31st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Rt. Hon. Sir Billy Snedden) took the chair at 2. 1 5 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to inform the House that in reply to the address of condolence of this House on the occasion of the death of Lord Mountbatten Her Majesty the Queen has sent the following message:
I send my warm thanks to the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia for their kind message of sympathy on the tragic death of Lord Mountbatten.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives, of the Australian Parliament assembled. The petition of certain citizens of NSW respectfully showeth:
Dismay at the reduction in the total expenditure on education proposed for 1980 and in particular to Government Schools.
Government School bear the burden of these cuts, 1 1 .2 per cent while non-Government school will receive an increase of 3.4 per cent.
We call on the Government to again examine the proposals as set out in the guidelines for Education expenditure 1980 and to immediately restore and increase substantially in real terms the allocation of funds for education expenditure in 1 980 to Government schools.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Bradfield, Mr Carlton, Mr Cohen, Mr Kerin, Dr Klugman, Mr Neil, Mr Ruddock and Mr Sinclair.
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 a grave threat to the life of refugees from the various States of Indo-China arises from the policies of the Government of Vietnam.
That, as a result of these policies, many thousands of refugees are fleeing their homes and risking starvation and drowning. Because of the failure of the rich nations of the world to provide more than token assistance, the resources of the nations of first refuge, especially Malaysia and Thailand, are being stretched beyond reasonable limits.
As a weathly nation within the region most affected, Australia is able to play a major part in the rescue as well as resettlement of these refugees.
It should be possible for Australia to: establish and maintain on the Australian mainland basic transit camps for the housing and processing of 200,000 refugees each year; mobilise the Defence Force to search for, rescue and transport to Australia those refugees who have been able to leave the Indo-China States; accept the offer of those church groups which propose to resettle some thousands of refugees in Australia.
The adoption of such a humane policy would have a marked effect on Australia ‘s standing within the region.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Bourchier, Mr Jarman and Mr Peacock.
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 Jarman, Mr Lynch and Mr Scholes.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament Assembled. The humble petition of electors of the State of NSW respectfully showeth:
That the Commonwealth Employees (Employment Provisions) Act 1 977 should immediately be repealed because:
It provides unfettered power to Ministers to suspend, stand-down and dismiss Commonwealth Government employees and places them in a markedly disadvantageous position as compared with all other Australian workers.
Its use places Commonwealth Government employees in direct conflict with the Government as it circumvents the arbitration tribunals and denies appeal rights.
Its use will exacerbate industrial disputes and inflame industrial relations in the Commonwealth area of employment.
The International Labour Organisation has condemned the provisions of the Act as being incompatible with the rights of organised labour in a free society.
And your petitioners in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Kerin, Mr O’Keefe and Mr Sinclair.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament Assembled. The humble petition of electors of the State of Victoria respectfully showeth:
That the Commonwealth Employees (Employment Provisions) Act 1977 should immediately be repealed because:
It provides unfettered power to Ministers to suspend, stand-down and dismiss Commonwealth Government employees and places them in a markedly disadvantageous position as compared with all other Australian workers.
Its use places Commonwealth Government employees in direct conflict with the Government as it circumvents the arbitration tribunals and denies appeal rights.
Its use will exacerbate industrial disputes and inflame industrial relations in the Commonwealth area of employment.
The International Labour Organisation has condemned the provisions of the Act as being incompatible with the rights of organised labour in a free society.
And your petitioners in duty bound will ever pray. byMrBourchier.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the National Women’s Advisory Council has not been democratically elected by the women of Australia;
That the National Women’s Advisory Council is not representative of the women of Australia;
That the National Women’s Advisory Council is a discriminatory and sexist imposition of Australian women as Australian men do not have a National Men’s Advisory Council imposed on them.
Your petitioners therefore pray:
That the National Women’s Advisory Council be abolished to ensure that Australian women have equal opportunity with Australian men of having issues of concern to them considered, debated and voted on by their Parliamentary representatives without intervention and interference by an unrepresentative ‘Advisory Council’.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Falconer and Mr Shipton.
The Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned members and ex-members of the Citizens Forces of Australia respectfully showeth:
Decorations and Medals for long service and good conduct, namely the Reserve Decoration, the Efficiency Decoration, the Air Efficiency Award, the Efficiency Medal and Long Service and Good Conduct Medals, awarded for long and meritorious voluntary service in the citizen forces:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray
Your Honourable House take appropriate action to resume the award of the several distinctive Reserve Forces Decorations and Medals for Long Service and Good Conduct to members of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve, Army Reserve (C.M.F.) and the R.A.A.F. Citizens Air Force.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrAldred.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That we oppose the increase in Radio Licence Fees on Marine Radios for the following reasons:
We also oppose the Radio Regulation that allows and encourages the use of CB radios in boats for the following reasons:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray the government will reconsider the licence fee and also consider a reduction for pensioners. We also humbly pray that the regulation allowing the use of CB radio in Marine situations be rescinded.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Braithwaite.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That because television and radio-
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:
That the Australian Government will amend the Broadcasting and Television Act, in relation to both national and commercial broadcasters, to legislate
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Cohen.
To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That it is necessary for the Commonwealth Government to renew for a further term of at least 3 years the States Grants (Dwellings for Pensioners) Act 1974-77, renewed for one year expiring on the 30 June 1 978.
The demand for dwellings has not slackened as the waiting list (all States) of 12,060 single and 4,120 couples as at the 30 June 1977, showeth.
Your petitioners respectfully draw the attention of the Commonwealth Government to the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Aged Persons’ Housing 1975 under the Chairmanship of the Reverend K. Seaman (now Governor of South Australia) which recommended additional funds to State housing authorities to meet the demand for low rental accommodation in the proportion of $4 for $1 with the proviso that the States do not reduce their existing expenditure and
That the Act include married pensioners eligible for supplementary assistance and migrants as specified by the Seaman Report and that particular consideration be paid to the special needs and requirements of the prospective tenants in the location and design of such dwellings.
Furthermore, your petitioners desire to draw the Government’s attention to the hardship of many pensioner home owners caused by the high cost of maintenance.
The Social Security Annual Report 1976-77 shows that 24.6 per cent, or 283,000 home owning pensioners, have a weekly income in excess of the pension of less than $6 per week.
Your petitioners strongly urge the Commonwealth Government to establish a fund whereby loans can be made to means tested pensioners for the purpose of effecting necessary maintenance to their homes. Such a loan to be at minimal interest rates sufficient to cover administrative costs and to be repaid by the estate upon the death of a single pensioner before probate or upon the death of the surviving spouse in the case of married pensioners or where two pensioners jointly own the dwelling. Administration to be carried out by local government bodies.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Dr Edwards.
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 further cutbacks in Commonwealth funding to State Schools and transferral of funds to wealthy independent schools as required under the guidelines to the Schools Commission announced by the Minister for Education in early June are of vital concern in that they mitigate against the interests of the great majority of Australian children in State schools.
That Queensland State schools have not reached the Resource Usage Targets set by the Schools Commission, and even at those financial levels will fall well short of actual provision standards envisaged by the Commission.
That Queensland’s effort in respect of Capital works is particularly of concern being less than half the per capita effort of other States.
Your petitioners therefore call on their legislators to ensure-
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Hodges.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of Parliament assembled the humble petition of the undersigned citizens respectfully sheweth we are completely opposed to the concept of charging patients in Community Health Centres, and indeed, the very nature of fee-for-service medical service delivery.
We feel the Federal Health Department directive to charge patients attending Community Health Centres works to the detriment of the people of the community who demonstrably have failed to receive full twenty-four hour primary care in all Community Health Centres so far established.
We pray that the Government do continue funding under the present guidelines; additionally that funds be made available for primary medical care where it is at present not available at Community Health Centres.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Howe.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
We, the undersigned, protest against the closure of the Taringa Post Office and hereby request that the postal facilities enjoyed by this community be restored as soon as possible.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Moore.
To the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives. The humble petition of the undersigned of Portland in the Commonwealth of Australia hereby showeth:
Whereas the undersigned citizens of Australia being professional fishermen engaged in full time employment in the fishing industry in the Portland area:
The Humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia showeth:
That the Parliament take action to prohibit any further exploitation of our natural fishing resources by foreign enterprises and that the Parliament aid and assist the development of the local fishing industry as it has aided and assisted other primary industries. ‘
The undersigned citizens of the State of Victoria hereby pray the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Australia to grant the prayer of their petition.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Scholes.
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 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 Shipton.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the attached citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
We present this petition to seek a fairer and better deal for handicapped persons.
We urge you to implement this request through your Minister for Social Security.
The signatories to this Petition are pleased to acknowledge the action your Government has taken to reverse the Budget announcement and therefore exclude the Invalid Pension from taxable income.
We now urge you to act in another area of discrimination to handicapped persons by:
Increasing the $20.00 per week income allowed in a sheltered workshop to $40.00 per week, before that income begins to reduce pension benefits; and then tie the $40.00 per week level with C.P.I. /Pension adjustments in the future.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that you act in this area of discrimination to handicapped persons by increasing the $20.00 per week income allowed in a sheltered workshop to $40.00 per week, before that income begins to reduce pension benefits; and then tie the $40.00 per week level with C.P.I./Pension adjustments in the future.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Shipton.
Notice of Motion
-I give notice of my intention to present at the next sitting a Bill for an Act to prevent the use of public moneys to subsidise political parties and election candidates. The short title will be the Political Subsidies (Prevention of Payment) Bill 1 979.
-Does the Prime Minister recall his pledge in his 197S policy speech that, and I quote, ‘there will be no more jobs for the boys’? Is it a fact that since he has been Prime Minister, six former Ministers of Liberal-National Country Party governments have been appointed to government posts at a total cost to the taxpayer of at least a quarter of a million dollars a year? Is it also a fact that the former Leader of the New South Wales Liberal Party has been appointed Administrator of Norfolk Island at an annual salary of $25,000 a year? Will the Prime Minister confirm or deny persistent reports that he is about to appoint one of his staff advisers to a top post in the ethnic affairs area of the Public Service? Does the Prime Minister feel that he has scrupulously observed his pledge that ‘there will be no more jobs for the boys’?
– I think we need to understand that the former Labor Prime Minister had a policy of taking people out of his private office- people, therefore, with a political affiliation and a political background- and placing them in charge of great departments of state. We need to understand also that people so appointed were then granted permanency in the Commonwealth Public Service. Plainly that could lead to a situation whereby a Labor government could stack the Public Service with its own political appointees. That is the position which this Government has addressed itself to. We have introduced legislation which makes it quite plain that if appointees to senior positions in the Public Service, such as the position of permanent head, are to attract the privilege and responsibility of permanency in that Service, they should be appropriately recommended by a committee of senior permanent heads in order to safeguard the integrity and apolitical nature of the Public Service.
In that legislation there is also provision- it is a provision that we have not used but which we have placed in the legislation- that if the government of the day wishes to appoint somebody to one of those senior positions and the appointee is not so recommended by a senior committee of the Public Service, that person will not have permanency. He can be employed on a contract basis for a period of years, and under the statute no other government, no later government, would have any responsibility to that person. In other words, the legislation is designed to safeguard the integrity of the Public Service, to safeguard the apolitical nature of the Public Service and to make sure that the government of the day cannot stack the Public Service with its own appointees and have them given permanency in the Public Service so that they are there through subsequent governments.
It is worth noting that the Australian Labor Party is committed to either amending or repealing that legislation because the legislation does not offer it enough flexibility. In other words, the Labor Party wants legislation which will enable it to put political appointees into the Public Service on a permanent basis. Well, this Government has a greater concern for the Public Service than that. We have never suggested for one moment that senior and significant people who have given great service to a political party should not be appointed on a one-off basis, or eligible for reappointment perhaps, to positions as ambassadors or high commissioners or to other senior positions. Just because somebody has served on one side or the other in the Parliament and has given distinguished service is no reason to say that that person can no longer serve the Commonwealth. That would be a false and foolish position to take up. I think the honourable gentleman will find that when Lance Barnard became Australian ambassador to Stockholm, a post he filled with distinction, there was no objection to that kind of appointment.
What we were addressing ourselves to and what the legislation achieves is a situation in which a political leader is not able to put his own personal political appointees into senior and permanent positions in the Commonwealth Public Service, which is apolitical and which ought to be helped to remain apolitical by the government of the day and not hindered and dragged into politics as it was by Mr Whitlam.
– In directing my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I refer to distressing reports that an estimated 2.5 million Kampucheans are threatened by famine and disease as a consequence of the continuing war in that country. I ask the Minister whether the Government stands ready to contribute to international efforts directed towards the alleviation of the suffering of innocent Kampuchean civilians.
-There is little doubt that, if large scale humanitarian relief is not provided soon, famine and associated health problems will result in a major human tragedy in Kampuchea. In response to a recent approach from the World Food Program, the Government has approved the immediate provision of 3,500 tonnes of rice for distribution in Kampuchea by the World Food Program. Several international agencies are currently negotiating with the Kampuchean authorities with a. view to reaching agreements for the implementation of an international relief program. The actual value of Australia’s contribution is approximately $ 1.7m. It will be taken, of course, from the bilateral reserves for emergencies.
The decision to commit Australia to contribute to an international operation was taken on the understanding that every effort would be made to arrange for relief supplies to be distributed throughout Kampuchea, that no political strings would be attached by any side to the provision of assistance and that the distribution of supplies would be supervised and monitored by the relevant international agencies. It has been made clear also that the Australian contribution would carry with it no implication of recognition of the Heng Samrin regime. Australia also will consider making a further contribution to humanitarian relief efforts in Kampuchea when an international appeal is launched.
The Government believes that with the imminent prospect, as the honourable member has indicated in his question, of a human disaster in Kampuchea it is vital that massive international relief reach the Khmer people at the earliest opportunity. It is because of the urgent need for food aid that the Government has approved the immediate provision of rice even though the relevant international agencies are still negotiating the modalities of distribution with the Kampuchean authorities. The Government hopes that, with the co-operation of all interested parties, mass starvation, death by disease and a renewed refugee exodus into Thailand can all be averted.
-I address a question to the Prime Minister. It follows his answer to the previous question put to him this afternoon. In his answer he reiterated his belief in the apolitical nature of the Public Service. I ask whether he recalls his statement on 29 April when launching the ethnic television service when he said:
I will be taking a close personal interest in this initiative.
Is this why he has appointed his senior staff adviser, Mr Petro Georgiou, to a senior position on the Ethnic Television Review Panel? If so, what are the terms and conditions of his employment?
-No appointment has been made by me. Any appointment has been made because Mr Frank Galbally, as Chairman of that Panel, asked for it.
-Is the Minister for Post and Telecommunications aware that the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal has recently introduced minimum requirements for commercial television stations in the area of programming for children? Is the Minister further aware that at certain times throughout the year major sporting events of national interest have traditionally been telecast at the time which the Tribunal has designated to be set aside specifically for children’s programs? Can the Minister inform the House as to what discretion the Tribunal will allow commercial television stations in presenting the sporting programs rather than the children’s programs as required by the recent Tribunal decision? Will such provisions by the Tribunal cover such sporting programs which will be telecast during school periods?
– I thank the honourable member for his question. I am happy to say to the most honourable member that the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, with the support of the Australian community, has required that 1S6 hours of C classified programs are to be shown primarily in the 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. time slot on commercial television stations. When I say it has the support of the Australian community, I do so on the basis of research which has indicated that approximately 85 per cent of the community polled support that approach by the Tribunal. However, recognising that major sporting events are of wide national interest and, of course, also of interest to children- one believes obviously not harmful to children- the Tribunal has made it clear to stations that such events can be televised in full. However, the Tribunal does expect stations over a period of 12 months to meet the requirement of 156 hours of specially produced children’s programs.
I mention that the recent sales overseas of the product of Australian commercial television stations bear out, I think, the promise that they have been holding out, that is, that the renaissance of Australian films, which all of us in this country have applauded in recent times, can be followed by a renaissance or a flowering of Australian television with shows such as Against the Wind and Prisoner, which are now being seen by the major station audiences in the United States of America and hailed throughout the world.
– My question of the Prime Minister follows earlier questions by me and the honourable member for Burke. I refer to the Prime Minister’s acknowledgement that his senior staff member, Mr Petro Georgiou, will be appointed to the ethnic television service as a result of the recommendation of the well-known Government proxy, Mr Frank Galbally. Is the Prime Minister aware of the extensive and passionate discontent among ethnic groups in the community at the way in which the Special Broadcasting Service and generally ethnic communications set up by the Government have been highly politicised? Is he aware that when the announcement of Mr Georgiou ‘s appointment is made that discontent will rise to a sharp crescendo? How does he justify such blatant politicising of a public communications system?
-The honourable gentleman is certainly mistaken. I think it ought to be understood that people who are visiting migrant groups throughout this country- it does not matter what State they might be in- recognise the Galbally report, its implementation and everything that has flowed from it as the best thing that has happened to the migrant communities since the great migration program began. They recognise that programs introduced under the Galbally report, fully implemented and detailed by this Government, are beginning to provide for the needs of the ethnic communities in a way that was ignored in spite of all the talk of previous Ministers and of the Labor Government and that the services are being provided in a way that is sensible and reasonable.
If one visits those responsible for ethnic broadcasting in Melbourne and Sydney, as I have, and speaks to the broadcasters, the co-ordinators and the people who organise the programs, they will find that those who are organising the programs are doing very well in ethnic radio and that the programs are going well. The difficult problems of time allocation have been overcome with a great degree of goodwill. I believe that as a result of ethnic radio and ethnic television there is a coming together of different ethnic communities sharing the same channels and facilities and providing a service to the different communities.
In working out the time scales for the different community groups those people are coming to understand the needs, the aspirations, the fears and the hopes of the different community groups, developing overall a greater identity of interest than otherwise would have been the case. I am quite certain that among the 30 or more groups that are being provided with a service through these different programs they are appreciated and well thought of. So that there can be no misunderstanding, it ought to be understood that Petro Georgiou has been provided as a consultant to the Ethnic Television Review Panel for an exercise which is expected to take up to 18 months. The Ethnic Television Review Panel is not a permanent body; it has a specific job to do. The chairman of the panel wanted Mr Georgiou to perform that task. The terms and conditions will be approved by the Public Service Board and kept under review from time to time. This is not a position of permanency; it is one of consultancy for a limited period and, therefore, entirely appropriate.
– Does the Minister for Primary Industry know of the incidence of the screw worm fly in Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and other South East Asian countries? Does the Minister realise the potential threat that this fly poses to the Australian cattle and sheep industries? In view of the estimated losses to these industries should the screw worm fly enter this country, could the Minister advise what steps are being taken to prevent its effect within Australia?
-I think it is appropriate that those in this chamber who are interested in agriculture and who have been rejoicing in its somewhat renewed profitability recognise that there is an abundance of insects and diseases that could come into this country from abroad and could seriously prejudice the wellbeing of several primary industries. The responsibility for quarantine is within the bailiwick of my colleague the Minister for Health. But it is true that the Australian Agricultural Council has discussed, on a number of occasions, the implications of the screw worm fly entering this country and has been concerned that increased prevention and surveillance measures should be applied to ensure that the screw worm fly does not establish itself in Australia.
I am advised that there is an insect- a fly, indeed- of almost identical habits in the United States. The United States has been able to develop a sterile insect release method which has enabled very significant control of this fly, thereby preventing the spread of disease and infection in livestock that otherwise would have been affected. Quite a deal of work has been undertaken by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in pursuing a common or similar practice for the screw worm fly, and some work has been undertaken in New Guinea to try to perfect the techniques. The Agricultural Council has endorsed the proposal that the highest priority be given to the development and evaluation of the sterile insect release method and, if this proves successful, development of the capacity to apply the method of control to the screw worm fly should enable the prevention of its entry into Australia. It is certainly a matter which is under very close surveillance by the Federal Department of Health and my own Department of Primary Industry. I would hope that, as a result, there is no risk of the insect entering Australia. If it does do so, I believe there are adequate control measures to contain it.
– I ask the Prime Minister Has he made extensive use of Enterprise Colorvideo Productions Pty Ltd for the production of his addresses to the nation? Was this company assisted out of receivership in June 1978 by a $245,000 loan from the Australian Film Commission? Has the producer of these addresses to the nation for Enterprise Colorvideo been given an $89,000 contract for the production of the Special Broadcasting Service’s pilot 13-week ethnic television program? Did the Prime Minister introduce this producer to the Special Broadcasting Service as the person most competent to make ethnic television services? In view of his statement on Sunday, 29 April, that he would be taking a close personal interest in the Special Broadcasting Service, will the Prime Minister outline to the House the full story of what seem to be extremely close links with this television production company and its associates?
– I think I ought to tell the House that I will continue to take a close personal interest in ethnic television and ethnic radio because I am concerned to see that Australia’s ethnic communities get the kind of services that they need and that they want. The work of the Ethnic Television Review Panel is designed to achieve just that. If the honourable gentleman wishes any further information he can put his question on the Notice Paper.
-Is the Minister for Industry and Commerce aware of the details of the most recent presidential address by the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions? Has the Minister been informed of the likely effect upon industry and employment within Australia of a campaign of wage increases such as that decided upon by the ACTU?
– I thank the honourable gentleman for the question because there is no doubt whatsoever that the proposal of the Australian Council of Trade Unions for large wage increases would be disastrous for Australian industry at a time when it is striving to increase its competitiveness in international markets. In present conditions business could not afford large wage increases. Prices would rise and the value of increased wages would obviously fall. More importantly, the international competitiveness of this country and its prospects would suffer. I think the House will well recall, as the honourable gentlemen opposite should recall, how disastrously our international competitive position fell during the years of the Labor Administration. The excessive level of wage increases in Australia during that period led directly to the rapid increase in unemployment during the Labor years.
Fortunately, right now Australian industry can have very real confidence in the prospects which it has in international markets because of its competitive position. Manufactured exports were 3 1 per cent higher in 1 978-79 than in the previous year. Prospects are favourable for significant further increases. But right now new cost pressures are emerging and any resurgence in inflation would severely undermine the hardwon gains which have been made in recent years. In these circumstances, the suggestion of catch-up increases represents a direct threat to Australia’s competitive position. Obviously, higher wages would lead to increased unemployment. New jobs would be created overseas at our expense and the prospects for job creation in Australia would be seriously impaired.
The proposal which has been put forward by the ACTU, no doubt endorsed by the Australian Labor Party in this Parliament, represents an attempt to turn the clock back to 1975 and return to the days of loss of markets, widespread lay-offs and the closure of manufacturing businesses which were unable to compete with imports from lower cost countries. I believe this is a proposal which, as the Prime Minister and the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs have made clear, must be opposed by every Australian who is concerned to create jobs rather than to destroy them. If the Premier of South Australia has any credibility whatsoever in seeking to engender greater confidence, investment and job creation in the State of South Australia, he will be the first to attack what the ACTU has put down.
-I direct my question to the Deputy Prime Minister. In view of the Government’s opposition to Australian Government ownership of the Ranger uranium mine, will the Government allow ownership of the mine by any foreign government or government authority?
– I answered a question previously- I am not sure whether it was the honourable member who asked it- about the policy relating to the divestment of the Government’s interest in the Ranger project. On that occasion I said that the Government was exploring the opportunities for selling off its interest in Ranger Uranium Mines Pty Ltd and that it was examining the possibilities. Since the announcement was made, approximately 50 companies have expressed an interest in purchasing the Government’s shareholding in that joint venture. At this point I wish to make it perfectly clear that in examining the market value of the mine, it is not the Government’s intention to put any barriers, limitations or preferences in the way of people making offers. Ultimately, when all of the offers have been made and the Government examines them, the Government will have to look at the implications from the points of view of marketing, Australia’s equity guideline rules and the political problems that might be involved. It is most important to get some assessment of what people believe the value of the mine to be.
I note that some criticism has been reported in the newspapers today that insufficient information has been provided to some people for them to make an assessment of the true value of the mine. It is true that the amount of information that has been given to these people by my Department is limited. That is because of an understanding with the other partners in the Ranger project about confidentiality. Most of the people to whom we have provided information are satisfied that the information is sufficient for them to make a judgment at this early stage. However, if a short list is to be examined, of course the companies involved would need to be given all of the detailed information that is available to the Government to provide.
For the Opposition to be concerned about this project is rather ludicrous. At the moment it seems to say that the Government should not be stepping out of the project but at the same time it does not want the Government to develop uranium. It is a real miser’s attitude- keep it in the ground and do nothing with it. Of course, this is the attitude of the South Australian Government which is causing so much concern in South Australia. There is great concern in South Australia about the stagnancy of the economy. The potential for giving a filip to the economy of South Australia depends very much upon the development of resources.
- Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I understand that a Minister’s reply has to be relevant to the question. In what way is this reply relevant? The question was asked about Ranger. Ranger is in the Northern Territory, not South Australia.
-The answer is relevant. I call the Deputy Prime Minister.
– It is very relevant to the development of the nuclear industry in Australia. The Australian Government is very keen to attract as much interest as possible in the development of the nuclear industry. What it does not want to do is to give the world at large the impression that the Government is going to intervene and involve itself in the mining industry in this country. But in South Australia, where there is a real need to help the economy and to improve the unemployment situation, the one great potential- that is, the development of the Roxby Downs mine -
– The one, is it?
– It is the one with big potential for South Australia. It is equivalent to the whole Pilbara project in Western Australia. It is equivalent to the Bowen Basin in Queensland. Yet this great project cannot develop because of the ban that the South Australian Government has placed on uranium. This great mining deposit which contains as much copper as Mount Isa and all of the other copper producing mines in Australia as well as a gold content and more uranium than the three prospective mines in the Northern Territory- Jabiluka, Ranger and Nabarlek- is not being developed and cannot be developed because it has uranium mixed up with it. When I was in South Australia recently, I said that this ban would not last, and it will not last because the people of South Australia will change it at the polls. I believe that this coming Saturday they will see the light for South Australia in relation to the development of uranium. Of course, it is not just the development of the Roxby Downs uranium mines -
– I raise a point of order. I take this point of order while the Minister is looking for his documents. There is a feasibility study taking place right now into this project. The Minister has no information about that feasibility study. There is nothing held up about Roxby Downs and the answer he is giving is completely misleading.
-There is no point of order. I ask the Deputy Prime Minister to draw his answer to a conclusion please.
- Mr Speaker, may I be allowed your indulgence to make one point because I was criticised on this matter yesterday? Figures were quoted about the potential employment opportunities in South Australia as a result of the development of the uranium industry. I have here a report from the Premiers Department in South Australia of an enrichment program for that State. Of course it has been in the forefront in trying to encourage the development of an enrichment industry in South Australia, but that is not possible while this banal attitude to uranium is adopted. This report from the Premiers Department issued in 1976 stated that there was a potential for a fully integrated uranium industry giving employment benefits to half a million people. Its part in this is what South Australia is missing out on at the moment because of the ignorant policies of that Government.
-Is the Minister for Industry and Commerce aware of the genuine concern about the lack of industrial development in South Australia? Is South Australia lagging behind the other mainland States? Is the Minister able to give a reason for the relative decline in South Australian industry?
– I welcome the question asked by the honourable gentleman because the substance of the question is correct. There is a crisis of confidence in South Australia. Activity is depressed and unemployment is a very serious problem in South Australia at the present time. Of course, as honourable gentlemen on both sides of this House should be aware, there is a significant flight of capital out of South Australia to other States. Industry investment is lagging. This State has the highest level of unemployment in Australia. I have spoken to a large number of employers on successive visits to South Australia and there is no doubt that companies are moving out of South Australia and head offices are being relocated in other States. This, as the Deputy Prime Minister has made clear, is not a question of resources. The State is well supplied with accessible minerals, skilled manpower and the basic infrastructure for industrial growth. The only obstacle that is holding up investment and development in South Australia, as the Deputy Prime Minister has made clear, is the State Government’s ban on uranium and the Government’s consistent obdurate refusal to apply the normal principles of a free enterprise environment which will enable that State to get up and go-
Despite the attractions which are obvious there in terms of investment, companies will not go to South Australia or, in fact, remain in that State so long as they are to be faced with the type of legislative proposals which the State Government has been presenting and which would destroy confidence by any investor in the prospects of that State. It is high time, as the Deputy Prime Minister has made clear, that the Premier and senior Ministers of that State recognised that they are competing for investment funds in Australia with five other States and two Territories all of which adopt a more realistic proposal than is adopted in South Australia at the present time.
– I take a point of order. I wanted to give this Minister a fair go because he has not had one lately. He started off the answer to this question by suggesting that there was a message in the question. I ask you, Mr Speaker, whether that does not rule the question out of order?
-There is no point of order.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. I refer him to the remarks he made yesterday regarding the so-called selfish wage policies of the union movement. Is he aware that since the end of 1975 real disposable income for a single income family on average weekly earnings with a dependent spouse and two children has fallen by 5.5 per cent? Is he also aware that to return the purchasing power of this representative family to its 1975 level would require an after tax increase in income of $ 1 1 .40 a week or a pay increase of $17 a week? By how much further does the Prime Minister believe that the living standards of wage and salary earners and their dependants should be reduced?
-The honourable gentleman knows quite well, or ought to, that when one has a situation in which wages rise by 38 per cent in a 12-month period, as they did in the 12 months to March 1975, somebody has to pay the cost. Wages having gone up by that much established the circumstances in which many industries were priced out of markets in Australia and overseas. What happened in that year was cumulative, on top of very rapid wage increases which were actively promoted by a succession of Labor Labour Ministers. As a result, Australian industry was not competitive; as a result Australian industry could not sell and could not therefore employ. The Labor Party therefore became the party of massive unemployment and the party of difficulty for Australia. It paid the price for that.
We have adopted and pursued a policy which has been designed to achieve wage restraint. Wages have increased roughly by the same amount as the consumer price index over the last three to four years. In addition we have introduced a policy of family allowances to assist the lower income families. The Labor Party could have done that if it had had concern for lower income people, but it did not. Over the last four years to the end of this year we will have paid $4 billion to Australian families in one of the greatest social reforms of all time.
In addition, we have done a number of other things to help Australians and Australian families. I think it is worth noting that, with the removal of the tax surcharge on 1 December this year, a person on average weekly earnings will be about $4.45 a week better off. A taxpayer on average weekly earnings with a wife and two children will be $20 a week better off because of our tax reforms and family allowances than he would have been under Labor. This year $4,000m less tax will be paid.
– I raise a point of order.
– He cannot take it. The little boy has to get up again.
– Fraser the fib.
-The honourable member for Robertson will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
-I would like the House to preserve decorum.
– The Prime Minister obviously thinks he is dealing with the motor bike dealer from Hamilton. His statement is totally dishonest.
-Order ! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– The statement is verifiably dishonest.
-The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. There is no point of order, and the honourable gentleman knows that
– We are not the motor bike dealers from Hamilton. He can ‘t put it over here.
-The Leader of the Opposition cannot take it. From 1 December the tax paid by a person on average weekly earnings will be $4.45 a week less. The taxpayer on average weekly earnings with a wife and two children will be $20 a week better off because of our tax reforms and family allowances than he would have been if Labor’s arrangements had stayed in force. This year $4,000m less tax will be paid than if the famous Hayden scales, the greatest confidence trick of all time, had continued to apply. It is worth noting that, at the marginal rates, somebody on $12,000 a year under the Hayden scales was paying 45c in the dollar. This year he will pay a mere shade over 33c in the dollar. Somebody on $20,000 a year was paying at the massive rate of 60c in the dollar. This year under our scales he will pay a shade over 47c in the dollar. There have been very substantial tax reductions. The honourable gentlemen does not like it; he tries to pretend that it has not happened, but it has, and the people of Australia recognise it.
-I direct a question to the Minister for Trade and Resources. It follows a question addressed by the honourable member for North Sydney to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. In view of Australia’s heavy dependence on export trade can the Minister indicate in finer detail what effect significant wage increases at this time would have on Australia’s export performance and the development of our national resources?
-The success of the Government’s anti-inflationary policy is showing up in many sections of the community. Probably the most successful area has been the revival of our export performance, especially in manufacturing, which was referred to by my colleague, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, a few minutes ago. Exports of manufactures this year have jumped by about 3 1 per cent. This has happened only because of the competitive position that has been achieved. The decision of the Congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions was to seek an immediate 8 per cent increase in wages. That would mean virtually an increase of about 12 per cent for industry. The loadings that companies have to pay on salaries in the form of payroll tax, workers compensation premiums and other payments contribute almost another 50 per cent to wage costs.
If the decision of the ACTU Congress were to be implemented it would make it extremely difficult for Australian industry to keep up the export performance that has been going so well. We have had a national campaign of ‘Export Now’. A wide range of incentives has been given to industry by the Government. All these are having their effect. If we return to a steep inflationary spiral and experience inflation greater than that of our competitors around the world I venture to say that the export performance will fall off significantly.
Another thing one has to worry about is the development of our resources. There has been a tremendous resurgence of attention around the world in developing Australia’s mining and processing industries. Thousands of millions of dollars will flow into this country in the next year or so to develop these industries. This will happen only because the world can see that this country’s economy is being managed soundly and that our inflation rate is being kept at a level below that of other countries. If the inflationary spiral resumes as a result of rapid wage increases which now seem to be the policy of the Australian Labor Party and the ACTU, this country will be back in real difficulties. It is all right for the ACTU to espouse high wage increases, but it seems to forget that there are people in this country looking for jobs. Many business people want to expand and give job opportunities to people. Certainly the actions of members of the ACTU show how false their words are when they talk about unemployment. To increase wages in the way they are seeking would do disastrous harm to the opportunities to solve unemployment in this country.
– Has the Prime Minister received any communications from the Queensland Premier urging his Government to adopt legislation complementary to the essential services legislation introduced by the Queensland Government into the Queensland Legislative Assembly last week? When was the request received? What commitment will the Prime Minister undertake in respect of that request?
– My colleague, the Minister for Industrial Relations, is in touch with the Queensland Minister for Labour Relations and will be reporting to the Government indue course.
200-MILE AUSTRALIAN FISHING ZONE
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. He will be aware of the tremendous interest in the fishing industry, not only in my electorate of EdenMonaro but also in all other coastal electorates around Australia. There is interest in the exciting changes in the industry at present and, in particular, in the proposed 200-mile Australian fishing zone. In view of that great interest is the Minister able to tell the House whether a date for proclamation of that zone has yet been indicated?
– Several outstanding matters have delayed the proclamation of the 200-mile fishing zone. I was really quite amazed to hear that at a discussion the other day a leading member of the Opposition talked about rejecting some of the arrangements that have been entered into with the States in relation to the management of that fishing zone. We, however, have been able to negotiate with the States a completely joint operation for the management of those fisheries within the zone. Were those negotiations to be rejected, as I understand is the suggestion of that member of the Opposition, the position would be that not only Liberal-Country Party governed States but also Labor governed States would find that arrangements entered into by them to take advantage of the resources in those fishing areas would be completely rejected by members of the Opposition in this place. Fortunately, the prospect of the Opposition obtaining office in the Federal sphere seems to be rapidly receding.
In relation to the proclamation, a number of issues have been involved. One relates to the overall definition of our boundaries, particularly the boundary with Indonesia in the area related to East Timor, and the others are related to the question of negotiating arrangements with other countries. Arrangements have now been concluded with Japan. Accordingly I hope that the proclamation of the fishing zone will be possible on 1 November.
– Pursuant to section 22 of the Public Service Act 1922 I present the annual report of the Public Service Board for the year ended 30 June 1979.
– For the information of honourable members I present the interim annual report of the Australian Wool Corporation for the year ended 30 June 1979.
– For the information of honourable members I present the interim annual report of the Australian Honey Board for the year ended 30 June 1979.
– For the information of honourable members I present an interim annual report of the Australian Wheat Board for the year ended 30 November 1978.
– For the information of honourable members I present the annual report of the Commonwealth Department of Education for 1978.
– For the information of honourable members I present a review of the Australia Council’s activities for the year ended 30 June 1979.
-Mr Speaker, I seek your indulgence to correct a figure which I gave in a speech to the House on 22 August.
-The honourable gentleman may proceed.
-When making my second reading speech on the Local Government (Personal Income Tax Sharing) Amendment Bill 1979 on 22 August I incorrectly and inadvertently stated that the untied funds available to local government had increased in the last three years by 145 per cent. I am advised that the statistic is 125 per cent. It was not a wilful but an inadvertent clerical error, and I apologise to the House.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
-The honourable gentleman may proceed.
-During Question Time the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) answered a question asked by the honourable member for
Batman (Mr Howe) in relation to real wages and the punitive effect of government policies which have reduced enormously the real spending power of gross incomes and, in fact, disposable incomes in the period that the Fraser Government has been in office.
– That is not true.
-Not only can the honourable member for Macarthur not write prospectuses honestly but also he cannot interject honestly. He will not be able to buy his way out of this one.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, Mr Speaker.
-I remind the honourable gentleman and the House that the purpose of making a personal explanation is to correct a false statement. A personal explanation should be confined to that purpose. All members of the House should allow a person making a personal explanation to do so in silence.
-The false statement was in the Prime Minister’s response to the question and, more particularly, in his response when I interjected on the matter. Mr Speaker, you will recall that the Prime Minister’s speech or statement boiled down to an assertion that there was a substantial real increase in either before tax income or disposable income in the period in which the Fraser Government has been in office. That is not only nonsense; it is enormously, demonstrably, dishonest. Now, the facts are -
-Order! I do not wish to interrupt the honourable gentleman unnecessarily, but I do draw bis attention to the fact that I do not wish the course of debate to include such words as ‘dishonest’ which impute motive. I ask the honourable gentleman to confine his personal explanation to words of a different kind.
- Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. The Leader of the Opposition is addressing himself to a point of personal explanation, but to date he has not commented on any matter in which he has been personally referred to in terms of the comments of the Prime Minister. I suggest that, if the Leader of the Opposition believes that he has been personally misrepresented, he needs to identify that point before he can address himself to any other matters.
– He is just whingeing again.
-The honourable member for St George will remain silent. I am giving the Leader of the Opposition some indulgence to establish the point of personal misrepresentation. The Leader of the House is correct and I ask the Leader of the Opposition to come to the misrepresentation forthwith.
-If account is taken of health insurance, taxes and family allowances, the last failing to have been adjusted in any way at all because of cost increases since they were introduced in 1976, one finds that in the period from the December quarter 1975 to the June quarter 1979 -
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker, I repeat the comment made by the Leader of the House. The Leader of the Opposition still has not claimed a point of personal misrepresentation. If he claims that his tax scales would not have reflected a greater cost to the employers of this country, let him get up and say so. But he has not said so because he knows that it is not true.
-The honourable gentleman has made his point. I ask the Leader of the Opposition to come to the misrepresentation.
-Mr Speaker, the misrepresentation is the way in which the Prime Minister made totally false assertions. The before tax wage for an average income earner would have to increase by $17 a week now to be worth what it was in 1975.
- Mr Speaker, I take a point of order- it is a serious point of order- that the Leader of the Opposition is using the device of a personal explanation to have another go at the substance of the question that he asked. I put it to you, Mr Speaker, that the purpose of a personal explanation is for a member who claims that he has been misrepresented to identify the misrepresentation and to point out where he claims it is wrong. The Leader of the Opposition has been on his feet for about 10 minutes merely repeating the assertions that he made at Question Time.
-I call the Leader of the Opposition.
-Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister thought that if he could put it over the Hamilton motor bike dealer he could put it over the Parliament. He will not get away with it.
-Order! I will have to ask the Leader of the Opposition to resume his seat unless he states the misrepresentation and the correction.
– I have done so a couple of times, Mr Speaker. Obviously you were distracted by the interjections from your side.
-The honourable gentleman may make the correction now.
-Mr Speaker, I pointed out, but I restate it so that it is clear- obviously you had been distracted by all the interjections from your side, the Government side -
-The honourable gentleman will proceed with his explanation.
– It is a totally false assertion to suggest that -
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker; the Leader of the Opposition has not at any time indicated where he has been personally misrepresented. He knows that what I said was correct. He is using the excuse of a personal explanation to enter into a general debate and that, I suggest, Mr Speaker, is a gross abuse of your indulgence.
-Order! The points of order that have been made are quite correct. I am giving the Leader of the Opposition considerable indulgence but that indulgence has drawn to an end. The Leader of the Opposition must simply state the misrepresentation and the correctionwhat is the personal misrepresentation of which the honourable gentleman complains.
- Mr Speaker, could I have your attention. I move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister explaining to the House why he made such dishonest statements to this House during Question Time today on the matter of real wages.
Mr Speaker, it would be highly desirable to have the Prime Minister place on record -
-The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. The motion for the suspension of Standing Orders must be in writing.
The Leader of the Opposition having submitted his motion in writing-
- Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. A few moments ago the Leader of the Opposition said to you that he thought that you had been distracted by what he called interjections from your side of the House, that is, the Government side. That was a clear reflection upon the Chair. Maybe you did not hear it. I draw your attention to it.
-I did not hear it.
- Mr Speaker, it is necessary to move the -
- Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. You gave a ruling on a point of order and directed the Leader of the Opposition to take a course of action. Using the indulgence of the Chair to make a personal explanation, the Leader of the Opposition took the opportunity of having the call to move the motion that he has now moved. I now ask you, sir, whether it is in order for the Leader of the Opposition to gain the call to make a personal explanation and then in mid-stream, before responding to your request, to move that sort of motion in the way in which it has been moved.
– It is in order.
- Mr Speaker, it is necessary to move this motion as it is the only opportunity to debate the matter at this stage in this Parliament.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) put:
That the Leader of the Opposition be not further heard.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
-Mr Speaker, I second the motion because it is essential to expose the complete misrepresentation of the facts in this matter by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser).
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) agreed to:
That the honourable member for Gellibrand be not further heard.
Original question resolved in the negative.
– I inform the House that Mr Joseph McKnight retired from the position of Assistant Principal Parliamentary Reporter on 31 August 1979. Mr McKnight, who gave nearly 25 years of service to the Parliament, is one of a number of Queenslanders who have reinforced the reporting strength of the Department of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff from time to time. For 16 years prior to his coming into this Parliament in 1955 he was a court reporter in the service of the Queensland Government except during the years of the war when he served as a lieutenant in the Australian Forces. Mr J. W. Roberts will succeed Mr McKnight as Assistant Principal Parliamentary Reporter. Mr McKnight was always most helpful to members and earned the respect and appreciation of us all. We wish him well in his retirement.
Honourable members Hear, hear!
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
– by leave- I move:
That Order of the Day No. 2 1 Government Business relating to resumption of the debate on the motion to grant leave of the House for the production of the relevant Hansard record and the attendance of an appropriate officer of the House at court proceedings be discharged.
Honourable members will recall that on 30 August last the petition of John Fairfax and Sons Ltd was referred to the Committee of Privileges for consideration and advice. The House also adjourned debate on a motion to grant leave of the House for the production of the relevant Hansard record and for an appropriate officer of the House to attend in court proceedings pending the Committee’s consideration. Honourable members will also recall that yesterday the House was informed that the court proceedings in question were settled by orders made by consent and that no further steps in respect of the petition needed to be taken. The House then rescinded the resolution referring the petition to the Committee of Privileges. In these circumstances, it would now be appropriate to discharge the Order of the Day relating to the resumption of the debate on the motion to grant leave for the production of the relevant Hansard record in the court proceedings. Accordingly, I commend the motion to the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-I have received letters from both the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) and the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) proposing that definite matters of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion today. As required by Standing Order 107, I have selected the matter which in my opinion is the most urgent and important, that is, that proposed by the honourable member for Adelaide, namely:
The misleading statements about South Australia by Prime Minister Fraser and others.
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-
– Misleading statements at election time are not unknown but their use by Liberals and Liberal fronts at this time leading up to a South Australian State election next Saturday is more blatant than usual. Indeed, the statements have been false as well as misleading. Let me start with the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). The figures he cited for investment in South Australia in his electorate talk last Sunday are untrue and the picture he paints is, accordingly, misleading. The correct figure for projected investment in South Australia in the next five years is $33,030m, not $300m as he stated. It is 10 per cent of the total investment, not two per cent. South Australia is in the same category as Queensland and Western Australia, with rates of investment higher than normal for its population. These investment figures are based on projections by the management consultant firm of W. D. Scott and Co. Pty Ltd. They are realistic and soundly based, not falsified like the ones used by the Prime Minister.
The figures used by him, the House should know, had footnotes expressing a number of qualifications. Some of the investments were included twice, in separate totals; yet these have all been added together by the Prime Minister in arriving at his totals. The footnotes made it clear that the figures were mutually exclusive and they made it clear that no totals should be used. Let me quote the words in the bureaucratic document. It reads:
Any additive exercise would have to be carefully qualified.
What does the Prime Minister do? He uses the totals falsely and he misleads the people. His additive exercise’ was in no way qualified. He puts himself in the same category as the Murdoch newspaper, the Adelaide News, which day after day has blazoned out misleading antiLabor headlines distorting the news of the day. Why? It has no interest in being objective. Mr Murdoch, the newspaper’s proprietor, wants to damage Labor. He wants to punish the Labor Party because its members dare to question whether it is in the community’s interest that he should have the licence for yet another news outlet- Channel 10 in Sydney. So his sycophantic editor in South Australia runs this vendetta against Labor at this election time, bowing meekly to his boss’s wishes and at the same time degrading the so-called independence of the Press, if ever we had it. This example of political partisanship is not confined to editorials, where we can accept it. It is manifest in distorted headlines and it attacks the foundation of our democracy. Let me immediately exclude the Adelaide Advertiser and its coverage of this election from the charges that I make.
Let me turn to the Prime Minister’s puppet, the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner), who is sitting at the table. I am very glad that he will have the opportunity to respond to me. Yesterday in answer to a Dorothy Dixer from the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) the Minister alleged that Roxby Downs would be a bonanza in creating jobs for the
South Australian community. That is totally false. All that could be done in furthering Roxby has been done. The Western Mining Corporation has gone ahead with its feasibility study. It has confidence that the strict safeguards, that are the standards of the Labor Party in the matters of waste disposal, reactor safety and proliferation of nuclear weapons, will be met. It takes that risk. It thinks the safeguards will be met. Many people think those safeguards will not be met. But what is important is that all the investment that can be made in Roxby is being made and will be made between now and 1 982, when the next State election in South Australia is expected. There is no way that Roxby can create one more job for South Australians than is being and will be created by Western Mining and BP Australia Ltd and by the South Australian Labor Government between now and 1982. The Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs either knows this and is being dishonest or he does not know it and is showing his incompetence by mouthing this sort of nonsense in this House. I leave it to the people to judge whether it is dishonesty or incompetence.
Let me repeat that Western Mining and its new partner in this venture, BP, have committed themselves to spending $50m over the next two to three years on a feasibility study. No further decisions can be taken before the next State election in 1982. All the so-called facts given by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) to this House at Question Time today are not facts at all because the feasibility study has not been carried out. It is now being carried out.
Let me turn to that Liberal front- the group of employers who are spending thousands and thousands of dollars, which they will get back from increased prices that they will charge their customers, on newspaper advertisements to bolster the campaign of their puppet, Dr Tonkin, the Leader of” the Liberal Party in South Australia. Why are they doing this? It is because of the incompetence of Dr Tonkin. It is because his approval rating is so low that the Liberals have been hiding him all the way during this campaign. They want South Australians to forget that, should the Liberals win, he is what the people will be stuck with as Premier instead of the able and confident person in Des Corcoran. Another reason this employer group, this Liberal front, has embarked on this campaign is to satisfy the political ambitions of their failed politician spokesman, a Mr J. L. Rundle, the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in South Australia. He is the one who has led the employer group into this crazy intervention, into the partisan political intervention that is taking place in Adelaide right now. He was the defeated Liberal candidate for the Federal seat of Adelaide, the seat I hold, in the early 1960s. He is trying to get his frustrations out of his system in this way.
Let me say that there are hundreds of decent, sensible employers and managers in South Australia who are appalled by this partisan political intervention and they dissociate themselves from it. They realise that it is as dangerous for employers to get involved in partisan politics as it is for a religion to do so. We do not want any Northern Irelands and Irans in this country. Many employers realise how damaging such a campaign is to industrial relations. Industrial harmony is a very delicate fabric. The South Australian Labor Government has the best record in Australia in industrial relations because it has used negotiation and conciliation instead of confrontation. That record is jeopardised by this minority of stupid employers running this Liberal front campaign. But this partisan political campaign of employers, like the false utterances of Liberal Ministers, is not only dangerous and damaging to industrial relations and the political fabric but is also dishonest.
The level of economic activity in South Australia basically is related to Federal policies emanating from Canberra and to the nature of opportunities in South Australia, which is mainly a manufacturing State. Everywhere in the world manufacturing has been hit hardest in the economic slump. It is remarkable that South Australia, being a manufacturing State, has done so well during this time of economic slump. Because of the way in which this country has been brought to its knees by the Fraser Government, thousands more are unemployed throughout Australia since the Fraser Government took over, and South Australia has had to suffer along with the rest of Australia, only more so because of its manufacturing base. Because of policies emanating here in Canberra, there is now so much less confidence in the business sector in this country, a confidence which is vitally required for new investment.
The railways agreement was one reason that we were spared a little of Fraser Government policy. South Australia has been spared a little from the disastrous results which that policy has had. Instead of being the first State hit in the international slump which started in 1974, my State was the last to be hit, but this was due to the Labor Government’s policies in South Australia. The cuts from Canberra have been too great.
The State Government has not been able to continue to minimise the ill effects. We are getting less money now from Canberra in general purpose capital funds than we did five years ago. Just consider what that means in real terms because of those five years of inflation. We learnt today that the Fraser Government is going to impose on South Australia and the rest of Australia import parity pricing for natural gas. This is another thing which will hit industry and the manufacturing industry in particular. These are the sorts of national government policies against which the South Australian Labor Government has had to seek to immunise the community in South Australia. It has done a very valiant job, but it has not been able to do as well as we would have liked.
At the last Premiers Conference and Loan Council meeting in June, loan funds for South Australia were reduced by a further $50m for this coming financial year. We have now a 10 per cent inflation rate to contend with. Contemplate the effect that this will have. In real terms the Fraser Federal Government has slashed funds for South Australia by almost $60m. The Fraser Federal Government is trying to force State income taxes on the people as well. The Labor Party rejects the double taxation views of the Liberal Government. With the Tonkin Liberal Government the people of South Australia are in danger of being hit with State income taxes. My colleague the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) will have more to say in that regard. I urge the people of South Australia next Saturday to show their disgust for these Liberal policies. They should recognise the great job done by Labor to offset the burdens imposed by the Liberals.
Let me just go through some true statistics rather than the false ones that have come from the Prime Minister and the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs. In the year June 1978 to June 1979 private sector employment in South Australia has increased by 3,400. The crook statistics displayed by the Liberals in their Liberal front organisations selectively and dishonestly include the 1977-78 year when thousands more were thrown into unemployment by this Liberal Federal Government’s closure of the Whyalla shipyards. It also used the 1977-78 statistics selectively and dishonestly when it included the effect that the imposition of the brandy excise had on South Australia. That year is used selectively and dishonestly by the Government when it neglects the slashing of Federal Government funds for South Australia in that year. In addition, 1 977-78 was a drought year.
I use those three examples of the closure of the Whyalla shipyards by this Fraser Liberal Government, the imposition of brandy taxes and the slashing of funds for public works in South Australia to show that all these things had an enormous effect on the State of South Australia in the year 1977-78. Superimposed on all this was the drought of that year. Of course in that year the statistics do not show up as well as they otherwise would have done. That is the year included in the statistics by this Liberal front organisation in the advertisements which it has been putting across the pages of the various newspapers in my State.
The future under Labor looks bright. I want to indicate this by giving these statistics. The unemployment rate has been stabilised in that State, whereas it is growing rapidly in Western Australia. In the electorate of the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs and in most other electorates in this country the statistics are worse. By using another statistic I will illustrate how retail sales increases in South Australia have been far greater than, for instance, in Victoria, which is the other manufacturing State. The consumer price index increases have been far less in my State than they have been in most other States, including Victoria. In 1978-79 building approvals were up S3 per cent, which was well above the national average. For the three months ended July 1979 motor vehicle sales were up 14.3 per cent compared with the national average of 3.7 per cent.
With all our problems of wild cat strikes- I do recognise and deplore one that took place yesterday with the tram and bus employees in South Australia- the statistics, under a Labor Government in South Australia, show far less industrial turmoil than anywhere else in Australia. These are the real facts which make a lie of the distorted statements of the Prime Minister and others. We want a Labor Government in South Australia, particularly while the Fraser Government is in power in Canberra, to counter to the greatest extent possible the hardships to people which have been caused by the Liberals. We want a Labor Government in South Australia when Labor takes over the Federal Government of this country so that we can plan together for those extra jobs that Labor wants.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar) Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is most intriguing that the Opposition should dare to introduce this motion on the eve of the South Australian State election. The honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford), who has just spoken, said that South Australia has been immunised by the Labor Government of that State from the impact of the economy and so on in Australia. I would rather say- and I am sure that the people of South Australia realise- that what has happened to them is that the South Australian economy has been anaesthetised. Although the economy is not dead it has been anaesthetised in such a way that the people of South Australia have a bleak future. They have a bleak future with regard to investment and development and, so far as my own portfolio is concerned, they have a bleak future for employment prospects.
Let me put down immediately some facts on the investment situation in South Australia. In the Journal of Industry and Commerce, the table of major mining and manufacturing investment projects, committed and final feasibility stages, for April 1979, gives the following figures: New South Wales $ 1,866m; Victoria $ 1,750m; Queensland $2,438m; South Australia $255m; Western Australia $5,391m; Tasmania $129m; and the Northern Territory $6 16m. This makes a total of $ 12,444m. Where are the prospects for investment in South Australia? All honourable members know that only out of investment and development will come jobs. That is what is lacking in South Australia at the moment.
The honourable gentleman spoke of the employment situation in manufacturing. Let me give him the facts. Employment in the manufacturing industry in South Australia has dropped by 1 7 per cent over the last five years. If that is compared with the other mainland States it shows that South Australia, in the manufacturing industry, has lost more jobs than any other State in Australia. Honourable members must bear in mind also that between May 1974 and May 1975, under the Whitlam Administration, 155,000 jobs in private employment were destroyed. That is on the record. So one can imagine the impact of that kind of destruction of jobs on a State like South Australia which is so dependent upon manufacturing. Look also at these facts. Since the last election in South Australia in 1977, the number employed in the private section, which is where real jobs are created- permanent, lasting, productive jobshas fallen by 5,800 people.
– There has been an overall fall in Australia. Why don’t you tell the truth?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member for Melbourne Ports will remain silent.
– He is not telling the truth.
-Order! The honourable member for Melbourne Ports will remain silent.
– He is a persistent liar. That is his trouble.
-Order! The Minister will resume his seat. I call on the honourable member for Melbourne Ports to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
-I should think the honourable member would withdraw it. Let him be silent and listen to what I have to say. I have just pointed out that since the last South Australian election in 1977, employment in the private sector has fallen by 5,800 when throughout the rest of the mainland States of Australia employment has increased by 35,100. They are the facts and that is the message which the people of South Australia have received very loudly and clearly throughout this election campaign.
Let me point out the other employment situation in South Australia during all these years under a Labor government- firstly, the Dunstan Labor Government and now the Corcoran Labor Government. For the month of August, from 1974 to 1979, the percentage of the work force unemployed in Australia was as follows: August 1974, 2 percent; 1975, 4 per cent; 1976, 4.5 per cent; 1977, 5.3 per cent; 1978, 6.2 per cent; and 1979, 5.8 per cent. Now listen to the percentages for South Australia in that same period. In August 1974 it was 2.3 per cent; in 1975, 4.5 percent; in 1976, 3.7 percent; in 1977, 6.1 per cent; in 1978, 8.1 per cent; and in 1979, the highest level of unemployment in Australia, it was 8.2 per cent. It means that in every year since 1975, except for 1976, the unemployment level in South Australia has been higher than it was for the rest of Australia. The most dramatic figures of all were those for 1977, 1978 and 1979. In 1977 the South Australian figure stood at 6.1 per cent compared with the Australian figure of 5.3 per cent. But then a year later in 1978 the South Australian figure was 8.1 per cent when the Australian rate was 6.2 per cent. In August of this year, when the Australian rate had fallen to 5.8 per cent, what happened to South Australia under the Corcoran Government? The rate rose to 8.2 per cent. Why is it that when other States are improving South Australia is going backwards? There is really only one answer. It is known to the people of South Australia and it is becoming more apparent to them day by day; namely, that the policies of the South Australian Government are not conducive and not attractive to private investment. Capital is fleeing that State and is not being attracted to it; therefore, jobs are not being created in South Australia.
The spokesman for the Opposition said today that we should ignore my answer to the House yesterday at Question Time concerning the job creation potential of the development of Roxby Downs because nothing can happen for three years -
– That is nonsense.
– It is nonsense. I establish my point by quoting the Premier of South Australia, the honourable Des Corcoran. It is true that a feasibility study, estimated to cost $S0m, is to be undertaken over the next three years, but what does Mr Corcoran say about that investment of $50m? According to the transcript of his Nationwide appearance of 1 August 1979, Mr Corcoran stated: . . they -
That being the Western Mining-BP consortium- would not be prepared to do it unless they were pretty certain that the majority of people in the state, indeed in the country or in the nation, were behind what they were doing. Now there must be again, they must have made a judgment on this -
That is, the company- and they’re satisfied probably that by 1986 that attitude will have changed. I don’t know what they’ll do to change it in the meantime, I should imagine the pressures that you talk about will be activated by them, I guess that they’ve got that in mind.
But now bear this next quotation firmly in mind because this shows to the people of South Australia and to the Labor Opposition in this Parliament where Mr Corcoran stands. His statement continued:
But the South Australian Government insofar as I’m concerned and whilst I’m Premier, I will resist those pressures, the party policy says I will resist them and I will.
Is not that saying to the people of South Australia and to the Western Mining-BP consortium, that whatever their $50m feasibility study produces, the Corcoran State Labor Government will not allow development of that great copper, gold and uranium deposit. Let the honourable gentleman at the table answer that statement.
– I can answer that. It is a selective quotation.
– My goodness me -
– Would you allow me some time to quote elsewhere from that document?
-I think I have just about heard the lot because Mr Corcoran will stand very firmly on his record in the election. Here is the record of what he has said about Roxby Downs. I do not go back on one word of what I said in this House yesterday, that Roxby Downs has the potential to create over 50,000 jobs in South Australia. Roxby Downs represents a capital investment of $2,000m, with a construction work force of some 2,000 to 3,000 people. It will create 5,000 permanent jobs and 50,000 additional jobs in other industries as a result of the multiplier effect. What has to be recognised here is that if Roxby Downs is to be developed some 500 kilometres north of Adelaide, a new town will have to be created. This will require a new railway line to be built, a new water pipeline to be built, roads to be taken in there and service industries to be established not only in the new towns but also farther back at Adelaide. When one looks at the multiplier effect of the total creation of a new town to service a massive mineral deposit by world standards, the anticipated creation of 50,000 jobs is not fanciful; it is, in fact, real.
As the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) said at Question Time today, Roxby Downs has the capacity to create for South Australia something of the magnitude of the Pilbara development in Western Australia. That is the kind of development which the Corcoran Labor Government is denying to the people of South Australia because it is blind to the fact that the mining of uranium is safe. All the investigation by the Australian Government, the Northern Territory Government, the Queensland Government and the Western Australian Government establishes that the mining of uranium is as safe as the mining of any other mineral in Australia. We are not looking at the disposal of nuclear waste in South Australia; that is a furphy so far as the development of Roxby Downs is concerned. We are looking at the safety of the mining of copper, gold and uranium. They are inextricably mixed in that deposit.
I note that in the Adelaide Advertiser oi 21 July of this year, one of the leading experts on mineral development in South Australia, Mr N. Jackson of the Australian Mineral Development Laboratories- I have heard the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) refer to AMDEL as a body of some authority- said that South Australia’s three major uranium deposits at Roxby Downs and Lake Frome have the potential to generate earnings of more than $4,500m. He was reported in the Advertiser as saying:
If members of the Opposition dispute what I say, let them also dispute what Mr Jackson has said. I notice that the honourable member for Bonython (Dr Blewett) has come into the House. Where does he stand on the question of the development of Roxby Downs?
– I am asked. I would like -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order!
– On a point of order -
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. He is not occupying his proper place and he does not have the opportunity to reply.
– The Minister -
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
-To show the lengths to which the South Australian members of the Opposition will go in endeavouring to prop up a failing State government, I point out that the honourable member made an accusation about the parity pricing of natural gas. That is a scaremongering tactic of the worst kind by a member of this House who at one time I thought was responsible. I say on behalf of the Minister for National Development that the Government has no plans and no policy that would lead to an increase in natural gas prices. The assertion by the honourable member for Adelaide is totally false.
– Have a look at today’s Sydney Sun.
– I would prefer to rely on my colleague, the Minister for National Development (Mr Newman). The honourable member mentioned the Sydney Sun. It is an old method of escape for politicians to harangue and blame the media for all their own failings. If the honourable member for Adelaide has to rely on haranguing the Press in Adelaide, that shows even more the weakness and hollowness of his arguments in this debate.
-Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. Is it appropriate at this stage for me to submit a table on unemployment in South Australia which clearly proves everything said by the Minister about unemployment to be incorrect.
-It is not in order.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, beyond question, the achievements in the past decade by the Labor Government in South Australia have been the envy of this nation. This record will be wrecked unless the people fully understand the disastrous impact of this Federal Government’s much-vaunted federalism policy. During the next 12 months to two years, it will have a devastating effect upon the economies of all States but in particular South Australia. This is the real issue. Next Saturday the people of South Australia will be given a choice. Can they trust the Corcoran Labor Government? Can they trust the Fraser-Tonkin team?
Government supporters- Yes.
-Ah! I suggest that they have had enough of Fraser. Let us have a look at the policies in this critical area. Mr Tonkin said not a word about it in his policy speech. Mr Fraser’s policies are clear. Federalism means more taxes. At least Mr Corcoran faces the issue. Two weeks ago Mr Tonkin said:
The Liberal Party won’t impose double taxation.
We have no plans for a State tax.
With economic development we can create new jobs, we can put more money in people ‘s pockets.
What nonsense! We can attribute as much credibility to that statement as the nation attributes to the Fraser commitments. When it comes to honouring promises his commitments are about as barren as the Sahara Desert. Where does Mr Tonkin stand on the issue of federalism? Does he support it or oppose it?
Let us see what the Corcoran Government is committed to. Mr Corcoran said:
We will not cut back on Government sponsored capital works which provide jobs in private industry.
At this year’s Premiers Conference the Fraser Government cut the loan funds available to this State by $60m.
I will go to Canberra to negotiate what share South Australia will get of the tax collected from us all.
No doubt Mr Fraser will try to impose his new Federalism -
-This is a quotation, Mr Deputy Speaker.
-The honourable member lapsed on an earlier occasion -
– No. It is a quotation from Mr Corcoran. He said:
No doubt Mr Fraser will try to impose his new federalism and attempt to force the States into imposing an income tax surcharge.
Let me canvass the track record of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and of the Federal Liberal Party in this critical area. I shall analyse exactly what it means and what its impact will be. From the outset, Fraser federalism was a fraud because it was designed to squeeze the States to force them to raise a second income tax, while at the same time preserving Commonwealth expenditure. The decline in Commonwealth funds for the States is clearly demonstrated by Table No. 3 of this year’s Budget Paper No. 7. During the four years of this Government, total funds to the States and local government authorities have been increased by 5.6 per cent, 1 1.9 per cent, 4.8 per cent and 6.6 per cent respectively. These increases were far below the rates of inflation and have meant that every year there has been a substantial cut in funds to the States and local government. It is sometimes argued that the Commonwealth has been more generous with the States than it has been with itself. This claim is totally false. Commonwealth outlays on Commonwealth functions during the four years I have mentioned have increased by 12.5 percent, 18.1 percent, 10.5 per cent and 10.6 per cent respectively. These increases should be compared with the percentage increases in grants to States and local government. I seek leave to have a table incorporated in Hansard. The Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) agreed earlier to its incorporation.
The table read as follows-
-I thank the House. These figures demonstrate conclusively that Commonwealth funds to State governments have been substantially cut under the Fraser Government and have been cut more severely than funds available for Commonwealth functions. No doubt there has been a deliberate policy decision to force the States to raise a second income tax. All of this was known to the Commonwealth from the very beginning. In a paper put to Cabinet in January 1976 by the then Treasurer seating out the effect of federalism, the Treasury had this to say about the new tax sharing formula:
The position will, of course, change and markedly once the personal income tax is fully subject to indexation. Leaving aside the possibility of discretionary changes in income tax rates an indexed personal income tax would, over the longer term at least, almost certainly yield less in terms of growth than the personal grants formula.
The consequences of the formula were also spelt out by the Treasury in these words:
This could mean that, to simply maintain what they had now, the States may be forced to increase the surcharges on income tax which they would have to levy under their own legislation. This should be summarised as the Commonwealth handing over the dirty work of increasing taxes to the States.
Right from the outset, the Commonwealth knew the consequences of its own policy. The Government is committed to it and Mr Tonkin is committed to it. As it turns out, general revenue has been held up to some degree only by the existence of a States grants formula which was devised by the previous Labor Government and which has been in operation for four years because the States insisted on a certain guaranteed minimum. Had it not been for the Labor Government’s formula, grants to the States would have been even less. That is conceded by every State Premier. The Prime Minister has been keen to get rid of this formula because it prevents him from really cutting back funds to the States. The formula expires next year and the Fraser Government has indicated that it will not renew it. In a letter to the Premier of Tasmania dated 12 July 1979, the Prime Minister stated:
I must reiterate that the Commonwealth considers that the current guarantee formula is too generous, and makes the obvious point that any proposal for continuation in its present form would not be acceptable. I would also wish to reiterate that an important aspect of the tax sharing arrangements is the emphasis on responsibility for the States, including responsibility for raising revenue themselves in line with their own priorities.
That means that general revenue will drop even further. It is important to note that general revenue was supposed to remain high under Fraser federalism. It would replace specific purpose grants which were likely to be absorbed into the general revenue formula. To date no specific purpose grants have been absorbed into that formula. The Government has merely cut back specific purpose grants to the States without making any compensating adjustment to general purpose revenue. On top of all of that, the Fraser Government is pursuing a vendetta against
South Australia. This can be clearly demonstrated by the increase in payments to the States and local government in the current year. I have already referred to the overall increase in 1979-80, which is 6.6 per cent. That 6.6 per cent is an average of the increase in all the States. However South Australia’s increase is only 4.4 per cent. Let us have a look at the other States.
– Is this based on population?
– You had better answer this if you have to follow me. In New South Wales the increase is 7.5 per cent, in Victoria 6.5 per cent, in Queensland 7 per cent, in Western Australia 5.8 per cent, in Tasmania 5.6 per cent and in South Australia 4.8 per cent. No wonder the South Australian Government is going to have a difficult time with its Budget as this Government has clearly singled it out for particularly rough treatment. Under these circumstances a State income tax, in my view, seems inevitable unless the Corcoran Government receives a strong mandate to stand up to this Government. If the Liberals are elected, they will be forced to go along with Fraser’s policy of introducing a second income tax. Where do they stand? Do they support this Government, do they oppose it or are they mute on it? This is a spurious deal. It is a policy based on deceit. This is a policy of fraud. It has been rejected. The federalism policy has been rejected by both governments and people decisively in the States of New South Wales and Tasmania. The Government’s policy is not accepted in any other Liberal State, whether it be Queensland, Western Australia or Victoria. I can hope only that the people of South Australia get the message on Saturday because they will pay a severe price if they do not.
Let me conclude by saying that if the assurances of the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs are as good as the assurances of this Government since 1975 then we cannot place very much credibility on them. If the people of South Australia are particularly wise they will treat them with the greatest sense of suspicion. If there is to be one disastrous act by the Government in South Australia, whether it be the Corcoran Government or a Tonkin government, it will be an increase in the price of natural gas. Now people in South Australia ought to take it well into account -
– Not as a result of the policies of this Government.
– You and your Government have made a lot of promises. You have not had one credible act in your track record yet. Why should the people of South Australia trust the
Government on this one? I certainly do not and I sincerely trust that the people of South Australia do not.
– It is with some consternation that I am confronted by this matter of public importance raised by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) concerning misleading statements about South Australia by Prime Minister Fraser and others. The temerity of the honourable member for Adelaide in moving such a matter for debate in relation to the South Australian election amazes me. It is not the Prime Minister, Liberal parliamentarians, State or Federal, or their supporters, who have made misleading statements about South Australia in the context of the current election. The Labor Premier, Mr Corcoran, and the Australian Labor Party are the only source of misleading statements in relation to the State election. This has been compounded by the honourable member for Adelaide today with his farrago of personal abuse directed at Mr Tonkin and representatives of employers in South Australia.
From the very announcement of the election right through the campaign, blatant dishonesty has been the hallmark of the Labor Party’s approach. This dishonesty began with the very reason given by the Premier for calling the election. He told the people of South Australia that he needed a personal mandate. Of course no one believed him. The real reasons behind this election are twofold. Firstly, Labor had its campaign advertising prepared well before the announcement of the election in anticipation that an unpopular Federal Budget could be used as an excuse for an early State election. The favourable reception deservedly given to the Federal Budget pulled the rug from under the Labor Party in South Australia. It quickly needed another excuse or the Labor Party would have done its dough. So the Labor Party decided it would spend $lm of taxpayers’ money to hold an unnecessary State election so that its own previously committed campaign expenditure would not be wasted. So much for the public responsibility of the Labor Party.
The second reason for this election is that the left wing extremists who now control the party in South Australia cannot wait to get control of the Legislative Council. They believed, mistakenly as the campaign is turning out, that the current support for the Labor Party in South Australia would give them enough votes in an election to win control of the Council. The Legislative Council would thus be destroyed as a house of review and eventually abolished. These are the two real reasons for the election and not Corcoran ‘s need for a personal mandate. But perhaps the whole thing is a dreadful mistake. As the erstwhile Premier told us in announcing the election, his decision followed some late night pillow talk with his wife. Perhaps Mr Corcoran thought his wife said: ‘Dear, if you want to know that you are loved you need an election’. By the time he realised he had misunderstood her, the election had been called and it was too late. Of course, the Premier’s demand for a personal mandate itself is dishonesty in the context of the Westminster system. In the Westminster system the electors vote for local candidates endorsed by respective parties, with the ultimate result that the majority party forms a government. The leader of that party becomes Premier or Prime Minister.
In the Westminster system we do not vote for the leaders, as happens in the presidential system in the United States or elsewhere. This, of course, shows the scant regard which the Labor Party has for the Westminster system of democracy.
This initial dishonesty in calling the election by the Labor Party has been compounded in its campaign. Corcoran has made up his mind to conduct a Canberra-bashing, blame-Fraser and the feds election campaign. It is an old political trick: If things are bad at home find an external threat and focus attention on that. He has not succeeded. As the polls being published in the Advertiser show, this week the people are not being conned by this approach. The issues that are specific to South Australia are the issues that are concerning the voters. Things are so bad in South Australia that the more Corcoran has concentrated on Canberra, the more South Australians have appreciated the seriousness of South Australia’s plight. More importantly, they know they cannot blame Canberra but can and are blaming Corcoran. They know that South Australia is not sharing the economic growth occurring in other States as a result of the sound policies of the Fraser Government at the Federal level. This is evident in so many areas.
Perhaps to cite the changes in levels of unemployment would be one fair example. I cite the changes in the levels of unemployment for each month from February to August of 1979 compared with the same months in 1978. For the rest of Australia, excluding South Australia, February 1979 compared with February 1978 saw a fall in unemployment of 20,600. In South Australia for that same period there was an increase in unemployment of 5,900. Similarly in March this year against March last year, for the rest of Australia there was a fall in unemployment of 29,700. In South Australia there was an increase in unemployment of 9,000. In April there was an increase in unemployment for the rest of Australia of 4,700 but an increase in South Australia of 6,900, more than the whole of the rest of Australia. May saw a fall in unemployment for the rest of Australia of 500 compared with an increase in South Australia of 3,000 compared with May of the previous year. In June the rest of Australia had a fall in unemployment of 11,400. In South Australia unemployment increased by 4,700 compared with June of the previous year. In July there was a fall of 5,400 in unemployment in the rest of Australia, but in South Australia it fell only by 100. The most recent month, August 1979, compared with August 1978 saw a fall in unemployment in the rest of Australia excluding South Australia of 18,700; whereas in South Australia there was an increase of 800. These figures are compounded by the current figures given by the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) for overall percentages of unemployment. For Australia it is 5.8 per cent, and for South Australia it is 8.2 per cent. Furthermore, for the decade of the 1970s, in Western Australia those in employment, in the work force, increased by 24 per cent, in Queensland by 16 per cent, but in South Australia by only 9.8 per cent. For the period from 1975 to 1979 the Western Australian work force grew by 5.3 per cent, in Queensland it grew by 2 per cent, but in South Australia it fell by 0.5 per cent. So clearly those employment figures are a severe indictment of the policies that have been pursued by South Austraiian Labor Governments. In particular they make a mockery of claims in Labor’s election advertisements of the success of Labor’s job creation programs in that State.
In South Australia there is a crisis of confidence reflected in a crisis in business confidence, in consumer confidence and in the confidence of the electors themselves. Businessmen, consumers and voters now realise the economic well-being of South Australia is being destroyed by the present Labor Government. That destruction will continue if Labor is returned in the election on Saturday, particularly if it has a majority in the Legislative Council. The far-reaching changes to South Australia’s industrial law will be bulldozed through the South Australian Parliament. Employers have made it clear that this will result in more business leaving South Australia and those that remain further reducing their level of activity. The honourable member for Adelaide asserted in a television interview on
Monday night that Corcoran would consult with employers on this matter. But the businessmen have had too much experience already of consultation Corcoran style. He looks at the t’s and the i’s and agrees to alter the ‘ands’ and the ‘buts’, but makes it clear that the aspects of real concern to business confidence are matters of principle and therefore non-negotiable. To the Premier of South Australia, the Corcoran consensus means the same as the Corcoran command. So Corcoran again is misleading the people of South Australia in his promise to consult.
Corcoran has attacked the Fraser Government with claims that the Federal Government collects seven out of every eight dollars of tax collected in South Australia. But the Federal Government whether Labor or Liberal has been the largest collector of taxation ever since uniform taxation was introduced in 1942 by the Curtin Labor Government. His claim does not reflect on the taxation policies of the Fraser Government. His claim is also dishonest in detail. Seven-eighths of taxation in fact represents 87.5 per cent. The fact is that the Federal Government collects only 78 per cent of taxes collected in South Australia. In his claim, Corcoran also ignored the fact that 40 per cent of income tax is returned to the States in untied grants. These have increased markedly in recent years under the Fraser Government. He also ignores the fact that South Australia receives above average per capita reimbursement of income tax revenue to the extent of $160 more than in New South Wales and Victoria. Furthermore, South Australia receives $40 per head more than New South Wales and Victoria in tied grants. Again, Corcoran is deliberately misleading the people of South Australia. Similarly he misleads the people with his claims of double taxation. In fact, with sound financial management the State Government would have the capacity to give a tax rebate under the Fraser Government federalism policies.
The people of South Australia know only too well, as reflected in the polls this week, that South Australia is on the skids under the present Labor Government’s administration. They will not be diverted by the dishonesty of the Labor Party’s election campaign nor by the remarks of the two members from South Australia on the Labor side during the debate on this matter of public importance today. I certainly join the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) in totally rejecting the terms of this matter of public importance. The return of a Liberal government in South Australia on Saturday will ensure that South Australia again becomes a great State, as it was in the Playford era.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drummond)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. The time for the discussion has concluded.
Debate resumed from 1 1 September, on motion by Mr Howard:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I support the Budget in both its detail and the strategy it endorses. In particular, I welcome the statement by the Treasurer (Mr Howard) that the Government will maintain its attack on inflation, which in the Treasurer’s words ‘is the fundamental and most enduring cause of the economic difficulties of the 1970s’. The Reserve Bank of Australia in its recently released report said:
The Bank sees the requirements for further improvement in domestic economic conditions and the maintenance of a stronger balance of payments as closely related. Both would benefit from smaller budget deficits.
That is not the comment of just any trading bank in Australia. It is a solid endorsement of the Government’s economic strategy by the central bank of Australia, which is responsible for the administration of monetary policy in this country. It is certainly a rejection of the policy announced by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden), who when replying to the Budget and announcing some of his expenditure plans to expand the domestic deficit in this country, said:
I make no apology for the fact that in committing ourselves to such a program, we would support a larger domestic deficit to help fund it.
The Reserve Bank, which endorsed the Government’s economic strategy, has the following responsibility under the Reserve Bank Act 1 959:
It is the duty of the Board, within the limits of its powers, to ensure that the monetary and banking policy of the Bank is directed to the greatest advantage of the people of Australia and that the powers of the Bank under this Act, the Banking Act 1 959 and the regulations under that Act are exercised in such a manner as, in the opinion of the Board, will best contribute to-
) the stability of the currency of Australia;
b ) the maintenance of full employment in Australia and;
the economic prosperity and welfare of the people of Australia.
If that is not a good enough source of advice, we could turn to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which undertook its annual review of the Australian economy in
May of this year. Its review committee posed the question as to whether or not official policy should be relaxed in order to improve the employment situation. In its 1979 survey it came up with the same conclusion as it did in 1978. It said:
The factors arguing against faster public sector expansion still seem to keep the balance in favour of maintaining the steady stabilisation policy approach aimed at combating inflation.
It is quite clear that any substantial increase in public expenditure would reduce the basis for sustainable recovery of the economy. Higher expenditure will be financed by either higher taxes, which in turn have a dampening effect on employment, or a growth in the Budget deficit, which in turn will lead to higher interest rates, greater activity by the money printing presses or a combination of both. These also have adverse effects on the level of economic activity and the level of employment. Yet the Leader of the Opposition insists on higher public sector expenditure as a means of solving our economic problems. He seems to forget that during the term of the Labor Government the highest ever rates of increased government expenditure occurred at the same time as, and resulted in, record unemployment; but still he pursues the same policies. I think it is interesting to note in this context that both Japan and West Germany, which earlier in 1978-79 had announced the adoption of more expansionary budgetary policies, later resorted to higher interest rates to counter the increasing rise in domestic prices in those countries. The fact is that the policy options confronting governments are now very limited. The secretary of the Treasury, as reported in a recent Bulletin article on this very subject, said:
As a consequence of the errors of past years- and I am not confining myself to the years 1973-75, although I would have to say that by comparison most of the earlier ones pale into insignificance- Australia has, at least for some years to come, run out of options.
In other words, the present strategy, however unpalatable in the short term, is the only one which will serve the best long term economic interests of this country. There seems to have been an about-turn in the thinking of the Leader of the Opposition on economic policy matters. When he was Treasurer in 1 975 he said:
We are no longer operating in that simple Keynesian world in which some reduction in unemployment could, apparently, always be purchased at the cost of some more inflation.
Today, it is inflation itself which is the central policy problem. More inflation simply leads to more unemployment.
In that context he also said:
We expect that as the expansion of public sector activity is restrained, the opportunities for private sector expansion will improve, although full responses to greater room for growth may take time to develop.
In other words, when in government, the now Leader of the Opposition accepted the realities of the economic problem facing the then Government, although the Budget outcome in 1 975 did not match his rhetoric. Now that he is in Opposition he paints an entirely different picture as to how he would confront what is basically the same problem. He now proposes massive increases in public expenditure. He rejects the concept of lower taxes and a growing private sector as being critical to economic growth and prosperity for all Australians, and particularly for the welfare recipients. In Perth earlier this year, when talking about lower taxes, he said:
This sort of approach strikes directly at the conventional democratic socialist notion that equality and equity can only be assured by a stronger public sector.
In other words, when in Opposition he is a true socialist, but when in government he knows that socialism is not a possibility for this country and he rejects the strategy implicit in it. In seeking to condemn the Budget of the Treasurer, the Leader of the Opposition failed to put an alternative Budget to this Parliament and to the people. He did not use any solid figures. He simply indulged in personal abuse and denigration. But he did endorse the economic strategy of the Whitlam years. He told us that we would basically be getting the same kind of economic policy as then- more government expenditure and larger deficits. He seems to ignore the fact that the present policies of the Government have met with slow but steady success. There is still a long way to go- we admit that- but I think we should look at some of the facts and give some credit where it is due. We can look firstly at the rate of inflation, which reached an annual rate approaching 17 per cent in 1974. This Government has reduced it to approximately 9 per cent at present. As a result of this, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade organisation recently said that Australia is the only country to succeed in achieving improvement in international competitive positions over the past few years. During the Labor Government’s term of office the level of inflation in Australia rose to a maximum of five points above the average for countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The present Government has succeeded in bringing the inflation rate down to more than three points below that average. The beneficial effects of this on our balance of payments, current account and on employment are obvious. For example, in the year to June 1979 exports by metal manufacturers increased by 3 1 per cent compared with an increase of just over one per cent in the previous year. The export of machinery and transport equipment in 1978-79 was up by 23 per cent. Exports overall increased by 20 per cent in the year to June 1979.
Unemployment in Australia remains too high but at least some encouraging signs are beginning to emerge. Whereas the number of people in private employment fell by 155,000 under the Labor Government, in the 12 months to June 1979 it increased by more than 50,000. Total employment has risen by 64,000 over the same period. This steady increase month by month has meant that private employment has started to climb back to the level prevailing before the recession. The unemployment rate has fallen from 6.2 per cent to 5.8 per cent but still the unemployment position remains very serious. We are concerned about it. It is interesting to note the reversal in the unemployment trend when one considers that unemployment rose by 140 per cent between 1972 and 1975 under an entirely different approach to economic management. To indicate that employment can keep improving the Reserve Bank of Australia in its annual report clearly rejects the Opposition’s proposals. It states:
There must be doubts about the extent to which unemployment can be reduced simply by demand stimulus. As far as monetary, budgetary and external policies are concerned, their best contribution to reducing unemployment in the long run seems to be in fostering firm and stable conditions which will provide a basis for confident operations and for expansion in private industry.
That is the strategy of this Government. It is a strategy which must be maintained. National production is another key indicator. Under present policies that also has risen. Real gross domestic product rose by 4.7 per cent in 1 978-79. Non-farm product grew by 2.8 per cent. This is a big improvement from the situation under the Labor Government. Private capital inflow in 1978-79 was $1,71 lm, almost five times higher than in the previous year. This reflects the confidence which overseas investors have in the future of this economy. It was the best result for seven years. In addition, in the June quarter alone, $ 1,400m of prospective new investment was approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board. During 1978-79 business fixed investment grew by 10 per cent after allowing for inflation. That also means more jobs in the future as the multiplier effects start to work. There are excellent prospects for the development of natural resources as has already been mentioned in this place. In coal alone there are announced projects worth $2 billion. In bauxite and aluminium there are announced programs of a further $2 billion. In mining and manufacturing investment, according to the Department of Industry and Commerce, there is a total of $12.5 billion of firmly committed projects or projects in the final feasibility stage. W. D. Scott and Co. has estimated that $30,000m worth of major investment is ready to go in the next five years.
All these statistics mean improved employment prospects in the near and long term future. They mean jobs. This improvement has occurred because we want to encourage development by creating a climate for private investment and enterprise, both domestic and foreign. Yet the Opposition wants to keep our wealth in the ground. We had the spectacle yesterday of a senior Opposition member saying that basically he did not want any foreign investment in this country. I would like to know how he can reconcile that view with the quest for full employment. How will he explain that to the unemployed youth of this country? We can achieve our full potential as a nation only by encouraging the productive sector of the economy. All through this Budget debate the Opposition has criticised our incentives to the private sector, the sector which does the great majority of employing in this nation. We must continue to provide the necessary incentives for this by controlling public sector growth and adhering to our commitment to lower taxes, lower deficits and smaller government, thereby allowing room for the private enterprise sector to grow and create real jobs and real prosperity.
To date we have had some success. The growth in Commonwealth spending of taxpayers’ money has been reduced from an annual rate of increase of 10 per cent in real terms under Labor to a level of one per cent or less per annum under the present Government. The Budget deficit has also fallen from 5 per cent of the gross domestic product under Labor to 1.9 per cent in the coming financial year. That is the best result for six years. In the area of taxation much has been said disparagingly of the Government. I find it strange to hear Opposition members complain about higher taxation. Not only do they forget their own performance on tax matters but also they forget their own rhetoric and policies in this area. The Labor Party is the high tax party of this country. Taxes rose by 125 per cent in its three years of government. Income tax collections alone rose by 89 per cent during its first two years in office. Even after increasing taxes last year and for part of 1 979-80 the present Government’s personal income tax collections have increased on average by only 3. 1 per cent per annum compared with 14.5 per cent per annum under the previous Administration. Last year under the present Government tax collections fell in real terms for the first time in 10 years. The Opposition seems to forget that with the removal of the tax surcharge the tax payable at 1979-80 composite rates will be less at all levels than the tax payable in 1978-79.
The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in his speech last night said that someone on an income of $12,000 per annum would be paying 45c in the dollar under the Hayden taxation scales. He will now pay just over 33c in the dollar. The Opposition forgets that the average wage earner as a result of this Government’s tax policies will receive about $ 16 a week more in his paypacket in December 1979 under the new tax scales than he would have received if the 1975 tax scales had still applied. The Opposition also forgets that our tax reforms have meant that some 500,000 people no longer have to pay any income tax. They are the lower income earners in this country. The Opposition seems to forget that tax exemptions apply to deaf and blind persons on the purchase of certain items of equipment. It forgets the wide range of tax concessions and incentives provided to industry in order to create an environment for real expansion and a growth in long term job opportunities. The Opposition criticised us for not introducing tax indexation this year but in government Labor refused to do so. As recently as 2 1 July this year the Leader of the Opposition suggested that it may be too costly for him to adopt tax indexation as a firm policy. The Opposition’s commitment to higher taxes is clear. I do not think that Opposition members make any apology for it. The shadow Treasurer, the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) revealed this quite clearly last year. He said:
If Labor does not gain office next election then by 1983, when we could next hope to gain office, we would face a mammoth task in rebuilding the public sector- and maybe an equally mammoth task in convincing the electorate that it should pay a higher level of tax to enable us to do so.
The record of the Opposition on tax matters speaks for itself, as does its total economic strategy. The OECD, the International Monetary Fund, GATT and the Reserve Bank of Australia all agree with the economic management strategy of this Government which is endorsed again in this Budget. It is surprising that the Opposition seeks to cling to its economic strategy which is against the expressed economic opinions of responsible national and international economic bodies. It was discredited by the economic history of its term in government.
This Government’s policies of restraint have not meant that we have shown no regard for those welfare recipients in needy circumstances, although that seems to have come through in many speeches by members of the Opposition in this debate. Many of the contributions of members opposite have sought to drive a wedge between the assistance given by the Government to the productive sector of the economy and the assistance given to the needy. In my view, this grossly misrepresents the situation. We believe that we have to create wealth if we are to distribute it. I believe that a sound economy is essential for a sound welfare policy. I am yet to hear anyone argue that welfare recipients can benefit from a country which is confronted with massive economic difficulties. That opinion was endorsed also by Professor Henderson in the report of the Commission of Inquiry into Poverty in Australia.
The welfare record of this Government has been sound during a very difficult time for economic management. We have introduced automatic indexation of pensions, which will again be applied six-monthly. The Government has extended the income limits for pensioner fringe benefits. We have extended eligibility for health benefit cards to supporting parent beneficiaries. Assistance to handicapped persons through various schemes has increased by 93 per cent under this Government. To preserve their real value, age pension rates, for single pensioners and married couples, have risen by almost 50 per cent under this Government. There have been other welfare initiatives of significance. The accommodation provided by the aged persons homes scheme has been increased. Some 15,000 beds have been provided. Grants to autumn centres throughout Australia have been increased and family services programs have been extended.
The strategy of the Government is clearly aimed at economic responsibility. It is aimed at the unemployed. It is designed to show concern for their future prospects. At the same time, we are concerned with furthering the welfare of the needy in our society. I think it is a pity that the Opposition in its contribution to the Budget debate did not come forward with a wages policy- 1 think it is unfortunate that it did not come forward with a sound energy policy or a sound antiinflationary policy. This Government is committed to the present strategy which is endorsed in the Budget.
In political terms, it is difficult to stick with a tight policy of restraint. No democratic government on the face of this earth has found a popular way in which to defeat inflation, to reduce the
Budget deficit and to control government expenditure. As far as I am concerned, the record to date shows that very substantial progress has been made towards the economic recovery of this country. I believe that the long term future of this country, particularly in the area of national resources development and in the domestic manufacturing sector, will be improved very substantially by the policies of support for the private sector. That has been quite clearly shown by the strengthening that has taken place in all sectors of this economy. I support very strongly the strategy endorsed by the Government in this Budget.
-Before discussing in detail those aspects of the Budget which relate to the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, I wish to refer to the Galbally report for the purpose of reminding honourable members of some of the points in it relating to the expenditure in which the Government is indulging in this area. First of all, the expenditure recommended by the Galbally report amounted to a total of $50m over three years. That figure was based on an intake of migrants to this country at the rate of 50,000 a year. The first observation one must make is that the Government has been making noises about increasing substantially the number of migrants to be taken in over the next 12 months. We are led to believe that increasing the number of migrants is still another path to economic recovery. The allocation of funds that the Government boasts it is making in this Budget in conformity with the recommendations of the Galbally report will be inadequate, given that that allocation is honest in terms of the original Galbally recommendationlet us accept that for the moment- if the Government proceeds to bring in many more people. There is talk of increasing the intake by perhaps 25 per cent or more.
I remind honourable members that the Government promised an expenditure of $50m over three years. At the same time that that promise was made, the Government withdrew tax rebates for payments made by people in this country to dependent relations overseas. Until that time, if an immigrant to this country was sending money to Italy or Greece or wherever to support dependants, he was able to claim that as a tax deduction. At the time when the Government accepted in total without question the Galbally recommendation to spend $50m over three years it withdrew that tax concession. The effect of this action was that in the first year immigrants had to pay an extra $20m. The amount of money it will represent in succeeding years will be more because, of course, wages have gone up. People have gone into higher tax scales and therefore immigrants will be paying even more tax. Immigrants are paying more tax because they are unable to claim these rebates on the funds that presumably they are still trying to send overseas to their relations. The truth is that the additional expenditure allocated so magnanimously by this Government via the Galbally report, in fact, on balance, represents a robbery of the immigrants because they are paying more than the extra funds being allocated to them for services as recommended by the Galbally report.
I want to make another general point because the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in answer to a question at Question Time this afternoon made the claim that the Galbally report for the first time represented an acknowledgment of all these needs, that previous governments had not noticed them and that Ministers had not been aware of them. I beg to differ. I suggest that the statement by the Prime Minister was largely correct until the Labor Party came to power in 1 972. Up to that time the claims and the rights of immigrants were largely ignored. When the Labor Party was in power from 1972 to 1975, there was a burst of activity in all areas relating to immigrants and the services that hey required. In fact, I cannot recall any of the Galbally recommendations which were completely new. They were based on matters which we had talked about or programs we had already started. They were based upon needs that had arisen by virtue of the fact that for the first time in over 20 years when the Labor Party came to power immigrants recognised or began to recognise that they had rights, and they began to ask for those rights. So much for overall funding; I shall refer now to some specific items.
In the area of propaganda- that is how I put it- there has been a significant increase in the allocation under the votes of the Postal and Telecommunications Department for the Special Broadcasting Service. However, I fear the motives of the Government in providing these funds. That fear is based upon the reaction that I have obtained from members of various ethnic communities who are unhappy about- I was going to say the development of ethnic radio but the ethnic communities do not like the way in which ethnic radio is being developed under the Liberal Government. They are very disappointed that they are not being consulted before action is taken. I like to think that if it had not been for a Government direction concerning the Special Broadcasting Service- I do not wish to cast any reflections on the people who work in the Special Broadcasting Service- it would not have been so foolish as to set up, for example, a pilot television program before consulting members of the ethnic communities. Surely it should have done this. I like to think that if we had been in power we would have asked members of the ethnic community what they thought they wanted. We would have had discussions before rather than after setting up such a program.
The main criticism I make of the expenditure is that in the eyes of many members of the ethnic community it is being wasted. They feel they have not been consulted. They have not really been getting what they want. Many members of the ethnic community claim that the programs being broadcast over the ethnic radio stations are completely bland and almost uninteresting. They are not completely uninteresting, of course, because one yearns to hear something from one’s native land and from one’s cultural heritage. So even the simple programs that are provided over 2EA and 3EA are valued to a certain extent. However, they are not really allowed to hear anything much about their homeland. They are not allowed to hear anything much of a significant nature about what is going on even in their own communities right here in this country. They are not allowed to hear in their own languages much about what is going on in the body politic in this country. The radio programming is completely apolitical which, of course, is really utterly conservative. If one is not allowed to discuss political issues this invariably means that there is an enormously strong bias in favour of conservatism, which, of course, is right up the alley of the Liberal Party and the Liberal Government.
When we look at expenditure on education for migrant children, and presumably refugee children, we find first of all that compared with the overall allocation provided by the Labor Government in its last Budget there has been a very significant reduction. In the 1975-76 Budget, total recurrent expenditure amounted to $7.3m while capital expenditure was $ 1.7m- a total of just over $9m. But in the present Budget the total is a grand sum of $2.6m for both recurrent and capital expenditure. Of course it can be argued that the Government has provided in other places funds for these purposes. So we need to look in other places and, sure enough, funds are provided under the Department of Education, for example.
I want to look at only a few of the items. In total, I will simply assert that the allocation has not kept pace with the demand. When the two
Departments are combined it is clear that the present allocation is not keeping pace with the value we put on education for migrant children and refugees when we were in government. Let us look at a few small items. Under the Department of Education there is an allocation for emergency classroom accommodation for refugee children, which is an increase of $89,000. That will build very few classrooms. But at the same time under the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, there is a reduction of $600,000 for this purpose. So in sum total, despite the increase in the number of refugee children we are getting, and presumably can expect to get, given the Government’s agreement to take more refugees- I am quarrelling about that; I am acknowledging it though- it seems a very odd decision to cut down on the number of classrooms available for this purpose.
There is a modest increase for child migrant and refugee education in a category labelled Associated Services’. I have been unable to find out what that really means, but there is an increase of $369,000 in the allocation compared with the total Budget allocation this year of $2.4m. Once again, I cannot be sure what that means, but given the increase in the number of refugee children we are taking, I cannot see that amount doing all that much good, bearing in mind that by virtue of the Government’s accepting the Galbally report, it is also presumably waking up to the needs of all the other immigrant children in the country who have not had adequate educational opportunities provided for them because there has been inadequate funding over the years.
The allocation for language teaching materials compounds the insult. Once again one would have thought that because we are acknowledging the greater need for language training and because more and more people are learning of their rights in this area, there would be an increase in the allocation for language teaching materials, but no. From a Budget allocation last year of $900,000 the amount this year has dropped to $680,000- a very significant fall. So overall, one can conclude only that despite all the flowery language of the Liberal Government spokesmen, in real terms there has been a reduction in the allocation for education services when compared with the needs of the immigrant community.
In sum total then, the outlays for the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs amounted to $65m last year and $73.4m this year- an increase of $8.4m, which is not much above the inflation rate. Receipts- charges usually made against immigrants or, in this case, also overseas students; the money we are taking from the people whom we are supposed to be helping- have risen from $1.4m last year to $9.4m this year. Weighing that amount against the increase in the departmental expenditure, surely the only honest conclusion one can come to is that in real terms the Government has reduced the funding allocated to immigrants, migrant services and so on.
Looking at the allocation for the Department of Health, it is terribly difficult to be sure what is really being made available for members of the ethnic community. But if one looks carefully one finds things like this comment which comes from a Press release by the Minister for Health (Mr Hunt), who said:
The Commonwealth will provide $59.2 7m Tor the continued funding of the Community Health Program in 1979-80. The program will include four main componentsgeneral projects, (e.g. community nursing services), women’s refuges, the training and provision of ethnic health workers, and a new initiative- the training and provision of interpreters and translators to work in health services provided for migrants and Aboriginals.
We had to depend upon a Press release to get a bit more detail than that and it turns out that the health interpreters and translators for migrants and Aboriginals are going to be given $940,000. Well, there are a lot of migrants around the countryside who need interpreters and a lot of Aboriginals dispersed all over the countryside, particularly in the northern regions, who need health interpreters and translators. I cannot see less than a million dollars going very far. The categories ‘General Projects’ and ‘Ethnic Health Workers’ are lumped together and given the magnificent sum of $48.7m. Depending on one’s prejudices, one might think that is a heck of a lot of money for ethnic health workers. But if one digs deeply one finds that in fact the allocation for ethnic health workers is the miserable sum of $107,000. The rest, of course, is for all the other things. I am not begrudging ethnic health workers the money. I am just pointing out the real allocation for them. Let me just refresh members’ memories about what ethnic health workers are supposed to be doing. Their functions are set out in the Galbally report as follows:
The ethnic health workers would be trained to provide direct health education, preventive, support and counselling services to members of ethnic groups, with particular attention to the needs of women, the aged, the handicapped, those at risk of mental breakdown and those under treatment in the community.
That is a pretty broad area of responsibility. It continues-
They would need skills in seeking out migrants most in need of help . . .
We know that migrants often do not know their rights and they will not come forward, so these people have to seek them out- to encourage them to use the health resources available to them. In this way they -
That is, the ethnic health workers- would play a key role in preventing the development of serious health problems and the family breakdown and major settlement problems often associated with them.
Need I go on? Just how many people with all those skills can be found for $107,000 a year? It is in fact tokenism in the worst possible form. In my view, it is an absolute insult to members of the ethnic communities.
I now turn to more general matters, for example the Department of Employment and Youth Affairs. We find a cut in the allocation for the National Employment and Training scheme for the training and retraining of migrants and other groups. The cut is from $122m to $67.9m- a drop of $54m. I would not have thought that the program had solved all the problems of the training needs of those people in the community who needed to be trained last year. I would have thought that there was an enormous backlog of people still needing that sort of help. Yet this year we find that enormous cut- almost half the allocation. Bearing in mind that proportionate to immigrants’ representations in the community, there are many more immigrants or children of immigrants who are unemployed and untrained than there are other members of the community, ordinary Australians, in a sense this cut will hit immigrants and their families more than the rest of the Australian community.
I think it is a very cynical exercise because when immigrants come to Australia we hear a lot about the need to bring in skilled workers and we encourage them to come, but of course we forget that usually they have families also- wives and children. Often we ignore the fact that when they arrive with their skills, for a variety of reasons they do not succeed in getting jobs commensurate with their level of training- because they do not know the language well enough so they cannot make themselves understood or because when they finally get here it is found that their qualifications are not quite what we wanted or are not even recognised. Most immigrants with skills are underemployed in terms of their skills. That is a fact. On top of that, their children come in to the school system at various ages and because they do not understand English they inevitably fall back. They are often branded as uncooperative, unruly or slow. No one ever inquires what they were like in their native countries, where lessons were given in their native tongues. One would find that they were probably no better or worse than the rest of the Austraiian community. In other words, they are not slow, or difficult control or discipline problems. The reason they appear to be such in Australia is that we do not provide enough support for them to allow them to comprehend what is going on.
I once visited an institution- a college of advanced education, I think- where people were being taught to try to cope with these sorts of problems and how to teach about different cultures, languages and so on. I was told that at the first lecture to the students, who were mainly Anglo-Saxon, the lecturer spoke in Greek. He did not utter one word of English during the whole lecture. Finally he even said good-bye in Greek and walked out. That left all the students rather dismayed. Still, they thought it was a very interesting exercise. When they came back for the next lecture the same thing happened. By then they were all pretty demoralised.
The point I wish to make is that we expect the children of immigrants, who do not understand English, to sit in classrooms where lessons are conducted in English and to get on- not be demoralised, appear dumb or become discipline problems. How outrageously stupid can one be. For all these reasons, despite all the boasts by the Government, in my view far too little effort is being given to providing for the needs of these people, who are now Australian citizens, members of this community. We can no longer say that they are immigrants; they are Australians. They have permanent residency. They are part and parcel of this community. They have the same rights as every other Australian but this Government is still continuing to ignore their rights.
-The Budget provides for an expenditure of $31 billion in 1979-80 as compared with the $29 billion provided in the last Budget. That is an increase of something like 9.8 per cent. The underlying principle in the Budget has been the attack upon inflation which is so necessary if the economy of Australia is to be sound. It must never be forgotten that when the Fraser-Anthony Government took over from the Whitlam Labor Administration at the end of 1973 inflation was running as high as 17 per cent. The deficit was in the order of $4 billion and the Labor Government had increased its Budget expenditure from $16 billion to $22 billion. It was the highest increase in the history of Australian Budgets- a rise of 138 per cent. The Labor Government was endeavouring to arrest the situation by borrowing $4 billion, not through the normal financial banking channels but through an intermediary, Khemlani, sitting on a box in a dingy London office.
The 1975-76 Budget was brought down by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) whose fiscal policy was a national disaster. Surely he cannot be trusted at any future time. Labor economic policies have been a catastrophe and they are well remembered by the people of this country. The present Fraser-Anthony Government has restored confidence, reduced inflation to 8 per cent and improved overseas trade balances. Private capital inflow for 1978-79 was the greatest in the last seven years. Real gross domestic product has increased by 4.7 per cent. Farm product has increased by 36 per cent and non-farm product by 3 per cent. Business in all sections has shown considerable improvement. Most companies in all fields of Australian business have shown increased returns.
This Budget has brought about a resurgence in the stock exchange activity in all Australian capital cities. This started the day after the Budget was brought down in this House by the Federal Treasurer (Mr Howard). The Sydney Stock Exchange, in particular, received a real impetus in confidence as shown by increases in shares right across the board, not only those of energy companies but also those of companies involved in the textile and metal industries. There was a resurgence of confidence in all those industries. In business activities last year fixed investment in Australia recorded an increase of 10 per cent in real terms. What has happened in the bond market? There has been the greatest activity of all time. Indeed, the Reserve Bank of Australia ran out of bonds. This certainly shows two things: The investors have confidence in the economy of this country- in the ability of this Government to manage it- and they know that interest rates have probably reached their highest level.
Speakers on the Opposition side of the House in this debate, as always, have been prophets of doom. They have talked about increased unemployment, poverty, deprivation and lack of compassion on the part of the Government. This is absolute nonsense and rubbish. Sure, there is some poverty and there always will be despite what any government may do in an effort to eradicate and eliminate it altogether. As one travels about this country one sees that the work force seems to enjoy an affluence that workers in hundreds of other nations throughout the world would like to have. This is to be applauded as the work force is entitled to enjoy the benefits of an economy that is second only to the economies of West Germany and the United States of America.
Sure, there is unemployment, but what created this trend? None other than the Whitlam Labor Government by introducing a 25 per cent tariff cut across the board in all sections of industry. It was apparent that no homework had been done before this step was taken and over 125,000 employees found themselves out of work, without jobs. Goods were allowed to enter Australia which were often manufactured by people who earned a wage of about $A12 a month. One can imagine the effect that this had in this country, particularly in the textile and footwear industries and in other industries of that nature. Unemployment has flowed on from this point.
Our Government believes in the reduction of tariffs but in areas of manufacture which have been fully checked out and investigated to ascertain what effect reductions could have on unemployment, the community and the economy. Notwithstanding the unemployment problem, over 4.7 million men and women are employed in the Australian work force at present. This is the greatest number of people ever employed in Australian history. People must have regard to this fact. Our work force is the greatest of all time. It has increased by 62,800 people as compared with last year. The Government has many schemes to assist the unemployed to obtain positions. Expenditure on the Commonwealth Rebate Apprenticeship Full-time Training scheme has been increased from $28.4m to $54.3m in this Budget- an increase of $25.9m. The number of people assisted will increase from 28,500 to 85,000. This Government has provided these funds to eliminate unemployment. Other schemes in the unemployment field provided for in the Budget include the Community Youth Support scheme, which is well supported in my electorate and indeed throughout the nation, and the National Employment and Training scheme. This program embraces the Special Youth Employment Training program and the Education Program for Unemployed Youth, which seek to assist unemployed youth. I am amazed that in many instances the unemployed youth of this country are not aware of these schemes. We should be giving more publicity to them so that these people will be aware of them. Whilst these schemes are assisting the unemployed it is in the commercial and business sectors of the community that employment opportunities have to be increased. With business confidence returning and company profits increasing there could be an improvement in this area in the future. Some improvement is occurring at present. Unemployment is slowly coming down. With companies like Broken Hill Proprietary Ltd, Mt Isa Mines Holdings Ltd, CSR Ltd, and many other companies that I could name, having increased profits, business activities and confidence in the future, I feel sure that employment opportunities in these fields will increase and thus unemployment will decrease.
The pensioners will benefit considerably from this Budget. Australia has over 1,250,000 pensioners in various categories and this Budget provides for proposed expenditure of $8,925m on pensions, the second largest expenditure item in the Budget. That is a tremendous amount of money which will benefit a large number of pensioners including widow pensioners, age pensioners, repatriation pensioners, single parents and so on. The proposed expenditure is an increase of 9.6 per cent on last year’s expenditure and represents 28 per cent of total Budget outlays. The indexation of social security and repatriation pensions has been restored and twiceyearly automatic increases will be made. This means there will be an increase in pensions in November 1979 and in May 1980. It is expected that the restoring of twice-yearly indexation will absorb $63m in a full year. In addition, pensioner fringe benefits will be increased in many fields at a cost of $23m in a full year. In this regard the eligibility for the pensioner health cards has been extended to include supporting parents and their children. This means that supporting parents will be eligible for the cards, as are widows and other sole parents in similar circumstances, and will be eligible for certain fringe benefits such as free pharmaceuticals. The basic income test limits for eligibility for pensioner health cards have not been altered since 1973. This has resulted in the loss of this benefit by large numbers of pensioners. As a consequence, the Government has decided to increase the limits from $33 to $40 a week in respect of single parents and from $57.50 to $68 a week in respect of married couples. These extensions will be effective from 1 November and are estimated to cost a total of $ 13m in 1979-80 and $23m in the following year.
Let me refer to payments to the Wran Government in New South Wales which is always screaming poor mouth. It has been allocated by this Government untied grants larger than those to any other State Government in Australia ‘s history. The New South Wales Government under Premier Wran has been receiving huge grants of untied funds from the Federal Government, yet
Mr Wran and his Ministers are crying poor circumstances and blaming the Federal Government for any problems or shortcomings they may have. I would like to cite the amounts of untied grants- not special grants for health, education and so on- that have been allocated to the New South Wales Government. In 1974-75 the grants totalled $737.5m. In 1975-76 they totalled $946.6m. In 1976-77 they totalled $1,1 13.4m. In 1977-78 they totalled $l,319.6m and in 1978-79 they totalled $ 1,667m. State Ministers in all portfolios are blaming the Federal Government. They should be more responsible in their administration of the grants and the people of New South Wales should wake up and change their Government to ensure that better use is made of these funds. Fancy that, untied grants to the New South Wales State Government have risen from $737m to $ 1,667m in five years. That Government is wasting its funds and is not responsibly administering the Federal Government grants. The State government continues to cry poor mouth but it is as well to realise that during the past three years the published combined deficit of all the States amounted to only $5m and the Commonwealth had a massive total deficit over this period of $9,523m. The New South Wales Government, like all governments, wants more cash to spend on its own pet schemes, but it is not prepared to accept the responsibility or to be held accountable to the electorate for raising it. The receipt by the State Government of $ 1,667m or an extra $203m this year from the Commonwealth will provide it with sufficient funds to carry out its own program. It is a wealthy State Government and it allocates its funds according to its own priorities and any reduction in any one area is because of that Government’s priorities, not because of any shortage of funds.
It is very pleasing to see in this Budget the increase in proposed expenditure through the Grants Commission to local government bodies in New South Wales. A sum of $80. 9m is being made available in Federal funds this financial year for allocation to local government bodies in New South Wales. A sum of $80.9m is being made available in Federal funds this financial year for allocation to local government compared with $65. 4m last year. The promise made by the Commonwealth Government that over a period of three Budgets 2 per cent of personal income tax would be paid to local governments is well under way. This year the 950 local government bodies in Australia will receive 0.25 per cent of personal income tax revenue. This allocation will means that many millions of dollars will be spread throughout Australia in untied local government grants. So it is up to the local government bodies to decide how these funds will be administered and what projects they will be used for. In the next Budget this Government will increase the allocation to 2 per cent of personal income tax revenue.
In relation to the coal industry, it is good to know that this Government has had regard to this industry which brings over $ 1,200m annually into our economy. In the electorate of Paterson great developments are taking place in the coal industry.
– Also in Dawson.
– Yes, and in other parts of Australia. The Hunter Valley district of New South Wales in the Paterson electorate has developed into one of the biggest coal-producing areas in Australia. The district has a huge commitment to coal exports to Japan, Korea, Great Britain and many other countries. There is great competition in this export field and in this Budget the existing coal export duty of $3.50 per tonne on high quality coking coal will be reduced for open-cut operations and major expansions of such operations commencing production after 30 June 1980 and for existing and future underground mines. This will take care of contracts entered into after that time. The rate of duty to apply will be $ 1 per tonne, the rate applicable to exports of lower grade coking coal. These changes will take place on 1 November 1979 and the cost to revenue is estimated at $12m in 1 979-80 and $ 1 9m in a full year. Our coal mining operators will be protected because although the Japanese offer a great market for our coal they are very keen financial operators who like to cut the price wherever possible. The changes will be of great help in meeting that competition.
A world wide shortage of energy exists particularly in regard to liquid fuels. If the Australian Government had failed to take the drastic but correct decision on oil prices, Australian motorists would have been living in a fool’s paradise. No one likes paying more for petrol but no one likes being without petrol either. This is the stark choice for Australians. The simple fact is that whilst Australia now produces 70 per cent of its crude oil needs, the life of known reserves of Australian-produced oil is limited. Every barrel of Australian-produced oil that we use has to be replaced. Unless exploration is encouraged, and is successful, oil that is used will have to be replaced by oil bought on the world market.
In the month of July Australia imported petroleum products of the order of $155,744,000.
That indicates that when we have a strike on our seaboard or down on Bass Strait, we have to import more crude oil at world parity prices. This is another factor which the Government has taken into consideration. Australia will soon face a bill for its oil imports of $2,000m a year. It would have been considerably higher had the Government not adopted policies which have increased our oil reserves and encouraged conservation. While the rest of the world was facing up to the inescapable fact that the days of cheap energy were over, in recent years Australians paid for Australian produced crude oil less than half the world price for crude. No doubt this encouraged waste of a vital energy resource. It meant that there was no incentive to explore for more oil in Australia or to find more efficient energy using processes and technology. Australia has based its price of Australian produced oil on the price of Arabian oil at the official selling price in the Persian Gulf with allowances for freight and differences in quality. Because the Government is in control of the situation Australians will not be victims of the extremes of the oil price market.
Whilst a large part of the increased revenue from the oil price increase in Australia goes to the Government, this provides the Government with the means of pursuing this energy policy objective. The Government has active programs on energy research and development, and this year it has committed $15m for additional support of energy research and development. An amount of $ 10m has already been approved and there is $3. 5m for coal resources and coal mining research.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-As a result of the Budget I wish to survey some of the funding as it affects the Aboriginal people of Australia. As with previous Fraser Government Budgets, funding which goes to Aboriginal people has been cut in regard to housing, health, education, employment, enterprises, town management, public utilities, cultural and recreational funding, legal aid training and consultation and research- in fact, in every category except for general welfare where there has been a small increase. Since the Labor Government’s period in office, total spending by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in inflation-adjusted terms, has dropped by 30.7 per cent. Last year there was an under-spending by $5m of the appropriated amount, which has not been accounted for in this year’s appropriation. The original appropriation for 1978-79 was $120m.
This year’s allocation is $223,000, which is 0.2 per cent less in real terms. If we look at some of the details, for housing, the drop in real terms, since the 1975 Labor Budget, has been 23.8 per cent. In inflation-adjusted terms it is $9m less.
At the rate of spending in this Budget it would take 30 years to accommodate those Aborigines who are at present on the waiting list. For many years the standard of housing has not improved beyond something like 10 people per house in most Aboriginal houses. The housing is very dilapidated and the amount allocated for repairs is less in real terms. In last year’s Budget there was a $405,000 grant to the Northern Territory Commission which was unspent. It has been allocated again this year. Perhaps it will be spent this year. The total budget for Aboriginal housing did rise in real terms by 6.4 per cent on the figure for last year, but I stress that that is still below the level of Labor’s last Budget. One of the areas within which it did increase but was much needed was in non-metropolitan Aboriginal housing, but 34 per cent of housing in that area is below standard and the waiting time for housing loans for Aboriginals wishing to buy a house is eight years. If anything, it is a little bit longer than the waiting list for ordinary Housing Commission houses in most States and areas of Australia. These are deprived people and yet we hear complaints from the white population- particularly in areas where they are aware of the existence of high Aboriginal populations within their community- that Aborigines are getting preference for housing. In order to obtain their own homes there is an eight-year wait, and if they want to rent a home there is a 30-year wait. To my mind no manipulation or rhetoric can excuse this sort of priority of the Fraser Government.
In regard to health, another area of wellknown deprivation where Aborigines are far behind the rest of the community, spending is down on last year by 1 lh per cent. On the last Labor Budget it is down by more than 15.3 per cent. For the first time there is no funding for health services in the Northern Territory. These funds are now channelled through the vote of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to the Northern Territory health services. In real terms the Government is spending $7m less on Aboriginal health programs than the Labor Government spent in 1975. It is not as though all health indicators were improving. There has been a fluctuation in infant mortality, which rose last year but seems to be on the way down overall, and there is a greater discovery- if not incidence- of many diseases that are a sign of poverty which existed in the tropics 100 years ago in the white population. I refer to leprosy, trachoma, malnutrition, anaemia and so on, which were very widespread, particularly amongst the young.
Our health programs are being cut. Virtually every Aboriginal health program around Australia- run by Aborigines more efficiently than by government departments or private enterprise- is complaining about the cuts and the need to restore the sorts of services that they want to give Aborigines. It is not as though these health services are lavish. If one goes to any Aboriginal health service in Australia, which is run by Aborigines, one will find that it is in modest surroundings. Very often it is in cramped surroundings and is working with not very high standards of furniture, equipment or vehicles. These people certainly are paid lower salaries than many of their members could obtain in other kinds of employment.
One could make invidious comparisons, of which the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) no doubt will be well aware, with the services in Canberra in things like our community health services or the Woden Hospital. There can be no argument for cuts in the health program at a time when there is an increasing and obvious need, a need which has been recognised at every investigation by every committee set up by either House of this Parliament or anybody else. It has been recognised world wide as an area of need.
In education there has been a cut in both grants in aid and grants to the States. In real terms these grants in aid are $98,000 below the level under Labor, and for grants to the States $2.Im below. In real terms that is $2.2m below the level under Labor, or down 10.1 per cent on last year’s figures. There has been quite a debate on the question whether we are getting value for money in education spending. I believe that there is no better investment in the future- this is a government that speaks of investing in the future and of encouraging efficiency in the future and investment- than educating people to be independent and self-supporting. In this way, they may be able to make work or jobs for themselves. Yet the position is that with only one in every 50 Aboriginal children, representing 2 per cent, going beyond grade 9, as compared with nearly one in four white children, representing 24 per cent, going beyond grade 9, there are cuts in this most needy area of education, the education of Aborigines.
If one turns to employment, the same sort of sorry picture is seen. It is almost as though Aborigines do not have votes or the Government does not want them to have votes. There is a drop of 9.6 per cent, nearly one tenth, on last year’s funding in real terms, and 13.4 per cent, more than one eighth, as against the level of the last Labor Budget. Both grants to the States and grants-in-aid are cut again in the area of employment. Some of the cuts have been made up in training programs but by no means all of them. This is at a time when Aboriginal unemployment is growing and is six times the national average. About 50 per cent of the Aboriginal work force is registered as unemployed. Probably more Aborigines would be willing and able to register if they were assisted. Between 1978 and 1979, Aboriginal unemployment increased by 12 percent; yet there is a cut in employment funding. This is only the second year that the Department has funded special training projects. They are certainly much needed, particularly as 40 per cent of the Aboriginal population is under the age of 15. Their life expectancy is not high, but in the next few years these youngsters will be in increasing need of training programs. Ninety per cent of all employed Aborigines are unskilled. Surely the need for funds here is obvious, but the employment and training funds are still below the 1975 level and obviously are having little impact on the employment situation. The one line where there has been a slight increase is the welfare area. It represents an increase of less than one-fortieth, 2.3 per cent in real terms over Labor’s last Budget, and is up 8.9 per cent over last year’s appropriation. It will allow 14 new projects.
I refer to the area of enterprises. This is an area where there should be encouragement to Aborigines to manage their own affairs, to become independent and self-reliant. The policy of all major parties in Australia is to encourage Aboriginal competence so that Aboriginals may become self-reliant and independent. However, the funds appropriated for enterprises have been slashed by nearly one tenth, $9.9m in real terms, since the last Labor Budget. Nothing has been paid to the States since 1976-77. The grants in aid have been cut by $6.6m since the last Labor Budget. Funds to the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission have been reduced every year since the change of government, no doubt to the delight of some State Premiers who do not want Aboriginals to be able to acquire land. I mention particularly the Queensland Government. This Commission is the only means open to Aborigines to purchase land in the States. It now has to purchase land with $1.3m less than it had under the Labor Government. In total, the grants for enterprises funding is 81.9 per cent less in real terms than under the Labor Government and 39.7 per cent less than last year’s sum, down nearly four-tenths. That is the priority which this Government gives to Aboriginal enterprises and land acquisition, a bit of capital for the people most in need of it in our economy.
In the area of town management and public utilities, funding is down 9.6 per cent in real terms due mainly but not entirely to the assumption of responsibility by the Northern Territory Government. In real terms the grants to the States have dropped by $ 19m in the last three or four Budgets. The statistics indicate that more funds- not less- are needed because of the great deprivation in these particular areas. The Whitlam Government introduced quite massive aid to all kinds of local authorities that were in need with regard to water, sewerage and like facilities. Most in need of all were Aboriginal communities. Today more than one in seven of these Aboriginal communities has no water supply- 14.8 per cent. Three out of ten communities, or 29.7 per cent. have no electricity. About the same number of communities, some 28.9 per cent, has no sewerage services. These particular local authority environmental services are the ones most needed to combat the terrific backlog in public health and hygiene in Aboriginal communities. Unless these urgent priorities are met, we will be fighting a losing battle with trachoma, scabies, impetigo and many of the nutritional problems. Anaemia afflicts more than half the children in these communities because of hookworm. This can be virtually eliminated if the communities are sewered. It is not just a matter of local authority funding but it is one of basic standards ofliving that have been taken for granted by most white communities for most of this century.
In the recreational and cultural fields there has been a rise in funds of 18.7 per cent since last year. However, compared with the last Labor Government, it is down about 10 per cent. It is a fairly small area of expenditure and the increase in real terms since last year is only $ 1 38,000. So it is not as though the Government is very lavish in recreational or cultural terms. A new category this year protects sacred sites. Grants to the States have completely stopped; there are purely grants-in-aid.
In the legal aid field the same sort of story can be told with a slight rise of 4.6 per cent on last year but down nearly twice that much in real terms- 8 per cent- since the Labor Government’s term. The legal aid agencies are not able to handle all their applications and they have to deny certain categories of legal aid completely. The Government is attempting to make up some of the leeway by defining more rational priorities and guidelines. I note that the agencies are receiving some nominal fee from people for their legal services, presumably to bring home to these people that they are getting a service that costs something. I do not object to that charge so long as the people who are not able to pay are not required to pay; and that is the proposal. But it should not be thought that these are people who can well afford private legal aid. In most cases Aborigines have to be much more desperate than white people before they will appeal for legal help. They do not do it in order to devise tax avoidance schemes, for example. They very rarely use conveyancing services, which provide the main income of private solicitors, because they are very rarely in a position to buy and sell properties. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table which summarises those points and which I have shown to the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Ellicott).
The table read as follows-
– In the short time remaining I should like to refer to some of the aspects that do not bear particularly on the Budget but on what I see, and on what increasing numbers of Aborigines see, as the inhumane priorities of this Government in contemplating Aboriginal concerns. I have said many times, and quoted examples, when mining projects have impinged on Aboriginal rights, that the Government seems to give first priority to appeasing and co-operating with the States and to getting the consensus of the States even with a State like Queensland where the relevant Ministers are, frankly, totalitarian in these matters and have no intention of putting Aboriginal rights ahead of their philosophies. The next priority seems to go to mining. This was well illustrated by the Ranger agreements. Aborigines were brushed completely aside and ordered to sign something that they did not understand. That was contrary to the law which provided that they must have it fully explained to them. Then the Government gives priority to things such as pastoral development, tourist development, commercial fishing and so on. If there is any priority or concern left or any need to salvage some of the Government’s credibility against the outrage of the public and the Aborigines, the Aborigines come after all those other commercial priorities and political Federal-State relations priorities. I think that is the real point that must be made.
– The Aborigines are not contributors to party funds.
– That is true. That is the real point behind these figures of neglect and betrayal of promises and duties to Aboriginal people by a Federal government which was given a mandate in every polling booth in Australia, at a referendum in 1967, to look after Aborigines.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jarman)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, a Budget is not just a mass of figures and not just the plans and projections of a government for the next year. It is a political paper based on the policies, platform and philosophies of a government. So it was with this Government and with the Whitlam socialist Government. Thus we see that the opposition to the Budget is based on the Opposition’s socialist dogma- a dogma proclaimed by the likes of Marx and Lenin and hailed again at the Australian Labor Party conference in Adelaide this year. History is a story- often very good reading- but it really has only one lesson. It teachers us what not to do. We should and must learn from the mistakes of others. History has recorded much of the rise and fall of civilisations. Rulers, in searching for greatness for their societies, spared little thought for the individual members of those societies. As serfdom broke down, rulers maintained their dominance over individuals with taxes, regulations and control of land.
Perhaps the start of the liberating influence was at the end of the seventeenth century when John Locke proclaimed the right of the individual to his person and to his property and proclaimed the role of government to be limited to protecting those rights. The classic liberalsLocke, Adam Smith, David Hume and Edmund Burke, set the stage for modern Western civilisation and the heritage of our free society, which we all enjoy. Unfortunately, much of their influence waned as horrifying revolutions were fought for so-called equality and freedom and as Marx started his class wars. In the 1930s and 1940s, liberalism stirred strongly again, as expressed by Hayek when he warned the world of a new serfdom, a trend to collectivism, disguised with the trappings of equality and justice. After the Second World War the growth of liberal thinking restarted in earnest and has continued unabated. Australia was not left out in this revival and we saw the emergence of the Liberal Party. Many see the opportunity for this country to be a leader and pacesetter and for the strengthening of liberal values throughout the world.
We look at the Budget with some of the background of the Government’s thinking and philosophy. Unfortunately, this year’s Budget is still tidying up the abuses of Whitlam and Hayden, who put their socialist imprint on their Budgets. But we see many signs of providing an atmosphere where true liberalism will function freely for the freedom of the individual. As we finish cleaning up the messes of Whitlam and Hayden we can expect to see more and more of the underlying principles of liberalism showing up in the facts and figures of future Budgets. I will again proclaim these principles. Our overriding principle in Australian political life is individual liberty. It must have the highest political value- a value to which all other values are subordinate. This is the complete opposite of the collectivism of our Opposition. Further, there must be a conscious philosophical prejudice against any intervention by the state- by governmentinto our lives. Such intervention abridges liberty. The rallying cry of Americans was: ‘No taxation without representation’. We must follow this up by stopping the proliferation of semigovernment bodies and authorities. We must follow some of the American states with their sunset laws which force evaluation of such bodies.
The principal that economic wealth and political liberty are independent is a critical one. The prosperity of the citizen depends only on production and technological innovation and not on government offices or politicians’ laws, that is, the wealth of a nation comes from that portion of the marketplace which is free. Bureaucracies, with their tendencies to increase their own size and power, are essentially parasites on society. We must reduce them. The present mood of our Canberra-based departments to pull in their outlying groups, causing bigger conglomerates, must be resisted. Profits needed for investment must be respected as a great social blessing, not a social evil. Profits cause the growth of productivity, technological innovation, jobs and the wealth of the nation and its individuals. The linkage between wealth and evil, poverty and virtue is crude, false and stupid and will destroy this country’s producers. Wealth can indeed be stolen, but only after it has been produced. The difference between stolen wealth and produced wealth is critical. Again, the distinction between deserving and undeserving poor is important. Poverty may result from honest misfortune but it may also come from laziness, incompetence and dishonesty. Achievers must not be penalised or parasites rewarded if we aspire to a healthy, productive and ethical society.
The Australian citizen essentially understands all . these principles and their ramifications. He understands that Labor socialism refutes them. Unfortunately, socialism works in devious ways and we have to show it for what it really is- a righteous rationalisation of totalitarian tyranny, in the name of the collective well-being of the proletariat, race or fatherland and in the name of public interest, brotherhood and equality. Its result is an inability to produce, the destruction of the economic life, grinding poverty and, of course, tyranny. It is not enough for the citizen to understand these principles. He must constantly be reminding his servants- the bureaucrats and the politicians- of these principles so that we can be sure that our children and our children’s children also have their individual freedom.
One of the items that hold precedence in our Budget is the deficit. Many people tune out when they hear the word. Let me put it in the words of the family: You and your families can spend only as much as you can earn. For a short time you may be able to spend a little more than you earn. If you do not pay your bills on time, a friend or relative lends you some money or your bank managers mortgage your homes; this is temporary. If it continues you go broke and have to sell up your homes and belongings. This is the same for a company or a country, though a country has a temporary way out. Thi Government can print money, as Whitlam and Hayden did, to pay for its folly for a short time.
-I interrupt the honourable member to remind him that it is the policy of this House not to refer to members by their names. I know that, in the situation in which he finds himself at the moment, it is difficult to differentiate who he is actually referring to. I would suggest to him that he could refer to the former Prime Minister Whitlam and the present Leader of the Opposition, Mr Hayden.
-Thank you Mr Deputy Speaker. This however just debases our currency, and leads to financial collapse, the same as bankruptcy of the family. Unfortunately the rhetoric on deficits obscures the real danger that confronts us, the gradual disintegration of our free society. The real issue is not the size of the deficit. The real issue is the Government’s share of the gross national product, of the earnings of every productive citizen of this land. What does this mean to the Austraiian way of life, to our dreams? What does it mean to our free enterprise system, and thus our human freedom and our political and social freedom? We have reduced the Government’s share of the gross national product with the firm belief that we will help the equity and the social stability of Australia. The socialist Labor Opposition want to increase it and ruin the fundamental freedom of one of the last democracies of this world.
We will look in detail at other countries later, but in general we must see the devastation created by the so-called humanitarians as they tried to create great societies by taxing and spending. That is why we are reducing taxation. We see how these other countries- and Australia also if Labor has its way- are producing social instability; and destroying the very cohesion of civilized society. More important than all of this is that freedom must disappear. That is the consequence of the large deficits that Labor would bring down. That is the direction in which those so-called humanitarians are leading us. But what is humanitarian about the collapse of a great industrial civilization? What is humanitarian about the panic, the chaos, the riots, the starvation, the deaths that will ensure? What is humanitarian about the dictatorship that must inevitably take over as terrified people cry out? There is nothing humanitarian about the loss of freedom, but this is what the Labor Party is advocating. We must be concerned about deficits. The issue is not bookkeeping; it is not accounting. The issue is the liberty, the freedom, of the Australian people.
In discussing economic issues and the deficit, I do not want to inspire a national passion for bookkeeping, but I do want to inspire a national awareness of the connection between economic and political freedom. The connection is real and unbreakable. To lose one is to lose the other. That is why this Government is doing its utmost to reduce the deficit. I keep talking about freedom, but do we really understand freedom? Freedom is a strange thing. It is something like breathing. One becomes acutely aware of its importance only when one is choking. Similarly, one grasps the meaning and importance of freedom only when one confronts political tyranny. Freedom is not a presence, but an absence- an absence of government constraint. Labor has promised more and more government, more and more constraints, less and less freedom. One watches the spectacle of citizen’s groups, businessmen, bureaucrats and media, fronting parliamentarians with their causes and thereby laying waste to our free enterprise system and our freedom, even as they earnestly and often sincerely proclaim their devotion to both. This is no doubt due to the lack of comprehension that freedom of action and thus freedom of productive action are part of freedom and is an absence rather than a presence- an absence of governmental constraint. We cannot pass over this freedom- free human action, free enterprise, free market, freedom to produce. We must be free to discover, to invent, to experiment, even to fail or succeed. We must be free to exchange goods or services, to profit and to consume, all without significant interference by the policing powers of the state. This all amounts to a right to life for we must produce in order to live.
The enormously complex and productive system known as the free market operates without conscious supervision and direction. Every hour of the day people engage in economic activities called businesses- small individual ones and gigantic ones, held together by a tissue of voluntary individual contracts. Each consumer, as it were, votes with his dollar in billions of ‘elections’ in the market place. These votes are translated into shifts and adjustments of resources. Each voter has his own purposes and goals. He seeks to maximise his rewards or cut his losses. The free market is the sum of these billions of purposes, billions of decisions, billions of adjustments made each day as inventors, entrepreneurs, middlemen, employers, employees, buyers and sellers pursue their own respective self-interests. The only country born of free enterprise is America and the results in that country speak for themselves. But let us look at the other side- Russia with its collectivism and centralised economic planning. The fact is that the Soviet economic system does not work. It has functioned from beginning to end on American capitalism. It started in 1921 with Lenin’s New Economic Policy when he invited the capitalists of the West to rebuild the Russian economy from the ruins of the revolution, and they did. Every project in Russia in the 1920s and 1930s were achievements of Western capitalism, not Soviet centralised planning. Then between 1941 and 194S we had Lend-Lease, American capital, production and technology in unprecedented amounts keeping Russia alive. After the war, loot and reparations of the same proportions as Lend-Lease and the NEP help travelled from Europe to Russia. Again in the 1950s Western technology moved into Russia and continues to this day. The only things coming out of Russia are raw materials. Russia depends on Western capitalism and technology. Why America continues to sustain Russia without demanding anything in return, such as cutbacks in military spending, is beyond me. Certainly there is no moral or economic justification for taxing American citizens in order to finance the industrialisation of a nation that seeks to destroy them.
Now let us look at what happens when one mixes these opposites- mixes the free and the totalitarian, the planned and the unplanned, the individualist and the collectivist elements of economic life. Italy is drifting into totalitarianism. Dominated by strong government controls, it sees incessant economic disturbance, intransigent poverty, chaos, strikes and the strong development of communism. If it were not for the surviving strength of its once free enterprise markets and the Marshall Plan, this drift to totalitarianism would be complete. Let us look at West Germany which rose from the ashes under Ludwig Erhard. He achieved his success simply by removing most government controls and letting a free economy run and thus proving the relationship between a politically free economy and the production of wealth. On the communist side of the Berlin Wall the poverty remained deadly. Now as we all see West Germany turning back to social democracy and government intervention, we see its strength slowing.
There is another variation in Sweden. Relative stability until recently, but with the slowest growth rate of Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development countries, has resulted from suffocating bureaucratic supervision of every detail of living exemplified by the recent court case as a result of which an 1 1 year old girl was taken as a ward of the state because she complained she was admonished by her father. Most of us know the details of Britain and its planned economy. It would be stone dead now if it were not for North Sea oil. If ever there was a lesson to be learned of what not to do, it is Britain since the War. Many studies, including one by the Hudson Institute in Europe, have established the relationship between the growth of the public sector and the real economic growth. Without any equivocation they show overall growth is smallest in countries where the government sector is biggest. That is why this Budget is to be commended, as the Government has appreciated the fundamentals that I have been talking about.
Unfortunately we see a lack of appreciation of the fundamentals in America as it slides into the stagnation of a social democracy. It has yet to understand that a country cannot mix socialism and capitalism. America was born a capitalist nation, was created a capitalist nation by the intent of the founding fathers and the Constitution and developed a culture and a civilisation that were capitalist to the core. I feel sure that its problems are transitory and that free enterprise will pull America out of its rut.
British Labor Prime Minister Callaghan finally woke up in 1976, but too late for him, when he said:
We used to think that you could spend your way out of a recession and increase employment by boosting government spending. I tell you in all candour that this option no longer exists and that insofar as it ever did exist it only worked by injecting a bigger dose of inflation into the economy followed by a higher level of unemployment. That is the history of the past 20 years.
This was said by a Labor man. Shortly thereafter West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt warned the International Socialist Conference that they were all sinking economically because they were stimulating their economies by printing fake money. It is a pity that the Labor socialists opposite did not get that message. Let us look briefly at what others think of this great country. That highly respected American journal, the Christian Science Monitor wrote of Australia recently: lt is hard to be pessimistic about Australia’s economic future. This nation has just too many natural resources in demand by a world, possibly facing food and mineral shortages. In fact, there is a growing suspicion, that in a few years Australia’s 14 million people could be entering another boom period- something similar to this continent’s golden 1960s.
In June this year the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said:
The progress- albeit slow- made in reducing the imbalances which developed during the 1974-75 recession, has continued in the recent period and in most important respects, economic performance has improved since 1 977.
I have pointed out how our Liberal philosophy has had its effect on this Budget and how the socialist dogma of the Opposition would reduce each man’s individual freedom. I have shown how economic wealth and political liberty are interdependent. Edmund Burke said:
All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
As the days and months go by we will all be repeating these vital messages so that our children and grandchildren can never say in the future: Why weren’t we told?’.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
-Although this Budget appears on the surface not to be especially harsh, if we look deep under the surface, particularly at Statement No. 2, we find that it is a Budget which continues the broken promises of this Government. That has been the case ever since the Government first took office in 1975. The Budget continues the thimble and pea tricks of the past in robbing Peter to pay Paul. For that reason, I say that this is a basically dishonest Budget brought in by a basically dishonest government.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! I am obliged to draw the honourable member’s attention to the statement of recent date made by Mr Speaker from this chair and his insistence that the decorum of this House be maintained and that any reflections, imputations of dishonesty or comments of that fashion should not be made.
– I keep a copy of all the rulings of Mr Speaker which are given each week. I will refer at a later date- I do not want to take up my time in this debate- to rulings that Mr Speaker has given to the effect that one can refer in the way in which I have referred to the Government as a whole but not to individual members of it. We have to be consistent in these matters. That ruling was given on a number of occasions. Copies of all Mr Speaker’s rulings are kept in files in my office. I would like to deal in particular with some aspects of Statement No. 2 of the Budget. Statement No. 2 refers to a Budget deficit of $2, 100m. This compares with the deficit after the mini-Budget which, from recollection, I think was $3,300m. That reduction in itself shows that this is a restrictive Budget. The domestic deficit in 1978-79 was $2,200m. In 1979-80 it will be $900m. Statement No. 2 anticipates that average earnings throughout the year will increase by 9 per cent. It also anticipates that tax collections will be up by 1 5 per cent. It shows that the inflation rate at present is around 10 per cent. It indicates that it will peak at the end of the year at 1 1 per cent to 12 per cent and will come down to around 10 per cent in June next year. Whether we can trust those figures is very doubtful when we consider that in last year’s Budget it was stated that inflation would be 5 per cent at 30 June this year. Instead it was in excess of 8 per cent. The Budget Papers anticipate that the inflation rate will be 10 per cent at 30 June next year. On that basis we can anticipate that it will be 13 per cent or 14 per cent when we look at the record of the last Budget.
Budget Statement No. 2 states that employment as a percentage of the work force will rise by 1 per cent. I am referring to the Government’s own Budget Papers and not to some propaganda or anything of the type. Statement No. 2 also states that the work force will rise by two per cent. That means an increase in unemployment as a percentage of the work force of 1 per cent for the year. We can anticipate that by January next unemployment will rise to around 550,000 people.
– As the honourable member for Werriwa says, the figure will be 60,000 more. These are the reasons why I say that this is a restrictive Budget. I now refer to taxation which is very important to the average person and the average family in this country. The average tax payable is now 20 per cent of income. It will be about 33 per cent of income by the end of the year because of the lack of tax indexation. We have seen what has happened to the price of petrol. In February of this year it cost $14 to fill the tank of a Holden Kingswood. Today it costs $20. It has been stated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden)- I shall outline this laterthat this Government now has a branch office of the Taxation Department at every petrol bowser. This is where the rob Peter to pay Paul principle comes in. The Government collects revenue through an indirect and unfair tax because the incidence of the tax falls equally upon the wealthy, the poor and the middle income earners. For that reason, it is a grossly unfair tax. The Government then says that it will reduce income tax by cutting out the surcharge. For a person earning $25,000 a year this will mean a tax saving of about $500 a year whereas the little guy will be lucky if he receives $100. That indicates how unfair is this system of indirect taxation which is creeping upon our community today.
This Budget will not last six months. I am not the first to say that. I have not the slightest doubt that that will be the case. The reason is the oil levy. The Government started to phase in the oil levy in the Budget before last. It was to be phased in over a number of years. Suddenly, in the 1978 Budget it was introduced in full purely for revenue purposes. In adopting the prices of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, 30 per cent of the revenue goes to the oil companies and 70 per cent goes to the Government. Even though the costs of production of oil in this country have not increased dramatically, the public has been hit with the latest OPEC increase of 3&c a litre. From that increase the Government will receive this financial year alone 70 per cent of that increase or $800m. Through its decisions in this Budget and in the 1978 Budget in all it will collect from the travelling public whether poor or rich, $2,020m in this financial year alone. Of course, there will be more increases. The OPEC countries meet in December this year. There will be another increase from next January. They meet in June of next year so there will be another increase from next July. The Government will collect all the increase at the end of this year in tax.
In March, April or May of next year it will introduce another mini-Budget. It might even give partial tax indexation, but that will be paid for from the funds which it has collected from the travelling public in petrol tax. Once again those people on high incomes will benefit from tax indexation. Those people on the lower incomes will benefit very little. But whether they are on low, middle or high incomes they will pay the same amount in extra petrol tax, because this Government has adopted the world parity price for petroleum, irrespective of whether that petroleum is imported or whether it is produced in Australia. In Australia today we produce 70 per cent of our crude oil needs. We produce 90 per cent of our petroleum needs. The cost of production is not rising at anywhere near the rate at which the OPEC countries are increasing their prices. So the Government keeps on collecting this windfall from the travelling public, irrespective of their income. It then gives a little of that money back to the public and says: ‘What good guys we are’. That is the type of policy which the Government is implementing.
It is very obvious that this Budget will not last six months, because the Government has a very deliberate and dishonest intention of bringing in another Budget- a mini-Budget- which will reef money from the public by way of petrol tax. It will then give a small amount of that money back to the public by way of partial tax indexation. As I said, the Government will then say: ‘What good guys we are’. Is it any wonder that today there is a branch of the Taxation Office at every petrol bowser. Is it any wonder that today it takes $20 to fill the petrol tank of a Holden Kingswood, whereas it took only $14 in February of this year.
I also wish to deal tonight with the question of tax avoidance. In this year’s Budget the Government has set aside an amount of $250m to account for further tax avoidance. That figure represents only a small proportion of total tax avoidance. It is estimated by Taxation Office officials that the various tax avoidance schemes which are operating in this country are costing the taxpayer somewhere in the vicinity of $3,000m. That amount has to be met in the way of taxation payments by the average wage and salary earner. The little fellow who pays his taxation as he earns- the PA YE tax contributor- is not the one who can avoid tax; only the big man who receives his income from property or other sources can do that. In fact, that is the sort of person who is avoiding paying tax.
– Racehorse owners.
– I do not want to indict the Minister. The Treasurer (Mr Howard) made a statement on 26 July about what one could call the abolition of the system whereby family trusts could be used as a tax avoidance measure. I think you will be aware, Mr Deputy Speaker, that I have been carrying out a campaign on this very issue in this Parliament for a period going on for two years. I recall asking many questions and making many speeches on this subject in the Parliament. I recall that on 9 May 1978 my colleague, the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Dawkins) asked the Treasurer a question about the use of family trusts for tax avoidance purposes. I have before me a copy of the Hansard report of the Treasurer’s reply. The Treasurer, in his reply, said that income splitting by the use of family trusts was not tax avoidance; it was tax minimisation. I had pointed out already that a number of Ministers, including the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) had indulged in that system of tax avoidance.
Now the Treasurer has decided that the use of minor children in family trusts for income splitting purposes is a tax avoidance measure and that it will be outlawed. However, he still allows family trusts for husband and wife for income splitting purposes. That is tax avoidance. I will give an example. In the case of a man who earns $40,000 a year and who has a family trust consisting of himself and his wife, the tax liability is reduced by almost 30 per cent or $4,600 per annum. That is straight out tax avoidance. Of course, we now have the example of the Treasurer, having been forced by a consistent campaign waged by the Opposition, finally making some decision on this matter, even though he goes only halfway. At the caucus meeting of the Government parties held in the last week of sitting there was a revolt from the back benchers and the National Country Party. An article which appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 30 August this year stated:
A group of backbenchers yesterday called on the Federal Government to review plans to clamp down on family trusts as the tax debate raged inside and outside Parliament.
I’ll say it is raging inside and outside the Parliament. It has only started. It will be the major issue in this country in time to come. It is a matter in relation to which we can point to individual Ministers who have been engaging in these forms of tax avoidance. I say to the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) who is in the chamber tonight that I do not have any evidence in my archives about him as yet. The article went on to say:
Several backbenchers claimed the Government was alienating its traditional supporters with the proposed clamp down.
The article continued:
Several MPs including former Prime Minister Sir William McMahon, Mr Ian Wilson (Lib, SA) and Mr Jim Bradfield (Lib, NSW)-
It should be noted that two of those members are in very marginal seats- are understood to have complained that the proposal was inequitable.
Members argued that many people had set up family trusts to avoid death duties and probate rather than inocme tax.
What is the difference? In what other way is the Government trying to rook the general public? The wealthy get out of paying tax while the poor pay. That is the type of situation we have. Tax returns are being made deliberately more difficult to compile year by year with the result that more and more people are being forced to go to tax agents- the tax avoidance industry. If people are on a high income they are told which particular system of tax avoidance they can utilise so as to rook the public. Is it any wonder that that is the situation? Let us look at some of the people who have been involved in family trusts. They include the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony), the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch), the Minister for Administrative Services (Mr John McLeay), the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Fife), the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon), the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair), and the Minster for Veterans’ Affairs (Mr Adermann).
– Anyone left?
– Not very many. These are but a few of the members of this Ministry who have been indulging in this method of tax avoidance. The Treasurer today admits- even though last year he would not admit that it was tax avoidance; he said it was tax minimisation- it is a tax avoidance measure. Is it any wonder that this is a government which favours the tax avoidance industry?
I also wish to deal, in the little time available, with a very vital question concerning this community, and that is the family and the way in which it is being hit. After all, the family is the cornerstone of our community and of our society. We should look at the effect on the family of the tax increases which will occur over the coming year as a result of the increase in average weekly earnings and the increase in the inflation rate which is engendered by this Government. In the ultimate, the family will pay more taxation. I have already dealt with the rate of inflation and with the fact that tax collections will increase by IS per cent in the coming year. I have dealt with the domestic deficit. Let me cite some figures. A taxpayer who has dependants and who is on $8,000 a year in 1978-79 will go onto $8,720 when the increase in average weekly earnings is taken into account. His tax will increase from $778.84 to $999.28-a rise of 28.3 per cent. With the increase in average weekly earnings, a person on $ 10,000 will go up to $ 10,900. His tax will go up from $1,448.84 last year to $1,720.21 this year- a rise of 1 8.7 per cent.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– If time permitted one could answer the nonsense which has been spoken by the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage), but I would rather get on to some more constructive comments. The 1979-80 Budget provides $10 billion for health care. It is, I submit, necessary for our Government to spend an increasing amount on preventive medicine programs. The Minister for Health (Mr Hunt) and the Government have responded to the need for greater expenditure on preventive medicine and have allocated funds for community health programs and other projects related to health; for example, the sport and recreation program. The funds set aside for preventive medicine are relatively small by comparison with the enormous expenditure on health services and social welfare payments provided in this Budget.
The epidemic of smoking in our society is one particular area upon which I would like to spend some time in this debate. The loss to this Government from the effects of smoking surpass the revenue collected by way of excise on sale and consumption of tobacco products. The total collection of excise duty from tobacco products is estimated in 1979-1980 at $675m, an increase of 3 per cent over the previous year- an increase caused not by a Government lift in the rate of excise.
In June of this year, the Fourth World Conference on Smoking and Health was held in Stockholm, Sweden. Between 600 and 700 delegates from 70 countries listened to the presentation of a number of papers which proved beyond reasonable doubt that the major cause of many of the world’s diseases were linked with the use of tobacco by the world ‘s citizens. Since the United States Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health was published in January 1964, a great deal of research has been conducted by the world’s scientists and researchers on the links between smoking and disease. The link was clearly established at the Stockholm Conference. The question is now one for governments. Will the world ‘s legislators take action to protect people from the hazards of smoking? Will the world ‘s leaders do anything to control the spread of this epidemic? The onus is no longer on the scientists of this world to prove the link between smoking, ill health and death. It is rathern on the tobacco industry to disprove the allegation which are now clearly laid at the door of these promoters of death.
It may be of benefit to restate a number of the facts and findings which overwhelmingly link tobacco with disease and death. For example, it is estimated that between $85 billion and $100 billion each year is spent in the world to buy 4 trillion cigarettes. According to figures which have been issued by the Tobacco Advisory
– I thank the House. A new report entitled ‘Controlling and Smoking Epidemic’ has been issued by the World Health Organisation Expert Committee on Smoking Control. That Committee comprises such representatives as Dr Coudreau, Director General of the National Committee on Tuberculosis and Respiratory diseases in Paris, France, Dr Nigel Gray, Director of the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria who also attended as a representative of the International Union Against Cancer, Dr Loransky, Director of the Central Institute for Scientific Research in Health Education in the Ministry of Health of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in Moscow, Dr Djordjevic from the Occupational Safety and Health Branch of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland and a number of other world renowned specialists in their respective field- not a lightweight committee.
That Committee reaffirmed the harmful effects of smoking on Health which had been established in 1974 by the WHO Expert Committee on Smoking and its Effects on Health. Those effects were, in summary:
That excess mortality of cigarette smokers is proportionately greater between the ages of 45 to 54 years than at younger or older ages, that excess deaths are higher in smokers of plain cigarettes than smokers who use filter tipped cigarettes;
That cigarettes with a higher yield of tar and nicotine have been shown to be more dangerous than those with a low nicotine and tar content, although it is still true that smokers of
Council, there has been an increase of 10.2 per cent in the total weight of cigarettes sold during 1 978. The increase is believed to be as a direct result of the shift from small to king size cigarettes in that year.
It is encouraging to note that during 1978 the total number of cigarettes which were sold fell by approximately 0.5 per cent compared with the previous year. Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table which gives details of tobacco sales between 1 976 and 1 978.
The table read as follows- cigarettes with low nicotine and tar content have a higher death rate than non-smokers;
That the major link factor in deaths from lung cancer, ischaemic heart disease or chronic obstructive lung diseases is smoking;
That the diseases of cancer, bronchitis and emphysema and ischaemic heart disease and other diseases of the vascular system are directly associated with smoking and account for 80 percent of the excess mortality of smokers.
But there are, in addition, other diseases which are more prevalent in smokers. These include cancer of the liver, tongue, mouth, larynx, pharynx, oesophagus and bladder. Gastroduodenal ulcers are twice as prevalent in smokers as in non-smokers. One could go on referring to a number of other diseases.
Further evidence in the report from the WHO Expert Committee on Smoking Control Project refers to surveys and research carried out in relation to women who smoke.
– What is the good news?
– For example, between 1958 and 1971, the death rate of women aged between 35 and 44 years increased by one-third. During this period, cigarette consumption by women in the United Kingdom increased by 35 per cent. For those who have been interjecting, here is the good news. The use of the contraceptive pill was also introduced and became widespread as a birth control practice in that country during the same period.
The question to be asked is: Was there any relationship between birth control by the pill, smoking and the increased death rates? An article in the May 1 979 edition of Lancet entitled Cardiovascular Risks and Oral Contraceptives’ pointed out that a woman of 35 who uses oral contraceptives and smokes 25 cigarettes a day or more may have a 5 to 10-fold greater chance of a myocardial infarction than those who never smoke. It states:
A large prospective study of 46,000 women of child bearing age showed a death rate from circulatory diseases among those who used oral contraceptives S times greater than those who did not. The death rate increased with the duration of oral contraceptive use, the age of the woman and the smoking of cigarettes. A second study gave similar results.
The United Kingdom Committee on the Safety of Medicines, after studying these results, came to the conclusion that the risk of ‘arterial thrombosis with oral contraceptives increases with age and that this risk is aggravated by cigarette smoking’.
In a paper presented to the Fourth World Conference on Smoking and Health by Dr John Donovan, Senior Adviser in Epidemiology in the Commonwealth Department of Health, a reference was made to the increased incidence of smoking among pregnant women. He gave particular emphasis because of this increase and because of the consequential dangers to the unborn child. That danger has been simply stated in a poster which was made available to Conference delegations by the Swedish Department of Health. In a simple cartoon form, an accompanying message to pregnant mothers was clearly spelt out in these terms:
Tobacco and pregnancy- When an expectant mother is smoking, the carbon monoxide in her blood passes to her foetus. The concentration of carbon monoxide is then almost doubled in the foetus’ own blood circulation. The foetus thus absorbs still less oxygen in its tissues than its mother does.
As the WHO report and the paper of Dr Donovan spell out, there is clear and unchallengeable evidence that a woman who smokes throughout her pregnancy, causes the child in the womb to become an average 200 grams lighter at birth than the child of a woman who does not smoke. Twice as many smoking mothers as nonsmoking mothers produce babies weighing less than 2,500 grams. The weight deficiency is directly related to the number of cigarettes consumed by the mother during pregnancy. The WHO report states:
Recent studies have shown an immediate effect of smoking on the foetus- an acceleration of the foetal hean rate and a decrease in breathing movements. Carbon monoxide in cord blood is higher than that in maternal blood taken at the same time, suggesting that the consequent decrease in oxygen carrying capacity of the blood in the foetus is a significant factor.
Dr Donovan points out that 33 per cent of women in Australia are risking the lives and development of their children by smoking during pregnancy. He translates this in to numerical terms by saying that 75,000 babies in Australia are at risk each year. This is a figure which, I hope, will attract the attention of the Right to Life Movement in this country. I hope that it takes it up with the degree of vigour which it has demonstrated in the past on other matters. The January 1979 report of the Surgeon General of the United States of America on Smoking and Health shows that the percentage of girls aged between 12 and 14 years who smoke has increased eight-fold since 1968 and that among the age group 13 to 19 years there are now 6 million regular smokers in the United States of America.
As in the United States of America, so it is in Australia; there are more teenage girls smoking in this country. A survey undertaken by the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia found that 35 per cent of 1 5 year old girls were smoking one cigarette a week. In 1967, only 13 per cent were smoking one cigarette a week. When we link these statistical findings with the further fact that 75 per cent of regular smokers took up the habit before they were 2 1 years old we can understand why the tobacco industry aims its advertising at the young. In 1978 the United States National Institute of Education commenced a survey on teenage smoking habits. Preliminary results indicated that teenagers smoke the most widely advertised brands at rates three times higher than adult smokers.
These statistics are known to the tobacco industry and its insidious campaigns to sell more tobacco products are based on this type of evidence. Accordingly, in 1979 we have reached the stage where the necessary medical and scientific facts are available to establish that public health is at risk from the addictive habits of the minority who smoke. To take the United States of America alone, cigarette smoking played a significant part in 80,000 deaths each year from lung cancer, up to 225,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 19,000 deaths from emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other lung diseases.
I have stated some of the facts linking smoking with death and diseases. I now want to talk about the tobacco industry- the promoters of death, the promoters of slow suicide. The tobacco industry spends an estimated $2 billion a year on promotion of tobacco products. The tobacco industry is controlled by seven multi-national corporations. Unquestionably, tobacco promotion in this country is aimed at young people. Why should the Dennis Lillees of the sporting world promote smoking if they are not seeking to appeal to the young? The industry is aware of the statistics to which I referred earlier. Tobacco industry executives attended the Fourth World Conference on Smoking and Health, taking notes, recording every word, every statistic given by the scientists and medical experts of the world. Not one contribution was made by industry executives to answer the allegations which were raised by the several speakers.
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the present promotion of the use of tobacco is the move by these corporations into the developing countries. Instead of planting food crops in under-developed countries, many of which have starving populations, we see the promotion and establishment of tobacco crops. Advertising in those countries is not aimed to encourage the young person to become more sophisticated by smoking- and there is a lie in that- but rather to ape the successful business executive of the developed countries where smoking equals economic strength, where smoking is equated with success.
Promotion of sport and recreation by the tobacco industry is the biggest lie of all. The tobacco industry is the promoter of death, not of activities which lead to health. We see the industry giving aid to the African village leaders by supplying village identification signs. Each sign also carries an advertisement for the popular cigarette brand in that area. We see a tobacco industry selling cigarettes by the stick and not by the packet because the people are too poor to afford a packet of cigarettes. It is this type of insidious promotion which clearly labels the tobacco industry as an industry bereft of any feeling of responsibility whatsoever, concerned only with earning dollars for its shareholders and not caring one iota for public health.
I submit that there is no corporate responsibility. Lip service is given to industry contribution for research but it is a thin veneer over a product which contributes to death and disease. The tobacco industry stands condemned by the practices which it has developed and refined with the sole purpose of selling a product which causes disease. Only governments can properly arrest this epidemic. It is up to us to realise that we are facing a situation with smoking which our predecessors faced at the turn of the century in relation to tuberculosis. Smoking is an epidemic which must be controlled and, I would hope, wiped out before it causes more harm to unsuspecting young people.
Members will be aware of the sacking of Joseph Califano Jnr, the former Secretary of State for Health, Education and Welfare in the Carter administration in the USA. Before he was sacked he attended the Conference in Stockholm and delivered the theme address. In the course of that address he stated:
By the year 2000 we can bring under control what the World Health Organisation called the ‘Epidemic of Cigarette Smoking’ and perhaps by the year 20 15, 100 years after the epidemic first began to spread, we count smoking as no longer a major threat to the health of the World’s people . . . The effect of such a public health success will be extraordinary. The control of diseases associated with cigarette smoking- lung cancer, heart disease and chronic bronchitis, emphysema and others- will affect the world as dramatically as the conquest of communicable disease has affected the industrialised countries. Ours will become a health world; people will suffer fewer untimely deaths; levels of disability and chronic illness in all our countries will drop sharply.
Within one month of delivering that address, Joseph Califano Jnr had been sacked by the President. It was widely stated in the United States that his demise was caused by his enthusiasm for controlling smoking in the United States of America. It was suggested that the tobacco lobby of the southern States persuaded the United States of America President that Joseph Califano Jnr had no place in his administration. We may never know the answer. It is however the methods adopted by the tobacco industry to promote their tool of disease which is disturbing and which is the challenge which governments must face. Sir George Young, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health in the United Kingdom stated at the conference:
The solution to many of today’s medical problems will not be found in the research laboratories of our hospitals but in our Parliaments. For the prospective patient, the answer may not be cured by an incision at the operating table but prevention by decision at the Cabinet Table. If you look at most of the big killer diseases of today they are not caused by nature, but by our way of life.
We in this Parliament must decide whether we will take a small step to contain public health expenditure. Will we undertake a positive preventive medicine program by all available to control the spread of the epidemic of smoking? This inevitably raises the question of whether the rights of the individual are in jeopardy if a government takes steps to discourage a course of conduct which is now pursued by a minority in our community. It is now socially acceptable that people do not smoke. If because of government action to control smoking we are accused of interfering in the civil liberties of the individual, I believe that that is one label which we must now wear. The tobacco industry and its promotion assistants cannot be allowed to use the argument that every individual has a choice whether to smoke or not to smoke and no government should be seen to interfere with that freedom to make that choice. I certainly am not saying that a person who now smokes should have some penalty imposed upon him or her. There are many smokers who have a keen desire to give up smoking. Governments must do everything they can to assist that person.
The group that concerns me is the youth of our country. Young people are not mature enough, they are not experienced enough to identify the deceitful practices of the tobacco industry. When our young citizens go to a cricket or football match and see the name of a well known brand of cigarettes displayed on the fence around the sports ground, they register that display as a colorful background for what would otherwise be a healthy recreational pursuit. When our young people enter a country town on every day of the school year they will inevitably pass and advertising sign of substantial dimensions which will subtly and discreetly remind them that the outdoor life on the back of a horse or on the beaches of Australia is enhanced if you have a cigarette in your hand. Alternatively, a young man’s sexual achievements will be greater if a cigarette is offered to his beautiful young companion.
Those industry practices should be exposed for the fraud that they are. It is no longer sufficient to print ‘Warning- Smoking Is a Health Hazard* on the cigarette packet. It should be stated in large type that smoking can cause death, smoking causes disease, smoking is an unhealthy habit. Indeed, I would go further and suggest that there should be a total ban on the advertising of tobacco products. Accordingly, Federal, State and local governments should work together to ensure that there is no advertising medium whatsoever in any part of this country advertising smoking. I would like to develop some policies attractive to the implementation of an anti-smoking campaign. I ask for incorporation in Hansard of the policy which has already been accepted by the Executive Committee of the International Union against Cancer and the Scientific Committee on the Non-Tuberculosis Respiratory Diseases of the International Union Against Tuberculosis.
-I thank the House.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, this Budget can best be described as being a continuing attack on the Australian family unit and a treatment by this Government of the sons and daughters of Australians as being dispensible. They are to be the inflation fodder of this Government, and they have been the inflation fodder of successive Fraser administrations since 1975. In commencing my remarks I would like quickly to quote some statements by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and Treasurer (Mr Howard) on these matter. On 2 February 1976, the Prime Minister in a statement headed ‘Putting Jobs First’ said:
The Government’s paramount responsibility is to overcome inflation, so that there will be jobs for all those who want to work.
What hollow words! Since then and in the last two Budgets, this Government has pursued a course of increasing inflation and it has pursued policies that have increased and will continue to prolong unemployment. On 21 November 1977, the Prime Minister said:
Inflation is nine per cent and falling.
They are rather interesting words because the Budget states that inflation in the last financial year was nine per cent and is rising. It is a very strange implementation of a policy that the Prime Minister sought to put in November 1977. On the same date, he said:
We have ended the big tax rip-off.
Again the Budget shows that tax collections from individuals in the current financial year under this Government’s policies and regime are forecast to rise by 18.12 per cent. The words are not matched by the deeds. In Brisbane on 11 December 1978, the Treasurer said:
Our goal is much lower inflation- not just the maintenance of the improvement we have achieved during the last three years.
Having said that, he then introduced a horror Budget last May that substantially added to inflation and his 1979-80 Budget will further add to the rate of inflation which he admits in the Budget statements will go into double digits. Humbug is the only word to describe these statements of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer.
The Prime Minister went one better on 7 January 1977 when he told the Young Liberals movement:
Tax indexation also enhances our democracy and increases governmental accountability to its citizens. No longer will governments be able to exact greater and greater portions of people’s incomes merely because of inflation.
The 1979 Budget contains no tax indexation and taxation by stealth is rampant. The Budget forecasts an increase of 18.2 per cent in income tax collections from individuals. There are heavy increases in indirect taxes through a petrol tax and by a 12 per cent increase in the customs duty rate in the 1977-78 Budget and a further 2 per cent increase in the customs duty in the May horror Budget.
This Budget should be seen in the context of the May 1979 horror Budget. Together they constitute a harsh attack on the living standards of Australian families and are the latest instalment of the Fraser Government’s plan to redistribute income and wealth from the less well off to the wealthy. In essence, to those who have, more shall be given at the expense of the middle to low income families of Australia. That is the real objective of this Government. Australia is being forced to suffer unnecessarily under the enforced austerity policies of this Government. Job security is a prime worry of those who have jobs. They worry about how long they will continue to have work under this administration. Parents whose sons and daughters have been unable to obtain employment are worried. Families have seen their living standards and purchasing power progressively decline under successive Fraser administrations. Australians are angry and confused at the chaos surrounding the health service changes which have been made by this Government. They resent the increased tax burden direct and indirect that this Budget places on them.
Australians resent the doubling of petrol prices on the pretext that the member nations of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries are responsible for increasing prices in Australia. That is a fallacy. It is a fraud on the Australian people. Petrol prices in this country have been doubled as a direct result of the policies of this
Government, not because of the actions of the OPEC nations. The OPEC decisions affect petrol prices abroad but they do not determine petrol prices in this country. What all Australians are coming to realise now is that every petrol bowser in this country in effect is a tax collection office. Every time they go to a petrol pump to fill up the tank of their car they will know when they read the meter that almost half of the meter charge will go straight to the Federal Treasury.
Australians resent the broken promises of this Government and the many falsehoods of the Prime Minister and his Ministry of mediocrity. Above all, they resent the unfairness of the Government’s policies, the divisiveness and confrontationist attitudes of this Prime Minister. They now realise that in 1975 and in 1977 they were deliberately misled by those now in government and they have already made up their minds to remove this Government from office at first opportunity. They know that Australia is a nation rich in natural resources and that our people are talented, dedicated and want a fair opportunity to share in the wealth and benefits of this nation. Above all, they want a chance for their sons and daughters to enjoy the independence and dignity that they could have under an honest and responsible government with policies directed towards equality and national interest.
We have heard much braying in recent days from those opposite about former Prime Minister Whitlam- attempts to regurgitate and to mangle history. Let us have a look at the history of the present Prime Minister and those who stand behind him. Prime Minister Fraser ‘s road to office is littered with the political corpses of his former colleagues. No Prime Minister in Australian history has surpassed the record of this Prime Minister for ministerial and back bench sackings, suspensions and resignations. This Prime Minister came to office on the shoulders of a conspiracy and an hysteria manipulated by his powerful friends in the media. Where is the evidence of the impropriety of which the Labor Ministers were accused in 1975? Four years later, not one shred of evidence has been produced. It cannot be produced because it never existed. Like leopards, Liberals do not change their spots.
For more than 90 per cent of the period since World War II, conservative governments have controlled our nation’s affairs. The structural weaknesses, the incompetitiveness of our industries and the weakness of our economy are the result of the policies of those successive conservative governments. They were not suddenly developed in the three years of the Labor
Government. Let us put that idea to rest once and for all. The conservatives in all their years of office have pursued ad hoc policies and then sought to blame someone else for the failure of these policies.
Mr Whitlam told this chamber on 22 August 1 972 when speaking to the 1 972-73 Budget:
Not since the early 1930s has Australia been presented in two successive years with two such contradictory Budgets as this year’s and last year’s. Last year all brakes on; this year, in the words of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), all stops out.
Is the Government in any way to blame for one of the slowest growth rates in the developed world? ‘Not a bit of it’, says the Treasurer. On the contrary, he says: ‘We did well’ … He says: ‘The international monetary crisis jolted world confidence severely. Do not blame me, blame the Americans or the Japanese or the gnomes of Zurich.’ Then’, says the Treasurer, ‘there were wage pressures. Do not blame me, blame the unions and the white collar organisations.’ There was a marked set-back to business confidence. ‘Do not blame me’, says the Treasurer, ‘blame business’. And he says finally: -
Consumers became more cautious. Do not blame me, blame the people of Australia. Blame anyone and everyone except those charged with the economic management of this country- . . .’
Since 1975, the Labor Government has been blamed for the fall in company profits, yet again in the same Budget debate of 22 August 1 972 the former member for Melbourne Ports, the Hon. Frank Crean, referring to company profits and to the national income figures that had just been released, said:
What do the figures show as far as company income is concerned? I will give the current prices. They show that company profits for ordinary companies are lower now than they were 2 years ago.
Those comments were made by the former Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, as Leader of the Opposition, and by the Hon. Frank Crean, referring to the two years of conservative government prior to the entry of the Labor Government in 1 972. It shows that what is happening under this Government is the same as that which happened in 1970-72. The Government confrontation with unions that existed prior to 2 December 1972 was resumed by the Prime Minister in his personal abuse of the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions yesterday. No, the conservatives have not changed their spots. As ever they confront and divide the community and constantly seek scapegoats for their own failures and falsehoods. They blame the unions, member nations of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, international conditions, the doctors, the States, or anyone and anything in order to cover up their own incompetence and mismanagement of our economy. The masquerade of this Government as a competent economic manager is coming to an end, as its friends in the media have pointed out. Let me quote from the editorial in the Sydney Sun of 25 May, which was the day after the May horror Budget. The editorial titled that Budget ‘The Tax Grab’. It says:
The mini-Budget is little more than a giant con-trick against the average wage earner.
It goes on to say:
As well, the Government’s latest Medibank fiddle will cost nearly everyone more, and although Mr Howard can honestly say this is not a tax increase, the distinction will not be apparent in family budgets.
The Government leans heavily on the claim that it is behaving responsibly with firm measures to reduce its deficit.
If that is so, the Government has been wasting the nation ‘s time for nearly four years with some policies which clearly were inadequate, cosmetic or deceptive.
For the Government to be ‘honest* about breaking promises is to give up any claim to sound economic management since 1975.
And that was its sole justification for the turmoil of that year.
I repeat: The masquerade of this Government as a competent, economic manager is coming to an end, as its media friends have pointed out. Even the Fairfax newspapers have recognised the deception of this Government. They have identified it as a group of economic charlatans. The Budget which is before us is contractionary. It will prolong record unemployment. It will increase health costs to families. It will increase direct and indirect taxation. It will reduce consumer spending and it will force up transport costs, with consequent effects upon Australian industries, and so reduce their level of competitiveness in the international market place.
I will quickly refer now to tax. We have heard much from the Prime Minister about tax and how it is being reduced. The fact is- I have said this twice before and the Budget Papers show itthat taxation revenue from individuals will rise by 18.2 per cent this year. Let us recall the tax changes that were made at the beginning of 1978. That change to the tax scale meant that middle income to low income earners received substantially lower decreases in taxation than were received by high or very high income earners. The tax changes by the abolition of the tax surcharge which are associated with this Budget, shows that the tax commitment for an income earner with a taxable income of $8,000 in 1978-79 will rise by 28.3 per cent this year. The figures show that for an income earner with a taxable income of $6,000 last year, who is supporting a dependent spouse, his or her tax liability will rise by a mere 1 56 per cent this year. On a taxable income of $10,000 last year, converted under the Budget’s own formula this year, tax liability will rise by 1 9 per cent.
To that we must add the taxation by stealth, the doubling of petrol prices. Every time motorists go to purchase petrol they will recall that almost half of the bill shown on the petrol pump goes straight to the Federal Treasury. According to the figures produced by the National Roads and Motorists Association in June of this year, 42 per cent of the bill goes to the Federal Treasury. That money is not going to conserve fuel in this country. It is not going to provide alternative transport systems. It is going straight into the coffers of this Government to finance its other ventures, ventures like the scandalous extravagance of $40m over the next three years on the purchase and operation of those two flying hotels, the Boeing 707s, so that this Prime Minister can flaunt himself around the world as Australia ‘s Jimmy Carter.
There is something obscene about those kinds of priorities and it comes from a Government and a Prime Minister who profess, tongue in cheek, to have an interest and a concern for families in Australia and a concern for people in need. But when the price of petrol goes up Australians are told by those opposite that we have to charge them more, that as a result they will use less fuel. Honourable members opposite know full well that the demand for fuel in this country is highly inelastic. The honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) was at least honest enough to say:
But the major complaint of country people is the cost of fuel, and justifiably so. They say that the Government’s import parity fuel policy has added a most significant indirect tax to the Government’s income armoury which has allowed the Government to reduce the deficit and to hand out some well deserved improvements in the welfare sector.
He goes on to say:
That applies to all Australians who use fuel. As I said, the honourable member for Murray was at least honest enough to say, in concluding his remarks on 28 August:
Due to Government policy- basically, I do not criticise that policy-
Here he is referring to farmers- they pay more for distillate. I believe that at some stage we have to recognise this fact
What a confession. On the one hand he is complaining about the Government’s policies and on the other he is saying: ‘Oh well, I cannot do very much about this Government’s policies’. In earlier speeches in the Budget debate Government supporters have sought to make much of the restoration of the six-monthly pension indexation. Let me put the record straight in respect of six-monthly pension adjustments. This was canvassed around this country in 1971-72 as a policy of the Australian Labor Party by the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam. He promised that there would be increases in pensions each autumn and spring to take up increases in the cost of living in the preceding six months. That was implemented and carried on. Automatic indexation of pensions was introduced by the Labor Government following a period in which there had been a severe decline in the real value of pensions.
In the period that Labor was in power, by twice-yearly adjustments pensions rose to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. What did this Government do? It formalised the six-monthly adjustments into a separate law. It formalised indexation, and that is all that it did. Yet it would not do this for 23 years. For 23 years this Government starved the pensioners out. They came in droves to the front of this House to beg for the 50c that the McMahon Government gave them as an increase, and then, when the Government was forced into recognising that pensioners were entitled to justice in the rate of pension, it formalised the procedures of the Labor Government. When the Government abolished the sixmonthly pension adjustment last year it claimed that this was necessary. Previously it had tried to abolish the funeral benefit. Justice has now been restored to pensioners and this Government claims some sort of credit for it. All it has done is correct an injustice which was perpetrated upon the pensioners of this country.
The other area I want to refer to is family allowances. Family allowances are supported by members on both sides of this chamber. Along with family allowances came the abolition of tax deductible allowances for dependent children. That was the switch. There was no actual increase.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is my pleasure to join those of my colleagues who have already spoken to support the Budget brought down by the Treasurer (Mr Howard ) a little over three weeks ago. I support it enthusiastically. I emphasise the word ‘enthusiastically’ because this Budget is the climax of the firm decisions and sound economic management which were so necessary if all Australians were to benefit following the disastrous period of economic recklessness of the 1972-1975 Labor Government and the instability resulting from those black years. The challenge of sound economic restoration is a difficult job. Certainly the economic situation of the past has been difficult to control. In the implementation of sound management, reluctantly we have had to break some promises. Our hard and often unpopular decisions are now being rewarded. An atmosphere in which these promises can now be carried out is being restored. Thankfully, sound judgment has prevailed and even though at times we have been tempted to vary this sound judgement, all Australians will benefit from the determination of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), the Treasurer and my fellow Government members. Because of this Government’s policies the inflation spiral is winding down and the people of this country will reap the benefits in the years to come. The people in my own electorate of Barton and the people in the electorates of all members will reap the benefits and the results of this sound management in the years to come.
Perhaps the black year of 17 per cent inflation is now too far behind us to remember the difficulties that were foisted on to the people of Australia. Uncontrolled inflation affected all of us but, in particular, it affected those who had least. They suffered the most. Today the future is brighter. Inflation is controlled and stability is with us. Interest rates have fallen and investment has increased. The profitability of enterprises throughout our land has improved. The steady inflow of overseas funds provides confirmation that Australia is now judged internationally as a sound place for investment. People may well say: All this is fine for business, but how will it affect the average Australian? How will the average Australian benefit?’ The answer is simple. Increased business activity and increased investments mean more work and more jobs. The improved profitability to which I have referred lifts the confidence of potential investors and, through increased tax collections, provides greater revenue to the Government so that this can be shared by young students, our senior citizens, returned veterans, the sick and those who through various circumstances are in need. Greater revenue also provides the necessary basis to carry out government projects such as the building of roads and bridges, water conservation programs to develop our vast dry interior and ports to handle our growing exports. Last but not least, increased revenue ensures adequate funds to our States, to our territories and to our local municipalities and shires to continue to provide those services on which we all rely.
I wish to dwell briefly on that point because I am proud to be associated with the decision of the Government to increase the personal tax sharing percentage to local governments throughout Australia from 1.52 percent to 1.75 per cent. In New South Wales alone local governments will share $80.9m in the 1979-80 year. This is a remarkable increase on the previous $65.4m. In my own electorate there are three municipalities. The municipality of Hurstville will receive about an extra $90,000. The municipality of Kogarah will receive almost $60,000. The municipality of Rockdale will receive $130,000. These additional funds are going to the municipalities in my own electorate of Barton. The same additional funding which applies to the electorates of all members of this Parliament means that better services will be provided to the people, with little risk of rate increases being excessive and beyond the means of people to pay.
I mention the increased funds going to the State governments throughout Australia. In particular, the State Government of New South Wales benefits handsomely from the generosity of this Government. Total grants to the State of New South Wales in this Budget- I think this is particularly important because of the continual scream from the Wran Government in New South Wales, that it is supposedly being hampered by the lack of Federal Government funds, when it does not proceed with programsamount to $2,87 lm. That is a total increase over the previous year of 13 per cent, an increase far in excess of the inflation rate and one that can be described only as generous on the part of the Federal Government. Included in that amount is $ 1,667m which is absolutely untied; it is money which the New South Wales Government can provide, through its own priorities, to any service that requires it. That untied amount alone is an increase of 14 per cent. Once again it is far in excess of the inflation rate and is very generous to the State of New South Wales. The same generosity is applied by the Federal Government to the other States throughout Australia.
There is ample evidence that confirms beyond doubt the improving economy of Australia today. Let us look at some of these indicators because they are there. They are in official statistics. One has only to look at that dreadful thing called the gross national product of Australia; to put in layman’s terms, it means the total sales of
Australia as a business. Total sales have risen consistently in real terms. Today the GNP of Australia confirms the improving economy of Australia. What about our official reserves? The latest statistics from the Reserve Bank of Australia as at July this year, so they are quite current, show that the value of the official reserve assets totalled $3,885m at the end of June, a rise of $660m over the previous 12 months. Those reserves are the highest that Australia has ever had.
-Tell us about the $5,000m overseas borrowings.
– The honourable member for Parramatta is concerned about reserves. Let us look at the interest rates and see whether he is concerned about those for the people of Australia. On average, the official interest rates in Australia are down Vi per cent. Let us refer to the same statistics and see how the current interest rates in Australia compare with those of our overseas competitors. Bank overdraft interest rates in Australia are currently running at 10.5 per cent. The interest rates on borrowings for home loans through savings banks vary between 8.75 per cent and 9.5 per cent. Current statistics show that the average bank lending interest rate in the United States of America is 1 1.65 per cent. The current interest rate for bank lending in the United Kingdom is now at the high level of 1 5 per cent. In Japan- a country with an economy that we tend to look up to and admire- the average interest rate of 10.62 per cent is higher than the interest rate in Australia today.
In recent months overseas capital inflow has been running at an average rate of $2 50m a month. Once again, that confirms Australia’s standing on the international scene. The Australian Financial Review of 11 September contains an article headed ‘Budget scoring points with foreign business’. I shall read the first sentence of that article.
– Who wrote it?
– It was written by Christopher Jay. It stated:
While Mr Eric Risstrom -
I will have a little more to say about that gentleman shortly- may have taken the gloss off the Federal Government’s Budget presentation . . . indications are that overseas business interests have welcomed the generally tight approach to economic management.
That article went on to tell us how overseas companies want to invest money in Australia today. I think that is just another indication of our economic future. There are many other indications. We can look at the statistics for average overtime worked. They might be meaningless to many people but overtime means money for Australian people. Average overtime worked is also a very clear and immediate indicator that industry is working. Today the average overtime worked in a week is three hours. It has not been at that level for many years. In the dark days of Labor’s rule that figure got down to 1.6 hours. That is just another indicator.
It is clearly known that Australia has achieved a marked improvement in international competitiveness. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), in his speech on the Budget, mentioned that because of our increased international competitiveness we are now able and can afford to build a ship for our defence forces in Australia without subsidy. That is a clear indication of the strides in international competitiveness that have been made by Australia in recent years. We have the improved rural situation, a situation that will produce additional revenue for the Government, additional revenue that can be spread amongst the people. We have increased employment. Once again, I refer to the Australian Bureau of Statistics publication ‘Digest of Current Economic Statistics in Australia 1979’ dated 10 September. When one analyses the employment statistics one finds that the total number of civilian employees is now 4,770,900. That is 65,000 persons above the level that existed 12 months ago. If we analayse these statistics we have to go back many years before we can find such an increase. What is more pleasing about those statistics is that the private sector absorbed almost 50,000 of that increase. I can go even a little further. The figures for the manufacturing sector, which has been the key to employment, and perhaps the key to the downturn in employment in recent years, have been falling. In the last eight months employment in that sector has improved by 20,000 people. I could go on. I could talk about the profitability of enterprises throughout Australia, profitability that will provide revenue for this country. The indicators are there.
Perhaps it is fair to mention some of the policies that the Labor Party proposes to implement in Australia. I should like to illustrate to the people just how disastrous some of those policies would be. I refer to the conference which was held just a few months ago in Adelaide, where it was proposed that if Labor came back into power it would increase the Public Service and, through the Public Service, provide more competition for private enterprise. I put this question to the people: Has the government ever shown that it is the type of institution that can run something profitably? Sure, we have some profitable enterprises but the government of Australia has a poor record in running something profitably. All that would result if the Labor Party implemented that policy would be an increase in the size of the Public Service and an increase in taxation for all Australians. What the Labor Party proposes would increase interest rates, which affect all Australians; and would increase unemployment. They are the same policies as those that caused the disastrous increase in unemployment 100,000 people in 12 months- between 1972 and 1975.
My colleagues on the benches opposite would have us believe that since Labor has been in Opposition it has suddenly been struck with economic brilliance. Its disastrous performance during those three dark years is apparently no indication of its current magical theories. Are Labor members now suggesting that they know all the answers but, for reasons unknown, did not implement them a few years ago? One of their favourite subjects is tax avoidance. They talk of looking after pensioners and they talk of lower taxation; but they did nothing to stop tax avoidance in their years. We have. They did nothing to give pensioners automatic rises. We have. They denied the public lower taxation. Tax rates were never reduced in the three years of Labor Government, but they have been reduced under this Government. Labor has conveniently forgotten inflation; it has conveniently forgotten interest rates. I remind every member of the public to recall the speeches on this Budget which have been delivered by the Opposition. Have any of the Opposition speakers mentioned inflation or interest rates? No, because their track record is something to be ashamed of. Is it any wonder that they make no mention of these two important economic components? They are the two components which form the backbone of prosperity for all Australia.
Amidst the economic troubles developing in other countries around us, we are achieving economic success- success that cannot be matched by any other nation. It will provide benefits to all Australians, benefits to be enjoyed by all; but we must also be mindful to appreciate and retain the drive of sound economic management, the drive that achieves these goals for the Australian people. In the short time I have remaining I should like briefly to mention the comments of the executive of the Australian Taxpayers Association, which were quite wrong. It drew up quite fictitious tax scales to show what this Government has proposed will cost the Australian people more money in taxation. It applied a 9 per cent inflation factor -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is a great pity that the honourable member for Barton (Mr Bradfield), after finishing his lay preaching performance, did not have the chance to destroy the Australian Taxpayers Association. He left it until after the light came on indicating that he had only one minute left to speak before he offered to do so. Undoubtedly he will get another chance. The Government is very impressed by his ability to do it. None of the other Government speakers have been able to.
Let me deal first with some of the broad aspects of the Budget. The most important aspect of this Budget is that it increases taxation and confirms that this is a high tax government. Under it total income tax paid by individuals will increase by over $2,324m this year, that is, from $12,803m to $15, 128m. This compares with an increase of less than $700m the year before. Last year everybody attacked the Government for being a high tax government because it introduced a levy- a special surcharge- for one year which, of course, it kept on. However, total personal income tax collections increased by less than $700m. This year they will increase by over $2,324m. I refer honourable members who may query this to page 257 of Hansard on which is set out part of the Budget Speech made by the Treasurer (Mr Howard) on Tuesday, 24 August 1979.
This is a particularly high tax government. Taxation has increased each year. Personal income tax collections have increased each year at a higher rate than inflation. The Government predicts that wages will increase by approximately 9 per cent over the year, that inflation will increase by 10 per cent over the year and that taxation paid by individuals will increase by 1 5.4 per cent during the year. That is a huge increase in taxation from a government which pretends to be a low-tax government. That increase is quite apart from the imposition of extra charges, be they related to increases in hospital charges or to the abolition of benefits.
– Tell us about when you sent it up by nearly 40 per cent.
-I am not talking about that. What I am saying is that this Government pretends to be a low tax government. Each year under the present Government taxation has increased at a higher rate than inflation and this year the Budget prediction is that the increase will be over 50 per cent more than the increase in the rate of inflation.
– What about your record?
– If the Government wants to stand on its record we will be very happy to accommodate an election at any time, but it wants only to stand on other people’s records. It should stand on its own record. It was elected as a low tax government but has increased taxation more than any other government has done. Of course, everybody in the community is aware that taxes have increased so significantly.
Let me look at some of the dishonesty of this Budget. I know that the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) is perturbed about it- he has told me he is perturbed about dishonesty generally- and that is why he is such a good chairman of the Expenditure Committee of this House. It is a great pity that the Government does not give him a go at more important jobs. The bad things in this Budget, the things that cost people money, are to apply immediately. The 25 per cent increase in hospital charges has been introduced from 1 September and so will apply for 10 months of the financial year. The abolition of the Commonwealth contribution of 40 per cent of medical charges will take effect from 1 September and this too will apply for 10 months of this year. The patient contribution for pharmaceutical benefits is to increase from 1
September and will also apply for 10 months of this year. What about the reintroduction of sixmonthly indexation? That will be introduced on 1 May 1980 but will apply for only two months of this financial year? The reintroduction of sixmonthly indexation of repatriation pensions will be introduced from 1 May next year also but it too will apply for only two months of this financial year. That is the honesty of this Government. The Government last year imposed a 1 .5 per cent surcharge on taxation to apply for one year. It had to be collected at the rate of 2.57 per cent because it was collected over only eight months of the year. However, the Government did not abolish it on 30 June and is continuing it for a further five months at the rate of 2.57 per cent. The taxpayer pays that immediately. The reintroduction of six-monthly indexation which this Government abolished last November is scheduled for May of this year. It too will apply for only two months of the financial year. An average single income family of four will be about $7.90 a week worse off through the overall impact of the Budget. The Government has dealt particularly savagely with the single income family. It has done nothing about family allowances.
– What did you do about it?
-I will explain quite clearly what we did about it and I seek leave to incorporate a table in Hansard.
The table read as follows-
-Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. The table shows quite clearly that under the tax rebate system which was introduced during the last Hayden Budget, the tax rebate per child, indexed as taxation has been indexed until this year, would have been $5.60 per week per child for a tax paying family plus 50 cents child endowment for the first child.
Admittedly that is a small amount but it came to $6.10 a week. What do people now get? The family allowance for the first child is $3.50 compared with the $6.10 paid previously. So a family with one child loses $2.60 a week. Similarly, the table shows that a family with two children loses $4.20 a week, a family with three children loses $5.80 a week, and so on. If a family has six children it loses over $10 a week because of the Government’s attitude to family allowances. This Government has attacked the family in every possible way. It has continually attacked the family. It has made it very difficult for singleincome families to continue to exist in this country. Single-income families are being punished continually. Each year the Government floats the proposition that single-income families will be able to split their income so as to get the benefits which exist for two-income families. Each year in this way the Government builds up the hopes of many of the poorest families of this country and each year it fails to do what it has said it would do. It has done it again this year.
I would also like to deal tonight with some of the health insurance aspects of the Budget. It was a welcome change to read the Australian Medical Association’s latest Press statement of 31 August, the day before the new health insurance arrangements came into effect. Dr Lionel Wilson who, I think, is from the electorate of Barton and I suppose, to some extent, has been a very vocal supporter and possibly a member of the Liberal Party in the past, had this to say, amongst other things, about this Government and its health care policy:
One difficulty is that health care policy has largely ceased to be a matter for health departments and health ministers, who might know something about it. Instead it has been taken over by departments of treasury and the like.
Last year’s health insurance changes had nothing to do with your health. They were intended to doctor the consumer price index. Tomorrow’s changes are designed to relieve the Government of the high cost of the previous arrangement. Considerations of health do not enter into it.
These are the words of a prominent member of the Liberal Party in Australia and the President of the Australian Medical Association- an organisation which has continuously gone out onto the hustings to support this Government. He said quite clearly that the current crisis in health care lies not in the global amount spent on health care in this country but in the unholy mess that this Government has made of our health care system.
– He is not a member of the Liberal Party and never has been.
-I am prepared to leave that to his statement. I am confident that the honourable member is wrong on that point.
– I am confident that he is not.
– He has been a very prominent supporter of the Liberal Party in the past. What Dr Wilson said on behalf af the AMA is in many ways similar- almost word for word- to what I have said. I differ from him in only one aspect of what he said when talking about the making of a health care policy. He said: ‘Instead, it has been taken over by the Department of Treasury and the like’. I have said: ‘By the Departments of Treasury and the Prime Minister and Cabinet’. We all know what has happened in regard to the health policy in the last two significant changes, which came in on 1 November 1978 and on 1 September 1979. The Minister for Health (Mr Hunt) was not even advised of the first change in November 1978 until less than a week before the presentation of the 1978-79 Budget. This year he was advised of proposed changes two days before he had to present them in this House when he returned from an overseas trip and landed at Canberra Airport. So much for the making of an intelligent and rational health policy!
I do not consider that health insurance per se is the most important aspect of a health policy. The media do so, and I will therefore deal with that matter in greater detail. It is obvious that health care must be paid for by individuals directly, via insurance or via taxation, or a combination of all three or any two of those methods. It is terribly obvious when, occasionally, members from the other side come into the House to say that there is no such thing as a free lunch, free health care or a free something else. They think that they have suddenly hit upon the real profundity of Liberal thought. I find it a little distressing if that is as profound as they can get. It is obviously true. Let us look at the proportion of health expenditure paid by the Commonwealth, by State and local governments and by private sources. In 1974-75- pre-Medibank- the proportions were: Commonwealth, 30 per cent, State and local governments, 32 per cent, and private sources, 38 per cent. In 1975-76- the only year of Medibank- the Commonwealth proportion increased from 30 per cent to 48 per cent; the State and local government proportion dropped from 32 per cent to 24 per cent; and the private sources proportion dropped from 38 per cent to 28 per cent.
In 1977-78- the latest figures made available by the Government in answer to a question- the Commonwealth proportion had decreased from 48 per cent to 37 per cent; the State and local government proportion had remained fairly steady at 25 per cent; and the private sources proportion had increased from 28 per cent to 38 per cent. The changes introduced at the end of last year would have increased the proportion of the Commonwealth contribution because of changes that were introduced at that time. I will deal with those changes in a moment. I estimate that the Commonwealth proportion went up to about 41 per cent and that the private sources proportion went down to about 34 per cent or 35 per cent as a result of those changes. If we deal with the proportion of expenditure on medical services- the others were health services in toto- we see that before Medibank the Commonwealth proportion was 46 per cent, went up to 91 per cent of total expenditure during Medibank and then dropped to 34 per cent in 1977-78 after Medibank. It would have increased significantly again last year when the Government adopted the proposition in regard to medical fees it would pay all amounts above $20 and 40 per cent of those fees up to $20. Figures are not available for that period I do not want to guess at them- but private sources paid the difference. They therefore paid a proportion of 54 per cent pre-Medibank, 9 per cent during Medibank and 64 per cent post-Medibank in 1977-78. 1 think that these are important figures for people who want to come to some sort of rational conclusion what to do about the health system.
The Labor Party believes, and I think that most people now agree, that adequate health care is a right in a country like Australia and that the basic costs should be shared between the sick and the healthy. Of course, that is a feasible proposition when one wants to pay for it by taxation, by which the cost is obviously shared by the sick and the healthy, or when one tries to introduce compulsory insurance where again the risk is spread. The Labor Party also believesagain I feel that we have majority support on this-that the cost should be shared in a progressive manner. What I mean by that is, in a sense, a progressive taxation that is related to one’s income. One who earns more should pay a greater proportion of health costs, as they do for lots of other services in the community such as the provision of roads, education, the police force or anything else. We believe that the public should have the choice between health care provided by health professionals, remunerated on a fee for service basis, on a salary basis, on a sessional fee basis, on a capitation fee basis fee or a capitation fee plus bonus basis, which of course is the basis of the health maintenance organisations.
We are all aware that a fee for service system may encourage doctors to overservice their patients; in other words, do more than they need to do. Other systems may encourage them to underservice their patients. Competition between the schemes will act as a better control and such aids as peer reviews may help. I do not consider this proposal to be revolutionary, but I do consider it to be evolutionary. Obviously it would take time. I would emphasise that for three years the present Government has played yo-yo with health insurance. Any one of the changes could be supported by rational argument. I could easily be persuaded that any one of those changes may be reasonable changes, whilst they cannot all be in the right direction. On a number of occasions they have been in opposite directions. I remind the House that this Government introduced a compulsory levy following the changes to the Medibank system which had no levy. There was a compulsory levy or compulsory private cover. It then abolished compulsion and ended the levy. I emphasise that it injected $665m into health care. It did that in one year by its action dating from 1 November 1978 of abolishing the levy and by paying 40 per cent of the first $20 of a medical service and all above that $20.00. Finally, 10 months after the 1 November 1978 experiment, it removed $2 10m from the Budget by abolishing the contribution for the 85 per cent of services which cost less than $20. In many cases these steps were in opposite directions. They obviously cannot all be in the right direction.
It is interesting to note that a return to Medibank Mark I would have cost the Government an extra $200m last year and about $400m following the changes dating from 1 September. One could argue about the accuracy of the figures within $20m or $30m, but I think that my figures are fairly accurate. In fact, the Minister for Health, in his latest statement, which I do not have with me, basically agrees with that estimate. I emphasise that Commonwealth Government expenditure in this year on medical and health services will be $3, 165m. The figures that I have estimated for a return to Medibank- I am not necessarily saying that that is what one should be aiming at- are relevant for any intelligent discussion. It is a pity that they are often misquoted.
The Minister for Health, in a statement which I think was delivered in July, said that the cost of reintroducing Medibank would be $700m. He came to the conclusion in a statement after the Budget that the total cost would be $ 1,000m. Medical services paid for by the Government this year will amount to $65 7m. But the Minister said that the reintroduction of Medibank would bring that expenditure to $ 1,000m. So the total extra cost would be only about $350m, although I estimate it is probably more than that. Finally, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) came into the House yesterday and produced a figure of $600m. Figures of $700m, $350m and $600m have been mentioned. I think that the figure of $3 50m mentioned by the Minister for Health in his latest statement was closer to the real figure. It is difficult to forecast the exact figure because it depends on how many people take advantage of the subsidised health benefits available for a larger number of pensioners from the beginning of next year.
-If Opposition members could become as obsessed with enthusiasm and confidence and the advantages of this great country as they are in talking us down and emphasising and exaggerating the problems that confront us, I am sure that the nation would be much better served. The financial year 1 978-79 is a time for optimism and confidence in our ability to respond to our major challenges. We do not deny that the foremost of these are unemployment and escalating energy costs. No other country in the world is better placed at this time to respond to these challenges. All the major economic indicators point to economic recovery and even boom conditions, particularly in investment in resource development and, agricultural productivity. Consumer spending in the last two months shows encouraging signs. I hope that these will continue despite the Treasury’s attitude of gloom throughout some sections of the Budget Papers.
Business activity, cash registers and the stock market have responded magnificently to the Budget- for very good reason. The massive drop in the Budget deficit which will result in less government intervention in the capital market will open up that market to the private sector and other semi-government and local government instrumentalities. If the Federal Government can get out of the capital market to a greater degree the possibility of reduced interest rates, greater business activity and greatly improved opportunities for employment will eventuate. The budgetary measure to ease further the distribution requirements for private companies will give a further impetus to small business. This change which will operate in respect of incomes for the 1978-79 year and subsequent years increases the retention allowance for trading and business incomes from 60 per cent to 70 per cent. If any policies of this Government emphasise the difference in attitude to the business community between the coalition government and an alternative Labor government, its policies relating to business do.
What has the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) said that he would do for the business community? He has said that he would raise $ 1 ,500m through higher taxes on our companies and income earners. He said that he would bring in a capital gains tax and re-introduce estate and gift duties. By increasing the Budget deficit the Labor Party would immediately set back substantial economic growth, the reduction of inflation and the downward pressure on interest rates. Australia has to look to a strong private sector if it is to reduce its worrying employment situation. Prosperous business provides jobs. This Budget provides a much needed incentive for this sector to respond.
My electorate of Mallee relies very heavily on the good fortunes of the rural industry. Over the past 12 months we have seen a significant rise in farm incomes. In 1977-78 net farm incomes were $12,586. In 1978-79 they rose to $27,520. The latest forecast by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics indicates that incomes in the current year will be only slightly less than last year’s peak. Associated with this greatly improved situation has been a widespread restoration in grower confidence and a natural reduction in the call made upon the Government for financial support. The sensitive nature of the rural industries to change in circumstances outside their control such as seasonal conditions and overseas market access is well recognised by the Government. There has been some criticism since the Budget that it does not contain enough consideration for primary producers. I believe that such criticism is unwarranted. It conveniently overlooks the many special provisions that have been extended by our Government to the rural sector over the last 4 years, in earlier Budgets and in times of difficulty within the agricultural sector.
Primary producers, of course, will benefit directly from the reduction in personal taxation. They will benefit directly from the Government’s reduced deficit. In particular, they will profit from the Government’s successful control of inflation. How well people in my electorate remember the 1 7 per cent plus inflation rate during the Labor regime that cut the soul out of agricultural activity and expansion. How well we remember the vicious attack by the Labor Government upon our rural industries and rural people in general. My electorate will not forget the recklessness and extravagance of those Labor years. Yet it appears from the statements being made by the Leader of the Opposition and his cohorts that all those lessons have been forgotten. He has once again put forward an economic recipe that will boost the scourge of inflation and set back the renewed confidence that is evident throughout the country.
– He would do it again.
-As the honourable member for Phillip said, he would do it again. Opposition members certainly have not learned their lessons. I believe that from the primary sector’s point of view the Budget is a responsible one. It will provide scope and encouragement for increased rural efficiency while maintaining a downward pressure on costs.
There have been some specific areas of benefit to primary producers in this Budget. I briefly mention the increase by $5m to $25m in the national water resources program. I refer to the 20 per cent per annum special depreciation allowance for on-farm storage facilities for grain, hay and fodder. This new extension will enable storage facilities to be written off over a 5-year period. In addition, we already have the special 20 per cent investment allowance which is payable on eligible storage facilities. This concession is in recognition of the serious grain storage problems- largely brought about by industrial action- which seem likely to occur in many grain producing areas at the next harvest. As I said, the situation has been seriously affected by industrial troubles as a result of which the assessment of the carry-over is now about 6 million tonnes. Even if an ordinary harvest is achieved in 1979-80 from the record 11 million hectares sown additional on-farm storages can now be considered. This Budget provision will enable grain growers to assess adequately their own onfarm storage facilities.
– We will load our own boats too.
-I am hopeful that that will not be necessary, but the situation in Western Australia at present indicates that it may well be necessary. The coalition Government has shown itself ready to respond to the needs of the rural industry. No one would be so foolish as to claim that government policy alone was responsible for these improved rural conditions. Climate and world export situations are obviously the major factors. However, the farming community has received a great deal of assistance in finding and securing markets for our products. So much has been done in gaining access to new markets and boosting our share of traditional outlets through forceful trade negotiations. I compliment the Australian Wheat Board on its very successful marketing activities this year. I refer particularly to the work of the Minister for Trade and Resources (Mr Anthony) and his Department for the enormous advantages he has gained for the beef industry in ensuring that 70 per cent of our exports are guaranteed on world markets.
As a government we have made significant exchange rate adjustments. These, combined with our rural efficiency, give our primary industries a competitive edge over our major competitors. Many special interest groups in our community are starting to lose their credibility by making excessive and unwarranted demands on the public purse. We in rural industries and our organisations must ensure that we retain our credibility. Australia’s rural organisations recognise that the successful implementation of long term and short term policies has improved our capacity to increase our efficiency and to meet the management difficulties caused by fluctuating incomes.
In the wool industry there has been criticism of the reduced government input into wool promotion. We have to recognise, however, that the lift in the wool levy, which flowed from higher than expected wool prices, has assisted in the funding of promotion and research activities. No government could justify large allocations of funds to wool promotion when industry funds remain in reserves. However, an assurance has been received that any short-fall in funds for wool promotion will be made up if necessary. The sum of $22m has been allocated in this Budget for wool promotion. That amount is separate from the allocation made through grants to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for research in the wool industry. The Government has also provided a guarantee to the Australian Wool Corporation that it will maintain the wool floor price for the 1979-80 season at the minimum reserve of 3 18c per kilo. That reserve price is to apply at least at that level for the 1980-8 1 season as well.
During the year the Government also gave consideration to the need to encourage some farmers further to put aside their larger incomes in 1 978-79 in order to meet the demands which inevitably will be made on their finances in future less rewarding years. It was for this purpose that the income equalisation deposit scheme was established, lt is a very good scheme. The wheat areas in my electorate in particular are receiving tremendous support. Of course, we are pleased with the recent decision to increase the total amount which can be deposited from $100,000 to $250,000, and the amount of gross income which can be deducted from taxable income in any one year has been increased from 40 per cent to 60 per cent. The level of funds from the income equalisation deposit scheme has risen substantially in past months from about $62m to $82m, and further substantial increases are expected.
One of the most notable changes in rural circumstances during the last season was a marked expansion in rural credit. This has certainly been the case in regard to trading banks, which have expanded overdraft loans, term loans and farm development loan funding. In addition, the newly established Primary Industry Bank of Australia, which has the financial backing of the Government, has provided $120m since it opened its doors only 12 months ago. This very desirable development reflects the renewed confidence of financial institutions and the desire of producers to take this opportunity to invest still further in improving the efficiency of their enterprises. There is no doubt that the enormous increases that have occurred in the price of fuel over past years is of extreme concern to people throughout Australia and particularly those who live in the more remote country areas.
I do not intend at this time to discuss this issue to any extent. However, I believe that the Government should go ahead immediately with implementing the fuel price equalisation scheme to the full extent. This would have a major impact on bringing fuel costs in rural areas more in line with prices paid in the metropolitan regions of Australia. The Budget has been widely acclaimed as being one which assists the private sector and the business sector of the Australian community. But it is also a Budget which has made some very substantial changes in the social areas. I mention two areas which were of great concern to pensioners. In the light of economic and budgetary circumstances, we have been able to restore twice-yearly indexation of pensions and to extend the pensioner fringe benefit area. As a result of these changes the Government will be introducing legislation to amend the Social Services Act. That amending legislation will enable pension payments to be increased automatically in May and November each year in accordance with movements in the consumer price index. These changes will affect age, invalid and widows’ pensions, supporting parents’ benefits, wives’ pensions, sheltered employment allowances and sickness benefits for all people aged 18 years or over, as well as the unemployment benefit paid to people aged 18 years and over or people with dependants and to all married people aged 1 6 or 1 7 years.
– What about the RSL?
– I am getting to the changes that are to be made in the repatriation area. Of course, it is in that area that one of the most significant changes is to be made to the social welfare area, but probably a more important change is the extension of Commonwealth fringe benefits. Formerly a pensioner lost all his fringe benefits if his private income reached $33 a week, or $57.50 a week if he was married. Accordingly, the Government has decided to increase these limits to $40 a week for a single pensioner and $68 a week for a married pensioner, recognising that these amounts should be higher when there are children. It has already been estimated that some additional 25,000 pensioners plus 5,000 dependants will now qualify for pensioner health benefit cards as a result of budgetary changes.
It is pleasing to me, as it is obviously pleasing to other Government members that we have also decided to restore through the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs the rights of tuberculosis pensioners and to bring about many other improvements in benefits for our war veterans. I recognise that these will be very well received throughout our electorates. These changes are welcome, and I think we should all recognise that we will not be able to continue to increase our support to the underprivileged and needy people in society, unless our country is productive and profits are being made by our business sector.
I mentioned briefly the role of local government in our community and particularly the recognition that this Government gives to local government. Local government is a major employer in many areas. It is the provider of many of our basic services and of course it maintains many of our community facilities. In particular, local government is better placed in our community to meet and to recognise the needs of individuals. I am pleased that in the last few months we have recognised this need and have decided to increase the percentage of personal income tax collections shared by other local government authorities from 1.52 per cent to 1.75 per cent. I am not aware of what these increases mean in total throughout Australia but, on being advised today of our allocations, I am aware that this means an increase of some 20 per cent in the funds available in my electorate, where 18 municipalities will receive some $3,450,000. Of course, we have also made a quite significant increase in road grants to local government. This year there is to be a 7.5 per cent increase. I only hope that our State governments will allow these increased funds to find their way back into the road system and will not divert this contribution into some other area.
The Opposition in this House is continually attacking those people in our community who create wealth. By doing this, I am quite sure the Opposition is seeking to destroy the incentive of these people and in doing so will set back the long term benefits that can be given to those in need. This year the Government will spend some $32,000m. It has become clear that, to a large extent, the Government has become a massive agency for collecting money on one hand and handing it back to the people and the States on the other hand. The cost of operating this agency is enormous. I believe that the average Australian expects that he has a responsibility to have part of his income redistributed for essential and humane requirements. Basically what he earns, however, he wants to use as he wishes. Many people in our community forget that the money that the Government spends is their money. If the community demands that the Government spend more money the community must recognise that the Government must collect more money. If the Government wants to reduce its spending the community must stop asking for so much to be done. Of course, everyone, in our community agrees that taxes are too high and that government spending should be cut.
– Bill Hayden doesn’t agree with that, or Willis.
– Neither do the doctors in Western Australia.
– The very interesting thing is that they all agree that government spending should be cut but only in areas that do not affect them. Some people even perform the feat of asking for tax cuts on the one hand and higher spending on the other hand.
I support this Budget. I maintain that its main intent is to give a boost to confidence and a new optimism for expansion, development, reduced unemployment and economic security for all our people. This country has one of the highest living standards in the world. We have high wages and good working conditions but, more importantly and as this Budget recognises, we have the potential to further increase our living standard and further broaden our industrial resource base. By keeping inflation under control we will ensure that our exporting industries are prosperous and can meet the world demand for better quality food, fibre and raw materials.
-The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Fisher) said that this Budget has been widely acclaimed. I hate to disillusion him and I hate to disillusion the Treasurer (Mr Howard), but this Budget is a catastrophe. It is a typical big business Budget and it stands condemned by all the thinking people of Australia. It is just another example of the broken promises of the Prime Minister (Mr
Malcolm Fraser). We all remember the slogan of the Prime Minister during the December 1975 election campaign. It went something like this: Turn on the lights’. It reminds me of some of the words of a song that I used to hear in my younger days, towards the end of the 1939-45 War- if my memory serves me right, it was sung by Dame Vera Lynn- ‘the lights are going on again all over the world’. I would like to remind the members of the Government in particular that economically that is true today in almost every country except Australia. The reason the lights are not going on in Australia is that it is this Government which is attempting to run the country. If the lights have gone on at all, they are very dim. Australia has been brought to its knees by this Government.
I have no quarrel with the Treasurer. He has done his best.
– He is a good Treasurer.
– I say this to his credit that in some ways he has been a good Treasurer. I must commend him on the extent to which he has developed schemes to prevent tax avoidance but I will go no further than that. Thai is his forte. It has been my forte since I came into this Parliament to try to prevent these devious schemes of tax avoidance. I will say this for this Treasurer: To his credit, he had brought in schemes to try to prevent tax avoidance. But the Treasurer has a hard job to try to sell this Budget. He and Government supporters are trying to sell this Budget on the basis of the alleged tax cuts flowing from the removal of the tax surcharge, although this will not have any effect until 1 December this year. But already, and the Budget Speech was made only a little over a fortnight ago, the Prime Minister has had to concede that in terms of disposable income, wage earners will be no better off at the end of this year. This Government has perpetrated and perpetuated the greatest tax hoax that this country has ever seen.
It is worth noting what has happened to this tax surcharge since its introduction by this Government in 1978. It was introduced as a 1.5 per cent tax increase but became 2.5 per cent tax increase because a full year’s revenue was collected in seven months. In May of this year, the Government announced that the surcharge would not be lifted on 30 June this year, as it had promised- once again, another broken promise- but would continue unchanged at the higher rate for the time being. In the Budget Speech the Treasurer announced that the surcharge would be removed from 1 December this year. The effect of a 2.57 per cent surcharge applying for five months is that it is a 1.07 per cent rate for the whole year. In the course of 12 months, the surcharge has gone from 1.5 per cent to 2.57 per cent, and now it is back to 1.07 per cent.
The history of tax indexation is equally illuminating. The Prime Minister was so convinced of his capacity to keep the Government an honest tax collector that in 1976 he introduced full indexation at the stroke of a pen instead of phasing it in over three years as originally planned. Almost from the outset this Government has been retreating from tax indexation. So-called full indexation was discounted to allow for government-induced inflation, but half indexation eventually reduced it to an effective rate of about 30 per cent. Indexation has now been suspended indefinitely, with the vague statement that it may be introduced next year provided wage restraint is exercised and the economic climate is right. Once again the Government is seeking a way out to completely and absolutely renege on another of its promises. Instead of tax indexation being phased in over three years it has been phased out over three years. Government claims that income taxes will be reduced
– I will give just a few illustrations from these tables. They show that in the 1978-79 tax year, based on a 9 per cent estimated income increase for that year, the tax payable on the income of a single taxpayer on this financial year are also wrong. Despite the proposed tax cuts which will apply from 1 December, total tax collections from wage and salary earners or the pay-as-you-earn taxpayers will increase by a massive 15 per cent this year compared with an increase of only 8 per cent last year. This is due in no small measure to the Government’s failure to honour its promises to remove the surcharge and to implement full tax indexation as from 30 June. These broken commitments mean that this year the Government will collect an extra $ 1,552m in tax from individuals, the salary and wage earners- an increase of 15 per cent, mind you. In this case, all taxpayers will be paying substantially more tax during 1979-80. The low income earners especially face increases of up to 65 per cent in their tax.
I would like to quote from some tax tables which show the total increase in tax payments at various income levels between 1978-79 and 1979-80. 1 have already shown these tables to a Minister and I seek leave to have them incorporated in Hansard.
The tables read as follows-
$4,500 a year would have been $203.34. Based on an estimated increase due to inflation, in the forthcoming year the tax is increased to $334.66- an increase of 64.6 per cent, mark you. If we consider on a similar basis an income of $5,000 a year, the tax increase amounts to $144.05 or 38.9 per cent. Yet the higher up the income scale a person is the less is the percentage increase in his tax. On an income of $15,000 in 1978-79, with an estimated 9 per cent increase, the tax increase is only 10.7 per cent. That is for the single taxpayer. Compare that increase with the increase of 64.6 per cent in the tax payable by someone with an income of $4,500. This is just another example of this Government giving preference to the higher income earner. The taxpayer with a dependent wife and an income of
$6,000 in 1978-79 paid $108.84 in tax. With a 9 per cent increase in income caused by inflation in the current financial year on his resulting income of $6540 the tax increase will be 245.9 per cent. Yet the taxation increase for a taxpayer with dependents who earned $20,000 in 1978-79 will be 14.8 per cent in this financial year. This is just another example of feathering the nests of those who have and taking from those who have not.
This Budget, taken with the May preliminary Budget is the most extraordinary Budget introduced in this Parliament in the last 30 years. Anyone who thinks that this Budget is not highly contractionary should look again at the severity of the projected cut in the domestic deficit- from $2,258m to $875m. Assuming that the target will be achieved- it is a very large assumption based on the performance of this Government in the previous two years- I suggest that the total deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product will have been reduced from 3.4 per cent to an estimated 1.9 per cent. Compared with the deficits of other member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, this is not only a big cut- the result would represent a miniscule proportion of gross domestic product.
I cannot let this occasion pass without highlighting a few facts about what is now known as the ‘Fraser petrol tax’. This Government has doubled the price of petrol since it came to power in 1975. The Budget figures reveal the massive rip-off of the Australian motorist by this Fraser Government. Since 1976, the wholesale price of petrol has increased from 60c a gallon to more than $1.20 a gallon- or approximately $7.20 extra a tankfull for the average family car. The rise in petrol prices in Australia has nothing to do with the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries oil price increases as Australia imports only 30 per cent of its crude oil requirements and is 90 per cent self sufficient in petrol from its own oil fields. This Government has raised the price of petrol for no other reason than to raise additional revenue. The Fraser petrol tax is a selective and disguised tax which operates behind the cover of OPEC increases and seeks to lay the blame at OPEC’s door. This Government is planning further rises for petrol later this year. Mark my words. See how right I am. During this current financial year the Government will collect a minimum of $2,023m from its crude oil levy alone. It will also get $956m from excise on refined petroleum products. In total, this Fraser petrol tax represents about 10 per cent of all taxation receipts.
Yet the Government will hand back only a miserable amount through the lifting of the income tax surcharge.
I want to make a few remarks in regard to this Budget about one of the groups in the community which will be affected most savagely by the cuts in living standards caused by measures announced in the Budget. None will be worse affected than those who most require government assistance, that is, the unemployed. This Government has clearly abandoned any pretence of concern for the unemployed and their families. No department has fared worse than the Department of Employment and Youth Affairs. No section of the community has fared worse than those people who are under the care of that Department. The pitiful schemes which the Government had in operation previously have been further emasculated. There has been a 69 per cent cut in the Special Youth Employment Training scheme, the only scheme which gives a direct subsidy for employing young people who have been out of work for four months. There has been a 44 per cent cut in real terms in the National Employment and Training scheme. That is the only scheme which has been attempting to assist disadvantaged sections of the work force to upgrade their work skills and their employment opportunities. There has been a 13 per cent cut in the Community Youth Support scheme. Many projects will be forced to close and staff will be dismissed. Enlightened countries in the Western industrialised world have set in train big job creation projects, training and retraining programs, as unemployment has risen. The ideological whims of the Prime Minister will ensure that Australia will remain out of step with the rest of the world.
Since 1976 the extent and duration of unemployment have reached crisis levels, yet this Government continues to persecute the unemployed through restrictive work tests and a subsistence level unemployment benefit. Even now the unemployed have been denied access to training and retraining opportunities. Perhaps the most objectionable feature of the Budget is that, like the Government’s three earlier efforts, it scarcely pays lip service to the problem of unemployment and is silent about the plight of the jobless. The Treasurer freely admitted that the outlook for unemployment remains grim- he mentioned this in his Budget Speech- yet offered nothing, even of a palliative nature, to ease the problem. The unavoidably contractionary effect of the Budget was not acknowledged. Spending cuts again were heavily concentrated in the most labour intensive area of government expenditure- capital works. Tax cuts were preferred to a job creation program. Indeed, spending on job retraining and special youth employment schemes has been slashed.
If there is one area in which this Government can at least claim to be consistent in its policies, it is in its disregard for the welfare of those who are unable to obtain employment. It is consistent in its inconsistencies. Unemployed persons without dependants will still not receive automatic cost of living adjustments and their benefit payments will not rise at all this year. Their unemployment benefit will be held Stil at $5 1.45 a week. There are 261,510 persons receiving the unemployment benefit. They represent 77.7 per cent of unemployed beneficiaries. They will have no compensation for price rises which have taken place since May 1978. Many of these persons are old or single people put out of work by technological change and unable to find other jobs. The young unemployed under 18 years- that section of the community which has been completely ignored by this Government- were given no rise in their unemployment benefit payments at all. The amount has remained at $36 a week since April 1975 and has lost almost 60 per cent of its value in that time.
This Government has no real concern for the average Australians- Mr and Mrs Australia. It has even less concern for the single income family unit. The family allowance scheme, introduced by this Government, was another hoax which it perpetrated. If the old child endowment scheme had been kept and tax deductions allowed for dependent children, the average Australian family would have been dollars a week better off than under the family allowance scheme. The honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) in his speech earlier tonight gave many examples of win the average Australian would have been far better off under the old scheme than under the present Government’s scheme. Notwithstanding the hoax which the Government has perpetrated, the amounts payable under the family allowance scheme have remained unchanged despite the fall caused by inflation in the value of money. This Government cannot control inflation which on its own admission will go into double figures again in the coming year.
An aspect of education spending announced in this Budget for which the Government deserves condemnation is the decision to introduce tuition fees for private students from other countries who are receiving tertiary education in Australia. It is an example of pointless penny pinching with no regard for the cost in terms of international relations or the obligations of a wealthy nation to assist its poorer neighbours. The imposition of these fees will promote a ‘new isolationism’ reminiscent of the days of the ‘White Australia’ policy.
Let me sum up this Government’s record- the Liberal-Country Party record. Medibank has been wrecked; petrol prices have doubled; taxes have increased sharply; unemployment is at record levels; interest rates are increasing again; and the cost of living is almost twice what the Prime Minister a year ago promised it would be. This is not what the Prime Minister promised the Australian people when he came to office. The record of this Government is the reason that public confidence in it has been wrecked and public trust in this Prime Minister has been destroyed. The Australian people are entitled to expect the Prime Minister of this country or any country to keep his word. They are entitled to expect they can believe what he says. The Prime Minister cannot blame other people for his mistakes. He cannot claim that his Government has not been given a fair go. He has been in office as Prime Minister for longer than any other Prime Minister in the last 34 years, with the exception of the late Sir Robert Menzies. His Government has served for longer than the Chifley Government, the Holt Government, the Gorton Government, the McMahon Government and the Whitlam Government. The Prime Minister promised full economic prosperity in three years. He has brought hardship, suffering, record unemployment and economic recession in four years. When the next election is held, this Government will be removed from office and deservedly so.
-As I listened to the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin) I was reminded of what I have said in this House before. When the Australian Labor Party starts talking about taxation and condemning people who allegedly reduce taxation it is a little like Satan condemning sin. The Labor Party is known as a party of high taxation. It is on record. Labor supporters say: ‘We would prefer to raise more taxes. We would prefer to have wider socialism. We would prefer to look after your affairs for you’. That is their style and that is what some people vote for. If people want to vote that way I respect their wishes, but I cannot see why the Labor Party should talk about wanting to cut taxes when its platform states that it does not want to cut taxes. I just wonder why a man like the honourable member for Banks who comes from an area which produces such fine footballers and who would hope that his team plays with all its strength next Saturday has to go on like that.
– We will win too.
-I certainly hope your team wins because on last Saturday’s performance it deserves to win. I repeat what has been said. Yes, the Budget was well received. I was very pleased about that. I was particularly interested to see on Budget night the frustrated look on the faces of most members of the Press upstairs after the Budget was delivered. As distinct from last year when they had written their reports a couple of days prior to the delivery of the Budget- perhaps their reports were somewhat accurate in their criticisms- this year they had completely run out of stories. They kept saying: ‘There is no story in it; it is too dull’. That is exactly, I think, what we wanted this year. We wanted a Budget that addressed itself to some intransigent problems, a Budget that looks squarely and in a businesslike or tradesman like manner at the problems confronting the economy of this country and a Budget which provided sensible answers to those problems. Perhaps that is why the Press found the Budget dull and found nothing to write about it except that the tax improvements that were quite obvious on paper may not seem obvious in one year or two year’s time. We have been over that. Despite what the honourable member for Banks said about taxation being cut, I think everybody knows that now.
In the context of the strengthening recovery of the economy of this country I think it is just as well to have a quick look at the basis of the Opposition attack. I believe that the essence of the Opposition attack was spelled out clearly in the very crude speech given by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) which offered no overall assessment of the Budget but which threw up some alternative schemes. All of those schemes pointed towards the desire of the Opposition to have a more expansionary Budget. I think that is about all we could say with certainty about the Opposition’s approach to this Budget. The Opposition wants an expansionary Budget.
– It would have a bigger deficit.
– An expansionary Budget means a bigger deficit, in the terminology of the Press. At the present time, though, we cannot afford a more expansionary Budget than what, in traditional terms, I would call the expansionary Budget that we already have. We do not want to pump prime in the present situation. We are trying to dismantle the pump, give it a good grease and oil change and get it moving into the 1980s. No priming is required. Priming is the sort of thing which in the 1930s, in the Keynesian system, might have worked. It will not work now. For a start, the Keynesian assumptions do not apply at the present time. One of the very important Keynesian assumptions that the Labor Party spends a good deal of time ensuring that it never works is that when unemployment goes up wages go down. That assumption does not apply in the present situation. In the Keynesian model it did. In the Keynesian model pump priming in that context would probably have worked. But already we have massive pump priming. The previous Prime Minister tried it. It did not work. It patently did not work and it will not work in the present situation.
I would like to quote from the annual report of the Reserve Bank of Australia for 1979 on this aspect. It states:
Expansionary policies may offer some immediate relief through, for instance, more government employment. However, in assessing such proposals, there is need to consider the contribution that the firmer and steadier stance of policy in the previous few years made to the pick-up in private activity that did occur in 1978-79, and also to recognise the risks for inflation and confidence of the relaxation of financial conditions which in fact took place in that year. Proposals for easier policies have to take account of possible adverse sensitivity of the private sector to an enlarged budget deficit and to the monetary expansion which could ensue, with potential for a resurgence of inflationary expectations and of inflation itself. This is important because of the impact which inflation has been seen in past years to have on the willingness of consumers and businesses to plan forward, to spend and so to create more jobs.
Of course when there is talk about more jobs the last thing that the Opposition would want is more jobs. The report continues:
There is also the matter of the vulnerability of the balance of payments to foster growth in domestic liquidity. For these and other reasons there must be doubts about the extent to which unemployment can be reduced simply by demand stimulus.
That sums up the Reserve Bank’s and my assessment of the stupid policies that the Labor Party would pursue through its alternative embyro Budget. Let us consider what would happen if the job call of the Leader of the Opposition got moving. Any reasonable person, by multiplying the number of people involved and the cost of employing people, would have to arrive at about $500m a year as distinct from the $80m to $100m quoted by the Leader of the Opposition in order to finance that. There are two possibilities- either increase the deficit or increase taxes. I am saying that very simply. If taxes are increased there is less drive in the private sector, ending up with less disposable income for taxpayers and less spending on productive capacity for things in the moving economy at present such as exports. In short, if taxes are increased-this is what the Government has always believed-there will be in the present context fewer jobs.
Unfortunately I am unable to conclude my speech this evening because the debate will be interrupted. I will have much more to say about the Budget and I hope to do that tomorrow. The alternatives being presented by the Opposition are just not on for Australia at the present time. The Opposition’s alternatives which would take us right outside our capitalist system are just not on for the working men and women of Australia- the people whom we as a coalition are bent on supporting in the context of the present Budget.
Parliamentary Staff: Provision of Information to Commonwealth Police- Atomic Energy: Production of Uranium- Australia-Malta Relations-Debate on Budget-Decentralisation Funding Scheme-Ulster Society of New South Wales- Ethnic Affairs-Young Northside Big Band
-It being 10.30 p.m., I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to draw the attention of the House to a very disturbing complaint which I received yesterday from a constituent who has cause to move in and out of Parliament House in the course of his duties. It concerned the supplying of information by the staff of Parliament House to the Commonwealth Police. I understand that the information was supplied at the request of a retailer in Canberra in connection with a commercial transaction. On the basis of the information supplied by parliamentary staff to the Commonwealth Police, and passed on to the retailer, my constituent was phoned at his work place and certain allegations were made against him by the retailer concerning an alleged transaction.
In the event, the information supplied by the parliamentary staff was incorrect; my constituent was not involved in the alleged transaction at all, and very clearly it was a case of mistaken identity based on inaccurate information. I am concerned at the fact that inaccurate information was given, but what concerns me more is that any information at all was supplied. It raises the question whether it is appropriate or legitimate that holders of parliamentary identity passes should be in the position that the numbers of their identity passes and their names can be disclosed to commercial interests for the purpose of identification. I have very strong views that such information should be used only within the Parliament for identification purposes concerned with security within Parliament House and in no circumstances should it be passed on to outside sources to be used for commercial or any other purposes.
I do not attach any blame to the staff concerned if it has not been made very clear to all staff members what their obligations and responsibilities are in relation to disclosing such information. Similarly, with the Commonwealth Police, there should be a very clear understanding of the boundaries between legitimate sources of information and the privacy of the individual, as it concerns those people who are either employed in the House or whose occupation requires them to be issued with identity passes to give them access to Parliament House. I hope that the Speaker or the Minister for Administrative Services (Mr John McLeay) will clarify this matter so that there is no question of the invasion of privacy of people who work in Parliament House by outside interests being given information which discloses their identity and identity pass numbers. I have referred this matter to the Speaker and I seek his early advice as to what action will be taken to prevent any recurrence of what I believe to be a very undesirable practice which, in the case of my constituent, caused him great embarrassment and distress.
-This evening I want to discuss for a few moments the question of atomic energy and the production of uranium in Australia. In 1947 the Labour Party of Great Britain first used atomic uranium to explode the first bomb. It was the Labour Party in the United Kingdom that first got itself involved in the use of uranium by way of a bomb. That decision was taken by the Labour Party in the United Kingdom and it was probably one with which the nation was quite agreeable at that time. We are now going into an era where, at the present moment, the Labor Party in Australia is still completely opposed to the mining of uranium. This is an extraordinary troglodyte view to take in today’s world.
It is quite puzzling that a political party should be opposed to the mining of uranium in this country and should be opposed to its use for peaceful purposes overseas. It is quite incredible also that it should even consider it to be a part of its policy. Honourable members might well ask why I say that. It is because the use of nuclear reactors throughout the world is now well established. For example, at present in the Soviet
Union there are at least seven reactors in operation. The generation of electrical power in the Soviet Union doubles each decade. The Soviet Union has said that it wants to reserve and save its fuel and other forms of energy. For that purpose it has built a large number of atomic power reactors. These enterprises are now well under way and have been well established. They are now a major source of electrical power in the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union is now proposing to construct nuclear stations of two to 6 million kilowatts each in the following areas: Leningrad, Ignalinskaya, Kursk, Smolensk, South Ukrainian, Kalinin and Rovno. Each of the reactors will be able to provide one million to l.S million kilowatts. The whole of its nuclear program is based on the idea that it will use the fast reactor breeder and one has been built only 75 miles out of Stalingrad. The more one thinks about the Labor Party’s opposition to Australia ‘s selling of nuclear yellowcake and nuclear materials to the world the more one is shown that the minds of Opposition members are in a troglodyte era that has long passed. Like their philosophy, their minds are based in 1900 and 1921. They have never caught up with either economic events or world power of today.
What should Australia do? Firstly, she has the production of uranium; secondly, she has the possibility of enrichment; and thirdly, because of Maralinga, she has the possibility to consider whether we should take back all the enriched uranium which we send abroad, to bring it back to this country for recycling. For goodness sake, here is the most fantastic opportunity for this country to be engaged in the most major saving of power that is known in the world today: the production of uranium, the enrichment, and eventually the dealing with and recycling of the rods that are thrown out of uranium reactors throughout the world. It is absolutely essential that this country comes to its senses and once and for all discards the outmoded attitudes of the Opposition concerning uranium. If we in this country are going to pay any more attention to the cries which the Opposition make concerning uranium we will only put this nation 25 years behind in a new science. All I want to say tonight is something quite simple. We should be able to mine, enrich and look after all the uranium throw-outs of the world -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I want to draw the attention of the House to the state of relations between Australia and Malta. Malta has a population of 330,000 while there are 370,000 people of Maltese binh or origin living in Australia. I point out that the 1976 census revealed that there were 27,062 Victorians who were born in Malta, of whom 35 per cent live in my electorate of Lalor. In the 1920s Sir Gerald Strickland, who was formerly the Governor of Tasmania, then of Western Australia and then of New South Wales, became Prime Minister of Malta, and he was a zealous promoter of Maltese migration to Australia. For most Maltese Australia has always been the promised land, the first choice for all those who wish to migrate. For all those Maltese who have migrated- and economic necessity has forced a very large proportion of Maltese to leave- Australia has always been the first choice. There would hardly be a Maltese family which does not have large numbers of relatives in Australia. Unfortunately, since 1965 there has been a distinct coolness in relationships between Australia and Malta. In that year there was a disagreement between Dom Mintoff, the Labor Prime Minister of Malta, and Gough Whitlam, the Labor Prime Minister of Australia. Because of the special, virtually unique relationship between Australia and Malta- the situation where there are more Maltese in Australia than in the home country- Mr Mintoff suggested that Australia should provide direct financial aid to the Maltese economy. Mr Whitlam, I am sure with his characteristic tact, whilst conceding that there were special circumstances, said that Australia’s foreign policy demanded that our overseas aid should be provided in our own region. Of course the situation in Malta has deteriorated -
– Did you say 1965?
-I meant 1975. Nothing has happened since the change of government in 1975 to improve relationships with Malta. In 1976 the Maltese Government made an approach to the Fraser Government, saying that it would like to send a ministerial deputation to Australia so that it could put its economic problems to Australia to see if there was any way in which Australia was prepared to assist Malta. The Maltese Government was told at that stage that the time was not opportune; that there were all sorts of priorities that the Fraser Government had that did not include Malta. The tragedy is that nothing has happened since 1975 to improve the state of relationships. I should make perhaps two exceptions. In 1975 the Whitlam Government sent an officer of the Department of
Social Security to examine the rather vexed problem of the reciprocity of pension rights with Malta. I understand that a report was made to the Department and since 1975 it has not been acted upon. In 1978, Mr G. M. Hill, of the Department of Trade and Resources, was sent to examine the possibility of additional trade between Australia and Malta. Mr Hill’s report has been received by the Australian Government but nothing has happened to implement it.
I think that because of the very close relationship with Malta, Australia ought to take a very keen interest in what is going on in this ancient community. In the 1970s Malta faced a major change, due to different strategic considerations in the Mediterranean, away from the concept of being an island fortress. The negotiated withdrawal of Britain from the Maltese dockyards, airfields and barracks has resulted in an annual net loss of $80m a year to Malta, including what was a direct grant to the Maltese Budget of $40m per annum. When I talked with the Maltese Minister for Labour, Welfare and Culture, Miss Agatha Barbara in May of this year, she stressed that Malta does not want cash grants. What it does want is assistance in three areas, namely, technical aid, assistance in export of surpluses at below market costs, and lower meat prices. It is a country that is desperately short of raw materials. I hope that the Government may do something to expedite assistance.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order. The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I raise a matter on the adjournment this evening that I would have hoped I could raise by way of personal explanation earlier in the evening, but time and the business of the House did not permit me to do so. Yesterday in the Senate, Senator Button stated that he was invited to take part in a debate with me at the Caulfield Institute of Technology. He said that I did not front in spite of four invitations being extended to me. He also said: . . that in may say so, I understand that to be a tribute to his perspicacity. He is an astute man and it was only common sense for him not to turn up.
He was talking about me. Whilst I am grateful for the senator’s comments concerning perspicacity, I wish to put the record straight. There was nobody there apparently or virtually nobody there. I was not specifically invited to take part in the debate with Senator Button on the day that he was apparently speaker and audience as well.
On 3 1 July my office received by telephone a general invitation to a post-Budget debate at a time to be fixed. It came from a representative of the students Union who also said he was the Australian Union of Students secretary. He subsequently rang back. A member of my staff informed me of the matter and I said I would be happy to participate at an appropriate time to be fixed. My office tried to ring the student back on the two telephone numbers given but there was no answer. Subsequently, on one occasion the Caulfield Institute of Technology number answered and a message was left. My office has no record of ever having received any formal invitation in writing to debate at the time and place fixed for Senator Button. I have not, as alleged by Senator Button, received four invitations to debate with him at that time. I have received no written invitation. Only the general one I have mentioned was received. Senator Button in the past has quoted T. S. Eliot as saying:
The human mind cannot bear too much reality.
The reality of this situation is as I have stated. I have received no such invitation. I can only say that Senator Button reminds me of T. S. Eliot’s ‘Skimbleshanks.’ The Railway Cat’. I am sure the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) knows about that. The meeting that Senator Button attended, where there was so much media interest but no audience was in reality like the whisper that went down the line at 1 1.39:
Skimble where is Skimble has he gone to hunt the thimble? We must find him or the train can’t start.
Senator Button apparently needed a start that day. Senator Button stated further that he had been invited to take part in a further debate with me at the Caulfield Institute of Technology. I have received no such invitation. If I do I would of course be pleased to attend at a mutually convenient time. I would like to remind Senator Button that I would be delighted to debate the Budget with him. I only hope that the fact I have received no invitation to debate with him that day has nothing to do with the fact that Senator Button might be afraid to debate with me.
– You would thrash him.
-We did debate some time ago in my electorate at a combined college meeting of Kildara and De la Salle about the respective philosophies of our two parties. I can only say, as the honourable member for St George said, I must have thrashed him- his words. I think I overwhelmed him then.
– I raise a matter which arises from an answer given by the Minister for National Development (Mr Newman) to a question I asked yesterday. Apparently some secret negotiations have taken place between the Victorian Government and the Commonwealth Government relating to those areas which will be eligible to apply for funds under the Government’s regional assistance or decentralisation funding program. At this stage I am not able to indicate the exact details of the notification which has gone to the Victorian Government, but it appears that the urban area of the City of Geelong and some undefined areas of the Gold Coast have been deleted from those areas which are eligible to apply for funding under the program. I stress the words ‘eligible to apply’. Whether they obtain funds or not is a matter for judgment by those who are making the decision on where the funds will be allocated.
Last year, the Geelong area received Sim under this program for the development of industrial areas through the Geelong Regional Planning Authority. I think that the Minister might have a look at the answer he gave to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) sometime ago. The answer is quite inaccurate as to whom he made Sim available. I hope he does not make large amounts of money available on shoddy receipts. In fact the money went to the Geelong Regional Commission, not the Geelong City Council, as stated in the Minister’s correspondence.
It would appear that, acting on advice of an advisory committee, the Government has, excluded both the Geelong area and the Gold Coast area because of their proximity to metropolitan areas for which they apparently gain some benefit. I would dispute that proposition. In fact I think they have a disadvantage rather than an advantage in this particular area. They are neither metropolitan nor country. They have large populations. At the moment, at least in Geelong, a very substantial part of their populations are unemployed and others are making the 90-mile round trip to Melbourne daily in order to maintain employment. With the petrol taxes which the Government has imposed that is a very costly exercise.
I wish to mention another matter. In late 1968 and in 1969 in this Parliament I argued very strongly with the then Government about the division of the urban area of Geelong. It is made up of a number of municipalities. At that time, under an instruction from the then Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, the cities of Geelong, Geelong West and Newtown were debarred from applying for assistance for employment under schemes which existed at that time, although other parts of the urban area of Geelong, because they were deemed to be shires which contained a greater proportion of the urban population than the cities concerned, were in fact eligible. This son of contradiction is arising again, and I think it is because the Government takes advice and decides on some viewpoint without actually looking at the facts or understanding what it is about. I asked the Minister a question yesterday and he said that he was glad that I acknowledged the greatness of the scheme. The reason that Geelong got money last year was that it carried an interest tag of about 10 per cent or 1 1 per cent. There are not many provincial or regional centres in country areas of Australia which can make repayments of $ 100,000 on that son of investment after one year. It is just not practical. It just happens that Geelong could do it and therefore the money was made available to it. Otherwise, the Government would not have been able to distribute the funds that it had available because it was placing too high a repayment tag on them. In fact, it was involving itself in usury.
I rose tonight to protest not about whether funds are made available but about the denial of the right to make application. I do not dispute the Government’s right to choose which applications it will grant, but to deny the right of application, especially in areas where the funds may not otherwise be taken up, is a stupid decision. It is a decision which is based on prejudice and a complete lack of any understanding of the real position of these areas. They are not metropolitan areas and they gain little or nothing from their proximity to the metropolitan areas.
– I should like firstly to draw the attention of the House to a letter which I received from a constituent, Mr Michael Connors, the assistant secretary of the Sydney Branch of the Ulster Society. Mr Connors has written to me asking that it be made clear to the House that his society is in no way associated with Mr John Murray of the Ulster Association of Victoria. We know that Mr Murray’s despicable views were given prominence in the media a week or more ago.
– Honourable members say that it was irresponsible. This resulted in many worthy members of the Australian community who have come here from Ireland being subjected to criticism and attack. Many of those persons take a stand of absolute condemnation of Mr Murray. Many of them wish that Mr Murray could in some appropriate fashion be removed from Australia, if that were proper within the legal process. Mr Connors would like it to be known that his Society in Sydney completely disowns and has no association with Mr Murray’s views. He points out that the vast majority of people who have come to Australia from Ireland would thoroughly condemn this despicable character- Mr Murray of the Ulster Association of Victoria
The second matter I wish to raise relates to the extraordinarily incompetent performance of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) last Monday at an ethnic Press conference. For some reason the Leader of the Opposition has seen fit to embark upon ethnic Press conferences, presumably because he has taken note of the comments of some members of the ethnic media who have described his shadow minister for immigration as a likeable but incompetent shadow minister. The point has been made in the Press recently that the Labor Opposition knows nothing about ethnic affairs, has no contribution to make and that its shadow minister seems to be totally ignorant and, worse, utterly disinterested in his shadow portfolio. The Leader of the Opposition has taken to trying to bail him out by going to Press conferences but he cannot even get his figures correct. One would have thought that if he were going to attack the Government, the Leader of the Opposition would have been able to tell us exactly what were the figures upon which he was basing his attack.
Last Monday he actually called a conference and I understand that he was treated with a considerable degree of concern because of this incompetence on the issue. He said then that the migrant intake last year was 44,000 people. In fact, it was 68,749. He is going around completely and utterly misrepresenting the facts, which can easily be checked by looking at the Year Book or at the records or by asking a Question on Notice. Indeed, one would have thought that he had the correct figures. He also tried to confuse his audience by mixing the figures for gross and net intakes and failing to differentiate between the two. He also failed to differentiate between the immigration program and the refugee program. On three counts he displayed, at the very least, gross ineptitude. I am pleased to inform the House that my information is that the ethnic media was not taken in by this. It knows the position and gave him very low marks indeed.
One must remember that the Labor Party is the party which slashed and for all practical purposes cut out immigration in 1 973 or 1 974. It also abolished the separate Department of Immigration and created the Department of Labour and Immigration. It insulted all the migrants of this country by deeming them to be factory fodder. That, of course, has been one of the problems that we always have faced in this country. Certain trade unions in this country have always adopted an anti-migrant stance and migrants have not been able to develop themselves through the unions. This Government has given migrants the best opportunity that they have ever had. We have increased expenditure on the post-arrival language classes and other services to $24. lm. We are giving them $50m following the recommendations of the Galbally report. The Opposition does not like our very good program for migrants because it knows that it is very popular. Opposition members are going around in their mealy-mouthed fashion trying to tell migrants complete and utter falsehoods in order to get them on side. They are bribing them about removing maintenance guarantees.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I should like in the couple of remaining minutes to draw the attention of the House to the departure this evening for California of a group of 23 young Australians with an average age of 19 years, who make up the Young North Side Big Band. It is the first Australian group, amateur or professional, to have been invited to play at the Monterey Jazz Festival which is one of the three premier jazz festivals in the world. I am also pleased to say that these young people, who come from the Manly-Warringah area of Sydney, have been aided by a Federal Government grant of $5,000 to assist them to get to California. By their own efforts- giving concerts and running raffles and by doing various other thingsthey have raised most of the money they needed to get there. In fact, it cost them nearly $30,000 to do so. The Federal Government has been able to assist them to the extent of $5,000. This is a tremendous achievement for these young people. It is an amateur group which has built up its expertise over three years. It was heard by Count Basie when he was here in March. It was he who engineered the invitation for it, as the first group ever from Australia to play at this renowned world jazz festival in Monterey in California.
-Order! It being 1 1 p.m. the House stands adjourned until 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.
House adjourned at 1 1 p.m.
The following notice was given:
Mr Sinclair to move That, unless otherwise ordered, the following sessional orders to provide for the operation of estimates committees be adopted:
Committal and consideration in estimates committee:
1 ) After the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, or a Member deputed by him, on the motion for the second reading of the Main Appropriation Bill for a year, the proposed expenditures for the departments and services contained in the Schedule to that Bill may be referred to an estimates committee. Such referral (which shall not affect the second reading debate on the Bill) shall be on motion, moved by a Minister, of which notice has been given. A committee may be ordered to report by a specified date.
) There shall be 2 estimates committees, to be known as Estimates Committee A and Estimates Committee B which shall not vote on, but shall examine and report upon proposed expenditures for the Parliament, Advance to the Minister for Finance and each Department of State; such report may contain a resolution or expression of opinion of the committee but shall not vary the amount of a proposed expenditure.
The Chairman of an estimates committee shall be
The Chairman of Committees, Deputy Chairman of Committees or any member of the committee shall take the
Chair temporarily whenever requested so to do by the Chairman of the Committee during a sitting of that committee.
Participation by other Members:
Proceedings in estimates committee:
Consideration of proposed expenditures in an estimates committee shall follow, as far as possible, the procedures observed in a committee of the whole with the following exceptions:
Time limits on report:
For each committee report 3 hours
Each question before the Chair-
Ministers Periods not specified
Any other Member 10 minutes.
Report from estimates committee and further consideration:
Mr Fife to present a Bill for an Act to amend the Bounty (Polyester-Cotton Yarn) Act 1978.
Mr MacKellar to present a Bill for an Act to establish an Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Productivity, upon notice, on 5 April 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The mission reported that the range of activities of the Annexe was hindered by the poor working environment in its existing location in the Invermay railway yards. The mission saw a relocated Annexe, however, as having the following roles:
Technical assistance has been provided to the Precision Tool Annexe by my Department, in connection with the arrangement of machine tools and equipment in the relocated Annexe. This assistance will continue. Advice has also been offered in setting up the metrology section. My Department has initiated a survey of potential markets for Precision Tool Annexe products and services. The cost of the survey will be shared equally by the Tasmanian Government, lt is intended that the survey should indicate areas of endeavour in which it will be most profitable for the Annexe to engage as well as the future viability of the Annexe.
However, the concept was succeeded by a Department of Productivity proposal to establish a network for the coordination, development and promotion of technology transfer to Australian manufacturing industry. The technical mission from my Department which visited Tasmania in April 1 978 visited four Tasmanian precision engineering establishments to determine if they could contribute expert knowledge to such a network. The mission considered that the establishments visited could contribute in specialised areas of expertise.
A technical referral network is being established in the metals industry as a three year pilot program to prove the viability of the concept. The network will include a number of referral centres, which will be linked to organisations having specialised technological expertise. These are intended to assist metal industry enterprises by bridging them to the most appropriate source of technology needed to meet their requirements. The first six referral centres should be operating by October/November this year, with an additional four planned to come on stream early in 1980. Depending on the needs of industry and the evidence of industry’s increasing support for the scheme, these centres will be extended to serve other metals industry needs and eventually to provide services for other sectors of industry.
My Department’s Director in Tasmania is investigating the requirement by State industry for the setting up of a technical referral centre in Tasmania, and provided there is sufficient evidence of industry support and that funds are available, such a centre could be established in 1 980.
Under the terms of the Railways (Tasmania) Act 1 975, responsibility for the removal of the plant, equipment and materials from the former site of the Precision Tool Annexe rests with the Tasmanian Government. However, Tasmania sought assistance from the Commonwealth in partly meeting the costs of relocation and more recently for equipment considered essential for the efficient operation of the Annexe and for apprentice training. The Minister for National Development and I agreed that assistance with the reequipment costs was the most appropriate means of assistance. The Commonwealth has offered a loan of$343,000 for ten years at the long term bond rate of interest. The State Government has the Commonwealth offer under consideration.
asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 2 May 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
MAIL DELIVERED IN ACCORDANCE WITH NORMAL SERVICE STANDARDS
Since October 1978, a further four mail centres have commenced operation in Victoria. Two of these centres, Clayton South and the mail centre serving the City of Melbourne, are now operating fully. The two other centres, Preston and Footscray West, are operating temporarily from Spencer Street City premises and will not perform fully as mail centres until they transfer to permanent premises, probably about October 1979. As yet, it has not been possible to quantify the effect of the introduction of these centres.
It is expected, however, that when fully implemented, the regional mail network will allow for better mail services than were possible under the centralised system.
The possibility of limiting the use in other States of security closure devices for ordinary mail bags is under consideration. Significant savings in time and materials are possible and the fitting of a lead seal or other closure device does not protect against theft of a mail bag.
asked the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 10 May 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) Not available; persons refused entry are not categorised.
For example, in a study of approximately 400 cases during the period January to August 1977 only185 (46 per cent) properly complied with their conditions of entry. A total of 166 (40 per cent) failed to contact the Department in accordance with the requirement for them to do so. Of the remainder some had sought resident status on grounds other than marrying and some had sought an extension of stay following failure of the marriage to take place within the prescribed six months of arrival.
Revised procedures designed to arrest abuse of the policy relating to the entry of fiance(e)s have been in operation since June 1978. These procedures seek to reduce the incidence of those cases involving people unable to meet normal migration eligibility requirements but who misrepresent themselves as fiance(e)s in order to gain special approval for entry. Prior to June 1978 and following the introduction of occupational restrictions on migration in October 1974 a rapid escalation in the numbers of persons sponsored as fiance(e)s and arrival rates indicated the extent to which people were exploiting the loophole to circumvent normal migration eligibility requirements. The following figures of fiance(e) sponsorships and arrivals illustrate the trend:
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 22 May 1979:
-The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 30 May 1 979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As I have previously indicated, the Government’s decision regarding a higher level of defence expenditure in the 1979-80 Budget took account of the volatility of international events and the likely consequences for Australia.
It is an unfortunate fact that, much as we would have liked to reduce expenditure on defence, the Government has felt it needed to place greater emphasis on purchases of new defence equipment, and the proportion, and quantum, of defence expenditure on equipment has been steadily rising.
I pointed out in my address to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Disarmament on S June 1978 that ultimately it is the absolute right and obligation of sovereign governments to defend then: peoples. A realistic disarmament agenda must recognise this simple premise.
To say this is in no way to deny our deep concern to see international conditions emerge which will be conducive to a reduction in military budgets generally. That is an aim to which successive Australian Governments have been committed and to which my Government will continue to direct its efforts.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 30 May 1979:
Further to Question No. 3240 (Hansard, 22 May 1979, page 2225) what proportion of persons aged between 1 7 and 22 years was enrolled in 1973 as attending (a) teachers colleges (i) full-time and (ii) pan-time and (b) technical and further education institutions.
-The Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
In 1973 there were 27,625 students enrolled in teachers colleges and not included as enrolments in any other tertiary institutions. It is estimated that all of these students were enrolled full time and that approximately 90 per cent (or 24,860) of them were aged between 17 and 22 years. These would have comprised 1.8 per cent of the 17 to 22 year old population in 1973.
There were additional students enrolled in education courses in 1973 as follows:
Dual enrolments in both teachers colleges and other tertiary institutions-Full time 15,995; Part time 834.
Enrolments in other tertiary institutions only- Full time 10,777; Part time 31.
These additional student enrolments have not been included in the calculation of the 1.8 per cent above, as they have already been included as university and college of advanced education enrolments in calculation of the Australian 17-22 year old participation rate in the answer to Question No. 3240.
attending (some students enrol in more than one course and are therefore counted more than once).
Excludes Stream 6, adult education, which in 1973 was 1 00 per cent part-time.
Table 2 provides an overall picture of 17-22 year old participation in tertiary education in 1973 and 1977. (In table 2 the full-time 1973 participation rates for the university and advanced education sectors add to a total which is slightly different to the OECD figure supplied in answer to Question No. 3240. The data in Table 2 are derived from appropriate Australian Bureau of Statistics sources.).
asked the Minister for Productivity, upon notice, on 5 June 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Daily Commercial News report did not state which of the two major sizes of European rectangular 4-way pallets Mr Willim recommends, or whether he had a third size in mind.
Four-way pallets are more efficient in many situations as they can be picked up at every side. However this is rarely an advantage with the common European pallet as, not being square, they must be picked up according to the orientation in which they are deposited. The NMHB report and more recent enquiries show that Australian industry prefers 2-way pallets to 4-way pallets because the former are cheaper and stronger- that is, they have a longer more economical life. However, Australian standards provide for 4-way as well as 2-way pallets.
In the opposite sense the widespread use of square, cheaper 2-way pallets in Australia is the basis of the world ‘s largest national pallet pool system which assists rather than hinders greater specialisation of machinery in the fields of storage, handling and transport. (4), (5) and (6) Four-way pallets are already in use but their replacement of the 2-way pallet in the national pool, while possible, is not feasible because the fragile nature of the 4-way pallet would increase the operating costs of the system. Also, in considering the use of the common European non-square pallet there would be an inestimable high cost to industry for new storage and handling equipment to handle new size pallets in production plants and throughout the national distribution systems.
Changes would not be seriously considered by Australian industry or government establishments because of the high cost of conversion to another system which offers no capital or operational advantages and has some positive disadvantages. As changes would be unlikely to be implemented, the question of redundancy does not arise.
Australia Post: Employees in Electoral Division of Shortland (Question No. 4206)
asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 6 June 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The number of Australia Post staff providing postal services at official post offices in the Electoral Division of Shortland on the other relevant dates was as follows:
On the relevant dates for which statistics are available, employment was as follows:
asked the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 7 June 1 979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Since the introduction of the new immigration policy and NUMAS, substantial numbers of non-immediate relatives have been assisted in meeting the general immigration criteria by concessions in NUMAS for persons who are nominated or otherwise assisted by family members resident in Australia. These are not included in the family reunion category for statistical purposes.
asked the Minister for Productivity, upon notice, on 2 1 August 1979:
What is the industrial labour productivity figure for each year from 1 965 to 1 978, using 1 965 as the base year at 100.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Using statistics produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, my Depanment has derived the following index of Gross (Manufacturing) Product at average 1968-69 prices per person employed, using 1 964-65 as the base year. 1964-65-100.0; 1965-66-99.8; 1966-67-103.1; 1967-68-108.0; 1968-69-114.8; 1969-70-119.7; 1970-71-120.9; 1971-72-124.9; 1972-73-131.6; 1973-74-137.9; 1974-75-140.4 and 1975-76-144.1.
Statistics for periods since 1 976 have not yet been released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Army Training Area in New South Wales (Question No. 4396)
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 2 1 August 1 979:
What progress has been made into the investigation about the possible acquisition of land in New South Wales for a major Army training area referred to in reply to question No. 29 (Hansard, 8 June 1978, page 3406).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Studies are continuing in respect of some areas following initial examination and details of likely further areas are being sought from the New South Wales Depanment of Lands.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 22 August 1 979:
What percentage of the workforce is directly engaged in agriculture in respect of each of the States and Territories.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Percentage of Persons in the Workforce in Agriculture and Services to Agriculture
NSW-4.9; Vic.-5.2; Qld-8.2; SA-7.6; WA-8.1; Tas.-7.0; NT-4.6; ACT-*; Australia-6.0.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics. Estimates derived from May 1979 population survey.
Notes on the above Table
Services to agriculture cover sheep shearing and aerial agricultural activities and other services such as agistment, agricultural chemists and consultant services, crop harvesting, dairy herd testing, fertilizer spreading, fruit picking, hay baling, land clearing, dipping of livestock, mulseing, pest extermination, plant quarantine station, sheep dipping, soil conservation, spraying, sugar cane cutting, tailing and wool classing.
- Estimate subject to high sampling variability and therefore not reliable.
asked the Minister for Productivity, upon notice, on 22 August 1979:
Which countries have acceded to the European Patent Convention Treaty since his answer to question No. 3237 ^Hansard, 3 April 1979, page 1463).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
No additional countries have acceded to the European Patent Convention Treaty since the answer to question No. 3237 was provided.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 22 August 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In the case of such important force structure elements as the destroyer, such studies are continuous over a very long term. Studies of follow-on ships beyond the River Class DEs began in the early 1 970s.
Last year, my Depanment formed a Defence Naval Destroyer Group (DNDG) to draw together more recent work and to consider specifically matters influencing the characteristics of new construction destroyers.
For the reasons set out, there is unlikely to be any clear completion date of destroyer related studies. The work on destroyers interacts closely with other work in train on seaborne air capabilities.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 22 August 1979:
Are members of the Defence Forces who participate in exercises of a non-defence nature, with official approval and/or funding, covered against death or injury; if so under what Commonwealth legislation.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Yes- members of the Defence Forces who participate in exercises of a non-defence nature with official approval and/or funding are covered against death or injury, under the provisions of the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act 1971, the Repatriation Act 1920 and the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Act 1 973 provided that, in the case of the Compensation and Repatriation Acts, each exercise of this nature is individually approved and the participants are certified as being on duty during the event.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 22 August 1 979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (l)Yes.
Loans of fuel were made at Cairns on three occasions during the period, as follows:
In case (a) approval was given by the appropriate departmental authority, in cases (b) and (c) I approved the loan. In each of these three instances the conditions were: fuel to be replaced in kind, replacement fuel to meet Navy specification, borrower to meet all out of pocket expenses incurred by Navy in connection with the loan, borrower to indemnify the Commonwealth against any loss, damage or claim arising out of the loan, in each case replacement to be effected by a negotiated date.
These conditions were embodied in a signed Form of Indemnity.
In addition, during the period 28 May to 1 August 1979, Golden Fleece Pty Ltd inadvertently sold, without the prior approval of Navy, 3,200 tonnes of automotive distillate which they were holding on behalf of Navy, under a temporary storage arrangement pending the repair of a Navy fuel tank. The company arranged replacement of this fuel from a cargo on MV Leonard on 1 August 1 979.
In case (b) above- Mr N. Lee, Minister for Industry and Administrative Services, Queensland.
In case (c) above- Golden Fleece Oil Company.
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 22 August 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 22 August 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 22 August 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 23 August 1 979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Anaconda II’ (Question No. 4544)
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 29 August 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 29 August 1979:
Have the day to day flight operations of the F111 become known officially within his Department as adventure training.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 September 1979, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1979/19790912_reps_31_hor115/>.