of pettifoggery and accountancy attitudes that I have come across in my 24 or 25 years as a member of this chamber.
-We are addressing ourselves to clause 7 of the Bill. However, the matters that were covered by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) were of a fairly wide ambit. (Quorum formed). Clause 7 of the Bill deals with the principal operative sections relating to the taxing or payments in respect of mining operations on Aboriginal lands. Of course, it contains all the definitional sections of the Bill, among others. During the course of this debate the nature of this tax has been, I think, grossly misrepresented by honourable members opposite. It has been implied that it is unconscionable. On the one hand, if one listens to the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Dawkins), the amount of income that is likely to be derived by Aboriginals is likely to be small and insignificant. Yet if one reads the report from which the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) quoted so fully last evening one will be aware that it is likely that the amount of income to be derived from the mining of uranium and other products on Aboriginal lands is likely to be the saviour of not only the Aboriginal people but also the people of the Northern Territory.
I think it is important that we recognise that in clause 7 of the Bill that we are considering we are dealing with a very small tax. In this case the withholding tax is set at a rate of 6.4 per cent of the gross royalty payments to be paid to Aboriginals. That is a very low rate of tax. It bears no relationship to any other tax payable, and I think that point ought not to be forgotten. When one hears honourable members opposite speaking in relation to these matters one would think that we were acting in a harsh and unconscionable way in relation to Aboriginals and the income that they are likely to receive. If one listened to the honourable member for Fremantle one would be led to believe that the only income that an Aboriginal was likely to have was $1,000 derived from royalties paid in relation to the Ranger mining development. Yet we all know that that is just not the case. We know that in many of those situations Aboriginals are receiving social security benefits. I pointed out earlier that some honourable members may care to adopt that part of the Turnbull report that advocates that those benefits be taken away and substituted entirely by royalties. That proposition has not been put by us; it was put by somebody else.
Yet the honourable member for Fremantle was suggesting that the only income that an Aboriginal would be expected to receive is $1,000 and that it is unconscionable to tax that amount at 6.4 per cent. He forgets the social security benefits that are involved. He forgets that it is not the only mining operation in the Northern Territory. He knows that other mining operations have been consented to by Aboriginals. He knows that other mining operations have been going on. He had only to consult his friend the honourable member for Capricornia to realise that in his speech he referred to some which have been paying royalties for as long as 10 years. In many cases numbers of Aboriginals will have quite significant incomes. It is quite false to suggest-
– How? How would that get into individual pockets?
-In terms of the funds that are available for their benefit the amount involved is considerable. Members opposite allude quite frequently to trust arrangements. Are they the people who suggest that if an honourable member is receiving income indirectly from a trust, it is not for his benefit? What I hear them say so frequently particularly when they think it may involve any honourable member on this side of the chamber, is that those sorts of incomes ought to be taken into account to the greatest extent possible and that people ought to be almost punished for having them. Yet when Aboriginals are to benefit, through trust accounts which are set aside for them and into which the funds will be put, for their use, they suggest that they are not going to derive a benefit from them. It is quite ludicrous to separate those matters to that extent. If we read the report from which the honourable member for Capricornia quoted so fully last night- and I am not suggesting that one ought to rely upon it entirely- and which he put to us with some degree of approbation, one would recognise the humbug coming from opposite.
– Humbug; absolute humbug.
– Yes. It is coming from members opposite. On the one hand the honourable member for Fremantle was trying to argue that Aborigines would have absolutely nothing and that it is unconscionable to charge this 6.4 per cent tax. On the other hand the honourable member for Capricornia was suggesting that the people of the Northern Territory were going to benefit tremendously from the amount of spending power to be put in the hands of Aboriginals and that they ought to be happy for the Aboriginals to have this income in their hands because there would be a multiplier effect which would substantially benefit everybody else. I would just like to read the passage which the honourable member for Capricornia quoted incorrectly last night. I would like to quote it correctly because in it the point is made quite clearly that there are substantial benefits to be derived from the mining activity which will be going on in the Northern Territory, in which all people will share and from which particularly the Aboriginal people will benefit. In dealing with the impact on the Northern Territory economy he quoted from paragraph 132 of Mr Shann Turnbull ‘s report, which states:
The use and ownership reversion in the conditions of granting mining leases would provide the basis to make the Northern Territory economy self-sufficient so that no State taxes were required and the Territory would become the leading business and retirement haven.
He went on to say that the uranium royalties received by Aboriginals will make a far greater impact on the Northern Territory economy than all other income expected to be received by Northern Territory residents on the present methods of managing resource development. We should bear in mind those comments which the honourable member for Capricornia last night spoke of in such glowing terms as the basis upon which we could expect that the Northern Territory people would have no complaint about the Aboriginals receiving their income tax free because the Northern Territory people were going to benefit from a share in it. We are told by members opposite that it is harsh and unconsci unconscionable for them to be asked to pay a withholding tax of 6.4 per cent on the total income that is received for their benefit. I would like to read to honourable members the point that was made by the Treasurer (Mr Howard) when he spoke of the way in which this particular tax was set, because I think it bears further comment. He said:
I stress that the rate was arrived at after most careful consideration. It takes into account that substantial amounts attributable to payments from mining operations can be expected to be expended on the provision of facilities and services for Aboriginal communities and for the benefit of people whose income level is low. On balance, the Government believes that a rate calculated in this way is a reasonable revenue contribution out of mining payments of this kind.
I think all reasonable honourable members would support this legislation because that is the principle that is involved.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) put:
That the Chairman do report progress and ask leave to sit again.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman- Hon. Ian Robinson)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1979
Income Tax Amendment (Mining Withholding Tax) Bill 1979
Pipeline Authority Amendment Bill 1979.
I thank Mr Daly for the example he gave me.
-Mr Speaker, this again is evidence of the way in which this Government treats the Parliament with absolute contempt. Last night, when the Opposition co-operated with the establishment of the legislation committee, this Parliament was used to try to strangle debate on the Atomic Energy Amendment Bill. Tonight we have the same performance.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Mr Sinclair’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I declare that the following are urgent Bills: The Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1979, the Income Tax (Mining Withholding Tax) Bill 1979 and the Pipeline Authority Amendment Bill 1 979.
– This is not a Parliament now. It is becoming a Country Party joke- the way in which this Parliament is being run by the Minister for Primary Industry. People who want to speak on these subjects are being denied every right to do so.
-Order! The question is: ‘That the Bills be considered urgent Bills ‘.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
-I would just like to point out to the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) that the time allocated is inadequate.
Government members interjecting-
-Order! The House will come to order. The honourable member for Wills has made a statement. Interjections are not necessary.
– Honourable members opposite can shout as loud as they like. I have halted a better looking team than theirs without any trouble with the band playing. I expected from honourable members opposite a real application of what one might call solid business principles- organisation, reasonable prediction and a proper understanding of the task in hand. I expected that in doing so they would allocate to any proposal before this House a reasonable time for discussion. The Leader of the House has chosen to say that the responsibility for this particular exercise is ours.
Let us go into the history of the past 24 hours. Last night at about 9.30 p.m. the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier) chose to gag my colleague the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Holding). The honourable member for Melbourne Ports intended to make a 20 minute speech. We resented his being silenced in that way, and it took over an hour to sort out the matter. At 5 o’clock or thereabouts today the Leader of the House or his minion- one of his puppets- gagged debate on this piece of legislation. So in order to have our voices heard and to say those things which ought to be said in relation to this matter, we just had to keep calling for a quorum, reminding the House of its responsibilities, taking the House into Committee and making our speeches.
So here we are hours later, still debating a matter which would have been completed at about 8.30 p.m. had it been allowed to run its natural course, with three or four Opposition members speaking to it for 20 minutes. We have arrived at the stage where this Parliament is now being subjected to every possible trick in the parliamentary system to prevent the Opposition from the discussing the matters before it. There is continual use of the gag. The honourable member for Bendigo has the unenviable record of never making a speech but simply gagging everybody else. The honourable member for Bendigo and the Leader of the House have now established a record of being the best parliamentary saboteurs that this institution has seen in the last 79 years. They have applied the gag, silenced members and provided inadequate time to debate issues or for honourable members to prepare for such debates.
For instance, this particular Bill was brought to the House on 3 May and now, here we are, seven days later, finalising it. The time allowed is totally inadequate. Finally, we have had the use of what might be called political censorship. This is the most alarming feature of the situation. I would point out to my friend the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Hodges) that last week, when members on the Government side gagged the Supply debate and added to a previous exercise by the honourable member for Bendigo when he exercised political censorship, was the only time since I have been in this Parliament when members have been silenced for making political commentaries rather than for being out of order or when some mechanism such as the guillotine was used.
– You have forgotten about Fred Daly.
-He never did that. Fred Daly laid out a program and set out a time, but we had no serious objection to what people said about us. It is part of the tradition of this Parliament that honourable members may say what they will so long as what they say is in line with the Standing Orders and is relevant to the debate. I have been here for 24 or 25 years. The right honourable member for Bruce (Mr Snedden) used to be a heavy-handed Leader of the House but he never indulged in this kind of tactic. I put it to honourable members opposite that the use of political censorship in debate here is very dangerous and alarming and it ought not be tolerated. This little exercise tonight is probably the last nail in the coffin of this Parliament which is one of the few institutions left in the world where there is a reasonable chance of conducting an open public forum. What Government members are doing here tonight could well be disastrous to the whole representative system of government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses 5 to 7.
– I should like to make some comments in the few minutes which remain to debate this very important measure. I regret very much the way in which this Bill has been guillotined. This is a crucial Bill as it concerns the Government’s credibility on the whole question of Aboriginal land rights. I think it was unfortunate that the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), egged on by the honourable member for Holt (Mr Yates), said that what the Labor Party Opposition was trying to do, and what the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) in particular was trying to do was to set white against black in the Northern Territory. Nothing could be further from the truth. I give the Committee these reasons in explanation. In the first place, there was never any suggestion that the Northern Territory Administration, and therefore the non-Aboriginal members of the Northern Territory, would benefit in any way from the Ranger uranium mine. There was never any question of the Northern Territory Administration receiving any royalties. Therefore, to a very great extent, the Aboriginal people, through the Northern Land Council, in negotiating the question of royalties were representing not just the Aboriginal population of the Northern Territory but the entire population of the Northern Territory. Whatever the Northern Land Council was able to extract by way of royalties was going to be the entire benefit which people in the Northern Territory received by way of royalty from this particular enterprise.
I do not have to explain our opposition to the whole of the Ranger exercise. All I am saying is that if there is going to be a uranium mine it seems to me that the community as a whole ought to benefit. But the only way that the whole of the Northern Territory community would be able to benefit would be indirectly through the royalties which the Aboriginal people, via the Northern Land Council, were going to obtain. It was only well after the negotiations were finalised- ruthlessly finalised as a result of the application of force by this Federal Government- that the Northern Territory Administration stepped in and attempted to extract its pound of flesh from the whole exercise. It extracted by devious and probably illegal means, something like1¼ per cent royalty out of the Ranger proposal. I invite honourable members to go back to the stage when the negotiations were in progress. It was never envisaged that the Northern Territory Administration would receive a royalty and therefore the Northern Land Council was negotiating on behalf of the whole of the people of the Northern Territory.
As I have attempted to explain, the money which will go to Aboriginal communities, the money which will go to the land councils, and the money which will go to the trust account will indirectly benefit the total population of the Northern Territory. I think it was most unfortunate that the honourable member for the Northern Territory came here and said that our argument in opposing this taxation was based on setting white against black in the Northern Territory. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The other thing which is terribly disturbing about this whole exercise is that itwill mean that taxation will apply for the first time to the mining operations at Groote Eylandt and Gove. Even if it could be argued that it was known at the time of the Ranger negotiations that some taxation would apply, there was never any suggestion that there would be any taxation at the time that the royalties were negotiated for Groote Eylandt and Gove. Indeed, no taxation has been applied in relation to those royalties since the time that those negotiations were concluded. What has happened now is that many years after establishing royalty rates, inadequate and trifling as they are-2½ per cent in relation to Gove, and 3¾ per cent in relation to Groote Eylandt- the Government has stepped in and decided to extract something out of these companies by way of this appalling taxation. I think that the point made on this side of the House about retrospectivity is very appropriate because taxation is being applied to an agreement made many years ago in the absence of taxation and, as a result, benefits applying to Aboriginal people are being reduced.
I just want to make one point in relation to the comments of the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock). He continues to pretend that this taxation is in lieu of some sort of income tax applying to Aboriginal people as individuals. No matter how hard the honourable member tries, no matter how many projects he includes, I say this: If total royalties were to be applied overall to all aboriginal families they would still not be in a position where they would be receiving an income which would be subject to taxation if it was received by any other Australian. This Government is applying excessive taxation to the Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, taxation in excess of that applied to any other Australian family. The honourable member completely ignores the fact that very little of this money is going to find its way indirectly into the personal disposable income of any Aboriginal family. To that extent, the honourable member has been guilty of a gross distortion as far as this whole matter is concerned.
I just want to say that I am not opposed to the taxation of royalties in general. I am not opposed to Mr Lang Hancock being taxed on royalties which he receives from his mining leases worked by Hammersley Iron. The point is that the Northern Land Council was not in a comparable position with someone like Mr Lang Hancock. It was not able to extract the market rate for the use of that land, and the reasons for that are well known. In case anybody has any doubt, the Northern Land Council could not prevent the mining of the land, no matter how hard it resisted. The Government made it very clear that if the Northern Land Council did not conclude those agreements, did not agree to some level of royalty, then the Government would step in, invoke the national interest clauses of the appropriate legislation and force upon the Northern Land Council some sort of solution to the problem. The Government would have imposed a royalty rate unless the Northern Land Council moved to agree to one. So, to that extent, it was not a freely-negotiated agreement and therefore it is not comparable with other royalty arrangements. I agree that in those instances they should be taxed but, because of its unusual nature, this one should not be taxed.
– Order! The time allotted for the remaining stages of the Bill has expired. The question is “That clauses 5 to 7 be agreed to’.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
- Mr Chairman, the Opposition did not call for a division because it would take up debating time. We protest about being deprived of the right to debate this issue fully.
-The question now is ‘That the remaining stages of the Bill be agreed to and that the Bill be reported without amendment’.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported without amendment.
-The question now is ‘That the report be adopted and that the Bill be now read a third time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– The Opposition has again refrained from calling for a division because it would take up debating time and again the Opposition protests about being deprived of the right to debate this issue fully.
Consideration resumed from 3 May, on motion by Mr Howard:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
-Is it the wish of the House to proceed to the third reading forthwith?
– At what stage are we?
– I am asking the House whether it wishes to proceed to the third reading forthwith. There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
Motion ( by Mr Macphee) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
-In summing up the Opposition’s objections to this Bill and the Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill (No. 2), which have been debated cognately, I say that it would have been much simpler to have allowed the points that we wished to be made, of which there are not many left, to go forward without the interruptions that have occurred- the sort of thing that has been occurring in the last 24 hours- as these Bills would have been well behind us by now. Every argument that has been raised by the Government to counter the Opposition’s arguments has been unsubstantiated. In particular, I have been misrepresented as arguing for money as something that could compensate the Aboriginals or would be preferable to the other values that Aboriginals have lost by accepting the mining agreement that they had forced on them.
I made it clear in the second reading debate that it is not the money that Aboriginals want. Shann Turnbull ‘s report was not asking for money. Certainly it was claiming that an extravagant amount of money would be available, but I do not accept that. But one thing which he clearly recommended to the Government a couple of years ago, and on which the Government has not shown any sign of action, was that the Aboriginal people should have been prepared for that money. If one wants to destroy people who do not know how to handle money, one gives the money to them without preparation. That was the central theme with which I started and concluded my speech. I want to make it clear that any suggestion that I am arguing in a niggardly way for more money as a solution to these problems is very far from the truth and is a gross misrepresentation.
Damage will be done to Aboriginal people, their culture, their communities and to individuals, by the mining operations. The amount of so-called compensation is niggardly and insufficient. It will not compensate for the damage that will be done. Most of the money will be disposed of in a way that is at least as responsible as the way that government departments have disposed of it because it will be disposed of primarily by Aboriginal organisations, which, by and large, get better value per dollar for Aborigines and put less into white administration. Nevertheless there is a need to assist those organisations to make the best use of that money in the long term because it will dry up. Those mines will not last for every. For example, the Nabarlek company aims to rip out all the ore in one year and then sift through it at its leisure so that if, among other things, there is a change of government that company will not be able to fill in the hole without having a chance to extract the ore.
The Opposition does not accept that this is just an argument about tax. It does not accept the formula of the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock) that an imputed $1,000 is to be given to each Aboriginal family in the Northern Territory and that it should be taxed because they are getting other income. The Opposition does not accept it and the responsible Minister’s formula does not accept it. That formula accepts only an imputed one-fifth of that royalty money as noncapital money. He accepts that around four-fifths of it will go into capital works, which means that it is not taxable. Capital gains are not taxable, even for Lang Hancock. If we divide that $1,000 by five we find that $200 per Aboriginal family is the amount that is to be taxed at the rate of 32 per cent- at an income tax rate- the honourable member for Dundas is asking honourable members to believe that a taxable rate of income should be applied to the Aboriginal families in the Northern Territory because of the $200 they will get from these royalties.
The Opposition rejects that formula. Even it it were true, the Opposition would reject the suggestion that this tax is justified. Compensation in any sense of the word, is not adequate because the royalties were a miserable settlement by any standard of comparison with Papua New Guinea, Canada and North America and with the royalties that are paid to private owners of mineral leases, such as Lang Hancock. The Opposition does not accept it as a fair formula. It thinks the tax is a miserable back-door way of doing what the Government continually does when it tries to reduce its deficit. It does not impose further taxes on mining companies. It does not impose super taxes or resources rentals. It gives investment incentives but it cuts down on social services. It cuts down on the real amount being given to Aboriginals for their housing and health. It cuts down on the mineral royalties that in some cases they have received for 10 or 15 years without tax. The Government does all that to help it balance its Budget because the Aboriginals do not have the muscle to fight back and resist. The Opposition has done its best to fight back and resist. On those grounds, I believe that the Opposition ought to have divided at every stage of this legislation but because of the guillotine that has been applied this evening and because every time we divided this Parliament the House would be deprived of its more precious right to debate. I have had to content myself with registering the Opposition’s objections to these Bills. I take it that everyone who reads Ilansard will understand that the Opposition is united in its opposition.
– I support the words of my friend the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham). I will sit down in time for my friend the honourable member for
Holt (Mr Yates) to say a word or two, a courtesy not always accorded to us on this side of the House, although I doubt that the honourable member for Holt is a participant in that kind of discourteous behaviour. I would like to take the minds of honourable members in this House to the place I mentioned earlier Yirrkala, in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. I am not sure how much money has been paid in royalties so far to the Aboriginal people in that area, but I have an idea that it is perhaps $1.2m over the 16 years or so since mining began. I do not know exactly what has been given to, granted to or taken from the Aboriginal people in that area.
Melville Bay is the lease area around which bauxite and other mining ventures have taken place. In that area I think some 56 square miles of land have been excised from Aboriginal land. Fifty six square miles is a lot of land. This land is precious to the Aboriginal people. They have a spiritual attachment to it. As I said earlier, they do not have a proprietary attachment. This land means everything to them in their lifestyle, their social organisation, their belief in the future and their whole faith in the way in which the world works. We have taken all this from them. A foreign owned mining company has been ravaging the country and no matter how hard it tries it cannot restore the land to its original state. No matter how hard it tries it cannot restore the social organisation of the Aboriginal people which has been destroyed by the mining operation. So, a large area of real estate has been taken away from the Aboriginal people for what is a pretty miserable sum.
When Canberra was first developed, one land owner with 10,000 acres claimed $35m for his land that was required for development. He did not get it, but he did his best to get it and was eventually paid a sum approximately two times greater than the Aboriginal people at Yirrkala have been paid for their 56 square miles. If honourable members took some time otT, went to Melville Bay and had a look at the mining town on the one hand and the Aboriginal town which is some 1 2 miles or 1 5 miles away on the other hand, they would see that the mining town is modern, well founded with properly made roads, well built schools and other facilities that you would expect. Down the road the original proprietors- in effect, the legal and moral proprietors- the Aboriginal people, live in a miserable situation indeed, at a much lower standard than the general population of this country. As I said earlier, I propose to sit down and let my friend the honourable member for Holt say a few words. I just hope that at some time in this place we can gain from the people opposite the courtesy we will never gain by any means other than example- certainly not by appeals to their better nature.
– I am very grateful to the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). I was interested in the speech he made. He may well know that there are people on this side of the House who have been up to and into Arnhem Land and have also spent considerable time in examining the troubles and difficulties which the Aboriginal people have and indeed are going through. It is a serious transitory problem. It is all very well for us balanda to start telling the Aboriginal people what they should do. They are just as worried dealing with this Government as they were when dealing with the former Labor Government. The honourable member for Wills had a great record of service. He talked about sacred land, and he knows that he is right. All I ask of honourable members opposite, is that they do not exaggerate or exacerbate the very serious problem in the Northern Territory, a problem on which our consciences are deeply disturbed both in our homes and in our world affairs before the United Nations.
The speech made last night by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) could hardly be accepted even in christian charity as the right way to look upon the problem. I do not think that the Aborigines will think very much of us and very much of our politics if we start playing any further with their anguish, sorrow and distress. I think it is time that this nation had a very serious think about what it should be doing. If these mineral rights are to be taxed and the Aboriginal people are to suffer some deprivation in not receiving enough money for their social work, schools or anything else they require, then of course it is a matter for regret. However, I would think that to put a proposition to give them more money -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! The honourable member for Holt will resume his seat. The time being 10.15 p.m., the time allotted for all stages of the Bill has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 3 May, on motion by Mr Groom:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-This Bill is to amend the Pipeline Authority Act 1973, which was established to build pipelines in Australia and which has in that period constructed a pipeline between Moomba and Sydney. The Bill is designed to rationalise the powers and functions of the Authority. It deals with the membership of the Authority and other issues, but it also in a significant way changes the powers of the Authority. While the Opposition can see some rationalisation of those powers, in the broad it opposes the legislation because of the nature of the changes. Some of the original powers could be redundant and have probably not been used. I will just recount some of the powers which the Government has removed from this legislation. I will say that it has left two of the original powers existing in the Act. The first is section 1 3 ( 1 ) (a) which reads:
In other words, the Government is prepared to go along with the original concept in the Act of a national integrated pipeline grid. The Government is retaining section 13 ( 1 ) (b) which states:
The Government is prepared to carry someone else’s gas or indeed its own gas which it can buy. The Government has removed certain powers. Firstly, section 13(1) (c) provides:
Let me make a comment about that. Under that power, for instance, the Authority could buy a tanker load of refined petroleum products. I agree that there is not much use in the Authority in doing that, it is not an appropriate power; nevertheless it never had to be used and could have remained dormant. Section 13(1) (d) states:
That is again an objective, but I suppose that anybody who supplied natural gas would like to think that it was free of impurity. Any selfrespecting utility would certainly want to do that. Again it is a power that does not necessarily have to be summoned up. Section 13 ( 1 ) (e) states:
I believe that that is a very hard concept to live with in this day and age. I will grant the Government that, given the fact that various centres will have gas available to them at different times and contracts will be entered into at different times. To move to a uniform price would be very difficult to do. Section 13 ( 1 ) (f) states:
Again in the amendment which the Government proposes that is probably covered. However, the Government has thrown out sub-section 2 (g) which states:
I think that the Government is very unwise to take that power from the Authority, because the Authority with that power could then sit upon reserves which it may have contracted or which it may use in the future to supply a particular part of Australia. I believe that it would have been in the Government’s interest for the Authority to maintain sub-section 2 (g). It replaces those provisions with this provision:
In other words, it will buy petroleum which is going to be sold, or which is in the course of being sold, or which has been sold or conveyed by the Authority- and is in, or is to come into, the possession of the Authority for that purpose, and to sell petroleum so purchased.
So the Government will cloak the Authority with powers to buy and sell petroleum. It will not be just a common carrier. It will not carry someone else’s gas. It can actually buy, sell and operate a pipeline grid. But it cannot secure control and retain reserves as was provided in section 13 ( 1 ) (g) of the Act. I think it is a shame that that provision is going. The second amendment to that section of the Act which the Government proposes relates to paragraph (d) of the Bill which states:
to the Minister; or
Again, I do not cavil at that power. It would seem to rationalise paragraphs (d), (e) and (f) as originally provided in the Act. I admit that the drafting is very loose there. But they are powers which the Authority had originally. They may not have been used in the past but there was no need to take them away. I accept that paragraphs (c), (d), (e) and (f), stretching a point, could be rationalised as proposed by the Government. But I would have preferred to have seen paragraph (g) included in the Government’s changes. Perhaps the most ominous change or proposal in the legislation- this is really the core of the Opposition’s difficulty with the legislation- relates to clause 11 of the amending Bill. In relation to amending section 15 of the principal Act, it states:
by adding at the end thereof the following sub-sections:
That seems to me to be a thoroughly nonsensical proposal. Why a Commonwealth statutory utility with a record of performance which this body has should be hamstrung in this way by the Government is beyond me. For instance, no one would argue that Trans Australia Airlines should come to the Government and get an Act of Parliament through both Houses in order that it can buy a new aircraft. It might do that if it wanted a loan guarantee but it would not do that for the decision to get a new aircraft. Similarly, no one would argue that the Australian National Railways should come here and seek the approval of both Houses of Parliament to buy new rolling stock. To me that seems to be a completely mindless proposal, remembering that the Pipeline Authority built the 1,300 kilometre pipeline between Moomba and Sydney in record time, that it is already a contributor to Consolidated Revenue, that it was a first-class construction job, on time, within estimates and is a payer. It is not a cost on the public. It returns money.
But now what do we find? We find that the Authority has to have the approval of Parliament. Why is that done? Do honourable members think that people on the Authority have recommended this? Of course they have not. This is a piece of villainy by the Government. All I can say is that this is testimony to the fact that the Government feels that its political life is in jeopardy and that it will not be in office for much longer. This provision is being inserted to hamstring a future Labor Party Government in relation to the construction of pipelines throughout Australia and for no other reason. This Government has control of both Houses of Parliament and it could, by virtue of this Act, construct pipelines if they were needed and if the market demand were there. Instead the Government wants a Bill to go through both Houses of Parliament in the belief that it can return to the obstructionist tactics that it adopted between 1 972 and 1 975 in the vain hope that in the future it will control the Senate while a Labor government has a majority in the House of Representatives.
If the Minister for Minerals and Energy in a Labor Government sought to build a new pipeline between centres the present Government could frustrate the construction of such a pipeline. That smacks of the worst features of the Senate obstructionism by the Liberal and Country parties throughout the years 1972 to 1975. It is a completely interventionist approach to what would otherwise be the free operation of this statutory authority. It seems that the coalition parties have learnt nothing from the events of November 1975 and are giving notice now that in opposition they will be as obstructionist as they were then. As well as that one could look at other ways in which they behaved over that time. For instance, before 1972 when Labor came to power, the coalition extended the two airline agreement because it thought Reg Ansett would not get his way if a Labor government were in power. Therefore it tried to lock in a future government.
That is what the Government is trying to do now. It is trying to keep control so that it will be able to run a government from opposition in the Senate, that unrepresentative chamber. That is the only construction I can put upon this change. I think that reflects very poorly upon the nature of the Liberal-Country Party coalition in this Parliament. After all, it is a reasonable thing that the Commonwealth should have a competent authority to establish pipelines throughout Australia and to have a rational pipeline system. We have learnt lessons from the United States where they built pipelines during the war for transportation of petroleum. After the war, with the post-war growth, there was what is now termed the spaghetti bowl in the United States. There were pipelines everywhere with different prices for gases and different contractual situations. There was total inefficiency. Instead of that we moved rationally, at a stage when the first major long-distance pipelines was built to have a Commonwealth authority to do the thing properly and to develop engineering competence so that the Australian public could be the beneficiaries of a sensible scheme to bring this premium fuel of natural gas to their homes and to industry in the factories. But instead of doing this, what do we see? We see not just a rationalisation of the Authority’s powers which we could accept but the complete hamstringing of the Authority by the insertion of clause 1 1 .
The Opposition is opposed to the Bill for this reason. In the Committee stage of the debate I will seek to have clause 1 1 of the Bill removed. I hope that the Government will consider some of the remarks that I have made about it. I do not see why there should be a dispute between both the major parties over a matter like this when there is a competent authority. Nobody is cavilling about the Authority, the people who sit on the board or the management team. There is no dispute about any of these matters in the Parliament. But injected into the Pipeline Authority is this damaging political act of trying to hamstring it so that in future both Houses of Parliament will have to agree. People may ask: ‘What is wrong with both Houses ofParliament needing to agree to something? Is that not democratic?’ That would be democratic if the Senate respected the views of the Government in the House of Representatives, the Lower House, but that is not the way in which it has behaved in the past. I do not see that one needs to extend this kind of mock democratic process to these lengths when other statutory bodies of the Commonwealth do not need to have the approval ofParliament for their equipment, construction or any other thing. For instance it would be stupid if Qantas Airways Ltd had to get an Act ofParliament through both Houses in order to build a new hangar at an airport or for some such proposition. That is an outrageous concept. We on this side of the House are vigorously opposed to it.
One would think that, after the divisions of other years, Australia and the coalition parties would wake up and look at matters in terms of the national interest, to see that there is such a thing and to understand that no government will build pipelines where they are not required, or where there is not adequate market demand or where they are not economic, unless there is a need to have a subsidy situation specifically involved. There would be no irrational decisions in respect of these issues, one would hope, by either of the major parties. Instead, here we have the old attempt to run government from Opposition. When the same thing is done on this side of the House in regard to the question of uranium, when we say that a Labor Party in government will not agree to contracts entered into by a nonLabor government, all hell breaks loose. We are told what an atrocity it is. The Fraser Government can walk away from commitments entered into by the Labor Government. For instance, it can walk away from the commitments entered into in respect of sand mining on Fraser Island and get itself into all sorts of international hot water over the breaking of those agreements, including being sued by the companies involved. However, it is very bad if we propose anything similar. In that regard, at least we have something going for us. At least there are problems in the nuclear industry and we are entitled to do what we are doing. It is just unbelievable that the Government would act in this way in respect of a pipeline to supply natural gas to our cities.
In conclusion, we are not opposed to the provisions of the Bill which relate to staff of the Authority, consultants, application of moneys, borrowing by the Authority, financial policy, estimates, regulations, and other ancillary matters. We are concerned about the rationalisation of the original legislation whereby the Government has taken away section 13 (1) (g) and some other sections. Even though those powers were not being used, they were there and could be called upon if necessary. More importantly, however, we are concerned about the insertion of clause 1 1, which requires this Act of Parliament concept for pipelines. The Opposition will be opposing clause 1 1 at the Committee stage and will be seeking to have it deleted from the Bill. I only hope that the Government will see its way clear to agree to the amendment.
– This Bill seeks to amend the Pipeline Authority Act 1 973. The Authority set up under the Act was given a vast range of functions and powers that were inherent in the socialist left aims of the Government in power at that time. The construction and operation of the natural gas pipeline between Moomba in South Australia and Sydney was carried out under the Act. It took nearly three years to construct this major project, which pumped natural gas from Moomba through 1,300 kilometres to Wilton, a gateway to Sydney. This massive operation involved the construction through outback country of 40 kilometres of pipeline a month at an annual expenditure of $90m. The Moomba-Sydney pipeline came into commercial operation on 18 December 1976, when gas was first delivered to the Australian Gas Light Co. at the Authority’s custody transfer station at Wilton.
The terms of the haulage agreement between the Authority and AGL are designed to enable the Authority to recover all costs and expenses, including interest, related to the construction and operation of the pipeline. This was to be done over 30 contract years of the agreement, subject to the carriage of 1.1412 x 10” cubic metres of natural gas during that period. Each day about 2½ million cubic metres of natural gas passes through the pipeline. The design of the pipeline, however, provides for the transport of up to 9 million cubic metres of gas per day, and with the installation of compressors up to 22 million cubic metres- per day. Initially the flow is low, but as more households are connected and industry moves from oil this flow will increase. The latest full year figures show that the operating expenses for the year ended 30 June 1978 amounted to nearly $28m, which includes an interest figure of $23. 5m, compared with a revenue of only $1 1.5m. Thus the Authority ran at a loss for that year. As I said, the flow initially was low but it is increasing, and it is hoped that a profit will be made in the very near future.
The total cost of the project to 30 June 1978 was $22 9m, with about $ 1 m still to be spent. The Authority is financed by advances made by the Minister for Finance under section 25(2) of the Pipeline Authority Act 1973 out of moneys appropriated by the Parliament for the purposes of the Act. The Treasurer (Mr Howard) has determined that the Authority shall pay interest on advances at the rate determined by the Australian Loan Council as applying to private semigovernment loans of the longest term, the rate in respect of each specific advance being the last such rate determined by the Loan Council prior to the advance being made. The rate of interest applying at 30 June 1978 was 9.7 per cent per annum. Advances are repayable in equal halfyearly instalments over a period of 20 years. Interest on advances is payable on 15 June and 15 December each year. A total of $70m has been paid in respect of interest from the time of the Authority’s inception to 30 June 1978. The Authority is now generating sufficient cash flow to meet its operating expenses, excluding interest, and after allowing for capital expenditure of $1.2m and short-term investments of $500,000, it contributed $6.6m from its own resources towards the payment of interest to the Commonwealth Government during the year.
The construction and maintenance of the Moomba-Sydney pipeline as detailed is the proper function of a statutory authority, in this case the Pipeline Authority. But the unlimited power to buy and sell petroleum, the control of petroleum reserves, and the construction of more pipelines without authorisation of the Parliament are not proper functions of a statutory authority such as this. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) tried to compare a pipeline with a train or a hangar- a comparison of $ 1 m or $2m against $200m, $300m or $400m. That is hardly a worthy comparison. Perhaps I should tell the honourable member that he should have no concern regarding the future of this House. The honourable member alluded to the reasons for this Bill being brought before the Parliament. I believe that this Government will continue to run the country properly and that the Australian public will continue to return a Liberal government.
The Pipeline Authority Act 1973 is being amended to vary the functions of the Pipeline Authority and to take away the unlimited power that it was given originally. The Bill also proposes changes to bring the Pipeline Authority into line with other statutory authorities, particularly in the areas of finance and its relationship with the Public Service Board. In conclusion, the Pipeline Authority is to be congratulated for successfully completing the major Moomba-Sydney pipeline. We look forward to its continuing operation as a regularly constituted statutory authority. I support the Bill.
-There is no doubt that the legislation we are considering proposes to reduce the powers of the national Pipeline Authority. The Authority will require specific authorisation from the Federal Parliament to construct any new pipelines. This legislation also seeks to further restrict the Authority’s responsibilities, including the requirement to deliver gas at uniform rates throughout Australia. The Opposition opposes this legislation. It particularly seeks to amend that part of the legislation which requires specific approval from Parliament to construct new pipelines.
The original legislation, which was introduced by my predecessor, was designed to provide for the first stage of a national pipeline grid to deliver gas and derivatives throughout Australia for the benefit of all Australians and Australian industries. It is now fashionable to refute the feasibility of such a scheme and of the original Connor plan to use a portion of the North West Shelf reserves as a back up for the whole of this proposed system. At some time it may be necessary to resuscitate this concept. In the meantime several other projects ought to be completed. Brisbane is supplied with gas from the Bowen Surat field near Roma in Queensland and these reserves are now very low. There is a need to connect Queensland to the Cooper Basin-Bass Strait reserves via a line to a convenient point on the New South Wales- Cooper Basin pipeline. But the main point is to link New South Wales to the Gippsland Basin fields.
An example of the capacity of private companies to work against national interest is the decision of the Australian Gas Light Co. to construct a small 6-inch diameter spur line from Young to Wagga off the main South AustraliaSydney line. We should link the Bass Strait fields with the Moomba-Sydney line by the construction between Albury and Young of a large pipeline of at least 12 inches in diameter. With this we would have an embryo national gas grid. Queensland, New South Wales, the Cooper Basin in South Australia and the Gippsland Basin in Victoria would then all be linked by the construction of these two lines; that is, we would then have an option to construct later a line to the North West Shelf if hopes of finding significant further reserves in the Cooper Basin are not realised. Such a line could simply be an extension of the proposed line to Perth or it could traverse the Pilbara, which seems a better concept, although it would leave the Perth line as simply a spur line.
Any sensible assessment of the feasibility of these concepts relies on an accurate assessment of reserves, and enough is now known to reach some conclusions. Total Australian natural gas reserves, both currently proven and theoretically recoverable, are 878,000 million cubic metres. This includes 202,000 million cubic metres in the Gippsland Basin, 93,000 million cubic metres in the Cooper Basin and 472,000 million cubic metres on the North West Shelf and the Carnarvon Basin in Western Australia. This latter field encompassed the proposed North West Shelf development which includes North Rankin with 244,000 million cubic metres, Angel with 50,000 million cubic metres and Goodwyn with 140,000 million cubic metres. The inescapable conclusion from these figures is that the major New South Wales gas market, which is Sydney, and Adelaide are drawing from the smallest major reserves; that is, those in South Australia. The Cooper Basin provides 34 per cent of South Australian energy requirements. There is no question but that if Rex Connor had known that the North West Shelf line was not to be linked to the east, the present pipeline would have been constructed to the Gippsland Basin and not to South Australia.
In 1977 South Australian natural gas consumption was 1,900 million cubic metres and 478 million cubic metres only were transported by the Pipeline Authority to the Australian Gas Light Co. for use in New South Wales. At that consumption rate, and given a compound growth rate of 5 per cent, the Cooper Basin reserve would last only 21 years. With a growth rate of 12 per cent it could be exhausted in about 14 years. Given the certain increase in natural gas consumption in New South Wales, a 5 per cent growth estimate is very conservative. With the larger Gippsland Basin reserves being consumed only in Victoria, the Bass Strait reserves will last longer, perhaps some 30 to 40 years, given a 5 per cent growth rate. In Victoria in the 3 years to 1977 production rose by 14.5 per cent, 18 per cent and 16 per cent respectively. So those figures related to the exponential growth rates that I have cited, in my view, can be regarded as conservative.
There is an urgent need to accelerate gas exploration in the eastern States and it is true that present pricing policy could militate against increased exploration, but this is not to say that there is an absolute open and shut case for gas pricing equivalent to that applying to imported oil. It is little wonder that the South Australian Government is concerned about the ownership and control of the Cooper Basin gas reserves. I think that it should continue with its plan to limit single shareholdings in Santos Ltd, which controls the Cooper Basin reserves, to 15 per cent. It is very worrying to see entrepreneurs such as the Bond Corporation from Western Australia acquiring majority control of vital national resources. If the Bond Corporation lifted its current 37Vi per cent shareholding in Santos, there is no guarantee at all that an appropriate percentage of its profits will be diverted to gas exploration in the Cooper Basin. Perhaps the best result in the protection of the South Australian and New South Wales gas supply could be achieved by the South Australian Government’s completely acquiring Santos, as was hinted at in the Australian Financial Review earlier this month.
The North West Shelf project involves exporting each year 53 per cent of production, or 6.5 million tonnes of liquid natural gas, to Japan and perhaps to the United States. Three hundred million cubic feet a day will be transported to Perth, if construction of the line goes ahead, with the biggest single user being the alumina industry. Some 70 million cubic feet a day should go to the Pilbara. There were obviously other options available, such as reserves for the east and the production of liquid fuels such as methanol to reduce Australia’s crude oil imports. The argument that immediate larger markets are required to provide substantial early cash flows to repay the $3 billion expenditure has apparently won the day. But there can be no more exports of further discoveries in Western Australia or anywhere else unless substantial new reserves are proved up, particularly in South Australia.
An Australian government wishing to guarantee long term liquid fuel availability should consider the methanol option. It is amazing how the Federal Government and the States are supplying finance for research into coal liquefaction but are ignoring the proven technology of producing methanol from natural gas. The energy efficiency rating of the latter method is 60 per cent whereas, at best, that for the known methods of coal liquefaction does not exceed 40 per cent. If it were blended with petrol, methanol could supply 25 per cent of our national petrol requirements. The Mobil oil company already claims to have a process of converting methanol to petrol at a cost of not more than 3c a litre. Tiny New Zealand is proceeding with a methanol plant which will utilise 65 per cent of its major Naui natural gas field.
Oil is a diminishing world asset. The Rockefeller Institute argues that in 30 or 40 years only the most powerful economies will afford what is left of world supplies. There will be no point in the Government’s arguing that huge earnings from export of coal, uranium, natural gas or anything else will pay for oil imports in this situation. Nature took 200 million years to create world oil reserves and in perhaps 50 years they will be gone. Money will not purchase a gallon of natural crude oil if it no longer exists. It is incredible that people such as Sir Charles Court, who talk about unlimited energy exports and the need for a Western Australian nuclear power industry, will not consider a huge methanol plant in the north-west or even in the east if eventually a pipeline is constructed.
I return now to clause 10 of the Bill which amends section 13 of the principal Act. Amongst other things it provides that it will be no longer a function of the Authority to ensure uniform delivery prices of gas throughout Australia. Certainly unless the Authority constructs further pipelines and acquires or controls pipelines in South Australia and Victoria, this would not be possible anyway. But it raises the whole question of gas pricing in Australia. Gas pricing is a shambles. The prices range from 3c a therm for gas obtained from the Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria to 4.5c a therm in South Australia, 1.7c a therm in Queensland and a proposed price of 1 8c a therm in Western Australia.
A case can be argued for the price of natural gas being equal to that of other fuels- for example, imported fuel oil- or for export parity pricing. It can be argued, certainly, that cheap gas encourages excessive use of a premium fuel and gives no encouragement to exploration. That is really the same argument which is used in favour of import parity pricing for domestic crude oil. But current crude oil policies are now seen to be inflationary and untenable. We should now refuse to pass on automatically the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries increases into domestic crude oil prices until we reduce Australian prices to an acceptable percentage of world prices- perhaps about 70 per cent. The present oil levy excise shambles could then be replaced with a simple resources tax. If one does not agree with parity pricing for oil at this time it is really hard to argue for parity pricing for gas. Maximum gas prices will not necessarily result in conservation if high levels of exports are allowed.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, with some regret, I raise a point of order. The honourable member is more than looking at notes; he is actually reading his speech and he is being coached.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member for St George will resume his seat.
– What he is doing is against the Standing Orders. He is also being coached by the honourable member for Blaxland.
-Order! The honourable member for St George will obey the Chair.
– In response to the point of order which was raised, Mr Deputy Speaker, 1 am discussing a proper natural gas pricing policy for Australia, something which this Government has grossly neglected. The gap between the cheap price for gas available in Victoria and the high price proposed for Western Australia needs to be closed. Pricing could be within parameters which are denned by the Federal Government. Gas could be sold at a price which removes the present extreme disparities and provides an adequate tax base. There is a strong case for some industries in remote areas which wish to upgrade Australian raw materials to be allowed the benefit of gas at less than world prices. For instance, I cite the case of the Hamersley iron organisation, which is being screwed by the North West consortium to pay import oil parity prices for North West gas. That is approximately 1 8c a therm- 4c a therm more than the free on board price of liquid natural gas being sent to Japan and 8c a therm more than the proposed price of 10c a therm on gas going into the pipeline to Dampier. If State electricity commissions can supply cheap coal-fired electricity to aluminium producers in the east, it is fair enough that those companies which wish to upgrade iron ore should receive similar concessions in the west. But, of course, the price should not be too low.
In short, this Bill reduces the powers of a Federal statutory authority when there is a need for more Federal Government intervention in the energy field. Eventually we must debate the role of the Federal Government in the oil energy sector. International experience indicates that in the future Australia will need public corporationsour equivalents to the British National Oil Corporation, Stat Oil of Norway and the Middle East oil corporations. Why not have an Australian national oil corporation and an Australian natural gas corporation? Perhaps they could be funded by a resources tax imposed on existing producers. They could be corporations which explore for and participate in the development of new oil and gas fields. They would be an inherent part of the future, with perhaps a Federal department of energy served by a Federal energy commission. The extension of the pipelines provided by the National Pipeline Authority would be part of that scenario. Then all of the gas and fuel pipelines of Australia owned by the various State authorities and private companies could be part of a national pipeline grid that would serve the people and our industries. Mr Deputy Speaker, I move the following amendment to the motion that the Bill be now read a second time:
That all words after’ that be omitted with a view to substituting the following words: the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide that the Pipeline Authority may construct pipelines without the express approval of both Houses of Parliament ‘
-Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment, Mr Deputy Speaker. I do so because we on this side of the House want to see the Pipeline Authority, one of the great visions of Rex Connor in his time as Minister for Minerals and Energy, retain the powers originally given to it. We can imagine the situation if the board of a similar body, say Qantas Airways Ltd or Trans-Australia Airlines, were expected to go cap in hand to a government to obtain consent through a special Act of Parliament every time it needed to make new purchases of aircraft. That would be a ludicrous situation. Yet that is the sort of absurdity which we have been asked to condone. That is what is embodied in the Pipeline Authority Amendment Bill which is before the House. The late Rex Connor, in a moment of sweet familiarity with the muses, once quoted a few lines from Banjo Paterson in relation to his vision of the natural gas pipeline which would service this great continent- the vision which the Government is now trying to destroy. The last line of that piece will suffice to illustrate the discrepancy- more correctly, the yawning chasm- between honourable members on the Government side of the House and we of the Opposition on this side of the House. That line states:
Give me men . . . with creation in their brains.
The poetry might be a bit awry, but the idea is there. Where are the men of vision these days? Where are the people on the other side of the House with creation in their brains? We do not see a trace of it in honourable members opposite. Nothing positive ever comes out of this Government. Everything that comes out is negative. It has been a long downhill run since this Government grabbed power. Everything it touches turns sour. The economy is just one obvious example. Countless other examples are on the record and etched into the hearts and minds of the Australian people. The recent drastic swings away from the parties of honourable members opposite in every election they contested gives testimony to that. The Government wants to extend its ‘un-Midas’ touch to the highly efficient and successful Pipeline Authority. We say to the Government: ‘Hands off! Leave a good thing alone. Remember the old Mortein advertisement: “When you’re on a good thing, stick to it”.’ When we left power we left this Government with one of the best authorities in Australia in the Pipeline Authority- an authority which was to give Australia a real chance to do something big. All the Government is trying to do is to emasculate it.
We on this side of the House can see no good reason for the other curtailing legislation prepared by the Government either. The Government is seeking to interfere in another important area. I refer to the fact that this Bill seeks to strip the Pipeline Authority of the power to secure, control and retain reserves of petroleum. We object to the clause which seeks to do that. The Authority’s powers in that area should be left intact. No purpose is served by interfering. In recent months we have seen the way in which other Labor policies in the area of resources have been not just adopted; almost embraced by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr Anthony). I might add that I commend the right honourable gentleman for seeing the obvious virtue in our minerals policy. The pipeline was an incredibly valuable initiative on the part of the Labor Government. Already the country has benefited enormously. Honourable members should ask the householders who switched over to natural gas the Christmas before last whether they think that Connor was doing the right thing.
The Pipeline Authority still has a long way to go to fulfil its task and to make vital provisions for the future. It cannot afford to be so ridiculously hamstrung at this stage. To do so would be scandalous and totally unsupportable. What the Government is doing in this direction merely points to the assertion we are making that the Government is so sure of the return of a Labor government next time round that it is adopting a dog-in-the-manger attitude. It is playing games with the power vested in it by the electorate. But should we be surprised about that? It is not novel for the leaders on the other side of the House to do that, but certainly their doing so is to be deplored. We deplore it. We oppose the Bill for that reason. I support fully the amendment moved by my colleague, the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr West).
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr West’s amendment) stand pan of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Dr Jenkins)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
House adjourned at 11.8 p.m., until Tuesday, 22 May next at 2.15 p.m., unless Mr Speaker Shall, by telegram or letter addressed to each member of the House, fix a alternative day or hour of meeting.
Mr Nixon to present a Bill for an Act to amend the Navigation Act 1912, and for related purposes.
Mr Nixon to present a Bill for an Act to amend the Lighthouses Act 1911 in consequence of certain amendments of the Navigation Act 1912.
Mr Nixon to present a Bill for an Act to amend section 3 of the Pollution of the Sea by Oil (Shipping Levy Collection) Act 1972 in consequence of certain amendments of the Navigation Act 1912.
Mr Nixon to present a Bill for an Act to amend section 10 of the Sea-Carriage of Goods Act 1924 in consequence of certain amendments of the Navigation Act 1912.
Mr Nixon to present a Bill for an Act to amend section 11 of the Seamen’s Compensation Act 1911 in consequence of certain amendments of the Navigation Act 1912.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 22 November 1978:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Motor Vehicle Emissions (Question No. 3247)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Science and the Environment the following question, on notice, on 22 February 1979:
-The Minister for Science and the Environment has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 20 March 1 979:
What are the details of (a) capital cost, (b) annual expenditure, (c) number of staff and (d) services provided under the (i) Community Health Program and (ii) School Dental Scheme for each project in each Federal electoral division.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
While annual expenditure concerning individual projects within the School Dental Scheme is not available, information is presented showing the capital costs of projects established under the Scheme.
Mobile school dental clinics themselves have not been included in the table because their operation is not restricted to specific electorates. A total of 1 52 mobile clinics is currently approved under the Scheme.
It should be noted that many Community Health Program projects provide services in more than one Federal Electoral Division, and such projects are indicated with an asterisk (*). In relation to such projects, staffing details relate to the total service provided by each project.
Staffing information provided represents the level of staffing approved for the purposes of Commonwealth funding under the Community Health Program, and do not necessarily represent staffing positions occupied.
With regard to the School Dental Scheme, detailed information is not available concerning staff numbers on an electorate basis. However, a total of approximately 2,300 persons is employed within the Scheme, including 990 dental therapists and 310 dentists. In addition, there are approximately530 dental therapy students.
Under the School Dental Scheme, free dental care, including prevention, dental health education and treatment, is available to school children to the completion of primary education. In Tasmania, the Commonwealth also provides financial support for the dental care of secondary school children under15 years of age, but only at the current level of activity. The School Dental Scheme involves the training of dental therapists and, for this purpose, a total of 10 dental therapy schools have been established.
Because of the volume of information required to answer the honourable member’s question, the tables detailing approved community health projects, in each electorate and the projects approved for funding under the School Dental Scheme in each electorate will not be published in Hansard. However, I have arranged for copies to be made available in the Parliamentary Library and the Table office for the information of honourable members. I have also sent to each honourable member, details of Community Health Program projects in his electorate and in his State, and details of School Dental Scheme projects throughout Australia.
asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 28 March 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
1979-1,015, 1978-803, 1977-553.
Australian Capital Territory: Government Owned Dwellings (Question No. 3599)
asked the Minister for the Capital
Territory, upon notice, on 28 March 1 979:
– In the absence of Mr Ellicott the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In the vast majority of instances the issue of such notices resulted in the tenants arranging to pay outstanding rent and eviction action was not further pursued. For example during the period October 1977 to March 1979 only 3 tenants were actually evicted, another 15 having vacated before such action became necessary.
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 4 April 1 979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) Inquiries were commenced on 30 March 1979.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 1 May 1979:
How many (a) temporary and (b) permanent staff are currently located at the Department of Social Security offices at:
68 Macquarie Street, Parramatta, NSW.
ii) Level 6, Westfield Centre, and
3rd Floor, Station Centre, Cnr Argyll and Wentworth Streets, Parramatta.
-The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Eight staff previously located at 68 Macquarie Street, were relocated to Level 6 Westfield Centre with effect from 7 May 1979.
Department of the Special Trade Representative: Opinion Polls and Surveys (Question No. 3771)
asked the Minister for Special Trade Representations, upon notice, on 2 May 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Aborigines Enrolled as Electors (Question No. 3815)
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 3 May 1979:
What percentage of Aboriginals 18 years and over is enrolled as electors in each State and Territory.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The records of the Australian Electoral Office do not distinguish the racial origins of persons claiming enrolment; therefore it is not possible to determine which electors are Aboriginal and thereby calculate the statistics sought by the honourable member.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 May 1979, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1979/19790510_reps_31_hor114/>.