31st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden) took the chair at 2. 1 5 p.m., and read prayers.
– 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 in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the agreement between the Commonwealth and Japanese governments granting Japanese long line fishing boats access to Australia’s recently declared two hundred mile fishing zone for a fee of$1. 4m will seriously imperil the world’s largest population of black martin which inhabit the North Queensland waters and consequently endanger the invaluable tourist and ancillary industries in that area which depend on big game fishing. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government will declare:
And asks that the Government undertake not to re-issue the licences to the Japanese fishermen next year when the terms of access are again reviewed.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Dr Blewett, Mr Lionel Bowen, Mr John Brown, Mr FitzPatrick, Mr Howe, Mr Humphreys, Mr Jacobi, Mr Les Johnson, Dr Klugman, Mr Les McMahon, Mr Martin and Mr Young.
To the Honourable, the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives, of the Australian Parliament assembled.
The petition of certain citizens of New South Wales respectfully showeth:
Dismay at the reduction in the total expenditure on education proposed for 1980 and in particular to government schools.
Government schools bear the burden of these cuts, 11.2 per cent while non-government schools 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 John Brown, Mr Cadman, Mr FitzPatrick, Mr James, Mr Les Johnson, Mr Charles Jones, Sir William McMahon, Mr Morris, Mr O’Keefe and Mr Ruddock.
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 on 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 every pray. by Mr Ewen Cameron, Mr Garland, Mr Holding, Mr Howe, Mr Roger Johnston, Mr Barry Jones, Mr McLean, Mr Martyr, Mr Simon and Mr Yates.
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 price of LPG in Victoria has risen by $80 per tonne since November 1978 as a result of Federal Government policy thereby causing hardship to country consumers using LPG for cooking, heating and hot water and to decentralized industries using LPG for industrial purposes.
Your petitioners therefore pray:
that pending the establishment of a fair price in accordance with clause 2 above and to provide some immediate relief to country consumers:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Ewen Cameron, Mr Fisher, Mr Barry Jones, Mr Nixon, Mr Simon, Mr Street and Mr Yates.
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 marine radio licence fees for the following reasons:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will reconsider the increased licence fee and also consider a reduction for pensioners. by Mr Baume and Mr Staley.
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That we strongly oppose the increase in marine radio licence fees for the following reasons:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will not only reconsider the increased licence fee, but also consider a reduction of same in the interest of safety. by Mr James and Mr Charles Jones.
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 wealthy 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 Burns, Mr Jarman and Mr Shipton.
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, as it is clear that unemployment is a long term problem in Australia, the Government should extend to the unemployed the same assistance as is given to any other disadvantaged member of the community. There is an urgent need to alleviate the financial hardship and emotional stress that the unemployed are suffering.
Your petitioners therefore pray:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will every pray. by Mr John Brown and Mr Hodgman.
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 utilise 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 Howe and Sir William McMahon.
Exploitation of Marlin and the Marine Environment
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 of the uncontrolled activities of long-line fishermen and others the marlin population on the east coast of Australia has been and is being disseminated and as a consequence the stability of the Great Barrier Reef’s environment has been and is being seriously disrupted.
Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that the Government of Australia will act immediately and take the necessary steps to stop this exploitation of the marlin and our marine environment.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will every pray. by Mr Hayden.
To the Right Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the city of Nunawading in the electorate of Deakin respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia per medium of the Minister for Social Security give all directions to ensure that necessary action be taken without delay.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Jarman.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned, citizens of Australia, and overseas students respectfully showeth our deepest opposition to the introduction of discriminatory fees for overseas students.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that fee po that fee licy on overseas students be revoked in view of the following:
The matriculation students came to Australia under the impression that they would receive free education. However, the sudden imposition of fees will cause immense hardship to the students and their families. Many students will have to return to their home countries as they are unable to meet the fees. These students, on returning home, will not be accepted by any local tertiary institutions as the Australian Higher School Certificate or the Matriculation Statements (HSC) equivalent are not recognised by their home governments. These students will be deprived of any chances of further education.
Those applicants to study in Australia in 1980 (e.g. students in Taylor’s College, Malaysia) are caught in the dilemma, either to bear the extra financial burden or to give up further education totally.
The majority of overseas students studying in Australia came from the developing countries. Most of them did not have the opportunity to seek any advanced education owing to the poor extreme shortage of educational facilities in their home countries. These developing countries need trained and tertiary education persons to help in meeting the challenge of technological development and to contribute to the economy of the countries. Australia, as a developed country, has a moral responsibility to assist the developing countries.
By the introduction of fees, it would mean only a few students from rich families would be able to come to study in Australia. Students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds would be deprived of the opportunity to obtain higher education. Thus making education a privilege not a right.
Overseas students have made a tremendous contribution in promoting better understanding and friendship between the people of Australia and the developing countries. The overseas students have provided the Australian public with the opportunity to learn and study the customs, life-style and different cultures of these various developing countries.
Further, overseas students have made valuable contributions towards research and development in their post-graduate studies.
Providing educational opportunities to overseas students is the most effective and positive form of aid to developing countries.
And your petitioners, in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
There is a definite limit to the quantity of Australia ‘s mineral resources.
Accordingly our resources should be managed and developed under Australian ownership and control.
Publicly owned trading enterprises and corporations have been established and operated for the benefit of Australians since Federation.
The Commonwealth Banking Corporation, Trans-Australia Airlines, Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation, Australian Wheat Board, were all designed to operate to the benefit of our nation as a whole under public ownership.
The Fraser government’s irresponsible proposals to sell off our nation ‘s interest in the Ranger Uranium mine, the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, and to dispose of other successful statutory corporations such as Trans Australia Airlines, would be contrary to the nation’s interests.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives will reject outright proposals of the Fraser government to sell the Ranger Uranium Mine, the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, Trans-Australia Airlines, and other publicly owned enterprises.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Morris.
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 paymentsthat 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 in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Morris.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of electors of the State of South Australia 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. by Mr Porter.
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 there are Australian Aboriginal children living under conditions of inadequate nutrition in a background of poor housing, hygiene, and overcrowding that amounts to a Third World enclave in the midst of affluence ‘ (see also the report from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs Aboriginal Health 1979); that such a state of affairs is intolerable in our country; that only an effort on an unprecedented scale could create conditions that would give these children the rights set out in the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will make generous funding available for the specific purposes of:
Making a real improvement in the health, housing, education, employment and welfare of the Aboriginal people, doing so with due regard for the needs, hopes and aspirations of the Aboriginal people themselves; providing increased help, encouragement and opportunity for Aboriginal people to train as nursing aides and in other paramedical roles, and as fully qualified nurses, doctors and social workers; providing increased health education for Aboriginal people in ways that are acceptable to them. by Mr Ruddock.
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 proposed transfer of the staff of the Working Environment Division of the Department of Productivity will seriously impede the effective functioning of this element of that Department in its daily contact with industry, commerce and unions; and
That this will lessen the success of Commonwealth initiatives in the fields of employee participation, personnel practice, research, health, safety and national productivity promotion; and
That this will incur unjustifiable extra cost to Commonwealth administration; and
That the proposal is outside the guidelines set down for public service relocation.
Your petitioners therefore, pray;
That Parliament decide that the best usage of the Working Environment Division requires it to be permanently sited in a major industrial city (for example, Melbourne or Sydney) and so it shall remain.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Ship ton.
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 the 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 CPI 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 CPI pension adjustments in the future.
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 assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Staley.
Petition to the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled- re Closure of Croydon Post Office, South Australia.
Your petitioners pray that your Honourable House will consider maintaining the existing postal services in Croydon, SA by allowing the Croydon Post Office to remain open for business. by Mr Young.
Petition to the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives.
The signatories of this petition being concerned citizens of the city of Port Adelaide strongly object to the proposal to drastically alter existing freight handling arrangements and to abolish handling of parcels at Port Adelaide Dock Station because:
Your petitioners therefore pray:
That the Federal Minister of Transport, Mr Nixon, direct the Manager of the Australian Railways Commission, Dr Williams not to proceed with the proposal.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Young.
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That, in the interest of preserving Australia’s excellent relations with Japan, this House urges the Government to delay the fishing agreement between Japan and the Commonwealth of Australia to enable proper consultations to be held by the Australian Government with Australian interests opposed to heavy long line fishing in the Australian Fishing Zone.
-Can the Minister for Industrial Relations explain why, in the course of the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill, he did not mention that he had received a letter from Mr Justice Staples when that letter was of direct relevance to the contents of the Bill? Further, can the Minister explain why he waited until after the debate was concluded before releasing the contents of the letter to the Press and then expressing astonishment at its contents? Finally, why has the Minister referred the letter to the Attorney-General?
-The first point that I make is that I did not release the so-called Staples statement. I regret that the matter has arisen at all. I would have preferred to be able to dignify this episode with no comment, but it has arisen. As I say, the statement was a letter which I understand Mr Justice Staples circulated to his Conciliation and Arbitration Commission colleagues. A copy was sent to my office without any comment by His Honour. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said, I have already indicated that I am astounded that such a statement or letter should have come from somebody with the title of judge.
I do not consider anything said by Mr Justice Staples in his statement as warranting any reexamination of the legislation that the Government has before the Parliament. Experience has shown that there is a need for the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, in the public interest, to take over any matter before the Commission and for there to be a capacity for all parties before the Commission, including the Minister, to request a Full Bench of the Commission to hear a matter at any stage when it is before the Commission. That was one of the matters referred to by Mr Justice Staples and the Government still believes that it is necessary.
-Can the Minister for Primary Industry advise the House of the facts surrounding the black marlin fishing proposals? Has the Minister seen the numerous
Press articles and other media stories appearing over the last few days, which make certain statements on the proposed problems if and when the agreement is signed? Will the Minister give the House all the information to allay the fears of many Queenslanders, and indeed many Australians, who are concerned for the future of this magnificent sporting fish?
– I certainly have noticed and heard of the Press reports in relation to this matter. I think what needs to be kept in mind is what the agreement does. For the first time, the 200-mile fishing zone will come under the control of the Australian Government. For the first time, negotiations have been able to take place on this matter and further negotiations can take place in the years ahead. For the first time, Japanese fishermen will be excluded from a great deal of the waters off the Queensland coast. Indeed, Japanese fishermen will now be excluded from some 80,000 square miles of waters which were previously available to them. For the first time, monitoring of fishing within the 200-mile zone will be done on a six-day basis. For the first time, under the agreement Australian inspectors will be able to board Japanese vessels and keep a watch on and monitor the situation very closely.
I make the point that what has been ignored is the fact that the Japanese have been fishing in these waters for 20 to 30 years. This is not a new development. At the moment we have excluded the Japanese from a very significant part of the waters affecting the sports fishermen. That ought to be to the advantage of the sports fishermen. The agreement with the Japanese is to operate for 12 months. During that period monitoring will take place and the matter can be renegotiated.
-I ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question on the same subject. As the United States makes foreign long-line fishermen release all billfish caught in the American fishing zone along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastlines and as the foreign fishermen cover the cost of an American observer on board each Japanese vessel to ensure that fishing regulations are complied with, will the Government take a step towards the conservation of the black marlin in Australian waters by imposing similar conditions on Japanese long-line fishermen operating in the Australian fishing zone? I remind the Minister that the Japanese say that they do not want to catch black marlin, only tuna.
– I am not aware of the practice followed by the Americans. I will have investigations made about it. If the practice has been correctly stated by the honourable member I will see what implications it has and could have for the proposed fishing agreement with Japan.
-Will the Minister for Primary Industry advise the House of the arrangements being made to ensure this season’s first payment to wheat growers? Can he also indicate when the new wheat stabilisation legislation will be introduced and whether the New South Wales objections have been overcome so that no ceiling will be placed on the price of industrial and stock-feed wheat?
– Representatives of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation called to see me last week, seeking an assurance that provision would be made for an early payment to growers. Following their request an investigation was made. It is possible for the Australian Wheat Board, if it so wishes, to make arrangements for an early payment to growers. This is of particular significance to Queensland, as I understand that a great deal of the crop in that State has already been harvested. It is a matter for the Wheat Board itself to determine whether it wants to proceed on that basis.
As to the second part of the honourable member’s question, I understand that the New South Wales Government still wants a ceiling price to be placed on industrial and stock-feed wheat. I understand that the Wheatgrowers Federation was to meet with Mr Day, the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture, this morning. I will await the outcome of those discussions to see whether there is any change in the New South Wales position. I have circulated the draft legislation to the States. I hope that we will be able to progress the matter through this Parliament and through the State parliaments very shortly. The question of a ceiling price will depend ultimately on the position finally adopted by the New South Wales Government.
– Will the Prime Minister approve the immediate selection of a joint parliamentary committee to go to Kampuchea as soon as possible to make an urgent investigation of the famine there so that this Parliament can adopt the most appropriate humanitarian relief measures on a completely bipartisan basis?
-Some time ago the Parliament debated the very serious and human problems in Kampuchea. I believe that out of that debate emerged a real consensus from the Parliament itself about the seriousness of the problem and the kind of role that Australia ought to play in helping to relieve hardship and difficulty in Kampuchea. So often in the past the major refugee and humanitarian problems have arisen in areas much more remote from Australia. Over more recent years and especially over the last 12 months we have seen humanitarian problems of enormous severity through South East Asia. They are obviously of great concern to the countries of South East Asia and to Australia. What has been happening in Kampuchea over the last several years, heightened by the current events in Kampuchea, emphasises the tragedy that is occurring and the poverty, degradation and difficulties that are so obviously present in Kampuchea.
Honourable members will know that the Government has provided 3,500 tonnes of food aid and has provided a further $2m for additional aid. In co-operation with international bodies, we will be seeking to do what we can to make sure that that aid is delivered expeditiously to those who most need it. We are obviously concerned to see that aid coming from Australia and from other countries gets to those who really need it and not just to the military forces of Vietnam, for example, that are present within Kampuchea. I am quite sure that all honourable members would want the Government and international agencies to be very diligent in making sure that aid provided, from whatever source, gets to those in real need of assistance. I believe that this particular problem has struck a chord within the general Australian community of a kind that is not often seen. Over the years, as private citizens and as members of private bodies, Australians have been generous aid donors to many different places around the world, but I think the problems of Kampuchea are striking a chord in the minds and hearts of Australians unlike any we have seen perhaps for a very long while.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs has advised me that he has made a decision that when the next plane loads of supplies go to Kampuchea officials from his Department, from the Australian Development Assistance Bureau, will go with that aircraft so that there can be a direct Australian assessment of the way in which aid and the supplies are being handled and the way in which supplies are getting to those who really need assistance. I think that he and I and the Government should all be in a better position to make a judgment about the value of a parliamentary delegation after we have had that direct assessment from Australian officials.
– When will the plane go?
-On the 20th.
-On the 20th of this month. So it is not all that long -
– You are not exactly Flash Gordon, are you?
– I do not think there was any need for that interjection. If it is going on the 20th of this month, that is not very far away.
– It will be November or December before you get around to making a decision.
– It is a pity that the ecumenical movement in the Parliament had to be slightly sullied. When we have that direct assessment I think we will all be in a better position to make a judgment on whether a parliamentary delegation, which can pose some security and other problems in Kampuchea itself, is the best way of getting additional information to the Australian Government and people about the nature of the assistance which is most required in Kampuchea.
Having said that, I emphasise again the severity of the problem in Kampuchea. I emphasise also that over a long period Australian governments have consistently taken the view that supplies from government should be on the basis of official aid and that, if private people wish to provide resources over and above that government aid, they ought to do it totally on their own account and ought not to be part subsidised by the Commonwealth Government- by the taxpayer- by being able to claim it as a tax deduction. That has been the traditional view of all governments in relation to aid provided from private sources. However, because of the severity of the problems in Kampuchea, because we believe that the Australian people wish to provide some particular and additional help and be a part of that help to Kampuchea, we have made the decision that for this financial year aid to Kampuchean relief will be a tax deduction. In this case we are breaking new ground. My colleagues the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Treasurer will be making a statement very shortly about the full details of that particular proposal.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the very real need that the Japanese have for our fish, has it been suggested to them lately that a refusal to renegotiate the agreement could well lead to such hostility that, come the agreement’s renegotiation in 12 months time, the view of the people may well force the Government to deny them any access at all to the fishing grounds off the coast of Queensland inside the 200-mile limit?
-I think that those people who take that view are ignoring the facts that I stated a while ago in my answer to the earlier question. The fact is that for the first time these waters come under the control of the Australian Government and for the first time the Japanese have been excluded from a large part of those waters. That action was taken under this negotiated arrangement. Some 80,000 square miles of water off the Queensland coast is excluded to Japanese fishermen who fished there previously. I think the view taken ignores the fact that there will be a renegotiation of the agreement in 12 months time. With those points in mind I think that anybody would want to think very carefully before becoming too emotional about this issue.
-I ask the Minister for Industrial Relations whether he received telexed advice relating to the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill on 10 October and 1 1 October from 25 arbitration commissioners. Will the Minister table that advice? If not, why not?
– Let me put this matter into perspective. Following Press reports some months ago about possible amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act I received a request from the conciliation and arbitration commissioners to see me about the reported amendments. It was an unusual request but I agreed to see them. I said that certain amendments were being looked at and that their views put to me formally would be considered by me -
– After the Bill had been passed?
– No, this was some months ago. I said that their views would be considered as part of the Government’s total consideration of the proposed legislation. I think it was last week that I received a brief telex from the commissioners on the Bill which is currently before the Senate. I would not be surprised if the members of the commissioners association are somewhat embarrassed or perturbed that their views have been caught up in the turn of events which was the subject of a previous question to me today. I make the point again that the telex from the commissioners and the views that they put to me earlier have been considered. No valid new point is raised in the views that they put forward which would lead the Government to make any amendments to the Bill that is now before the Senate.
Of greatest concern to the commissioners is clearly the requirement in the legislation for them to consult with their deputy president- that is their panel leader- before handing down awards or certifying agreements. For some years now the Commission has been working on a system of panels. Each panel is under a deputy president who is responsible for a group of industries. The commissioners in turn are responsible to their deputy president. When those arrangements were introduced concern was expressed as to how they would work, but it is a matter of history now that they have worked quite well. I see no reason why the proposed amendments should not work equally well in due course. Clearly there will be differing views on legislation of all kinds brought before this House. The Government has considered the views put forward in this case; but Parliament makes the final decision and it is up to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and its members to operate within the legislative provisions which are determined by this Parliament.
– Is the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs aware that the Colombo Meeting of Young Commonwealth Leaders held in May this year discussed ways of alleviating youth unemployment? Did the young Commonwealth leaders recommend that the attention of Commonwealth governments be drawn to the urgent need for reviewing education systems in order to establish a firm relationship between education, employment and the requirements of national development? Also, is the Minister aware that the Colombo meeting recommended that the employment orientation of education should be strengthened by the introduction of early work experience schemes and that these schemes provide combinations of work experience, training and job-seeking skills? Finally, what relevance and importance do these statements have to the Minister’s recent announcement of a new school-to-work transition policy?
– I thank the honourable gentleman for his question. He led the Australian delegation to the Second Meeting of Young Commonwealth Leaders held in Colombo in May of this year. He led that delegation very well. Later in this session, he will be making a statement to the House on the results of that meeting. The matters to which the honourable gentleman referred are of direct relevance to the discussion of a school-to-work transition policy on which I and my colleague, the Minister for Education, have been working in co-operation with the States. The report of the Colombo meeting which has now come to hand addresses itself very directly to this question under the heading: ‘The Role of Education in Alleviating Youth Unemployment’. The report stated:
The Young Leaders proposed that a review of educational aims and methods would ensure that, on the one hand, these schemes could encourage fuller and more varied units of training and, on the other hand, provide combinations of work experience, training and job-seeking skills on a graduated level.
Furthermore, the report pointed to the necessary relationship between education and employment. That is the very thing to which the Schools Commission in its report of this year, the Williams Committee of Inquiry into Education and Training, Professor Karmel, Senator Carrick and I, amongst others, have pointed as an area of urgent need. That is why the Government is directing its attention to this area. As I said, the development of a school-to-work transition policy is not something new. It has been a matter of serious debate in the public arena amongst educationalists and others who are concerned with youth unemployment.
-Is the Minister for Industrial Relations aware that on 1 1 October members of his staff distributed to members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery copies of Mr Justice Staples’ 13-page correspondence to him on the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill? Did the Minister himself order that distribution to any member of the Press or to anyone else outside his office? If so, why? If he did not issue instructions to that effect, on what basis did his staff circulate the Staples letter? In view of the precedent established with the dissemination of the Staples letter, will the Minister now supply the Parliament and the media with the telexed advice from the 25 commissioners?
-As I have already indicated, Mr Justice Staples ‘ letter came to me merely with a ‘with compliments’ slip, without comment, after it had been distributed to all members of the Commission, as I now understand. Following that, and not my release, it became a document of public comment. As to the content of the telex from the commissioners to me, the normal method of communication between the Government and the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is through the President.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Are we to take it that the Minister’s office did distribute the correspondence to the. Press?
-There is no point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– Well, we have to clarify it.
-There is no point of order.
-Is the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs aware that the Queensland branch of the Federated Storemen and Packers Union has closed its books to membership by Vietnamese refugees? If so, should the Commissioner for Community Relations investigate this matter to ensure that there is no discrimination on racial grounds?
– I have seen Press reports in a story entitled ‘The Willing Workers’ in the Australian of 16 October. This article quotes the former Federal President of the Storemen and Packers Union, Mr Fred Nicol, as saying:
It is the first time in my 2 1 years we have had to discriminate against people. And we are discriminating against the Vietnamese. But there are reasons.
Later in the same story he said:
But the problem for us was that industrially the Vietnamese and the others were equal because all were full members- and an employer has the right to stand down whoever he wishes if all are equal.
The story continued:
Mr Nicol said that when this was raised with the management the union was told that the Vietnamese were better workers and more willing. ‘We didn’t refute that,’ he said, ‘that could well be’
When all things are taken into account- the country they come from, the conditions they work under and the money they are getting here this would be a gold mine with favourable working conditions compared with what they are used to- so naturally they would work hard. ‘
Later in the report Mr Nicol said that his union:
Finally, Mr Brown from the Golden Circle cannery said:
There are always a number who turn up on the chance of getting work and these are the people who are keen to get a job. Instead of taking a day off at home they have deliberately come to look for work.
The author of the article concludes:
It thus appears that the Vietnamese refugees- in the words of the TV ad- are giving Australia all they’ve got
A number of aspects of this newspaper story concerned me. I recall for the House the fact that Mr Nicol is quoted as saying:
It is the first time in my 2 1 years we have had to discriminate against people . . .
On 10 September 1976 I issued a Press release entitled ‘Minister Acts on Alleged Discrimination in Queensland’. It involved alleged discrimination against British migrants by the same man and the same union. That was, in fact, investigated by the Commissioner for Community Relations.
On the face of it, this would appear to be a breach of section 14 of the Racial Discrimination Act which states, amongst other things:
It is unlawful … to prevent or hinder another person from joining a trade union by reason of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of that other person.
So, on the face of it, there does appear to be a breach of the Racial Discrimination Act. However, I would like to make a couple of points. In the same article there are comments from other union officers that they have had no trouble with Vietnamese or refugee members of their unions. I think that that is to the credit of those union officials. It is a fact that refugees have demonstrated a very great capacity to succeed in the Australian situation. They are keen to get work. Professional men are prepared to take jobs which are not their particular occupations. Refugees will take jobs which other people will not take and are keen to put something back into this country for providing them with a piao this ce of resettlement.
This is a very serious situation. I will be taking the matter up with the Attorney-General for him to communicate with the Commissioner for Community Relations to see whether there has been a breach of the Racial Discrimination Act.
-Can the Minister for Industrial Relations give this House a firm assurance that no member of his staff was responsible for the distribution of copies of Mr Justice Staples ‘ letter referring to the amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to people outside his office such as representatives of the Press?
– I will check up on the question asked by the honourable gentleman and let him know.
– You are just a humbug. We know the truth.
-Order! The honourable member for Newcastle will cease interjecting and will withdraw that statement.
– Although it is true I will withdraw it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. I refer to the continuing saga of the international civil aviation policy. Was a meeting scheduled for this week between Australia and representatives of the Association of South East Asian Nations countries finally to determine the range of fares to exist between Australia and ASEAN countries? Has this meeting been cancelled? If so, why? When is the next meeting scheduled? Is the Minister confident of getting some resolve in the ASEAN air fare situation at the next meeting?
– A meeting was scheduled for this week. One of the member nations of the Association of South East Asian Nations was unable to be represented at a meeting this week and sought to postpone the meeting until next week. To the best of my belief and knowledge, the dates fixed are 22 and 23 October. The honourable member asked whether I was confident of resolving the matter. I have been confident right through this international civil aviation policy saga that ultimately we will come to a sensible arrangement with the ASEAN countries. I still hold that view.
-I draw the attention of the Prime Minister to his statement yesterday:
If there are one or two that object to the amendments to the Arbitration Act, it is not the view of the Government.
Does he regard the views of a past President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, a presidential member, and the 25 commissioners as being of no consequence? Will he now instruct the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Minister for Industrial Relations to withdraw the much criticised legislation and consult with the full Commission and the Australian Council of Trade Unions?
– It is the Government that needs to determine policy in this area, and the Government is going to determine policy in this area. As my colleague, the Minister for Industrial Relations, has made very plain, circumstances had arisen which, in the Government’s view, led to a need for a change to the law. Some of the changes are of a similar kind but affect different pans of the Commission. A power has been given to the President of the Commission to take over any case- that means that he can take a case out of the hands of a deputy president- if he believes such action to be in the national interest. Why should the President of the Commission not have that power? Why should the President not have that authority? If the Minister believes that a certain matter ought to be taken over by the President in the national interest, why should the Minister not suggest to the President that that be done, it being the decision of the President whether he should do so or not? We believe that that particular amendment clearly strengthens the power of the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in ways that are thoroughly constructive. If that power had been present some time ago it might well have avoided the long and prolonged Telecom dispute. I say that very plainly and without any apology.
We also know quite well that on some occasions commissioners have made decisions which, on appeal, have been demonstrated to be outside the wage indexation guidelines. The very fact that the decision is made and the matter then has to go on appeal can cause a good deal of industrial disputation in the process. Is it not better to try to prevent that situation from arising and to establish the circumstance in which there will be greater cohesion within the Commission itself? In the view of the Government, the amendments proposed to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act will achieve that objective, and they will be processed by the Parliament as quickly as it can do so.
-Before I ask a question of the Minister for Transport may I remind you, Mr Speaker, about the danger of the internal steps at the front of Parliament House?
-The honourable gentleman has already reminded me. I suggest that he go on with his question, or I will have to sit him down.
-The Minister for Transport is no doubt aware that many people in Tasmania and New Zealand are eagerly awaiting the finalisation of negotiations for the pending air link between Tasmania and New Zealand. In anticipation of a favourable decision, have forward plans been initiated to upgrade the Hobart airport, which incidentally is in my electorate? Will it be upgraded to international standard in the near future?
– The honourable member, along with his colleague the honourable member for Denison, has taken a keen interest in this question right from the time this proposal was first made. I can inform the honourable member that only early consideration has been given to what changes are required at the Hobart airport. Customs facilities, health and quarantine facilities and separation facilities for incoming and outgoing passengers would be required. So some changes will have to be made when consideration of the proposal reaches a conclusion. I have to inform the honourable member that I have not yet been to the Treasurer or the Minister for Finance for funds to implement the proposal. I am waiting until I see the successful signing of an agreement between ourselves and New Zealand. As soon as we get that, I will be going to my colleagues seeking funds to make the changes to the airport.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware of efforts by the Western Australian Lamb Marketing Board to seek competitive freight rates from Qantas Airways Ltd to facilitate increased exports by air to the Middle East? Is he also aware that Qantas has refused to extend its air services to areas of the Middle East now served by other international airlines and has refused to reduce its cargo rates to a more competitive level? What difficulty does the Minister experience in wearing both his ministerial hats when trying to mediate on this issue in Australia’s best interests?
– I do not have any difficulty. It is a matter for the Minister for Transport and in that capacity I deal with it. The fact is that the Western Australian Lamb Marketing Board has been given the capacity to export lamb to and to develop a lamb market in the Middle East through an arrangement with a commercial carrier that was called International Air Service Co. I think it is now called British Cargo Airlines, having changed its name. As far as I know, that arrangement is continuing. As to the fact that Qantas does not run a service to the Middle East, the passenger arrangement that we are seeking to make is that people will have the benefit of the cheap fares, secured under the international civil aviation policy, to the nearest point to which Qantas goes and for an international add-on to be available for those passengers wanting to travel into the Middle East. I have no doubt that those arrangements will be satisfactorily concluded.
As to the freight question, what we have allowed British Cargo Airlines to do for the Western Australian Lamb Marketing Board simply means that by taking cargo out of the holds of the scheduled carriers and allowing the nonscheduled competitive commercial carriers to carry it at a non-commercial rate we are asking people travelling on those airlines to subsidise lamb exports. So it is a question of major concern. The matter has been continuously looked at. I am advised that there is one carrierCargolux that is prepared to carry lamb at ordinary commercial rates without seeking to take freight away from the scheduled carriers on the Kangaroo route. The honourable member will be aware that the question of freight, like the question of passengers, is part of the bilateral agreements between governments. If I want to change the freight arrangements that the scheduled carriers now have, I have to take that question up with other governments. So it is not a simple question. As I said, we have tried to assist the Western Australian Lamb Marketing Board. So far as I am aware at the moment it does not have any difficulties.
-Can the Minister for Special Trade Representations and Acting Minister for Trade and Resources inform the House of the outcome of his recent talks with the New Zealand authorities on closer economic union and what action has been taken, or is contemplated, by the two governments concerned?
– The present position is that, following agreement by the governments and the respective Prime Ministers of New Zealand and Australia, an examination has been conducted, principally by officials of the New Zealand Government, to see what options there are for a closer trading and economic relationship. TransTasman trade has increased a great deal in recent years to $1 billion, two-thirds of which is under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. But there is a general feeling that NAFTA has reached a plateau, though Australia and New Zealand are one another’s major market for manufactured goods. Political union is not being considered, and I emphasise that. We are speaking of trade and economic development. It is clear that both countries have to deal with a very competitive trading environment, and we cannot afford to be inward looking. Any arrangement made would need to give advantages to both countries and certainly not act in any way against legitimate aspirations of developing countries, particularly those in the Pacific and in Asia. The position is that officials will be meeting in Wellington on 1 and 2 November to consider the options. I believe that that meeting will be followed by a meeting between the respective Prime Ministers, probably in February next year.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Post and Telecommunications been drawn to a media report relating to the acceptance by a recently retired senior member of the defence forces of an important position with Ford Aerospace and Communications Corporation? Does the Minister accept that there may be a conflict of interest for the brigadier resulting from his new employment and his recent employment as a Department of Defence representative on the Government task force which recommended a domestic satellite for Australia? Is the Ford Aerospace and Communications Corporation a likely, or indeed probable, supplier for any Australian domestic satellite? Especially in the light of paragraph 3.24 in the recent Public Service Board document Guidelines on Official Conduct of Commonwealth Public Servants’, does the Minister consider that the brigadier’s new employment did not influence the result of the task force inquiry in any way and that he is acting and has acted with complete propriety? Has the brigadier complied with paragraph 3.25 of those published guidelines? That paragraph reads:
Until decisions on the recommendations of the Inquiry Concerning Public Duty and Private Interest have been taken, staff contemplating employment with a business organisation after separation from the Service should, at an early stage, seek guidance from their Permanent Head or the Public Service Board, if there is any possibility that questions of propriety could arise.
– I believe that a question along those lines ought properly be directed to the Minister responsible for Public Service matters or possibly the Minister for Defence rather than to me as the Minister for Post and Telecommunications.
-The Minister for Foreign Affairs will be aware of the Conference of Commonwealth Finance Ministers held in Malta last week. Has the Treasurer informed the Minister of the outcome of his discussions with the Maltese Prime Minister and other officials? I trust that the Treasurer was able to express the high regard of the Australian Government for the people of Malta. But was he able to clarify the difficulties that have existed between the Australian and Maltese governments? Was this the first visit of an Australian Minister to Malta for many years? What has been the outcome of any discussions?
– Yes, it was the first visit of an Australian Minister to Malta for a considerable period. I think it is fairly well known that the Australian Government has been concerned for some time about the relatively poor state of relations existing between Malta and Australia and has publicly stated its desire to see the relations restored to their former warmth. In this spirit and in response to an official request, we recently offered the Maltese Government training awards in veterinary science. More particularly and more recently, and at my request, the Treasurer during his visit to Malta for the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Conference met with the Maltese Prime Minister, Mr Mintoff, and his deputy to register at the highest level the Government’s desire to see an improvement in the relationship. I am advised- this has been confirmed since the Treasurer’s return- that the meeting was helpful, friendly and constructive. It dealt in general terms with trade, commercial and immigration matters. The Government believes that it was a very useful step in that it has paved the way for both countries to work to improve relations to our mutual advantage. One immediate direct result of the meeting is that we expect shortly to welcome to Australia the Maltese Minister of Labour, Culture and Welfare.
– There has been a preliminary report to me on this matter. I am waiting for further advice and until that advice comes I am not in a position to make any comment.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. I refer to the decision by Telecom Australia to implement Access 80 as from 1 May 1980. Will the
Minister consider the practicability of the inclusion of all telephone numbers covered by Access 80 in metropolitan telephone directories?
-That is an interesting and helpful idea. I will ask the Australian Telecommunications Commission to consider it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Home Affairs. As it is now3½ years since the Horton report on public libraries was presented to this Parliament, I ask the Minister Has the Government, in the Minister’s own words, formulated any views on this report yet? When will such views be presented to this Parliament?
– The Government has given consideration to this report and I hope to be able to make a statement on the matter shortly.
-During Question Time, the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck), in commencing a question to the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon), got in a second question to me about the parliamentary steps. I wish to inform the House that I have been concerned that they are slippery and do represent some danger to people. I am in the process of doing something about it.
– For the information of honourable members I present the Department of Industry and Commerce annual report 1978-79.
– For the information of honourable members I present the annual report of the Department of Primary Industry 1978-79.
– For the information of honourable members I present the text of a statement by the Minister for Education relating to programs of the education commissions for 1980.
-I have received a letter from the honourable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The need for the Government to re-consider its industrial relations policy in view of the recently disclosed hostility of certain members of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to current legislative proposals.
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-
– Under the Standing Orders it is not possible for me to debate matters of substance relating to amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which went through this House last week and which are now to go before the Senate. Of course I accept that. My purpose in initiating this debate is not to till over old ground but rather to raise concern about a number of matters which developed in the course of a not very long weekend ‘s recess of this Parliament. It transpired over the weekend that not only does a former President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, and a particularly distinguished one at that, totally oppose the amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, but so too does at least one presidential member and so too does every commissioner of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission- all 25 of them. Furthermore, tomorrow the 25 commissioners will be meeting with the President and the deputy presidents of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to discuss their dissatisfaction and their disenchantment with the way in which these amendments have been railroaded through the Parliament and to express concern that the operation of the amendments, once enacted, will completely undermine the authority and credibility of their functioning as commissioners. Indeed, I expect that they will probably want to raise what is clearly the unconstitutionality of the legislation which is to go before the Senate and which is about to be enacted. Those are matters of great moment for this House to be concerned about.
For the sake of the record and the currency of this debate, it is necessary for me to outline the major provisions of the amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act without debating them. The amendments will give a Minister the right to start deregistration of a union or part of one engaging in any industrial action harming community safety, health or welfare. They will require an arbitration commissioner to consult his deputy president before making or varying an award on wages and conditions; provide for the quick hearing of stand-down applications either before a single member of the Commission or a Full Bench; allow the Commission President to withdraw a matter from another member of the Commission and deal with it himself or refer it to a Full Bench; stop the Commission agreeing to any employer paying wages to workers when they are engaged in industrial action; enable an industrial dispute to be referred to a Full Bench at the conciliation stage and make it possible for . the question of whether an industrial dispute exists to be referred to the Full Bench at the conciliation stage. As has been made clear in debate from this side of the Parliament and throughout the community- not just from the trade union and professional association side of the community but from employer representatives toothese represent draconian powers and will bring into discredit the conciliation and arbitration system of this country. More than that, they will make the stern majesty and fairness of the law, which are generally presented to the community as its quality, an authority put into the stifling grip of the least dignified and the most unfair Prime Minister in this country’s history.
The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made it clear at Question Time today that the sole purpose, the essential thrust, of these amendments was to bring expedition to the processes of conciliation and arbitration in a way which the Government favoured. In doing this, it completely undermines the standing and confidence of participants in the conciliation and arbitration system in this country. In short, the Government has sought to put a noose around the impartiality of justice and its practice in conciliation and arbitration procedures in this country.
The evidence, quite clearly, is this: This legislation was rushed through the Parliament because the Government was panicking. It suddenly realised that there was significant important opposition to what it was proposing and not just in the community. Exceptionally important opposition to what the Government was proposing came from at least one serving presidential member of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission as well as from every commissioner. That is a remarkable result. There are 25 commissioners. They are drawn from diverse backgrounds in the community. Mainly they are senior representatives from the union movement, from government or from the employers. In spite of the gulf of differences that separates these people in terms of their background, there was no dispute as to their concern at the implications of this legislation and the enormous damage it would do to conciliation and arbitration in this country.
Let us put on record some of the facts about developments that took place over the weekend. What it boils down to is that because of disclosures over the weekend the Minister for Industrial Relations (Mr Street), on behalf of the Government, has sought to conceal essential information from the Parliament. He has sought to submerge important detail that should have been available in the debate. Accordingly, he has set upon a tack designed to mislead the Parliament and the Australian people. The debate commenced in the Parliament on 9 October. That in itself was curious because it came on quite unexpectedly. On 10 October the debate was suddenly gagged. The Government, displaying obvious panic the cause of which we could not discern at that stage, was keen to get the amending legislation through this House of the Parliament through the Senate and to obtain the appropriate authorisation for the legislation. On 10 October a telex arrived from the Association of Conciliation and Arbitration Commissioners making it clear that they unanimously opposed this legislation. How can any government propose that legislation which is to provide the essentials of justice can function when the people who have to administer and to deliberate upon those principles of justice have no confidence in it and condemn it?
The Minister did not suddenly discover this opposition on 10 October when the telex arrived. The record shows that the opposition goes back as far as July this year when a deputation representing the Conciliation and Arbitration commissioners called on him expressing its concern about proposed changes to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. On 20 September, as the Minister would well know from the contacts he has available to him from within the functions serving the Commission, there was a meeting of the Association of Conciliation and Arbitration Commissioners at which the 25 commissioners, irrespective of their diverse backgrounds and the differences that separate them because of those backgrounds and their approaches to many factors and irrespective of the fact that they are all government appointees, protested about the implications of this legislation and the way in which it would erode rapidly the credibility of the conciliation and arbitration procedures in this country. Of course, on 10 October the telex arived. The objections are not trivial, as the Minister for Industrial Relations has sought to suggest to the Parliament in an effort to gloss over what is a very serious problem.
Frankly, I do not believe it is overstating the position to say it is moving to crisis proportions because it could well prove, after tomorrow, that objections come from not just one presidential member of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, together with all the commissioners, but also other presidential members. This is a very serious situation. It is moving to the point of wholesale opposition to, of wholesale revolt against, what the Government is trying to do. These objections are being expressed for the sake of the credibility and proper functioning of the Commission and, I believe, properly so. There are two major parts of the legislation which concern the commissioners. Once the amendments become legislation, there is the obligation for commissioners to consult with their deputy president in certain circumstances where award conditions are going to be amended. No conciliation and arbitration system can function in those circumstances. It means that the commissioners will have to take their copybook to the headmaster when they have about completed every exercise they have been obliged to undertake. They have to take it in this circumstance to a headmaster- no matter how reluctant they might be to do so and how school boyish they feel the procedures to be- who knows absolutely nothing about the details of the hearing in which they have been seeking to conciliate and arbitrate. This is constitutional.
There is a stack of case law already established on this particular point. Part of the judgment of the High Court of Australia, in the case of the Australian Railways Union v. Victorian Railways Commissioner states:
A law which enables a body of persons to settle a dispute by issuing a decree arrived at by discussion amongst themselves without any hearing or determination between the disputants is, in our opinion, not a law with respect to Conciliation and Arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes and is not authorised by sec. S 1 (xxxv.) of the Constitution.
Without labouring the point, it is quite clear that there is already a determination, a binding case law decision, of the High Court of Australia which makes this sort of procedure unconstitutional. But more than that, it will destroy the self-confidence of the commissioners and it will destroy the confidence of participants in the procedures of conciliation and arbitration if this procedure is imposed on the commissioners who are supposed to be fulfilling their responsibilities.
There is provision for deregistration. It is inflammatory, it is terribly controversial and it will cause all sorts of problems for the commissioners in their efforts to try to bring about conciliation and arbitration. It strikes at the very basis of the concept of conciliation and arbitration. I repeat that it is unconstitutional because under section 5 1 (xxxv) of the Constitution it is made clear that the Parliament has authority to pass laws in relation to the arbitration and conciliation of industrial disputes, but the Parliament does not have authority to tell the responsible body set up for that purpose what it should do in arbitration or conciliation procedures or what it must determine in certain circumstances. That would strike at the very heart of the concept of conciliation and arbitration.
One of the presidential members of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has also expressed his opposition, his grave misgivings, about the nature of this legislation. On 28 September Mr Justice Staples circularised his fellow commissioners. On 1 October or 2 October the Minister’s office received at least one copy- it is suggested that there were three copies- of Mr Justice Staples’ letter. On 1 1 October, after the telex from the commissioners had been received in the Minister’s office, a member of the Minister’s staff circulated copies of Mr Justice Staples’ letter to his fellow presidential members, to commissioners of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and to members of the Press in the Press Gallery in Canberra. This was all part of an exercise designed by the Government to try to destroy the credibility and standing of Mr Justice Staples. What the Government did was to embark upon a program of vilification based on fictitious assertions in a desperate effort to try to undermine any credibility that Mr Justice Staples might have had. For instance, on the night of 12 October, on the ABC program PM, the Minister stated:
The position as it stands at the moment is that as I mentioned I’m astounded at the language of the document coming from someone with a title of judge. That I have given a copy of the document to the Attorney-General and that no doubt in due course he 11 be giving his comments.
There are two matters there: He was astounded, and he repeated that again today, some four days later, and he was implying a threat when he said that he had passed it on to the AttorneyGeneral. On 12 October, the same day, the Minister was asked this question on Newsvoice:
Is a Judge not entitled to make any comment at all on proposed legislation?
The Minister replied:
I would think it’s unusual.
That is not an honest statement; that is not the sort of statement which should come from an informed Minister in this matter. It is general practice, frequently followed by the judiciary, to make critical comments about the law from the Bench.
– From the Bench.
– It is an important source of law reform. Let me quote another case from earlier this year when Mr Justice Matthews, President of the Queensland Industrial Court, called the court into special session and from the Bench castigated the Premier and the President of the National Party, Sir Robert Sparkes, for their attempted interference in the affairs of his court. It was subsequently disclosed that Mr Justice Matthews had instructed the Crown Law Office to commence necessary proceedings against the Premier for contempt. He later suspended the proceedings. The honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) interjected: From the Bench’. What about Sir Lawrence Street who left no doubt about where he stood in relation to the proposals for a national court put forward by the Attorney-General (Senator Durack). He referred to them as offering the Australian nation a mess of pottage. I refer to Sir Garfield Barwick ‘s outrageous advice to Sir John Kerr, which he later acted upon, advice which gave the stamp of authority to quite improper behaviour on the part of Sir John Kerr. In both the case of Mr Justice Street and Sir Garfield Barwick neither advice was given from the court.
This has been an expedition to blacken Mr Justice Staples. Let me give a summary of what has happened. The Parliament has been deceived. The Government panicked after it received the telex of 10 October and on 11 October it sought to gag debate and at the same time embarked on a program to blacken Mr Justice Staples. It sought to traduce his character in the most outrageous, misrepresenting manner imaginable. The Government is acting unconstitutionally, as has been made clear by Sir Richard Kirby, former President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The Government sought to convert the conciliation and arbitration system into a heavy mallet in the Government’s hands to stamp its will on what should be an independent judicial process, and to destroy confidence in it.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I refer to a question asked of me at Question Time today by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) in which he asked whether any member of my staff made available copies of a statement by Mr Justice Staples dated 28 September 1979 concerning the amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act that were then before the House. I have ascertained that subsequent- I stress that word subsequent’- to that document being made a matter of public record, specifically on the ABC radio program PM on the evening of 1 1 October, a member of my staff made copies available to several members of the Press Gallery. I point out that this was some hours after the comments were made public. The initial release of this document was not made by my office but by persons unknown to me or to any person in my office.
The Leader of the Opposition has represented the current amendments to the Act as giving the Government draconian powers. Of course that is completely untrue. All institutions require adaptation from time to time; circumstances change, and the legislative and institutional framework needs corresponding change to cope with those changed circumstances.
The allegation was made also that the proposed amendments would damage the conciliation and arbitration system and its procedures. I emphasise that those particular amendments are designed specifically to maintain consistency in the Commission. I will be saying a little more about that later on. Those amendments are in response to needs which have emerged. The next allegation made was that some of the proposed amendments were unconstitutional. I emphasise again that the Government’s advice is that the amendments are constitutional. The amendment which requires consultation between commissioners and their deputy president does not interfere with the commissioner’s right to make a decision. If it did there might be some validity in the charge that the amendments were unconstitutional. All the amendment does is require consultation with the deputy president in charge of the panel to which the commissioner belongs. The final decision rests with the commissioner himself. There is” nothing unconstitutional in that.
I turn now to what the Leader of the Opposition said about allegations regarding Mr Justice Staples’ comments, namely, that there was an implied threat to Mr Justice Staples in my mentioning that I referred His Honour’s letter to the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) for the Attorney-General’s comment. In view of the questions raised about the constitutionality or otherwise of the amendments, naturally I wanted the Attorney-General to look specifically at the points raised by Mr Justice Staples. I have now received the Attorney-General’s comments and he has reaffirmed the advice which I gave earlier and which he gave to me; that is, that there is nothing in Mr Justice Staples’ comments in his letter which would lead the Attorney-General to change his advice to the Government that the amendments are in fact constitutional. Those are the principal issues raised by the Leader of the Opposition.
It is apparent that in this debate the Opposition has set out to confuse and to attempt to hide the central issue. This debate is about one issue, and that is whether the Government has an obligation to improve the operation of the conciliation and arbitration system so that industrial disruption can be reduced and the community relieved of the inconvenience and damage that such disruption causes. The Government believes that it has such an obligation. As I mentioned a moment ago, if the Government is to undertake that obligation to the public interest, the system, the institutions and the legislative framework which lays down that obligation require change from time to time in the light of experience. That is why we propose to make certain amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. No amount of distortion or waffle from the Leader of the Opposition or anybody else can be allowed to obscure that central fact. At the Labor Party’s conference in Adelaide its attitude to the responsibility of government to the community in regard to industrial relations was made clear. At that conference the Labor Party abrogated any responsibility of government; it said that unions should be able to conduct their affairs free of government or judicial interference. The Opposition has raised this matter in a futile attempt to hide its lack of genuine concern for the public in industrial relations. The public is our prime concern, and it will remain so.
I turn to the matter which is of concern to the commissioners about the proposed amendment, namely that they must consult with their respective deputy presidents before making a variation to an award in respect of wages and conditions. As I have said, the main purpose of the amendment is to ensure consistency in the application of principles formulated within the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission itself for the settlement of disputes. I emphasise that in the past the vast majority of decisions made by the Commission have been consistent with the Commission’s own guidelines. But there have been a few occasions on which decisions were given which could not in any way be described as consistent. As a result anomalies were created, expectations were raised among certain powerful unions and the community was forced to suffer a great deal from the industrial disruption which followed. This amendment is designed to provide greater consistency and thereby relieve the community from the serious harm that such disruption causes. That apparently is a matter of no concern to the Opposition. The commissioners have expressed their concern to me that in the proposed amendment they have to consult with their deputy president.
I come back to the constitutional issue that was raised by the Leader of the Opposition. I point out that the proposed requirement is procedural in nature. There are any number of cases which illustrate that as long as the amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act are procedural in nature, there is nothing unconstitutional in them because no legislative controls are imposed over how a commissioner may exercise his discretionary powers to prevent and settle industrial disputes. Nor will a commissioner be subject to direction by a presidenta member of the Commission. Consultation does not entail the substitution of one decision for another. I referred to that a moment ago.
In answer to a question today I pointed out that members of the Commission are already assigned to panels. They work closely with a presidenta member and therefore some degree of consultation is already built into the Commission. Experience has shown that this consultation has enhanced the work of the Commission despite some initial reservations expressed at the time these panels were introduced about seven years ago. A more formal requirement of consultation would further develop the principle which has been established and enhance the work of the Commission by promoting greater consistency in decision-making. The panel system has proved its worth and there is nothing unique about the reservations the commissoners have raised in relation to the present proposed amendments.
The requirement of consultation will enhance the integrity of any award which is made as the parties interests are considered and an equitable decision is made on the basis of existing principles used in other award determinations. I point out that a very similar provision has been part of the Public Service Arbitration Act for about seven years. It has worked to the satisfaction of both the office of Public Service Arbitrator and the people who come before him in his jurisdiction. The Government sees no reason why such consultation will not work just as well in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
One further point needs to be made. It is ridiculous for an Opposition in government virtually to abandon the use of formal consultation in industrial relations. It is nonsense for the Opposition to try to argue in this place that this Government is not prepared to consult. As usual we are prepared to consult on this proposed legislation. In answer to a question today I said that following Press reports about proposed amendments to the Act I received a request from the commissioners to see them. Although this was an unusual request in my experience, I agreed to meet them. At that meeting they put forward their views about possible amendments requiring consultation with deputy presidentstheir panel leaders- and references were made to Full Bench matters. I told the commissioners that when the Government was looking at amendments- the Government was doing so at that time- the matters which they put forward were considered as part of the total consideration which is normal in the formulation of any proposed legislation, particularly legislation affecting the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
The latest representation from the commissioners- I have already mentioned this matter- raised no valid point that has not already been considered in the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill now before the Parliament. Consequently the Government sees no need to re-examine the legislation. I point out that the Government also sought to consult with national representatives of employers and trade unions on this proposed legislation. The members of the Opposition who make such a lot of noise about consultation might go back to their friends in the trade union movement and ask them what views they put when they had the opportunity. When they get nothing but silence, they might ask the trade unions why they did not put any views at all. The Government established the National Labour Consultative Council as a statutory body for precisely that purpose. As I said in my second reading speech, the amendments were scheduled to be discussed at the twelfth meeting of the Council on 6 August this year. The unions advised me that they would not be attending. I wrote back to the unions on 26
July stressing the importance that the Government placed on the role of the Council; but for reasons of their own they declined to attend.
I return to the point that I made a minute or two ago. The debate is really about what the aims of a responsible government should be in the conduct of industrial relations. We believe that those aims should be to establish a framework which meets the needs of all parties while at the same time protecting the interests of the community. We also believe that long term improvements to the standard of industrial relations must come from closer communication and consultation between employers and employees at all levels of our economy. We have moved vigorously and responsibly towards both of these aims. But, for its part, all the Opposition can contribute is a number of misleading statements designed to obscure the Government’s objective and to hide its own irresponsible and discredited policies of ‘hands off the unions’ and the highest wages for those with the most muscle’. No amount of trying to obscure the real issues behind this legislation can hide that. Quite apart from the procedural amendments which I have described, another part of the legislationthis was referred to briefly by the Leader of the Opposition- provides for accelerated deregistration procedures for unions or sections of unions whose actions are substantially adversely affecting the safety, health or welfare of the community. The Government makes no apology whatsoever for taking what might normally be described as unusual procedures to deal with such situations. If people in the community see that their safety, health and welfare are being affected, they naturally expect their government to take action to protect them. It has been made clear here today that the Labor Party is not prepared to do that and, indeed, would vigorously oppose any action by the government to do that. We do not intend to drop our responsibilities so easily. We intend to go ahead with the proposed legislation.
– It was very interesting to hear again the second reading speech of the Minister for Industrial Relations (Mr Street) but it did not throw any light on the new predicament which has arisen in Australia subsequent upon the legislation dealing with amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act being steamrolled through this chamber last Tuesday and Wednesday. I warned the Government that steamrolling bad laws through the House of Representatives would not go unnoticed in the community, and it has not. The people in the most important section of the community in that respect- the people who are actually involved in the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission- have made their positions known.
It is of great interest to know that the first piece of legislation that has come into this House dealing with the Conciliation and Arbitration Act since the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) set up his own unit on industrial relations has had to be such a draconian measure. Putting the Prime Minister of this country, John Malcolm Fraser, in charge of industrial relations, is like putting Frankenstein in charge of Medibank. His consideration for the welfare of the people, as far as this legislation is concerned, is nil. He has become the chief spokesman. Yesterday, and again today at Question Time, he let it be known to everybody concerned, everybody who was interested, that in no circumstances would any suggestion in terms of amending the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill, which is now before the Senate, be taken into account. We can take it for granted that this Prime Minister is treating the Parliament with complete hypocrisy. Debate means nothing to this Prime Minister. Irrespective of what Government members say, the legislation that was brought into this House at the behest of the industrial relations unit in the Prime Minister’s Department must go through in exactly the same form as it was presented here last Tuesday. The fact that no decent amount of time was made available for the legislation to be debated in this House means that the Government is severely embarrassed now that the commissioners and deputy presidents have made their position clear.
I wish to refer to one incident in relation to the Government’s stand since these criticisms were made known. I refer to last night’s Australian Broadcasting Commission program PM. On that program, Ms Julie Flynn stated:
The Government is confident that the legislation will stand up to a High Court challenge, and has dismissed Mr Justice Staples’ criticisms by pointing out that he is a former member of the Communist Party.
The Government’s argument is to accuse anybody who criticises its legislation of having had some political leanings in the past that were contrary to the view of most people in Australia and to say that subsequently those criticisms cannot be taken into account. We lived with that attitude in the 1950s and 1960s and with this Prime Minister we have it returned at the end of the 1970s and it will be taken into the 1980s. I hope that every young person in this country realises what we are running back into with this Prime
Minister- the principle that we defeat a person in argument by branding him a communist and in that way we do not have to listen to his criticisms or suggestions.
The Minister said today that he did not release Mr Justice Staples’ letter until PM had exposed the letter in its program last Thursday night. I ask the Minister to look carefully at the transcript of PM. I do not believe that PM had the document which was referred to by the Minister. I believe that they knew of the existence of the document but that they did not quote exactly from it. I believe that the Minister has made a very grave mistake in his relationship with the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in releasing a document which was sent to him confidentially by a presidential member of the Commission. He deliberately and consciously sent that document to the Press in order to denigrate that person and then had members of the Government following it up by saying that the person who produced the document was a member of the Communist Party 30 or 40 years ago or whatever period it may have been. Talk about the old Nazi politics.
Let us have a look at the traditional relationship between this Parliament and members of the Commission. We should remember that the vast majority of people who sit on the Commission either as presidential members or as commissioners were appointed by LiberalNational Country Party governments. In the case of commissioners, 20 out of 25 were appointed by Liberal-National Country Party governments. Twenty out of 25 commissioners who have protested to this Government about the legislation which was steamrolled through this Parliament were in fact appointed by a LiberalNational Country Party government. The overwhelming majority of presidential members were appointed by Liberal-National Country Party governments. They are the people who have criticised the Government as to the way in which this legislation has been drafted and the way in which it will affect the relationship between the Commission and the Government. The Government cannot say that 20 out of the 25 commissioners are communists or that the majority of presidential members are communists. Sooner or later someone in the Government will have enough guts to argue the criticisms that have been made of this legislation. Obviously, those who have made criticisms are entitled to do so because they are the people who will have to work under the legislation.
If we look at the previous relationships that existed between governments and the Commission we find that under a series of Liberal
Party Ministers- Mr Harold Holt, Sir William McMahon and Mr Leslie Bury- and under Labor Ministers, Mr Clyde Cameron and former Senator James McClelland, on every occasion when it was mooted that legislation affecting the Commission was to be introduced, the Commission was conferred with. People sat down and said: ‘Look, here is the draft legislation that we have in mind. Have a look at it and give us your views’. There is no evidence at all that on this occasion the Government has conferred with the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission on these most draconian measures which interfere with the way in which the Commission deals with cases which come before it. The Minister shrugs and says: ‘It is not unconstitutional. We have an opinion that says it is not unconstitutional’.
What interpretation did the Government give to the person giving the opinion? Did the Government say to the person giving the opinion that ‘consult’ means that we merely tell the deputy president that we have made a decision, or did it say that ‘consult’ means that we will be at the behest of the deputy president, that the deputy president has power to change the decision without hearing the case? Much depends on the way in which the Government asks for the opinion and on what grounds it was based. That we do not know. I put it to honourable members that the relationship between the Government and the Commission is set up in the Constitution so there will be as little as possible political interference with its role. We have seen a government of this country defeated because it tried to dismantle the powers of the Commission and refer them back to the States. We know that with the judiciary it is important that there is no political interference, although one could have seen by the role of Sir Garfield Barwick in 1975- if people like to read his speech to the National Press Club subsequent upon that event- that Sir Garfield Barwick is not outside playing his own political role. So in those events the criticisms of Mr Justice Staples and the commissioners fall on very deaf ears. The Government is critical of the Staples letter. Mr Justice Staples said of what happened in New South Wales:
In April 1 979, 26 judges of the New South Wales Supreme Court including the Chief Justice Sir Laurence Street signed a letter which was critical of a proposal by New South Wales Attorney-General Mr Walker to create a new Criminal Law Division in the Supreme Court.
This letter was subsequently leaked to the Press and published.
Of course, the Sydney Morning Herald, the flagship of the establishment of this country, has a different standard when it is dealing with the criticisms of the Labor Government when compared with the criticisms of the Liberal Government because the Sydney Morning Herald in that case was very quick to jump on the bandwagon and to say what a terrible thing this was that the Attorney-General of New South Wales, Mr Frank Walker, was doing. The paper gave front line headlines to this matter and then wrote an editorial about it. Today, of course, because the criticism is of a Liberal government- if one has a look at today’s editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald- it makes one think that this newspaper must release its leader writers out of Taronga Zoo every night so that they can write the leaders because they are so deficient of any commonsense in relation to the argument that is now before us.
If time allowed one could go through the way in which this Government is trying to denigrate the role of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in this country. It wants the Commission to stay. It has not gone so far as to say that it wants to dismantle it completely. It wants a puppet. It wants a puppet both in the way the Commission deals with the wage cases and any other matter that comes before it. If we read through the pages and pages of rhetoric and criticism that the Government has made of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission we can see that the Government is terribly concerned that the Commission is, in fact, independent. The Government must, therefore, do something or take some action to interfere with that independence. In the Bill that is to come before the Senate- it is going to be steamrolled through the Senate according to the Prime Minister; it will be law in the next week or so- or in regard to the national wage cases, this Government is not prepared to see the traditional independence of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission maintained. We on this side of the House overwhelmingly want to see the independence of the Commission maintained, as do the people involved in industrial relations throughout Australia. The Government will be sorry for the day it interfered.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-What is very obvious in this debate today is that the Opposition’s case here is weaker than water. We heard one of the most pathetic efforts from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) I think we have heard since he has been Opposition Leader. I think what Mr R. J. Hawke, the endorsed candidate for Wills, heard today must give him great hope. The Leader of the Opposition spoke about the impartiality of justice and talked about the damage to the conciliation and arbitration system. I would like to tell the House that the damage to the conciliation and arbitration system has, in fact, been done by the Opposition. It has been done by the Leader of the Opposition in his speech to this House today because he asked how a government could function if the people who administer laws have no confidence in it. What the Leader of the Opposition is doing is magnifying informal consultations between the Minister for Industrial Relations (Mr Street) and the commissioners into the public arena and bringing it into public focus so that, in fact, the Commission runs the risk of being attacked as it has been attacked, I believe, by the Opposition here today. The danger is to the rule of law and to the independence of the judiciary and quasi-judicial authorities and administrative bodies like the Commission. The Opposition’s attack has been completely irresponsible.
The Leader of the Opposition based his attack on some informal discussions made ex cathedra and has magnified them. The law means nothing to the Leader of the Opposition. If the law is unconstitutional as the lawyer Leader of the Opposition seems to think it is, then the High Court of Australia is the place to test that law. The Government does not shrink from that. The Government believes the Bill is constitutional. But if it is not it is up to parties to take it to the High Court because it is the rule of law that we are talking about. The scant regard for the rule of law by the Opposition is something we all ought to be very very concerned about. In fact, Mr R. J. Hawke in July last year, in one of the most outrageous attacks on the impartiality, independence and integrity of the judiciary, accused the High Court of raping the Australian people through its decisions on tax matters. I am quoting from the Sydney Morning Herald of 78 July. Mr Hawke is reported to have said:
That is the attitude of the Opposition, I presume, to the institutions of this country. I think it is an attack on the rule of law itself, because the High Court is the place where these matters ought to be decided- whether things are constitutional. For the Leader of the Opposition to get up in this House today and give the weak speech that he did is really, I think, disturbing to the people of Australia.
Let us look at the speech of the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young). I think it was the worst speech he has ever made. He referred to the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) being in charge of industrial relations.
He said that the Prime Minister is the chief spokesman for the Government. He is the Prime Minister of the land. I am not sure whether the honourable member for Port Adelaide is the spokesman for industrial relations or not. His leader said that he would make a good industrial relations spokesman on the back bench because if the newly endorsed candidate for Wills is elected he would be the industrial relations spokesman. I am not sure who is the spokesman on industrial relations in the Opposition. The honourable member for Port Adelaide made a very rattled speech. He kicked the communist can, he attacked the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth and talked about the denigration of the Government in wanting the Commission to be the puppet of the Government. What utter balderdash; what utter rubbish. The Government wants an independent, and believes it has an independent, Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to conciliate and arbitrate in the public interests in Australia. We know who the puppets are; every member of the Australian Labor Party in this House is, in fact, a puppet of the trade union movement because the trade union movement controls the Australian Labor Party. There is no doubt about that. There is no cry from the Opposition about that because it is absolutely true.
There is no need for the Government to reconsider its industrial relations policy. The Minister for Industrial Relations has adequately described the consultations he has been involved in. This legislation has gone through every proper process. It has been prepared in a perfectly normal way and, like every other piece of legislation before this House, every proper procedure has been entered into. I think that ought to be made perfectly clear to the Opposition. I think we need to look at the role of the Commission in this matter. Commissioners take an oath when they are appointed that they will faithfully and impartially perform the duties of their office.
Under section 1 1a of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act they are given the same protection and immunity as judges of the courts. They are not judges. They are in a halfway land between administrative officers and members of the judiciary. But they are given the same protection and immunity as a judge of the court. With that goes great responsibility. I am sure the commissioners would not deny that. What I think the Commission is probably concerned about today is that the Opposition has magnified some informal consultations that the members have had with the Minister out of all proportion and placed them in the public arena. If the Opposition and the media highlight those comments made by the commissioners, I believe that we are on the threshold of looking at and damaging some of our fundamental institutions in Australia today. We are talking about the rule of law, we are talking about the independence of the judiciary and members of the Commission. For the first time, I think, we have to look at the role of the commission- and the Commission. I think the role of the ccmissioners is to administer impartially the Act, their conciliation and arbitration functions and carry out their functions under that Act.
Commissioners will be able to comment on the inadequacies of the existing law when making decisions and awards and when they are conciliating and arbitrating. We are on a dangerous threshold when private views of members of the Commission become public property. The rule of law is paramount. Under the Westminster system, inherent in this principle that parliament is the place where laws are made, this House and the Senate are the places where industrial relations laws of Federal jurisdiction are made. If the laws that we make are bad or inadequate it is for the High Court to say so. That is basic to the rule of law. The courts have to administer justice. As I have said, the Arbitration Commission is in a half-way area when carrying out its functions and its powers under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act; but it is a very important area and the commissioners have to act informally on many occasions. There’ are panels of commissioners in respect of particular industries. All these things are vital if we are to have adequate and proper conciliation and arbitration.
The Act has to be informal. We do not want a strict Act. The Government has enacted legislation to improve the industrial relations framework in this country. It is legislation which I think is proper and adequate and is an improvement of the existing situation for settling industrial disputes. The legislation improves the Act and the ability of the Commission to conciliate and arbitrate in the public interest so that the Commission can function properly and see that there are orderly and principled industrial relations in this country. That is what it is all about. We want to promote goodwill in industry and encourage and provide the means for conciliation with a view to amicable agreement, thereby preventing and settling industrial disputes. Those are some of the objects of the Act.
This legislation strengthens the Act. It strengthens the ability of the Commission to promote goodwill in industry, and to settle, conciliate and arbitrate. We have strengthened the President’s position. We have given the President more power. We have given the deputy presidents more authority. There is no derogation from or diminution of power whatever in the legislation that is the subject of discussion today. Rather, there has been a strengthening of it. I am sure that the community supports the Government. It supports what the Government is doing. The Commission has the power to deregister when it believes that there will be an adverse effect on the safety, health or welfare of a community. I am sure that the people of Australia support that power.
Parliament is the place where the final decisions are made. The Government is on the right course. The Government’s legislation is sound. The legislation is designed to promote and protect the individual against abuse of trade union power. The Government’s amendments to the legislation set out to provide a framework for peaceful and orderly industrial relations in this country. I have the utmost confidence in the Minister and that this legislation is absolutely right for the country.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. The discussion is now concluded.
Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to insert two new offences in the Crimes (Aircraft) Act to deal with threats and false statements directed at Commonwealth aerodromes and air navigation facilities, and with conduct that endangers or is likely to endanger those places or the safety of persons using those places.
Whilst bomb hoax telephone calls involving threats and warnings that explosive devices have been placed in airport buildings and facilities are a relatively new phenomenon in Australia, the incidence of such calls is on the increase. In order to ensure the safety of persons using those premises, each threat call must be treated as genuine until subsequent action proves it otherwise. This will often necessitate a thorough search of the relevant airport, baggage and waiting passengers. In several cases, it has been necessary to recall aircraft in flight. Furthermore, fake as well as home made bombs have been found at airports in recent times. These bombs, had they exploded, would have at the very least caused panic due to the smoke they would have generated. Incidents of the type I have just mentioned often lead to delays and considerable inconvenience of passengers and other persons at airports as well as adding to the costs of the airline companies.
Whilst the Telecommunications (General) ByLaws made under the Telecommunications Act 1975 deal with hoax telephone calls and State laws make offences some of the other actions causing concern, it is considered that, having regard to the seriousness of these actions, special provision should be made for these matters in the Crimes (Aircraft) Act 1963. Sections 17 and 19 of that Act already proscribe similar actions in relation to aircraft. Moreover, the penalties provided in respect of the proposed new offences correspond to those specified in sections 17 and 1 9 of the Crimes (Aircraft) Act.
I turn now to the specific provisions of the Bill. As will be noted, clause 4 inserts in the Crimes (Aircraft) Act a new Part IIIA, titled ‘Crimes Affecting Certain Aerodromes and Air Navigation Facilities’, containing sections 20 A, 20B and 20c. Proposed new section 20A defines Commonwealth aerodrome’ and ‘Commonwealth air navigation facilities’ in terms of Commonwealth-owned aerodromes and facilities. When this legislation has been enacted by the Parliament, the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral will have discussions with the State Attorneys-General with a view to the enactment of similar laws to cover airports within the responsibility of State governments.
Proposed new section 20b makes it an offence, punishable by a maximum of 7 years imprisonment, for a person to do any act or thing that, to his knowledge, is likely to endanger the safety of a Commonwealth aerodrome or any Commonwealth air navigation facilities, or persons who are, or may be, within the limits of those premises. New sub-section 20c (1) will make it an offence, punishable by a maximum of 2 years imprisonment, to threaten to destroy, damage or endanger the safety of a Commonwealth aerodrome or Commonwealth air navigation facilities or to threaten to kill or injure persons who are, or may be, within the limits of those premises. Proposed new sub-section 20C (2) makes it an offence, punishable by a maximum of 2 years imprisonment, falsely to threaten to take or exercise control, by force or violence, of a Commonwealth aerodrome or Commonwealth air navigation facilities, or to destroy, damage or endanger the safety of or to kill or injure persons who are, or may be, within the limits of such an aerodrome or facilities.
Clause 5 amends section 26 of the Crimes (Aircraft) Act 1963 to extend the existing power of search provided in that section with respect to aircraft to cover persons, luggage, freight or vehicles found within the limits of the subject aerodromes or facilities where a person authorised to make searches for the purposes of the section reasonably suspects that an offence against Part IIIa has been or may be committed. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Lionel Bowen) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
Consideration of Senate’s amendment.
Page 4, clause 8, proposed sub-section 7e(2), line 45, leave out “notice “, insert “notification by the Minister”.
– I move:
That the amendment be agreed to.
This is purely a drafting amendment in relation to proposed new section 7E (2) which appears in clause 8 of the Bill at page 4, line 45. It reads: a notification under sub-section ( 1 ) given by the Minister to an authorized officer ceases to have effect upon the giving to the authorized officer of a notice stating that the notification under sub-section ( 1 ) has ceased to have effect.
The amendment proposes that the word ‘notice’ be replaced by ‘notification by the Minister’. The Government agrees that there is no difference in meaning between ‘notice’ and ‘notification’ and accepts ‘notification’. The Opposition’s proposed addition of the words ‘by the Minister’, whilst not strictly legally necessary from the point of statutory interpretation, seems nonetheless desirable for the sake of clarity. We therefore accept the amendment.
- Mr Drummond, I have nothing to add.
Amendment agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 23 August, on motion by Mr John McLeay :
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-This Bill before us seeks to amend that section of the Remuneration Tribunals Act which deals with the Academic Salaries Tribunal. It will be remembered that in 1974 the then Labor Government established the Academic Salaries Tribunal to overcome a serious problem which had developed throughout Australian universities and colleges of advanced education because until that time there had been no set procedure for the determination of academic salaries. Instead, there had been regular periods of squabbling over the appropriate level of academic salaries. The problem developed because of the increased role of the Commonwealth in relation to the funding of tertiary education institutions coupled with the fact that those institutions were, and still are, autonomous institutions established under State laws. So whilst the Commonwealth had no direct power, as in the role of an employer, to take a role in the setting of academic salaries, it was the Commonwealth which substantially provided the funds for the payment of the salaries. Therefore it was impossible for the institutions to agree to increase the level of academic salaries without the concurrence of the Commonwealth. So in 1974 the Academic Salaries Tribunal was established to put an end to all the squabbling which had previously taken place. Since that time we have had a period of comparative peace. Academic salaries were reviewed in a very broad sense in 1 976 and since then there have been regular increases in line with increases in the cost of living. As the Minister for Administrative Services (Mr John McLeay) said in his second reading speech:
The purpose of this Bill is to allow the Tribunal to make determinations or reports on academic salaries for: Firstly, newly establish Commonwealth tertiary institutions; secondly, new categories of academic staff; and thirdly, particular categories of staff in all States and Territories for either universities, colleges of advanced education or both; without having to undertake a general review. By extending the Act to cover these three areas it will be possible to clear up the outstanding matters.
The Bill also corrects an ambiguity as to whether the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 covers technical and further education institutions. This ambiguity resulted from the creation of the Tertiary Education Commission which encompasses these institutions. It was never intended that the Tribunal should cover these institutions and the effect of this Bill will be to exclude them.
The idea of these amendments is to make it possible for the Academic Salaries Tribunal to make recommendations and to report on certain aspects of academic salaries without having to conduct a general review of all academic salaries.
The Opposition does not oppose these amendment, but I want to take this opportunity to make some remarks about the work of the Tribunal. I turn to the question of Commonwealth postgraduate awards. Whilst it is not within the purview of the Academic Salaries Tribunal to report on or to fix these awards it is my view that the Remuneration Tribunal Act should be extended so that the Tribunal can report to the Government and make recommendations about the value of these awards. The position has become desperate in the last couple of years because of the declining purchasing power of Commonwealth post-graduate awards. The awards were last increased in January 1978 and since that time we have seen an erosion of their value in two main ways. The first, of course, is the toll that inflation has taken on the purchasing power of the awards. Prior to going into any detail I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard a brief table.
The table read as follows-
Quarter ending December 1976-222.8
Quarter ending June 1979-274.3
Quarter ending December 1980*- 312.1.
Taxed from 1 November, 1978
Not increased for 1979 or 1980.
To maintain this value, in December 1980 prices, this would need to be
which in dollar terms is $5,600.
In order to get $5,600 after tax in December 1980 prices, the award would need to be valued at $6,4 10. (Using 32 per cent tax rate, because December 1980 is after the lifting of the surcharge, and assuming the surcharge is not reapplied, and using $3,893 tax threshold.)
The relationship is:
Taxable income = taxed income + (taxable incomethreshold) x tax rate.
Thus, in January 1977 terms, the award is worth:
(That is, to have the same buying power in December 1980, as it had in January 1977, and pay tax, the award would need to be $6,410 per year).
-I thank the House. This table was previously incorporated by my colleague in another place and it sets out the manner of the decline in value of these awards. One factor has been the effect of inflation on these awards since they were last reviewed in January 1978. This table was prepared on the basis of what the value of the awards would need to be in December 1980 to maintain their, real value. It was prepared in the context of the level to which awards should have been increased in the Budget but were not. The table shows that in order to have the equivalent value in December 1980 as they would have had in January 1977, the awards should have a value now of $5,600 rather than their present value of $4,200. So, a substantial increase should have been made to these awards in order for them to retain their purchasing power.
The other factor which is also very important is that the Government decided that these awards should be taxed. This also has resulted in a substantial decline in the purchasing power of those awards. Because of these two factors- the refusal to index the awards to take account of inflation and the taxation of the awards- the awards are now very substantially undervalued compared with their value at the time when they were last increased. If the awards were to have the same purchasing power which they had in January 1977 they would have to be at a level of $6,410. That is some $2,200 more than their present level. It seems to me that the recipients of Commonwealth post-graduate awards are getting into exactly the same position as academic employees were in prior to the establishment of the Academic Salaries Tribunal. It is my view that the Government ought to give consideration to amending the part of the Remuneration Tribunal Act that relates to the Academic Salaries Tribunal to allow that Tribunal to make recommendations on the appropriate level of Commonwealth post-graduate awards. By introducing taxation of these awards the Government was trying to remove them from the area of comparability with tertiary allowances, and some other scholarships. Presumably it was saying that this was an income in the form of salary and therefore it ought to be taxed. It seems to me that, if the Government is saying that, it ought to go to the next stage and include the salaries among those on which the Academic Salaries Tribunal can make recommendations. If that does not happen, we will see a position develop in which Commonwealth post-graduate awards will become less and less adequate to support post-graduate students.
The recipients of these awards are a relatively small group. They are relatively unorganised. They are scattered throughout the universities and their ability to bring pressure on the Government and to argue for an increase in their awards is very limited. It seems to me only fair that the amount they are paid ought to keep pace at least with the increase in the cost of living. The salary for these people ought to be viewed in the context of the very important research in which they are engaged in universities and colleges of advanced education. At a time when this country is confronted with the problems of the need for research into technology, new processes and so on, it seems to me to be all the more important that we ought to be encouraging rather than discouraging people who are prepared to work in this area. It has now become a great struggle for people to continue at or go back to university in post-graduate work because of the financial burden which is imposed on them and their families. The Government has on numerous occasions expressed the view that research is very important. Massive support has been given to private enterprise in the area of research and development but at the same time we are making it more and more difficult for post-graduate work to be conducted in tertiary institutions.
I want to refer briefly to one other matter relating to academics working in our tertiary institutions. Universities are in a state of zero growth. The number of new positions which are being created in universities is very limited. In some departments, the effects will be catastrophic in years to come. In some departments, especially in the smaller departments, no new academic staff appointments will be made for several years. There will be no vacancies for 10 to 20 years and as a consequence, the work of those departments will be greatly stultified. I think everybody will agree that it is important for there to be some influx of new ideas and new people into academic institutions but because of the financial constraints placed on universities this is not happening. All that is happening is that departments are becoming full of academics who are getting older and older. It seems to me that this is something to which the Government ought to address itself. The Tribunal may also make a contribution in this area by making recommendations aimed at increasing the flexibility in relation to the transfer of staff between departments and institutions. For instance, there is the possibility of an expansion of part-time work within universities so that in a situation in which the average age of those in the academic community is on the increase, there ought to be an opportunity for the older members of academic staff to move into part-time occupations and to bring in new people to take up the part of the work that they necessarily vacate.
As I understand it, the Tribunal does not make recommendations in relation to what ought to be appropriate rates of pay for part-time academic staff or related matters including superannuation payments and other employment conditions. These are a couple of areas in which the Tribunal might properly become involved in order to correct a developing situation consequent upon the financial constraints which have been placed on universities.
The amendments in the legislation are of a minor nature. They do point in the direction of allowing the Tribunal greater flexibility and scope in carrying out its work. I have referred to a couple of areas in which I think the Government could give consideration so as to expand further the scope of the work of the Tribunal and increase its flexibility.
-I support the Remuneration Tribunals Amendment Bill (No. 3) which, as the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Dawkins) said, is of a minor technical nature. The legislation provides in Part II for greater flexibility in the work of the Academic Salaries Tribunal. The Tribunal will have flexibility in three areas so as to allow it to investigate and to report independently on a number of matters without having to undertake a general review as it has had to do under the provisions of the existing legislation. The Tribunal may, without having a general review make determinations or reports on academic salaries for, firstly, newly established Commonwealth tertiary institutions, secondly, for new categories of academic staff and, thirdly, particular categories of staff in all States and Territories for either universities, colleges of advanced education or both.
One aspect of the Remuneration Tribunals Act which needed attention related to the confusion whether there was power in the Act to recommend salary levels for institutions other than colleges of advanced education and universities, that is, those created by the Tertiary Education Commission which encompasses all three levels of post-secondary education. The amendment makes the distinction and clearly establishes the fact that the Tribunal has responsibility for the top two levels of the post-secondary education sector but not for the technical and further education area.
One point raised by the honourable member for Fremantle with which I find myself in agreement is the difficulty involving part-time staff at academic institutions. One of the insidious diseases that has been afflicting a number of our tertiary institutions in recent times is the development of top heaviness of the staff structure. The opportunities for juniors to gain employment and become full-time members of the staffing establishment at universities or colleges have become more and more limited. Consequently, there is a certain amount of aging and perhaps even self-perpetuating inertia in the higher levels of university and college departments. This is largely as a result of the inability of institutions to take on replacement staff from junior levels. I agree with the honourable member that there is a need for the Tribunal to look at the position of part-time staff members. However, there is one area in regard to which I do not agree that the honourable member’s remarks were relevant. I do not imagine that the Tribunal has responsibility for resolving salary levels for recipients of Commonwealth post-graduate awards. Perhaps that is a matter that could be looked at by the Tribunal but personally I do not believe that it necessarily comes within the purview of the Tribunal under the present legislation.
Finally, I would like to make some comments- I shall seek leave to incorporate some documents in this regard later- on the comparative salary levels applying for academic staff in Australia as opposed to certain other occupations. There has been some considerable debate over a period that academic salaries have fallen behind those of other sectors and shortly I will seek leave to incorporate in Hansard some comparative documents which I believe refute that claim. The documents relate to the June quarter 1974 and the June quarter 1979. That period was chosen because that was the period over which previous data was requested by the Members Conditions Committee of the Government in relation to parliamentary salaries. The comparison for that period is made between academic salaries, including the salaries of high school principals in New South Wales, and average weekly earnings, the consumer price index, weighted average minimum weekly rates of pay for both male and female- Federal and Stateand for Commonwealth Public Service salaries and basic salaries for Commonwealth senators and members.
It may be of interest to honourable members that during this period, the consumer price index, that is, the weighted average for the six capital cities, increased by some 75 per cent. Likewise, average weekly earnings, on a seasonally adjusted basis, increased by 83 per cent. Weighted average minimum weekly rates of pay for male and female, both Federal and State, were of a similar order- some 80 per cent to an 83 per cent increase. On the other hand, Commonwealth Public Service salaries increased in that time by about 48 per cent to a maximum of 54 per cent, depending on the division and the level. Interestingly, the basic salaries of members and senators increased by only 34 per cent in that period whereas academic salaries overall increased by some 73 per cent to 87 per cent, the largest increase, of course, being in the tutor range where a considerable catch-up provision applied. In general, the average increase in academic salaries for professors down through to senior lecturers and lecturers, was some 73 per cent to 80 per cent. Incidentally, the salaries of high school principals, at least in New South Wales, increased over that period by some 69 per cent. So those figures certainly lay to rest any significant claims that academic salaries have fallen well behind the relativities of other standards within the community. Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to have these tables incorporated in Hansard.
The tables read as follows-
-I do not wish to take up the time of the House any further, but I make the point that the proposed legislation before the House is of a relatively minor machinery nature.
I believe that it will make for much greater working flexibility with the Academic Salaries Tribunal as it is affected by Part II of the Remuneration Tribunals Act 1973.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr John McLeay) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 20 September.
-When the debate on the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Bill 1979 was adjourned some four weeks ago, this chamber was debating the amendment moved by the Opposition that the words ‘or hatred’ be eliminated from clause 5(1) (c). I said before the adjournment of the debate that there were three reasons for being cautious about the introduction of ‘promoting hatred’ as part of the definition of ‘subversion’. For all those honourable members who have been hanging on my words for four weeks, let me explain what are those three reasons for acting with great caution in allowing the words ‘or hatred’ to remain as part of the definition of subversion’. At the moment, the definition refers to: activities directed to promoting violence or hatred between different groups of persons in the Australian community so as to endanger the peace, order or good government of the Commonwealth.
We propose that the words ‘or hatred’ be eliminated from that clause.
First of all, the Government has frequently relied on the authority of Mr Justice Hope. It is important to note that Mr Justice Hope, in his very comprehensive suggestions for the definition of subversion’, did not include in that definition the words ‘promoting hatred between different groups of persons in the Australian community’. So, insofar as the Government itself has relied very much on the authority of Mr Justice Hope, it is not justified in doing so in this case. In fact, Mr Justice Hope went through very carefully the various possibilities of this definition. He certainly made no attempt to include these very dangerous words in the definition. So, that is the first reason for asking the chamber to support the Opposition’s amendment. This clause certainly does not have the authority of the man whom the Government has relied on very much in this whole debate about definitions.
Secondly, the word ‘ hatred ‘ is the most subjective and vague of all the words introduced into these definitions. It is possible, for instance, to set up criteria for ‘violence’ so that one can make a judgment about it, but it is extremely difficult indeed, to set up clear criteria for defining and identifying ‘ promoting hatred ‘. ‘ Hatred ‘ is much more subjective and much more vague.
The third reason for asking honourable members to reject this proposal is that by introducing ‘hatred’ into the definition, one moves the definition of ‘subversion’ much more clearly into the domestic politics scene than any other of the words used. Basically this is a society which is a pluralist democracy in which there is competition between groups in the society. Sometimes that competition will descend into quite strong verbal conflict, and it is extremely difficult to distinguish that verbal conflict from promoting or inciting hatred. Therefore, all of us and many activists in the community are likely to fall within the definition of subversion ‘ in the ordinary spirited political debate that takes place in this society. For that reason- the third reason- one cautions against introducing into this definition words which subject much of the active and vigorous political debate in the society to the intervention of ASIO. Thus this House should support the Opposition amendment because inciting hatred between groups is very difficult to define; secondly, Mr Justice Hope has not recommended this in the definition; and thirdly, it strikes at the heart of the conflicted political system that we have.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Lionel Bowen’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman- Mr P. H. Drummond)
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Original question put-
That the clause be agreed to. The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman- Mr P. H. Drummond)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses 6 and 7- by leave- taken together and agreed to.
Proposed new clause 7A.
– I move:
After clause 7, page 3, insert the following clause: 7a. ( 1) Whenever a warrant is issued by the Minister under Division 2 of Pan III, the Minister shall notify the Leader of the Opposition without delay informing him of the person or the premises to whom, or to which, the warrant relates.
The Leader of the Opposition may request the Director-General to inform him as to whether there is in existence any file, dossier or record concerning a particular person and the Director-General shall comply with that request but nothing in this section entitles the Leader of the Opposition to access to any file, dossier or record concerning a particular individual. ‘.
For the benefit of all honourable members, I point out that we are now back to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Bill after a lapse of one month. One of the propositions that the Opposition has been most anxious to emphasise is a bipartisan attitude on security. We are proposing the insertion of a new clause 7a which provides:
For the benefit of all who are interested we are talking about warrants which, when issued, will affect any number of citizens in Australia. They include search warrants under which premises can be entered; warrants relating to the use of listening devices by means of which people can have their conversations listened in to; warrants relating to the inspection of postal articles whereby mail can be intercepted and, as would follow, particularly in respect of the Bill relating to telecommunications interception, warrants for the tapping of telephones. This is a most serious invasion of privacy in Australia. It does not relate to the need for action to be taken because some criminal activity has taken place; it is merely ostensibly to gain knowledge or intelligence. The Opposition does not object to that but there has to be some accountability and a bipartisan attitude. If democracy is going to survive, it is essential in the security area that we have a bipartisan attitude and an understanding of what information is being obtained, against whom it is being obtained, and a guarantee that it will not be misused or abused. This is the greatest problem.
In the United States in recent times, particularly under Nixon, people were virtually tapping each other’s telephones. This contributes nothing to the stability of government. It leads to all sorts of outrageous imputations being made against others and it really destroys the whole fabric of democracy. We regard this amendment as one that would be appropriate to any parliament because it talks about the Opposition. It is true that oppositions become governments, and from that point of view governments become oppositions. Our amendment provides that the Leader of the Opposition may be informed or, as in the second part of the amendment, may request the Director-General to inform him whether there is in existence any file, dossier or record concerning a particular person, and the Director-General should comply with that request. This would not entitle the Leader of the Opposition to have access to the file, dossier or record concerning a particular individual for the very obvious reason that he should not have details of the information, but the existence of the file is important.
It is a guarantee that files will not be commenced with the knowledged that they will never be found out. It is a guarantee that if files are commenced they will be found out because any Leader of the Opposition worth his salt, and they all are, will find out what is the position. If he thinks there is something wrong being done he will get up in the Parliament and say so. There could to no better guarantee for the people of Australia who are interested in the question of security, and it relates particularly to politicians themselves.
The whole debate in the Senate seemed to be on the basis that one read ‘Leader of the Opposition’ as always being the leader of the Australian Labor Party and one could not give him this information. This is far from the true position. I refer to what Mr Justice Hope said in his report, volume 1, page 219, paragraph 461, on the question of a bipartisan attitude. He said:
The absence of express Parliamentary supervision is correlative to a bipartisan approach to security matters. If security is to be the subject of a partisan approach, the basis of what I have recommended about supervision goes.
Mr Justice Hope quotes what Rebecca West says in her The New Meaning of Treason : and this (to lift matters out of party politics) is indeed necessary. Security is literally concerned with security: with safety: with the survival of this country and, indeed, this globe’.
Mr Justice Hope went on to say:
If there is to be a bipartisan approach it is necessary that the opposition party or parties should be informed about security matters, and the appropriate way to do this is by consultation between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, and by reports by the Director-General of Security to the Leader of the Opposition.
He mentions not just one report, but reports. He continued:
This practice is regarded as basic in various pans of the democratic world and should be regarded as basic in Australia.
Let me add further weight to the argument. One of the doubtful advantages of the long periods for which the Parliament adjourns when we are trying to discuss legislation such as this and trying to get a bipartisan attitude is the fact that we have a chance for the media to help us at times. Both the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) and I appeared on the television program Nationwide on 20 September. We were discussing the proposed new clause 7A of the Security Intelligence Organization Bill. I remind the present Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) what the Attorney-General said about the question of a bipartisan attitude. In the course of the interview with Mr Carleton I said:
We want to know why the warrants were issued, for whom they were issued, so that there can be complete accountability because unfortunately . . . information gained can be misused and abused, and it has happened.
Senator Durack said:
But the legislation does provide for the Leader of the Opposition to be regularly briefed on the operations of ASIO . . .
Being regularly briefed is not good enough; we want full information. Senator Durack went on:
Yes, but the Director-General will tell him -
I take it that by ‘him ‘ he meant the Leader of the Opposition- if he ‘asks him how many warrants have been issued.
I went on to say that we want to know the reasons. Senator Durack said:
But we thoroughly agree with a bipartisan approach, it’s essential . . . and that is why we have provided for the Leader of the Opposition to be given as much information about ASIO as he seeks.
If we are going to get as much information about ASIO as we seek, we should get the lot. It is very simple. It is not that we want to use all the information, but I am sure that the Minister at the table understands our position. I again made the point to the Attorney-General in the course of this television interview:
Mr Attorney, we have moved amendments that the Leader of the Opposition have access to all information. You’ve objected to it. Can I read into what you have said tonight you’re prepared to instruct your colleagues to accept the amendments?
The Attorney-General did not say no, he just said: ‘I want to assure you that I do not want the Minister to get too involved in all the detail But it is a question of the Leader of the Opposition, if requested and required to do so, having to get involved in detail, although not all the detail. But he should ‘have the opportunity to have that information.
If our proposed new clause 7a is looked at rationally and reasonably on a bipartisan basis, it will be seen that it will not destroy security because the Leader of the Opposition will have to vouch for the validity of his interest in the matter. Honourable members can imagine that if the Leader of the Opposition asked for something that was improper, the Government would refuse to accede to his request and it would denigrate him in the Parliament for so doing. So there is no problem in that regard. The proposed new clause is completely in accordance with what Mr Justice Hope said about bipartisanship. All the Opposition is talking about is the strengthening of the Bill. If this amendment were accepted the Opposition would have virtually achieved most of the amendments to which we referred in our objections to the legislation. If there is silence on this issue then the people of Australia will feel that their privacy has been invaded for reasons that are not at all fair. Senator Durack finished that interview by saying:
Well, I would just like to emphasise that bi-partisan character of it and the fact that the Leader of the Opposition is going to be informed of … as much details as really, as the Minister himself is getting.
I put it to you, Mr Deputy Chairman, and to the Minister through you, that if we are to be informed of as much detail as the Minister is getting, why does the Government not accept our amendment? We do not want to arise the situation of the Minister being instructed to oppose our amendments and his own Attorney-General saying to the people of Australia on Nationwide: They can have every bit of information they want’. The veracity and credibility of what the Attorney-General has said must surely come by the Government’s accepting this amendment. Because of the information that the Opposition has been able to get since we last debated this matter, I ask again: Will the Minister at the table please consult with the Attorney-General, if he has not already done so- he might not have had a chance to look at this record of interview- and get information from the Attorney-General as to why he will not now accept proposed new clause 7A? Its acceptance would defuse a lot of heat in the issue. As long as there is an invasion of privacy and as long as the Leader of the Opposition is not entitled to the information, there will always be difficulty in relation to this matter.
-The Australian Security Intelligence Organization Bill broadly legitimises the use of totalitarian techniques, even if it is done in the name of democracy, and removes such use from scrutiny and accountability in the Parliament. The amendment proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) is a compromise proposal. It concedes more to the point of view expressed by the Government than many people in the Labor Party, both inside and outside this chamber, would want. The amendment is a compromise proposal; it does not involve bringing the activities of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation under complete public scrutiny, even within this House. However, the amendment does involve taking the democratic operations of the Parliament on trust.
The Bill asks the Parliament to take ASIO absolutely on trust. In our amendment we ask whether it is fair enough for ASIO to be prepared to take on trust the alternative Prime Minister of the day- the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) in this Parliament- and to give the alternative Prime Minister the same right to be informed as the Attorney-General or the appropriate Minister of the day. That does not seem to be a very unreasonable proposition. It is notorious that leaders of the opposition in Great Britain have been quite heavily involved in security matters. There is always a political argument as to how far leaders of the opposition ought to be involved because to some extent they may be compromised. Their involvement may ultimately inhibit the possibility of their getting up and attacking some particular action inside the Parliament.
The position put by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is eminently reasonable. We ought to be able to have a quid pro quo. If the Parliament is expected to take ASIO on trust when we know little or nothing about its operating methods or how it goes about its business, then ASIO ought to be prepared to go to at least some length and take the alternative Prime Minister of this nation on trust.
-The amendment proposed by the Opposition is designed to extend the bipartisan approach by which the Opposition believes the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Bill ought to be approached. I adopt the terminology of my colleague, the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones), and the references made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen). This Bill enables our security organisation to have powers that on any view of it greatly infringe upon and impede the rights and the liberties of the Australian citizen. It is unfortunately true that in the past the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and its powers have been used for party political partisan purposes. I refer the House to the very strong and principled statements of Mr Justice Hope on this very issue. In the fourth report, volume 1, page 2 1 9 at paragraph 46 1 , His Honour stated:
If there is to be a bipartisan approach it is necessary that the opposition pany or parties should be informed about security matters, and the appropriate way to do this is by consultation between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, and by reports by the Director-General of Security to the Leader of the Opposition. This practice is regarded as basic in various parts of the democratic world and should be regarded as basic in Australia. With a truly bipartisan approach I think that supervision by the executive and, where appropriate, by a review tribunal, will protect both the interests of the nation and the interests of citizens.
I think that is a statement of high principle. I believe that if it is followed by this Committee it will have the effect of taking ASIO to an position where it can command the respect and support of the community, because the average member of the community will know that whatever changes of government take place, the Leader of the Opposition, whether he be a member of the Liberal Party, the Labor Party or the National Country Party, will, as a matter of right, be fully informed. That is a tremendously valuable safeguard to the operations of the very considerable powers that we are giving under this legislation. I, for one, commend that safeguard. It would not matter if I were a member of a Labor government and this Bill were our legislation, I would say that the security and the protection of the rights and liberties of the Australian people would be enhanced and safeguarded by the simple fact that the Leader of the Opposition whoever he may be- whether it is the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) or the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) who is sitting at the table, or anyone of a host of prominent members of the Liberal Party- would be kept fully informed as of right within the terminology of the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. That would have one very great safeguard. It would safeguard the rights and liberties of the Australian people against any temptation by the Attorney-General of the day to use the very considerable processes within this legislation for bipartisan purposes. I believe that that is the great safeguard embodied in the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
It is a matter of principle. I do not think that any of us like the provisions in this Bill. We reluctantly believe that many of these powers are necessary for a security organisation, but in giving those powers to a security organisation we need to have a system of checks and balances to ensure that the prerogatives of this Parliament and through those prerogatives the rights of the Australian people, are maintained. If the view that has been expressed by the principal spokesman for the Government on this matter to the effect that the Leader of the Opposition will be fully informed is correct, there should be no objection to this amendment because that would spell out the situation and make it perfectly clear. If this amendment were to be accepted, many of the arguments that have already been put forward in respect of the legislation could be transfigured inasmuch as the people of Australia would know that, whatever changes of government or of personnel take place, the Leader of the Opposition as spokesman for the alternative government must as of right be kept fully informed of the exercise of those powers which strike most at the rights and liberties of the average citizen. I commend the remarks of the
Deputy Leader of the Opposition and of my colleague, the honourable member for Lalor.
-The Government is not able to accept the proposed amendment. Whilst I can understand the Opposition, in the name of a bipartisan approach to security in Australia, seeking to be as fully informed as possible about the activities of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, I think there are places where the functions of government must be separated from and seen to be distinct from the need for information to be provided to the Opposition. One cannot take away from the fact that the Government has certain responsibilities through the legislation and as part of the normal functions of executive government.
When one looks at Division 2 of Part III of the Bill which details the special powers of the Director-General of ASIO in respect of the entry of premises, listening devices and the inspection of postal articles, one sees that it is necessary for a warrant to be obtained before those special powers can be exercised and that that warrant must be obtained from and given by the responsible Minister- in this case the Attorney-General. That is the first point to appreciate. There is a statutory responsibility on the Attorney-General to satisfy himself about certain matters before he issues a warrant. There is a statutory responsibility on the Director-General to provide certain information to the Attorney-General so that the Attorney’s responsibility can be properly exercised in order to ensure that the civil liberties of an individual are properly protected.
The specific request made here is that the Leader of the Opposition should be informed of each and every warrant that is issued. I point out that the Prime Minister, for example, is not to be informed of individual warrants. The provision of such information to the Prime Minister, let alone to the Leader of the Opposition, would be contrary to the general principle that Ministers should not ordinarily receive information in detail of the Organisation’s activities. This Division provides that certain information must be provided in order that the Attorney-General may properly exercise his responsibility of being satisfied that it is necessary for the warrant to be issued before that is actually done. The AttorneyGeneral (Senator Durack) discussed this particular amendment, which was put forward by the Opposition in the Senate. His comments are recorded at page 1388 of Hansard of 5 April 1979. The Attorney-General also accepted in the Senate a proposal which now appears as clause 21, which states:
The Director-General shall consult regularly with the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives for the purpose of keeping him informed on matters relating to security.
Again, the Attorney agreed to the provision in clause 94, that a copy of the annual report which is provided to the Attorney-General by the Director-General shall also be provided to the Leader of the Opposition with the corresponding duty on the Leader of the Opposition to treat it as secret. Those provisions show the concern of the Government to bring a bipartisan approach to the operation of ASIO consistent with the responsibilities of government and with the special nature of the Organisation itself. I think there is an important distinction between a statutory requirement to provide the Leader of the Opposition with specific information about each warrant that is issued, and leaving it to the Leader of the Opposition, when the DirectorGeneral consults with him, to seek such further information about the exercise of the special powers as he may want to know. I think that is a far better basis upon which to approach this particular area of the activities of the Organisation. In other words, there is a duty upon the DirectorGeneral to consult with the Leader of the Opposition and to keep the Leader of the Opposition informed on matters relating to security. Within that process it is left for the Leader of the Opposition to seek what further information he desires, if he is concerned to know how the issue of warrants is managed, the number of warrants that are issued, how they are handled by the Director-General and so on.
I think, without going into any further detail of what the Attorney-General said in the Senate, I can understand fully the points that he made in the television interview between himself and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. What the Attorney-General was doing, in the encapsulated form in which he must speak before the television camera within the time constraints that we know operate at such times, was really saying essentially what he said at great length in the Senate as I have referred to at page 1387 of Hansard. I think that really, looked at in that way, our declining to accept this amendment in no way detracts from our concern as a government to bring to bear a bipartisan approach to the operation of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
– I appreciate what the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) is saying because I do not think he has the authority to alter the legislation. I would ask him again to look at what we are about in this situation. In a television program subsequent to our last discussion on the matter, I raised this question with his Attorney-General (Senator Durack). It was not just an abbreviated discussion; we spent most of the discussion on this issue of what information would be given to the Leader of the Opposition. The Attorney-General adverted to it on no less than five occasions and said that the Leader of the Opposition would have access to all the information. The transcript from the programs shows his own voluntary conclusion. He said:
I would just like to emphasise that bi-partisan character of it and the fact that the Leader of the Opposition is going to be informed of the, as much details as really, the Minister himself is getting.
The honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) has reminded me of a discussion in the Senate on 5 April. The Attorney-General in the Senate, when dealing with these amendments, then said: ‘Well, look, I think they are in order, but I cannot accept the whole package. But there is nothing wrong with clause 7A.(1) The Attorney-General did accept the principles of clauses 7A.(1) and 7a.(4). However, we are taking about proposed new clauses 7a.( 1 ) and 7a.(2) here. Perhaps the proper thing for me to do is to put 7a.( 1 ) separately because we have the Attorney-General himself saying that he accepts the principle of that proposed new clause. I would appreciate it if the Minister had a chance to listen to what I am saying. He seems to have had other interruptions. What I am saying is that in the Senate on 5 April the AttorneyGeneral said that he accepted the principles of clause 7A.( 1 ), but that he could not accept the package of all of the proposed new clauses. We can put to you now: Why cannot we deal with the proposed new clauses separately?
Again, I put it to honourable members that in the speech that the Attorney-General made to the nation on Nationwide he said that the Leader of the Opposition would be given as much detail as the Minister. Let me answer what the Minister said. The Minister said that this is a function of government and therefore, because it is a function of government, the Leader of the Opposition cannot really have all the information that would be available to the Attorney-General. Let me make it very clear. The particular function of government that the Minister is talking about is the issue of warrants. They are going to interfere with the rights of people who vote for members of the Opposition as well as voting for members of the Government. The question in a democracy is that those people have a need to know that if warrants are being issued that they are being issued on a proper basis. We can go right through the course of history and find that if certain powers are given to certain people warrants can be issued and we may never know for what reason. Honourable members will notice that in the function of government we are not asking that we be given all the information. We merely want to know the name of the person who is involved or the premises. We want to know that because there is some guarantee then. In other words, how ridiculous it looks from a bipartisan attitude if someone gets in touch with the Leader of the Opposition and says: ‘I feel there has been an interception of my mail’. How much better it is if the Leader of the Opposition says: ‘I can give an assurance that there is no problem ‘. If he says that he cannot find out, that it is left to the Minister and he may not tell him, this does not give any credibility to what we are about in this country. In fact, all of us who have held office in the governing of this country know the number of people who feel, quite genuinely, that their telephone is being tapped or that information is being used. It is so much more effective if we can say that there is a bipartisan attitude on this basis and that the wrong thing will not be done.
Let me refer to Mr Justice White’s report on the special branch in South Australia. He heads Part 16 ‘The Danger and Bias of the Files on Political Matters’. On page 52 of that report he says that files were held on all elected State Labor leaders. The report states:
Interest in extreme right-wing organisations paled into insignificance. Interest in moderate right-wing opinion was virtually non-esistent. Interest in centre, moderate left, radical and extreme left opinion was the main pre-occupation. Like the Maginot Line, all defences against anticipated subversion, real or imagined, were built on one side.
Mr Justice White goes on to say:
Special Branch criteria . . . were based, rather, on the unreasoned assumption that any person who thought or acted less conservatively than suited the security force were likely to be potential dangers to the security of the nation.
Again, Mr Justice White makes the point that members who were interested in, for example, university activities and civil liberties were all brought under notice. He makes the further point that many of those who were forerunners of the civil liberties movement are now judges, magistrates or prominent persons in public or service life. All these people had files and cards prepared on them because that was the fallacy of the situation. What we are concerned about here again is the fallacy that can happen in what the Minister says is a function of government. I know that no intelligent responsible Minister would allow that to happen. I know that there are difficulties of office. I am certain that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) does not want to know all the details, but the point we are making is that a Minister knows all the details and if a Prime Minister wanted to know anything on the question of warrants he would be told by his Minister. There is no doubt about that.
– By the Attorney-General.
-He is the appropriate Minister. Do not let us confuse it. I am arguing about what the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs has said in this place. He said that the Prime Minister would not know. I am making the point that the Prime Minister would certainly be told by his Attorney-General if that were the situation.
– Not any Minister.
-It happens to be that you can get any range of Ministers who are acting Attorney-General. Do not let us get into the pedantic nonsense of saying it is only one man. As the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock) knows, it is going to come up through the Director-General himself, it is going to come up from his offices, there is going to be a number of agents employed in the operation. All of those people know what is being done. The interesting thing is that they all will know. They can even leave the Public Service and go into private enterprise with a lot of information that they have gained on people, but the Leader of the Opposition- he might well be a Liberal Party member- will never be entitled to know. I think this is ridiculous from the point of view of what the Minister is saying. It certainly is not borne out by what the Attorney-General himself has said. If, as has been pointed out by the honourable member for Lalor, the Attorney-General could have accepted clause 7A(1), why cannot we accept these amendments here now? If in the course of discussion on Nationwide with me the Attorney-General said that the Leader of the Opposition was entitled to as much detail as the Minister himself now has, why cannot we accept not only proposed new clause 7A(1) but proposed new clause 7 a (2)? All they indicate is that there is some information. They do not say that the Leader of the Opposition is entitled to all the details. They merely mean that there has been some proper analysis that there can be accountability in the long run.
That leads into something else we are about in this legislation, a judicial audit. People are entitled to know if their privacy is going to be invaded or if mail is going to be intercepted or their conversation is going to be listened to. That is information that can never be erased from people’s minds. It is in somebody else’s mind. It is in somebody else’s power. It is important that the information will not be utilised. No guarantee exists simply because the Minister is the Attorney-General and he will not misuse it. Who is going to watch the Attorney-General from that point of view? We always need to have some custodian of the custodians. It is important that we get to a bipartisan situation.
The proposed new clause goes to the kernel of bipartisanship. A Leader of the Opposition could tell anybody: ‘I can ascertain the merits of what you are about’. He could make inquiries of the Attorney-General. If the Attorney-General said to him: ‘I do not mind telling you that a warrant has been issued, but I do not want you to disclose the fact to anybody, ‘ I am certain that the Leader of the Opposition would honour an undertaking to that effect; there is no doubt about that. It would be a rather silly situation if the Minister could say: I am not going to tell you because I happen to be the Minister’. Perhaps in six months time that Minister could well be the Leader of the Opposition. As Leader of the Opposition, he would be in possession of information to which he would not be entitled in the normal course of events. The amendment has nothing to do with the functions of government. We are concerned with the question of bipartisanship and ensuring that information is kept within reasonable bounds. The people in Australia should have a guarantee that their civil liberties have not been endangered in any way.
– I want to discuss the concept of a bipartisan approach which we have heard about in this debate. I would like to think that a bipartisan approach was possible; that there could be some degree of conciliation and some recognition of what has already been achieved. The honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) indicated that he was of the view that he had already compromised himself in some way by agreeing to the amendment that the Opposition has put. He said that he would have gone much further, and that in some way this amendment was a compromise. Equally, the original Bill has been changed significantly to the extent that the Leader of the Opposition is to be involved. It was not in the Senate that those amendments were made. Honourable members might recall that before this Bill emerged and was presented in the Senate the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) made a speech in this place in which he indicated that as a result of certain discussions and the expression of views by honourable members on the Government side the Leader of the Opposition was to be involved.
Clearly there has been a bipartisan approach and a considerable movement by the Government to accommodate the views of the Opposition. Yet we are being told that the Government is not being genuinely bipartisan because it has not gone all the way and accepted the position adopted by members of the Australian Labor Party. The honourable member for Lalor, for instance, said: ‘I would have taken a much firmer position. I would not have yielded to such an extent if it were up to me’. That is a strange way of looking at a bipartisan approach. There ought to be some recognition and acknowledgement of the extent to which the Government has already gone in accepting alterations to the legislation.
It is important to look at the officer in whose hands rests the responsibility for warrants and the insurance of warrants. That officer is the Attorney-General. It is not any Minister of the Crown; it is the Attorney-General, the principal law officer of the Government. The AttorneyGeneral is a person who has different responsibilities. As a member of the Government he frequently sees those responsibilities differently from others. There are certain conventions in the way in which he operates. Recently an AttorneyGeneral resigned because he felt that he was being asked by his Government to act in a way which was different from the way in which he thought the Government should be asking him to act. That is a matter that is often commented upon by honourable members opposite. As the principal law officer of the Commonwealth, not any Minister, he will have a function to exercise. Honourable members opposite are asking that a person without the responsibilities of the Attorney-General, namely the Leader of the Opposition, be given the same information, or at least a substantial part of the information, that is put before the Attorney-General when the Attorney-General makes a decision whether to issue a warrant. Certainly the Leader of the Opposition is a person who has responsibilities, and his colleagues have a great deal of confidence in him. But he is not sworn, as is a Minister of the Crown or the Attorney-General, to accept certain obligations and commitments. We have already been told by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) that he would make his own judgments as to how it was right and proper to deal with the information that he received. We have already been told that he would see his responsibility as follows: If a person asked him to inquire whether a warrant had been issued in relation to him, and he found that a warrant had not been issued he would assure that person that a warrant had not been issued. If he was contacted by a person against whom a warrant had been issued for a good and proper cause, he would say: ‘Tut, tut. I am sorry. I cannot tell you whether a warrant has been issued ‘. According to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, if anybody else rang and wanted to know whether a warrant had been issued, that person would be told: ‘No warrant has been issued’. If someone rang him up, that person would be able to find out very simply whether a warrant had been issued. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition would simply say: ‘I cannot tell you’. If that was the case the person would know that he was on the list.
– That is silly.
-That is what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said would happen if the information was entrusted to the Leader of the Opposition. Honourable members opposite have got to live with what they say.
– Not necessarily.
-But that is what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said to us during this debate. By way of example he said that was the way in which this information would be used.
-I take a point of order. I do not want to take up the honourable member’s time. I said that if the Attorney-General asked the Leader of the Opposition not to disclose the information he would abide by that direction.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Hon. J. D. M. Dobie)- There is no point of order.
-The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has entered into the debate in an attempt to defuse what I have been saying. I made the point from the example given by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The fact of the matter is that that was the example that he gave to us.
– That is not so.
-What he is saying to me now is that if the Attorney-General said ‘Do not disclose the information that I have given to you in relation to whom warrants have been issued’, he would not disclose that information. That is what he is saying.
– That was said before.
-I do not think that is the basis upon which to make judgments as to whether or not there should be an amendment to an Act of Parliament to give certain rights to a person who, as an individual, will give certain undertakings. If he is replaced by an individual who does not give that undertaking- the undertaking is not recognised in the legislation- the legislation would have to be amended to say that the Attorney-General should refrain from giving to the Leader of the Opposition information about warrants. Whether that information ought to be made available to a Leader of the Opposition would depend upon whether that Leader of the Opposition had given the appropriate undertaking. According to the honourable member that is what it would be dependent upon.
– What about your Attorney’s statement that the Leader of the Opposition could have as much information as he wanted? What about that?
-That is what it would be dependent upon.
– He said the Leader of the Opposition could have full details. How do you reconcile that?
-If the honourable member wants to refer to those points he is changing his argument. The point I made relates to sub-clause ( 1 ) of proposed new clause 7a. It proposes that information in relation to warrants be made available to the Leader of the Opposition. The honourable member is saying that jeopardy to our security system would be avoided by an undertaking given by the present Leader of the Opposition. That is what he is saying. I am saying to him that the whole scheme of the legislation would be dependent upon whether or not that particular Leader of the Opposition gave an undertaking. I do not think that it is the appropriate way for legislation to be drafted.
Sub-clause (2) of proposed new clause 7A deals with a different question, that of the Director-General having to inform the Leader of the Opposition whether there is in existence any file, dossier or record concerning a particular person. The amendment assumes that the existence of a file implies that a particular person is adversely known to ASIO. Again one then has to recognise, on the basis of the argument I was offering in relation to the other clause, that if no file exists and if that person finds out from inquiry to the Leader of the Opposition that no file on him exists- unless that same undertaking is going to be given in relation to proposed new clause 7a (2)- that same person on inquiring whether his civil liberties have been affected could, by asking whether there was a file on him, find out whether he was known to ASIO and draw certain deductions from that. Would it not be nice for a spy if he were able to go along to ASIO and, by asking whether a file was kept on him, find out whether ASIO was monitoring him? What the Opposition is saying is that in a bipartisan way we ought to give that information to the Leader of the Opposition.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Hon. J. D. M. Dobie)- Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I re-enter this debate to deal with two points. One relates to the statement made by the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock) in general argument that one is stuck with what one says, and I refer here to the direct quote of the Attorney-General (Senator Durack). That quote was not dragged out of the air by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen); it was a statement made by the Attorney-General in the public media at a time when, it has to be presumed, he understood and had knowledge of the very considerable rights and powers that he had under this legislation. No one was forcing his arm up his back when he stated clearly and unequivocally that the Leader of the Opposition would be given as much detail as the Minister. I would have thought that statement to mean what it says.
In Division 2, clause 25 ( 1) of the Bill states that the Minister before issuing a warrant is to have reasonable grounds for believing that there are, for example, certain records in premises. It is the Minister’s view that there are reasonable grounds which is a condition precedent to the issuing of a warrant on the application or request of the Director-General of Security. What we are dealing with here is the right of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to break and enter premises, to search those premises and in the course of searching to open any safe or box or blow any particular safe deposit box, to take out any parcel or envelope, to examine any records found therein, to make photographs of them and to remove any records so found. They are very wide powers indeed. Under clause 26 the Attorney-General, again at the request of the Director-General, can exercise his right to Issue a warrant in respect of listening devices. Let us get back to the point which seems to have been overlooked by the honourable member for Dundas. What we are dealing with is interference with the basic rights of the average Australian citizen.
– We are dealing with the security of the country.
– What we are dealing with is the right of the Attorney-General, acting on information in his possession, to say: ‘I think it is perfectly all right if ASIO wants to enter the house of the honourable member for Dundas, to break and enter, to remove documents and make photostat copies of private records because I think ASIO ought to have that information ‘.
I turn to the other statement made by the honourable member for Dundas. He said- I think correctly- that Attorneys-General often have different views as to the way in which they perceive their tasks. I think that is historically correct. I have no doubt that there was a very real difference of approach, for example, between the late Senator Greenwood and Mr Justice Murphy in the discharge of their roles. Just as there can be differences in approach between political opposites I have no doubt there would be such differences between various Ministers operating in the Government at present. Indeed, if the Australian Labor Party attained government there would be a difference of approach among its Ministers too.
It is precisely because there is that difference of approach, that different perception of tasks, that the rights and liberties of Australian citizens would be made more secure if we adopted the phraseology and the standard set by the Attorney-General when he said that he was prepared to make as much detail as possible available to the Leader of the Opposition. We say that it is perfectly reasonable to suggest that application of this principal ought to be written into the Act. Is there anything intrinsically wrong with that? If there were a change of government and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) were the Prime Minister, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) were the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) were the Leader of the Opposition, would anything be more likely to ensure that the Attorney-General did not misuse these very wide powers for party political purposes than the fact that if a warrant was issued the then Leader of the Opposition would be bound to be informed of that fact? There is nothing new or novel about that. I come back to these words of Mr Justice Hope:
This practice is regarded as basic in various parts of the democratic world and should be regarded as basic in Australia. With a truly bipartisan approach I think that supervision by the executive and, where appropriate, by a review tribunal, will protect both the interests of the nation and the interests of citizens.
It is because Attorneys-General perceive their roles differently, and because it cannot be denied that there have been grave abuses in the past, that we believe the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition provides some real check, some real safeguard, on a potential abuse of powers. Is there anyone who could say, having regard to what has occurred in the past, that there would not be an abuse in the future? Is not the purpose of this legislation, is not the reason that we have drawn issue on such a wide range of points to prevent abuses of the powers written into the Bill? Members on both sides are concerned to see that there should be no repetition of some of the abuses that have taken place in the past.
In my home State at present a retired justice and a senior police officer are going through the process of extracting and burning the files on some hundreds of thousands of perfectly reputable citizens. I do not believe there is anything outrageous in the amendment proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Of course it is true that there are functions of government which must truly be discharged as an exercise in government responsibility. But we do not diminish from that role by endeavouring to create an intelligence and security organisation which carries the respect of the community, which can be believed to be operating in a truly bipartisan way. We do not diminish the function of the Attorney-General or the responsibilities of the Director-General of Security by writing into the Bill a provision that where these warrants are issued- they involve a very considerable encroachment on powers- information on that matter will be supplied to the Leader of the Opposition? I reject completely the reductio ad absurdum argument of the honourable member for Dundas. He said that telling the Leader of the Opposition would be like putting in a direct link to the Kremlin or to some spy. All the spy would have to do is to telephone the Leader of the Opposition and say: ‘My name is Boris’- if I may use that name again-‘ and I am a spy. I believe a warrant has been issued in respect of me, Mr Leader of the Opposition. Could you tell me whether any such warrants have been issued lately?’ It is suggested that the Leader of the Opposition could then say, after looking up his file: As a matter of fact, I am sorry to tell you that a warrant has been issued’. That is nonsense. We have to look at the standards in other pans of the world. Traditionally this sort of information is made available to the Leader of the Opposition. The amendment refers to information being made available to the alternative Prime Minister who will be bound to pay regard to the conventions of that office and the information will be treated by him in exactly the same way as it is treated as a matter of security by the Attorney-General.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition gave us an example. I didn’t dream it up.
– The honourable member for Dundas, in order to take a schoolboy debating point, deliberately attempted to misconstrue what was said by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, This amendment will go a long way to securing the confidence of at least half the Australian community who at present are concerned about this legislation and want to see legislation which will mean not only that our security force can have the powers that it needs to act but also that the rights and hard won liberties of the people are maintained and are secure. I commend the amendment to the Committee.
-On hearing the kind of approach that has been taken by the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock), we begin to realise how very difficult it is to try to take a bipartisan approach on this extraordinary piece of legislation. The words of the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) are certainly in contradiction to what was said by the Attorney-General in the Senate. We are told ‘Don’t worry about the form of the law. We can always rely on a benevolent Attorney-General or a benevolent DirectorGeneral to act otherwise; the law should not be read too literally’. But as legislators we are obliged to look at the letter of the law. The Opposition’s proposed new clause 7a ( 1 ) has to be read in context. It relates not just to clause 7 but to that Pandora’s box which is found in Division 2 of Part III- the provision that opens access to a whole panoply of powers that we generally associate with totalitarian governments. The bases on which these powers could be used, if at all, have to be examined very carefully and very scrupulously.
The Minister made a point which I must take up because it worries me a lot. If he reads the Hansard report of what he said, he might ponder about it. There was a clear implication in what he said that there are sectional purposes for which the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation exists- specifically as a wing or adjunct of government rather than national purposes which might be expressed and examined in a bipartisan way and in which the Opposition would reasonably be involved. Then there was the curious argument that a partisan approach might be a better protection for the liberties of the subject than a bipartisan approach. That is really very strange. Let me remind the Committee of that great novel Animal Farm by George Orwell. A series of rules was painted on the barn wall. The rules said: ‘No animal shall kill another animal’ and ‘All animals are equal’. After a brief period of rule by the pigs, the other animals came back to see that the rules had been altered slightly to read: ‘No animal shall kill another animal except for just cause’. And they said ‘Naturally we would not go into animal killing unless there was just cause involved’. Another rule was: ‘All animals are equal but some are more equal than others’.
In this legislation there is a similar breaking down of the rule that says in a free society the inviolability of the mail, the inviolability of the telephone and the inviolability of private communication between people are absolute. Honourable members on the Government side are saying: ‘No, that is not exactly what we are saying. That is an absolute right- but not where reasons of state determine otherwise ‘. When we on the Opposition side ask ‘Who determines the reasons of state that overturn the fundamental principle on which a democratic society is based?’ honourable members opposite say: ‘Oh, that is the Minister’. When we ask whether the Minister is subject to any kind of constraint, honourable members opposite say: ‘No, the Minister is a reasonable chap and we leave it to him’. The Opposition’s amendment proposes that there ought to be a caveat. I refer to the professional discipline that the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock) would be more familiar with than matters of civil liberty. He would know about caveats. The Opposition says that the Leader of the Opposition ought to be brought into it. Earlier the honourable member for Dundas interjected: ‘What is going to happen if all the spies find out what is happening?’
Unfortunately, we have a ‘cult of security’ instead of a ‘cult of scepticism’ where things are examined with due proportion. Let me give an example. It is very difficult to find out just what ASIO has done in respect of spies but there is one case history that is worth examining. It occurred in New Zealand which in many ways parallels our society. ASIO’s ugly sister in New Zealand is SIS, the Security Intelligence Service. It found a spy, just one. There was the celebrated spy trial in February 1975. This case is the nearest analogy that could be regarded as appropriate to
Australia. The spy the SIS picked was a beauty and I am sorry that the case was ignored in Australia. This was the case of the celebrated Dr William Ball Sutch, a very eminent New Zealand academic, economist and administrator. His nearest equivalent in Australian terms would be Dr H. C. Coombs. One wonders what sort of ASIO operation might one day be mounted against somebody of the eminence of Dr Coombs. Dr Sutch was the first permanent New Zealand representative in the United Nations, permanent head of the Department of Industries and Commerce, Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth II Council- the equivalent of our Australia Council- and so on. He was arrested as a spy.
-Because while he was out jogging early one morning, one of the people he had been talking to had been an officer of the Russian Embassy who it was indicated ultimately wanted to defect. Dr Sutch was tried for spying. It is the only case of a spy being charged in Australia or New Zealand. Of course, the jury saw the absolute absurdity of the prosecution and Dr Sutch was acquitted. He only had to bear $40,000 in costs and by that stage he was terminally ill with liver cancer and he died in September 1975, 12 months to the day, I think, after being arrested. That is the kind of triumphant success story that ASIO and its relatives have had. In looking at the competence of ASIO, I doubt whether ASIO could track a bleeding elephant through snow. But it can suppress information. It is so maddening to hear the absurdity that is put up to us. Security services such as ASIO seem to have three main functions: Intelligence gathering, intelligence suppression and negative employment. I thought that the negative employment agency within ASIO could, on the basis of past experience, well be run now or in the future by the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch) on a fee-for-service basis.
The recent book Nuclear Disaster in the Urals by Zhores A. Medvedev deals with the operations of the United States Central Intelligence Agency in suppressing the reports of the terrible explosion caused by nuclear wastes late in 1957 in the Russian Ural town of Kyshtym. Information was suppressed for 20 years. It was suppressed by the KGB in Russia and by the CIA in the United States because they were shaking hands with each other. They said: ‘Between your interests and our interests there is no difference at all because we both want nuclear power. We do not want any information that will strengthen the argument against the use of nuclear power to get out. So the result is that, as far as we are concerned, there is no difference between us’. With all this talk of spies and the importance of ASIO and protecting our way of life, we find over and over again evidence of the CIA and the KGB operating collusively. They do what they can to suppress information and to prevent it coming out.
I am concerned about the powers that are to be exercised under Division 2 of Part III. They are so enormous in their significance and so fundamental in the way in which they overturn the general principles that ordinary citizens have the right of free access. I am not going to make that statement so absolute that I would deny that there may conceivably be some hypothetical case where that right might have to be infringed. But I would say this: If those rights were to be infringed, they would have to be on very strong grounds, so great that it was palpably a case where national security was involved. This situation would very rarely occur. It may happen perhaps once or twice in a lifetime; it would not be something which happens three or four times a month, as we understand is the situation in ASIO at the moment. I appeal to the Minister to consider this matter. This is the logical time- we are all going to break off in a few minutes to go to see My Brilliant Career-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Hon. J. D. M. Dobie)- Excuse me, is that the name of a film or a personal attribute?
-There will be some people with brilliant careers at the film showing, including the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen). We need to consider the terrible powers that we are writing into legislation. It is appalling enough that this has been done without any legislative authority, but in a way it may be even more appalling that we should sit here as a parliament, operating on a basis of open scrutiny, and say: ‘No, we are going to pass powers away to a group which operates in the dark, not subject to any kind of scrutiny and not accountable to us ‘. I think that is appalling.
– I want to make two short points. I did not say that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation was to be regarded as a wing of government.
– I said that it was an implication of what you said.
– It was not an implication of what I said. What I understood the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) to say was that really one cannot trust the Attorney-General in the exercise of his statutory responsibility nor in the discharge of his office as Minister according to the oath which he must give to be a reasonable chap but that one can trust the Leader of the Opposition, whoever he or she may be, at any given time to be such a reasonable person to see that the civil liberties of the subjects of Australia are properly protected. The whole point is that in effect the Attorney-General, in the discharge of his statutory and ministerial responsibilities, is seeing that the issue of warrants is properly done according to the law of the land.
The second point I make is that the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Durack) said that he accepted the principles of clause 7A ( 1 ) and 7A (4) of the amendment put forward in the Senate. Those two provisions now appear as clause 21 and clause 94 respectively of the Bill now before the chamber. The Attorney-General in the Senate opposed proposed clauses 7A (2) and (3) which now appear as proposed new clause 7A ( 1 ) and (2) in this chamber.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
That the new clause proposed to be inserted (Mr Lionel Bowen’s amendment) be so inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman-Mr G. O’H. Giles)
Question so resolved in the negative. Clause 8 (Control of Organization).
Clause 8, page 4, lines 4-6, omit paragraph (c).
Clause 8 (c) reads:
Concerning the nature of the advice that should be given by the Organization to a Minister, Department or authority of the Commonwealth.
Honourable members will notice that clause (2) provides in the performance of his functions under the Act the Director-General of Security is subject to the general directions of the Minister but that the Minister is not empowered to override the opinion of the Director-General concerning the nature of the advice that should be given by the Austraiian Security Intelligence Organisation to a Minister, department or authority of the Commonwealth. The sub-clause means that the Minister cannot override the DirectorGeneral in respect of matters concerning the nature of the advice that should be given to a Minister, department or authority. The subclause has been the subject of a lot of discussion in the Senate and also in the second reading debate. It is felt by the Opposition that the Government really does not understand the amendment. It in no way affects paragraphs (a) and (b). Paragraph (a) relates to the collection of intelligence by the Organisation concerning a particular individual. Paragraph (b) relates to the communication of intelligence concerning a particular individual. But we say that paragraph (c), which relates to the nature of the advice which should be given by the Organisation to a Minister, is fundamental to the whole arrangement of an intelligence organisation.
The Opposition is not suggesting that the Minister should be able to direct the DirectorGeneral on whether intelligence should be collected, but that paragraph (c), which concerns advice being given by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to Ministers and departments, should be omitted so that it is clear that the Director-General must comply with the directions of the Attorney-General. In its present form the clause represents what we could call, and as you would be aware, Mr Deputy Chairman, the Salisbury formula- the relationship between government and the security service. One could have a situation where a Director-General, on his own initiative, decides to withhold information from a Minister; he may feel there is a higher authority than a Minister.
Clause 1 7, which dennes the function of ASIO, makes it clear that its function is to collect intelligence in order to advise governments. In the advice to governments we say that Ministers have to be informed. I think any Minister of the Government would readily agree that he would be offended to think that his Director-General had advice which was not going to be given to him. This point is very important and goes right to the whole concept of the Bill: If the DirectorGeneral is able to make up his own mind on whether he should give advice then there is no ministerial accountability; there is no accountability to a parliament. If the paragraph is left the way it is at the moment, then it is left to the Director-General to determine whether advice should be given. A member of parliament may become a member of a government, take an oath of office and undertake to look after the security of this country. But I do not think any honourable member would regard as a valid proposition that by our own creation in our own legislation we should give a director-general power to use his discretion on whether he should give any advice to the Minister. The Opposition is moving here for the deletion of paragraph (c). This amendment was discussed in the Senate where the Attorney- General (Senator Durack) said:
Clause 8 is the very pivot of the Bill.
He also said:
Clause 8 (2) (c) -
We are now moving for the deletion of paragraph (c)- is simply there … to prevent a Minister seeking to substitute his opinion for a professional opinion.
But that is not what the amendment says. Senator Durack continued:
Clause 8 (2) (c) does not have the object of limiting the information that the Director-General is obliged to supply to the Minister . . .
With all due respect to the Attorney-General, he says that clause 8 (2) (c) does not have the object of limiting the information that the Director-General is obliged to supply. If his comments were correct we would have no objection. But the true effect of clause 8 (2) (c) is that it enables any director-general to withhold any information at any time from a Minister. The quote from the Attorney-General shows that he does not understand what the Opposition’s amendment means. ASIO is not, as clause 17 (2) makes clear, a law enforcement agency. Its functions are spelt out in clause 1 7 of the Bill. Its function basically is to collect information for security and intelligence in order to advise governments. But clause 8 (2) (c) makes a mockery of that because it enables the Director-General to withhold information from governments. On that basis the Opposition says that the Attorney-General should be responsible to a parliament for all the information under his control and he should be entitled to all ASIO records. To that point we make one exception only, namely, we do not believe that a Minister should be entitled to inspect the files of individuals.
I think what I have said here is pretty fundamental. It shows clearly that in the Senate the Attorney-General misread the situation and his own Bill. From the Opposition’s point of view the deletion of paragraph (c) strengthens the Bill, strengthens the hand of the Minister, and guarantees that there will be accountability on all matters on which he would be entitled to be informed.
-With regard to clause 8 of the Bill and the amendment proposed by the Opposition, how is the Parliament to be responsible for its own creation when the Director-General virtually will have absolute control and total power with no public accountability to the Federal Parliament? In summary, clause 8 provides that the Minister is not empowered to override the opinion of the Director-General on whether the collection of intelligence by the Organisation concerning a particular individual would or would not be justified by reason of its relevance to security, on the question of whether the communication of intelligence concerning a particular individual would be for a purpose relevant to security or concerning the nature of the advice that should be given by the organisation to a Minister, department or authority of the Commonwealth. I find it extremely demeaning and obnoxious in a supposedly free democracy that an appointed director-general has the final determination over which information on what person or organisation may be provided to an elected parliament.
In effect, the servant has become the master and we, the elected representatives of the people, must accept without question the opinion of one all-powerful public servant. There is no question about this fact. The Government is very silly and very trite if it believes that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, despite its antidemocratic track record, is going to be a better judge of national security and the people’s democratic rights than those who have been elected to serve the national interest. Clause 8 (2) (a), for example, shows that neither the Attorney-General nor indeed the Prime Minister can instruct ASIO or its agents to stop spying even on them or on any Minister or member of this Parliament. Under this clause neither the Prime Minister nor the Attorney-General is entitled to ask whether any file exists, and if a file does exist they are not entitled to say: ‘Cease placing the Prime Minister of this country under surveillance.’ Neither the Prime Minister nor the responsible Minister is entitled to give advice to the Director-General that certain information should not be provided to any government department or authority or, indeed, to any overseas agency. Does this clause really mean that if the Director-General so decides he can give secret information gathered by ASIO on the highest personages in the government of this country to. an overseas agency? Is that what this clause really means?
Clause 8 (2) (b) means really that ASIO can collect information on anyone and really make its own decisions. A close look at that paragraph shows that ASIO can release information to whom it pleases. Is it true that ASIO would be able to release information- against the advice of the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General and the Government- to overseas intelligence agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency or the Bureau of State Security or any other national intelligence agency overseas? A proper discussion of clause 8 (2) (b), as the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) pointed out, has to take into account the way in which such information can be gathered.
If we look at clauses 25, 26 and 27- they are relevant to clause 8(2) (b)- we will see that they provide for the power to enter into and search premises, examine records, make copies of transcripts, use listening devices or bugs to record words spoken by another person and to open mail and inspect telegrams. When we look at the justification for these activities we find that the Minister shall not issue a warrant unless he is satisfied that, in the case of clause 25, the premises have recently been occupied or used for activities constituting or in preparation for domestic subversion. In the case of clause 26- all of this is relevant to clause 8 and the way in which the Organisation collects its information- the Minister may authorise the use of listening devices if he is satisfied that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation might be listening to a person engaged in or reasonably suspected of being likely to engage in activities prejudicial to security.
In the case of clause 27 mail and telegrams can be inspected if it is suspected that they will be received by a person reasonably suspected of being likely to engage in activities prejudicial to security.
One notes the use of sheer cloudy generalities such as ‘preparation for domestic subversion’ likely to engage in activities prejudicial to security’ and ‘reasonably suspected of being engaged in’. They are all fine phrases in the best Orwellian. tradition to mask intrusion into just about anything that ASIO desires. This is the way in which ASIO can collect information about members of parliament, the Ministry and even the Prime Minister. I object to this craven abrogation of responsibility that is outlined in clause 8 to representatives appointed over the heads of the elected people who are supposed to represent the people of this country.
If honourable members look at the Hope report, on which this Australian Security Intelligence Organization Amendment Bill was supposed to have been based, they will see that Mr Justice Hope contradicts himself. He expects to see reform from within under the auspices of a paternalistic benevolent Director-General. I say that honourable members should beware of the all-powerful spy bosses because they may be paternalistic now but there is no guarantee that they will not become authoritarian at a later date. We may trust Mr Justice Woodward now. Is there anything to say that Mr Justice Woodward will always be the same person that he was when he was appointed? There is an old saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Mr Justice Woodward could be as susceptible to that old saying as any other human being. He will not live forever and sooner or later we will appoint another Director-General.
– In consultation.
– In consultation perhaps, but what guarantees have we that that person will always act within the parameters of the way he is expected to act? I said that Mr Justice Hope was contradicting himself.
It is obvious that the Government did not follow to the letter the recommendations of the Hope report. The fourth report of the Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security, volume I at page 181, paragraph 373, states:
The Director-General needs, and should have, guidance and indeed direction from those who are in a position to give it. This situation has been exacerbated by limits to ASIO’s resources; these have restricted what it can do. But, regardless of resources, it is a problem inherent in the nature of national security functions.
On the next page paragraph 374 states:
The nature of these problems and of the issues involved strongly support the view taken in the past that general security policy is a matter for the Prime Minister. It is an attitude that is common to many countries with whom we share the Westminster system of government. I shall recommend that this view should be adhered to in the future, and that any statutory independence of the Director-General should not preclude the Prime Minister from giving ASIO general policy directions and guidance.
Why has the Government not followed this particular advice in the Hope report. It is perfectly obvious in these matters that Mr Justice Hope expected that the Executive arm of government should have the final control over the DirectorGeneral. That is the way it ought to be in any democratic society.
-Clause 8 of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Bill has become in effect one of the most important clauses of the Bill primarily because of the failure of the Government to provide other forms of control over the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. If I may posit the position of the Opposition, it was in fact to offer a multi-faceted pattern of control for ASIO involving the Parliament, the judiciary and a principle of judicial audit. In the bipartisan approach of the Government all of those proposals for control have been rejected. Therefore the one essential control mechanism provided in the Bill is the control of the Executive over the Organisation. That is dealt with in principle in these clauses. It is because of this failure to use other methods to control this Organisation that clause 8 becomes so important.
As I said, the principle involved is a difficult one because quite clearly the Government is fearful that one could have what I referred to earlier as the Nixon syndrome. That is, in a sense if the Executive is given too direct and specific a control, then it may be found that ASIO is abused for political purposes, as were the secret agencies of government in the United States. I fear that in clause 8 the Government has been too fearful of that abuse and has rather neglected the other great danger of security organisations or such organisations as ASIO. That is what I call the Hoover problem. The Hoover problem is the creation of an independent agency which is too independent of the democratic authorities in society. It is my view that the way in which clause 8 has been phrased opens up this society to the danger that ASIO will effectively escape democratic control. I would not worry so much about that if we had some form of effective parliamentary control. I would not worry so much about that if we had some effective involvement in the judiciary in the control of ASIO. As we have neither of those things this clause becomes very critical.
Paragraphs (a) and (b) of clause 8 (2) are in fact aiming to limit the specific power of the Minister to give directions in questions which relate to the collection and dissemination of information on particular individuals. In formulating its amendments the Opposition has gone along with those paragraphs of the Bill because we accept a necessity to prevent political interference in ASIO as it relates to specific individuals. Our amendment tries to strengthen effective democratic control first of all by inserting a general access provision in the form of proposed sub-clause (3). What the Opposition is trying to do is to give to the democratically elected Executive general access to the information of ASIO, subject to the limitations about specific individuals.
– Would it have stopped Senator Murphy?
– I believe that one of the great battles about Senator Murphy concerned the fact that this point was not clear. We believe it is necessary to make it clear by stating quite clearly the authority of the democratically elected Executive to have access to the information provided by ASIO with the specific exceptions listed in the Bill and in our own provision. That will solve the kind of debate or brawl that took place because that access provision was never clear in the Act as it stands. For that reason we have suggested a general right of access, subject to those limitations.
Our addition in proposed sub-clause (4) of clause 8 aims to deal again with the right of the Government to know whom files are being held on; not the details of the files. We accept the point made elsewhere and the point made previously by the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) in his second reading speech that it is not desirable that the political Executive be able to have access to the detailed information about persons and individuals in the files. We insist that it needs to be specified in the Bill that the Government has the right to know on which individuals files are being held. Unless that is done, Ministers of the Crown and their colleagues, leading figures either in Government or Opposition, might be subjected to ASIO’s surveillance without the knowledge of any member of the democratically elected Executive. We believe that that provision should be spelt out. That is our reason for proposing the fourth amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I ask members on both sides of the Committee to take this clause very seriously because it remains the only major clause which allows some form of democratic control through the Executive over ASIO operations.
– The problem that this clause creates and the reason the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) has moved for its deletion are that it strikes at what we regard as a cardinal principle of our system of government. I always find it extraordinary at the opening of Parliament and when from time to time the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) talks about terrorism and about our system of government that we always pose the threats to our system of government as coming from some external force, some bomb thrower, some foreign power or some group of subversives. In fact our system of government ultimately depends upon the capacity of this Parliament to maintain the traditions of that system. Those traditions mean simply that the Executive and Cabinet are responsible for the day-to-day running of the affairs of the nation. They mean that Ministers of the Crown are responsible not merely to the Executive but ultimately to the Parliament and are accountable to the Parliament for the activities that take place in their names. That invokes the whole doctrine of ministerial responsibility. It is important in my view that that doctrine be maintained.
The problem with paragraph (c) of clause 8 of the Bill is that it creates a situation in which the Director-General of ASIO is entitled to withhold information from the Attorney-General. The clause states:
In the performance of his functions under this Act, the Director-General is subject to the general directions of the
Minister, but the Minister is not empowered to override the opinion of the Director-General-
concerning the nature of the advice that should be given by the Organization to a Minister, Department or Authority of the Commonwealth.
The term ‘Minister’ of course includes the Attorney-General. So if there is a conflict and the Attorney-General says to the Director-General: I believe that I am entitled to have this information in order to know how you conducted a particular aspect of your activities’, the DirectorGeneral is perfectly within his legal rights to say I am very sorry, Attorney-General; I do not propose to tell you’. That creates a very serious inroad into the whole concept of our system of government. Let me give the Committee an example. Let us assume that without conferring with the Attorney-General the Director-General provides information to a Government department in respect of a dossier that it might have on a public servant and, as a result of the information so given, the public servant suffers a disadvantage, a loss, dismissal or the withholding of his promotion. Let us then assume that it is discovered that that information was completely in error. We have a serious situation where a citizen has suffered loss or damage. What process is available to the Leader of the Opposition in that situation? Does he move a motion of no confidence in the Attorney-General? The AttorneyGeneral has a complete defence to the Parliament. He says: ‘I did not know. I was not told.’ So do we move a motion of no confidence in the Director-General? Of course, it is unheard of and is outside the traditions of the Westminster system that a permanent head of any sort becomes the target of this Parliament by that kind of substantive motion.
It is the Minister who is answerable to the Parliament and it is the Minister who has to accept collective responsibility for the acts done in his name. What we are doing here is creating a very serious exception to that rule. I do not believe that this Parliament should ever surrender its right to hold a Minister accountable for the actions which are performed in his name. Whatever problems have occurred in the past, although there was some ambiguity, I think it was the better and more correct view that the security organisation was answerable to the Attorney-General. This provision creates a very important exception which in my view undermines the whole structure of our system of government. But it will not stop the charade that goes on; it will not stop the Speaker putting on his robes and the Parliament continuing all of the ceremony; it will not stop the talk about our democratic system when Parliament is opened.
This very Government, this very AttorneyGeneral (Senator Durack)- these people who talk about our system- are creating an exception which could ultimately undermine in very serious ways the rights and liberties of the Australian people.
What is the argument for this provision? Do we not believe that the Attorney-General, whoever he may be- whether it is the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) who is at the table or one of the other Ministers who may ultimately be elevated- is less worthy than the Director-General to have knowledge of these matters? Do we say that the Director-General is a man of such unblemished character that his judgment ultimately ought to prevail as against the rights of the Attorney-General on these very serious issues?
For the reasons that I have advanced I believe that this clause ought to be withdrawn from the legislation and that the amendments moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition ought to be accepted by the Government. I believe that it is important for the Parliament to say: ‘In these situations, it is the Attorney-General rather than the Director-General whose functions and responsibilities we will strengthen’. What would the Minister for Immigration (Mr MacKellar) do if relevant information went from his Department to another department without his knowledge and without his concurrence?
– How could that happen?
– I am delighted to have the interjection from the honourable member. Clause 8 (c) provides quite specifically that the Director-General is empowered to pass information ‘concerning the nature of the advice that should be given by the Organisation to a Minister, Department or Authority of the Commonwealth’. That is a matter for him. If he chooses not to consult with the Attorney-General, if he concludes that he does not want to inform the Attorney-General, clause 8 gives him that right. I am sorry that my erudite friend, the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) who one day might even be the Attorney-General, is prepared to vote for legislation which would limit his traditional rights, his traditional prerogatives, rather than the rights and prerogatives of the Director-General. Within our system of government it is the Attorney-General who is answerable to the Parliament and it is the Attorney-General who is subject to any censure motion or motion of want of confidence.
– Would it not be fair to say that in those circumstances the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs would be the person responsible?
– No, because the clause states:
The organization shall be under the control of the Director-General.
Sub-clause (2) states:
In the performance of his functions under this Act, the Director-General is subject to the general directions of the Minister, but the Minister is not empowered to override the opinion of the Director-General.
Paragraph (c) specifically states that the Minister is no empowered to override the opinion of the Director-General: concerning the nature of the advice that should be given by the Organization to a Minister, Department or authority of the Commonwealth.
The definition of the word ‘Minister ‘includes the Attorney-General himself. So if the DirectorGeneral says ‘I am not going to tell the Minister that’, the Attorney-General has no power to compel him to give that information. I believe that is a very serious inroad into the whole concept of ministerial responsibility and therefore is a very serious derogation of the rights and powers of this Parliament. I fully support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition because it restores and provides the balance whereby the Minister is accountable to the Parliament and ultimately the Parliament is accountable to the people of Australia.
– It is extraordinary that we ought to be debating a clause like this which is so fundamental to the whole legislation and which strikes at the basis of the question of authority and the system of democracy as it operates in this country, where a DirectorGeneral of an organisation whose record is not, to say the least, particularly good in terms of safeguarding the rights of the individual is, in terms of this clause, able to deny to the Parliament, and to the Minister, information which has been collected by the organisation. I think it is important to refer to the extreme powers which are given to this Organisation. It is quite extraordinary, given those powers, and indeed given the attempts that have been devised in relation to legislation to make the use of those powers subject to the Minister, that this clause, vaguely worded as it is, provides the possibility for a Director-General, for a single individual, to have absolute discretion in relation to the way that that information which may be collected- as someone has suggested, by a form of legal burglary- in the most clandestine way can reflect on people and organisations whose purpose may be fundamentally innocent. Nevertheless the Director-General, an individual, is in a sense quite clearly responsible for whether that information is divulged to the Minister, even, as the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Holding) has suggested, to the Attorney-General and therefore is in no sense finally responsible to the Parliament.
A great deal has been said about the way in which this legislation tries to move towards making this security organisation an organisation which is more subject to ministerial authority. Yet all that there may be in terms of progress, it would seem to me, in this legislation is vitiated by this clause 8 and particularly by paragraph (c). It is made quite clear in the clause where it states:
In the performance of his functions under the Act, the Director-General is subject to the general directions of the Minister, but the Minister is not empowered to override the opinion of the Director-General . . . concerning the nature of the advice that should be given by the Organization to a Minister, Department or authority of the Commonwealth.
So certainly it is covered in certain respects in terms of the way that information may have been collected. Certainly the people who are going to be involved in the monitoring and recording of telephone conversations or opening and inspecting mail are required in terms of the legislation to seek a warrant from the Minister. But when it gets down to the question of the use of that information, we have this paragraph (c) which allows the Director-General so much absolute discretion.
I think we need to look at this legislation, not in terms of the particular personality that might currently occupy the position df DirectorGeneral and not in terms of the particular character or quality of the Government which is currently empowered, but we need to look at it in terms of its being legislation which is going to cover successive governments and which is going to cover successive Directors-General. As we are well aware, when one looks at the history of this Organisation it has taken on quite different characters in relation to different administrations. We do, of course, as we have been reminded constantly by the Government, have to consider extreme situations. So it is quite possible to conceive of a situation in which the DirectorGeneral of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation was, in a real sense, pursuing a quite different course of action than was the policy of a particular government. So it is quite possible to conceive that a Director-General would have, in terms of the interests as he saw them, a real need to withhold information from a particular Minister at a certain time. It is not stretching the imagination too far to conceive of that possibility.
The clause is drawn, in my view, far too widely. The clause strikes at the basis of liberty. It is interesting that there has been so little defence by the Government of this legislation. One gets the feeling that the Government is somewhat embarrassed by this legislation, that it is not prepared to come into the chamber and debate the legislation even to the extent that it was debated in the Senate where there may be, perhaps, stronger traditions of civil liberty and stronger Government members who are concerned about protecting the rights of the individual. But in this chamber the Government has been prepared to sit by and watch the Opposition raising quite substantial objections to the nature of the legislation very often in terms of basic tenets of Liberal Party philosophy. We see little or no sign of the Government’s being prepared to come in and defend, in terms of rational argument, this legislation. I think the reason for that is that particular clauses of the legislation are absolutely undefendable and, of those clauses, it would seem to me that clause 8 sub-clause (2) paragraph (c) is an important case.
It is simply indefensible in terms of the philosophy of the Government historically to defend the withholding of information collected, quite probably in a clandestine manner, from the Minister of the day. That possibility, implicit in this clause, simply cannot be defended. Of course, there is a great difference, as we all know, between the philosophy of the Liberal-National Country Party governments and their practice. What is characteristic and true of this clause is, to some extent, in conformity with the practice of conservative governments, historically speaking. Conservative governments have been prepared to use organisations like ASIO or simply to stand by and let those organisations deal with people with whom the Government has no sympathy or understanding. It seems to me that as long as the Government is prepared to allow a clause like this to stand within legislation like this, we cannot really believe that the cant about individual liberties, the cant about democracy and the rights of freedom of speech and the right to organise, is anything more than cant or anything more than hypocrisy. In the final analysis what we have done in terms of this clause is surrender the use of information collected in the way that I have been describing to the discretion of a particular individual whose views may be as mad as
Hoover’s, whose views may be totally unacceptable generally in terms of the Australian community and who may, simply by the use of this clause and the freedom that it gives to a Director-General, be able, in a sense, to use his power against the best interests of the Australian people.
It has consistently been the view of the Opposition that the best judge finally of what is in the interests of the Australian people is the Parliament, and that Ministers responsible to the Parliament can make that kind of judgment. But when we have a judgment which ought to be properly the responsibility of the Parliament devolved to a particular individual- not in terms of next year or the year after but in terms of the future- we are creating serious problems for ourselves. I support the amendment, which asks for the removal of paragraph (c) of clause 8.
-I regret the comments made by the honourable member for Batman (Mr Howe) and the inferences he drew from the degree of participation in this debate. In fact one would have to be somewhat provoked to want to participate in this debate. I find it quite delightful to be able to sit back and see emerging from honourable members opposite the differences in attitudes towards the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. If honourable members listened, as I did, to the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr West) it became quite clear he did not agree with the provisions -
– Differences in terms of party principles.
– We are watching anxiously to see whether the Opposition decides to vote other than in accordance with Caucus directions. Then we will find out whether honourable members opposite are a party of principle or whether they are really only offering pious comments in relation to these matters. We wait for the day when one of them decides on a matter of principle to join us on this side of the Parliament. I guess that I will be waiting probably for a long time. If we put that aside, the differences are emerging very clearly. The honourable member for Cunningham believes that the term used by the honourable member for Bonython (Dr Blewett) ought to be a reality and that, as he described it, we ought to take the Nixonian approach. He believes that the security force ought to be subject of ministerial control absolutely. That is the proposition he put. In other words, he believes that the security force ought to have the capacity to be the political force of the government of the day. That is what has emerged from this debate.
I found it very profitable to sit back and listen to those sorts of distinctions emerging in a debate on a clause which honourable members opposite do not appear to understand. I hasten to add that they ought to read the debates that took place in the Senate. From the words spoken by their colleagues, who had a greater capacity to judge the legal merits of these provisions, honourable members opposite might have found that there was a commendation for the approach that this Government has taken. I refer to the comments made by Senator Evans. I will come to those comments in a moment because I intend to quote them. They might bring this debate back into some sort of perspective. Clause 8 speaks about the control of the Organisation.
-Clause 8 reads:
I am listening for a further ‘Right’ from the honourable member for Batman. If we read subclause 2, clearly, as it ought to be read, we will see that the scheme of the legislation is to give to the Director-General of Security the right to control the Organisation but subject to the general directions, not directions as to detail of the Minister. Sub-clause (2) states that those directions shall not empower the Minister to override the opinion of the Director-General. What are we talking about? We are talking about the professional opinion formed by the DirectorGeneral, as an independent statutory officer, and we are talking about those matters on which he is entitled to form an opinion.
The amendment proposed by the Opposition leaves paragraphs (a) and (b) of sub-clause (2) intact. So we come to paragraph (c). It talks about the Director-General forming an opinion concerning the nature of advice that he is giving to a Minister. We are saying that the Minister cannot give him directions as to how he will form that opinion. The Minister will not tell the Director-General to tell the Minister what he thinks. It would be preposterous to imagine that the Director-General could be told by his Minister- and this is what the amendment suggests: ‘Please tell me that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is a spy’. If the Minister could give directions as to the nature of the advice, the Minister could give the Director-General directions to provide him with advice such as I have suggested. That is what it is all about. The clause clearly provides that the Minister will not be able to direct the Director-General as to the nature of the advice that he must give to him. I would have thought that that was a provision well worthy of support.
If we go to the scheme of the legislation it is perhaps worth while if I direct the attention of the honourable member for Cunningham to some of the comments made by Senator Durack in the Senate. Senator Durack quoted from some earlier debates in which two distinguished leaders of political parties in this place -
– You mean the Labor Party?
– Yes. I am going to quote from a distinguished leader of the Australian Labor Party, Dr Evatt, and from a distinguished leader on this side of the Parliament, Sir Robert Menzies. The honourable member for Cunningham raised the question of control. He wanted ministerial control. He raised the prospect of a political security organisation as Prime Minister Mr Menzies said:
It is clearly impossible, and in any event undesirable, for a Minister to exercise in this field the same degree of supervision and authority that he exercises in his own department. The proper course, in the Government’s view, is to make the Director-General responsible for the due control of his service and to allow the measure of authority of the responsible Minister to be worked out, as in the past, by convention and in the light of the circumstances of the time.
These proposals are an endeavour to work out that authority in some more detail following the comments of Mr Justice Hope. I will come to those comments in a moment. The then Leader of the Opposition did not suggest that it ought to be ministerial control. He had this to say:
I do not believe that the people of Australia would approve of an organisation like this unless it were perfectly clear that there was, at any rate, a political officer responsible for it, in a general way -
I underline the words ‘in a general way’- to the Parliament and the people. By that, I do not mean responsible for the detailed working out of all the problems of the Organization, or anything of that kind.
Those were the words of the former distinguished Leader of the Opposition, and I think they are words well worth remembering. I want now to turn to the remarks of Senator Evans. They deal with the scheme. Some honourable members opposite were critical of these provisions. The honourable member for Cunningham said that we had taken no notice of what Mr Justice Hope said in this regard. He quoted Mr Justice Hope.
– Have a look at page 1 82 of Mr Justice Hope’s report.
-Thank you, but I would rather take the opinion of the honourable senator. I know that Senator Evans has some legal training. I do not know that about the honourable member for Cunningham.
– What has that got to do with it?
-Senator Evans has a greater capacity to be able to understand the way in which lawyers, who interpret these matters, and who are often left with the responsibility of deciding what this Parliament means, would react. The honourable member for Cunningham is offering his opinion as against that of Senator Evans. I accept Senator Evans’ opinion. At page 1395 of the Senate Hansard, Senator Evans is recorded as saying:
This is one of the few instances, as we see it, in which the Government has departed from Mr Justice Hope’s recommendations in a more liberal rather than illiberal direction. We saw Mr Justice Hope ‘s recommendations -
– I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman. I do not raise it in the spirit of captious criticism. I understand the rules of procedure to be that one does not quote, certainly not at any length, from debates in the other place in the same session. It is possible for a passing reference to be made but I had understood that it was the practice of the place not to do so, otherwise we could get a situation where day by day one House was rehashing what the other House did the day before.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage)-
The position is that if the matter is relevant to the debate it is in order for an honourable member to quote.
-I wish to quote only two more sentences. I certainly do not have to draw upon the distinguished senator to the extent suggested. Most of my time may have been used up and I encourage honourable members to read what was said. Senator Evans continued:
We saw Mr Justice Hope’s recommendations as allowing too much room for limitation of the scope of ministerial power and responsibility, allowing too much residual authority to the Director-General. We regard the Government as having seized upon the correct principle in identifying those areas which should be left to the Director-General and not subjected to detailed ministerial direction by reference to security information relating to particular individuals.
They are the words of the honourable member’s colleague and clearly words of approval of the Government ‘s approach to this clause.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN -Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Regarding the point of order raised by the honourable member for Lalor, Standing Order 72 reads:
No Member may allude to any debate or proceedings of a current session in the Senate, or to any measure pending therein, unless such allusion be relevant to the matter under discussion: Provided that this standing order shall not prevent reference to a ministerial statement in the Senate.
It is a very fine point. Without doubt what the honourable member for Dundas was quoting was relevant to this debate but I think he rather exceeded the intent of the Standing Order by quoting extensively from a debate in the Senate. But strictly speaking, it could be maintained that what he was quoting was relevant to the debate.
-I say in passing that I had my first parliamentary experience in a very strict chamber where it was practically a penal offence to refer to the other place at all. Certainly we did not quote from its debates.
There are obviously two extremes that we want to avoid. One is the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation being used as a direct arm of the Government of the day and being used simply in a direct political way as an instrumentality of the government, perhaps for the promotion of its electoral success and other things. The other extremity is where ASIO, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or whatever it is- the law enforcing authority- is so far a law unto itself that it is utterly remote from any kind of political scrutiny whatever. I think it is very important that we try to keep a middle ground. I think this is precisely what the amendments that we have proposed to clause 8 attempt to do.
I find it very sad that there are otherwise wellintentioned members of parliament who say in effect: ‘We believe that our judgment in such matters is inferior to the judgment of unknown people out there. The judgment of those unknown people- not subject to scrutiny, not subject to personal checking so far as we are concerned, not subject to debate and argument- is better that the judgment of the people who are elected to this chamber’. That may well be the case. If it is the case I suggest that our democracy is very much in trouble. There are many people who take the view that politics is a dirty business and that therefore we ought to keep ASIO out of politics. The reality is that ASIO is inevitably in politics. Of course it is not part of the dialectical process of argument, debate, voting, open power struggles more or less openly resolved, that are characteristic of a democratic system. I think we have more to fear from our own manipulation or perversion of the democratic process than from any external threat. I heartily endorse the immortal words of Walt Kelly’s cartoon character Pogo: ‘We have met the enemy and he is us’. In other words Australia has far more to fear from our own self-induced destruction of the democratic process than from external threat or the thought of spies with sinister beards and bombs in their pockets who come amongst us in our community.
The implication that in order to preserve democracy in this country it is necessary to disregard democratic safeguards I find not only an odious argument but actually a stupid argument. To illustrate, for example, only in the last few weeks the film The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover has been shown, certainly in Melbourne and no doubt in other cities as well. The situation with Hoover and the FBI was that Hoover was so much of a national hero that it is not too much to say that he was literally regarded as being either an embodiment of the law or perhaps even above the law himself. But now, particularly with the kindly aid of information about Hoover that has been fed out by the CIA, which for many years was the deadly enemy or rival of the FBI, I think it can be charitably said of Hoover that he appears to have been a mad man, absolutely psychotic in many ways. Yet there was a long period in United States history when he was regarded as being absolutely above criticism. The idea that a President could tell him what to do or make him retire was regarded as absolutely odious. It was just unconscionable. With the benefit of hindsight, that wonderful 20-20 vision we get after the event, we can see that certainly the last 20 or 25 years of Hoover’s administration were really quite disastrous for the FBI and very dangerous domestically for the United States.
Unfortunately the very personal qualities that make Mr Justice Woodward an admirable Director-General of Security I believe are wrongly put about in this debate by honourable members saying: ‘There is nothing to worry about in the legislation; do not worry about it because we have such an excellent DirectorGeneral, somebody appointed by the Labor Government and kept on by the present Government. He will make sure that the law is not really administered in the strict sense in which it is put in the legislation’. We are making laws and we have to consider what those laws are and what the situation would be like if, for example, Mr Justice Spry were resurrected as DirectorGeneral and if, say, the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) were the Attorney-General. It might be a less benign regime.
– Just tell me that the Leader of the Opposition agreed to it.
-There is of course precisely that safeguard. That is the reason why it is so important if we are trying to preserve democracy and to preserve institutions such as this, whatever is the government of the day, that it must involve the Opposition as well. It is simply because honourable members opposite have such overweening and quite unjustified confidence in themselves, that they believe that they will be in office forever, that they really see the perquisites of office and the authority to make substantial changes in Australia as being uniquely theirs. They see it as quite illegitimate for the Australian Labor Party to take any role in these matters. I think it can be said of the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock) that every time he opens his mouth he subtracts from the total of human knowledge.
A democratic security service in Australia is a contradiction in terms. It cannot be anything other than an autocracy. We can only hope that it might be benevolent. But I doubt whether the secrecy of its operations improve the quality of its judgment. I think that the very secrecy of its workings means that it gets more and more remote from what is going on in the democratic mainstream in Australia. That is why I think, for example, the access to files provisions may prove to be somewhat anti-climatic. I am quite satisfied that the majority of ASIO’s employees are not hit men but filing clerks. I can imagine the typical ASIO worker driving home after a heavy day at the office clipping out editorials from the Melbourne Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review, pasting them on sheets of paper, numbering them and stamping them ‘SECRET’ or ‘TOP SECRET’. The general rule of classification in ASIO, I understand, is that publications with a circulation of between 100,000 and 500,000 are routinely marked SECRET’ and those with a circulation of less than 100,000 are marked ‘TOP SECRET’. In the Defence Signals Directorate clerks working on the UMBRA classification receive an additional salary loading by way of danger money.
I think that we need to know far more about the operations of ASIO. I believe that Ministers have to be involved to some extent because ultimately they must take the responsibility. If a Minister is not answerable in this place, we lose any pretence of democratic control through the Parliament about what is going on in ASIO.
– He becomes vulnerable.
-Obviously the Minister becomes vulnerable. I hate to see the evidence of a somewhat authoritarian temperament that comes through in a Bill like this. I believe that the history of security organisations, both here and overseas, is not a very encouraging one. There is much more evidence to suggest that security organisations in fact have contributed to the undermining of the democratic system in a variety of countries than they have actually assisted in preserving it. I think that the Committee ought to accept the amendments as moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen).
– I rise again to speak briefly simply because of the inanities introduced into this debate by the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock). If that is the best defence that the Government can produce on this clause, there is certainly not much to be said for the clause. Let me take the two major points made by the honourable member for Dundas. I will take the last point first, that is, the quotation from the speech by Senator Evans. I am sure that the honourable member for Dundas knows quite well that that quotation was not about the whole of clause 8. It was about one specific aspect of clause 8. Secondly, like all good Labor men, Senator Evans expressed amazement that for once on one particular aspect of clause 8 the Government could act more liberally in relation to the Hope report. It was a unique event. Therefore, it deserved some celebration. But it related to one specific part of clause 8. If the honourable member for Dundas had read the speech of Senator Evans in the other place in relation to clause 8 he would have seen a fairly thorough critique of clause 8 dealing quite firmly with clause 8 (2) (c) and arguing for its elimination as well as supporting the ways in which clause 8 could be improved.
The second major point, if it can be called that, raised by the honourable member for Dundas was based on a quotation from Dr Evatt which I believe was quoted by Senator Durack. Dr Evatt said:
I do not believe that the people of Australia would approve of an organization like this unless it were perfectly clear that there was, at any rate, a political officer responsible for it, in a general way, to the Parliament and the people.
He emphasised the words ‘in a general way’. This is the very point that the Opposition is making. We have accepted paragraphs (a) and (b) of clause 8 (2) because they relate to specific individuals. But paragraph (c) of clause 8 (2) brings us into the general sphere. We are arguing that those opinions about the nature of advice to be given by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to a Minister, a department or authority of the Commonwealth, are matters of general moment as distinct from -
– All of you were not arguing that. Your colleague from Cunningham argued for total ministerial responsibility.
– It is the argument that we have made in the amendment that we are debating and it is the argument that I have previously made. If the honourable member for Dundas bothers to read our amendment, he will see that we have accepted paragraphs (a) and (b) of clause 8 (2) because they relate to specific individuals. But paragraph (c) opens up the issue in a general way. Our objection to this provision is for the very reason why the honourable member for Dundas quoted Dr Evatt: In a general way, we need to have effective political authority. We object to clause 8 (2) (c) because it does deal with general problems and general advice.
– I feel that the arguments advanced by the Opposition proceed upon a misapprehension of the meaning and effect of clause 8 and the basic reason behind the Government’s framing of the clause. Principally it is that the Minister responsible for the legislation cannot give political direction to the Director-General. One can see that coming out from the nature of the exceptions provided for in clause 8(2) which in paragraph (a) says that the Minister- that is, the Attorney-General- is not empowered to override the opinion of the Director-General, firstly, on the question whether the collection of intelligence by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation concerning a particular individual would or would not be justified by reason of its relevance to security. In other words, the Attorney-General is not to give any political direction to the DirectorGeneral as to the collection of intelligence concerning a particular individual.
Paragraph (b) states that the AttorneyGeneral cannot override the opinion of the Director-General on the question whether a communication of intelligence concerning a particular individual would be for a purpose relevant to security. In other words, again the Minister is prevented from giving any political direction to the Director-General as to the communication of intelligence. Paragraph (c) states that the Attorney-General cannot override the opinion of the Director-General concerning the nature of the advice that should be given by the Organisation to a Minister, department or authority of the Commonwealth. In other words, the Attorney-General is not to be able to direct the Director-General as to the advice that is to be given. That advice must be the professional advice of the Director-General in fulfilment of his functions under the legislation relating to the national security of the nation.
The other important factor to bear in mind is the distinction which these paragraphs draw between intelligence and advice. It is a distinction which Opposition members have failed to perceive or at least if they have seen that it exists they have failed to appreciate the difference between the two. The word ‘advice’ in the context of this clause is used in the sense of counsel as opposed to information or intelligence. There is nothing in this clause which prevents the Attorney-General from obtaining information that he desires within the provisions of the Act. What it does, as I have said, is to prevent the Attorney-General giving any direction of a political kind concerning the collection of intelligence, the communication of intelligence or the advice which is to be proffered by the DirectorGeneral. Having listened to the Opposition, I would have thought that the very thing that the Opposition wants to prevent is any political control or political direction over the operation of the Organisation. At the same time there has to be ministerial responsibility by the AttorneyGeneral for the general operation of the Organisation.
Clause 8 provides that the Organisation shall be under the control of the Director-General but that in the performance of his functions under the Act, the Director-General is subject to the general directions of the Attorney-General. Therefore, when it comes to clause 8 and in particular clause 8 sub-clause (2) (c) as well as the proposal by the Opposition to amend the clause by adding provisions entitling the Minister to access to all records of the Organisation and entitling the Minister to be informed as to the existence of any file, dossier or record held by or compiled by the Organisation, the Government rejects the proposed amendments. It feels that the appropriate relationship between the AttorneyGeneral and the Director-General is one where the operation of the Organisation is under the control of the Director-General and whilst he is capable of being given general directions by the Minister, he cannot be given specific directions regarding the collection of intelligence and the communication of intelligence or the nature of advice to be given by the Organisation to a Minister, department or authority of the Commonwealth.
– I think we cannot let it go unanswered that what we are about in this situation is that a Minister may not receive any advice at all. That can be the nature of the advice and therefore the advice is nil. One notices the position in Mr Justice Hope’s report. When talking about ministerial control- another matter which is not in the Bill- he said:
All of the above needs to be read against the background . . . that ASIO and the Director-General also have a special relationship with the Prime Minister.
This Bill does not give us any guarantee of that, but Mr Justice Hope, in his report, said: ‘Well, look, I can visualise in some cases a DirectorGeneral using his discretion and not giving any information, but the Prime Minister has to get that information’. But one does not see provision for this in this Bill, and that is what we are about.
The Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) went on to talk about our next amendment where we tried to expand this principle. I inform the Minister that we have received advice that last June or July the Government asked Mr Justice Hope to re-examine the ministerial control clause and he came up with a different formula from what is in this Bill. It has been rejected by this Government. This is a matter that the Minister could answer. If he were prepared to investigate it we would invite him to table any further advice he might get from His Honour, because this is the whole gambit of what we are about.
I do not want to delay the chamber unnecessarily because we have to go into what is our solution in the proposed amendment to clause 8, but it is no good the Government painting the picture that we are going to get some information simply because we will get the nature of it. I put it to the Minister that we will not get any information if, in certain cases, the Director-General says that he is not going to give information to a Minister. The nature of the advice could be that the Director-General should not give that advice. That is why I think His Honour Mr Justice Hope eventually decided to climb out of the narrow opening that was still left to him by saying:
Whatever the relationship between the Attorney-General and the organization (and its Director-General) is or should be, it has always been accepted that matters of security policy are, so far as the Government is concerned, the responsibility of the Prime Minister.
So it can be seen that Mr Justice Hope is moving the matter into that area. We are putting it on a much more effective basis. We are saying: ‘Look, there has to be proper ministerial accountability. You cannot just have information collected and not have it accountable to anybody, if you have ministerial control and if you have the idea of accountability’. Of course there can be certain cases of detail that the Director-General can indicate that he does not want to give to a Minister, but on the basis of general policy, that is a matter for discretion. But we cannot have the situation that we have here, that is, that the Minister- and he is the only one we have; we have no other- can virtually be denied advice.
So once again I urge the Minister to look at what he is saying. From the Opposition’s point of view, the question is that once information is collected it ought to be available to somebody with ministerial responsibility. To exclude that provision as clause 8 sub-clause (2) (c) does is not in accordance with what the whole tenor of the debate has been about.
– I really ought to reply briefly to what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) has said. His proposition that paragraph (c) of clause 8 subclause (2) could allow the Director-General to refuse to give advice, I suggest, with respect, is an absurdity. I would have thought that the words the nature of the advice ‘ in that paragraph mean what they say. They do not mean that the Director-General can refuse to give advice when requested or can refuse to furnish advice. What they mean is that the Attorney-General cannot give directions to the Director-General as to the advice, the kind of advice and opinions expressed in the advice which is provided to a Minister, department or authority of the Commonwealth.
I should also point out that nothing in the exception prohibits the Attorney-General from directing the Director-General to furnish information or intelligence on any subject. It does not prohibit the Attorney-General from advising another Minister or authority that he disagrees with the advice of the Director-General, in the unlikely event of that occurring. But it does prevent the Attorney-General from directing the Director-General as to the advice which is given. I should also inform the honourable gentleman that Mr Justice Hope was not asked to review clause 8.
That the paragraph proposed to be omitted (Mr Lionel Bowen’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman- Mr J. L. Armitage)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 8, page 4, after sub-clause (2) add the following sub-clauses:
We want to guarantee that there is some ministerial accountability. But, at the same time, we have to get a balance in order to protect the rights of individuals. The Minister should have complete knowledge of what is happening in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. He should know what files it has. But he should not have access to information which relates to individuals. Honourable members may recall that on the last occasion when this Bill was debated the right honourable member for Lowe (Sir William McMahon) said that when he was Prime Minister he did not once get a report from ASIO. That is significant in view of what Mr Justice Hope has said. Let me remind the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner), who is at the table, what Mr Justice Hope said in relation to the direction and control of ASIO and whether Ministers should have access to certain information. In paragraph 364 he said:
However, neither the Minister nor anybody on his behalf would be entitled to seize or to inspect or otherwise to interfere with ASIO files holding intelligence except to the extent that the Director-General, having duly considered the matter, comes to the conclusion that the intelligence in a particular file . . . should be communicated to the Minister. . . .
That is a matter for the Director-General’s discretion. It is an exception. Even that recommendation was then altered by a further recommendation by His Honour. He said that there has to be a special relationship with the Prime Minister. In other words, the Prime Minister has to have all the information. Mr Justice Hope had to face up to the difficulty of how much information should be made available. The Opposition’s amendment strikes a balance. We want the Minister to be able to indicate what is within the knowledge of his Department or his DirectorGeneral but he himself, or anybody else, should not have access to the information because it could well be used against a particular individual.
Why does the Opposition say that? An example of that being done occurred in 1966. The present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who was then Minister for the Army, told the House on 28 September 1966 that he had information about a certain young man who did not want to join a school cadet corps. He also had information about the young man’s mother. He indicated the name of the young man, the name of his mother and their address. That was disclosed from a security file which the Minister had. The information is recorded on page 1403 of Hansard of 28 September 1 966. Objection was taken by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). He said:
Why are you slandering, under privilege, a defenceless woman who cannot defend herself?
The next day the debate was continued. The then Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, was asked why detailed information from a security file had been given to the House by the then Minister for the Army. Mr Holt said:
The other piece of information which I believe to be relevant . . .
He then proceeded to read out the information again. He gave the name of the young man and the address of his mother. After a further objection by Mr Calwell the then Prime Minister said:
I have quoted from these documents every matter which is relevant to the subject before the House.
This shows that the then Prime Minister had access to a security file. It shows that in September 1966 the then Minister for the Army and now the present Prime Minister and the then Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, had access to information on a particular individual. They used that information in the Parliament, giving it all the necessary publicity. Mr Holt then tried to cover up by saying: ‘I am quite agreeable to letting the Leader of the Opposition examine these documents but he knows it has never been the practice in the country when we are in office for communications to be made available publicly’. That example shows honourable members what has happened. All that information was spread across the nation then and the present Prime Minister was the person who did it. The Opposition wants ministerial accountability; Mr Justice Hope said that he wanted it too. The legislation now drafted does not guarantee accountability for the reason we mentioned in the debate on the previous clause. It is not good enough for the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs to say that a Minister may give directions as to what sort of advice he wants and he would be entitled to get it unless there were some safeguards. It is pretty clear that there have to be safeguards. The Opposition is making this very fine distinction that there has to be accountability and knowledge qf the existence of information, but most certainly not the details of the information unless it directly related to security. So there we have a distinction. Again we talk about the information in relation to what was known as the raid by the then Attorney-General, Senator Murphy. In his report, Mr Justice Hope stated:
If the Minister or his representatives attempted to effect any such seizure or inspection or interference without the consent of the Director-General, it would be the right and indeed the duty of the Director-General to resist it. I think that I should add that at the time of the so-called ‘raid’ by the AttorneyGeneral in 1973, the view which was then accepted and had been acted on for a number of years was that the DirectorGeneral was subject in all respects to ministerial direction and control.
But there is the exception to which Mr Justice Hope refers. That exception is then waived when one comes to the special relationship between the Director-General and the Prime Minister, but that exception is not included in this Bill. That was our argument in respect of the previous amendment- that is, there may be a situation where the Director-General can withhold information- but we lost that argument. In the Senate the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) was able to accept some amendments, but in this debate it appears clear that the Government has made up its mind and is not interested in debating the matter. It is not prepared to listen to any amendments. It is a complete negative in every fashion.
The Opposition is trying to indicate to the people of Australia the type of legislation that has been passed. We are talking about information gathered against every Australian who is listening to this debate. Everyone of them could be the subject of surveillance, a file or interception by way of a telephone tap. It is important to reiterate what the principles are when we are talking about intelligence. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation was set up on 16 March 1949 by the then Prime Minister, Mr Chifley. The memorandum to the DirectorGeneral states:
It is your responsibility to keep each Minister informed of all matters affecting security corning to your knowledge-
There is no limitation there. I stress this point:
That did not happen. It was proved obviously by His Honour Mr Justice White in South Australia that it never really would happen. The real security is in ministerial accountability. This is the solution- the Minister can have knowledge of a file but not of the details in it for the reasons I have given. It is a worthwhile amendment and would improve the Bill.
because I submit that the amendment he has just moved is consequential upon the amendment to clause 7 which was defeated. They read well together. It is very difficult to see how the two could stand separately. The first amendment having been defeated, it would be an inconsistency for the second amendment to be now passed. More specifically, on this particular amendment the crucial decision is whether or not the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation should be politicised. I submit that if one creates the situation in which the Minister has the right to be informed of the existence of any- and that means all- files, dossiers or records, one immediately politicises ASIO, because there would be nothing to prevent any member of the Parliament asking the Minister questions in relation of the Parlian to the names of persons in respect of whom files, dossiers or records were kept. It would be for the Presiding Officer, whether he be the Speaker in this House or the President in another place, to say whether or not the Minister was obliged to answer those questions.
In fairness, the Leader of the Opposition was good enough to remind the House that ASIO was established under a Labor Government under a Labor Prime Minister, Mr Chifley. The ASIO which we have today is, for the first time in its career, getting a statute, a code under which its powers are expressly laid down and under which the citizens of Australia can see exactly what are the powers of ASIO. I am very conscious of the fact that I have not been able to participate in this debate until now, but I find it a little hard to understand why there has been such wide criticism of this ASIO legislation when many of those making the criticism were in a position to bring in a code or a Bill with respect to ASIO between 1972 and 1975. The way in which to politicise Australia’s security intelligence organisation is to place it under ministerial control, to put a Minister in the situation where he has legislative authority to obtain details in respect of every single file, dossier or record. We then will have in this country the unfortunate situation that obtains in the United States- a politicised security intelligence organisation.
If honourable members agree to the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, they are inviting within the Parliament itself the questioning of Ministers, debates on matters of public importance and a situation in which a Minister under pressure- this will apply whether he be Liberal or Labor- might unwittingly reveal the existence of a file which might be a negative file, that is, one with no adverse criticism of a particular person. It will bring ASIO into the political arena. I would have thought from the very careful remarks in another place by the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) and by Senator Button leading for the Australian Labor Party, that it was an accepted proposition from both sides of the House that the worst thing that could happen to ASIO would be to politicise it. I respect the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, as he well knows. Had he been successful on his earlier amendment there may have been some basis for this amendment to be passed but, as the earlier amendment was not passed, it would be absolutely inconsistent to pass this amendment. More importantly it would politicise in a most important area of its operation the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation upon which the national security of Australia depends. I believe that it is above and beyond party politics. I share the views expressed by Senator Button in the Senate that ASIO must be apolitical and that this legislation must be looked at on a bipartisan basis. To agree to this amendment is to write politics into ASIO. If the Opposition does so it is likely to destroy ASIO or destroy its capacity to protect the security of this nation.
– I can understand why the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) feels that it would be inconsistent to vote for this amendment to clause 8, having voted against the previous amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen). I certainly do not agree that these amendments do not stand judgment in their own right and I certainly do not agree with what I regard as the specious argument of the honourable member for Denison when he says that the effect of these amendments would be to politicise the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. It was an unfortunate example that he chose when he talked about the politicisation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was precisely because for years the FBI was beyond the reach and the effective surveillance of the Attorney-General and that it had a figure like Hoover that grave abuses took place. If one looks at this clause one sees that it gives the Minister access to all records of the Organisation.
Proposed sub-clause (4) which has to be read in conjunction with clause 8, limits the availability of a dossier or record concerning a particular individual unless the Director-General considers that it is in the interests of security that the Minister should have such access. That is the very amendment which would have prevented the events which were described by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, namely, when the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), when Minister for the Army, used the Parliament of Australia to name a woman and her son simply because he had this sort of access. If this amendment were passed there would be no way that that could happen. Is it not true to say, as the honourable member for Denison suggests, that the mere fact that the Minister is possessed of knowledge of certain files and has access to all records puts him under pressure. The Minister may inadvertently under pressure in Parliament let the information slip out. All I can say is that the honourable member for Denison has been in this Parliament long enough to know that a Minister cannot be compelled to answer a question on any matter that he chooses not to answer. I would have thought that if any AttorneyGeneral were asked ‘Is there a file on Mr Hodgman?’, he would say: ‘Under no circumstances would I admit the existence or any knowledge of that file ‘.
There have been abuses in the past in respect of rights of individuals unfortunately from people who occupy very senior positions in this Government. This amendment which has been moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would make it impossible for such an abuse ever to occur again. Perhaps the laryngitis from which the honourable member for Denison is suffering has affected his legal perception because if he looks at the clause properly he will see that it does two things: It strengthens the position of the Minister in relation to the Director-General’ and at the same time it provides very real and effective safeguards to prevent the use of dossiers for political purposes.
– I do not wish to speak at any length on the amendment to clause 8 of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Bill as I have had an earlier opportunity to make my argument in relation to it. In order to try to secure a more precise and refined answer from the Minister to these specific problems, I wonder whether I could address to the Minister two precise questions which he might care to answer specifically or explicitly in his summing up. Firstly, why is the Government not prepared to give the Minister a general right of access to Australian Security Intelligence Organisation information, subject to the exclusions already set out in clause 8; that is, subject to all those exclusions that have already been passed under clause 8? Secondly, I ask a specific question because I am not clear from the Minister’s earlier remarks what the answer to it is. If the Minister responsible requested of the DirectorGeneral whether a file, dossier or record were held on a member of this Parliament would the Minister under the provisions of this Bill be informed of the existence or otherwise of such a file, dossier or record? If the answer is no, how does the Minister justify in a so-called democratic society the denial of such information not to the Parliament but to the elected Executive?
– I will be quite brief on my comments. I point out to the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) what I think is an anomaly between these different clauses. I refer very quickly in passing to clause 8 (2) (a) of the Bill which allows the Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to place Ministers of the Crown, even the Prime Minister or the AttorneyGeneral, under surveillance. I argue that that is very bad. Unless the Government accepts this amendment to clause 8 the situation will be even worse because it will be denying those Ministers of the Crown knowledge that files on their activities exist. The Government is compounding the offence against the Minister.
The Government should accept the amendment, which after all is a very mild one and which gives the Minister access to all records of the Organisation subject to certain qualifications set out towards the end of the amendment. The amendment provides that the Minister shall not be afforded access to the record of a particular individual unless the Director-General considers that it is in the interests of security that the Minister should have such access. It seems to me that one could not want for anything milder than that, because it really gives the Director-General power to rule on virtually any file the contents of which it is in the interests of security should not be revealed. I cannot see what the Minister is worried about because this is quite a mild amendment and it should be acceptable to the Government.
If honourable members look further ahead to clauses 5 1 and onwards of the Bill, it will be seen that they provide for the establishment of a review tribunal. Commonwealth servants who have been the subject of an adverse report and on whom a file exists are entitled to know the existence of that file and are entitled to argue their case before the tribunal. So on one hand this Bill allows certain people outside this Parliament to be told that a file exists on them in certain circumstances, such as if they are not backed for a Commonwealth job, but on the other hand a Minister of the Crown is not entitled- unless the Government accepts this amendment- to be told that a file on him exists. I would like the Minister and perhaps the honourable gentlemen opposite to explain that anomaly to me as they have had so much to say in criticising Opposition members who are trying to do something constructive about the Bill. They might care to comment on that matter. Do they rate themselves so low that they believe that as elected representatives of the people, even if they become Ministers of the Crown, Attorneys-General, or Prime Ministers, they are not entitled to know that an appointed public servant has taken it upon himself to place them under surveillance and to construct a file on them?
– With respect to the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), there have been three Opposition speakers in a row, simply because they received the call. With respect, I assure the honourable member for Melbourne Pons (Mr Holding) that laryngitis has not in any way affected whatever legal ability I have to read and understand the legislation before the House. It might affect the manner in which I deliver the opinion but it certainly does not affect the opinion itself. The honourable member for Melbourne Pons is a very persuasive parliamentary debater. He is a good in-fighter. From the way he and the honourable member for Bonython (Dr Blewett) spoke, one would think that the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) was discretionary. But it is not; it is mandatory. It states:
The Minister shall be informed by the Director-General as to the existence of any file . . .
That means all files, all dossiers and all records. What is this codswallop about putting it on the basis that there could be a file in relation to a member of this House? Apparently, the honourable members have not looked at clause 2 1 of the Bill. If we look at clause 21, we find that the Director-General is obliged under statute ‘to consult regularly with the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives for the purpose of keeping him informed on matters relating to security’. Is anybody in this Parliament going to suggest to me that, if there is a security risk in this chamber or in another House, the Director-General will not inform the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition? Is anybody going to suggest that if there is a file on the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes) or the honourable member for Bonython or any other honourable member it will be kept under double wraps?
– It is an absolute nonsense. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If members opposite are concerned about this aspect, why did they not act upon it between 1972 and 1975? What has happened between 1975 and 1979? We are not even talking about a Director-General who was appointed by our Government. We are talking about the present Opposition’s appointee. I remind the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr West) in relation to the remarks that he made earlier tonight that the present Director-General was appointed by the previous Administration. The appointment was approved by the present Government. He is a man in respect of whom all Australians, I believe, would have confidence and trust.
If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had proposed an amendment which was not mandatory but was permissive, providing a statutory framework for a Minister on particular occasions, in special cases -
– That is the amendment.
– I am sorry; it is not. The honourable member for Bonython knows very well that the words ‘the Minister shall be informed ‘ make it mandatory.
-It is not ‘shall be’. It says: . . if he requests’.
– I am sorry; I am looking at both amendments together to avoid duplication in my remarks. The proposed amendment to sub-section 3 states:
The Minister is entitled to access to all records of the Organization.
The next proposed provision states:
The Minister shall be informed by the Director-General as to the existence of any file … if the Minister so requests.
The words ‘any’, ‘all’ and ‘shall’ make it mandatory. So, if the Minister says ‘I want to see every single file’, the Director-General is obliged to inform him of those in existence. That puts the Director-General in the extraordinary situation of having given the Minister a list of every single file. The Opposition then says that the DirectorGeneral should decide which files he will show the Minister. Would one of the honourable members opposite explain to me what advantage there is in the Minister knowing the name of a file if he cannot see it? That is the effect of the amendment moved by the Opposition. The Opposition is saying that the Minister is entitled to know that there is a file on Clyde Holding or Ted Innes but that he is not entitled to see it. Is that logical?
-I think it is.
-The honourable member says that it is logical that the Minister can find out that there is a file on Ted Innes but is not allowed to look at it. I just cannot follow that. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports said in reply to me earlier that he knows very well that a Minister cannot be forced to answer a question on security. But what about a Minister who might be very happy to answer such a question, to let the information slip out? Let us not beat around the bush. Politics is a rough, tough game. Let us say that the Attorney-General is asked a Dorothy Dixer whether there is an Australian Security Intelligence Organisation file on an Opposition senator or an Opposition member of this chamber. Under the Opposition’s suggested provision the Minister could say: ‘I shouldn’t say it, but as a matter of fact there is an ASIO file on Mr U. E. Innes. I have not seen it and I cannot tell you what is in it but there is a file in the ASIO office on Ted Innes’. What a great injustice would be done. I know that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is genuinely concerned about the security of this country. Is it not far better for the Leader of the Opposition in his briefings with the Director-General behind closed doors to say: Look, the story is around that ASIO has a file on Mr Ted Innes. Let us discuss it’? If we cannot trust the Leader of the Opposition in this country -
– There could be one on you.
– I think there probably is one on me but it is pretty old now. I think going back to university days there probably is a file on me but it is 2 1 years old now and I am not very worried about it.
– Don’t you rate yourself the equal of a public servant?
– I do not know whether the honourable member is insulting me or the public servants of Australia. Would he make it clear? Somebody is being insulted and I am not sure whether it is me or somebody else.
– They can be notified, but you can’t be.
-No. The honourable member for Cunningham is a most entertaining debater but he has just made the most incredible comment. If he has public servants in his electorate, in fairness to himself he ought to make it very clear that that interjection was intended to insult me and not them. Having said that, I come back to the fundamental point. If we want a politicised security organisation, if we want a Federal Bureau of Investigation or SS type operation in Australia, put it in the hands of a Minister. Why have a Director-General? Why have a
Director-General if we are going to have the situation proposed in the amendment moved by the Opposition in which the Minister can know all of the names and addresses but not the details? I just cannot follow the logic of the proposed amendment but I do say one thing: If there were any substance in the amendment we would have seen it between 1972 and 1975 when the man moving it was in a position to make it the law of this country. The Opposition did not do it then and, with respect, I doubt its motives for trying to do it now.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, I am astonished that any member of this Parliament would get up in his place and behave as though public servants have any greater morality, greater authority, greater integrity and a greater right to be trusted with these kinds of secrets than has an elected representative of the Parliament. When somebody asks by the way of interjection ‘Don’t you consider yourself to be equal to a public servant? ‘, I reject that innuendo also. Any member of parliament who considers himself to be no better than a public servant ought to be treated as no better than a public servant. We are elected by the people of this country; the public servants are not.
I am bothered by the fact- it worries me- that this Parliament is prepared to pass a Bill that will give public servants who are not answerable to anybody at all the kinds of powers exercised by the OGPU, the Gestapo and the KGB. That is what we are doing. If we have to resort to the tactics of communism to beat communism and nazism to beat nazism, just what have we achieved? What are we left with, if we adopt all of those principles for which the totalitarian countries are so infamous? We have defeated ourselves by default.
It is an amazing thing to me that anyone would not object to a Minister of State, one of Her Majesty’s Executive Councillors, being put in an inferior position to a public servant. That is all the Director-General is, a public servant. We are going to stand up here and solemnly declare that we who are the direct representatives of this democratic society are going to allow ourselves to be treated as inferior to public servants- in effect the faceless people who are nameless and who constitute the Public Service- called ASIO. I do not trust the Public Service at all and I certainly do not trust ASIO. ASIO is made up, to a very large extent, of people who could not get a living anywhere else except in ASIO. Some of them are crooks whose records have never been tested. There is no way of testing them.
Let me tell honourable members something. I have the number of a car which, I am satisfied in my own mind, was used by ASIO at a quarter past 12 one day of last week to come down to my place at West Lakes to take pictures of the garage in which some of my precious records are stored. They are not stored there any longer. I would not put it past ASIO to mastermind a Watergate attempt to break into my place and take the records that it feels I should not have. I can tell honourable members that we are in the position now where nobody can check on this. The Minister cannot say to ASIO after my speech: ‘Have you got anything on Cameron?’ If ASIO says ‘Yes, we have’, the Minister cannot demand that ASIO supply Cameron’s file to him. But I am a member of parliament. Something that I just cannot understand is why a Parliament would sit here and allow its authority, its integrity and its prestige and its standing in the community to be so denigrated as is proposed by this Act of Parliament.
What I find equally astonishing is that members of the Parliament will get up and defend this Bill. I also find it unbelievable that Ministers of State would be party to a proposal that will place them in an inferior position to public servants, secret agents, call them what you like. Members of the secret police is what I call them. They are just as much a branch or just as much an example of the secret police as anything that Hitler ever had. There is no possible way of checking on them, there is no control over the expenditure of the Organisation and there is no way we can tell where the money is spent. The Ministers themselves do not even know whether they are being spied on.
I say this and I do not say it facetiously: How do members of the coalition know whether they are being spied on by ASIO? How does any member of the Ministry know that he was not spied on by ASIO? How does Senator Withers know that he was not spied on by ASIO, at the behest of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). There is no Minister in this Parliament safe from the prying eyes of ASIO. Under this proposal, this Bill that we now have before us, the Prime Minister could, if he discovered that there was a file on somebody, get the file if the Director-General chose to give it to him. We, those of us who have been in government, know the kind of relationship that builds up between an ambitious public servant and a Minister of State. It is highly unlikely that the DirectorGeneral would not give to the Prime Minister the information that was sought. What I find objectionable is the increasing power that one man is gaining over this country, the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister of this country is as much a dictator as Stalin or Hitler ever was. The only difference is that unlike them he has to face an election every three years. In between elections he exercises just as much personal power, dictatorial power over everybody in the Cabinet as did any dictator. This legislation is going to make his power even more absolute.
I was disapointed to hear the honourable member for Bonython (Dr Blewett) say that the proposal put by the Opposition does not give the Minister the right to demand files. On looking at the amendment I am satisfied that that is true. All that the amendment says is that he has the right to ask whether there is a file on a particular person; and once told that a file exists, he is not entitled to have access to any file, dossier or record concerning an individual person unless the Director-General considers it is in the interest of security that the Minister should have it. If the Minister cannot demand the file then there is no way that the Minister can be certain that the Director-General is not lying to him when he says that no file exists. All he has to do is say that no file exists and he overcomes the confrontation that would arise by the Minister’s asking him for something that he was not prepared to give him.
– That is what they said in South Australia- ten per cent of the population.
-That is what they said in South Australia- ten per cent of the population. Every member of the Labor Party, State and Federal, had a dossier prepared on him.
– A few Liberals too.
-A few Liberals, three Liberals, were included in it.
– Trade union officials.
-Yes, trade union officials. Three out of the whole Liberal population of South Australia, but every member of the Labor Party, Federal and State, had a dossier on them. They had a file on me. This is what I think is the whole tragedy of the thing. We are sitting here in this Parliament allowing public servants to con us into doing this sort of thing. Do we not have any self-respect? Do we not have any regard or love for the parliamentary democracy we are talking about? If we do not, let us turn it over to some dictatorial power or authoritarian state. At the rate we are going there is no difference between the system of government that we are slowly building up in this country and the worst features of Stalinism or Hitlerism.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Hon. Ian Robinson)- Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I am fascinated by the speech of the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). I suspect it was the sort of speech that ought to have been delivered in the general debate rather than now because it obviously had very wide-ranging implications and went to the fundamental nature of the legislation. If one takes the trouble to look at some of the speeches on the nature of the Bill generally it would be appreciated that the scheme of the legislation is to enable a security organisation to collect information. Now, I do not know what is altogether sinister about the collection of information. There may be something sinister about the way in which information is handled or the way in which it is disposed of or what is done with it when we get it, perhaps. I do not know. What we have to look at is the action that is taken. Simply, an organisation is set up to collect information and that is what it is about. I find it difficult to get persuaded emotionally by the sort of speech that I have just heard.
I do encourage honourable members to look at the speech of the honourable member for Hindmarsh because he brought out very clearly the point I made in relation to the earlier discussion on clause 8. It concerned the differences which are emerging from honourable members opposite in relation to this legislation. It would be interesting to see whether it will appear ultimately in their voting pattern, and whether the honourable member for Hindmarsh will vote against this clause because obviously the amendment that is proposed does not do what he is asking for.
If the honourable member for Hindmarsh genuinely believes that members of parliament are entitled by divine right to all information simply because some public servants in a particular organisation have access to that informatlar organisation have access to that ion- that seems to be the approach also of the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr West)- I would say he has a seconder for the proposal that he might want to advance. We would like to see the honourable member propose an amendment seriously if he had a different view from that of his colleagues in relation to this clause. We would like to see the honourable member exhibiting the democratic trends that are just emerging slightly in relation to this Bill, instead of the Australian Labor Party settling the position behind closed doors. I have no trouble in opposing this amendment in its entirety for the reasons that have been outlined by my colleagues.
I want to point out that the amendment certainly does not do what the honourable member for Hindmarsh is wanting it to do. It does not do what the honourable member for Cunningham wants it to do. Honourable members opposite clearly recognise the problems inherent in the addresses that we have just heard from the honourable member for Cunningham and the honourable member for Hindmarsh. Honourable members recognise that there are dangers involved in ensuring that a file on an individual person, collected for quite malicious political reasons, if put in the hands of the Government of the day- no matter which government it iscould be used in a most harmful way. I put it to honourable members opposite that not only might a file or a dossier be used in that way, but also the very existence of a file, and the fact that we know that there is a file on any individual can be used in the same adverse way with the same harm to the individual.
Clearly there is nothing in what is proposed by the Opposition that would indicate that the Minister, if he requested information as to whether there was a file or not, would have to be advised as to whether the fact that there was a file kept on the person meant that there was information adverse to his reputation to be found within that file. It may be that a person was simply seen innocently in the company of somebody else. The honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) mentioned a case in New Zealand. It was later proved that somebody who had been seen in the company of someone else was innocent. A file was kept on that person. The implication is that if a file is kept on an individual he is known adversely to the security organisation. That is all the information that the Opposition would want the Minister to know. I do not think that there is any virtue in a provision that enables the Minister to have half the information.
The amendment is nonsense. If the Opposition were serious about this amendment perhaps it could pick up the amendment suggested the honourable member for Hindmarsh. But the dangers inherent in his approach also have been pointed out. In my judgment there is no reason that we should accept the amendment as proposed, or even the foreshadowed amendments that we look forward to being moved by the honourable member for Hindmarsh, and seconded by the honourable member for Cunningham.
– It is incredible that honourable members opposite can say that it does not matter whether a file is kept by the security agents of this country. I suspect that many honourable members on the Opposition side of the Parliament have told of their experiences with the various security forces of this country since we began participating in the Labor movement. This goes back a number of years for all of us. But for honourable mem.benumber rs opposite to say that the fact that a security document may be kept on each one of us is not important because we do not have anything to hide seems to show a complete lack of understanding of what security forces are all about. Those opposite who say this sort of thing are completely ignorant of the role of the Central Intelligence Agency in such events as Watergate, its role in Vietnam, its role in Cambodia, the role of security, the way the CIA canvasses and lobbies politicians, and the way that the CIA keeps files on people. If this happens in the great democracy of the United States we can bet our lives that it happens here.
It is terribly important for the Minister to know that a file is being kept on someone. I will tell honourable members why it is important. There must be some criteria for the security forces to keep a file on anybody. The fact that we move an amendment saying that the Minister must be informed if he makes a request for information is of vital importance. When the Premier of South Australia questioned the Special Branch of the South Australian police, he was told that files did not exist. In fact it came to light that some 40,000 files were kept by the Special Branch of the South Australian police. It said that it was working in cahoots with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. It was working as an arm of ASIO. We were told by the then Commissioner, Mr Salisbury, that the Premier of the State was not entitled to the information he sought.
As the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) has said- and he has been here longer than anybody else- What right do we have to say that the Parliament, and the people who are serving it should not have this information? If the Minister cannot have this information as to whether files are kept, ASIO will keep files on everybody. It may be said that we have a good Director-General at present and that we need not be worried or that we have got nothing to hide. Who is going to be DirectorGeneral in five years time? What are the files to be used for? I will tell honourable members what the files are used for now. The files are used to stop the careers of people, whether in the Public Service or in the private sector. The files are used to embarrass people and are used for all sorts of purposes. There were used for blackmail when homosexuality was a bad word. That is the sort of thing that these security forces do.
The Parliament has a right to say: ‘You are answerable to Parliament’. Surely the honourable member for Hindmarsh is right about that. The honourable member for Kingston (Mr Chapman) says: ‘We have got nothing to hide so you can keep all the files on us that you like’. It would be quite a different story if the Labor Party were in government and the Liberal Party were in opposition, and the Labor Government said: ‘We are going to keep files, take photographs and follow every member of the Liberal Party around Australia and get nice big dossiers on you. If you are a married man, do not step off the footpath because we will get a nice juicy photograph of you ‘.
That is the sort of thing which will be done by the ASIO forces unless there is some restriction on their activities. Of course, there has been no restriction on their activities since 1949. That is why the Opposition says that there must be some benchmark for people keeping files on the citizens of Australia. The security organisation makes up its own mind. An honourable member may come into this Parliament and make a speech about some issue. ASIO is listening and says: ‘Let us keep a file on him. That is dangerous stuff that he is saying in the Parliament’. An honourable member might stand up in the park and make a speech about rotten events such as those in Vietnam. ASIO will say: ‘Let us keep a file on him’. As the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) said, most people in ASIO must be filing clerks, because it has so many files on people.
The essence of the amendment moved by the Opposition is important. If at any time we say that the Minister shall be informed whether a file is kept on any citizen of this country, there will be pressure on the ASIO forces to restrict the number of files that they keep on people. It will have to show some purpose for keeping their files. Without this amendment what has been happening in Australia since 1 949 will continue to happen. The Labor movement will continue to be hounded by the ASIO forces. ASIO will be another group of anti-Labor movement people in this country using the resources of government to harass the Labor movement. The green light will be given to ASIO by the Bill which has been presented by this Government.
– I take the opportunity of speaking a second time to say something which, after this Bill is carried, I will not be free to say, even in this Parliament. I want to reveal now that I am informed that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, with the knowledge of the Government, has had a tap on Mr Justice Staples ‘s private telephone for nearly three weeks. It is a damnable thing that a Federal judge should have his -
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Hon. Ian Robinson)- Order! It being 10.30 p.m. I shall report progress.
-It being past 10.30 p.m. I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr FitzPATRICK (Riverina) (10.3I)-On 9 October 1973 I raised the matter of a small country newspaper, the Lachlander, operating in Condobolin. This newspaper was under a takeover threat by a larger company called Western Newspaper Ltd. I am happy to be able to report to the House tonight that the Lachlander is still publishing and is now in its eighty-fifth year. It has been operated as a family business by the Ryder- Wood family for the past 26 years, although more recently without the assistance of Mr Ryder- Wood senior who passed away a few years ago. When Condobolin was in my electorate that newspaper never refused to publish anything I submitted. As I am still a reader of the Lachlander I am pleased to observe that the present Minister for Health (Mr Hunt) gets the same co-operation from the Lachlander as I did when I was the Federal member for that area. I am sure both of us admire the service given by and the dedication of the Ryder-Wood family. We admire the assistance that the Lachlander has given to the Condobolin district.
I raise the matter again tonight because my attention has been drawn to another small country newspaper, the New South Western Standard, which is published in the WentworthDaretonEuston area in my electorate. I ask the people in that area to give this newspaper the support it needs and to watch it grow. This newspaper has drawn to my attention, and I am sure to the attention of many other people, matters that are vitally important to the welfare and livelihood of the citizens in that area. I draw the attention of this House to just a few of the many matters raised by the New South Western Standard. I refer to an article under the heading Citrus- or Synthetics ‘. As I have not time to read all the article I ask leave of the House to incorporate it in Hansard. There is nothing contentious in it.
The document read as follows-
The Australian Citrus Industry is taking action to ensure that the manufacture and sale of Vitamin C supplements, which are made to resemble fruit juice beverage, are subject to the Food and Drug Regulations of the respective states.
In N.S.W. these synthetic products are manufactured under the Therapeutic Act, while in Victoria they would be registered under the Proprietary Medicines Act, and as such appear to be in the same category as vitamins in the tablet form.
An analysis of one product showed the contents to be:
Sugar 94 per cent Citric Acid 4.8 per cent Ascorbic Acid 0.24 per cent. with a minute trace of Potassium, less than 0.00S per cent and about 100 times as much sodium.
The report also stated ‘One hundred ml. of this drink contains the minimum daily recommended amount of Vitamin C (30 mg.), a substantial amount of sugar, as well as a small proportion of sodium that most of us could quite happily do without (the National Health and Medical Research Council is concerned that Australians consume too much sodium, which can contribute to high blood pressure). Based on information provided by the C.S.I.R.O. Division of Food Research, the comparative composition range of 100g of orange juice would be:
Fruit Sugars 8- 12g
Fruit Acids (mainly citrus acid) 0.6- l.Sg Ascorbic Acid 48-74mg Sodium 0.2-3.0mg Potassium 52-284mg.
In addition, orange juice contains Carbohydrate, calcium and phosphorous and other valuable substances.
The Australian Citrus Industry does not object to the manufacture and sale of synthetic vitamin supplement products for consumption as a beverage but it considers that such products should be subject to the same regulations as the real citrus juice beverages so as to ensure that the consumer is fully aware of what he or she is buying. The synthetic supplements are not approved for sale in Western Australia and other states are being requested by grower organisations to ensure that they are labelled in accordance with regulations controlling food.
A small mistake appeared in last week’s article on citrus production costs, but it amounts to $7,000 for the 20 per cent of growers in the area survey with the lowest net farm income who made a loss of $3,508- the minus sign was omitted before the figure $3,508.
-The front page of the Diamond Valley News of last Tuesday, 9 October reveals that yet another crisis is afflicting the Eltham Shire Council. Under the headline ‘Engineer sacked- uproar as Council’s axe falls’ we read that after two hour’s debate, Eltham Council voted five to three to sack the Shire Engineer Mr John McDonald, who has been in the employ of the Council for 27 years. Normally I do not indulge in public comment on municipal affairs, preferring to leave the elected councillors to resolve matters among themselves and accept complete responsibility for their actions. However, recently the Council has indulged in some grandstanding on matters of Federal Government responsibility and so I feel free to comment. While municipal administration goes to pot, Eltham Council seems to have Council time and ratepayers’ funds to spend on matters which are not related to issues on which the councillors were elected. For example, Eltham Council has proposed spending $1,300 on signs to be erected in the municipality which read ‘Eltham is a Nuclear Free Zone’. How extraordinary!
My colleague, the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr N. A. Brown) has already attacked this proposal in the local Press. He has rightly pointed out that this year the Federal
Government has given Eltham a grant of $410,000 to help with municipal expenditure and keep rates down. This expenditure is untied because we believe that local people should determine local needs and priorities. But if we find that municipal councillors are going to spend the money on publicising their views on matters of national policy for which they have no mandate, this Parliament might have to think of putting strings on the federal grants.
It was fascinating to read in last week’s Diamond Valley News that the councillor who has advocated this irrelevant expenditure also urged a larger increase in rates than the council agreed to. Councillor Jean Downing, who incidentally stood as the Australian Labor Party candidate for the federal seat of Diamond Valley at the last federal election, and more recently as the ALP candidate for the State seat of Doncaster, has publicly advocated a rate increase this year of at least 13 te per cent rather than the 10 per cent which has been decided. The mind boggles at what irrelevant ALP propaganda she would choose to spend the money on. Councillor Downing is reported as justifying the signs by saying: ‘I don’t want a repeat of Hiroshima in the shire of Eltham’. Really! As if such signs themselves would keep the bombs away. As one local resident said in a letter to the Press, it would be equally valid to erect notices proclaiming that Eltham is a polar bear free zone’. This correspondent asks: To what do we give credit- the vigilance of the Shire Ranger or the general unavailability of polar bears in the Eltham region?
Another matter the Council has found time to consider is the relative merit of various types of beer. It has written to the honourable member for Diamond Valley and to me suggesting changes to excise duty on beer. Councillors are perfectly entitled to their views on such matters and I would be delighted if individually they would take the trouble to make representations on them to me, but they have no business taking up Council time and municipal administrative effort on such matters outside the Council’s responsibilities, I mentioned these matters because I think they are part of an explanation of the problems the shire is experiencing. Within the last few years we have seen petty personal warfare disrupt Council meetings; we have seen the Shire’s chief administrator sacked; we have seen a deficit of about $500,000 develop, and now we see a long-standing servant of the Shire, the Engineer, being dismissed. If the Council spent more time discussing municipal affairs some of these problems may not have developed.
A list of nine reasons have been produced for sacking the Shire Engineer. Most of them relate to allegations of failing to carry out Council directions and failure to provide information. I am not in a position to judge the accuracy of any of the specific allegations, but even if they are true they are themselves a condemnation of the Council itself. If the councillors had spent their time scrutinising expenditure proposals and developmental proposals and looking after ratepayers ‘ interests, the complaints listed are not the sorts of problems that would have arisen. It seems to me to be quite possible that the engineer just had to get on with his work as best he could while some councillors carried on with all manner of irrelevant rubbish. If councillors do not stop wasting the Council’s time and administrative efforts, the State Minister for Local Government ought to step in.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I take up the time of the House for a few minutes tonight to criticise the media on a couple of points. Firstly, I think all of us would agree that Japan is quite an important country to Australia and Japanese politics are important to Australia. Therefore, I ask the leave of the House to incorporate in Hansard two tables setting out the results of the recent Japanese election showing not only the number of seats won but also the percentage of votes compared with those at the previous election.
The tables read as follows-
– It is depressing that the Australian Press has given no information whatever on the election results in Japan, one of the very few countries with a democratic constitution and democratic behaviour. I had to obtain those figures from the Japanese Embassy via the Parliamentary Library. One would have thought that the Australian media would have published the results.
The second criticism is about an article in last Sunday’s issue of the Sunday Telegraph, dated 14 October. Possibly because of the incorporation of certain features of News Limited ‘s now deceased paper Sunday into the Sunday Telegraph, there is a two-page spread by a selfappointed expert on organised crime, one Dr McCoy, who is described as ‘the American-born university history lecturer, now living in Sydney’ and who has written ‘the definitive book’whatever that may mean- on the international drug trade. I do think that the media ought to look at what people say and be slightly more critical. He talks about starting price betting. I do not deny that I have had an SP bet at some stage in my life. I do not raise this matter on that basis. I make this criticism because I think SP betting or any other subject ought to be discussed on a rational basis. Dr Alfred McCoy’s article reads:
Taking the figure of-
I emphasise that this is the first time in the article that he mentions the figureSi, 420 million as a conservative estimate of the SP’s annual turnover in New South Wales, the police anti-betting campaign has cost the illegal bookmakers a substantial part of their business.
How does he arrive at a figure of $ 1,420m? He does not give any information whatever. He says that a substantial part of the business of illegal bookmakers has been destroyed by the action of the police. Earlier in the article, he says:
Awash in an unexpected flood of cash and custom the TAB has watched its revenues soar by more than $ 1 million a week . . .
I think that most honourable members would agree that $ lm a week adds up to $S2m a year. I do not quite know how one can describe that $52m as a very substantial part of the estimated annual turnover of SP betting which he puts conservatively at $ 1 ,420m.
Later in the article, he refers to the enormous amount of money involved. One of the things to which I as one who likes to have a gamble object very strongly is the practice of people who continue to compare what they call the gambling habits of Australians with the failure of Australians to spend money on other items. The important point to remember about money that is gambled is that all of that money is not lost. Anybody who has ever gambled knows that, whether the money is put into a poker machine or invested on SP betting or at the TAB, those who run the gambling operation take a cut of between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of the sum gambled and the average punter receives some of his or her money back. Dr McCoy is reported to have said:
First, look at the enormous amount of money involved. The total SP turnover-
He is talking about New South Wales- of $ 1,420m for 1978 is well over half of Australia’s total national defence budget of $2,430m for 1977-78, and somewhat under half of the New South Wales State revenues of $3,200m.
This is the usual story. He then goes on to say:
Assuming a 10 per cent profit-
In other words, if there is a 10 per cent profit there is also a 10 per cent loss on the part of the punters and an amount of $ 142m is involved, not an amount of $1,420. Again I emphasise that I would like to see some statement by this alleged expert on how he arrives at the figure of $ 1,420m. It is an arbitrary figure which he has plucked out of thin air, as far as one can make out from this article. He does not give it any support but then calls it a conservative figure.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-In a speech in the adjournment debate last Wednesday night the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr John Brown) made a series of charges against me relating to the Cootamundra district abattoir dispute. I will deal with them in the order in which the honourable member raised them. He accused me of ‘shady, almost clandestine actions behind the scenes’. He continued:
These actions cloaked under the guise of interceding on behalf of disadvantaged families were in fact hypocritically calculated to manipulate men fighting to retain their employment under the State award.
I reject the accusation of the honourable member for Parramatta. Constituents of mine came to see me about the continued closure of the abattoir. I did nothing other than to respond to the requests made of me by my constituents.
The honourable member said that I interfered in union matters. I did not. I said and continue to say that members of the union concerned in Cootamundra have it in their hands to make their own decisions, that they do not have to be used as pawns by the union officials in Sydney. The union itself said it would be bound by the majority in Cootamundra but refused to call a meeting on the award issue between 1 1 May and 25 August. The abattoir closed on 22 June. In facing a three-month closure of the major industry in Cootamundra, I pointed out that there was another way out- an alternative. Are we to accept that union officials have a monopoly on the right to speak, as the honourable member for Parramatta would suggest? I did not interfere in union affairs. The union interfered with the right of 320 people to work, 200 of whom are still not employed. The honourable member for Parramatta speaks with pride of that union. It is a union which has caused more disruption than probably any other. It is a union which has contributed nothing but disorder and chaos to a great Australian industry.
The honourable member made accusations about my role in the withholding of unemployment benefit payments. These accusations, like the others he made, are false. After receiving inquiries from dismissed workers, my office made the normal check with the Department of Social Security and was informed that as the workers had contributed to their dismissal unemployment benefit would not be available. The local Social Security office informed my office that the decision would have to be ratified by Sydney or Canberra. I released a statement which said nothing more than that. There followed a series of accusations that the management had engineered the strike in order to close the works and ultimately the Department of Social Security declared that unemployment benefit would be available. I had already announced my intention to have the whole matter determined by the Social Security Appeals Tribunal in view of the confused situation and in view of representations to me by former employees who had been on recreation leave, on sick leave, on night shift and in other situations and who were denied benefits. Because of the Department’s action, it was not necessary for me to pursue this course.
The honourable member for Parramatta referred to telegrams which resulted from meetings he accused me of organising. I did not organise those meetings. They were organised by concerned union members and former employees who wanted their jobs back and were not concerned about the technicalities of award coverage. It is to the credit of those people, not me, that they were prepared to indicate their dissatisfaction with the way in which their situation was being handled by the union. The union has emerged from the whole affair with no credit. The honourable member for Parramatta has emerged with no credit in trying to score political points from a situation in which he was not involved and about which he has received secondhand and obviously biased reports. All his accusations against me are without foundation. The people of Cootamundra know the facts and I am happy to be judged by them.
– Well may the honourable member for Hume (Mr Lusher) be judged by the people of Cootamundra; come the next election, he no doubt will be. When I made that speech last Wednesday night, I sincerely believed every word that I said, and I still do. I do not think that the honourable member for Hume has done anything to deny the facts as I placed them before the House. The simple truth is that 350 people were working at Conkey and Sons Ltd at the time of the dispute and I have no doubt at all that Metro Meat Ltd did engineer the strike in order to convert people who, for a generation, have traditionally been working under a State award, with all its advantages, to a federal award which would suit Metro Meat Ltd. Eventually Justice Mary Gaudron ruled against the company and in time enabled those men to go back to work after all that time under all the conditions that they had enjoyed before that period.
– They did not.
Mr JOHN BROWNThey did.
– They did not go back under the conditions that they enjoyed before.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member for Hume will refrain from interjecting.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, I have here a copy of Justice Mary Gaudron ‘s judgment and I seek leave to have it incorporated in Hansard, just to prove the point.
In the matter of an application by the Meat and Allied Trades Federation of Australia to vary the
in relation to respondency (CNo. 646 of 1979) JUSTICE GAUDRON sydney, 19 September, 1979. DECISION
This matter, the hearing of which was commenced before Commissioner Gough and was by consent of the parties referred to me for further hearing and determination, arises from an application by the Meat and Allied Trades Federation of Australia to extend the Meat Industry Interim Award, 196S to the operation of Metro Meat Ltd at Cootamundra in the State of New South Wales.
The meat works were until recently operated by Conkey and Sons Ltd in accordance with the provisions of the New South Wales Butchers, Wholesalers (Country) Award. The works were on 29 March, 1979 taken over by Metro Meat which operates abattoirs at Noarlunga and Peterborough in South Australia and at Katanning and Geraldton in Western Australia. At each of the five works, Metro Meat slaughters and processes beef, mutton, lambs and pigs. Each of Metro Meat’s five abattoirs is export licensed, and as much as 80 per cent of its total product is exported. Some of its product finds it way on to the inter-state market, and only a small proportion of the product of any of the abattoirs is traded locally.
The South Australian works at Noarlunga operate under the provisions of the subject award. The Western Australian establishments operate under State regulation, although it is to be noted that the application which gave rise to these proceedings states that ‘indeed, the Company will be making a similar application to cover its West Australian operations at Katanning and Geraldton, Western Australia. ‘
Metro Meats has a centralised administration situated in Adelaide. Cattle are from time to time transported interstate to keep the various operations running at maximum capacity. Processed meat is similarly transported interstate to enable agglomeration for the filling of orders. Personnel are also interchanged between the operations, although not to a significant degree.
The operation of Metro Meat, in particular their location in different states and their significant export orientation, are such that prima facie federal award regulation is desirable. Additional factors were relied upon by Metro Meat in support of the application and included the advantages of being placed on a competitive footing with other meat exporters whose operations are governed by federal awards, and the benefit of better industrial relations which the Company hoped would flow from federal award coverage. Unfortunately, these subsidiary arguments have hidden within them the factors which make extension of the subject award to the Cootamundra operations of Metro Meat undesirable. The award has not proved to be the best method of regulating the meatworks of large meat exporters. The Angliss Group, Borthwicks, T. A. Field and J. C. Huttons whom Metro Meat nominated as its competitors in the meat export industry, all operate under federal awards which have been separated from the general federal meat award. Moreover, the subject award makes no provision for piece work or tally mutton slaughtering, a system which has operated at Cootamundra and which presumably Metro Meat would wish to continue. For its mutton slaughtering in South Australia a seperate agreement has been reached between the Company and the
South Australian Branch of the Union. The absence of such a provision would in the event that the subject award were extended to the Cootamundra operations be more likely to cause industrial disputation than to effect industrial peace. The evidence suggests that the last few years have witnessed an unhappy industrial relations environment at the Cootamundra works. It would be naive to suppose that the introduction of a federal award would of itself transform this situation. Indeed, it would appear that some disputes have arisen directly from the moves made by Metro Meat to secure federal award coverage. Certain changes would eventually follow any such introduction, and not all such change would benefit the employees. Indeed some would be to the disadvantage of some employees. These factors in my view make extension of the Federal Meat Industry Interim Award, 196S to the Cootamundra works of Metro Meat inappropriate. Moreover, without wishing to prejudice any further application with respect to the Katanning and Geraldton works, it should be noted that the subject award does not operate in the state of Western Australia.
For the above reasons, I reject the application. Such rejection is a rejection only of extension of the Federal Meat Industry Interim Award, and not of the concept of federal award coverage, which, as I have previously indicated would appear to be appropriate to operations such as those of Metro Meat.
– I thank the House. That document certainly proves the efficacy of my statement. The facts are that the honourable member for Hume sought to involve himself in a union dispute when he had no right to do so. I have here a cutting from a newspaper which proves the point that I am making. It is a letter which was written to the local newspaper and which, as I say, proves the point that I am making. It states: a Mr Charles Smith-Watson, who is a director of Metro, and a Mr Ron Burdess from the Australian Meat and Allied Trades Association-
Incidentally, that association is the association which covers the management of company meatworkers- went to see Mr Fred Hall, the secretary of the Federal Branch of the AMIEU, and stated the company does not condone any statements being made (or meetings called) by Stephen Lusher or any other political figures, because the dispute is between the union and Metro only and decisions that may come out of these meetings will have no bearing on the opening of the works.
That comment has been confirmed by the general concern about this matter and is mentioned in this letter. In fact the efforts of the honourable member for Hume in involving himself in this dispute brought no credit to him at all. I think it is worth mentioning that the company involved which the honourable member for Hume sought to support has a very poor record as an employer in the meat industry. I would like to point out a few of the facts concerning it. At the handing down of Justice Mary Gaudron’s decision, the men went back to work under a State award, which was the decision of Justice Gaudron.
– As written.
-But unfortunately the award was as written and not as worked before because the company repudiated conditions under which these men had worked under the Conkey and Sons Ltd management for a long time. One of the prime rules of unionism is being disturbed inasmuch as seniority is not being recognised. Men who had worked there for 20 years have gone back, starting from scratch because of this dispute started by the company. It appears to me that Metro has been spoiling for a fight all along. Its record as an employer around Australia is very poor. Its Geraldton works are closed; its Katanning works have been closed for 3 months; and its Peterborough and Noarlunga works in South Australia are working for only one or two days a week when other abattoirs are managing to work a full week.
The sad part of this is that people in those little towns where these abattoirs are the main employer have no alternative form of employment. So men with families are working for one or two days a week to get something which is less than a subsistence wage. Because they work for one or two days a week, they are rendered ineligible for any sort of unemployment relief. If they were not legitimate, honest meat workers, they would be going on the dole and getting more money for doing nothing. But they do not do so; they persist in trying to exist in an industry in which they have existed for many years. This situation that these men find themselves in is not to the company’s credit.
I am amazed that the honourable member for Hume has the gall to come in here tonight to try to answer these charges. The simple facts are that he arranged a meeting in Cootamundra of something like SO members out of 350 who were on strike, got them to achieve a decision and then sent telegrams to the court, expecting that the court would take some notice of the decision. Justice Gaudron knocked back those telegrams, just as I refute the evidence given here tonight by the honourable member for Hume.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-Many members of this House have had an opportunity in recent years to go overseas and examine some of the Australian aid projects around the world that are funded by the Government. I am sure that most of us who have had an opportunity to see some of those projects in operation have nothing but admiration for the Australians who dedicate themselves to improving the lifestyles and conditions of some of those nations which we support. I believe that we, as a Parliament, have a very great obligation to support those people who are willing to give their time and talents, in many cases under very difficult circumstances, to try to improve some of those developing countries. However, in recent years there has been a tendency- and I do not criticise this decision at all- for the Australian Staffing Assistance Scheme to tend to pay any aid money directly to the Government concerned and for that Government in turn to pay Australian personnel on some of those aid projects. This is certainly causing some problems in some areas of the world.
One particular case has come to my attention, the case of Western Samoa. On 20 June this year, the Western Samoan Government announced a IS per cent devaluation of the Western Samoan tala against the New Zealand dollar. The Western Samoan bank rate for buying Australian dollars since has changed from a mean figure of 0.8032 in May as against a mean figure of 1.0186 in September. Effectively this has been a devaluation against the Australian dollar of 26.8 per cent. Unfortunately the Public Service Commission in Western Samoa has refused to adjust ASAS salaries which are paid in Western Samoan currency to reflect this devaluation. The Australian staff working on this scheme, therefore have suffered in effect a 26.8 per cent salary cut in Australian dollar terms. Under the ASAS staff are fully taxed by the Western Samoan Government and in many instances the level of taxation exceeds the Western Samoan Government’s contribution to their salaries in any aid project and more often than not is higher than the Australian rate of taxation. So one could almost suggest that some governments in actual fact are receiving a net financial gain.
I believe that there is an urgent requirement for a full review of the Australian Staffing Assistance Scheme operating in areas such as this, both in relation to these points and in relation to the wishes of ASAS personnel. I am sure that many would prefer full payment of their salary and taxation in Australia, which in all probability would result in no extra net cost to the Australian Government and would provide Government support to the staff. Alternatively perhaps the Australian contribution to salaries should be paid and taxed in Australia and foreign government contributions should be paid and taxed in that particular country. I certainly believe that salaries should be tied in some way to the Australian dollar so that the people who are prepared with almost missionary zeal to go into some of those far-flung parts of the world do not suffer any financial hardship because of these fluctuations in salary.
Of course, it is a fact that many of these salaries are not necessarily high. In the situation in Western Samoa, in which constituents of mine are involved, the salary range is in the vicinity of $13,000 to $14,000 a year, admittedly with a house provided. But this 26.8 per cent devaluation, in addition to the high rate of taxation that exists in that country and the high rate of import duty on goods that are desired by Western citizens, has made it almost financially impossible for people to stay there and to make their contributions to that particular aid project. I have made representations to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) and I know that he is particularly sympathetic and is investigating the situation now. I would urge the Australian Staffing Assistance Scheme to have a further look at some of the contributions it is making to some of these foreign aid schemes to make sure that Australians who are prepared to dedicate their lives to the betterment of these people in some of these developing nations get a fair deal all round.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! It being 1 1 p.m. the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until 2. IS p.m. tomorrow.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 23 August 1978:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In this respect it is basic to the philosophy of the Government that as far as possible the economy operate according to market forces, and the type of detailed control envisaged by the report was totally unacceptable.
Such controls would lead to increased costs for both taxpayers and consumers, and in the long-term would be seen by even those retailers involved in the industry as an unacceptable level of interference in their own commercial activities.
The Government’s view on the recommendation of the Royal Commission has not changed. However, whilst the Government rejected the recommendation it has initiated certain action in the petroleum retail marketing industry which reflects its concern regarding some of the issues highlighted by the Royal Commission.
The Government established an oil industry conference to enable all interested parties in the industry to attempt to settle the problems associated with petroleum marketing. After the conference I announced a package of possible measures on 30 October 1978, which the Government currently has under consideration, concerning the retail marketing of petroleum.
Following my announcement of the package I invited and received submissions from State Governments, dealer groups, oil companies and other interested parties. I have also had extensive discussions with interested parties over the period and have received a report on developments in the United States relevant to the Australian proposals. The report, prepared by a study group led by Sir Robert Cotton,
K.C.M.G., Australian Consul-General, New York, was tabled in Parliament on 3 May 1 979.
I will be reporting to the Government in the near future on the outcome of my examination of the petroleum marketing industry. In making its decision, the Government will take account of the views and comments it has received as well as significant changes in the market situation where widespread discounting with allegations of price discrimination has been replaced by supply difficulties and virtual cessation of discounting at the retail level.
In the 1978-79 Budget the Government decided that all Australian produced crude oil should be priced to the refineries at import parity prices. The decision to move to import parity pricing was taken with a number of energy policy objectives in mind. These were the encouragement of oil exploration and development, the encouragement of greater economies in energy usage and the use of other fuels in preference to oil and the fostering of a more intensive search for alternatives to oil. Each of these objectives requires that realistic prices be paid for petroleum products.
Wholesale prices charged by companies for petroleum products are subject to examination by the Prices Justification Tribunal. In this regard the Tribunal has held a number of public inquiries and in a number of its reports has commented on landed costs and transfer prices of crude oil. The P.J.T. will continue to monitor the prices of petroleum products.
asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 22 March 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) Inherent in the theme of my opening address was the proposition that uniformity, where practicable, would effect reductions both in costs of production and in prices to consumers. While I was able to give an example of extra costs of some $22,300 p.a. faced by one firm because of the lack of uniformity in State packaging and labelling requirements in that particular case, I also indicated that it was hard to document the costs which the lack of uniformity added to the production of goods and the prices paid for them by consumers.
It is quite clear, however, that the separate printing, artwork, inventories and storage facilities, which often have to be undertaken or maintained by manufacturers because of differing State packaging and labelling requirements, would add considerable costs to the production of goods which are subject to those requirements.
For this reason the Government is determined to take all steps to achieve uniformity where possible in packaging and labelling laws throughout Australia within the specialised food, agricultural and health areas and on a broader level through the meetings of the Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers for Consumer Affairs.
State and Territory Governments have agreed that discussions be held with the Commonwealth so that there can be a co-ordinated effort to improve uniformity throughout the nation. Each State and Territory Minister responsible for Consumer Affairs has been nominated by bis State or Territory Government to co-ordinate action on the development of State and Territory views on, and proposals for, uniformity in packaging and labelling. Initial consideration of this matter has commenced and at the last two meetings of the Standing Committee of Ministers for Consumer Affairs discussion took place as to the methods which could be adopted to assist the task of reducing non-uniformity in packaging and labelling requirements. Possible methods of improving uniformity and possible ways of increasing the availability of information to business and to consuers on Australia’s packaging and labelling requirements are being considered. The States and Territories have recently made available to the Commonwealth copies of relevant legislation for study to identify areas of non-uniformity and, in consultation, to make suggestions for possible changes.
In addition Commonwealth, State and Territory officials are in the process of dealing with specific areas of nonuniformity and two important subjects, the date marking of foodstuffs and article price numbering, are listed for discussion at the next meeting of the Standing Committee of Ministers for Consumer Affairs to be held in Darwin in November this year.
asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 3 1 May 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) The Commission compared examples of retail margins in Australia with those in certain other countries but did not quantify the basis for this cirticism
The Tribunal’s involvement with retail pricing of petroleum products has been fairly limited. However, details made available to the PJT by the New South Wales Prices Commission show that the retail margin for motor spirit in New South Wales at 1 April 1976 was 19 per cent and at 1 September 1979, 16 percent.
Details of retail margins applying in other States are not available.
These inquiries have provided companies and interested organisations and persons with the opportunity to present views and information about all aspects of petroleum product pricing. Justified prices determined by the Tribunal for petroleum products have therefore been arrived at on the basis of the best available information on the industry. The oil companies are currently required to notify their proposed price increases to the PJT.
asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 30 May 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 30 May 1979:
What quantity of (a) motor spirit and (b) heating oil was purchased from reseller outlets in (i) Australia and (ii) each State and Territory in each week since January 1 978.
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
These statistics are not collected by my Department or by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 30 May 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 30 May 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 30 May 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 30 May 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 30 May 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
These statistics are taken from Annexure ‘ A’ No. 2.6 to the 4th Report of the Royal Commission.
These statistics are taken from Annexure ‘A’ No. 2.22 to the 4th Report of the Royal Commission. The Report did not give statistics for average monthly sales by retail outlets. However, it can be assumed that the above figures closely correlate with average monthly sales by retail outlets.
asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 30 May 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In its report of 1 1 April 1979 on Shell Australia Limited, the Tribunal reviewed the methods it used to determine justified prices for petroleum products and examined whether they were appropriate in current circumstances. In this regard it considered submissions from interested parties suggesting alternative approaches to its present basis of pricing petroleum products. The Tribunal, however, decided on that occasion not to alter its existing approach, but indicated its intention to continue to re-examine its methods in future inquiries.
In its latest report dated 17 August 1979 the Tribunal again considered alternative ways of adjusting relative prices, but made no changes to its existing method.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 7 June 1979:
-The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 7 June 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I refer the honourable member to the answer provided by the Minister for Administrative Services to Question on Notice No. 4299 (See Hansard, 11 September 1979, page 972).
asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce, upon notice, on 2 1 August 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Moreover, most losses which have occurred have generally been borne by principals such as air and sea carriers.
On 26 January 1979 I announced that the Government had decided not to proceed with legislation to regulate the activities of travel agents operating in Australia. Although the Government had earlier agreed to introduce the legislation, it reconsidered the position as a result of objections raised by the States and industry and following advice from the Travel and Tourist Industry Advisory Council, and a committee of Commonwealth Departments, that the legislation should not proceed.
In deciding not to proceed with legislation the Government has regard to the degree of protection for the travelling public which already exists, including Commonwealth and State laws relating to the protection of the consumer, the regulation of corporate bodies and crimes matters generally.
The Government had given careful attention to the need for separate Commonwealth legislation in respect of travel agents but concluded that the heavy administrative burden which would result and the additional costs to the industry and to the travelling public, could not be justified.
I do not believe that circumstances presently exist which would warrant the Government taking action to regulate travel agent activities.
asked the Minister for Trade and Resources, upon notice, on 22 August 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Community’s relations with developing countries are governed principally by the Convention with African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries (ACP) signed at Lome in 1975 (entering into force 1.4.1976). The Convention which now applies to 57 developing countries, covers such aspects as trade co-operation, stabilisation of export earnings and industrial, technical and financial co-operation.
It should also be noted that the Community has arrangements on imports of steel with seventeen countries: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Hungary, Japan, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 22 August 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Qantas carried 146,559 passengers between Australia and London during the period 1 February to 2 1 July 1979
Passengers included in (e) are classified as non revenue, i.e. paying less than 25 per cent of the fare. There are some staff and industry passengers travelling at SO per cent and 75 per cent discount who, in accordance with world-wide practice, are treated as revenue passengers.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 22 August 1979:
-The Minister for Education has provided the following reply to the honourable member’s question: ( 1 )-(4) It is important to note that there are two types of symbols in use. One version called Bliss symbols was created and is still being used and taught by Mr Charles Bliss, A.M. The other version, Blissymbolics, created by the Blissymbolics Communication Foundation, Toronto, Canada from the original Bliss symbols, was the one being taught in A.C.T. schools. The Foundation began with the assistance and participation of Mr Bliss in 1 975.
Mr Bliss signed an agreement with the Foundation which related to copyright and gave the Foundation the right to sub-licence the use of the system. The Foundation made some changes to the Bliss symbols and adapted new symbols. This action did not meet with Mr Bliss approval, and he has taken legal proceedings against the Foundation for breach of copyright. The Foundation does not accept that either it, or its licensees, have violated copyright in any way, or that its symbols are unauthorised.
In October 1978, the Deputy Crown Solicitor’s Office advised the A.C.T. Schools Authority that it might be liable for infringements of copyright if its employees continued to use Blissymbolics without the consent of Mr Bliss. The Deputy Crown Solicitor recommended that the Authority could obtain consent from both Mr Bliss and the Foundation to avoid running the risk of having action brought against it and its teachers. At that time both the Authority and the Deputy Crown Solicitor’s office had views from only one of the parties to the dispute as information from the Foundation was not available. On 8 November 1978 the Authority advised staff using Blissymbolics to cease using this method until further notice.
Together with many educational authorities around the world, the A.C.T. Schools Authority has a high regard for Bliss symbols. Many teachers, however, prefer to use the Blissymbolics system which they consider more oriented towards schools use. It should be noted that the Foundation’s work and influence have spread from Canada to the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. No other educational authority, including those in Canada, appear to have taken action to prevent the use of Blissymbolics.
The A.C.T. Schools Authority is hopeful that it will be able to withdraw its restrictions on the use of the materials.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 23 August 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Film ‘The Land My Mother’ (Question No. 4482)
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 28 August 1 979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
This film was made by Film Australia on behalf of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to make known to all Australians the special relationship the Aboriginals have with the land. This affinity with the land is fundamental to the Aboriginal’s sense of identity and characterises their traditional society. The Australian Government has recognised this special cultural identity of the Aboriginal people within the life and laws of Australian society in its Lands Rights Legislation and its minerals development policies. ‘
Miss Galditz was given a German translation of this statement.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 28 August 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The $36,000 represented the balance of the $100,000 made available to the AMA in 1976 to facilitate the Association’s action aimed at introducing systems of peer review into Australia. Provision has been made for the further support of the two studies in 1979-80 by way of health services research and development grants.
On the Commonwealth’s part, it is enthusiastic in its support of activities concerned with peer review. Since 1976-77 it has provided some Sim for the support of activities directly concerned with peer review. Of this $ 1 m, $ 1 50,000 has been allocated to the AMA for the support of a wide range of activities including the establishment in conjunction with the Australian Council on Hospital Standards, of the Peer Review Resources Centre. The Centre is of particular importance because it provides a reference point from which expert advice and assistance can be provided to doctors and other personnel in the health services who wish to develop peer review systems; and $850,000 has been allocated to the support of independent research studies into matters directly associated with the development of peer review systems.
The Government has provided $1.8m in 1979-80 for health services research and development grants and a high priority will be given to grant applications which address peer review issues.
While it is not possible to estimate a precise figure, the Commonwealth also makes a significant contribution to the development of peer review systems through the hospital cost-sharing arrangements under which the Commonwealth meets 50 per cent of the agreed net operating costs of recognised hospitals.
asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce, upon notice, on 28 August 1 979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Following my statement to the House on 23 August 1979 regarding the Crawford Report I was given leave to incorporate in Hansard details of the Government’s responses to each of the Study Group’s recommendations. The Government’s response to the recommendation that consideration be given to appropriate institutional arrangements for the provision of equity and long-term finance to small and medium-sized firms was that this matter will be considered when the report of the Campbell Inquiry is to hand.
asked the Minister for Housing and Construction, upon notice, on 20 August 1 979:
What procedures have been adopted by each State for determining market-related rents as required under the 1 978 Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement.
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The 1978 Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement gives the States autonomy and flexibility in administering housing arrangements, including determination of market related rents and how those rents would be applied.
The rental procedures that apply in each State are outlined below. This information is based on material provided by each State.
In New South Wales a ceiling rent of 80 per cent of the level of rents for similar dwellings in the private rental market, is applied to all new and vacated dwellings. For existing tenants weekly rents are increased by $5 each year until they reach the market related rent for that dwelling.
Victoria applies rents related to the average rents for similar privately-owned housing, to both new and vacated Housing Commission dwellings. The maximum rent increase in one year is limited to $6 per week until the market related rent is reached.
The Queensland Housing Commission has adopted a system based on a minimum rent of $42 per week, which represents 87.5 per cent of market rent. When the scheme commenced, in February 1979, all existing rents were increased by $2.60 per week. Those still below $42 were then further increased by an amount up to $3.40, provided they did not exceed the minimum rent. The Commission has continued to calculate rents on new dwellings on a cost rent basis. Special assessments are made to determine rents for Commission dwellings in depressed country towns.
A rent based on an ‘economic rent’ formula is applied to new South Australian Housing Trust rental dwellings. The rent paid by most existing tenants and by those moving into vacant dwellings is at a market related level. These rents are reviewed annually and increased if necessary, to meet increasing costs.
The Western Australian State Housing Commission has adopted a level of 80 per cent of a conservative average rent for a comparable dwelling in the open metropolitan market, as its market-related rent. Annual increases towards that level are limited to $5 per week.
In February 1979, Tasmania decided to apply a maximum increase in weekly rents of $10, and adopted a maximum weekly rental for a Housing Division dwelling of $40. Maximum rents for country areas are 10 per cent less than rent for similar dwellings in the nearest town or city. For some older types of dwellings the Tasmanian Housing Division set the maximum rent at $32 per week.
For those tenants unable to pay rent levels set, a system of rent rebates applies in each State. This is to ensure that hardship is avoided.
Trade with Malta (Question No. 4526)
asked the Minister for Trade and Resources, upon notice, on 29 August 1 979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 1 1 September 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Program, to advance development co-operation, has existed since 1974.
No. A Co-operation Agreement between the European Communities (EC) and the five ASEAN countries is at present under negotiation between them. The Commission of the EC has said that the view of both sides is that the agreement should be in principle:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 October 1979, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1979/19791016_reps_31_hor116/>.