House of Representatives
16 April 1980

31st Parliament · 1st Session

Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden) took the chair at 2. 1 5 p.m., and read prayers.

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The Clerk:

– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:


To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That there is an urgent need to ensure that the living standard of pensioners will not decline, as indeed, the present level of cash benefits in real terms requires upward adjustment beyond indexation related to the movement of the Consumer Price Index, by this and other means your petitioners urge that action be taken to:

  1. Adjust all pensions and benefits quarterly to the Consumer Price Index, including the ‘fixed ‘ 70 ‘s rate.
  2. Raise all pensions and benefits to at least 30 per cent of the Average Weekly Earnings.
  3. Taxation relief for pensioners and others on low incomes by:

    1. The present static threshold of $75 per week for taxation purposes be increased to $ 100 per week.
    2. A substantial reduction in indirect taxation on consumer goods.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Burns, Mr Ewen Cameron, Mr Kerin, Mr MacKenzie and Mr Morris.

Petitions received.

National Women’s Advisory Council

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 representative without intervention and interference by an unrepresentative ‘Advisory Council ‘.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Burns, Mr Peter Johnson and Mr Porter.

Petitions received.


To the Right 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 proportion of pensionable people within our community is increasing at a significant rate. The number of people over 65 years old will rise from approximately 8.5% of the population as it was in 1970 to over 10% by 1990 and about 1 6% by the year 2020.

That technological change is accelerating the trend towards earlier retirement from the workforce.

That the above factors make incentives for self-provision in retirement years a matter of great urgency if future generations of Australians are to be spared the crippling taxation which would be necessary to fund such provisions from social welfare.

That Australia is in urgent need of locally raised Investment capital for national development and that life insurance and superannuation funds are important mobilises of such capital.

Your petitioners therefore mostly humbly pray that the Government will forthwith take the steps necessary to:

  1. Remove contributions paid by the taxpayer to superannuation funds from the rebate system and make them a separate deduction from assessable income.
  2. Allow as such deduction amounts necessary to provide the individual with a reasonable retirement benefit as defined from time to time by the Commissioner of Taxation.
  3. Remove Life insurance premiums paid from the rebate system and make them a separate deduction from assessable income also.
  4. Allow such a deduction to take the form of a flat rebate of 20 per cent of Life Insurance premiums up to a limit of $2,500.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Burr and Mr Carlton.

Petitions received.

Australian Rum: Excise Duty

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in the Parliament assembled.

The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That the retail price of Australian rum is too high and should be reduced to enable the average Australian to buy it.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that steps be taken to reduce the excise duty on Australian rum.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Donald Cameron.

Petition received.

Cannabis Laws: Australian Capital Territory

To the Honorable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.

The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That present laws regarding Cannabis in the ACT are discriminatory, encourage criminal activities, and are far more socially damaging than any conceivable effects of Cannabis use itself,

That the Poisons and Narcotic Drugs Ordinance 1978 is a particularlyDraconian piece of legislation which is in the worst interests of the citizens of the ACT.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that all Cannabis laws in the ACT be immediately repealed, and replaced with a sensible policy in line with the guidelines of the 4th Policy Option (Regulatory Model) set out by the South Australian Royal Commission into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs, and further that this would necessarily include provisions for individuals to grow their own Cannabis.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Fry.

Petition received.

National Women’s Advisory Council

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of Parliament assembled in the House of Representatives and the Senate, Canberra the humble petition of the undersigned members or organisations listed below and citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That the thorough nationwide investigations by the Working Party highlighted the need to establish the National Women’s Advisory Council.

That we believe the Council consistently and democratically demonstrates its wide representation of the interests of all Australian women, as shown by the Draft Plan of Action for the 1980 National Conference to be held in Canberra in preparation for Australia’s participation in the United Nations Decade for Women World Conference in Denmark, July 1980.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:

That the Parliament will continue its support of the National Women’s Advisory Council and its recommendations.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Holding.

Petition received.


To the Honourable, the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully petition.

That the government will act to prohibit the use of all public moneys for the killing of unborn children. That the said use of government moneys is an unacceptable government endorsement of a great national tragedy the deaths annually of at least 80,000 unborn children.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Jarman.

Petition received.

Metric System

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:

Objection to the Metric system and request the Government to restore theImperial system.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Mackenzie.

Petition received.


To the Honourable, the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of the Australian Parliament assem bled.

The petition of certain citizens of NSW respectfully showeth:

Dismay at the reduction in the total expenditure on education proposed for 1980 and in particular to Government schools.

Government Schools bear the burden of these cuts, 1 1.2 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 Morris

Petition received.

Australian Telecommunications Commission: External Plant School

To the Right Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.

The undersigned residents of the Township of Greta NSW and its environs respectfully showeth:

Their dismay at the disaster envisaged to their township if the Australian Telecommunications Commission removes the External Plant School from its present site. They therefore beg the Australian Parliament to use its good offices in persuading Telecom not to move the school.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrO’Keefe.

Petition received.

Citizens Band Radio

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:

The humble petition of the undersigned electors of Australia respectfully showeth that whereas the Australian Citizens Band Radio Service was authorised by the Minister for Post and Telecommunications on the First of July, 1977 and the Government of Australia has consistently refused to grant certain conditions for the users of that service, to the service ‘s detriment. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that:

The service known as the High Frequency Band of the CB Radio Service be allowed to continue past the date specified for it to cease, namely past 1st July 1982.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Porter.

Petition received.

Olympic Games

To the Right Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.

This humble petition of the sportsmen and women and citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:

Valuing the Olympic movement as an historic expression of all that is worthwhile in human endeavour and conscious of the important role competitive sport plays in maintaining health and the spirit of achievement in everyday life.

Honouring the high principles consistently pursued by the International Games Administration of keeping the movement free from religious, racial and political considerations.

Realising that the Olympic movement owes its resilience and very existence to the citizens of the nations from whom spring the participants in the contests and that the survival of this movement is the cherished hope of all communities.

We the undersigned sportsmen and women and citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia by this humble petition respectfully pray that the Australian government do all in its power to ensure the participation of a full Australian contingent in the XXII Olympic Games to be held in Moscow, USSR, from 19 July to 3 August, 1980.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr West.

Petition received.

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Notice of Motion


-I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

That this House, recognising the successful and important role that Trans-Australia Airlines performs in the provision of domestic air services, particularly to western Queensland:

1 ) Expresses its opposition to any proposal to remove Trans-Australia Airlines from public ownership.

Deplores the decision of the 1980 Federal Liberal Party Conference to urge the sale of Trans-Australia Airlines.

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– I refer the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs to his answer in the House yesterday that the National Employment and Training Scheme and the Commonwealth Rebate for Apprentice Full-time Training Scheme have not attracted employer demands for money appropriated this financial year. Will the Minister immediately reallocate the surplus funds to Commonwealth and State departments and to other public instrumentalities to ensure that tens of thousands of unemployed people are not denied training and job opportunities?

Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs · STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– I pointed out yesterday with respect to the CRAFT Scheme that there was not a lessening of the number of apprentices being assisted but that the number of days they were spending in technical schools on formal training, for which the employer receives a rebate, are not as many as anticipated when the estimates were made. With respect to the National Employment and Training Scheme, it is a fact that whether or not the funds allocated are spent in full depends upon the extent to which employers respond to the subsidies offered. It was for those reasons, amongst others, that the Government mounted a campaign to bring to the notice of employers these schemes that we have provided for their benefit, for the benefit of the young unemployed in particular and for those who desire to acquire skills. I must say that that campaign was very successful. That campaign, amongst other programs, advertised the special $1,000 cash bonus for employers to take on additional apprentices. The advice I have received from my Department is that there are many inquiries for that bonus. We will not know the full extent until after 30 June.

As to what might be done with the funds that will be saved if there is an underspending, the honourable gentleman ought to know the standard procedures in budgeting within government. That money is not available to be spent in other areas before the end of the financial year except in special circumstances. I can mention one instance in which the Government has acted in this regard. I refer to the Community Youth Support Scheme. The original allocation was $ 10m. I applied to my colleague, the Minister for Finance, for an additional $1.6m and that was provided. Finally, as the honourable gentleman knows, the extent of any underspending against the allocation provided for in the Budget will not be finally known until after 30 June. He ought to know that for very practical reasons what he proposes cannot be followed up.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. I remind the Minister of the provisions of the Repatriation Act which require the appointment of ex-service representatives to serve on repatriation boards and war pensions entitlement appeal tribunals, such ex-service representatives to be appointed from lists of names submitted to the Minister by ‘any organisation representing returned soldiers throughout the Commonwealth’.

I ask the Minister: Are the present ex-service representatives on these boards and tribunals predominantly Second World War veterans? Further, is the Minister aware that many Vietnam veterans lack confidence in the existing repatriation system on the basis of a fear that older ex-servicemen have little or no understanding of the conditions experienced by younger exservicemen in more recent conflicts, particularly where chemical defoliants were used? Whatever the validity of this fear, will the Minister take steps to ensure that suitable younger exservicemen, with more recent combat experience, are appointed to some vacancies on boards and tribunals in the near future? Indeed, will the Minister consider recognising organisations of Vietnam veterans as appropriate bodies to submit nominations in addition to the larger and more established ex-service organisations?

Minister Assisting the Minister for Primary Industry · FISHER, QUEENSLAND · NCP/NP

– I welcome the honourable member’s question. He is quite correct in his quoting of the legislation. That is indeed the situation. I am happy to tell him that Vietnam veterans are eligible for nomination for appointment to all repatriation determining authorities, appointments to which are made by the Governor-General. The Vietnam Veterans’ Action Association is, of course, a relatively new association. It might interest the honourable member and the House to know that applications for chairmen and members of repatriation boards in all States were called earlier this month. Appointments are for a three-year term, with the next period commencing on 1 October 1980. Although newspaper advertisements have been lodged so that all ex-service organisations may know of those applications being called, I will ensure that the Vietnam Veterans’ Action Association is written to specifically and made aware of the calling of those applications.

The House will be interested to hear that the Vietnam Veterans’ Action Association has already put forward nominations for the appointment of Vietnam veterans to one of the repatriation determining authorities. I welcome that; I am pleased about it. Certainly the Association is such a group as is referred to in the Act. It does qualify, under the Act, to make suggestions for nominations and, indeed, we welcome such suggestions.

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– I address my question to the Treasurer. It concerns the fact that some interest rate rises of half of one per cent to one per cent in large overdrafts have been announced by the trading banks in the last few days, which rises follow a recent across the board increase in interest rates of half of one per cent. Is the Treasurer concerned that a second round of interest rate increases appears to be in train, which increases will further restrict economic activity and lower living standards for most Australian people? If he is so concerned, what action does he propose to take to prevent or to offset the rises? In particular, despite his tolerant view of the high level of bank profitability, will he ensure that that level of profitability is taken into account by the Reserve Bank of Australia in considering the trading banks’ current application for approval of interest rate increases of up to one per cent on overdrafts below $ 100,000?


-I think all members of this House would be concerned about the effect, particularly on households and on smaller business operations in Australia, of rises in rates of interest. No government likes to see interest rates going up. No householder or business person likes to see interest rates going up. One has to ask oneself: What effective measures can a government take to influence economic conditions which are exerting upward pressure on interest rates? I have said before, and I will repeat it, that one cannot determine interest rates by government fiat. No government can guarantee the future level of interest rates. I do not propose to try to guarantee the future level of interest rates. What I can guarantee that this Government will continue to do is to take the sorts of decisions in the economic area that we have taken over the past year which have considerably eased the pressure on the level of interest rates in Australia. If we had not applied the full proceeds of the crude oil levy increase to reduction of the deficit there would have been a greater pressure on the level of interest rates in Australia.

It is a tribute to the successful pursuit of the economic policies that this Government has followed over the past few years that the impact of the historically high interest rates in the United States has not been felt far more severely. It certainly would have been felt more severely if the sorts of alternative economic policies being constantly urged by the Opposition were now in place, implying as they do a much greater call by the Government on the available resources in the nation. The honourable member for Gellibrand ought to know- this is an important question- if he is concerned about interest rates that the worst thing a government can do when there is pressure on interest rates is to increase the amount of money it is trying to take out of the community by increasing the size of its own spending. As a consequence it needs to raise more money by borrowing. That is why this Government has taken many of the economic decisions it has in the past. That is why we will continue to follow an approach towards the size of the Government’s take from the community, in the size of our own deficit, similar to what we have followed in the past.

I said yesterday, and I will repeat it, that everybody in the community has a role to play in the cause of achieving the lowest interest rates that are possible. It was only natural and to be expected that some rises in interest rates would have occurred in recent months. The Government has minimised the pressure on higher interest rates in the Australian community. We will continue, by the right policies, to do that. There is, of course, a responsibility on others in the community not to overreact and to play their role in the cause of keeping interest rates as low as is economically responsible and possible.

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-Has the Minister for Home Affairs seen recent reports that the Russian authorities have sought to remove from Moscow dissident elements during the period of the Olympic Games; furthermore, the authorities have refused to grant visas to attend the Olympic Games to nationals of countries which Russia does not recognise? Are these actions consistent with the Olympic charter? Will the Government urge the Australian representatives on the International Olympic Committee to have Moscow declared an unsuitable site for the 1980 Olympics and have the site changed?

Minister for Home Affairs · WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I have seen recent reports relating to the matters to which the honourable gentleman refers. I would remind honourable members that the Olympic charter provides that no discrimination in the Games is allowed against any country or person on grounds of race, religion or politics. These reports indicate that 700 South Africans have applied through a travel agency for Russian visas and that those requests for visas have been turned down. Clearly, that is contrary to the Olympic charter. Another report in relation to dissidents comes from -

Mr Innes:

– You are struggling, clutching at straws.


– By the time I have finished with the honourable member he will be clutching for more than straws.

Opposition members interjecting-


-Order! The Minister will resume his seat. When the House comes to order I will call the Minister. I ask honourable gentlemen on my left to remain silent.


– My attention has also been drawn to an article by the British playwright Tom Stoppard in the Sunday Times of 6 April.

Opposition members laughing-


– Honourable members opposite may laugh but what I am about to read is extremely serious. I ask the honourable member for Lalor to listen while I read this report because he is the Chairman of Amnesty International in this Parliament. Mr Stoppard is referring to Vladimir Borisov. He had seen Vladimir Borisov outside the Third Civil Mental Hospital in Leningrad a few years back. Borisov is now inside that hospital. Mr Stoppard had this to say:

Borisov is one of dozens of the best and bravest of the dissenting movement who have been arrested in what is the heaviest crackdown since dissent began to organise itself in the Soviet Union15 years ago . Hundreds have had their homes searched. Thousands have been interrogated. No one in the USSR has been preparing for the 22nd Olympiad quite as strenuously as the KGB.

It is impossible to dissociate the Olympics from what is happening. They keep cropping up in the flow of underground news that reaches the West, notably in the samizdat Chronicle of Current Events, put in circulation by Amnesty International, and in a newsletter published in Brussels by Cronid Lubarsky.

To take one example, on February 29 the following notice appeared on the doors of the visa office in the Gagarin District of Moscow: from June 19 to September 3, 1980, people possessing invitations from abroad are forbidden to live in Moscow, the Moscow region, Minsk, Leningrad, Kiev, and Tailinn. ‘

The Summer Olympics are due to take place from July 1 9 to August 3 in the cities listed. So these are the Olympics we keep reading about, the ones that are above politics.

All I want to say to those who belong to Amnesty International in this Parliament, and a number of honourable members from the other side of this House belong -

Mr Innes:

– You are still feeding them.


– The honourable member for Melbourne does not belong and I can understand why.

Mr Innes:

– You are still feeding them.


-The Minister will resume his seat. The honourable member for Melbourne will remain silent.


– A number of members opposite, as well as honourable members on this side of the House, do belong to Amnesty International. I ask them to take this issue very seriously. I have heard members of that body speak in this House in relation to human rights, and I have not disagreed with them. I say to them, whether they are on this side of the House or on the other side of the House, that this is a time for them to stand up in relation to this issue. If there is one way -


-Order! The Minister is now debating an issue. He was asked a question to elicit facts. The honourable gentleman may answer by giving facts that are relevant but I ask him not to debate the issue.


- Mr Speaker, if I may give the facts, just -

Mr Hayden:

– You are a bit of a hypocrite, Bob.


-Order! The Minister will resume his seat. I ask the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw.

Mr Hayden:

– Are you referring to the comment that the Minister is a hypocrite? Yes, I withdraw, Mr Speaker.


– If I may give another fact, I refer to what the Labour Leader in New Zealand has been saying. He has urged the New Zealand Government to take the strongest possible stand against New Zealand athletes who intend to compete in Moscow. I invite the attention of honourable members opposite to that statement. I ask them to contemplate the weakness of their own leader. I ask them to contemplate his attitude and his departure from his earlier statements about effective boycotts and about trade embargoes. The simple fact is that the Opposition is a rabble in relation to this issue. It is trying to divide this nation and it will not succeed.

Opposition members interjecting-


-Order! The Minister will resume his seat. I request the Minister to confine his remarks to facts and not to argue the issue. I ask honourable gentlemen on my left to remain silent. I ask the Minister to resume his answer and to draw it to a conclusion with any additional facts he wishes to give.


– The only other fact to which I wish to draw the attention of the House is simply that this boycott about which I have been speaking for some time is coming to pass. I draw the attention of the House to statements made in Canada by the Canadian Prime Minister and to statements coming out of West Germany. I ask again that honourable members opposite and honourable members on this side of the House understand that an effective boycott is coming into being. If they wish jointly to rescue the Olympic Games and the Olympic movement in this country, they will fall behind this boycott and give it the support that it deserves.

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-I direct my question to the Acting Prime Minister. Yesterday I asked him to guarantee that no Australian uranium would be enriched or re-processed in the Soviet Union. He failed to give such a guarantee. I now ask him whether he has been informed by his officers that, on 20 May last year, he replied to a question on notice from me, giving the following details: During the period 1976 to 1990, the Soviet Union would enrich 100 per cent of Finland’s uranium fuel supplies, 3 1 per cent of West Germany’s supplies, 15 per cent of Italy’s supplies, 12 per cent of Britain’s supplies and 1 1 per cent of France’s supplies. Is it not a fact that the Australian Government has signed a nuclear safeguards agreement with Finland, is presently negotiating such an agreement with the European Atomic Energy Community and anticipates that uranium export sales will take place to these European countries? I now ask the Acting Prime Minister: Will he give the House the guarantee that he failed to give yesterday?

Mr ANTHONY The honourable member put his question yesterday in the circumstances of West Germany tolling part of its uranium with the Soviet Union, and I mentioned in this context that up to this point I knew of no arrangements to toll Australian uranium in the Soviet Union. It is true that there is a nuclear safeguards agreement with Finland but up to this point we have sold no uranium to Finland. If Australia does sell uranium to Finland or to any other country it will need to know what arrangements are being made for its enrichment or for the handling of waste. That material will have to be handled by countries which conform to our nuclear safeguard arrangements.

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-During the Acting Prime Minister’s visit to the Persian Gulf States was any concern expressed to him by those countries at the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union? Did any country indicate that the Soviet Union may attempt to infiltrate that area of Iran and Pakistan known as Baluchistan in order to gain warm water port access to the Arabian Gulf? Did these oil exporting countries regard the activities of the Soviet Union in the Middle East as a threat to international oil trade and world security?

Deputy Prime Minister · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · NCP/NP

-During my visit to the Gulf States I had the opportunity of talking to the heads of state and principal people in those countries. After talking to those people I have come back to Australia absolutely convinced that our actions in relation to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and in relation to the Olympic Games boycott are right and are crucial to the best long term interests of the peace of the world. The people of these countries do feel threatened by the Soviet Union. Over the past five or six years they have seen the encroachment of the Soviet Union into countries around them and the Soviet Union applying a slow stranglehold on the oil rich countries of that area. With Soviet support the Cubans have gone into Ethiopia and are in South Yemen supported by East Europeans. The Soviet Union now has Aden as a naval base. Two more naval bases are being constructed north of Aden. These countries believe that the invasion of Afghanistan was premeditated as a move towards the Arabian Gulf and that the Soviet Union’s aid programs had been designed to build roads down through Afghanistan to make easier access to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean when the time was opportune.

These Gulf countries expressed great concern about the situation in Iran and particularly about the movements within the Baluchistan region for that region to become independent. It was in this region that the Communist Party seemed particularly active. If this area were to become an independent area it would give the Soviet Union immediate access to the other side of the Strait of Hormuz and to the Indian Ocean. It is quite obvious that the Soviet Union has its eyes on the oil producing countries of the Middle East. It has its eyes on that area because it wants to exercise an influence, no doubt, over oil and it wants to get access to the oil itself. The information available shows that the Soviet Union will be running into a serious oil situation as we get into the middle 1980s. It will not have the capacity to supply the needs of the East European countries. The East European countries do not have the foreign exchange necessary to purchase oil. Therefore, the Soviet Union has intentions of moving into that area. The fact that must be realised by the world at large is that if the Soviet Union moves into this area it will produce world conflict. All of us ought to do everything possible to try to register our deep concern with the Soviet Union that if it takes another step it could be very serious for mankind.

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Mr Les Johnson:

-I direct my question to the Minister for Health. Why is it impossible to recover any of the $235m overpayment made to pharmacists while at the same time social security beneficiaries are rigorously pursued for trivial overpayments even when these derive from departmental failures in processing information?

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister · WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The payments made to pharmacists before January 1977 and since that time have been made on the basis of valid determinations made by the Minister of the time or by the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Pharmaceutical Benefits Pricing Arrangements. The payments are, therefore, valid and legal. They will remain so until the new determination which was made on 9 April comes into force on 1 May, when the new level of the dispensing fee will be introduced. The payments were made in accordance with the law and, therefore, are not recoverable.

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– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Education, relates to the school to work transition program which was announced late last year. Can the Minister advise the House what Commonwealth funds are available to the New South Wales Government under the school to work transition program in 1980? Can he also indicate whether any submissions have been received from the New South Wales Government and, if so, what funds have been approved to cover the New South Wales proposals?

Minister for Education · FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I feel it is necessary to remind the House that on 22 November last year a statement was put down in this House and in the Senate outlining Government decisions which would enable the development and expansion of programs in schools and the technical and further education colleges to improve education and training opportunities for young people in the transition from school to work. At that time the Ministers responsible indicated to the House and to the public that the Commonwealth was prepared to find $150m in constant terms over five years and that in the first of the five years the Commonwealth itself would provide $25m without any matching contribution from the States. In the second year the Commonwealth would hope that the States would join in the funding arrangements of this scheme to the tune of about $9m and thereafter, for the remainder of the five-year period, on a dollar for dollar basis.

I inform the honourable member for Macquarie that the New South Wales Government has submitted proposals to the Commonwealth for consideration. Indeed, some of those proposals have already been approved. The proposals which have been approved amount to a sum of $2.57m. Regrettably some of the proposals put forward by the New South Wales Government have been rejected. The New South Wales Government’s initial list of proposals amounted to some $5.58m. The bulk of the proposals which were rejected were proposals that had already been budgeted for by the New South Wales Government. Had the Commonwealth approved those proposals it would have meant a substitution of Commonwealth funds for New South Wales funds already budgeted for. Had the Commonwealth approved of that it would have been against a basic premise of the initiative that was taken by this Government late last year. In responding to the New South Wales Government the Prime Minister pointed out that the substitution of Commonwealth funds for amounts already budgeted for by New South Wales would go against that basic premise.

Today I received a further submission from the New South Wales Minister for Education, Mr Landa. It is dated 1 1 April. I give the honourable member for Macquarie- indeed through this chamber I give the New South Wales Minister for Education- an assurance that these new proposals will be dealt with quickly by the Commonwealth Government albeit that the proposals were submitted very late by the New South Wales Administration. I have to emphasise that under no circumstances will we substitute Commonwealth money for programs that have been already budgeted for by the New South Wales Government.

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-Does the Minister for Health regard the reduction of 4c per prescription in payments to pharmacists under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as a reasonable and appropriate response to the $23 5 m overpayment to pharmacists in the last six years?


– I think we have to understand, in looking at this problem, that the Government has a responsibility to preserve a situation whereby the National Health Scheme remains in operation and the service that the Government wishes to be provided to people who are recipients under the National Health Scheme- in this instance, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme- is such that people, particularly pensioners, the disadvantaged and the elderly, are not put at risk through a sudden reduction in the number of pharmacies.

There are a number of pharmacies in Australia at present whose economic viability is open to question and a sudden catastrophic reduction in the dispensing fee could have a very serious effect on their on-going existence. So what we had to look at and what the Joint Committee on Pharmaceutical Benefits Pricing Arrangements had to look at in relation to this problem was a situation whereby a sudden catastrophic reduction in the dispensing fee could produce a result which not only made the sale of pharmacies extremely difficult but also could result in a large number of people who are presently working in the pharmacies being put out of employment and could reduce very markedly the standard of service that is presently available throughout Australia to those people who have great need for the location of pharmacies in an area which is easily accessible to them. So for all those reasons, the Government believes that the ultimate decision arrived at by the Joint Committee will result in a high standard of service being maintained for the people of Australia.

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Mr Ewen Cameron:

-Has the attention of the Minister for Foreign Affairs been drawn to an article which appeared in the Canberra Times yesterday and which quoted the Soviet Ambassador to Australia as saying that AustralianSoviet relations were at ‘zero level’? Can the Minister inform the House as to how AustralianSoviet relations may be improved?

Minister for Foreign Affairs · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

-I have noted Press reports of comments made by the Soviet Ambassador, including comments that Australian-Soviet relations were at ‘zero level’ and that the desire to improve relations was allegedly all on the Soviet side. I have made it clear to the Soviet Ambassador that prospects for normalisation of the relationship are fundamentally in Soviet hands. What it comes down to is this: It is up to the Soviet Union to create the conditions which would facilitate normal relations by withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan.

Of course, notwithstanding the measures which Australia has taken against the Soviet Union in response to its invasion of Afghanistan, routine diplomatic and official contacts with the Soviets are continuing. The Government believes that it has an absolute responsibility to bring home to the Soviet Union the complete unacceptability of its invasion of a neighbouring country, a country that was, after all, a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and a country therefore which, at the very least, aspired to nonalignment and freedom, and not to being a mere satellite of the Soviet Union. I repeat: An improvement in relations with the Soviet Union is up to that country. Withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan is the single most important step that would need to be taken.

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– I ask the Minister for Health whether his attention has been drawn to the following statements made in recent days on health insurance: By Dr L. L. Wilson, president of the Australian Medical Association, that ‘Australia’s health insurance system is slowly bleeding to death’ and by Dr Bill Everingham, a delegate, I understand, to the Federal Council of the Liberal Party describing the present health insurance scheme as ‘too costly to the individual, too unwieldy, and not understood’. Given these statements and the evidence adduced for them, does the Minister intend now to do something more than merely, in his own words, ‘to monitor the situation’?


– Yes, my attention has been drawn to statements made by Dr Wilson and Dr Everingham. I am not at all sure that I agree with either of the two gentlemen in regard to their description of the current health scheme. Some very extravagant statements have been made about people leaving the scheme, but if we look at the facts available at this time we note that the extravagant phrases that have been used do not stand analysis. So although these gentlemen have achieved a certain amount of publicity in relation to these matters, I cannot say that I agree with them.

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-Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware that yesterday the Bureau of Agricultural Economics released estimates that the average Australian farm would have an income of $29,520 in 1979-80, or 8 per cent more than last year? What does this figure mean to the ordinary landholder and how does the Minister reconcile it with the serious drought situation in many parts of rural Australia?

Minister for Primary Industry · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · NCP/NP

-The Bureau of Agricultural Economics has released figures along the lines suggested by the honourable member. It is the second year in a row in which farm incomes have been shown to be on a higher plateau, but I would not want anybody in the House to believe that, because of this, farmers are suddenly well off, as has been stated from time to time in different parts of the media. The fact is that, over the past six years, farm incomes have averaged some $16,803. It ought to be remembered that farmers work very long hours. They do not work a six-hour day as do some of our trade union colleagues. They work a 10-hour to 12-hour day and even longer. They work from daylight to dark.

Mr Les McMahon:

– Six hours a day! Come on.


– The day the honourable member works as hard as do most farmers in the community he will be doing a service to the Parliament. If we take the six-hour day worked by some trade unionists, for average annual earnings of $10,329, and compare that with what the farmer receives we realise that the farmer enjoys an additional $6,400 -


– There is too much noise on my left and I think that there is too much noise on my right. I think that one lot of noise is attempting to put the Minister off and the other is attempting to encourage him. I ask both sides to remain silent and to allow the Minister to answer unaided. I call the Minister.


– I was making the point that some trade unionists are lucky enough to work a six-hour day for an average of $10,329 per annum, that by comparison most farmers work a 10-hour to 12-hour day, often more. Their wives and children work as well, and they do not get the annual holidays and lay-offs that trade unionists get. If we deduct from $16,803, the average farm income during the last six years, the sum of $10,329, the average annual income of the trade unionist, we find that the farmer enjoys a return of $6,474 upon the capital invested in his farm. Since the average value of a farm is $212,000, this means that for a 12-hour day the farmer receives some $10,300 in wages and a mere 3 per cent return upon his investment. So let no one in this Parliament believe that farmers are suddenly well off. They have certainly done better under this Government than they did under Labor. I accept that immediately. They have done much better. Certainly they are recovering from the disastrous Labor years but they have a long way to go. Fortunately Labor will not get back into government to make their position worse. One thing which can make it worse is the drought that exists throughout the country. There is no doubt that farmers’ incomes can slump again if this drought continues. I hope that the farmers will receive every support and sympathy as this drought continues.

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-The Minister for Primary Industry proves again that not only does every absurdity have its champion but also that he is prepared to be a champion of every absurdity.


-Order! The honourable gentleman should ask his question.


– I refer the Treasurer to the 1980 stock exchange financial and profitability study which shows increases in national average earnings for Australian companies of some 13 per cent in 1978-79.

Mr Sainsbury:

– Well done.


– I would expect the honourable member to think that. At the same time he condemns wage earners.


-Order! The honourable gentleman will proceed with the asking of his question.


– The same study shows that in 1978-79 the transport industry generated increased earnings of around 19 per cent and that the media industry increased earnings by 18 per cent. Does the Treasurer recall indicating yesterday, in answer to a question from the honourable member for Lalor, that annual increases in profitability of up to 40 per cent were, in his firmly held view, neither excessive nor unreasonable? In the same year did average minimum male award wages rise by only 6.3 per cent, average female award wages by only 5.9 per cent and average weekly earnings by only 7.7 per cent? In view of the very great differential between increases in corporate profitability and increases in family household income indicated by these figures I nave cited, will the Government accept a higher rate of increase in wages and incomes as neither excessive nor unreasonable? If not, how does the Government expect to keep the lid on pressures for wage and salary increases while it not only tolerates but also justifies much higher increases in corporate earnings, particularly in the lucrative transport and media industries?


-I say at the outset that I welcome the fact that Australian companies’ profitability has improved. I make no apology for the fact that this Government follows policies which encourage Australian companies to make profits because by making profits companies have a capacity to employ people, to pay dividends on their shares and to contribute to the overall wealth of this country. Another thing that ought to be said in reply to the Leader of the Opposition is that anybody who imagines that the level of profitability of Australian companies at present is historically excessive is quite mistaken. In fact in terms of the most conventional measure of the share of national wealth going to various sectors we are still a long way short of the long term average of about 18 per cent going to the gross operating surplus of Australian enterprises, which is sometimes called the profit share. Surely the Leader of the Opposition would not have forgotten that that profit share slumped to an alltime low during the time that his party was in government. It is only in recent times that that has recovered.

I just want to make it quite clear in answer to the Leader of the Opposition, first, that we make no apology for encouraging conditions of profitability; secondly, that although the profitability of Australian business has recovered, it has still a long way to go to return to the long term average; and, thirdly, that if the Leader of the Opposition is interested in the welfare of the average wage earner of Australia he ought to be concerned about the profitability of Australian companies. They are the organisations which employ Australian wage earners and if they do not have profits they do not employ people. The Leader of the Opposition seems to have forgotten that.

As to the answer I gave in the House yesterday, the honourable member for Lalor and people who followed the answer will recall that what I said was that the profits of the Australian banking system could not be said, in my view, to result from excessive levels of interest rates. That was the burden of the question that was asked of me. I also pointed out that it is not normally the policy of the Government to make qualitative statements as to the levels of profitability of Australian enterprises because the purpose of government is to create economic circumstances in which companies can flourish. I say to the honourable gentleman that I am pleased that Australian companies are making more money. That is good for the community and most certainly it is good for the Australian work force.

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Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs · Stirling · LP

– For the information of honourable members I present a report entitled Educating for Leisure ‘.

page 1774


Assent to the following Bills reported:

Customs Amendment Bill 1 980.

Customs Tariff (Uranium Concentrate Export Duty) Bill 1980.

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Discussion of Matter of Public Importance


-I have received letters from the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) and the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) proposing that definite matters of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion today. As required by Standing Order 107, I have selected the matter which in my opinion is the most urgent and important, and that is that proposed by the honourable member for St George, namely:

The continuing horror and slaughter in Afghanistan and the need for the Australian Olympic Federation to do its duty to humanity by agreeing to boycott the Olympic Games.

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-

St George

-In a few days time the Australian Olympic Federation will meet and decide whether or not it favours sending a team of athletes to the Moscow Olympic Games. I would like to congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) for the leadership he has given to this nation in sending telegrams to members of the Australian Olympic Federation. We have said on a number of occasions that we will not use in this country the types of methods that the totalitarian government of the Soviet Union would use and that the Australian Olympic Federation may make up its own mind on this matter. But the community demands that the Government give its position; it demands leadership. Throughout, the Government has been consistent and has stated its opposition to the Games and its support for a boycott.

It is important that this House should have the opportunity to indicate its view before the AOF makes it decision in a few days time. It is important that all honourable members be given the opportunity to participate in a debate on this matter. We on this side of the House continue to strongly support the consistent line of the Government that there should be a boycott of the Olympic Games. Let us find out at long last what is the formulated official policy, if any, of the Australian Labor Party. So far we have had nothing but prevarications. We have had splits in the Labor Party’s ranks. We have seen different statements day by day. We have not had any clear cut statement from the whole of the Australian Labor Party on this matter. I call upon members of the Labor Party here and now to confirm in the Australian national interest that they support this Government on this very serious matter of foreign policy and that they will adopt a bipartisan approach and also call upon the Australian Olympic Federation to agree to a boycott. If they do not they will stand in the eyes of the free world as giving moral support to the Soviet Union in its invasion of Afghanistan. They will be seen to be a left wing Labor Party dominated by leftist views.

Let me remind members of the Labor Party that only today the leader of the New Zealand Labour Party urged the Government of New Zealand to take the strongest possible stand against New Zealand athletes competing in Moscow. The leader of the New Zealand Labour Party has said that it is the policy of the Labour Party in New Zealand that New Zealand athletes should not attend the Games. Let us at least have a clear cut statement from members of the

Opposition. Are they in favour of a boycott or not. How do they believe the AOF members should vote this weekend? The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) originally said that an effective boycott would be the most valuable way to put pressure on the Soviet Union. He said that a boycott would place on the Soviet Union pressure which would have very worthwhile effects. Since then he has refused to work for a boycott and the Opposition has refused to assist this Government in its efforts to persuade people in the community of the important national interest involved.

Opposition members have been split and the Opposition spokesman on sport has not given a clear, unequivocal statement of where they stand. The Opposition has sought to play politics with this issue throughout, has sought to sit back, has sought to make crude political capital, has sought to use the athletes in a political war and has sought to propagandise the actions of the Australian Olympic Federation and its subbranches throughout Australia and to pressurise those branches to adopt its policy of active support for the Games, completely ignoring the events in Afghanistan. It has chosen to ignore completely the effect that a boycott would have on the Soviet Union with regard to that matter. Let us no longer have this policy of two roubles each way from the Opposition. Where does it stand? Does it support the boycott or not?

Mr Peacock:

– They support the Soviets.


– The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) has said that so far the Opposition has shown that it supports the Soviets. The past few months of talk have not got away from the simple fact that every day of the week human beings, people- not second-class people- real people are dying. Those people have died in the last few months in Afghanistan following a brutal invasion by the Soviet Union in which every conceivable form of pressure and brutality has been brought to bear.

We need to refer to only three regrettable instances out of many in the last few weeks. In the first three weeks of March 1980 in the Kunar Valley operation by Soviet and Afghan puppet forces, aircraft, artillery and infantry forces moved through the valley causing shockingly heavy casualties to the local population and producing a massive refugee toll. Reports have indicated that an absolute minimum of 1,000 people were killed in one part of the operation alone in one city, which was almost completely destroyed, and over 2,000 people were wounded. Administrators and shopkeepers were threatened. Shops eventually closed. There was destruction of property in that town. Some time ago in the area of Herat in West Afghanistan there was a massacre even before the Soviets invaded. Since that time there have been continued efforts by the Soviet Union to clamp down the screws in Afghanistan and to cause further bloodshed.

On numerous occasions Afghan Government forces and Soviet advisers have fired into crowds of people, lined them up along the street walls and had them shot. This is reminiscent of the worst days of the Wehrmacht under the Nazi occupation of so many different countries of Europe. There have been instances of people being forced to flee and being drowned in latrine pits, mass drownings and the burying alive during the night of the whole male population of villages. Only recently on the outskirts of Kabul 150 people were burned alive and 150 people were buried alive. We have shocking massacre figures on reasonably good authority- the best authority that can be obtained- which indicates that in Kerala a minimum of 1,200 people have perished. On 29 April 1979, only eight or nine days after the incident, the Pakistani newspaper Jang reported that 1,300 residents of the Kunar province had been massacred by Afghan troops and Soviet advisers.

How long must this go on? How long are we going to sit back, talk, posture and fail to recognise the reality of these brutal slaughters of innocent people- men, women and children- in a country that was an independent nation, a nation that was a member of the non-aligned movement, a nation entitled to its own independence as a country and to its own future? There have been a minimum of 700,000 refugees. What is to become of these refugees? Will they have any future back in their own country? Certainly not. They are desperately seeking aid throughout the world. In particular they are trying to obtain public opinion support. They know, as well as members on this side of the House know, that the Olympic Games has become a focal point of this matter. I know that the Opposition will try to slip into this matter questions of trade, or wool, or other aspects, but the focal world issue which the Opposition so far will not face up to is the question of the Olympic Games.

The Olympic Games has captured the attention of the world at this time and has been declared by the Soviet Union to be a recognition of the historical importance and correctness of the course of that country’s foreign policy. That is what the Soviet Union claimed about allocation of the Games to Moscow this year. The handbook for party activists that has been published has indicated that the Soviet Union relies on the political aspects of the Olympic Games as a great force for the development of its own social system and a great recognition of it. The Labor Party may not know that it has given the Soviet Union very considerable support and assistance, but that is so if one reads Tass newsagency reports. Tass has reported only recently, with great fanfare, the words of William George Hayden who, according to Tass has claimed that the great majority of Australians do not support a boycott of the summer Olympics. That is sheer rubbish. Australians, on reflection of this matter, do support a boycott. The opinion polls have shown variations. For the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) to say that the undoubted majority of the Australian people do not support a boycott is a total and complete perversion of the facts. Yet it has been used by Tass in its propaganda. Tass has also reported William George Hayden as saying that the Government’s effort is a political stunt in an election year because Carter and Fraser need this political manoeuvre.

There are two points to be made in that regard. Firstly, if that statement is true, it is deplorable that the Leader of the Opposition should make a comment of that nature on the internal political affairs of the United States in an election year when its President is entitled to the support of his allies and America is entitled to the support of this country and the people of this country. America, the nation that bailed us out in 1942, is entitled to Australian public support on a very important matter such as this. The Leader of the Opposition is reported in Tass as trying to attack the American President. Further, a report in Tass on 29 March states:

A mass rally was held in the Australian capital . . sponsored by the Labor Party . . .

It is a disgrace that these types of things are reported in the official newsagency Tass as giving support not only to the Soviet Union but to its propaganda effort throughout the world. Make no mistake about the fact that it uses that organ of its Press to further its propaganda throughout the world. The Labor Party has behaved in a manner totally inconsistent with Australia’s national interest. At no time has it been consistent on the matter.

I want to speak on the question of the Olympic Federation. The members of the delegation of the Olympic Federation are reasonable and sensible people. I understand their difficulty, but they are used to making decisions. They will view this matter objectively. I ask them to view this matter objectively. I strongly criticise the Labor Party, but certainly I do not criticise the AOF in its dilemma. I am sure that all members would like members of the AOF to sit back and read the telegram of the Prime Minister. One of the delegates who described what the Prime Minister had to say as scare tactics obviously did not appreciate the point of political leadership that has been given. I ask that members of the AOF read this telegram, listen to the Acting Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) and other Ministers who will address them and make up their minds on a sensible and sober basis. If they do that there will be no doubt that they ought to support a boycott.

There are numerous precedents. We are well aware of the political aspects of the Olympic Games that regrettably have impinged on those Games over a number of years. There were boycotts by nations in 1972 and in many of the years of this century. The Soviet Union, although not a member of the Olympic Federation, led a movement for a boycott in 1936. The Soviet Union viewed the matter so seriously that it supported the establishment of a Workers Games in Barcelona. About 17 countries, most of them socialist countries, were due to attend. The only reason that those Games did not go ahead was that Civil War broke out and the French team, upon seeking to enter the city, was not able to enter because of the conflict. The French had gone there to participate in the Workers Games, basically supported by 17 countries, particularly by the Soviet Union.

Certainly, one can sympathise with the athletes. The athletes are not the only ones to bear the brunt of what is occurring as far as the Olympic Games are concerned. There are many Australians who regret this but who realise the seriousness of the issue. Our national interests are involved. This has been said by the American President and the Australian Prime Minister. If we do not act with the free world in standing up to the aggression of the Soviet Union we do not know where it will end. Not many people in the world took much notice of Hitler when he took over the Rhineland. Many people proclaimed what he did with pride in Austria and in Czechoslovakia. There was lukewarm condemnation. We must make sure that that type of history is not repeated. We have seen it already in Ethiopia, the Yemen, Aden, Angola and Vietnam.

I pay tribute to the Australians who have forfeited their deposits because they do not want to go to the Moscow Olympic Games. Australian tourists numbering between 1,300 and 1,400, each forfeited a deposit of $200. 1 bear in mind also that in most wars in which Australia has been involved it has been the young, including young athletes, who have gone off and stood up in defence of Australia. Young people will die in any future conflicts. I am sure that the young people in Australia today will support the athletes if they decide to boycott the Olympic Games and will have very great respect for them. I ask the Olympic Federation, as it has a duty to all humanity, to consider this matter on an objective basis and to support the Government and a boycott. I ask the Labor Party to have the courage to stand up now and admit that that is the proper approach and to call also on the AOF to support a boycott as a real duty to humanity.


-In the 10 years that I have been a member of this Parliament I do not think I have heard a speech which contained more cant, more double talk or more hypocrisy than that made by the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil).


-Order! The honourable member will withdraw.


-Mr Speaker, I will withdraw it. What we have heard today is a government bereft of any policy on Afghanistan. It says it wants one group of people in Australia alone to make a protest about the invasion of Afghanistan. That will be the athletes. Government members will not sacrifice one cent of trade or one cent of their personal wealth to make a protest on Afghanistan. They call upon Australian athletes to be the ones who will. show how morally outraged they are. The honourable member for St George called for a clearcut statement. Let me quote from what the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) had to say in the early days:

A number of countries have made statements concerning the Olympic Games. Many, including Australia, would prefer, as a result of recent events, that the Games were not being held in Moscow. The Games are, however, an international event- not a Russian event- and should be seen in that context.

Who said that? The Prime Minister of Australia. What about the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) who has run for cover now that the honourable member for St George has finished his speech? He was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald a few days later. He said that he was not moved by suggestions that the Olympic Games be boycotted. So when the honourable member for St George calls for a clearcut statement he ought to check back and see what his own leaders- the two senior men in the Liberal Party Government- have said in the past. He should not talk about the hypocrisy of the Labor Party when his party has chopped, changed and doubled around to try to get some sort of policy that costs nothing at all.

I will deal now with the question of the Olympic Games. The Olympic Games were revived in 1896 by Baron De Coubertin. The first Games were held in 1896 and have been held every four years since that date with the exception of 1916, 1940 and 1944. What was the reason for Baron De Coubertin ‘s re-establishment of the Olympic Games? His objective was that every four years the cream of the world’s athletes, irrespective of colour, creed or nationality, would meet in friendly competition pursuing standards of excellence, whilst at the same time upholding the best traditions of fair play and sportsmanship. He hoped that this would enable the people of different nationalities better to understand each other and create a climate more conducive to better international relations. He hoped that the tension and animosity existing among the people of the world would be lessened through the spirit of athletic competition. He envisaged a world of nations participating peacefully but competitively on the playing fields rather than meeting violently on the battle ground.

This Government, however, is attempting to prostitute the Olympic ideals to further its own political ends. It will do anything to divert attention from its own miserable economic policies and its own miserable performance as a government. Politics is not new in the Olympics. Almost every Olympic Games has been marred by some political event that has been going on at the same time. Let us go through some of them. The honourable member for St George referred to them. He talked about the 1936 Olympics. In recent weeks we have heard some of the greatest drivel talked about the 1936 Olympics that I have ever heard in my life. History is now being rewritten. It has now been suggested that, if the 1936 Games had been boycotted by the nations of the world, World War II would not have eventuated. That is the greatest rewriting of history that I have ever heard in my life. It is nonsense.

I would suggest that, if anything, the 1936 Olympics may have contributed something towards highlighting the monstrosity of Hitler’s racist policies. I would suggest that it may have focused attention, because at least for some period the world which was not as well aware as it could have been because of the limitation of the media which was available at the time suddenly had its attention spotlighted on what was happening in Germany to a degree that it had not envisaged. I am not suggesting that that was the sole benefit of the 1936 Olympic Games. Of course it was not. But I will not accept, and no one will accept for one minute, the proposition that, if the 1936 Olympic Games had not taken place, World War II would not have eventuated. Let me quote Lord Baker, who was a Minister in the British Labour Government and was a silver medalist at the 1920 Olympic Games.

Mr Barry Jones:

– Noel-Baker.


-I am referring to Lord Phillip Noel-Baker. Lord Baker said:

Some have argued that Hitler’s presence in the stadium greatly increased his power over the German people and his prestige in the world. Hitler tried his best to exploit that view. But the Games did nothing to increase his power, for it was absolute already.

The Games brought him a crushing humiliation. When he put up swastikas andNazi slogans in the stadium the International Olympic Committee instantly ordered him to take them down. He had to obey, and the fact was known to his nation within a day.

More important still, the message that the Games gave to the Germans was that Hitler’s ‘Aryan ‘ racialism and his militant mountings were false, stupid and obscene. The message was that the greatest athletes in the world were black men, Jesse Owens with four gold medals, Woodruff and others and that these great athletes were also splendid people, loved and admired by all.

So, Mr Speaker, the absurdity that has been put around about the 1936 Olympics is absolutely beyond belief. The 1956 Olympics, Australia’s Games, were marred by the same people the Russians invading Hungary. Did Australia suggest that the Games should be cancelled? Some nations withdrew and there were some nasty incidents at water polo. But not once did I ever hear it said: ‘No, we will cancel the Games’. Why was that not said? It was because we knew that we would have suffered financially, and something to which we had been looking forward for years would have been cancelled. In 1968, just before the Olympic Games were held, 260 young students were murdered and 1,200 were injured by the Mexican military police. Why did this happen? It was because the students were protesting at the extravagance of the Olympic Games. Right on the eve of the Olympic Games, 260 people were murdered. Did anyone suggest that the Games should be cancelled? Did the Americans say that they would not compete? Did we say that we would not compete?

Mr Haslem:

– Perhaps they should have.


– Yes, but why are we saying this only now when the Games are to be held in Russia? At the same time as the Mexico Olympics were going on, the Americans were in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, bombing the hell out of the people of those countries. Did anybody suggest that the Games should be cancelled? In 1972, we saw the most monstrous act ever committed in the history of the Olympic Games when 1 1 Israeli athletes were murdered. The Games stopped for one day. Why was that? It was because the Games have something to offer the world. There is something in the Olympic ideal. It provides the chance to bring young people together. It provides the chance to bring nations together, for once not on a battlefield. This is an ideal that is worth keeping. It is worth perpetuating.

In 1976, there was a ludicrous boycott by the African nations over the fact that the New Zealand rugby union team went to South Africa. That was absurd. Twenty-nine nations withdrew and the Games went on. Let me also remind people that, if the Americans wanted to make a genuine protest and wanted to show how concerned and how outraged they were, why did they not cancel the Lake Placid Winter Olympics a few months ago? That was a great opportunity. They could have said: ‘No Russians will be allowed into this country’. The Games would have been cancelled. They would have had to be cancelled. The IOC would have had to take them away. One of the principles of the Olympic Games is that a person cannot be refused on the basis of his colour, creed or nationality. Every entrant must get a visa. But the Americans said: No, we have committed money. There are hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the Lake Placid Games. These are our Games and they must go on’. Principles went out the door so that the Games could go on. It was right in the middle of the Afghanistan crisis.


-Order! The honourable member for Robertson will resume his seat. The honourable member for St George, who introduced this matter, was heard in relative silence. Since the honourable member for Robertson has been speaking, five members on my right have continually interjected. I ask them to cease doing so forthwith. I call the honourable member for Robertson.


– Why was Moscow awarded the Olympic Games? The International Olympic Committee has tried since World War II to make the Games as international as possible. Australia was the first country in the Southern Hemisphere to be awarded the Games, and for that reason. Tokyo was the first Asian country to be awarded the Games, and for that reason. Mexico was the first Latin American country to be awarded the Games, again for the same reason- to make the Games as international as possible. In 1974, six years ago, Moscow was awarded the Games because it was the first Socialist country in which the Games would be held. The International

Olympic Committee wanted to open up the Games to ensure that it was an international event.

The honour of holding the Olympic Games is entrusted to a city, not a country. The choice of the city lies solely with the International Olympic Committee. Applications to hold the Games are made by the chief authority of the city, with the support of the government of the country in which that city is situated. Applications must state that no political meetings or demonstrations will be held in the stadium or other sportsgrounds or in the Olympic Village, and it must be promised that every competitor shall be given free entry without any discrimination on grounds of religion, colour or political affiliation. This, as I said before, involves the assurance that the government will not refuse any visas.

I wish to quote Lord Killanin, the President of the IOC. When he was talking about awarding the Games to Moscow, he said:

We awarded the Games to Moscow because since 1952 when the Soviet Union came back into the Olympic Games at Helsinki, they have contributed greatly to sport. That alone was our consideration. It was a sporting decision, not a political one at the time. Ninety-nine per cent of the world welcomed that decision as opening a door. Now certain of the big democracies are trying to close that door. Then we were in what was known as a period of detente, and now suddenly we find that the hawks are back again.

Lord Killanin went on to make the point that it is not for the IOC to approve or disapprove of the politics of a country. I make the point here that a certain member of this House- the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman)- has been trying to get these Games transferred from Moscow since long before the Afghanistan crisis. Many people have been trying to take these Games away. This is just another excuse. I make this point: This is what Lord Killanin said -

Mr Ruddock:

– This is another excuse.


– I ask the honourable member to listen to what I have to say. If we started asking of a country: ‘Do we like the type of government you have?’, we could never agree on a site that could satisfy all 143 members of our International Olympic Committee. Lord Killanin himself stated:

I dun ‘l fur instance, particularly like the regime in Argentine but I saw no reason that the World Cup shouldn’t be held there.

I would say that if Australia did not compete with other nations according to a list of all the countries that I approved of we would not be playing soccer with Indonesia; we would not be playing with a whole range of countries whose politics I do not approve of. As the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) has said, there are very few countries that meet with our approval- maybe 20 or 30. One country after the other would be ticked off the list because they do not come up to the standards of democracy that I demand of a country and because they do not provide the human and civil rights that I demand of a country.

Mr Ruddock:

– Like South Africa.


-Like South Africa. I am glad that the honourable member raised that point.

Mr Haslem:

– What is your policy there?


-Ha! Listen to who is talking about South Africa. Let me remind people that I led the debate in this Parliament in 1971 on South Africa. Why did I do that? I did so because the South Africans broke the Olympic ideal. They selected a team on the basis of the colour of a person’s skin. If tomorrow the Russians said that they would not allow someone in because of a certain religion, a certain colour or because of his or her politics, I would be at the forefront calling for a boycott. That is not what happened in relation to South Africa. South Africa picked a team on the basis of the colour of skin. Who were the ones who wanted an Australian team to go to South Africa? The then Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Lowe (Sir William McMahon), was going to get a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft to fly this team around the country. There was not one member on the Government side of the House who did not support Australians playing sport with teams from South Africa even when these teams were selected on the basis of the colour of their skin.


-Don’t point at me. I was not here then.


– The honourable member for Dundas was not in the Parliament, thank God. No doubt if he had been here the situation would have been the same, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt. But do not let us confuse the situation in South Africa. South Africans had breached the Olympic ideal. If Russia ever breaches the Olympic ideal I will be the first to call for Russia to be expelled from the Olympic Games. The Olympic ideal is worth fighting for. If the Government is successful and manages to get an effective boycott of the Olympic Games, that will be the end of the Olympic Games. That will not be the end of the world as far as I am concerned. I believe that for millions of people in this country and around the world as well as for me it will be a sad thing because the Games will not be resuscitated in our time. It will be the last opportunity for the youth of the world to gather together in a friendly spirit to compete, irrespective of people’s politics. It is one of the few possibilities we have left in this world today in which people of different colours, creeds, nationalities and politics can get together. If the Government does succeed in imposing an effective boycott, I hope that it will be satisfied in the knowledge that it managed to wreck the Olympic Games and the wonderful ideals that they contain.


-One of the greatest problems that the Australian Labor Party has in facing up to an Olympic Games boycott is that it has its hands tied. Let me quote from an article published today in the Bulletin. It states:

What the Socialist Left in Victoria will not tolerate is any criticism within ALP ranks of Russia in particular or communism in general, even when the criticism is based on manifestations of authoritarianism within Russian or the Russian bloc.

Mr Holding:

– Who wrote that?


-The honourable member for Melbourne Ports might well ask who wrote that. Alan Reid wrote that article in the Bulletin. The article continues:

Bill Hartley, a major spokesman for the Socialist Left in Victoria, put this attitude succinctly in a broadcast over radio 3CR in Melbourne on March 22, when he said: ‘AntiSovietism and anti-communism are anti-working class ‘.

That is the problem with the Labor Party in this Parliament: It has its hands tied. It cannot look at the situation rationally. It changes its mind about three times a day. Afghanistan has been invaded by the Russians. There was a Socialist leader in Afghanistan who was not toeing the line. The Soviet Union put in a new leader. The situation in Afghanistan was not the same as that in Czechoslovakia or Hungary. Many people have argued that Czechoslovakia and Hungary were under the Soviet sphere of influence. What is the result of the invasion of Afghanistan?

Mr Neil:

– Horror and bloodshed.


– The honourable member for Sf George says, ‘horror and bloodshed’. The Soviet Union has 80,000 to 90,000 troops in Afghanistan with some 30,000 to 40,000 more troops stationed in the Soviet Union near the border with Afghanistan. Its equipment includes 1,000 tanks, over 2,000 armed personnel carriers, 80 fixed wing aircraft and over 100 helicopters, most of which are of the gunship variety. Some members in the Opposition ranks try to suggest that there has not been an invasion of Afghanistan. What are those forces doing there? It is quite clear that the Western world has to take some action. The world leaders have looked on the incursion by the Soviet Union into

Afghanistan as an invasion. I believe that most right-thinking people in the world would see it that way.

Mr Neil:

– But not Left-thinking people.


-No, obviously left thinking people would not see it that way. The question that faces every member of this House, the Australian public and the world at large is: Do we allow the Russians to continue their expansionist policy or do we attempt to take some effective action to bring home to the Soviet people and, more particularly, the Soviet leaders that the Western world will not put up with these continuing incursions or the expansionist policy of the Soviet Union? Obviously one of the first things that the Western world could have done was to impose trade sanctions against the Soviet Union. Where such trade sanctions are likely to be effective they have been imposed.

The Australian Government has made it quite clear that we support such sanctions. For example, the Government has made it clear that Australia will not meet any shortfall resulting from the United States ban on wheat sales to Russia. We have taken action to stop the Russians coming to this country on matters relating to fisheries and scientific research. We have refused Aeroflot Soviet Airlines personnel to set up here. But the Opposition says: ‘No, we cannot have trade sanctions unless we have trade sanctions on everything’. That is your policy, is it not? Is that right? Is not the policy of the Opposition to have no Olympic Games boycott unless we have trade sanctions on everything else as well? That has been repeated on a number of occasions. It is the same old thing: The Opposition just does not realise the practicalities of what is happening outside this place. It should have realised from what happened in Rhodesia that only effective trade sanctions will work. Trade sanctions in general will not work. That is the practical situation. That is not what the Opposition is suggesting. It is saying that there ought to be no boycott of the Olympic Games unless there is a trade boycott as well.

Mr Bryant:

– What would a boycott do?


-That is right, is it not? The Opposition wants a total boycott. I cannot understand this because on 29 January 1980 the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) said:

It’s not much good . . . unilaterally declaring that we won ‘t trade with Russia in rutile sands when the rest of the world will supply rutile sands.

It’s not very wise to declaim against Russia on a range of products, especially farm products, when we’re not the only country in the world.

Mr Bryant:

– That is a reasonable statement.


-Quite, that is a very practical view. That was the Leader of the Opposition’s view on 29 January. I am glad that members of the Opposition agree that that is a reasonably sensible point of view. But that same member of parliament, the Leader of the Opposition-

Mr Bryant:

– That is right.


– Just wait and listen. What does the Leader of the Opposition say now? Today Australian Associated Press reports:

Mr Hayden said wheat, meat and wool were essential materials for a country that was maintaining a significant military incursion into another country.

Yet the Australian Government had not put an embargo on the supply of these materials to Russia, . . .

What does the Leader of the Opposition want? On 29 January he said that it is of no use Australia having trade sanctions and today he is saying that we must have them. Where does the Opposition stand on this matter? The honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) spoke for 1 5 minutes in this debate and did not say one word about where the Opposition stands on this matter. The Government has said that it wants an effective boycott of the Olympic Games. It has said that it does not believe that Russia is a fit place for the holding of these Games. It believes that Russia has breached the Olympic ideal. Russia has made statements on this matter. The Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) has already read to the House excerpts from an official handbook called Soviet SportsQuestions and Answers, published in Moscow by the Novosti Press. It states:

The views popular in the West that ‘Sport is outside politics’ finds no support in the USSR. This view is untenable in our country . . . When, for instance, Soviet representatives call for the expulsion of the South African and Rhodesian racists from the Olympic movement this is, of course, a political move … So whenever someone says that sport lies outside the framework of political relations, we feel their remark is not a serious one.

That is the Russians saying that, not us. The honourable member for Robertson said that the Russians have not breached the Olympic ideal. Clearly that just is not the case. We have to do something that hits home to the Russians to show that wc do not accept Russia’s expansionist policies. The Leader of the Opposition has said today that he wants to speak to the Australian Olympic Federation. That comment follows the statements made by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr Anthony), the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) and the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) that they are going to speak to the Olympic Federation delegates. The Leader of the Opposition says that he wants to speak to them as well. What does he want to talk about? Does he want to support the Government? No: He wants to disagree with the Government. He does not want a boycott. He did not want trade sanctions on 29 January. Today he wants them. He wants an effective boycott but he does not want to work for one. I refer to an Australian Associated Press report of today:

Mr Hayden is to send a telegram to the President of the Australian Olympic Federation, Mr Syd Grange, asking to address Federation delegates on Saturday.

My Hayden ‘s office in Canberra told AAP of this plan today.

My Hayden, who opposes the proposed boycott, wants to address Federation delegates after the Acting Prime Minister, Mr Doug Anthony, speaks to them at their vital meeting on Saturday.

Yet the same man, the Leader of the Opposition, on 22 January in a statement which he issued said:

An effective boycott of the Moscow Olympics undoubtedly would be a major psychological weapon deployed against the Soviet Union.

That is all double talk. The honourable member for Robertson stood up here today and said not one word of what the Australian Labor Party’s policy is. We support an effective boycott. I ask the ALP: ‘What do you want?’ The ALP has not told the public and it will not tell the Olympic Federation. It ought to support an effective boycott, which the people of this country want.

Mr John Brown:

– What we have heard here today is a bundle of sheer hypocrisy. The fact that the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) proposed the matter for discussion is fairly relevant because everybody in this House from both sides treats him as a joke. Nothing he says is taken seriously. He is a manifestation of humbug and hypocrisy on every point. Every day he comes in here kicking the commie can and and all to no avail because people ceased taking notice of that tactic 20 years ago. The Government’s hypocrisy of this issue is totally staggering when one considers that it is prepared to carry on unfettered trade with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, yet stop our athletes from going to the Olympic Games. It is simply unbelievable. The Government is prepared to trade wool, wheat and minerals with the USSR. It is not surprising that the Chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, Sir Leslie Price, a friend of the Government, I might say, made a statement two days ago. I quote from a newspaper article:

Australia would continue to sell wheat to the USSR, he said, and in fact would probably benefit from the US embargo.

The major effect of the US grain embargo’ he said, ‘could be that in future the Soviet Union will show some reluctance to buy American wheat first as they have been doing in the past, and instead give priority to the other major wheat exporters, including Australia.

Of course the Government wants to keep selling wheat to the Soviet Union. It will use this excuse of an Olympic boycott to offer an opportunity to its National Country Party followers to get more dollars. I refer to a line from Tennyson that was quoted once before in this House:

The jingle of the guinea heals the hurt that honour feels.

That is very true when applied to the Government. This overreaction about the Olympic Games is in line with the total overreaction to the Afghanistan affair by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). It was deplorable to see him caravaning around the world, trying to whip up a fervour amongst other nations- not particularly the nations in our area- but his pleas fell on deaf ears. The European nations have adopted a much more rational view. The rattling of rusty sabres by the Prime Minister en route fell on deaf ears. Nobody was prepared to take any notice. What the people in Australia realise is this: Farmers get a crop every year; the athletes get but one. The sweat, the tears, the exertion, the heartbreak, the physical agony, the years of planning, dreaming and hoping to mount the dais at the Olympic Games has been cast aside for some expediency in following the United States of America. The Olympic Games were given to Russia six years ago. Nothing has been revealed in this world in the past six years that has altered anyone’s opinion of Russia. Whatever we know about Russia now we knew six years ago. As the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) has said, the Olympic Games were given to Russia in a conscious fashion to try to make them a truly international event by giving them to a socialist country for once.

Russia’s excursion into Afghanistan is nothing new. It is nothing that we have not expected from it over the years. The Olympic Games should not be tied up with Afghanistan. The fact that the Olympic Games are to be held in Russia is a manifestation of the fact that the International Olympic Committee has given the Olympic Games to Moscow, The Olympic Games should be above this political expediency and consideration. The Games are an opportunity for young people to come together in peaceful competition. That is in fact what they have done historically. The Melbourne Games of 1956 were held at a time when we had great drama and trauma all around the world. The Russians had just moved into Hungary. The war in Vietnam had just started. The British and French were locked in conflict with Egypt over Suez Canal. Those Games went on. They went on in perfectly peaceable and calm surroundings. The athletes representing those nations involved in those international conflicts were not harassed, ostracised or boycotted. They were in Melbourne to play sport. They were not there as apologists for their governments or the actions of their governments.

For a boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games to be effective it would have to include the majority of the 140 nations involved in the Olympic movement. That does not appear to be the case. I would suggest that it is not going to be the case. Let us look at what gain could be made from a boycott. A very good article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning. I would like to quote something from it. It states:

If Russia is truly intent on plunging the world into a third war -

As people opposite seem to believe, with the possible exception of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock), who adopts a much more rational view- an Olympic Games boycott is unlikely to prove an absolute deterrent. If, on a note down the scale, it wants to extend its global authority by the threat of force in the Persian Gulf area, it must be told in plain terms that there is a line beyond which it cannot go.

Even if Moscow is simply trying to insure itself from any spread to its own territory of the Islamic revolution, it still merits the strongly expressed opprobrium of the rest of the world.

What Washington, Westminster and Canberra and other concerned Governments need to think through very clearlytogether with their national Olympic committees, are the consequences of a partial or unsuccessful boycott.

For Western government to demand of their Olympic committees an absolute boycott only to see some of their national teams competing would not be a lesson for the Soviet Union, it would be a bonus gold medal for its performance in Afghanistan.

We are democratic and the Olympic committees are mercifully free to make their decisions whether to boycott or not to boycott.

But it would be better by far to have no boycott than to see it go off half-cocked.

That is what the Government is trying to do. It is trying to arrange a half-cocked boycott of the Olympic Games. What it is doing is lessening the impact of the vote that was taken in the United Nations, which is the most seriously considered forum in the world. I think that the vote was 1 14 to eight against Russia for its involvement in Afghanistan. What the Government is doing by trying to whip up an Olympic boycott is muddying those waters. It is far better that that remain as testimony of the world’s understanding of Russia’s involvement in Afghanistan, that that remain as the condemnation of all the nations of the world, instead of attempts to whip up a halfcocked boycott that will never work. It might be of some consequence to members of the Government parties that when international traumas were going on in 1956, when the Games were held in Melbourne, there was no interference by the Menzies Government. I wish the Government would take note of that. The Menzies Government, thankfully, had a better idea of what sport is all about than the present Government has.

Australia is one of the last outposts of freedom in the world. There is a strain of democracy inherent in our ethos which should lead us to a better position than to become lackeys to America- to follow the American line of trying to whip up a boycott. Why should we be lackeys of the Americans? America’s record is not all that flash. In the war in Vietnam 800,000 Vietnamese died. America led us by the nose into that war, and no doubt all honourable members opposite regret our involvement. The simple fact is that we did have an involvement. Why should our athletes be harassed and subjected to implied accusations of traitorous behaviour if they are not prepared to buckle down to the calls of the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) or the Prime Minister to boycott the Olympic Games, for which they have worked for so long? This Government’s support of sport is absolutely deplorable. What was the Government’s Budget for sport last year? It was something less than $4m. The health Budget was $8,000m. I think that $4m works out at 9c per head. It is no wonder the Government is prepared to offer our athletes as our one manifestation of protest against the Russians. It is not new for the Government. The Government offered our young people as a sacrifice on an altar in Vietnam- an altar of expediency. The Government continues to trade with Vietnam, but it sent our young people there to die. So it is no real surprise that it is prepared as a one-off protest against the Russian involvement in Afghanistan to stop our young people from going to the Games.

To sum it all up, I think honourable members would all remember with some affection the nymph-like figure of a young gymnast from Russia, Olga Korbut, who captured the hearts of the world in the Olympic Games of 1972 and 1976. This frail, 13-year-old girl, as she was at the time of the 1972 Olympics, won gold medals for gymnastics. I think she was probably the best known person in the world, at least for that small period. She has written a letter to the New York Times and it is worth quoting the report of her letter:

This is simply incomprehensible to me,’ she said. ‘Why these attempts to use athletes as soldiers in the cold war. I know how many hopes an athlete associates with the Olympics, how much physical and spiritual effort he or she puts in to win the honour of appearing with the national team at this world sports forum without equal.

The words ‘Olympics’ and ‘boycott’ cannot go together. Their juxtaposition angers me.

I remember well visiting the White House, with a delegation of Soviet gymnasts’, she said.

I would like the honourable member for St George to listen very closely to these next words-

The U.S. President said at this meeting that sport furthers mutual understanding between people and unites the youth of different countries.

Why now all these political shots from the same White House at the Olympiad and the Olympic movement.

I think that sums up the hypocrisy of.this motion today and the hypocrisy of the Government’s move which is not supported by the Australian public.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. The discussion is concluded.

page 1784



-Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.


-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?


– Yes, Mr Deputy Speaker. During the debate, the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) suggested that all members on this side of the House had defended sports ties with South Africa. He pointed at me and at other members on this side of the House. But on my interjection he acknowledged that I was not a member at the time when such debates were current. However, he did say quite clearly that I would accept and defend such sporting ties with South Africa. My views on this matter are consistent. I would not support sports ties with South Africa while it maintains racist policies; nor would I attempt to proclaim a boycott of a country that had only racist policies and ignore another that takes lives through unjustified aggression.


-Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.


-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?


– Yes, Mr Deputy Speaker. If the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock) does not want to be misquoted he ought not to interject when somebody is making a speech. He could not then be misrepresented.


-Order! That is not a personal explanation.

page 1784



Report on Tourism in the Australian Capital Territory


-On behalf of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory I bring up the Committee’s report on tourism in the Australian Capital Territory, together with transcripts of evidence and extracts of minutes of proceedings.

Ordered that the report be printed.


– by leave- Tourism is already a major industry in the Australian Capital Territory. It was examined by the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory almost 20 years ago when Canberra’s population was only 56,000. That report of the Joint Committee helped establish guidelines from some early development of the industry and facilities and services that contributed to the continuing development of tourism in more recent times. The growth of the tourist industry has now taken on a new significance for Australia’s national capital. The Committee hopes that this report will again provide a basis for the further development of an industry that is now established as a major element of the economy of the Australian Capital Territory and a very important aspect of Canberra’s role as the national capital.

This report is the result of a concentrated period of work by the Committee. The terms of reference for the inquiry were referred to the Committee in May last year. Over 70 submissions were received and the Committee held 11 public hearings at which 102 witnesses appeared before the Committee. In addition, there were discussions with authorities responsible for tourism in Hobart, Darwin and Melbourne as well as 15 separate inspections of tourist facilities and attractions. The Joint Committee also met with the Australian Capital Territory House of Assembly Standing Committee on Development before finalising the report.

Tourism will not provide a remedy for all of the present and future economic problems of the Australian Capital Territory, as some statements may have suggested, but it can play a significant role in the future development of the Territory by contributing to economic and social growth. Tourism is an industry which offers scope for increasing employment opportunities. It will broaden the economic base of the Australian Capital Territory. It can also contribute to the development of a proper and realistic sense of interdependence between the Australian Capital Territory and the surrounding region of New South Wales. It can improve the everyday life of local residents by increasing tourist attractions and improving local facilities.

One important feature is that it can foster a wider appreciation of Canberra’s role as the national capital and seat of government. This can and should strengthen the nation’s sense of pride and identity. Those who are sometimes so readily critical of Canberra should consider this essential, if intangible, aspect of Canberra’s national role which will be of increasing significance to Australia.

The Committee has particularly noted the controversy over statistics on the number of visitors to the Australian Capital Territory. It has considered three sources of statistics. However, it must be emphasised that the statistics are not strictly comparable. The most widely quoted statistics are those in the Pannell Kerr Forster and Co. study on the economic and social impact of tourism on the Australian Capital Territory which asserted that there were 2.5 million visitors to the Australian Capital Territory during 1975-76. The Committee considered statistics available from the Bureau of Transport Economics national travel survey for 1977-78 as well as those in the survey of domestic travel in Australia by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Tourism between April 1978 and March 1979.

Taking into account the difficulties inevitably associated with making such estimates and the differing criteria that can be used in assessing visitor’, ‘visit’, ‘tourist’ or some other form of statistical basis against which to measure the Australian Capital Territory tourist industry, the Committee considers that the estimates given in the Pannell Ken Forster study are generally valid. However, the study is not free from criticism as on a number of occasions it uses the term visitors’ when it may have been more appropriate to use the term ‘visits’. Whilst there were an estimated 2.5 million visits to the Australian Capital Territory during the period considered, a number of those visits were made by persons making second, third or even more visits. The Committee believes on the basis of the information available that at present about one million people are visitors to the Australian Capital Territory each year- though the number of visits made total well over 2 million.

The Committee received and considered a number of proposals for the future administration of the Australian Capital Territory tourist industry. At present there is a tourism section within the Department of the Capital Territory and it operates a tourist bureau. The Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Ellicott) is also advised by the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Board on Tourism which recommended the establishment of a statutory tourist authority for the Australian Capital Territory while the Department of the Capital Territory noted that the tourism function could not be looked at in isolation from the rest of the Department. The Department did, however, acknowledge that the responsibility for tourism within the Australian Capital Territory needs to be upgraded from its current status of a section within the Department.

The Committee has given this matter the closest attention. In the States and the Northern Territory tourist promotion and development is the responsibility of either a statutory authority or a separate department. The Committee has recommended the establishment of an Australian Capital Territory Tourist Commission as a statutory authority along the general lines of the Australian Tourist Commission. We emphasise that this recommendation is made after long and detailed consideration and after taking into account that there is currently some degree of criticism of such authorities. The Committee believes each should be judged on its merits and that statutory authorities should not simply be condemned because some may have been errant in their responsibilities. It ought, where appropriate, be acknowledged that such authorities can have an important role where the traditional public and private sectors might be less effective. The Committee did not feel that in this case the private sector could or should fill the role proposed for the Commission. The same applies to the Public Service.

The Tourist Commission as proposed by the Committee would be a statutory authority responsible to the Minister for the Capital Territory. It would be composed of six members including a representative from the region, the House of Assembly and the Canberra Development Board. The Commission would appoint a full-time chief executive officer who would be responsible to the Commission. The Committee believes such a statutory tourist commission would be a more flexible instrument to administer and encourage the development of the tourist industry in the Australian Capital Territory and would ensure a more entrepreneurial approach than is possible under existing arrangements.

The Committee is aware of the assistance available for the development of the tourist industry in other states and has recommended the establishment of a tourism development fund which would make finance available to private enterprise and non-profit organisations to enable the development of tourist attractions and facilities. The Committee has suggested that the fund be administered by the Minister for the Capital Territory on the advice of the proposed Territory Tourist Commission.

The Committee is also concerned about the lack of representation of the Capital Territory on the Australian Tourist Commission. At present the six States provide members of the commission by rotation, which ensures that two states are represented on the Australian Tourist Commission each year. The Department of Industry and Commerce suggested that the Australian Capital Territory should not be considered for membership until it reached an equivalent stage of autonomy through constitutional development. The Committee flatly rejects the claim that membership of the Australian Tourist Commission should depend on the degree of constitutional autonomy of the Australian Capital Territory.

Whilst the Northern Territory might be expected to reach statehood this is unlikely for the Australian Capital Territory. In other words one constitutionally distinct, populous and very significant part of the Australian nation would be permanently excluded from direct participation in the Australian Tourist Commission. Such a proposition is absurd and anachronistic. We do not believe that it would be accepted by any Australian prepared to give it a moment’s thought. The Committee has recommended that the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, should now be represented on the Australian Tourist Commission with the States and on the same basis. Whilst this recommendation is important to the inquiry, its implications go much further.

In the course of the inquiry the Committee has given particular attention to the role of the national capital and the responsibility that it has to the citizens of Australia. Canberra is the repository of much of the nation’s heritage and more Australians are becoming aware of, and taking an interest in, that heritage. The Committee concluded that there is an obligation on government departments and instrumentalities to do more to explain their functions, operations and achievements to visitors to Canberra. It is also now essential that Commonwealth departments and instrumentalities which operate tourist facilities in the Australian Capital Territory co-ordinate their activities to ensure that the visitor gains a better appreciation of the role of the Commonwealth Government and its agencies. The Committee has recommended the establishment of an interdepartmental standing committee, to be responsible for planning a coordinated approach by Commonwealth agencies, with particular reference to ensuring that the information and displays presented are of the highest possible standard.

The Committee was particularly concerned with the problems encountered by handicapped people visiting Canberra. Australia’s national capital, its national institutions and agencies, must be readily accessible to all Australians and visitors from overseas. The Minister for the Capital Territory acknowledged the lack of facilities for the disabled in the Territory but indicated that special facilities have been included as standard features in government buildings constructed in recent years. The Committee was also informed that the National Capital Development Commission has a program to bring earlier buildings up to the new standards. However, the Committee considers that there remains a serious lack of facilities and accommodation for handicapped visitors to Australia ‘s national capital.

A booklet listing organisations and indicating some facilities for handicapped people is published by the Australian Capital Territory Council of Social Service. That booklet should be readily available for departmental tourist offices and information centres to issue to handicapped persons. But in addition further information for handicapped people, particularly on access to national institutions and tourist attractions, should be made available through that publication or a similar document, and accommodation facilities for handicapped visitors to the national capital should be improved. As 1 98 1 is to be the International Year for Disabled Persons, it is appropriate now to consider these and similar initiatives for Australia ‘s capital city.

The Committee was also concerned about the facilities at present available at Parliament House, the second most popular attraction in the Territory. About a million tourists visit Parliament House each year and a further quarter of a million visitors take guided tours. Parliament itself has neglected its responsibility effectively to inform the public of its functions and operations.

Recognition of this role, with the necessary allocation of resources, would enhance Parliament as a democratic institution.

Action is necessary by the Presiding Officers to have prepared a quality audio-visual display outlining the development and operations of Parliament, its role and the duties of senators and members. An education section should be created in Parliamentary departments which are to be responsible for the conducting of tours, particularly school tours, as well as the design and production of explanatory brochures and the training of staff handling tours of Parliament House.

The Committee has noted the importance of Canberra as a cultural centre and that the Territory provides for both residents and visitors a diverse range of facilities and events. It has concluded that Canberra has the potential to become a cultural centre of major national significance and that more emphasis should be placed on this. Obviously such efforts would also enhance Canberra’s significance as a tourist centre. Similar considerations apply to the sporting facilities available in Canberra. If it is to become a truly comprehensive focal point for national pride, it must offer sporting facilities and host events of national and international standard.

During the course of the inquiry the Committee visited a number of tourist destinations in the region around the Australian Capital Territory. A chapter of the report deals with the question of regional co-operation. The Committee has concluded that there is scope for more cooperation at all levels, to the mutual benefit of all concerned. There should be frequent and more formal liaison between the Department of the Capital Territory and the New South Wales Department of Tourism at a senior level. An officer of the proposed Tourist Commission should be designated as a regional liaison officer to liaise with tourist organisations in the region. The region has a wealth of varying attractions and can offer a total holiday environment but is generally not seen as a place to stay for any length of time. There are enough attractions in the area to keep people for longer periods provided there is an awareness of what is available. This awareness would be greater if the Territory and regional organisations co-operated to promote jointly their attractions and facilities.

About 80 per cent of tourists to Canberra come by road. The future of Australian Capital Territory tourism could therefore be substantially affected by the state of access roads to the Territory. The Committee has recommended that discussions be commenced with the New South Wales Government to examine ways by which the Department of the Capital Territory might contribute to the improvement of access roads to the national capital.

The Committee considers that the main issue in regard to air transport is the adequacy of the present airport and airport terminal. It concluded that the present terminal facilities at Canberra Airport are grossly inadequate and not in keeping with Australia’s capital. It did not see the alteration of the existing terminal as a long term solution. The Committee recommended that the existing terminal facilities at Canberra be replaced as soon as possible, that a decision be made before the end of 1981, and that funds be made available for the construction of a replacement terminal.

Effective promotion is essential to the development of the tourist industry in the Australian Capital Territory. Promotional material must be aimed at the potential traveller and not merely provide information to travellers who have already arrived in the Territory. The Committee has recommended a survey by professional consultants of the most effective means of promoting the Australian Capital Territory. Such a survey should provide the framework for future promotional efforts.

During the course of the inquiry, in September of last year, the first interstate office of the Australian Capital Territory Tourist Bureau was opened in Sydney. In the report we have commented on the role that such offices can play. They serve as a shopfront for the Territory and can maximise the effectiveness of media and other promotional campaigns. The committee considers that further interstate offices are required. It has recommended that an office be opened in Melbourne and that early consideration be given to opening offices in other capital cities.

The Committee has also recommended that stage two of the Pannell, Kerr, Forster study be recommenced. That study would be responsible for providing forecasts of estimated tourist demand as well as assessing the future needs of tourists to Canberra and the means of meeting those needs. The proposed Australian Capital Territory Tourist Commission would be represented on the working group responsible for the study, with the Department of the Capital Territory and the National Capital Development Commission. The object of the working group would be to ensure the maintenance and improvement of the environment in the Australian Capital Territory for the tourist industry. The working group would not, however, be involved in the promotion of Australian Capital Territory tourism.

As I said earlier, Canberra is becoming a repository for much of our heritage and there is a need for Australians to be more aware of that heritage. An earlier report of this Committee, in 1961, considered that it was a legitimate function of the Federal Government to foster interest in Canberra as the seat of government of the Commonwealth and as a symbol of Australia’s identity and achievements. That statement, though made almost 20 years ago, remains pertinent today. Canberra is the symbol of our federation and the centre of national administration.

The Joint Committee has therefore made recommendations on a number of particular aspects of the tourist industry and its future development in the Territory, but has gone beyond that. It has come to the view that it is now time to consider a more fundamental restructuring of the administration and promotion of tourism. As we have pointed out, it was only after the most careful consideration that the Committee recommended the establishment of an Australian Capital Territory Tourist Commission to fill that role and effectively to take over and extend the functions now carried out by the Tourist Bureau and the Advisory Board on Tourism. We have recommended the establishment of a tourism development fund to provide a source of stimulus when it is needed in particular sectors of the industry. The Committee has also stressed the need for the Territory to be represented on the Australian Tourist Commission. Some emphasis is given in the report to the need to upgrade a number of facilities, to safeguard important elements of Australia’s heritage and to ensure that the national capital is accessible to all Australians and overseas visitors, including handicapped persons.

We believe that this report should set the guidelines for the development of the tourist industry in the Australian Capital Territory and in the adjacent region over the next 20 years, during which time it will become an increasingly important element in the national capital’s development.


– by leave- As a member of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory I can confirm something that, of course, would be readily known; that is, many of the recommendations contained in this report were arrived at only after the most energetic discussion. There was no more energetic discussion than that concerning the recommendation contained in paragraph 198, starting at page 109 of the report. This is a recommendation to create a separate statutory authority for the development and promotion of tourism in the Australian Capita] Territory. Of course, that aspect of the report has been referred to already by my friend the honourable member for Fraser (Mr Fry).

This was not a recommendation to which initially I readily agreed. The setting up of a separate statutory authority would have the effect of transferring decision making and activities in relation to tourism in the Australian Capital Territory away from direct departmental and ministerial responsibility. There may be good and necessary reasons for that, but on the other hand that is not always a desirable feature of separate statutory authorities. Of course, in setting up separate statutory authorities one runs the risk of creating a whole new mini-bureaucracy, the benefits of which are not always readily apparent.

If the Committee’s recommendations are accepted, as, of course, the Committee desires, the Government of the day, in accepting the recommendations, must make sure that this body would not be just another qango with somewhat doubtful benefits attaching to it. It must make sure that it is an authority which can and will be most effective. It must have adequate financial resources and a charter which would allow it to operate flexibly, vigorously and effectively.

In short, if we are to get a separate statutory authority for tourism in the Australian Capital Territory the Government must make sure that it is a good and effective one whose advantages over continued departmental responsibilities will be readily discernible.


-by leave-I would like to highlight several of the recommendations in this report, which I had some part in preparing, to comment briefly on them and to give some personal emphasis to them. Tourism has been offered by some as a panacea for the problems inherent in the Australian Capital Territory economy with its heavy reliance on government as its major industry and employer. Therefore, I feel that it is most important to quote an important conclusion by way of emphasis. It states:

The Committee concludes that while tourism should not be seen as a remedy for all the future economic problems that might confront the ACT it is able to play a desirable role in the future development of the ACT by contributing to the economic and social growth of the Territory . . .

It is clear to the honourable member for Fraser (Mr Fry) and to me, as local members in the Australian Capital Territory, that tourism will not be the panacea for some of the current economic problems facing this Territory. However, proper and balanced encouragement from government of the report which we have before us will be important both to assist in the diversification of the employment base of the Capital Territory and its region and to ensure that the national capital fulfils it proper role in this nation.

Therefore, I note the conclusion on another matter which I have been pressing strongly on the Government for some time. I refer to the development of airport terminal facilities at the Canberra airport. The Committee concluded that the present airport terminal facility at Canberra airport is grossly inadequate, that it is not in keeping with Australia’s capital city and that alteration of the existing terminal would be only a short term solution to a long term problem. The Committee recommended that the existing terminal facility at Canberra should be replaced as soon as possible and that certainly a decision on that matter should be made before the end of 1981. I go further than that and suggest that a decision in relation to the overcrowding and inadequacies of the Canberra airport terminal should be made this year, if possible during the current autumn session of Parliament.

Of equal importance to this notion of an important capital city, if we are to play our part in the region of Asia and the Pacific, is that there should be added to the facilities in Canberra a proper international convention centre. Therefore, I strongly support that part of the report which states:

As the national capital Canberra should be able to cater for national and international conferences held by both the government and private sectors. If necessary the Government should provide some incentive for the construction of such a facility in the national capital.

I would like to put that view very strongly. Recently a number of developers showed strong interest in the construction in Canberra of a conference centre which would include a casino. Unfortunately, in terms of the narrower interests of tourism, that casino proposition has been put off by the Executive Government and there is some suggestion, of course, that this will mean that the conference centre will not be built. If a casino is part of a conference centre, the economics are changed. Many honourable members in this chamber would have doubts as to whether a casino is a good idea. If people have doubts, I suggest that the Government should increase the sorts of incentives it would offer for the construction of a conference centre if it really wants one. In those circumstances I believe that the Government should make quite favourable and generous contributions towards a conference centre for the national capital, for Australia and for the Pacific region.

I note that in the past the Australian Capital Territory Tourist Bureau has not had anything like the resources needed to promote the national capital properly and to look after the many thousands of Australian and international visitors when they arrive and stay in the Australian Capital Territory. The Bureau can do such an essential job as providing staff for visitors welcomed at the airport or to man hotels and university colleges of residence during major conventions only if it has adequate facilities and resources. This important report recommends a major injection of resources into the Tourist Bureau as well as a change in direction to give it improved flexibility. In closing I note that the report states:

The Commonwealth has a major responsibility to encourage Australians to visit their national capital. It has obligations because of its national role to ensure that the capital is a fitting symbol of the Federation and so that Australians are aware of and can take pride in that achievement.

A quick acceptance by the Government of the recommendations in the report together with the necessary funding in this year’s Budget are extremely important to the Australian Capital Territory, to the region and, more importantly, to the growing sense of pride that all Australians have in this nation and their capital city.


-by leaveUnfortunately I have not had time to read this report as only members of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory have seen it. One of the disadvantages of privilege is that one does not get a chance to see such reports beforehand and, therefore, it is difficult to make considered comment. But I have had a quick glance through it and I have listened to the comments of the honourable member for Canberra (Mr Haslem).

As the Opposition spokesman on tourism I am naturally interested in Canberra. I think it is vital to the tourist industry of this country. As I have said many times we have world class attractions in Australia. I include among those attractions the Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock and the Red Centre. I think the city of Sydney is one of the great cities of the world. Behind that I think Canberra would rank among our top four or five attractions. It is one of only three planned cities in the world. It is almost unique in the world along with Washington and Brasilia. That makes it a special attraction. People can come to Canberra and see what a properly planned city looks like. It is certainly the best planned city in Australia and that in itself is an attraction.

Canberra has some deficiencies. I would agree completely with the honourable member for Canberra that the airport terminal is a disgrace. I think it must be improved; it must be upgraded. No one would argue with that. But quite frankly I do not think that more tourists would flock to Canberra because of a higher standard airport. People will put up with 10 minutes or half an hour’s discomfiture at Canberra Airport. Improved airport facilities will not solve the problems of Canberra’s tourism.

It is interesting to look at the figures for Canberra, which show that some 2.287 million people visited the city in 1 979. The number of tourists has in fact been dropping in recent years, and that is worrying. Tourism is an important part of Canberra’s economy, particularly in view of the city’s present parlous state. Obviously one does not have to be an opponent or a supporter of the Government to know that Canberra has been seriously affected by cutbacks. If one gets around and talks to Canberra businessmen one can see that they are quite distraught. Many of the problems have obviously been caused by an expansion of retail shopping space in anticipation of a big influx of population that has not occurred. An oversupply of retail space and a downturn in spending capacity have caused serious economic problems. So tourism appears to be one of the answers for Canberra.

As an almost permanent visitor to Canberra one gets to know a fair bit about this city and what it has to offer. Canberra has some top class attractions such as the Australian War Memorial and the Royal Australian Mint. The Australian National Gallery will surely become one of the musts for everyone to see. The embassies are an attraction. As I mentioned, Canberra is an attraction because it is a planned city. I would think that Canberra’s restaurants are probably among the highest standard restaurants in Australia for a city of its population.

Mr Peacock:

– Would you?


-I would. But then, of course, I have a very keen appreciation of food. Having a wife who is probably one of the best cooks in Australia, I can appreciate fine food. I have also eaten at the Minister’s place and I can understand why he does not appreciate good food. I enjoyed the meat pies; many people would not. However, one thing that concerns me is the number of overnight stays by visitors in Canberra. I think the average stay of visitors is 3.4 days. Canberra should build up its attractions to encourage people to stay here for longer. Attractions such as the National Museum will add marginally to the time that people stay in Canberra. I do not think there are enough things for people to do in Canberra that are distinctly and uniquely touristy. It is true that Canberra has restaurants, cinemas and things like that. But so too do other cities of Australia. At the moment there are not sufficient things to see and do to warrant people staying here longer.

Trans-Australia Airlines has been the subject of recent debate. I happen to think that TAA is doing a magnificent job in developing Australian tourist resorts. The contribution that could be played by this company has been overlooked in the current debate. I have visited Dunk Island, Wanderers Paradise at Shute Harbour and Great Keppel Island. There is evidence at those resorts of the magnificent job that TAA is doing to develop the tourist stock of Australia. TAA has upgraded those resorts with top quality hotels. Incidentally, I understand that TAA is making a healthy profit. I make this point because in discussions that I have had with TAA I have been told that if that company had the capital it would next seek to develop close to Canberra a ranchstyle resort which would cater for some hundreds of people. I do not know whether anything of that nature of a sufficient size now exists near Canberra. But I would think that TAA would be talking about a resort of the size of Wanderers Paradise or Dunk Island where some hundreds of people would stay and be provided with ranch-style attractions. The hinterland of Canberra is magnificent. Tourists would be able to ride and play golf and in the winter they could ski, because the snow fields are fairly close. People would be able to participate in all sorts of outdoor sport and recreation in a country club environment. I think that would contribute significantly to Canberra. TAA is anxious to develop such a facility. It is obviously trying to develop a chain of resorts around Australia to which it can bring overseas visitors, but unfortunately it lacks the capital to do so.

I promised the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) that I would speak for only a few minutes. I have just about used all my time. I want to say that I look forward to studying this report. I regret that we probably will not get a chance to debate it in the House again. But I would say that Canberra is one of the four or five linchpins of a successful national tourist policy. We should make no mistake about that. If we were to bring people to Australia and show them as much and as varied an amount of Australia as we could in a ten or 12-day tour we would take them to Sydney to show them a top world class metropolitan area, we would take them to the Great Barrier Reef, we would take them to the Red Centre and we would take them to Canberra. In that short space of 10 or 12 days we could give them a brief picture of what Australia is all about. I hope the Government will proceed -

Mr Peacock:

– No wonder you don ‘t hold your seats in Tasmania.


-I will have a lot to say about Tasmania. As a matter of fact the Minister might like to come up to Port Stephens on Saturday night and hear what I have to say about Tasmania. That State is also most important to our national tourist policy. But Canberra is also vital.

Mr Young:

– What about the Barossa Valley?


– I have had some unfortunate experiences with the Barossa Valley. I would rather forget about them. They were with the honourable member.


– by leave- I will not speak for long. I would like to extend my congratulations to the Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, which investigated the future of tourism within the Australian Capital Territory. I am very much in agreement with much of what the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) said this afternoon. Canberra does form part of an overall tourist pattern for international tourism into Australia. The honourable member for Canberra (Mr Haslem) happened to mention that one section of the report emphasised that although tourism was not a panacea for the end of all employment problems in the Australian Capital Territory it could certainly go part of the way, and I would agree with that. I would think that one of the most important things we should be emphasising within this particular community is just what a contribution the tourist industry can play.

If we cast our minds back to the recent study by the Bureau of Industry Economics we will recall some figures that really are absolutely amazing. For example, figures indicate that for every extra 25,000 international visitors we can create another 1,400 jobs, and for every extra $10,000 that is spent in the domestic market another 1.2 jobs become available. They are most significant figures. Of all the industries that are available to us in Australia at the moment it would seem to me that it is tourism that stands out perhaps more than any other industries that have the opportunity to provide the so much needed employment in the semi-skilled and unskilled areas.

It is true that Canberra is one of only three designed cities in the world. That itself is a tremendous tourist attraction and a tremendous selling point overseas. One of the recommendations in the report was for the establishment of an Australian Capital Territory tourism commission. I would hope that if that recommendation is accepted and that commission is established the Government will be fairly particular about exactly what the commission’s charter will be. One of the things that worries me about the tendencies in some of the State tourist bodies around Australia at the moment is the fact that they tend to go outside their charters and tend to try to spread their limited facilities a little too thinly across the ground.

To give honourable members an example, and this is not meant to be a political criticism at all, the New South Wales Department of Tourism has just set up an office in Los Angeles. I cannot fathom, for the life of me, why it would bother to do that. Who, in Los Angeles, has ever heard of New South Wales? Who, in Los Angeles- very few I should imagine- has heard of Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania or any other Australian State? If we are going to promote tourism in a big way overseas there is really only one vehicle to do it, and that is the Australian Tourist Commission. That is why I was pleased to see that particular recommendation in this report, that the Australian Capital Territory should be represented on that body. I hope that there will be a tendency now for the State tourist organisations and the Australian Capital Territory tourist people to come together within the Australian Tourist Commission as part of that overall promotional scheme. But it should be done under the umbrella of the Australian Tourist Commission rather than these people having any thoughts of going out and doing it on their own.

The Australian Capital Territory Tourist Bureau has already established an office in Sydney which I understand has been quite successful. I hope that that tendency will continue so that the Australian Capital Territory can promote itself within the States. I urge that it play its part within the Australian Tourist Commission, to make that extra effort to ensure that Canberra is promoted overseas as part of a total Australian package rather than as an individual one.

Of course, one of the great advantages Canberra has is that it is in close proximity to the two major population areas of Australia. Having regard to the fuel crisis, the forward predictions on the nature of domestic tourism over the next few years put this city in a most enviable position. Although the number of people taking motoring holidays will not drop substantially- probably the figure of about 86 per cent of people taking their cars on their holidays will remain- there will be a tendency for people to travel shorter distances. The experts tell us that during the 1980s it is more likely that people will travel not much more than 350 or 400 miles to their destination. Canberra is in an ideal situation. It has the Sydney, Wollongong and Melbourne populations to draw on. This obviously is a great focal point on which to create good tourist industry.

All in all, I think the future for tourism in the Australian Capital Territory looks bright. The value of tourism, the role that it can play in the development of the local economy and in the provision of much sought after jobs, is immense. I hope that the Government will seriously consider those very good recommendations that have been placed before the House this afternoon. Canberra certainly can start to play its part as one of the most important tourist points within Australia.

page 1792


Leader of the House · Stirling · LP

– by leave-I move:

Mr Deputy Speaker, having moved this motion I take the opportunity to explain shortly the reason for it. I should say firstly that these 38 orders of the day are being discharged by agreement with the manager of Opposition business. As the House would be well aware, it has been the practice, on the completion of the delivering of a ministerial statement, or on the tabling of some reports, for the Government to move a motion to take note of the paper and, hence, the matters appear on the orders of the day. That is done to facilitate debate by retaining the matter on the Notice Paper.

The Notice Paper includes matters no longer topical because of the passage time, because events have overtaken them or because they have been superseded by matters that have come on in the House. Therefore, the Notice Paper has this long accumulation of a large number of matters for which, in many cases, there is only a remote possibility of debate. Honourable members might also say that it has an accumulation of a large number of matters which have become stale business. I think it is important that the Notice Paper provide a realistic reflection of the items of Government Business that may be brought on for debate for the benefit of honourable members and for the benefit of the public interested in the business of the House. Otherwise, people could get a completely wrong impression of the matters that are likely to be debated or the business that is likely to be done by the House.

I mention that the discharging of these 38 Orders of the Day should not be taken as a reflection of a lack of interest by me as Leader of the House or by the Government in promoting subjects for debate by the House. In fact it is my desire, and the desire of the Government, that opportunity should be provided to members on both sides of the House to debate matters of substantial importance within the limits of the legislative program and according to the importance and the urgency of those matters. In the autumn sittings we saw that objective being achieved. For example, what might be termed policy debates- that is, excluding Bills- took up approximately 44 hours. That includes debates on matters of public importance and ministerial statements on which the practice has been that the Opposition spokesman has responded to the statement put down by the Minister.

It is my intention, where it is practicable and the subject matters deserve the attention of the House in debate, to revive debates on matters which are on the Notice Paper. Honourable members will observe that all matters on the Notice Paper which have come into the House this year still remain on the Notice Paper. I will facilitate debate on important issues raised by ministerial statements, or on issues raised by the Opposition. I can think of areas of substantial debate that we have already dealt with in this sitting such as foreign affairs, defence, industrial relations, human rights in the Soviet Union and drugs. These are but examples of areas in which there has been substantial debate with an opportunity to participate given to members on both sides of the House. It is against that background that I move this motion.


-In saying a few words on this motion to discharge certain Orders of the Day, I state, on behalf of the Opposition, that we are pleased to accept the assurance given to us by the Leader of the Government (Mr Viner) in the House of Representatives that the only motivation is cleaning up the Notice Paper, making it more realistic and saving on printing. We are also very pleased to learn from him that he intends to facilitate debate on the important issues which are left on the Notice Paper. I publicly give him my assurance that I will play my part in seeking time, even if it means having fewer speakers on legislation on certain occasions, for the matters on the Notice Paper to be debated in this chamber.

We are glad that the Minister negotiated with us before bringing in this motion. For instance, Order of the Day No. 23 on today’s Notice Paper, ‘National Trachoma and Eye Health Program- Report- Motion to take note of paper’, has been left on the Notice Paper. The health of our Aboriginal people is an item of enormous importance. It may be that the Opposition could trade off lesser speakers on some Bill on another occasion in order that one or two speakers from either side of the House could draw attention to this grave problem in Australia. The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Leo McLeay) indicated to me that there was another item that he wished to see left on the Notice Paper. This was a paper on child migrant education. It has rested on the Notice Paper since 15 November 1979. It is a matter that we hope will not get too stale before we have an opportunity to debate it- even if it is a short debate- in this chamber.

The Opposition regrets that a move along these lines was not made earlier. It is sad to note some of the items which have now been discharged. I refer to one item which related to the salinity of the Murray River, a subject of enormous importance to my city of Adelaide. At the time that the report was brought in someone would have asked for that item to be noted, in the hope that it would be brought before this chamber for debate so that more light could be thrown on the matter and a greater number of opinions might have been applied to the paper. That is not to be. It is unrealistic now to think that we will get that matter on for debate in the light of the other subjects that have been raised in priority.

I end as I began by saying that the Opposition is happy to accept the Government’s assurance that the action it has taken is merely to make the Government Business section of the Notice Paper more realistic and that is why these discharges are taking place. I repeat my offer to trade time so that we can make the Notice Paper even more realistic by having debates on the items which remain.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 1793


Bill presented by Mr Peacock, on behalf of Mr MacKellar, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Minister for Foreign Affairs · Kooyong · LP

– I move:

The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act 1967, so as to provide for the granting to a permanent mission of a particular type of regional international organisation which might be established in Canberra, the same privileges and immunities as are accorded to a diplomatic mission of a foreign country. Honourable members will recall that the 1967 Act gives effect in Australian law to the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the text of which is set out in the schedule to that Act. The particular type of regional international organisation contemplated in the Bill would be one whose overseas missions perform functions substantially corresponding to functions exercised by diplomatic missions. These functions are set out in Article 3 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Mr Hurford:

– Would you’ have in mind the PLO?


-That will be answered when I come to that matter. It refers to countries and geographic regions. It does not refer to information offices. In other words, they have to represent nation states. It will become clear as I go through the speech.

The amended 1 967 Act will be applied to each appropriate regional international organisation and its mission, by regulation. Although the Bill is in general terms, its immediate purpose is to enable the granting of privileges and immunities to the proposed permanent mission in Canberra of the Commission of the European Communities. It might be helpful if, at this point, I were to bring specifically to the attention of honourable members the distinction between international organisations which it is proposed should be covered by the present Bill, and those covered by existing legislation, that is, the International Organizations (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1963. The organisations contemplated in the present Bill are organisations comprising overseas countries in a particular geographical region which have empowered the central organisation to perform certain functions on their behalf. An overseas mission of such an organisation would perform a diplomatic representational role in respect of those functions which substantially corresponds to that of a diplomatic mission. The privileges and immunities of this type of international organisation have not so far been the subject of a specific multilateral convention.

The 1963 Act, on the other hand, covers those organisations of which Australia is a member and which are rarely confined to a specific geographical region. The office of such an organisation, if established in Australia, would not perform a diplomatic representational role, but would act as the regional office or headquarters, as the case may be, of that organisation. In short, it would not perform functions substantially corresponding to those performed by a diplomatic mission. Accordingly, the 1 963 Act provides for the granting of privileges and immunities to the organisation, its officials, and persons serving on committees or participating in the work of, or performing a mission on behalf of, the organisation, which are of a level less than that applicable to a diplomatic mission. This is in accordance with the provisions of the many international agreements on the privileges and immunities of those organisations established since the formation of the United Nations.

I have referred to the immediate purpose of the present Bill as being to enable the granting of diplomatic privileges and immunities to the proposed permanent mission in Canberra of the European Communities, which I shall refer to as the EC. The EC comprises the regional associations of the European Coal and Steel Community, the European Economic Community EEC, and the European Atomic Energy Community, EURATOM. Prior to 1965, each of the three communities had its own separate organisation. In that year, however a Merger Treaty established a single council and a single commission for the three communities. The Commission in Brussels is, in effect, the secretariat to the Communities and it is expected, on the basis of precedents in other non-EC countries, that the mission in Canberra will be formally known as the Delegation of the Commission of the European Communities in Australia. The EC encompasses over 260 million people and is a major world aggregate in political, trading and general economic terms. As such, it is of very substantial importance to Australia. The Government welcomes the proposed establishment of the mission in Canberra both as indicating the importance of ECAustralian relations and as facilitating the conduct of those relations.

The EC is in the nature of a supra-national body to the extent that its members have divested themselves of a not inconsiderable part of their sovereignty in its favour. It has the power to take action against its members for breaches of its internal rules and there have been many cases where community law has overridden the national laws of its members. It has a directly elected parliament of power and significance. Honourable members will recall that it recently rejected the 1980 EC Budget. The EC has a substantial external relations function and has developed a network of overseas missions in a number of countries. These have been established in Washington; New York, to the United Nations; Ottawa; Tokyo; Bangkok; Geneva; Vienna; Paris, to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; Caracas; and Santiago. It is necessary in advance of the establishment of the EC mission in Canberra, to make arrangements to accord privileges and immunities to the mission and its personnel. Given the nature of the EC and the diplomatic character of its overseas missions, it is considered appropriate that the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act 1967 be amended to enable its provisions to be applied to the EC and its overseas missions, as well as to any similar regional organisations and their missions in the future.

Clause 3 of the Bill provides that a regional in- ternational organisation of the particular type contemplated in the Bill may be declared by the regulations to be an international organisation for the purposes of the section. Should an international organisation be so declared, the 1967 Act would apply to it as if each reference in the Act- other than in section 12- to an overseas country, and each reference in the Vienna Convention to a sending state, or to the government of a sending state, were a reference to the international organisation or to an organ of the international organisation if that organ is specified by the regulations. Furthermore, the Act would apply to the organisation as if any mission of the organisation which exercises functions substantially corresponding to functions exercised by a diplomatic mission were in fact a diplomatic mission. A mission of Australia to a declared international organisation, if it exercises functions substantially corresponding to functions exercised by a diplomatic mission, would be regarded, in applying sub-section 12 (1) of the 1967 Act, as ‘a mission of Australia in an overseas country’. In applying the same sub-section, the mission in Australia of a declared international organisation would be regarded as ‘the mission of that country’. The Schedule to the Bill sets out formal amendments of a drafting nature to the principal Act. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hurford) adjourned.

page 1795


Bill presented by Mr John McLeay, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Mr John McLeay:
Minister for Administrative Services · BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– I move:

Honourable members will recall that on 6 November 1979 my colleague the Acting Prime Minister, Mr Anthony, made a ministerial statement on the interim report of the Australian Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drugs. The principal recommendation contained in the interim report, which was adopted by the Government, recommended that the Narcotics Bureau be disbanded and, apart from the responsibility of enforcing Commonwealth law at the Customs barrier remaining with the Bureau of Customs, responsibility for Federal drug enforcement elsewhere be transferred to the Australian Federal Police. Following from this decision it was necessary to transfer, in the first instant, the Public Service officers of the Narcotics Bureau to the Office of the Australian Federal Police, Department of Administrative Services. Those officers were directed to work under the direction of the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police. It was envisaged that when the Commissioner had established the appropriate organisation, those former Narcotics Bureau staff whom the Commissioner considered were qualified and suitable for appointment as police officers would be appointed as police officers of the Australian Federal Police. In the meantime those officers were appointed as special members of the Australian Federal Police.

It is important to remind honourable members of what has already been said in this House that those former Narcotics Bureau staff who are not considered qualified or suitable for appointment as police officers and are better suited to Public Service employment will remain in Public Service Act positions and retain their normal Public Service rights of transfer and promotion to other Public Service positions. The Australian Federal Police Act 1979 as it presently stands, however, provides for a legal preference for a period of at least five years, for former members of the former Australian Capital Territory and Commonwealth Police Forces who were appointed to the Australian Federal Police. The legal preference is for any appointment to a rank in the AFP ahead of any person joining from outside the AFP particularly to the component performing general police functions. Although the legal preference is a qualified one, the problems associated with overcoming its effects, without legislative amendment, in connection with these Public Service narcotics officers, some of whom would need to be appointed to higher ranks, were insurmountable. Such amendments apply only to this small special group of entrants to police ranks. Thus the preference for the members from the former two Police Forces is preserved generally.

The purpose of this Bill, therefore, enables the Government decision to be implemented by empowering the appointment as full members of the AFP of those former Narcotics Bureau staff who are selected by the Commissioner as qualified and suitable for appointment as police officers. The Bill also sets out the principles the Commissioner has to have regard to in determining the rank to which such selected officers are to be appointed. By amending section 68 of the Act, the Bill also provides for certificates of evidence in relation to the appointment of former narcotics officers. Such certificates specify the necessary steps and dates of action required to be taken for such appointments. This will facilitate for the courts proof of their appointment as for other appointments in the AFP. I have arranged for an explanatory memorandum and notes on clauses to be distributed to all honourable members. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Dr Klugman) adjourned.

page 1795


Bill presented by Mr John McLeay, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Mr JOHN McLEAY (Boothby-Minister for

Administrative Services) (5.2)- I move:

The purpose of this Bill is to make amendments to existing Commonwealth legislation consequential to the enactment of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979 and the Australian Federal Police (Consequential Amendments) Act 1979. The Australian Federal Police (Consequential Amendments) Act 1979 made, among other things, detailed amendments to existing legislation to provide for ‘Australian Federal Police’ to replace references to the Commonwealth Police Force and the Australian Capital Territory Police Force. This further Consequential Amendments Bill provides for definition of ‘constable’ and ‘member of the Australian Federal Police’ to include ‘special member of the Australian Federal Police’.

This is to put beyond any legal doubt the question of the legal powers of ‘special members’, who are appointed by the Commissioner under section 27 of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979. This particularly relates to the definitions of ‘constable’ in numerous statutes of the Commonwealth, as for example in the Crimes Act 1914 and the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Act 1971. 1 commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Dr Klugman) adjourned.

page 1796


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 2 April, on motion by Mr Garland:

That the Bill be now read a second time. ‘

Mr John McLeay:
Minister for Administrative Services · BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

- Mr Deputy Speaker, may I have your indulgence to suggest that the House has a general debate covering this Bill, the Companies (Acquisition of Shares- Fees) Bill 1980, the Securities Industry Bill 1980, the Securities Industry (Fees) Bill 1980 and the Companies and Securities (Interpretation and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 1980, as they are associated measures? Separate questions, will, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate.


-(Hon. Ian Robinson) - Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the five measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.


-The Opposition proposes right at the outset to move an amendment to the motion that the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill be read a second time. As we have just heard, this is a cognate debate. The Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill is the first of the Bills to be dealt with in this debate. I move:

These Bills represent the second stage of the Government’s so-called co-operative companies and securities scheme. The first was the establishment of the National Companies and Securities Commission last year, and the third will be the passage of the new companies Bill which is expected in the Budget session and in relation to which an exposure draft was released publicly this week. I am grateful to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Garland) for making copies of that draft Bill available to some members of the Opposition yesterday.

Mr Young:

– They should have been available to all honourable members.


– I think I can speak for the Minister and say that he will make them available for those honourable members who want them. If he does not, we will certainly take the matter up with him.

Mr Garland:

– The honourable member for Port Adelaide can have copies now if he wants them.

Mr Young:

– I got knocked back by the Minister’s office yesterday. His staff told me to go and buy copies.


-I am interested in that exchange because I hope that copies will be made available. Certainly no response should be made along the lines that a member of parliament should try to find time to get away from this building to buy copies. Indeed, it is only a draft Bill anyway and has not been submitted to the House. As I have indicated in my amendment the Opposition does not oppose any of these Bills. However, we believe that they represent an abdication of national responsibility conferred by the Constitution under the corporation’s powersection 51, placitum (xx)- which gives this Parliament power to legislate with respect to foreign corporations and trading or financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth. The Opposition raised this matter at the time the National Companies and Securities Commission Bill was being debated in this House last October, In moving this amendment the Opposition is being entirely consistent with what its attitude was at that time and indeed with its attitude on legislation relating to this area over many years.

The Australian Labor Party has always believed that the Commonweatlh should exercise the powers, and hence the responsibilities which are conferred upon it by the Constitution. It is no longer a subject of serious debate that the Commonwealth has power in this field of companies and securities law. Even the High Court of Australia, particularly in recent decisions, has made it clear that we in this national Parliament and the Commonwealth Government have this power. The presently accepted view is that the constitutional power extends but is not limited to the trading activities of trading and financial corporations. The case of Curran v. the Federal Commissioner of Taxation in 1974 established the proposition that the buying and selling of shares is a trading activity. It is within the ambit of the Commonwealth’s constitutional power, therefore, for the Commonwealth to control the acquisition of shares by corporations. Furthermore, there can be no dispute that the law in relation to takeover and in relation to companies and securities generally should be national law as the formation, operation and interrelationships of companies are matters of national significance to which State boundaries are largely irrelevant. The markets for shares and for other securities are nearly always national ones.

For this reason, wc believe that companies and securities law in Australia should be subject to national legislation. It is ludicrous in our view that this proposition continues to be rejected by this Government even though the law relating to bills of exchange, banking, insurance, foreign investment, trade practices, family law, bankruptcy and income tax are all national laws. This Government is quite willing to misuse national law to regulate trade union activity as has been seen recently in relation to the infamous section 45D- the Laidely case. Yet this Government does not maintain the same attitudes towards the proper use of company law. It is not just a matter of principle which is at stake and which has been at stake. It has been a matter of the effectiveness of the law in relation to areas of activity of crucial importance not only to the efficient operation of the Australian economy but also to the question of justice in Australian corporate life. The Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange in its report reached this firm conclusion:

The regulation of the securities markets, of the intermediaries which operate in these markets, and of some of the activities of public companies and investment funds, is in need of fundamental reform.

The Committee went on:

Our essential recommendation is that an Australian Securities Commission be established forthwith by the Federal Government to carry out this reform.

The Committee rejected the notion of a joint legislative scheme involving the Australian Government and the States. It favoured a national law, because it recognised the national nature of the matters to which the law relates. The so-called co-operative approach as opposed to the acceptance of national responsibility suffers a number of weaknesses. I want to explain and to illustrate those weaknesses. First, cooperative legislation can, and almost certainly will, be administered differently from one jurisdiction to another, depending on the policies and practices of the separate administrators in each of these jurisdictions. While this may not be unduly serious in respect of administration by the States corporate affairs commissions, there is a major problem in the area of the separate exercise of power by the Supreme Courts in the States. I will mention more of this matter later in my remarks.

Secondly, it is in the nature of companies and securities law that it is in constant need of amendment. The legislative device will streamline this process in part as amendments made by the Commonwealth will have automatic effect in the States. However, there remains the need to obtain a majority agreement of the States before such amendments are made. There also remains the substantial risk that where a decision to amend the law is not unanimously agreed, some States will break with the uniform law. That is a very real danger that will be with us as long as this legislation remains in this form. The existence of this risk will no doubt lead to a conservative approach towards the development of amendments. This will be equally as destructive as the delays and difficulties inherent in the process itself. Thirdly- this illustrates the weaknesses in the co-operative approach- there is a problem in the area of administration. The tasks of the corporate affairs commissions of the States which are to have responsibility delegated to them by the NCSC will be made no easier by having to deal with major cases in co-operation with their counterparts in other States. This has been a major problem in the past. There are no grounds for confidence that this will be satisfactorily resolved in the future.

They are only some of the difficulties but they are three very important ones. Those objections to the co-operative approach are of major significance. We are dealing with a fast moving area of great economic significance. The Senate Select Committee clearly showed that there are many sharp individuals who see in the ‘corporate veil’ opportunities for their dubious talents. The Opposition has consistently called for a national law for companies and securities regulation, and we stand by that position in relation to the Bills now before the House.

It is a matter for regret that we are debating this legislation this year, five years later than we should be debating it. The Labor Party when in Government introduced a substantial body of proposed law which was national in character and based in part on the findings of the Senate Select Committee. Because the conservative parties rejected that legislation and later began the long and tedious task of reaching an agreement in co-operation with the States, five years have been lost in bringing a definitive new companies and securities scheme into operation in Australia. Such is the high price of political expediency. There have been many little people in this country who have suffered grievously in the meantime. This high price will continue to be paid as a result of the delays, inconsistencies and inadequacies of the co-operative framework of the companies and securities legislation. The Opposition is supporting these Bills only to avoid further delays.

I now move on to consider the Bills in greater detail. I am grateful to the officers of the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs, who have been most helpful in providing information throughout the process of the preparation of these Bills. I suppose it would be very ungracious if I did not also mention the co-operation of two Ministers during the same period- the present Minister for Education (Mr Fife), and the present Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, both of whom facilitated the visit of officers, some of whom are in the House at present, to meetings of an Opposition committee studying this complex subject. In a complex area of law and under the unsatisfactory parameters with which the officials, in our view, have had to work, none of the shortcomings of the legislation can be ascribed to the officials in any way. The Opposition is grateful for the open and professional approach of the departmental officers. The faults and shortcomings are very much the result of the conservative political approach to the subject by the Government. The fault is due to the politicians who are pursuing short-sighted policies based on what I would assert was faulty ideology.

Let me first consider the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill and indicate some of the problems we anticipate from the Government’s approach. The purpose of this Bill is to enact law in relation to a new Australian takeovers code to regulate the acquisition of company shares. The new code replaces the very inadequate existing legislation contained in the various companies Acts of the States. The proposed code, or close variants of it, already regulates many takeovers in Australia. Interim legislation has been passed in Queensland and Western Australia and the Australian Associated Stock Exchanges have required compliance with the code through the provisions of the AASE listing requirements, clause 3R, effective since 3 1 December 1979.

It is important to realise that the objective of the proposed legislation is essentially to regulate the conduct of takeovers, not to control the extent or effects of takeovers. The Bill is concerned with the interests of shareholders, particularly small shareholders, and not with the public interest, the interests of workers or the interests of consumers. For example, companies are not required to state their intentions vis-a-vis the target company. The very least companies making takeovers should be required to do, in our view, is to state their intention vis-a-vis the target corporation so that consumers, workers and the public generally know what is contemplated. Such a requirement for the disclosure of this information, most suitably in Schedules A and C as set out in the legislation, was provided in Labor’s 1975 National Companies Bill. Whilst such a provision is needed, it would not meet the full requirements of a comprehensive policy in relation to takeovers in Australia.

There has been a spate of takeovers in Australia in recent times which is probably unparalleled in our history. There is very little to suggest that these takeovers have been in the best long term interests of Australia’s economic development. They have resulted in an increase in the concentration of control and ownership of key Australian industries, including transport, media, pharmaceuticals, mining and finance. They have also resulted in increased foreign ownership of Australian industry.

I want to break off there and just illustrate the dangers to our economy, and indeed our sovereignty that are inherent in a number of takeovers. I will illustrate the dangers by making reference to the issue which is at present before the Government in, namely, the attempted takeover by Glaxo Australia Pty Ltd of F. H. Faulding and Co. Pty Ltd in my own State. These two companies are in the pharmaceutical industry. Already there is 94 per cent foreign ownership of the pharmaceutical industry. Only 6 per cent of the capacity in pharmaceutical manufacturing companies is in Australian hands. Glaxo is also one of the companies making a bid for the takeover of the Fawnmac group, which is another of the very few Australian companies in the pharmaceutical industry. It has been leaked to me, I hope accurately, that the Glaxo offer for Fawnmac is probably the most extravagant one of all and if there is a question of funds that the Commonwealth would receive for this company, which is at the moment in public hands but which this Fraser Government wants to sell into private hands, the Glaxo offer would be successful in that case also. In that case the present miserable 6 per cent of the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry which is owned by Australians would be further reduced and only a few Australian companies would be left in the pharmaceutical industry.

This is dangerous for a number of reasons. There would be at least 50 to 100 jobs eliminated by the Glaxo takeover of the Faulding company. We noted the other day that whereas the figure that used to be ascribed to the number of jobs lost in Adelaide by the takeover was 100, it seemed that with some pride the State Liberal Minister of Labour and Industry in South Australia, Mr Brown, announced that Glaxo had decided to transfer some of its operation in the packaging area from Melbourne to Adelaide and so the jobs lost may only be 50. As I commented at the time, it is as though half a disaster was acceptable. Mr Brown and others in South Australia should be fighting hard to see that there is no takeover of Faulding by Glaxo whatsoever and that no jobs are lost in South Australia, not just for the sake of South Australia but also for the sake of the pharmaceutical industry in this country generally.

We need the Faulding company, we need the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, and we need Fawnmac to be Australian-owned and controlled in order to fight back and ensure that there is an Australian base for an increasing Australian participation in this industry rather than allow Australian ownership to go on decreasing. It is important that there should be an Australian ownership in this industry. We should not allow takeovers by foreigners of the few companies left in Australian hands. This is an industry on which we can build new jobs. It is an industry which can benefit from the high standard of education in this country. That high standard of education leads to research workers who can be responsible for new inventions, innovations and breakthroughs in that industry. On those skills we can build new jobs.

The fact is also that pharmaceutical industry products are not bulky and are not heavy and therefore are easily transportable and easily exportable. With the advantages we have, living in this part of the world, close to the fastest growing area in terms of standards of living- I refer to South East and East Asia- recognising as we must that pan of that increasing standard of living will mean an increasing use of pharmaceutical products, we ought to be able to take advantage in the pharmaceutical industry of creating new jobs by exporting pharmaceutical products to that part of the world. That will not happen if this industry is entirely controlled by foreigners because foreign corporations will source their products from other parts of the world into South East Asia. They will not source those products from Australia. We need Australian companies in order to achieve that growing export market which would result under a Labor government’s policy.

I understand that we have only until Friday for the Government to make its announcement in relation to Glaxo ‘s takeover of Faulding. We have not yet been told what is the Foreign Investment Review Board ‘s recommendation in relation to that takeover. But I hope for the sake of South Australia and for the sake of the Australian pharmaceutical industry that the Government will prevent that takeover and that indeed, the Government will prevent the takeover by Glaxo or any other multinational company of Fawnmac as well. I hope that it will facilitate a joint project such as the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories along with Faulding getting together with Fawnmac, or even buying out Fawnmac jointly so that we have a larger base, we have economies of scale for this counterattack in the pharmaceutical industries- a counter-attack against foreign domination- so that we can take advantage in that industry of

Australian ownership in the way in which I have outlined.

This Government has a dismal record in both of these areas in relation to takeovers. In the first, there is an urgent need for a more effective policy in relation to mergers and takeovers under the Trade Practices Act and legislation such as the Broadcasting and Television Act which in part has similar intentions. The de facto abolition of the merger provisions of the Trade Practices Act by the Fraser Government in 1977 is responsible to a large extent for the current wave of takeover activity. In so many cases, tycoons, who enjoy manoeuvering for control of organisations, are merely feeding their egos and grabbing for power to the detriment of consumers and workers. A provision to constrain takeovers which results in a substantial lessening of competition is urgently needed to complement the legislation we are now debating. In respect of the second major failure of the Government’s takeover policy, we have witnessed a continued weak approach to the foreign investment review guidelines. This Government has had scant regard for the objective which it espoused in 1975 to maximise the degree of ownership and control of our industries. As my colleague the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) said in this House two weeks ago, the Foreign Investment Review Board has operated under this Government more in the interests of stimulating foreign control of Australian industry than in reviewing and screening foreign investment proposals. In each of these respects- the regulation of mergers and takeovers and the careful screening of foreign investment proposals- this Government has been completely remiss. The Opposition believes that as long as this situation prevails, the legislation now before this House will have very little effectiveness.

I now look at the Bill in respect of its narrow objective of regulating the conduct of takeovers in Australia. The Bill itself has been subject to a very extensive debate by interested parties in the community. The code established by the Bill prohibits the acquisition of shares which would result in a person being entitled to more than 20 per cent of the voting shares or to increase the shareholding of a person already holding 20 per cent or more unless: Firstly, no more than 3 per cent each 6 months is acquired; secondly, a formal takeover offer is made, in writing in accordance with prescribed forms; and thirdly, a takeover announcement is made on the floor of the stock exchange, also with prescribed forms. The 20 per cent threshold provided in the Bill is almost certainly too high. The intention of the threshold is to specify the level of ownership below which control does not pass, but in a large number of cases this clearly does occur at an ownership level much lower than 20 per cent.

It may have been more desirable to draw a distinction between large and small companies in this respect. It certainly would have been preferable to specify a lower threshold at the outset which may be varied in certain cases under discretionary powers afforded to the NCSC- for example, when an institutional investor wishes to vary its holding without any intention of exercising control. Having made that point, it is important to note that clear guidelines and accountability to the Government should be provided in relation to such discretion exercised by the Commission. Powers to exempt from compliance with the Act, section 57, or to declare that the Act applies as if modified, section 58, are not sufficiently constrained in these respects. The Opposition is very concerned that the Commission should not weaken the application of the code through the permissive application of these provisions.

I would like to indicate that the Opposition welcomes the eleventh hour decision of the Government to include an ‘in principle’ provision in the Bill. I refer to section 60 which provides a catch-all discretionary power whereby the NCSC may declare a takeover to be unacceptable if it conflicts with the basic objectives of the Act. Under this provision, the NCSC may apply to supreme courts to have acquisitions disallowed. The courts may alternatively declare that the acquisition is acceptable. Unfortunately, the vesting of this power in the various supreme courts is likely to result in inconsistent interpretation and, if the High Court’s attitude prevails, such discretionary powers could well be rendered useless. The Opposition hopes that the courts will not treat this provision in the same way that section 260 of the Income Tax Assessment Act has been treated.

I turn now to the Securities Industry Bill which is the other substantial law which is now being dealt with by the House. The history of this legislation can be traced back at least to 19 March 1970 when, on the motion of Labor’s Senator Murphy, the Senate resolved to establish a Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. This Committee met for four years, collected over 12,000 pages of evidence and held 167 meetings. This was an extremely extensive and thorough investigation. It is significant that the Committee reported unanimously.

It is the intention of the Bill before the House to overcome abuses which the Committee shows applied in the securities market. It was also the intention of Labor’s proposed legislation in 1975 to counter these malpractices. My earlier remarks regarding the co-operative companies scheme and the takeover law apply equally in respect of this Bill. A co-operative scheme cannot be as effective as a national scheme. The substantial delays in bringing us to this point of establishing a new law and the further delays which we can expect in securing necessary amendments to the law will involve a heavy cost to honest dealers and participants in the Australian securities industry. In general, the specific provisions of this Bill can be characterised as a somewhat weaker version than is warranted in Australia. The Corporations and Securities Industry Bill introduced in 1975 by Labor was stronger in a number of respects. Among the more important areas where this general observation applies are: Firstly, the powers of the Commission to be regularly informed; secondly, the powers of the Commission to require a stock exchange to change its rules; thirdly, provision for a systematic review of licences; fourthly, provision to prevent dealers from acting as underwriters; and fifthly, provide for the open public disclosure of the register of interests. I have just paraphrased the points I wanted to make in that regard.

We remain convinced that the law in these areas should be national law. We are appalled at the abdication of responsibility which the Constitution imposes on this Parliament and which the Government’s misguided co-operative scheme represents. I and my colleagues are not dogmatic on the need for national laws in all areas of activity. On the contrary, we assert that many sectors of our life are better administered and better legislated for in our federation from the States. But this is not so in relation to national securities and companies legislation. Conservative political concepts have resulted in hybrid legislation.


-(Hon. Ian Robinson) - The honourable member’s time has expired. Is the amendment seconded?

Mr Kerin:

- Mr Deputy Speaker, I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.

St George

– I support the Bill and oppose the amendment. Also, at the outset I congratulate the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Garland) upon the great deal of work, time and attention that he has devoted to this matter. Some years have passed since the Commonwealth entered into an informal agreement with the governments of the States to introduce a uniform companies law. That first agreement was entered into in March of 1977 and it has since been necessary for the Commonwealth and the States to meet, through their representatives, on many occasions. There have been lengthy discussions and I know that the Minister has devoted a great deal of attention to the Bill, as did his predecessors.

It is of great interest to note that the AttorneysGeneral of all of the States likewise have participated in this lengthy and detailed exercise. They include the Attorney-General of the Labor State of New South Wales, the former Labor Attorney-General of the State of South Australia and the Attorney-General of the Labor State of Tasmania. There has also been considerable discussion of the subject on the Government side, within the special committee established under the chairmanship of Senator Rae and the secretaryship of the honourable member for Barker (Mr Porter). I congratulate the members of that committee, of which I am a member, upon their diligence. Also, for the life of me I cannot understand why the Opposition has not founded its policy on the same basis as that adopted by its Labor colleagues in the States. It is no secret that the Attorney-General of New South Wales often takes policy positions that are strongly inconsistent with those of the present Government, which the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) has described as a conservative government seeking to impose conservative solutions with regard to the matter.

Mr Jacobi:

– Tory government. Be honest.


– And the honourable member for Hawker has described the Government as a Tory Government. I am delighted to be able to inform the House that the Attorney-General of New South Wales, who is a member of the steering committee of the left wing of the New South Wales Labor Government, has co-operated right down the line with this Government, a government that exercises judgment in these matters, an efficient government, a government that has achieved co-operation with all of the States. It really is extraordinarily irresponsible of the Opposition to attack the Government, to claim that these provisions are weak and represent an abdication of responsibility. I take that charge extremely seriously because it is indeed extremely serious. The honourable member for Adelaide has proposed an amendment that has accused the Government of an abdication of responsibility. That assertion is totally and utterly rejected by the Government which has brought in sound legislation designed, firstly, to fulfil its philosophical commitment to federalism. In two elections we campaigned on a federalism policy designed to assist the co-operative development of various schemes in the best interests of the people of Australia. The Commonwealth and all of the State governments have legitimate roles and interests in this area. The only satisfactory solution lay in reaching agreement on a cooperative basis.

The Bill will be of great benefit to the business community. For many years all sections of business in Australia have called for greater uniformity in the corporate law, and in particular its administration. The Government wants to eliminate costly duplication and the complexities that have been inherent in the previous lack of uniformity. Why should business people and their solicitors and accountants have to register companies in different States, lodge documents in different registries, and thus be put to very great expense and waste of time. One provision of this ultimate set of legislation will provide for an arrangement whereby registrations will be recognised throughout Australia. Such arrangements will provide greater investor protection. Surely the Australian Labor Party should be interested in achieving that and acknowledge the benefit of providing a scheme that will assist the National Companies and Securities Commission to act quickly and effectively in cases of malpractice where it is desirable that investigation and consequent action be undertaken on a national level. The co-operative aspect of that arrangement preserves the rights of the States. State administration will still be employable in ordinary circumstances and there will be a ministerial council consisting of the relevant Ministers of the Commonwealth and the States.

It would be a serious disservice to the nation if this legislation were not to be adopted. It provides a method of protecting investors more soundly than has been possible in the past. To call that an abdication of responsibility is to say that Mr Walker has abdicated his responsibility. I am quite certain that he would reject that charge vehemently. I am quite certain that the former Labor Attorney-General of South Australia would reject the charge vehemently and that the present Attorney-General of Tasmania would do likewise. I am equally certain that the governments of those three States which have either passed, or will shortly pass, complementary legislation, would also vehemently reject that charge. So what can be the basis of the amendments that have been brought down by the Opposition, which at the same time does not oppose the Bill?

Once again we have an Opposition which seeks, for political expediency, to have what is called in common parlance two bob each way. Today, as the honourable member for Canberra (Mr Haslem) said, Opposition members had two roubles each way on the debate concerning the Olympic Games. Now they want to have two bob each way on the question of uniform companies legislation. How can the Opposition not oppose the legislation yet claim that the Government has abdicated its responsibility. How can it do that and at the same time agree to the passage of the Bill, as have all of the Labor States. The key is to be found in a word that was used by the honourable member for Adelaide. It gave his game away. He said that the Bill was inconsistent with Labor ideology. What Labor supporters cannot stand is that there should be in this country any arrangement whereby there is agreement on important fundamental issues as between the Commonwealth and the States and co-operative schemes are put into operation. Labor supporters cannot stand the devolution of power that that involves. They want to centralise everything.

The last Labor Government embarked upon a program of nationalisation by backdoor stealth and of inflationary increase for the financial gain of the Government. Each year its expenditure out of the so-called fiscal dividend went up, which was no more than living on inflation. It centralised all power wherever it could. It brought in a set of Bills which it hoped to pass and which was designed to concentrate in the Labor Government all the power in respect of corporations and in respect of the securities and exchange industry so that it could take it over and keep it in its grip. The aim was to control business, if it could, and to put out its tentacles, its ideology and its bureaucracy to stultify legitimate business endeavours in this country. This was part of its ideological attack on the private enterprise system. Ideology is what motivates this hypocritical and double standard amendment to which members of the Opposition will speak and with which they will seek to attack the Government. Yet they will allow the Bill to pass.

Not so long ago a shadow Minister said that Labor, if it ever got back into power, would tear up the co-operative scheme for off-shore legislation. Let the Opposition spokesmen tell us whether Labor will tear up all these Bills if by some mischance in 40 or 50 years’ time it gets back into government in the federal sphere. Let us hear that. Opposition members are not prepared to say even that. They claim that we have abdicated our responsibility. Yet they will allow the Bills to pass. We know full well what motivates them. It is their ideological determination to attack, wherever possible, business and the endeavours of people in the community who want to make the free enterprise and mixed economy system work for the benefit of all Australians while preserving the rights of individual investors and ensuring that we have a strong and soundly based economy.

The joint stock company was a particularly ingenious invention of the business world of the nineteenth century. It was designed to enable people to unify their’ resources to produce an approach to enterprise which would work and which would provide a degree of security against liability for the individuals concerned. The company was an invention that has served the Western world extremely well. It enables risktaking to take place. It enables people to pool their resources. Unity is strength, and no more so than on the economic front. We should be proclaiming the fact that people are able to come together freely and co-operatively to enable them to pool resources and to adopt sound management techniques and methods which will enable them to build the country indirectly as well as to build immediate enterprises.

Throughout the parliamentary year, week after week and year after year, we hear the Labor Party complain, grizzle and groan whenever a company makes a profit. Recently we have heard Opposition members attacking this Government because companies which have a degree of overseas connection are now starting to make reasonable profits. Indeed, in some cases those profits are admittedly handsome. Opposition members forget that those companies pay income tax, that this Government has produced numerous Bills which have provided for a crackdown on tax avoidance and that their government did nothing about the report of the Rae committee on the securities and exchange industry. The Labor Government sat back and did absolutely nothing about the Rae Committee report. It was not prepared to support Senator Rae one iota. Senator Rae was the Chairman of the committee which a Liberal-National Country Party government set up to look into these matters. The members of that Committee have supported these Bills which are now to be passed because this Government takes proper action to support business and to provide consultation all round.

Throughout its period in office the Labor Government refused to do anything to crack down on tax avoidance. All it did was to attack successful businesses. Opposition members have a horror of a government which produces a balance sheet that shows a profit. Of course, they stand back and allow massive trade unions to make profits of $ 1 8m and $20m a year. They try to support unions which hide their funds and which do not allow the ordinary worker to obtain full knowledge of the union’s affairs. What we are doing is to ensure that throughout Australia there will be a co-operative scheme designed to assist in the development of business and the protection of individual investors, to help to build the economy and to provide sound and sensible administration.

I will deal now in detail with certain of the matters set out in the Bills. Firstly, I will deal with the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill. It contains a very interesting set of provisions. I must admit that at first sight I had some concern about an approach on this basis. However, I congratulate the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs on having reached an agreement with the States. I believe that this scheme ought to be able to work well. No doubt if there are difficulties these can be attended to as we see the legislation operate. I remind members of the Opposition that at least one and, I think, two State governments have already decided to implement either the same or a very similar scheme for share acquisition. They do not have any doubts at all about these matters. They are quite prepared to see the scheme go ahead.

Under the new code there will be a prohibition on acquisitions of above 20 per cent, or such lesser percentage that is prescribed, and below 90 per cent, unless either of the following methods is adopted: There can be a gradual acquisition of shares at the rate of 3 per cent every six months or a formal takeover bid, based largely on procedures with which we are familiar, or an unconditional bid on the floor of the stock exchange for one month. There are certain exceptions such as when there is an acquisition under the terms of a will. These provisions are not designed to crack down on takeovers. They do not prevent the trade practice provisions in respect of mergers from being used. We have specifically recognised the fact that the mergers provisions of the Trade Practices Act prohibit mergers which lead to control or domination of markets. We have a specific piece of legislation to prevent that. This Bill deals with separate matters. I remind the House that even in certain cases mergers can be allowed on public benefit grounds under the trade practices legislation.

Let us not have this Labor Party businessbashing and anti-enterprise approach with its domineering ideology against business and against takeovers in particular. Let us remember that the Eggleston Company Law Advisory Committee properly pointed out that takeovers in many cases can advantage a company. They might improve the performance of the management which will be forced to disclose to shareholders the true worth of the holdings. In a free enterprise economy they improve the efficient allocation of resources in certain cases. They do not always disadvantage shareholders, although there can be abuses at times. A takeover may often allow the introduction of new and better management or new technology into a company. It might provide for better economies of scale if there are business and managerial decisions to that effect. The approach of the Labor Party, which seems to be denigrating the Government, running it down for its legislation and claiming that we are supporting some kind of business drive against the ordinary person in the community, is just ideological double-talk. We are providing adequate and detailed protection for both the companies and the individual investors while enabling enterprise to continue.

The most important point is that all the parties in takeovers should have the maximum amount of information that can be made available. That is the purpose of these provisions. A person making a takeover bid must disclose a certain set of important informations to enable the prospective company shareholders to understand the matter fully. What can possibly be wrong with that? Most of the other Bills we are considering today flow from that principle. I only regret that the Minister was not able to site the National Companies and Securities Commission in the St George electorate as I requested on the basis of the regionalisation of our cities and the Public Service. He has come up with a strange amalgam of the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne. I commend the Minister generally on the Bill. I reject the spurious amendment of the Opposition and I point out that it has abdicated its responsibility to the national interest.


– I do not think I should comment to any great extent on what the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) has said. I always feel sorry for the honourable member because quite obviously he believes his own propaganda. I think it is pretty bad when one gets so carried away. The honourable member became almost rabid on a few occasions. I fully support the amendment. As is well known, the Australian Labor Party takes a national view on companies and securities regulation. There is a basic difference in attitude between the major parties on this issue and a few others as well. Our view is not based on ideology or notions of the virtues of centralism but purely and simply on the basis of criteria to get the aims of this legislation to work. In other words, we are being pragmatic about it.

By and large the Bills that are before us have been introduced three times in the last 13 months. They have been exposed. Whilst I cannot legitimately say there has been no debate, because there has been debate in the community and via many learned committees, the amount of time allowed for debate in this House is of course absolutely ludicrous. The Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill, for example, is of 64 sections over 84 pages. In addition, we are debating four other Bills. I am going to speak on two matters in one of the five Bills. We can really speak only in generalities if we wish to cover all the legislation. I will speak entirely on the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill. As one commentator has already said: “There are so many loopholes in the takeover code that it resembles Swiss cheese’. If the threshold for takeovers were lowered to a more realistic 10 per cent of a company’s shares and if stock exchange trading was frozen throughout a takeover battle the proposed code to regulate the acquisition of shares may be worth while. But amendments would have to be implemented quickly.

The concept of co-operative federalism does not lend itself to speedy amendments. The Bills apply only to the Australian Capital Territory. Proposals for amendment have to be agreed to by eight governments if we include the Northern Territory Government. The legislative framework for all this legislation is the so-called legislative device whereby legislative uniformity recognises that States concede no power. But the States do not have to refer any constitutional power in order for the Commonwealth Parliament to enact a national takeover code. The power is afforded by section 5 1 (xx) of the Constitution. The only authority for the proposition that that section of the Constitution does not empower the Commonwealth to enact a takeover code is Huddart Parker v. Moorehead, which was based on the reserved powers doctrine since exploded by the High Court in the Engineers Case. Since the Concrete Pipes case, on any generally accepted view of the scope of section 51 (xx) a Bill such as the one presently under consideration could not be limited in the manner envisaged on constitutional grounds alone.

The presently accepted view of the scope of section 5 1 (xx), originally expounded by Barwick C.J. in the Concrete Pipes case and recently reiterated in Adamson ‘s case, is that the constitutional power extends, but is not limited to, the trading activities of trading and financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth. Quite clearly, the buying and selling of shares is just as much trading as any other form of trading, a proposition the High Court was readily able to accept in Curran v. the Federal Commissioner of Taxation.

Another legal point which should be made in relation to the proposed system of co-operative federalism concerns the fact that each of the seven legislatures at present will confer the relevant powers of adjudication on its own Supreme Court. They will thereby confer jurisdiction to make orders new to the courts, such as ordering the disposal of shares on any condition the court thinks fit, ordering the dispatch of offers, restraining the exercise of voting rights and ordering the cancellation of a contract, arrangement or offer. In addition, each of the seven supreme courts will be required to construe highly complex, inter-related parts of the new statutory code, though none is likely to hear sufficient cases to gain a detailed understanding of its provisions.

At a recent seminar in Melbourne a Mr Graeme Samual suggested the centralisation of the role of courts in a single Federal court so as to enable a body of experience to build up in relation to a highly complex and constantly varying commercial environment. I do not think this is the best scheme constitutionally. I do not think all amendments will pass rapidly. I do think the States will act independently. The Commonwealth has to present amendments within six months. What if an election intervenes and the Parliament does not resume for six months? How will courts handle State legislation which is only similar to Commonwealth legislation?

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.


– The courts will play an extremely important role in the development of this law. I ask: Are they likely to interpret the will of business or the will of lawyers? How will State corporate affairs commissions work? Will they all be of adequate expertise, resources and drive? Will the discretionary powers of the Commission meet with unanimity or dissension from the States? The Opposition is opposed to the concept of co-operative federalism not because we are against co-operation but because we are for effectiveness. It is the same argument we would use against self-regulation. It rarely works. Australia has to make up its mind whether or not it is one country or seven States. In those particular matters where the public interest is clearly served by the presence of national legislation binding all States, co-operation and discussion can precede the bringing down of national legislation. We need not make a joke of federalism.

The report of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange drew attention to the need for the securities industry to be subject to national legislation rather than legislation of individual States and Territories. The report made it clear that the securities industry functions on an Australia wide basis and that control on any other basis is bound to be inadequate. The requirements of the law and the administrative procedures should be the same throughout Australia. The persons responsible for the administration of such legislation must have direct access to information in all parts of Australia. In addition, there is the consideration that there are many large corporations operating across the Australian continent for which the need to comply with the requirements of separate State and Territory laws involves pointless frustrations, unnecessary costs and duplication of resources. Uniform State and Territory legislation is not the answer. That approach has been tried and has failed. Efforts to achieve uniformity are invariably slow and seldom more than partially successful. Even where uniformity has been achieved, problems arise from differences between the separate administrations of individual States and Territories. The only satisfactory course- and the course which is not adopted by this Bill- is to have national legislation and a single administrative agency with jurisdiction throughout Australia.

I say quite flatly that this legislation will not work, and there is already evidence that it will not work. I refer for example to the situation in Queensland and Western Australia. Another example is the United Dominion Corporation case. It is becoming evident that Part C of the Schedule with respect to on market takeover provisions will be more likely to be applicable than the formal Part A offer mechanism. Already there is a clash between State exchange rules and Federal Government restrictions on foreign investments. Another example is the National Carbonising Co. of London which has bought 26 per cent of Hampton Gold Mining Areas Ltd from the Bond group but has not considered entering a full bid. Yet the Perth Stock Exchange is powerless. There is evidence already that the small shareholder is emerging as the loser in the new takeover code. There is hardly a respected commentator, an academic, an aware lawyer or an involved businessman who has not said that this legislation will not work. At seminar after seminar, in journal article after journal article the consensus is that this legislation will not work- apart from the view of people such as merchant bankers who have an interest to support. In its present form the code would create its own administrative nightmare, imposing enormous burdens on the capital market without obtaining any offsetting benefits. Not only will this legislation not achieve its aims, it will probably also impede the effective working of our corporate sector. Even the British code, which accepts that it is dealing with gentlemen, is firmer than the Bill before us, which assumes we are not dealing with gentlemen. I want to speak on two aspects of one Bill, namely, the control threshold and stock exchange trading. The explanatory memorandum, on the control threshold, says: 20 per cent has been chosen as the appropriate threshold beyond which acquisition controls imposed by the proposed takeover code will apply.

Of all the modifications involved in the new code, the decision to increase the threshold from 15 per cent to 20 per cent is the most imponderable. The explanatory memorandum recognises the principle that the threshold should fall short of the figure ‘that could generally be regarded as the point beyond which control can be said to have passed’ but does not explain why that figure should be 20 per cent. Astonishingly the memorandum cites the present Interstate Corporate Affairs Commission threshold of 15 per cent and the London City threshold of 30 per cent as if to imply that these figures are representative of threshold levels in other jurisdictions. These figures are not representative and cannot be used to support a 20 per cent threshold level.

Before dealing with control thresholds in other jurisdictions, consideration should be given to the meaning of the expression ‘control of a company’. There are four types of control: Firstly, complete ownership of the share capital; secondly, majority or ‘voting’ control; thirdly, minority or ‘effective’ control and, fourthly, management control or control over the proxy gathering machinery. Effective control of a company should be ascertained by reference to the ability of the holder of a relevant proportion of the voting shares to procure that the affairs of the company are conducted in accordance with his wishes.

It is apparent that the point at which ‘effective control’ passes is also the point at which a takeover code should operate. Should the acquisition of a particular parcel of shares, called a controlling interest’, enable a person to influence the policy of a corporation in the conduct of its business’ or to ‘procure that the affairs of the company are conducted in accordance with his wishes’, minority shareholders are vitally affected. As the policy of the company in which they have invested could change as a result of the acquisition of this ‘controlling interest’ shareholders need to be provided with all the relevant information they would need if they were investing in a new company. The proportion of voting snares needed to acquire effective control varies from company to company and, at times, from day to day. It depends on the spread of the shareholdings in the company, the ability of the existing board to maintain voting control, control over the proxy gathering machinery, shareholder satisfaction in the management of the company, the apathy of shareholders, the size of the company and so on. Nevertheless, a control threshold which is appropriate to the needs of all Australian public companies must be selected. The present ICAC threshold was enacted upon the recommendation of the Eggleston Committee, which considered this issue in some detail and concluded as follows:

  1. . we consider that any person who is seeking to gain control of 13% or more of the voting shares is likely to be aiming at control of the company itself-

Unfortunately, neither the explanatory memorandum nor the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Garland), who did not refer to threshold levels in his speech, has explained why the Australian business community, which required a 15 per cent threshold in 1969, needs a 20 per cent threshold in 1980. They have not explained why a legislative code, which has been avoided through the use of creeping takeovers, can be improved by a new code with an increased threshold level. It might be noted in this regard that the Queensland legislature has provided for a 12.5 per cent threshold in its interim legislation and that section 18 of the Foreign Takeovers Act 1975 provides for a 15 per cent control threshold.

Turning to a comparison with overseas legislation, the memorandum recognises that the London City Code threshold is used for different reasons and not as a control threshold. The City Code is biased against partial bids and normally requires a bid to be made for the remaining shares once the 30 per cent threshold is reached. The City Code is therefore irrelevant for present purposes and its use is misleading in the context of control thresholds. If one accepts that the predominant factor is the shareholders’, and not the incumbent board ‘s, needs it is apparent that less than 10 per cent of the voting rights may, at times, constitute effective control. It is common ground that Australian corporations are not generally as large as United States or Canadian companies and that Australian securities markets are thinner than their North American counterparts. Thus it could be argued that a threshold level as low as 5 per cent or 10 per cent is inappropriate to the Australian business community.

It must be noted, however, that no distinction is made between large and small companies in the Australian takeover code. Thus, a company such as Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd, which has a market value of over $4,000m and which is ranked No. 1 in Australia, is subject to the same legislative code as the smallest public company. No doubt an investment of $800m in BHP shares would give the investor effective control of that company’s business, notwithstanding the fact that less than 20 per cent of the shares had been acquired.

The proposition that Australian companies can be substantially influenced by shareholdings of less than 20 per cent can be illustrated by considering recent takeover bids. Time allows me to get on to only one of those. Look at the Herald and Weekly Times Ltd takeover bid. When Rupert Murdoch’s media group News Ltd made a bid for the Herald on 20 November 1979, only 14.8 per cent of the Herald’s stock was under some sort of influence- 8.4 per cent was held by Queensland Press Ltd and 6.4 per cent was held by Advertiser Newspapers Ltd. During the ensuing three-day stock market battle Murdoch acquired only 4 per cent of the shares and had to withdraw his bid with a consolation prize of $5.3m profit. The Herald had been successfully defended by John Fairfax and Sons Ltd which spent approximately $50m in acquiring 15 per cent of the shares to become the Herald’s largest shareholder. In defending the Herald, Fairfax Ltd appeared to lose financially, but nevertheless it emerged with effective control of the Herald.

On the other hand small shareholders whose shares were trading for $3.78 before Murdoch’s $4 bid saw the price rise to $5.55 before plummeting dramatically after Murdoch withdrew the offer. On 12 March 1980 the shares were valued at $2.15. Open trading on the stock exchange allowed Rupert Murdoch to sell his 3.5 million shares at $5.52 each, but in a classic insider trading situation. Very few of the other shareholders were in a position to consider such a sale because they had no reason to believe that the takeover was not continuing until it was too late to sell at that price. At no stage, of course, would any of the competing interests have come within the provisions of Australia’s new takeover code.

A similar sort of example could be cited in regard to the Ansett Transport Industries Ltd takeover and in respect to Thiess Holdings Ltd in Queensland. The conclusion from all this, particularly in respect to Thiess-CSR Ltd is that it has at least produced one beneficial effect. Together with an open letter from seven prominent Queensland businessmen it helped persuade the Queensland Government that the proposed 20 per cent threshold was too high and that a 12.5 threshold would have been more appropriate. At first Sir Charles Court agreed and the Bill that his Government introduced into Parliament on 4 December 1979 also provided for a 12.5 threshold. However, by the time the Western Australian Bill was enacted two days later the threshold had been raised to 20 per cent, apparently because of the twin factors of national unity and the proliferation of the big holders in the investment funds led by the life offices which already faced difficulties in placing their resources to give a spread of capital and risk while ensuring that a reasonable return was made.

The factor of national unity does not represent a problem if all jurisdictions adopt a more realistic threshold of, say, 10 per cent. On the other hand the preponderance of institutional shareholders does represent a problem since such shareholders often have no intention to influence the policy of a corporation in the conduct of its business. They should not be obliged to make a formal takeover offer after acquiring, say, 10 per cent of the stock if their intention is not to control the company. I believe that the remedy for that sort of situation does not lie in making the entire code ineffective by providing for a threshold which is too high in relation to ordinary takeover situations. A more appropriate remedy may be for the National Companies and Securities Commission to utilise its power in accordance with sub-section 55 ( 1 ) of its Act to grant exemptions from compliance with the provisions of the code upon the application of an institutional shareholder who is prepared to undertake not to influence substantially the policy of the target company. Another clause in the Bill provides for compliance with any conditions attached to an exemption and a further clause empowers a court to make an appropriate order where a person has failed to comply with a condition. The interests of both the minority and institutional shareholders would be protected if the abovementioned course were adopted.

I mention the question of stock exchange trading. The ground rules governing stock exchange trading have been fundamentally altered by this Bill. Generally, purchases on the exchange are to come within the general prohibition of acquiring more than 20 per cent. This prohibition is subject to two exceptions- firstly, purchases on the exchange by a bidder during the takeover period; and secondly, acquisitions of not more than 5 per cent for four months by a person entitled to at least 19 per cent of the stock. Turning firstly to the exemption provided by this proposed new section, it is apparent that the exemption simply institutionalises the common practice of creeping takeovers. Mr James P. Graham took up this point recently in an article entitled ‘How to drive a horse and cart through the new takeover code’, when he noted that acquiring an initial 20 per cent interest, and then 5 per cent every four months for one year, yields 35 per cent which is sufficient to control effectively most publicly listed companies. This simple technique of creeping acquisition or warehousing, as it is commonly called, is just as likely to be prevalent under the new legislation as under the old.

The injustice of the practice is apparent as the raider is able to achieve control of the company without giving the remaining shareholders an opportunity to sell their shares. This result is in marked contrast to Rule 34 of the London City Code which requires a person acquiring 30 per cent or more to extend an offer to all remaining shareholders at not less than the highest price paid during the preceding 12 months. Such an offer is conditional only upon the offeror acquiring 50 per cent of the shares and becomes unconditional immediately 50 per cent has been acquired. In relation to the fact that the proposed legislation does not contain a provision similar to Rule 34 and give remaining shareholders an opportunity to sell to a raider who has acquired more than 30 per cent, a commentator has noted:

It seems unfortunate that, in what amounts to a total rewriting of the legislation, it is not proposed that this risk be eliminated.

I would concur with those sentiments. Turning now to the exemption created in favour of a bidder during the takeover period, this provision might be contrasted with clause 234 of the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill 1975 which prohibited offerors or their associates from acquiring shares during the period of the offer. Reference might also be made in this context to the position in the United States of America where there is a general prohibition against trading during the takeover bid. I do not propose to discuss the pros and cons of these provisions except to mention in passing that while they are preferable to a situation where the offeror is able to trade on the exchange without passing on the highest price to all other accepting offerees they are inferior to the London City Code practice of allowing both parties to trade freely subject to daily disclosure requirements and the passing on of the highest price paid.

I have very little time left to speak on any other elements of these Bills with the exception of two parts of one Bill. Indeed, it is disappointing that measures such as these cannot be adequately debated in this Parliament. Thankfully, most members of parliament have had sufficient experience, with the three sets of Bills that have been tabled in the Parliament over a period of 1 3 months, to get some idea of what the Government is trying to do and to get some idea of the attitude of the Opposition in this matter. The Opposition is firmly in favour of national legislation.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– I am opposed to the amendment to the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill. I support the Bills. I congratulate the honourable member for Werriwa (Mr Kerin) on the amount of work that he put into his speech. There is no doubt that the legislation is extremely complex and needs a certain amount of understanding and background to grasp what it is all about. My feelings are that no matter which way one looks at this matter there are bound to be a series of amendments that must come forward in the forseeable future to fit in with the ebb and flow of the tide in the securities market and company law area in Australia. One of the most notable features of the legislation is the way in which co-operation has been achieved between the States and the Federal Government to bring forward this package. Indeed, we would have been hard put if we had not persisted and got the co-operation of the States to produce new legislation to enable a national approach to be made to companies and securities in Australia.

The establishment of the National Companies and Securities Commission, in itself, is very significant. I am disappointed at the initial membership of the Commission. It is too legally based. In my view it should have had at least one practitioner from the area of finance or from the corporations, a person from the market place who would have more readily understood the need for speed, quick judgments and assessments of situations. I am always rather frightened when I see a collection of five people of whom four are lawyers. In my view that is not the way to get a lot of common sense.

The ultimate hope in this regard is the way in which the Commission members make the legislation work. If the members go out and approach the matter with common sense- not with a legalistic view- an enormous amount can be achieved. There are three clauses in the new Bill which are particularly significant in this area. These are clauses 58, 59 and 60 relating to the powers that are vested in the Commission to make judgments relating to precise cases before it at any time. If we look at these three clauses we will see the hope of the NCSC for Australia. Certainly it is given a discretion and I hope that that discretion is used. The Commission will find a need for quick decisions so that the processes of the market place will not be intruded upon too far. My plea to the Commission is for flexibility and in time the recognition of changing techniques. I hope that from this we will see that governments, both Federal and State, will accept the amendments that will undoubtedly become necessary in the future.

Two areas are embraced in this Bill. A lot of what we have heard so far in this debate relates to the acquisition of shares. To understand what this is about we have to look at the mind of the corporate person and understand why a takeover is made. A takeover is made basically for two reasons: To acquire earnings or to acquire assets. When we look at the proposition of a takeover we must make an assessment as to what we need and as to where we are going to gain. We must make an assessment whether the acquisition will fit with the particular operation and whether we already have the management to run it or whether in making the acquisition we are buying the management. In Australia we have a number of fairly expert operators in the field of takeovers. Not only has this been the case in the past, but also right now- such organisations as Industrial Equity Ltd, the IXL company and even the redoubtable CSR Limited have certainly been very forward in the market place in acquiring both assets and earnings.

The big question mark always has to be management. I have never been impressed by the concept that Australians are necessarily good managers. There are enormous faults in accepting the seat-of-the-pants judgments that are so frequently made in corporations. I would hope that, in the process of some of the corporate takeovers, the question of management- the ability to see a takeover through and the ability to fund it- will be looked at. What are the mechanics of a takeover? Having identified a takeover in terms of what a corporation wants, we must look at how we go about making a takeover. It is in this area that the Bill becomes effectual. Is the takeover bid to be a market raid or is it to be a negotiated offer? Is it to be a conditional offer or is it to be a public offer? All of these offers have their own peculiarities. Because of this, one needs to understand the basis as to why the offer is made in the first place. The offer having been made, the defending company is then placed in a position to make its judgment.

I say from the outset that in my view most of the companies that are in receipt of takeover offers have themselves to blame. In many cases, they do not show the correct degree of profitability, their true asset value or their true potential. This situation is brought about in no small way by the companies that come on to the stock exchange or enter the public area while still regarding themselves as a proprietary family company in which the family may or may not have significant shareholdings, but which have not gone into recognising the corporate need to disclose fully their earnings and their true position. As a consequence many of the balance sheets that are produced are not highly accurate. Certainly, the full facts which the stock exchange, the investor and the potential creditor would like to see are not produced.

Mr Innes:

– You make Ned Kelly look like an amateur.


-I do not know. Look at those unions with which the Opposition is connected. At least we do not have too many padded pay rolls here. The faults go further than that. I think it is probably worth referring here to some of the operations that we have seen recently. I refer to the Herald and Weekly Times Ltd offer. Here is a case where it was not the shareholders themselves who were at fault but one or two individuals who, through corporations and using the money of corporations, bought shares in the Herald and Weekly Times for other than commercial reasons. As a consequence, when the offer was over the corporation was left with some very expensive shares in other companies.

Mr Innes:

-You are doing the same in Ansett.


-If the honourable member for Melbourne were to listen, he would probably pick up a little information. As I said before, if the position of the company is fully disclosed and an offer is made, there is little likelihood that the shareholders of the defending company will be disadvantaged, because if a company is adjudged at full value and the price is good there is absolutely nothing to lose by selling out. That is what it is all about. That is what makes the market. I can only say that many of the problems in the market place come about in no small way through bad financial assessment and in many cases through sheer bad judgment on behalf of boards.

We have heard a lot tonight about thresholds and much reference has been made of the situation in London, the United States situation and the situation here. The reality is that we have to assess the size of the company. It is no good saying that a 10 per cent share in the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd has the same degree of influence as 10 per cent in a relatively small company on, say, the Brisbane Stock Exchange or the Perth Stock Exchange. They are totally different. I think an initial approach of 20 per cent is reasonably realistic in terms of the investment patterns in Australia today.

The big investors here are the life insurance companies and the superannuation funds. Regrettably, the individuals in Australia have left the market very largely to the professionals, which I think is very unfortunate in terms of the development of the nation. Individuals ought to be investing in these corporations and in that way developing the nation. One of the reasons why people have given up investing is that investments are just not profitable enough in many ways, especially in relation to alternative investment. The main fault in the market as I see it in Australia is not in terms of takeovers and the ways in which they have been gone about, but the great potential of monopoly. There is a far greater threat to private enterprise from monopoly than there is from any other form of trade practice or trade association. I hope that we might apply ourselves in the future to looking at the question of monopolies. There is a tendency in this nation for the gathering of power within a relatively small number of hands. In the longer run this will not be beneficial. In the short term one ought to look at the role which is now being played by life assurance companies in the equity ownership of companies in Australia.

In the time I have remaining to me, I think that I should address myself to the Securities Industry Bill 1980. This Bill deals with administration of the stock exchanges in this nation. A tremendous amount of money needs to be raised in Australia if we are to see the full value of this nation realised. Between now and the end of the century, enormous development projects will come about day by day. We are seeing increasing deposits in banks, building societies and savings accounts. We must get the average Australian to take that money out and use it more productively within the nation. To do this we must make such investment look attractive. We must make a genuine appeal to Mrs Average Australian to get the money out of these savings accounts. I might start on the right step by saying that at least the Securities Industry Bill sets down the blueprint for the development of an efficient stock exchange system and financial market. It sets out certain requirements. It indicates the system of licensing of the various dealers and operators. It indicates how the stock exchanges themselves should be run. It goes on to deal with the conduct of the securities business, accounts and audits and the whole instructure of a stock exchange.

Rather than go into the ins and outs of the Bill in detail, I shall just itemise one or two areas at which we would need to look in order to ensure the confidence of the investor. Firstly, there is the question of the adequate funding of the stockbroking community to ensure that it is financially secure so that the risk of bankruptcy within it is minimal and so that that risk, it is to be hoped, would be covered by the exchanges concerned. This concept would also spread to the areas of trust accounts. To do this it might be necessary in the future to have the stock exchanges admit as members to partnerships other than individuals. In other words, I am referring here to the point that it might be desirable to attempt to harness into the market a lot of the funds that in my opinion are not appropriately used by encouraging institutions themselves to take a percentage interest in the stockbroking activities on various stock exchanges, thereby guaranteeing the funding and guaranteeing the financial security of the investment. We have to do this, I think, if we are really to get the broad appeal that will be so necessary to get this money back into circulation and used for the development of Australia. I am convinced that the future of this nation would be ever so much better if we encouraged Australian ownership. To do this properly we would be best advised to follow a course of making this accessible, secure and rewarding. Rewarding means achieving good profits and appropriate returns.

Two matters which are skipped over briefly in the Bill are probably worth noting. One I agree with and one I do not. The first relates to the question of insider trading. The Australian share market, in my view, is wide open to insider trading. There is in the market place an old saying: Better in anticipation than the realisation. If we watch the performance of certain shares at certain times we can see that someone has certainly known a lot more than is known on the outside. This does nothing for confidence and does nothing to encourage the investor. In defence of the local community I am bound to say that most of those operations are normally run from overseas, that the orders and accounts are run from London or from outside Australia and that in many cases it is not the fault of the local people.

The point with which I do not agree in the Bill is this question of short positions. In this Bill they have been banned. I do not agree for one minute that a short is a bad thing in any market. In my view it is a risk that should be taken and allowed to be taken. There is nothing wrong with a short. It is something which has got into the mentality of the Australian investment scene as a consequence of the debacles of the 1969-70 era. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with the short position. I regret that it has been banned in this Bill. The action of a short can, in itself, create a much more stable market in a particular share. For example, honourable members will recall that fairly recently the company White Industries Ltd was under some activity on the stock exchange. At some stage the shares were worth $32. It is hard to say what the real value was but the market value was somewhere between $6 and $ 12. A short position could have easily maintained a steadier price within that particular market. For the risk taker there was the potential for a handsome reward or a loss. But as it turned out a substantial reward was made and it also made for a far better market.

I instance those two examples as matters which I think are important in these Bills which will be very significant to the development of the Australian capital market. I cannot say too much about how important I see the development of this market for the future of Australia. We live in a stable society with a stable currency and a stable political background. We ought to use these advantages in Australia to try to harness within the South Pacific area a very strong currency and a very strong capital market. The good will flow to the average Australian and the good will certainly rebound on the average living standards within the nation. I support the Bills.


– I wholeheartedly support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford). I consider the speech made by the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Moore) to be a constructive one. I just make these simple observations. I think the Australian capital market has to be galvanised. It has been in a regrettable state for almost a decade. Might I suggest what is needed to alter this state. I think the honourable member for Ryan will probably agree with me when I say that it will be necessary to feed the market sound company law and certainly sound security law. Certainly there will have to be a far greater updating of the stock exchange regulations, and undoubtedly a unified accountancy procedure will be needed. I do not expect that to happen with a conservative government in office. That type of government certainly will not provide the framework for that scenario to take place. One only has to look at this set of Bills and the foreshadowed Bill which deals with company law to realise that.

Many observations have been made this evening, particularly by Government members, on the question of what is conducive or what is best- whether the answer is a Federal Act, a national Act with co-operative federalism, or a uniform companies Act. I suggest that they are all cliches. The important and critical question that has to be asked is: What form of legislation and what structure will give the best security and the best protection to the investor, the shareholder, the employee and, ultimately and most importantly, the community? The answer I believe is a very simple one, and that is that a national Act is required if we are to give the protection that is necessary. I placed on the Notice Paper a question that deals with another Bill but it also deals with the question of creditors of limited liability companies. England’s Act was the shambles that ours currently is. It gave little support to the creditor. Britain had to change its Act last year for no other reason than it was locked into the European Economic Community. That sort of provision currently applies. Regrettably the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Garland) will not make adequate provision in this regard in his forthcoming piece of legislation. So much for co-operative federalism.

I now make some general comments on the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill. The Bill in its present form combines two rather incompatible approaches to takeovers: A detailed legislative framework which appears to be aimed at dealing exhaustively with the acquisition of voting shares in excess of 20 per cent and which lends itself to a technical legalistic narrow approach of court interpretation and determination; and granting wide discretionary powers to a statutory body- the National Companies and Securities Council- which are more akin to the London City takeover code and the powers of the takeover panel. Clearly as a result of public exposure of the original draft- the Company

Take-overs Bill 1979 and the Company Takeovers (Australian Capital Territory) Bill 1979- the Government has done an about face in its thinking in mid-stream. The result is this curiously hybrid piece of proposed legislation which is likely to create some uncertainty as to the role of the NCSC in relation to the role of the courts.

In respect of this relationship two important factors should be noted. Firstly, the primary role of determining whether or not a proposed takeover falls within the ambit of clause 1 1 of the Bill- that is, on the meaning and operation of the terms and provisions of the Bill- is that of the courts of various States and Territories. Once this priority classification is made, if the proposed activity does come within the provisions of the new Bill, the Commission has wide powers of exemption in terms of clauses 12 and 57. In this context it is difficult to understand precisely how the power of the NCSC in clause 58 ( 1 ) of the Bill to declare that the Act shall have effect as if its provision were modified will apply. I would .like the Minister to address himself to that matter. Secondly, in clause 60 ( 1 ) the power of the NCSC to declare the acquisition of shares to be unacceptable, thereby resulting in the acquisition being deemed to be made in contravention of clause 11 and so enabling the NCSC to get a court order in terms of clause 45, is made subject to appeal to the courts under clause 60 (2).

The use of this discretion by the NCSC is made subject to scrutiny by the court. Upon what possible basis can a court of law examine the exercise of a wide discretion granted outside the strict ambit of the legislation? This appears to be a piece of muddled thinking. It reflects the hesitant and tentative approach of the legislation. Whilst on the one hand the Government realises the need to give wider discretionary powers to a commission, on the other, it is having second thoughts by trying to make this wide discretion subject to the jurisdiction of State courts. The record of the courts in this area, in particular in Victoria, I might suggest, is not particularly inspiring as they have tended to adopt a rigidly technical and legalistic approach to the present Part VIB which will enable crafty legal advisers to steer their clients around the code with remarkable ease. I would like the Minister to explain whether he agrees with that.

Let us have a look at some particular comments on the Bill. The 20 per cent shareholding level may be too high as the level at which the statutory controls are imposed on acquisitions. In many large Australian public companies a shareholding of 20 per cent would ensure to the acquirer an effective control, particularly when coupled with the power to acquire an additional 6 per cent. The Minister agrees. The London takeover code sets a limit of 30 per cent, but at this level a bid for the entire issued capital of a target company is generally required and not a partial bid as is the case in this Bill. The foreign takeover Act sets a limit of 15 per cent. Certain State Acts aimed at preventing takeovers of certain public utilities and other corporations by foreign State companies set limits at 12’/2 per cent. If one turns to Queensland one notes the recent attempt to stop a takeover of Brisbane Gas Ltd. The constitutionality of the legislation is being currently challenged before the High Court and also in South Australia with the Santos company. The present code sets the ceiling at 15 per cent. The North American Acts set the ceiling at 10 per cent. The current ceiling of 15 per cent should be retained and perhaps not increased to 20 per cent

In order to achieve uniformity in the interpretation of the new Bill throughout Australia, the Federal Court should be given jurisdiction to deal with the matter. Does the Minister dispute that? This may avoid widely diverse interpretations and applications of the provisions of the new Bill by State courts. We ought to address ourselves to that. Surely the Minister does not disagree with that. The new Bill has tightened up on the use of the stock exchange by bidders in conjunction with a formal takeover offer and Part A statement by providing that: Firstly, the stock exchange is available only if an offer is made for the entire issued capital of a company in respect of which the Part A statement has been issued- I refer to clause 16 in Part III; and secondly, offers cannot be withdrawn in terms of the Part A statement for a minimum period of 14 days without the permission of the NCSC. That is contained in clause 2 1 .

The use of the stock exchange for the purposes of effecting a takeover provides a possible area of manipulation and unequal treatment of shareholders. This is particularly the case in relation to a takeover announcement and Part C procedure, as the price at which the acquirer is required to stand in the market for one month is the highest price paid by the acquirer in the previous four months, which obviously can be manipulated. Pressure tactics towards the expiry date of the offer in the market may also be applied, as in the United States of America and Canadian codes which prohibit the use of the stock exchange to effect takeovers. This is particularly the case in the light of the difficulty of proving that parties are acting in concert even though clause 9 of the

Bill is widely drafted as a catch-all provision. One needs only to refer to the recent bid for White Industries Ltd which was successfully defended by the White family interests and the Mitsubushi company joining forces, although there is no clear evidence available on that.

Sub-clause 23 ( 1) provides for an expert’s report to accompany the Part B statement- that is, the replying statement of the board of the target company- stating whether the takeover offers are fair and reasonable and setting out the terms of the opinion. This is the most useful source of independent advice that shareholders of the target company can obtain, particularly as an overwhelming number of bids succeed where the board of directors of the target company support the bid, hence indicating a high degree of reliance being placed on the board’s opinion. However, this clause is qualified by its application being limited only in the case where an offerer has not less than a 30 per cent shareholding in the target company. There is no reason why this important provision should not apply to all acquisitions above 20 per cent, particularly as at that level the offerer may have effective control of the target company or at least substantial influence over the opinion of the company’s board of directors.

Sub-clause 11 (6) provides that sections 181 and 183 of the Companies Act, dealing with the schemes of arrangement, must be read subject to the provisions of clause 11. Attempts to prevent schemes of arrangement from being used to effect takeovers puts into force the view of the minority judgment of Mr Justice White in the Bank of Adelaide case. However, it is still doubtful in terms of sub-clause 7(1) whether the new Bill will apply to the Adelaide Bank-type of situation. In that case, the Adelaide Bank allotted to the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd only a small number of shares which were well below the 20 per cent level. By the device of entering into a scheme of arrangement with its members, the target company can cancel all the shareholdings of outside shareholders, other than those of the bidder, leaving the target company a wholly owned subsidiary of the bid company.

I would like to ask the Minister whether we are to have a repetition of that situation. This can also be achieved by the offeror acquiring a small stake below the 20 per cent limit prior to the schemes, followed by the scheme and cancellation of shares, and allotment of shares by the offerer to the former shareholders of the target company. This would seem to avoid the application of clause 11, as no acquisition has taken place even as defined under clause 7. This hole in the new Bill may be plugged by the exercise by the NCSC of its wide discretion in terms of clause 60- that is, by declaring such conduct unacceptable.

Let me raise some issues which I consider important in dealing with this legislation but which have not been raised to this point. I believe that takeovers can have a devastating effect in two ways. One is obviously on the shareholder. There is another contingency which is not related to the specific mechanics of the Bill, but which sometimes may follow as a result of it. That is what is sometimes referred to in the United States as runaway companies or corporations. The corporate responsibility- that is, the corporations ‘ paternal instinct towards the shareholders employees and equally importantly, I suppose, the community within which they reside and serveoften vanishes the moment there arises an economically based reason either for a takeover and as a result of the takeover a relocation of a company or for hotfooting it out of town.

These companies inflict untold social and economic hardship on communities throughout the length and breadth of this country. They inflict hardship on families. On the community they leave the legacy of a gap that has to be met by social services and tax dollars. Certainly in the United States the problem has reached critical proportions. Groups of concerned people in a number of States have taken measures to block such applications of corporate or social responsibilities. One of the proposals that they want written into the law, particularly the Federal law, is that there ought to be advanced public notice by corporations intending to relocate. The time may vary between 60 days and two years. Considering the enormous interdependence that a community shares with the corporations within its boundaries, the length of time ought to be adequate to prepare for the possible effects of a taxbase loss and increased strain on government funds and social services. It is clear that any truly effective legislation in the field must come from the Federal Government in order to prevent one State or another from becoming a competitive victim in the relocation process as a result of a takeover.

Another contingency which is becoming a feature of the devastation caused in particular by overseas takeovers and to which we ought to address ourselves is the apparent and obvious escalation in Australia of large overseas company takeovers of Australian competitors which are quite good, quite viable, particularly in regard to export sales. After the takeover the parent company instructs the new Australian subsidiary to desist from exporting and instructs that in future all exports are to be undertaken by the group from the corporation’s home country. This reduces Australia’s potential for export and obviously is very much against the national interest. This is an aspect that has to be taken into consideration in any concept of dealing with takeovers. Let me quote what one company director had to say about the takeover climate in the United States for many company directors. He said:

The takeover climate in this country is driving me to paranoia. I’m even getting suspicious of our bankers and some of my closest associates on the board. I’m spending company time and money setting up barricades against possible takeover attempts instead of concentrating on running and strengthening the business.

Undoubtedly that scenario applies in Australia too across the broad spectrum of the capital market and corporations. The situation in the United States is no different from that in this country. This piece of legislation and the forthcoming legislation will not give any protection against that type of paranoia.

I conclude my remarks with a couple of observations. It is my belief that the financial backing of a large slice of our industry stems not from the small coterie of wealthy members of our community but from the vast number of small investors. In my view, stock exchanges have been constructed to protect more the former than the latter. The regulations in this legislation and the forthcoming legislation will not protect that category either. The latter category supplies the finance, makes the market and, above all, promotes confidence in ventures which are important to our growth. In my view, it is not from this section that we find the short-sellers, the manipulators, the spivs, the charlatans or, in this case, the raiders, for individually they do not have the finance, rather are they the victims of the inadequate system. Investment in the broad sense, both public and private, remains the lifeblood of the prosperity of all countries. It differentiates between us and the underdeveloped countries. It is the determinant of the standard of living of this, our people. No country with a mixed economy can afford a lack of confidence in its investment machinery. While I believe these Bills deserve support, I believe they deserve only qualified support. They are constructive attempts to legislate in a difficult area.

Mr Hodgman:

– You would not support this amendment.


– I certainly do. I conclude with this observation: Perhaps the primary thrust of this legislation must be administrative and not judicial. After all, perhaps prevention is better than cure.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– I support these Bills, not with the same fear that the Opposition has shown through its amendment to what is proposed, but with a preparedness to accept the legislation as a uniform approach by the States and the Federal Government to a rather delicate problem, a problem which unfortunately is retarding Australian participation in many of the great enterprises that we have faced in the past, that we are facing at present and that we certainly will face in the future. If the legislation we are looking at achieves the point of giving confidence to the small investors, to whom the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) was just referring, then it will have done a great thing for this Australian nation. I go back to the aspects of foreign capital involvement in the Australian development scene. Whilst that amount is not large in comparison with the total amount contributed, it is the amount it is because of the situation whereby Australians- the small investors- are not prepared to bring their funds out of savings to invest them in these greater developments that we have before us.

I do not see the fears that the Opposition has expressed. Certainly, when we consider that few Bills which come before this House have the approbation of all the States and the Federal Government, we must realise that this legislation is a co-operative effort. Perhaps one might even go so far as to say that it is the essence of cooperative federalism, particularly when one realises that the governments involved are not in harmony as far as their politics are concerned. They are in harmony in this instance in order to bring some rationale to the market place. I would like to congratulate those who have been taking part in the negotiations to date to bring this legislation to fruition in the early stages of 1 980. This legislation follows the pattern of uniform legislation in this field, particularly the Companies Act. I understand that a fair amount of work is now going on with the Companies Act to bring it up-to-date for present day requirements. When that Bill is introduced I will certainly be looking forward to seeing in it quite a few of the amendments that reflect modern day commerce in Australia.

The substantive legislation under the companies and securities scheme will be administered by the National Companies and Securities Commission- a body that was established by the National Companies and Securities Commission Act of 1979 which came into operation on 1 February. The Bills, being uniform in nature by the time the comparative legislation is passed in the States, will retain the sovereign rights of the States in regard to companies and securities. Provided that they do not infringe the uniform legislation now before us, the States are not fettered in any way to pass further legislation which they might feel is required within their own States with regard to the market place.

The main purpose of all the Bills, I feel, is to provide maximum efficiency within the market place and to protect the investor. I think that is a most important thing to realise. I think we should appreciate that the investor is not the big companies, the shareholdings, the stockholdings and life assurance companies but the small investor, the ordinary person, who puts his money -

Mr Les Johnson:

– The small investor.


– Yes. It is mainly those because they are the people who need the protection. I would hope, that the main purpose of the legislation is, as the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Moore) mentioned, to stop the monopolistic situations that arise from time to time in this regard. This will be done, I feel, by ensuring full disclosure on certain takeover bids that have to be presented to the stock exchanges in question. The stock exchanges will provide full disclosure on any offer to acquire or extend a holding over 20 per cent of the voting shares or as the Bill says, a lesser amount if approved by the ministerial council. I think this overcomes some of the comments that have been made by the Opposition as being one of its fears concerning why there is a standard of 20 per cent. The Bill definitely states that in certain situations, provided ministerial council approval is given, this holding can be adjusted downwards. The Bill indicates what the code of ethics will be concerning the acquisition of shares. This code of behaviour is set out very well in clause 13 of the explanatory memorandum which goes on at quite some length. I just want to highlight two things: One is that a person may acquire, in any way he chooses, no more than 3 per cent each six months. I think that is fair. It gives the investors of the target company and also the public at large an indication of what will happen.

As one who comes from the State of Queensland, I emphasise that a take-over announcement should be made on the floor of the home exchange of the offeree company, undertaking unconditionally to take up, for one month and at a specified price, all of the shares that are offered. In Queensland recently, we have seen a company taken over by a Sydney-based company. Not only the location of the exchanges in which the companies operate but also the location of their head offices are quite important. Again, the Commission is required to ensure that that acquisition of shares in companies takes place in an efficient, a competitive and an informed market. The problems that have been mentioned by some Opposition speakers will be overcome if those ideals can be achieved.

One of the powers of the National Companies and Securities Commission, as set out on page 5 of the memorandum, involves circumstances in which the Commission may intervene and refuse permission for a takeover to proceed. That provides another protection not only for the target company but also for investors generally. Stock exchanges will certainly be a better source of information as a result of the information that is fed to them pursuant to this legislation. A better informed stock exchange means a public better informed as a result of reports that will appear in the financial journals. We should not underrate the ability of the financial Press to pass the story from one stock exchange to another throughout Australia. Certainly, as a result, better information will be provided to the governments of the various States in which the stock exchanges operate.

The approach of the Opposition, in supporting this legislation but nevertheless proposing certain amendments to it, has been a rather negative one. For instance, one honourable member spoke of further protection being needed for employees and other interested people, as distinct from proprietors and investors. I believe that the information that will now be provided will protect employees and other involved persons in the community. At least it will keep them as well informed as they were previously. Also, we know that the companies Acts of the various States already provide certain protections for employees, as do other Acts including those of the Commonwealth.

The Opposition has offered many ‘ifs’, ‘buts’ and ‘whys’, but I urge it to consider the legislation as taking a fresh approach. Possibly, after six or 12 months’ experience of its operation flaws which might well be the subject of future amendments will be revealed. I do not think that emphasis on the ‘ ifs ‘, ‘ buts ‘ and ‘ whys ‘ should be taken to the extent of suggesting that the legislation should be totally under the control of the Commonwealth, without participation by the States. This Government, in particular, does not believe in the heavy-handed approach to these matters. It would much prefer to see the market properly informed. It would like to see more information provided but not under the heavy hand of a centralist Government, in this regard in particular.

As I mentioned previously, an Opposition supporter said that publicity in one State was not necessarily carried over to other States, but I believe that with the assistance of the Press, which these days seems to be fairly well informed, the transference of information will certainly occur.

Two examples have been given tonight of recent events and of the effect upon them of this legislation if it had been implemented earlier. I refer to the Ansett take-over and to the Thiess Brothers take-over by the Colonial Sugar Refining Co Ltd. In the Ansett take-over, there was a decided lack of information which would permit an investor or the public in general to have an informed opinion from day to day as to what was going on. As I understand it, under the legislation that we are now considering, that would not be the case, that the limitation upon how much can be taken over in a given period will ensure that the Commission will oversee the matter and prevent a repetition occurring. In the Thiess-CSR deal a similar situation arose. The Queensland Government, acting in haste, tried to discourage it by the use of bluff. That was to no avail, but had the legislation that is now before us been in place it would have done much to remove the element of fear, in regard to the eventual deal, from the minds of many people. Certainly, if the floor of the home exchange were given full information in regard to what was happening we would not see a repetition of what happened in the Ansett and Thiess-CSR deals.

I wish to mention now the need to encourage Australians to invest in this country’s development. I have already mentioned that foreign investment represents 7 per cent of the resources being devoted to development in Australia. That is far too much in relation to the funds that are available within the Australian community. The Government can legislate in such a way as to give confidence to the small investor- quite apart from the economy, to which reference was made by the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Moore) and which I believe is in a very competitive state at the moment. It is an encouraging state for the investor, yet there is still a reluctance to untie savings and put them into the type of investment that we would like to see supported. We have already seen the effect of uniform legislation in ensuring a greater degree of disclosures with regard to public accounting procedures, although I must say that such disclosures are sometimes complicated as a result of an effort to get too much information to the public. As a result, the ordinary investor would need a public accountant to interpret them, and such assistance may not always be available. Also, checks are available within the Corporate Affairs Division to assist in determining the state of a particular company. Recently I wanted to find out about a certain company and was quite surprised to learn how much could be ascertained under the provisions of the companies Acts as they now apply within the States. Also, the code of ethics of the stock exchange will be assisted under these Bills. Such codes will become even tighter and better and this will encourage the small investor to release savings. There will then be less reliance on foreign capital.

The main Australian providers of capital are life insurance companies. I would like the Government to give them some encouragement by lessening the impact of the tax burdens that were imposed in the 1972-75 period by the then Labor Government. That would surely aid the small investor, the policy holder in life insurance companies, and encourage the release of more funds. My real regret in regard to the takeover of Thiess Brothers by CSR is that, although I acknowledge that CSR is a fine company, it was a case of replacing Australian capital by Australian capital. CSR could quite easily have invested the same amount of money in another development program.

Mr McVeigh:

-Such as Rundle shale oil.


– Yes, or Hail Creek coal. There was also evidence of a monopoly situation in the sugar industry by CSR being intensified. Finally, I wish to mention white collar crime. It comes in many forms. It is often referred to as occurring within the company sector. Certainly, one of the great factors in white collar crime-although a conviction will never be obtained in respect of it- concerns giving prior knowledge to certain people and the use of that information to their advantage. That must figure very largely in this type of crime. Of course, this is done often and inevitably to the cost of those with no knowledge, the small investors, who are thus further discouraged from investing. I hope that the information required to be given by this legislation and the ethics within the market sector will be such that this prior knowledge will not be so widespread and that an investor can invest with full information available to him so that he may have an opportunity to profit further from his investment. I support these Bills because they require maximum information to be given, but not in a heavy handed fashion. This legislation represents a co-operative effort by the States and the Commonwealth. I support the Bills as they are drafted. I suggest to the Opposition that it might withdraw its amendment because the fears expressed in it are not worthy of the Opposition.

Smith · Kingsford

– At the outset let me make it very clear that the fears of the Opposition are well founded in fact and in law. Let me remind the honourable member for Dawson (Mr Braithwaite), who hasjust resumed his seat, that the idea of having national securities legislation originated with a Senate committee that the Labor Party was able to establish, even though it was in Opposition. That Committee later became known as the Rae Committee. I note that Senator Rae has never been able to achieve ministerial rank, but that would not have anything to do with his ability in this regard. One of the points that we want to make is contained in the report of the Rae Committee, where it is stated:

We wish to make it clear that in advocating the establishment of a national regulatory body we are not in favour of a joint commission, particularly not one which involves the concept of continuing responsibility to all the governments concerned. Such an arrangement would seriously endanger the ability of the system of regulation to adapt speedily to ever-changing circumstances and standards.

That is an indictment by Senator Rae, who was entitled to make that comment; and I think it is still valid. If the United States is able to have a securities and exchange commission, which it has had since 1934, surely we can have such a national concept. As Senator Rae said, we have in Australia one capital market, not six, seven or eight. If we are to diversify, as we have to, we will find all the legal and practical difficulties that were envisaged at that time. If we were to legislate with respect to income tax on the same basis and if that legislation were to be subject to a ministerial council before it was ever amended, honourable members can imagine that there would be all sorts of difficulties in trying to get any uniformity.

Many people are affected by weaknesses in legislation which is not national and effective. The Rae Committee clearly pinpointed the many millions of dollars which were taken from investors. In recent times, while we have been waiting for legislation such as this to be introduced, many people have been affected, not least by the relatively recent collapse of Associated Securities

Ltd with all those knights of the realm, as directors, not able to safeguard the interests of the investors. Of course, not only investors but also employees and consumers are affected. The point I want to make is that if we look at the legal basis of this question we can see that questions of interpretation will be resolved in State courts. The position is that State jurisdictions are autonomous and can produce all sorts of different interpretations. We will have a fragmentation of the law, which is not wise and which will not give any confidence to the investor. What role is left to this Parliament when any amendments which we may propose to this legislation have already been approved by the Ministerial Council? We are a rubber stamp by the time the matter comes to us. If we dare to alter the proposition of the Ministerial Council, of course it will object. So what is the role of the House of Representatives and the Senate? What will happen if we ever have a hostile Senate which will not agree to what we do here? Can honourable members imagine the difficulties there would be in getting an effective concept in this respect?

We talk about co-operative federalism, but we ought to be talking about what is in the national interest. We need the co-operation of the States, but to abdicate responsibility in these areas is the height of folly. We recognise, of course, that we are dealing in this case with what is called the private sector. Only 14 per cent of Australians have at any time owned shares. Five per cent of those own 55 per cent of the shares; that is, less than one per cent of Australians control or own 55 per cent of the shares in Australian companies. What we are talking about here is the right of people to form businesses and to take on a company structure; and there ought to be strict rules to guarantee that no disadvantage is given to anybody else. The community has a right to demand something in return for bestowing the legally privileged position of a company. The whole idea of a company structure is to give something a particular legal entity. We are concerned that companies, because of their structure and their ability to operate in a fashion which is different from the fashion in which a person can operate, are not able to destroy the rights of the small shareholders. The suggestion in the past that there has been protection of the small shareholders has been virtually a myth.

The real rationale for company law reform is that the community should be protected. Some of the best brains in Australia, of course, are always employed in exploiting weaknesses in the law, whether it be in company law or in taxation law. But Australian employees and consumers also suffer and these Bills do not take sufficient notice of the community interest. When the National Companies and Securities Commission Bill was before the House in October last we made our position clear as to the weaknesses. I adverted to them in my opening remarks. The South Australian Attorney-General has expressed the view that the scheme is now unconstitutional. Whilst we do not go along with that, we certainly believe that the scheme will be defective, will be bogged down in conservatism and is an abdication of power.

The Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill seeks to protect shareholders where the acquisition is more than 20 per cent, but it will not protect the public interest. Over the last 12 months there has been a rash of takeovers. There has been the Thiess Holding case, the bid by News Ltd to acquire shares in Herald and Weekly Times Ltd and the manoeuvres over the Ansett Transport Industries acquisition which, of course, now seems to have created a publicity campaign as to what is wrong with TransAustralia Airlines. Unfortunately the 1977 amendments to the Trade Practices Act have left the Trade Practices Commission in a position where it must largely ignore anti-competitive takeovers. The amendments to the Trade Practices Act in 1977 gave tacit approval to a further concentration of power in Australian industry. Whilst the matters which we believe should be covered by the Trade Practices Act cannot be contained in the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill, that Bill could be widened to offer some protection to employees who may be affected by redundancy and to consumers.

It is difficult to see why a provision cannot be inserted which would require the company seeking to make a takeover to state its intentions in relation to the target company. A company may have in mind for the target company plans which would mean the loss of many jobs. Whilst it is not possible for this to be prevented by legislation, it should at least be the responsibility of the company to state clearly to the public what it has in mind. That might at least offer some sanction against companies completing a takeover before throwing the work force on the scrap heap. There has been argument about the threshold figure for restrictions. Under the Bill the figure is 20 per cent, although this can be varied. Late last year the Queensland Government decided to introduce legislation which lowered the threshold, as did the Western Australian Government. So clearly whatever figure is arrived at will be arbitrary.

Mr Garland:

– Western Australia changed it back to 20 per cent.


-Sure, but the point is that the power is there. However, the basic scheme contained in the Bill is superior to the Companies Take-overs Bill which it replaces. The major Bill of the other four Bills is the Securities Industry Bill. The Opposition’s comment, which we have been making for some time since the scheme was first mooted in 1976, that the responsibility of now eight governments must unnecessarily restrict the powers of the Commission, has been borne out. The provisions relating to investigation are almost unbelievably complex. These provisions are, of course, made necessary by the agreement between Ministers but the scheme itself also has complexity. Let me refer, for example, to what is said in the explanatory memorandum about clause 18. It states:

The NCSC, or a person appointed as an inspector, undertaking a special investigation under the law of a participating State or Territory will be able to exercise all the powers he would have in the jurisdiction as if the investigation had been ordered under the law of the jurisdiction . . .

That is a piece of mystery if ever there is one. I really think that is not the way it should be interpreted. Special investigations are a vital part of the work of the Commission. We find that the Commission is to be hamstrung by this exercise in co-operative federalism. Instead of saying ‘if the investigation had been ordered under the law of the jurisdiction’ it should say ‘the investigation had been ordered under the law of the Securities Industry Bill’.

There are other matters in the Securities Industry Bill with which we are concerned- first, the provisions in sub-clauses 65 (1) and 89 (2) relating to the disclosure of interests are quite inadequate. During the Committee stage debate on the National Companies and Securities Commission Bill we moved amendments which would have required members and staff of the Commission to disclose their interests as well as the interests of their spouses and dependants. Financial disclosure is useless if it allows for avoidance. If disclosure is to be complete it must cover the spouses and dependent children. We would again put to the Government the amendment which we moved to the National Companies and Securities Commission Bill as being the appropriate model for this Bill.

The provisions in clause 30 relating to the reports of inspectors would appear to cut across the basic scheme of the Bill. Sub-clause (5) allows any Australian- that is Commonwealth, State or Northern Territory- Attorney-General, to prevent the publication of the report of an inspector appointed to conduct an investigation. This is clearly a case where the legislation embraces the lowest common denominator and in fact ignores majority rule. A magistrate can authorise a member of the Australian Federal Police to enter and search premises only for the purpose of taking possession of documents if the Commission has served a direction under clause 8 of the Bill. While it is an offence under clause 1 37 of the Bill for a person to destroy documents, the person concerned might consider that it is much more desirable to run the risk of a penalty under that clause than to have an investigation proceed. Clearly what is needed is a provision that the Commission should be able to obtain access to all relevant information at the earliest possible time.

We are concerned that the Commission may not have sufficient power to overview the actual day to day operation of stock exchanges. In 1975 it was proposed under the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill that there would be monthly reports by stock exchanges on complaints. But there is no similar provision in this legislation. There are also no provisions covering the position of Australian residents who arrange their dealings in securities on Australian exchanges by using persons outside Australia. Nor are the general conflict of interest provisions relating to holders of dealers licences wide enough. The provisions in clause 129, which is the offence provision under Part X and which deals with offences relating to trading in securities, is an unusual provision. It provides that all of these offences are indictable offences. Of course this means that under section 80 of the Constitution the trial will be by jury. However, it has always been considered under Commonwealth law that the accused should have the right to summary prosecution. The whole history of section 80 of the Constitution has not done much credit to either the Parliament or the High Court. The Commonwealth Parliament has used technical means to avoid the constitutional requirement for trial by jury and in this it has had the support of the High Court. In other words it always has to be summary jurisdiction. But the extraordinary thing about this provision is that it applies both to persons and to corporations. The bestowal of a right of trial by jury for companies is hardly a great advance for civil liberties considering the rather unfortunate experience in relation to section 80 of the Constitution. In fact it borders on the absurd. In other words, corporations are to be subject to trial by jury. We cannot really believe that that is what this legislation is about.

The legislation is complex both in its substantive provisions and in the overall arrangements which govern it. Both in content and in terms of the constitutional arrangements it is not even a shadow of the legislation that the Labor Party attempted to introduce in 1975 and that we attempted to introduce again when we were in Opposition. It is for that reason, as I have explained, that we support the amendment moved by my colleague, the honourable member for Adelaide.


-My learned friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen), again highlights in his speech on this Bill the philosophical differences which divide those who sit on this side of the House and members of the Australian Labor Party. With the greatest of respect, once again we have seen the Deputy Leader of the Opposition attack legislation which has emanated on the basis of co-operative federalism. The honourable gentleman implied that it is better legislation if it emanates from a centralist government established in Canberra. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows full well that by attacking this legislation he is by inference attacking the advisers to three State Labor governments. I believe the point must be emphasised that this legislation has not been forced on anybody from above. It has been brought into existence as the result of consultation and co-operation between the six States of the Commonwealth. Three State Labor governments have given their full consent to the legislation. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is right in all the criticisms he has brought upon the legislation it means that three State Labor governments are wrong in supporting it.

I come from a State which does have the misfortune to have a Labor government. But the Attorney-General for Tasmania is a man for whom I have a high personal regard. I refer to the Honourable Brian Miller, M.L.C., who though not a qualified legal practitioner has been a fair, hard-working and dedicated AttorneyGeneral. I must stand in my place and defend the Labor Attorney-General of Tasmania along with his colleague, the Labor Attorney-General for New South Wales, and the former Labor Attorney-General for South Australia, all of whom agreed to this legislation. I must defend them against the attack, the somewhat unwarranted attack, which has been made upon them by inference tonight by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Why is it that members of Her Majesty’s Opposition insist on criticising legislation that comes into the Parliament as a result of consultation and co-operation?

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition had the hide- I go further and say he had the gall- to say it was an abrogation of our responsibilities. He said the House of Representatives in effect is giving away its powers, that we are putting ourselves into a situation in which we are abrogating our responsibilities. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition condemned this action. I am very disappointed that he has taken that line tonight because he knows, I know and the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Garland), who is at the table, knows that this legislation has come into existence only as a result of a lot of hard work, a lot of discussion and a lot of consultation. I ask the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to tell me why it is that something that comes into being as a result of co-operative effort is inferior to something which is imposed from above by a central government situated in Canberra. I have to say again that all wisdom in the Commonwealth does not reside in Canberra; that there is a little bit of talent in the outlying areas of the Commonwealth and that it does the Commonwealth Government well to remember that the wisdom, the experience and the advice of those who come from the States are worth having and are worth acting upon.

It is a credit to those responsible for the production of this legislation that everywhere we look we find in it an acceptance of the Federal compact. The sovereign rights of the States are not only specifically referred to but also recognised in a meaningful way. The opportunity for a State, as I will demonstrate, to legislate not contrary to this legislation but to deal with specific matters occurring within its own territory is a matter of constitutional significance to members of this Parliament who believe that the federal system that we have in this country is a good system and must be preserved. I must admit the frankness, honesty and candour of members of the Australian Labor Party who have consistently demonstrated during the 1970s and continue to demonstrate today, that they wish to see the federal system of government in Australia destroyed. They know very well that if one is able to destroy the federal system and to impose a system of centralist government one will be able to socialise. The maintenance of a federal system is one of the bulwarks against socialism.

Mr Deputy Speaker, the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, who is at the table, placed on record in his second reading speech his appreciation of the efforts of his predecessor the former Minister for Business and Consumer

Affairs. I join him by extending my compliments to the former Minister. I believe he demonstrated, with one notable exception to which I will refer, great judgment, tact and an ability to get the parties together to bring this legislation into existence. The only complaint I have about the former Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs is that he did not crack the whip and insist that the Commission, when established, be based in Hobart. I say that quite frankly because the decision finished up almost as a matter of a toss of coin as between Melbourne and Sydney. Sydney lost the toss and it went to Melbourne. I think that it would have been a very good idea to site the Commission, which came into existence on 1 1 March this year, in Hobart. I am disappointed that it is now too late to have the Commission based in Hobart, lt would have been a help if members of the Australian Labor Party had supported the campaign to have this national commission based in Hobart. Unfortunately they once again forgot Tasmania. Once again they failed to come to our assistance when we were urging that the Commission be established there. With modern communications, computerisation and all the facilities available-

Mr Les Johnson:

– You are sickening. You are not even fair dinkum.


-The honourable member for Hughes said that I am sickening. He repeats the hatred of Tasmania by the Australian Labor Party. That is why it does not have one member in the House of Representatives and will not have for a long time. Mr Deputy Speaker, whether I speak on companies or taxation law there is always a member of the Australian Labor Party opposite demonstrating his hatred for Tasmania. The honourable member for Hughes is furious because I have the gall to put forward the proposition that the Commission should have been based in Hobart. Whether the honourable member for Hughes believes it or not, important things do exist in Hobart and Tasmania does have a case for the establishment of important national organisations. On Monday of this week, to the intense annoyance of the honourable member for Hughes and members of the Australian Labor Party, the Government decided to establish in Hobart a $25m project- the National Marine Science Centre. If the honourable member for Hughes continues to suggest that I am not fair dinkum, let him get on the telephone to talk to members of senior management of the National Mutual Life Association with whom other Tasmanians and I met in Melbourne only two weeks ago. We put it to them that it is about time that a major company, whether it be in the life industry or in some other, established its national office in Hobart, Tasmania. The honourable member for Hughes can laugh as much as he likes, the fact of the matter is that Hobart has many features.

Mr Les Johnson:

- Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The honourable member is indulging in a great grovel for votes in Tasmania. Will you ask him to relate his remarks to the Bills? I draw your attention to the fact that for the last ten minutes the honourable member has said nothing about the Bills before the House. He is engaging in parochial politics.


-I suggest that the honourable member for Hughes and others cease to interject and that the honourable member for Denison address himself to the Bills.


-Of course I will, but that pettifogging interjection -


-Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Denison address himself to the Chair and the Bills.


– I was lamenting- the honourable member for Hughes knows full well what I am getting at- that a decision was taken not to base the Commission in Hobart, Tasmania, but to base it in Melbourne. I was just endeavouring to point out for the benefit of those less informed on the other side of the House that there is no logical reason why it could not have been based in Hobart. I have made my point. I know it annoys the honourable member for Hughes to see good things going to Tasmania. I repeat that the time will come, with increased communications and computerisation, when major national corporations, which will be coming under this legislation, will be able to establish their national offices in Hobart, Tasmania. It is not the end of the world and we think it has a very good future.

The legislation before us provides specifically the framework for uniform, general laws. Uniform general laws can come about in two ways. They can be imposed from above. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said we ought to have the system there is in the United States of America where, since 1974, there has been a national companies law which was- if I may use the words- imposed from Washington. As a matter of philosophical principle, I ask: What is wrong with the legislation we have before us tonight which has come forward as a result of consultation? No doubt the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden), who is to follow me in this debate, will support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford). It might appear to be a smart move to have as the first clause of the amendment a direct quote from Senator Rae, who was the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. But by criticising this legislation, which was agreed upon last year, by implication members of the Opposition are criticising three State Labor governments and three State Labor Attorneys-General. In the case of the Tasmanian Attorney-General, I defend him.

The important aspect of this legislation is that it is uniform and it is national. How dare the Labor Party claim that the legislation is not reforming. How dare the Labor Party claim in its amendment that this legislation places uniformity before reform and creates both the danger and the likelihood that the lowest common denominator standards will prevail. Have members of the Australian Labor Party opposite ignored, overlooked, or not appreciated the fact that State parliaments still preserve their sovereign rights to legislate not inconsistently with this legislation? Have they not taken into account the fact that the Parliament of New South Wales, the Parliament of Tasmania and the parliaments of the other States are still sovereign in this field? Have they not taken into account the fact that the National Companies and Securities Commission will overview the operation of this legislation? There has been no criticism of the Commission. It comprises Mr Leigh Masel, who is the Chairman, Mr John Coleman, the Deputy Chairman, and Mr Tony Greenwood and two part-time members, Mr John Nosworthy and Mr John Uhrig. As I have said, they have been appointed and the Commission commenced duty on 1 1 March this year.

The substantive legislation under the scheme consists broadly of four groups. The first relates to a companies acquisition of shares code which was dealt with in very great detail by the honourable member for Dawson (Mr Braithwaite). The second is a securities industry code. The third is the Companies and Securities (Interpretation and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill and the fourth is a companies code. It is an important part of the Government’s approach to this problem of legislation- affecting as it will every company, every director, every shareholder and every investor in Australia- that consultation has been the hallmark of what has now come before the Parliament. That there has been consultation, discussion and co-operation is an example, in itself, of how co-operative federalism can work as opposed to the centralised dictatorship of those who support a unitary form of government, presumably based in Canberra.

I come back to the fundamental point which I made and which annoyed some members opposite, namely, the sovereign rights of the States. Whilst they are subject to this legislation they retain the right to enact legislation for matters which are of particular concern to them and which are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Bill. I deal very briefly with the provisions of the code which prohibits acquisitions above 20 per cent or a lesser percentage if approved by the Ministerial Council and prescribed by the regulations, and below 90 per cent of a company’s voting shares unless one of the four following methods is adopted. In respect to those methods I draw attention to the discretion to exempt- as the legislation does- acquisitions under a will, allotments in accordance with the terms of a prospectus or, in certain cases, acquisitions where the company involved may be regarded as not being owned by the public. In addition, the Commission will be able to grant exemptions with or without conditions where this is warranted by the particular circumstances of the case.

Basically, the code sets up rules which will apply generally. There have been express exemptions and the Commission, in its discretion, will have the power to grant exemptions with or without conditions being attached where this is warranted by the particular circumstances of the case. That is the approach of a government committed to private enterprise. It is the approach of a government committed to federalism. I am sorry to say that it is not the approach of those committed to socialism and centralism.

I conclude by placing on record the appreciation of all members of Parliament- certainly all members on the Government side- for the work being done by the present Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. I think it would be conceded on both sides of the Parliament that he is a Minister of exceptional ability and dedication. He will be carrying on and supervising in a ministerial manner the operation of this legislation. He has never pretended that it is perfect, but at least we got this legislation to the drawing board and to the Parliament. The Opposition’s criticism of the legislation in its amendment is typically carping, negative and non-constructive. There is no element in the amendment moved by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr

Hurford) of a constructive suggestion or proposal to improve the legislation. More importantly, there is no area of the private sector- of which I am aware- which would support the sorts of comments made by the Opposition in its amendment.

I regret that my colleague Senator Rae has been drawn into the debate by the Opposition in yet another example of cheap party politics. Although Senator Rae made the comments attributed to him in paragraph one of the amendment moved by the honourable member for Adelaide, he has not said that this legislation is not good legislation. He may have preferred an alternative method for its coming into existence, but as far as the end product is concerned- I stand corrected on this point- he has not uttered one word of criticism. The Opposition’s amendment is revealed as yet another example of carping criticism with no substance whatsoever. I support the legislation and commend the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs for the manner in which he brought this legislation before the Parliament.

Leader of the Opposition · Oxley

– The honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) proves the old adage that he is constructed in such a way that he has difficulty in climbing the tree of knowledge. There is a package of measures before the House which are purportedly designed to regulate more effectively the national companies and securities industry in this country. In that respect they are vitally important to the regulation of an essential part of the economic processes of this country, which processes directly impinge upon the security of many people, not the least of whom are the small investors. A number of commentators in the community have greeted the proposed legislation with some excitement perhaps bordering on rapture, but I would suggest that it is illinformed rapture. For instance, the establishment of the national companies and securities legislation is referred to by the Australian Business Law Review in February as the most significant change in many respects in the history of the nation. It suggests that we see in the legislation the fruition of one of the dreams for the 1970s-the establishment of the national companies and securities legislation. It is a dream with much imprecision about it and many holes in it.

The corporate veil is not conferred lightly on those businessmen who wish to trade in the market place, not as sole traders but as companies. Many legal and business advantages are secured for individuals by corporate formation. Personal liability is largely removed. Commensurate with the advantages, great responsibilities and duties are imposed. To secure honest administration, annual returns and the like are required. Failure to comply with these obligations is such that a company can be struck off the list of register and declared defunct. The failure to lodge annual returns is an unforgivable dereliction of duty. Hence this sort of legislation is further designed to curtail a great many malpractices in which dishonest and predatory businesses engage as corporations.

However, I also acknowledge that this law has many deficiencies. A Sydney solicitor, Mr William Beerworth, a partner with Stephen Jacques and Stephen, has said that the code is doomed to failure in its present form. Let me quote from what he had to say:

It will fail if the loopholes are not plugged, but it will fail if they are, because the vessel will be so sluggish that takeovers will be inhibited or will be made in defiance of the law.

The business editor of the Melbourne Age, Mr Terry McCrann, says that the code will create an administrative nightmare. His article more explicitly states:

One corporate lawyer has pointed out, the code probably achieves one thing only: It legalises activity which is now probably illegal, in theory if not in practice.

Mr Bill Gurry, an executive of Hill Samuel Australia, considers that new stock exchange regulations have been flaunted already. He says:

Companies and directors were not prepared to abide by the spirit of the legislation.

The Melbourne Age of February this year observes that the Bill is unintelligible to the ordinary businessman let alone ‘the most able lawyer’. However, the dithering and delay by this Government in introducing an enforceable law has prompted a rush of takeovers by companies. Furthermore, amendments to other legislation by this Government has aided the malpractice designed to be defeated by this Act. For example, the Labor Government’s section 50 of the Trade Practices Act, which applied the substantial lessening of competition test- a market forces lest rather than a considerably narrow test of market dominance or control adopted by this Government- would do much to allow the Trade Practices Commission to prevent anti-social mergers. As this absurd exercise in co-operative federalism, so-called, means that unanimity is almost impossible, amendments being few and far between, added care ought to be taken to ensure that any defects will be cured at the outset.

Let us look at the element of uniformity which in fact is already lost. We were told by the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Garland) that the Ministerial Council would guarantee uniformity of legislation and would prevent companies which, unlike the corporate affairs bodies, operate across State boundaries successfully avoiding the requirements of the law or seeking solace in the State with the weakest law. However, Queensland and Western Australia have already jumped the gun. Queensland, in section 12 of its Company Takeovers Act 1979, provided for a 12.5 per cent threshold as distinct from the 20 per cent threshold adopted by the so-called uniform code. The Victorian Attorney-General, Mr Storey, has also attacked aspects of the code. Fragmentation and lack of uniformity are likely to occur with too excessive a delegation to local administrations. Queensland and Western Australia, in the delay, have passed their own takeover laws. So there are three sets of State laws applying to company takeovers, which are no doubt to apply until the new legislation becomes law in 198 1.

Again, the Ministerial Council, under the scheme and the National Companies and Securities Commission Act, will purport to have the supreme power to propose amendments. Given the pace of the changing conditions of the market place naturally occurring and the speed at which crafty lawyers will attempt to draft dodging schemes to get around the National Companies and Securities Commission, the need for constant review and new law could be extensive. Under the scheme changes to the law can take place only after a majority decision of the council. Then the amendments can only proceed through the Commonwealth Parliament and the State legislatures.

For a start, this arrangement is repugnant to basic constitutional theory. The Australian Parliament is elected by the Australian people. It is elected by the Australian people to pass laws in terms of the powers conferred on it by the Constitution. It is the supreme law-making body. It cannot be made subject to the control of any other body. Certainly, the Executive Government may have the confidence of the Parliament on the numbers but no outside council of Ministers or any other body can fetter it. The Opposition’s amendments insist on this Parliament’s right properly to scrutinise and amend laws as it pleases without prior restraint or dictation. This is so especially in the area of companies legislation, for which it has clear, unfettered constitutional power under section 5 1 (xx) of the Constitution. This issue was taken up when the

Gorton Government proposed the off-shore oil scheme. The Senate Select Committee which inquired into the matter saw the co-operative venture as a challenge to responsible government. How could laws drafted by seven governments be presented to their parliaments as a fait accompli merely requiring their formal imprimatur or rubber stamp, so to speak? Ministerial responsibility is completely abandoned. Ministers’ discussions and decisions are not and cannot be adequately scrutinised by the Parliament or the public. Similarly the Commission acts and exists in isolation. It is not directly answerable to any Minister or to the Australian Parliament. Under article 32 ( 1 ) of the agreement, the NCSC is subject only to the directions of the Ministerial Council and is: . . responsible for the entire area of policy and administration with respect to company law and the regulation of the securities industry.

Reform is abandoned for the sake of uniformity. If the Council achieves a majority where some three other States of the Commonwealth are in the minority, uniformity is immediately imperilled. Some States, in conflict, could withdraw. If the Senate or the upper house of one of the States, or any one of the eight parliaments with 14 houses of parliament, rejects a majority proposal the future of the co-operative arrangement is ultimately jeopardised. Reliance on the goodwill of all six States and the Commonwealth is a shaky basis for a co-operative foundation for securities law. Issues of great national interest, which are correctly, as is the constitutional reality, within the province of the national Parliament, are often the subject of bitter and often petty political obstruction generated by the States. Dissenting States are likely to withdraw. The following observation is made in the Rae report:

The evidence has repeatedly established that the securities market is a national market. Each of the stock exchanges functions as part of a national network.

It concluded:

Clearly, given the national character of the activities of many companies, nationally uniform standards should apply wherever the place of incorporation.

Hence, it recommended that the National Companies and Securities Commission ought to have been set up under section 5 1 (xx) of the Constitution. This scheme provides for uniformity to be measured by a companies and securities industry ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory. The legislation is based on the Commonwealth’s power over territories, which makes it enormously restrictive. As such, and given the urgency and importance of this area, this is nothing short of cowardice and a total abdication of responsibility to the Australian people. To take this Government’s absurd cooperative federalism to its logical conclusion would mean that no direct Commonwealth laws would be passed under section 5 1 of the Constitution, but only by mirroring or joint legislation by all the States acting in unison, however preposterous that proposition is.

A Federal law, as Labor proposed, would ensure uniformity based on the prevailing effect of section 109 of the Constitution and the State laws: to the extent of the inconsistency (would) be invalidated.

This is the only certain proposal that can provide investor confidence that has not been recovered from the boom and subsequent busts. How many more millions of dollars will be lost in company collapses while we put up with inadequate national corporation and security laws? Corporate criminals, who use many sophisticated and almost undetectable means to achieve their felonious ends, require a strong, effective body to bring them to justice and to protect the property of others- not a shaky and potentially diverse body- especially with the potential and actual abuse of computers for fraud and now when the corporate crime boom is hitting the market place at a staggering rate. The New South Wales Attorney-General has calculated that corporate crime costs New South Wales about $45m a year. Under the proposed scheme, State corporate affairs officers will still continue to operate, having their own autonomy and function parallel to the National Companies and Securities Commission.

This again raises the whole question of uniformity of administration. Hence a myriad system of fragmented powers and administration is likely to continue. Article (32) of the agreement that vests the entire area of policy and administration in the National Companies and Securities Commission has not been honoured by the scheme. Consequently at least eight Public Service bodies and other departments will all be administering the same law. This is likely to lead to a multitude of interpretations of the law. The ludicrous fragmentation of the Uniform Companies Act by many public service bodies is testimony of inconsistent, unco-ordinated interpretations. Such is the nature of the damage that can be wrought. The securities market requires the analysis and knowledge of a great amount of detail. To discover border hopping avoidance schemes, this information should be centralised in order that effective monitoring can be achieved. If many different agencies rather than one are used to collect data and statistics, the danger is that centralised information is useless unless there is uniformity in statistical techniques. But presently the Australia Bureau of Statistics has trouble in achieving uniformity in a great deal of statistics from the States.

Given the enormity and role of corporations, a takeover legislation concerned solely with the protection and regulation of shareholders’ rights totally ignores the great number of consumers and workers who are affected by a takeover. A law having regard solely to the interests of shareholders ignores the economic and social reality of what can be the catastrophic consequences of a takeover. This, I suggest, is heightened in Schedule A, statement to be furnished by offeror, and Schedule C, statement to be furnished by onmarket offeror. Under Labor’s 1975 Bill, item 4 (g) in both Schedules A and C, full plans and intentions were required to be revealed. Workers could be forewarned and informed of possible redundancy and consumers could be alerted to variations or restrictions in services. This law sustains the fiction of corporate bodies. In law they may be mere legal shells, legal persons as distinct from real persons, but in reality the target of a takeover is people- workers and the consuming public. The people are entitled to know what is contemplated and how it is to affect them. The interests of shareholders are not necessarily those of the public. Shareholders ‘ interest is not necessarily public interest.

The Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill 1980 does nothing actually to prevent those takeovers where it would be desirable for them not to proceed. At the most it merely slows down the takeovers. Benefits such as revamping and invigoration of management may flow from a takeover. However, great harm can be done by lessening competition, closing down of works, loss of jobs and redundancy. A market operator can loosely commence a bogus takeover, buying up shares as if to give the appearance of a takeover only to sell them once he has forced market prices up, thus making a considerable financial killing. The recent Murdoch bid to take over the Herald and Weekly Times Ltd saw him reap a $5.3m profit. That is not bad for a week’s work. This code would not affect this practice or prevent it from occurring. It would not do so for the simple reason that the 20 per cent threshold was never breached by the parties.

Asset stripping is perhaps the most pernicious design of an anti-social takeover. Buying up undervalued stock from a lethargic management, the takeoverer merely liquidates the asset- trading stock, buildings, vehicles and everything. He sells up completely, closes down operations and sacks all of the employees. The assets are then distributed to the new shareholder. Moreover, if it is done outside the prescribed time the whole profits are exempt from tax. Little regard is had to regional interests of the market or the consumer. The aim of any takeover law should be to balance the rights of the shareholders and the offerer between themselves and together for the general community. The Eggleston Committee in its second interim report detailed the limits to be placed on takeovers. The limits that the report recommended are: First, to know the identity of those involved; secondly, to give reasonable time to shareholders to consider the purpose; thirdly, to give adequate information of intervention and plans; and, fourthly, to afford equal opportunity to all shareholders. All involved should have equal knowledge of the circumstances and factors involved. In all there must be a fair contest ensured and policed.

Independent parties perhaps ought to be appointed to allow transactions to be conducted at arm’s length. The new code allows unequal treatment of shareholders by target companies. One weakness is that directors of target companies are not required to obtain independent advice, hence the call for merchant bankers, accountants as well as lawyers to be appointed to offer advice to shareholders. Shares acquired by will are exempt where the target company does not have more than 15 members. Under clause 12 (o) of the Bill the Commission can grant exemption to any other acquisition. Clause 37(1) and (2) creates a general prohibition on cases of profits by bodies, target companies or respective associates unless the National Companies and Securities Commission gives written consent. Clause 38(2) also prohibits public statements on asset valuations without written consent.

Acquisitions that result in entitlements of more than 20 per cent of voting shares are basically prohibited. Increases in share entitlements are between 20 per cent and 90 per cent unless, first, the rate is no more than 3 per cent each six months; secondly, a formal takeover offer is made; or thirdly the shares are acquired on the market not less than 14 days after the takeover announcement. The 20 per cent threshold appears to be arbitrarily chosen. The Interstate Corporate Affairs Commission chose 1 5 per cent. The London City code chooses 30 per cent. Some Canadian States choose a 10 percent thresholdfor example, British Colombia. The Canadian Foreign Investment Review Act 1973 creates a rebuttable presumption that 5 per cent of voting shares in a public company is sufficient to constitute control of a business. In the United States the amount varies between 10 per cent for smaller corporations and 5 per cent for larger ones. No such distinction between small and large corporations applies in the proposed Australian law. Hence, the largest corporations in Australia have to apply to them the same code as the tiniest ones. The Thiess takeover attempt would also not be affected by this proposed law. There is much evidence that this 20 per cent threshold is too high.

There are many other points which one could make which are relevant to this Bill- relevant in the sense of exposing serious deficiencies in its operation. But the most glaring deficiency is the simple impractical principle upon which it has been established, that is, it will be dependent upon the lowest common denominator to determine what is done. It will be easy for breakaways to occur as the competitive nature of the States prevails. It is most unfortunate that the national Government has not sought to assume- it could do so quite properly- the authority available to it to protect the interests of the community instead of forsaking that responsibility in the way in which it has.


Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.

Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · Curtin · LP

– This has been a long debate. I thank those honourable members who have expressed their thanks for the briefing that has been given to them on the instructions of the Government and for the remarks that they made about the open and professional approach taken by officials of the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs. It was necessary for that briefing to take place in this case in particular because since the Bills were first exposed and discussed and then went for approval to the Ministerial Council, following that meeting they were in effect set. So it was necessary for any criticisms and review within the ranks of the Opposition and the back bench of the Government parties to take place in this rather unusual way. In the relatively short time available there are some comments that I could make, which may be of some help, and some answers I would like to give to some of the statements that have been made.

What we are dealing with is, of course, the amendment proposed by the Opposition to the motion that the Bill be read a second time. Running through the speeches of many honourable members of the Opposition there was a tone of denigration of what has been done. I must say that I was sorry to hear that. I must say too that many of the speeches failed to treat the subject objectively and with a degree of dispassionateness which surely it calls for. There were all these epithets about ‘so-called’ co-operative effort. I do not think there can be any doubt that it was a co-operative effort. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) talked about the ‘purported ‘ regulation. There is no doubt that there is regulation. The amendment talks about abdication of responsibility and so on. I do not think that helps very much. It has been pointed out by my colleagues on this side of the House that this co-operative effort included the AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales, the former Attorney-General of the Labor Government of South Australia and the relevant Minister from Tasmania, all of whom were very constructive, to my personal knowledge, in formulating the scheme that we have before us today. I do not know how that comment really helps at all.

Nobody on the Ministerial Council, not the Commonwealth representative- I have been connected with this only since early December; my predecessors did more than I- got all his own way. Honourable members made a number of comments and posed some questions which I will try to deal with. They are entitled to do that of course. That is their privilege to make that criticism. But I ask honourable members not to believe for a moment that they have all the wisdom in this matter. There was a great deal of argument, debate and compromise in order to get this scheme in its present form. Frankly, I think that has made the whole thing better; I really do. I think that the work that has gone into the drafting of this legislation has been enormous and arduous and has achieved a better result. So we really should not be high-minded and derogatory about all these efforts in quite the superficial manner we have seen this evening.

Might I direct myself to some of the points that have been raised. In the first place the Australian Labor Party has made its position clear. It does not believe in a federal approach or a cooperative effort. It wants all the decisions to be made in this House. It wants them to be made and rammed down the throats of the States, whatever their political complexion and whatever view they may have. The people of Australia should never forget what again has come through so many speeches. The Opposition does not like the States. It does not like them to have views or authority and it is quite happy -

Mr Jacobi:

– That is not so. You are misleading the Parliament; it is not so.


-It may not be so for the honourable member for Hawker but I invite him to read the speeches of some of his colleagues in Hansard tomorrow. I think he will be forced to the same conclusion. We even heard dished up again the argument about what would be the situation if we had a hostile Senate. If any Government in this place has a hostile Senate, it is going to have a problem, not just with this sort of legislation but with all sorts of legislation, particularly bearing in mind the gulf which exists between the views that are expressed on a range of issues by honourable members on different sides of this House. It is not a question of abdicating responsibilities, which is what the Opposition refers to in paragraph ( 1 ) of its amendment. It is a matter of co-operation and reasoning out what is the best scheme to implement. We can all have different views, and we have. The fact is that in the final analysis many judgments have to be made. We have here tonight the first part of a scheme which will be in operation by 1 January next year. As I say, it is a scheme in which nobody got all he wanted.

I am forced to reach the conclusion that what the Australian Labor Party really wants is to override the States on everything and have a confrontation. Some of the speakers came very close to saying that all takeovers are a bad thing. That is patently absurd. Only time will tell how effective many of the measures which have been raised tonight are. What we have in front of us is the agreement of seven governments. All those seven governments believe that this legislation should be put forward. I remind the House that they have agreed to it unanimously. Not only do they believe it should be passed, but also the Opposition here does. The first words in the Opposition’s amendment state: ‘Whilst not opposing the Bill . . .’Because this is a cognate debate we know that that means the Opposition is not opposed to the Bills. It is clear that we have quite a degree of support. One gained the impression frequently that there was an attempt to find fault just for the sake of it.

The Leader of the Opposition, who has just concluded his speech, referred to the legislation that the Queensland and Western Australian governments had brought in and said that they had jumped the gun. The whole implication of his speech was that this was a terrible thing. The fact of the matter is that that legislation was introduced by those States because they believed that in their sovereign right they had a more urgent need for it. That legislation will expire when the co-operative legislation comes into effect. Of course, as the Leader of the Opposition and other speakers have said, it is an area where there may be a lot of amendment necessary. The Leader of the Opposition used the term ‘extensive amending’. Time will tell about that, but certainly the capacity is there for amendment. Incidentally the West Australian percentage is 20 per cent. It is not the earlier figure that was announced. The States that introduced legislation have said that it is not in any way a conflict, but will expire when the joint scheme comes in.

The honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford), who led the speakers for the Opposition, made a number of points. In particular he referred to discretion which is contained in clause 60. I think he was glad to see that that clause was put in. Certainly the Commonwealth was very supportive of that suggestion. That suggestion grew out of the public debate. I should emphasise that there has been a lot of public debate and many suggestions have been made. The Ministerial Council considered some of those questions. This is very important. The honourable member then went on to complain that the Commission was not answerable to the Parliament. I really think that we cannot have it both ways. Either we are going to give the Commission some discretion- or the Commissioner of Taxation some discretion- or we are not. The Ministerial Council weighed up that matter and decided that that was the best way to go about it.

Mr Hurford:

– I am in favour of discretion.


– I am glad to hear that. To call for the answerability to parliaments or through governments as is referred to in the proposed amendment is not the easy matter which I think the honourable member alluded to in his remarks. Many points were raised together with a number of rhetorical questions. I undertake to subject them to study to see whether, in the Commonwealth Government’s view, they ought to be matters that are put to the Ministerial Council. There are lengthy agendas at all those meetings. The next one takes place, I think, shortly after the House rises in May. The honourable member for Adelaide mentioned some problems he saw with the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill. The question of a statement made by an offeror of its intentions with regard to a target company is one that is still under consideration by the Ministerial Council. The honourable member for Werriwa (Mr Kerin) complained that jurisdiction will be conferred on each of the State supreme courts. He was not the only member to do so. It would be inconsistent with the co-operative scheme - .

Mr Jacobi:

– That is going to lead to some conflict.


-The honourable member does not accept a co-operative scheme- or some of his colleagues do not. I am saying that it would be inconsistent not to have jurisdiction conferred on the supreme court of each State and Territory that is covered by the scheme. One follows from the other. I suggest that if there is any doubt about that the honourable member give it a little thought. The States will not pass their legislation unless each State’s Supreme Court has jurisdiction in relation to that State ‘s laws.

We have had a certain amount of debate about the 20 per cent threshold. Somebody said tonight that I did not refer to it in my second reading speech, but I did. The adequacy of the threshold is largely a matter of opinion. The Leader of the Opposition referred to other thresholds. He called our threshold arbitrary. They are all arbitrary. Nobody knows what the exact percentage ought to be. If it is too low it could prevent takeovers which would provide a very necessary rationalisation. If it is too high it could be unfair to minor shareholders. This is the best judgment of the Ministerial Council. As has been pointed out, there is provision for it to be lowered by regulation, not raised. It is specifically set out in that way.

I am aware that there is some overseas experience for trading in the shares of a target company to be frozen when a takeover offer has been made. This is not the way the matter has been dealt with in the past in Australia. It is certainly not the way that is covered by the Bill. To suspend trading involves certain consequences. It denies shareholders a market for their shares and it provides an unnecessary restriction on the operations of the market place, where the true value of a company’s shares is, after all, determined. It is what is decided by buyers and sellers. The thrust of the legislation is to provide for an informed, efficient market in which all participants can operate with confidence. It is the decision of the Council that to freeze trading in a company’s shares would not facilitate the development of such a market.

The honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) has referred to what he called the runaway companies, which he defined as companies which relocate the businesses of acquired companies. His concern is with social costs associated with such acquisitions. The Ministerial Council has resolved to give further consideration to the need to provide for offeror companies to give details of their intentions when taking over companies. That is on the agenda and was discussed at the last meeting.

Mr Jacobi:

– It is going to look at that, is it?


-Yes, it is. The honourable member also drew attention to clause SO of the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill, which deals with unfair or unconscionable agreements, et cetera. This provision applies only to executive officers who take part in the management of the target company and not to contracts between the target company and its ordinary employees.

The honourable member for Ryan (Mr Moore) criticised- I have seen some criticism of this in the newspapers- the members of the National Companies Securities Commission on the basis that four out of five of the members were lawyers. I want to take this opportunity to say that whilst they have that formal legal qualification, each of them has certainly other important experience. I was personally engaged with other attorneys in the final interviews. I am quite confident in the ability and the balance of the team. I must say that I have heard many expressions of confidence in those appointments volunteered since.

There will be amendments to the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Bill which will be consequential on the introduction of the Companies Bill in the Budget session. With regard to the remarks of honourable members, the opportunity might be taken then to include other material in the legislation to take account of matters which are still under consideration, such as the application of a code to proprietary companies, the desirability of offerors being required to state their intentions following acquisition of a company and the question of whether some legislative procedures are required to ensure that primacy is always given to the Government’s foreign investment policy.

Finally, in completing the debate on these five Bills, I should mention that the final group of Bills under the scheme should be ready for introduction in the Budget sittings after they have been cleared by the Ministerial Council for Companies and Securities. The two substantive Bills in the final group are the Companies Bill and the Companies (Transitional Provisions) Bill which were released on 15 April this week for public comment. There will also probably be consequential Bills dealing with fees and miscellaneous matters. I emphasise to honourable members that it is still the objective of the Commonwealth and State governments that the whole co-operative scheme should be in operation early in 1981. The Government must oppose the amendment. I commend these important Bills to the House.

Mr JACOBI (Hawker)-Mr Deputy Speaker, with your indulgence, I would like to ask the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Garland) a question. The Minister made reference to the discretionary powers of the National Companies and Securities Commission as set out in clause 60 of the Bill. Despite the fact that the Commission will not be responsible to Parliament, will it be responsible to the Ministerial Council for Companies and Securities? I assume that it will not be.

Mr GARLAND (Curtin- Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs)- Mr Deputy Speaker, with your indulgence, I make this reply: As I understand it I have just had this confirmed the Commission is always responsible to the Ministerial Council. Let me just add that the Ministerial Council which, after all, comprises Ministers of each of the governments, must be responsible to their governments and to their parliaments.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Hurford’s amendment) stand pan of the question.

The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr P. C. Millar)

AYES: 59

NOES: 32

Majority……. 27



Question resolved in the affirmative.

Debate interrupted.

page 1829


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! It being past 10.30 p.m., I propose the question:

That the House do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the negative.

page 1829


Second Reading

Debate resumed.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Garland) read a third time.

page 1829


Second Reading

Consideration resumed from 2 April, on motion by Mr Garland:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Garland) read a third time.

page 1830


Second Reading

Consideration resumed from 2 April, on motion by Mr Garland:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Garland) read a third time.

page 1830


Second Reading

Consideration resumed from 2 April, on motion by Mr Garland:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Garland) read a third time.

page 1830


Second Reading

Consideration resumed from 2 April, on motion by Mr Garland:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Garland) read a third time.

page 1830


Imported Knitwear-Cosmetic and Elective Surgery: Medical Benefits -Moorabbin City Council: Use of Natural Gas- Moscow Olympic Games- Telecom Australia -Australian Postal Commission-New South Wales Coal Industry

Motion (by Mr Garland) proposed:

That the House do now adjourn.


-Brierly I raise a matter which is of serious concern. It represents what appears to be an administrative change in regard to the importation of goods to Australia outside of the normal tariff and quota arrangements. As I understand it, the change has not been referred to the Government but will have serious consequences for at least one mill in my electorate and will result in a complete alteration of the agreed arrangements for the importation of goods to Australia. This country has a fairly liberal scheme for allowing handicrafts to enter outside of the normal quota arrangements. However, I doubt whether it was ever intended to be a means by which mass-produced goods, in substantial numbers, would be allowed entry. Some time ago the Customs Department admitted from China as handicrafts knitted garments men’s jumpers, cardigans et cetera containing a cable stitch. In China, these are made on handoperated looms. Upon being challenged, the change was revoked, but companies which had placed orders they were very substantial were given time to meet them. That time expired at the end of February of this year.

Last week, the Customs Department issued a new definition of items allowed entry to Australia under the handicrafts scheme. That definition re-included items which contain a cable stitch as garments to be admitted as traditional handicrafts. The scheme in respect of traditional handicrafts was designed to allow small amounts of specialitytype goods to enter the Australian market. It was not designed, and I would think is not designed, to permit the entry of mass-produced goods. Because of the particular change to which I refer, it is estimated that up to five million items will enter the Australian market this year under what is a Customs exempt and tariff and quota-exempt proposal. That is hardly to be described as of the scale of a handicrafts operation. In fact, it is a major change in the quota arrangements for knitted goods, which substantially are made up of woollen knitted goods from China. If Australian industry is to be opened to free competition, which is what the change amounts to that decision should be made only after reference to the

Industries Assistance Commission. In this instance no such reference has been made. As far as I am able to understand, no Government decision has been taken on the matter; indeed, it has not even been referred to the Government. The change has taken place by way of Public Service directive within the Customs area. It will mean certainly the closure of those firms in Australia which supply goods to the particular market which the newly admitted outsideofquota goods will enter. In my electorate, Milburn Knitwear, which for many, many years has operated in this field, will almost certainly have to find new areas of activity or close down. Very little opportunity is available for it to argue against the change in the arrangements or to present a case to the Industries Assistance Commission or any other body. The change has been made arbitrarily and purports to be concerned with handicrafts but is in fact one which will allow up to five million items of mass-produced goods to enter the Australian market outside of normal quota and tariff arrangements.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.


-I speak tonight to express my concern at a recent report in the Melbourne Age that the Minister for Health (Mr MacKellar) has set up a working party to recommend whether Commonwealth benefits for cosmetic and elective surgery should be stopped. The report says that one area under review would be aesthetic operations such as breast reconstructions and the removal of varicose veins. I would be appalled if the Government were to agree to allow the bureaucracy to be the judge of whether such operations are necessary. I believe that I can speak with some personal knowledge. I know of one person who was required to have a mastectomy for the removal of a breast because of cancer. It is a most traumatic experience for any woman and leaves her body horribly disfigured and scarred.

In this particular case the person concerned has adjusted to the situation remarkably well. But this is not always the case with all women who have been forced to undergo this operation. Many find it hard to adapt. They feel half a woman and inadequate as far as their role as a wife is concerned. They are forced to wear clothing cut so as to conceal the scars under their arms where the lymph glands have been removed. They cannot wear a normal bathing costume. They must wear a prosthesis to replace the missing breast so as not to look lopsided. This is not for happy situation for the women concerned.

The person to whom I have referred has put up with these great difficulties without complaint for some years. But who could honestly blame a woman who could not cope with this situation for having cosmetic surgery on her breast at least to make her appear to have a normal body? Are we to leave it to the bureaucrats to decide whether she should have such cosmetic surgery or are only the very wealthy to have the opportunity to have their bodies rebuilt? The decision should be left solely to the woman in consultation with her doctor and the operation should be able to be performed under the health scheme. The same person to whom I have referred recently had an operation for the removal of varicose veins in both legs, not because they did not make her legs look attractive but because she suffered a thrombosis on two occasions. Such blood clots could, of course, prove fatal. Are we to suggest that, in order to have such an operation under the health scheme, a woman must convince some bureaucrat in Canberra or elsewhere that the operation was necessary, possibly to save her life?

I understand that sterilisation and hysterectomies done for contraceptive reasons are to be considered for elimination by the working party. This Parliament voted on the Lusher motion last year to continue the funding of abortions under the health scheme. We all accept that. But how much better it is to have sterilisation by vasectomy or hysterectomy, if the operation is for psychological and health reasons and under medical advice, than for a woman later to have to face an abortion. Those who believe life begins at the time of conception- I am one who does- should not be against the funding of surgical contraception, because no one could logically claim that life has begun at the time of such an operation. Psychiatrists also affirm that even facelifts for people who are affected by premature aging may be necessary for those psychologically affected by premature aging, and even people with large noses or disfigurements such as burns can use cosmetic surgery to remedy a psychological problem, if not an aesthetic one. I believe that only the people concerned and their doctor can decide whether surgery is necessary in these cases. We do not want bureaucrats to make that decision.

I am also concerned that, as women are the ones who are affected by operations such as breast surgery, no women have been appointed to the working party which has been set up to make recommendations to the Minister on these matters. The working party consists of four people from the Department of Health, two of whom are doctors, and four from the Australian

Medical Association, three of whom are doctors. At present all the members of the working party are men. But as women are affected equally, if not more so than men, particularly in the case of mastectomy, I believe that women should be represented on the working party. I hope that the Minister will look into this matter. .


-Tonight I would like to congratulate one of the most progressive councils in Australia. I refer to the Moorabbin Council.

Mr Barry Jones:

– That is not in your electorate, is it?


-It is partly in my electorate.

Mr Cotter:

-Speak English.


– I may be able to speak English but the honourable member for Kalgoorlie cannot.

Opposition members interjecting-


– If honourable members opposite would listen to what I have to say they might be able to learn something which they can take back to their electorates. As I have only a few minutes, I suggest that they listen to what I have to say. They should take note of what I have to say about a progressive council and take the information back to their electorates. The Moorabbin Council is about to break new ground in alternate fuels by converting its fleet to compressed natural gas. I believe the Moorabbin Council will be the first municipality in Australia to do so. I also believe that it is the first major organisation to do so. The cost of conversion and installation of equipment at the Council depot wil be $236,480.

The Moorabbin Council has a fleet of 100 vehicles. The cost of all fuel for the current financial year is projected at $ 172,920. The cost with compressed natural gas over the same period is $19,421. I believe that the decision to convert came after a comprehensive study by the Deputy City Engineer, Mr Fred Heinze, who investigated the CNG alternative in New Zealand last year. The fuel is basically the ordinary natural gas which is piped to households but in this case it is compressed for use in vehicles. I am told that the Council will apply to the Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria and the Commonwealth Department of National Development and Energy to seek a subsidy grant towards the cost of conversion which, I think all honourable members will agree, is a subsidy that has been well earned. The Gas and Fuel Corporation has one vehicle running on CNG and in South Australia there are 1 7 cars running on this fuel, but, as I said previously, the Moorabbin Council will be the first to convert an entire fleet.

The comprehensive report by Mr Heinze to the Council showed the many advantages of CNG- its supply was certain; it was not affected by international politics; the cost structure was stable and predictable; there was no pollution; there could be no pilfering; the vehicles could not be milked; and it is much safer to handle. The big disadvantages, of course, are the initial cost of conversion, the shorter range of vehicles and more frequent fuel stops. Councillor Stevens, who moved that the changeover be made and that the Council give it top priority, said that the conversion could save well over $2.5m over the next 10 years. Finally, I congratulate the councillors and the City of Moorabbin, the Deputy City Engineer and all connected with the changeover. I hope that other councils in Australia will follow the lead of the Moorabbin Council.


-Earlier this afternoon it was claimed that for no reason at all I had been trying for several years to get the Moscow Olympic Games moved. I very happily acknowledge that I have been moving since 1 977 to have the Moscow Olympic Games taken away from the Soviet Union, but I dispute that I have been doing so for no reason at all. I have been doing so because of the continuing brutal violations of human rights by the Soviet Union. The thing that appals me is that the people who in the main have been the victims of the brutality of the Soviet Union, the dissidents and particularly the Jewish people, are the only ones prepared to stand up for human rights. I want to place on record that I, as a non-Jew, along with the honourable member for Phillip (Mr Birney), the honourable member for Perth (Mr McLean) and others, am appalled that the continuing persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union can be brushed aside and ignored by people who ought to know better.

On the next occasion that somebody says to me, ‘If it can be shown that the Soviet Union has picked its Olympic Games team on the basis of race I will support a boycott’, I will ask that person how many Jews will be picked in the Soviet team for the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. I will ask him how many members of the Israeli Olympic team will be going to Moscow in 1980. The short point is that those who care to check the statements to which I have referred will be appalled at what was said in another place earlier today.

Last night I drew attention to the fact that the Tasmanian Olympic Council had voted in support of the Moscow Games boycott. I place on record in this Parliament tonight that not one member of the Labor Party has publicly supported the Tasmanian Olympic Council’s decision, which was arrived at by a two to one vote. My colleague, the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Groom), who is the member for Braddon in Tasmania, said that he is proud today to be a Tasmanian because Tasmania has given the clearest of leads to the Australian Olympic Federation as to how it should vote when it meets next Saturday.

Within hours of the Tasmanian decision Canada too decided that it would support a boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games. Honourable members opposite have been knocking that. I read in the paper tonight that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) wants to address the Australian Olympic Federation on Saturday. Quite frankly I hope he goes because he will do so much good for our case if he speaks to the Federation. If he speaks in anything like the manner in which he speaks in this Parliament he will win the day for us.

Is it not a tragedy that we in this Parliament have sat over the last few weeks and heard nothing but comments from the Opposition which, whether intended or not, have given aid and comfort to the Soviet aggressors in Afghanistan. I do not believe it was an incorrect prediction I made some weeks ago that the words of the Leader of the Opposition would be read with great pleasure and joy to Moscow. Only today my colleague the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil), was able to prove in this Parliament that the Tass publication of the Soviet Union quoted with favour the comments of the man whom it refers to as William George Hayden. That publication quoted him with approval. I believe it is a shameful state of affairs that the Leader of the Opposition in this country has his speeches and words quoted with approval in Moscow. I ask the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Staley), who is at the table and who has an involvement in communications, to check whether there has been any other Leader of the Opposition since Dr Evatt who has been quoted with approval in Moscow.

Lastly, I draw attention to the comments of the Soviet Ambassador to Australia which were referred to earlier today by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock). When that arrogant man Dr Soudarikov talks about relations between Australian and the Soviet being at zero level and there being a dark cloud over SovietAustralian friendship let us remind him that there are 40,000 reasons why the relationship would be bad- and they are the 40,000 dead that we know of. We should remind him of the 130,000 homeless Afghan people and the thousands and thousands of others who have been victims of chemical warfare, germ warfare and poison gas. As far as I am concerned -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Mr Leo McLeay:

– This evening I wish to draw the Parliament’s attention to three matters that fall within the ministerial responsibility of the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Staley). These matters, of course, are probably not of much interest to Government supporters, who wish to go on with a lot of mindless rhetoric and tub thumping about matters which they know nothing about. However, I would like to use the adjournment debate to talk about a number of matters that influence and are of interest to the people of my electorate. I am pleased to be able to take advantage of the fact that the relevant Minister is in the chamber this evening. I might say that I find the Minister to be a person who deals reasonably with back bench members of parliament, unlike a number of other members of the Fraser Government.

The first matter I wish to raise concerns the rather cavalier attitude with which the Manager of Australia Post in New South Wales approaches representations that he receives from members of parliament. In recent months I have made a number of representations to Mr Brazil relating to matters in my electorate. One matter that comes to my mind most readily concerns a letter box in the Hurlestone Park area of my electorate. This may not seem to be a very important matter. However it is an extremely important matter to pensioners who live in the Hurlstone Park area. This area has a predominantly older population. The people in the area cannot walk all that far and they have difficulty in dealing with changes in their patterns of living. A post box in this area was knocked over by a truck. Mr Brazil in reply to an approach by me said: ‘Oh, it got knocked over, it got lost and we do not know where it is’. Frankly, I do not care whether he does not know where it is. I want it replaced because pensioners in my electorate do not want to go somewhere else to post a letter- now at a cost of 22c, which is not easy for a pensioner to meet. I ask the Minister to take under notice the reply that I received from Mr Brazil which takes no notice at all of the needs of the people of my electorate.

The second matter I raise concerns the site allowance for employees of Telecom Australia who work at that magnificant building across the way which is known colloquially as Gar’s Mahal. I think the Minister may have solved this problem directly. However, recently the Australian Capital Territory management of Telecom Australia refused to pay its employees working on the site of the new High Court building the site allowance which is paid to all other employees on that site. It was argued that those employees were Crown employees and they did not need to get that benefit. I put it to the Minister and I put it to the Parliament that if an industrial benefit has been given to all other employees on the site, it is irrelevant to say that some workers should not get it because they work for this organisation, that organisation, this union or that union. The point is that the Government has agreed to pay a site allowance and that for a number of months Telecom Australia has refused to pay such an allowance to its employees. I think that is a scandalous situation. The Minister may not be aware that because Telecom Australia employees were not allowed on the site to supervise certain matters we now find that ducting in the building has been mucked up by the builders and it will cost Telecom or whichever authority is responsible for payment a lot of money to rectify the situation. This has arisen because of the miserly penny-pinching attitude of people in the Minister’s Department. Last week we saw that even the fellows who put up and painted the flagpole received a site allowance. But the Commonwealth’s own employees were not paid this benefit.

The third matter I would ask the Minister to look into is the early licensing of community radio stations. I have raised with him before the matter of two stations in my electorate. I would ask him to make a statement so that people who are involved in these community stations will not feel that there is some sort of conspiracy abroad to stop them from getting a permanent licence. A number of groups have put a lot of time, effort and money into community broadcasting. There are no real problems with them. I think the Minister, to allay the fears of a number of people, should make some sort of public statement so that those people know that the efforts that they have put into this very worthwhile community job will not be in vain.


Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


-In the short time available I want to draw the attention of the House to the disastrous situation obtaining in the coal industry of New South Wales, where in fact the development of mines has been held back, the employment of coal miners has been reduced from the targets that should have been reached because of the failure of the State Government of New South Wales to provide adequate transport facilities to the coast and its deliberate refusal to provide coal loading facilities. I want to draw the attention of the House particularly to the fact that the Premier of New South Wales, the Honourable Neville Wran, has in fact come back from his trip to China after contributing his only bit of help to the industry, which has been of the usual words variety. The House will remember that in May 1978 Mr Wran went to the United States and returned triumphantly to announce coal sales to the United States. Last year he went to Europe and came back triumphantly announcing coal sales to Europe. Last week he came back from China triumphantly announcing coal sales to China. It will not surprise the House to find that not one tonne of coal has been exported, nor is one tonne likely to be exported, as a result of these nonexistent contracts. No paper has been signed, no evidence has been seen of any such contract let alone any evidence of any coal getting out of this country.

The serious problem is that the coal cannot get out of New South Wales. In fact only 75 per cent of the coal contracted for sale from New South Wales was capable of being exported because of the refusal of the State Government of New South Wales to proceed with the Botany Bay coal loader or to proceed with the Port Kembla coal loader. The Government of New South Wales in fact has done nothing except prevent and limit the export of coal from that State under existing contracts. For this phoney to go overseas and come back pretending he has signed contracts, pretending he has made sales when in fact by his very actions he has prevented the coal industry in my electorate from completing its contracts is an utter disgrace. I hope this man’s phoneyness is displayed to all.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! It being 11 o’clock, the debate is interrupted.

page 1835


The following notices were given:

Mr Garland to present a Bill for an Act to grant financial assistance to the States and the Northern Territory in connection with the prices, when sold for certain non-commercial uses, of liquefied petroleum gas and gas produced by the use of liquefied petroleum gas or naptha.

Mr Nixon to present a Bill for an Act relating to an agreement between the Commonwealth and Tasmania in connection with Tasmanian native forestry.

Mr Ellicott to present a Bill for an Act to amend the Australian Film Commission Act 1975.

page 1835


The following paper was deemed to have been presented on 16 April 1980, pursuant to statute:

Telecommunications Act- Australian Telecommunications Commission- By-laws- Telecommunications (Charging Zones and Charging Districts).

House adjourned at 11 p.m.

page 1836


The following answers to questions were circulated:

Telephone Exchanges (Question No. 5240)

Mr Innes:

asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 22 November 1979:

  1. 1 ) In view of the incomplete answer to my Question No. 4538 (Hansard, 8 November 1979, page 2868) which of the (a) exchanges and (b) service towns referred to in Appendix 2 (2) of the Telecom document Community Access 80 have (i) less than 20 local services, (ii) between 20 and SO local services, (iii) between 50 and 100 local services, (iv) between 100 and 300 local services, (v) between 300 and 1,000 local services and (vi) more than 1,000 local services connected.
  2. Will he name all exchange areas and service towns in each category.
Mr Staley:
Minister for Post and Telecommunications · CHISHOLM, VICTORIA · LP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The number of telephone services connected to each of the exchanges and service towns listed in Appendix 2 of the Community Access 80 booklet are tabulated below:

Public Service: Alcoholism (Question No. 5271)

Mr Hodges:

asked the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:

  1. Has his attention been drawn to an article which appeared in the Canberra Times of 15 November 1979 which discusses alcoholism in the Australian Public Service.
  2. Are there records of the number of work days lost as a result of alcoholism in the Australian Public Service; if so, how many work days have been lost in each of the last 5 years.
  3. Is there any mechanism within the Australian Public Service to monitor the prevalence of this social disease.
Mr MacKellar:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Yes.
  2. No. Although staff are required to state on sick leave applications the nature of their illness, I have been informed that the effects of alcohol misuse can be manifested in a wide variety of illnesses and it would be difficult, therefore, to extract from these forms a record of the number of work days lost as a result of alcoholism. In October 1 977 a survey of departments and statutory authorities was conducted by the joint Council (a statutory employer/employee body) to ascertain the extent of alcohol misuse in the Australian Public Service. Most departments acknowledged that there were some problems of alcohol misuse, but they had great difficulty in providing statistics of the numbers of people so affected through normal systems for the recording of sick leave and other personnel information.
  3. In November 1978 the Public Service Board issued policy guidelines to assist in the identification of cases where work performance has been adversely affected by alcohol misuse. As part of a program to cope constructively with problems of alcohol misuse, the guidelines provide a general framework for the handling of cases and to encourage departments to adapt this to their particular requirements. It is envisaged, as part of the overall program, that departmental arrangements for handling problems of alcohol misuse will be evaluated. The program, however, is in its early stages and it is likely to be some time before such evaluation can be made.

Fluoridation of Water Supplies (Question No. 5287)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) What figures are available showing any improvement in dental health of children in the Australian Capital Territory since the fluoridation of the water supply in 1 964.
  2. Have there been any ill-effects from the introduction of fluoride into the water supply of the ACT.
Mr MacKellar:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Fluoride was introduced into the Canberra water supply in 1964. The routine dental examination of Canberra children in 1978 showed that, in comparison with children in the same age groups in 1964, there had been a reduction of 70.2 per cent in the decay rate of the permanent teeth of children in the 6 to 12 age group and a reduction of 65.34 per cent in the decay rate of the deciduous teeth of children in the 5 to 1 1 age group.
  2. ) No known ill effects have occurred.

Administrative Review Council (Question No. 5316)

Mr Holding:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) What action has the Government taken regarding the powers of the Commonwealth Ombudsman following the various recommendations made by the Administrative Review Council (Council’s 3rd Annual Report, clauses 102 to 128, pages 25 to 31).
  2. What are the reasons for rejecting any of the Council ‘s recommendations.
Mr Malcolm Fraser:
Prime Minister · WANNON, VICTORIA · LP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) The Government has not yet completed consideration of the recommendations made by the Administrative Review Council regarding the powers of the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
  2. See answer to ( 1 ) above.

Aid to Afghanistan (Question No. 5361)

Mr Holding:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:

What foreign aid specifying in each case, the (a) nature and (b) type of aid, has been provided by the Australian Government to Afghanistan in each of the years from 1970 to date?

Mr Peacock:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Australian aid to Afghanistan has comprised technical assistance under the Colombo Plan and gifts of wheat under the Food Aid Convention of the International Wheat Agreement.

Technical assistance has consisted of awards for training in Australia together with some project aid, mainly in support of programs sponsored by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Training awards have covered a wide range of subjects with English Language courses predominating.

In addition, under the Project Subsidy Scheme for NonGovernmental Organisations, Australian voluntary aid bodies in 1977 received support for the repair of earthquake damage and for a model health centre.

Aid to Afghanistan was suspended following Soviet intervention but 8 students in Australia are being allowed to complete their courses.

Expenditure on Australian aid to Afghanistan since 1970 has been as follows:

Leprosy (Question No. 5380)

Mr Holding:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 20 February 1 980:

  1. 1 ) Is he able to say what has been the attack rate for leprosy for (a) Aboriginals and (b) whites, for each State and Territory for each year from 1971 to 1979.
  2. Is he able to state what the comparable rates are for the indigenous peoples of South East Asia and Pacific Basin countries.
Mr MacKellar:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) No. The attack rate is an incidence rate often used for particular groups observed for limited periods and under special circumstances as in an epidemic, rather than for chronic conditions with a variable but long incubation period such as leprosy.

It is only possible to give attack rates with any degree of accuracy for Aboriginals in the Northern Territory, Queensland and W.A.

In view of the very small numbers involved and the circumstances of exposure, the attack rates would not be valid for the non-Aboriginal populations in these areas but I am happy to provide for the information of the honourable member, the numbers of reported cases.

In southern areas of Australia most reported cases of leprosy contracted the infection elsewhere, usually in areas where the disease is endemic, and such rates are therefore not applicable.

I have included in the figures the numbers of cases reported from these areas.

Aboriginal Health Services (Question No. 5382)

Mr Holding:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice, on 20 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) How many Aboriginal health services are currently in existence in each State and Territory, and where are they located.
  2. For each service, since .its inception, what Federal financial support was received in each year.
  3. How many Aboriginal health services are (a) totally controlled and (b) partially controlled by the Aboriginal communities which they serve.
  4. Is there any evidence of (a) lower costs, (b) increased efficiency or (c) increased acceptance of health services which are controlled by the Aboriginal communities served.
  5. If so, can the Minister provide statistics for such items as hospital admissions and the number of bed-days in hospitals, by community, before and since the establishment of Aboriginal-controlled health services.
Mr Viner:

-The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answers to the honourable member’s question:

  1. and (2) The Department of Aboriginal Affairs has made grants to 15 Aboriginal Medical Services at the locations shown in the table below:

In 1978-79 surveys to assess Aboriginal views of existing services were conducted at Cairns and Mackay, Queensland. The Aboriginal and Islander Community Health Service at Mackay received a grant of $13,000 from my Depanment to operate a medical liaison service in 1979-80. The Aboriginal and Islander Medical Service in Darwin, NT, was also funded for the first time in 1 979-80. Its initial grant was for $ 1 5,000.

There are also Aboriginal Medical Services established or being established at Geraldton and Broome in Western Australia, and at Wilcannia in New South Wales.

  1. 3 ) All the services listed are managed by Aboriginal community organisations.
  2. A review of the effectiveness of the health program of the Depanment of Aboriginal Affairs is being conducted at present and this is examining the evidence for the cost effectiveness and acceptance of community controlled health services.
  3. port Augusta Aboriginal Medical Service stated to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs that, ‘since the service has been in operation there has been a reduction in the number of hospital admissions and length of stay.’ I am not aware of published evidence which supports the claim. A recent survey conducted by Dr R. Copeman and reported in the Medical Journal of Australia (Special Supplement 1980, 1:5-6) found that since the establishment of the Durri Aboriginal Medical Service, the number of ‘bed days’ due to Aboriginal child admissions had decreased by 46 per cent, and there had been a 33 per cent decrease in the number of Aboriginal children admitted to hospital. A survey in Townsville of the use of Outpatients services by Aboriginals showed that the rate did not increase when the Townsville AICHS ceased operations temporarily. This suggested to the author that a large number of patients would receive inadequate treatment in the absence of the AICHS. (Dr K. Larsen, ‘The Role of Aboriginal Medical Services’, Aust. J. of Social Issues 1978(4): 261-275).

Public Service: Cadetships (Question No. 5417)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 20 February 1980:

How many cadetships with the Australian Government were offered through the Public Service Board in (a) professional and (b) technical areas during 1979, and for the period 1 January 1 980 to date.

Mr MacKellar:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. The numbers of persons who took up cadetships offered by the Public Service Board in professional areas in the calendar year 1979 and from 1 January 1980 to 29 February 1980 are as follows:

Royal Commission on Human Relationships (Question No. 5424)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 20 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) Which of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Human Relationships contained in its Final Report, Volume 5, Part VII- Rape and other sexual offences, has the Government accepted, or does it intend to accept.
  2. When will legislation be introduced to effect these changes.
  3. What progress in relation to acceptance of recommendations has occurred since March 1 979.
Mr Viner:

-The Attorney-General has provided the following answers to the honourable member’s questions: ( 1 ), (2) and (3 ) A first working draft of an ordinance to reform the substantive law in the Australian Capital Territory on rape and other sexual offences has been prepared. The draftsman sought further instructions on a number of the provisions in the Bill and those instructions, together with comments on the draft Bill, are in the course of being settled. So far as evidentiary questions are concerned, I anticipate that they will be comprehended within the Report of the Australian Law Reform Commission concerning the Reference given by me on 1 8 July 1 979 on the laws of evidence applicable to proceedings in Federal and Territory Courts.

Nuclear Disarmament (Question No. 5473)

Mr Uren:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 21 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) Did he state to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Disarmament on 5 June 1978 that those states renouncing nuclear weapons need assurances that this will not jeopardise their security, and that there was concern whether Security Council resolution 255 of 1968 sufficiently protected non-nuclear weapon states which were parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty against threat or use of nuclear weapons and in Australia’s view, such assurances should be further developed and strengthened.
  2. If so, what steps has the Government taken since he announced this policy to achieve the development and strengthening of these assurances, particularly by the Soviet Union and the United States of America, and has any progress occurred in this respect.
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Yes.
  2. My statement at the Special Session on Disarmament was the culmination of several months of Australian activity before the Special Session aimed at encouraging the nuclear weapon states to provide at the Special Session assurances specifically for states which are parties to the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty (NPT) that they would not be subject to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. During this period Australia raised this matter with the three nuclear weapon states which are the depositaries of the NPT-the United States, the Soviet Union and Britain.

At the Session, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union announced, in individual statements, that they would only use nuclear weapons in the most exceptional circumstances in their own defence or that of their allies. A common element of all three formulations was that the assurance against the use of nuclear weapons was only available to countries which had themselves renounced the acquisition of such weapons. China reiterated its commitment that it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons and would not employ them against non-nuclear weapon states; and France stated that it would not use nuclear weapons against states which are in nuclear-weapon-free zones.

The nuclear security assurances offered by the United States, the Soviet Union and Britain represented a substantial achievement of the Special Session. Australia’s representations contributed to this result.

Australia has continued to consult with the NPT depositaries about the importance of assuring the security of nonnuclear weapon states, which are parties to the NPT, as part of the process of preparing for the Conference for the Review of the NPT which will be held in August-September 1980.

Free Issue of Australian Flags (Question No. 5506)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 26 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) Do delays of up to 6 months occur in the supply of Australian flags to Members and Senators for presentation to organisations eligible for the free issue of flags.
  2. Is he able to state if Australian flags are available for immediate delivery from flag manufacturers in Queensland.
  3. Will he take immediate steps to alleviate the lengthy delays in the supply of free-issue flags, particularly in view of the proximity of Anzac Day.
Mr John McLeay:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) Delays have occurred due to the considerable demand for free-issue National Flags.
  2. A flag manufacturer in Queensland has been supplying flags since early December 1979. This manufacturer will complete delivery of flags under a contract over the next couple of months.
  3. The Government has approved the provision of a further $210,000 for additional flags. I anticipate that the current backlog of requests will be met before the end of May 1980.

Confravision Service (Question No. 5508)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 26 February 1980:

Further to part (2) of the answer to question No. 4796 (Hansard, 22 November 1979, pages 3491-2), will he encourage the extension of the confravision service to businesses in Brisbane.

Mr Staley:

-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

As stated in response to question No. 4796 the Sydney to Melbourne confravision link being operated by Telecom Australia is receiving limited support only. However, Telecom believes that as transport costs increase the attractiveness of Confravision will rise correspondingly.

There are no firm plans to provide a Brisbane to Sydney link at this stage but Telecom advises that the matter is being kept under regular review.

Telephone Installations (Question No. 5509)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 26 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) Do delays of up to several months occur in the installation of telephones and in the transfer of telephone numbers in the Wynnum area, Queensland; if so, what steps will be taken to have these delays reduced.
  2. ) How many Telecom field staff have been appointed to implement the expanded program of telephone installation referred to in the answer to question No. 3578 (Hansard, 7 June 1979, page 3151).
Mr Staley:

-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) Although better than 80 per cent of applications for service in the Wynnum area are satisfied within 15 days of receipt there is a section of Manly Road where delays of several months are occurring. Some 42 applications for an area south of White’s Road are deferred pending completion of cable work estimated to cost $130,000. The oldest of these was lodged in September 1979. Service for all of this group will be provided as quickly as possible after the major cable work now in progress is completed in May.
  2. Since March 1979 the numbers of staff employed on district type work has increased by 140 Technicians and 152 Lines Staff for the whole of Queensland. Of these 65 Technicians and 63 Lines Staff are employed in the Metropolitan area. The figures comparable with those referred to in Question 3578 are-

Telephone Exchange: Paddington, Brisbane (Question No. 5S10)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 26 February 1980:

  1. Has his attention been drawn to the long-term and recurrent difficulties experienced by telephone subscribers serviced by the Paddington exchange in Brisbane; if so, are these difficulties attributable to the jamming of the exchange by the fluctuating volume of incoming calls in the exchange area.
  2. Did a disruption to services in the exchange area occur on the night of 1 8 February 1 980.
  3. How many lines is the exchange equipped to handle.
  4. Have any modifications been effected to increase the capacity of the exchange in the last 2 years.
  5. Are further changes planned; if so, by what date will they be effected.
Mr Staley:

-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) Yes. Periodically, heavy incoming traffic to the Paddington exchange limits the availability of the exchange equipment for normal incoming and outgoing calls. The most serious congestion occurs when one or other of the TV stations conducts a phone-in program. Channels 0, 7 and 9 are all connected to the Paddington exchange.
  2. Yes. At about 7.10 p.m. on 18 February a TV station conducted a session calling for a phone-in response from viewers. The excessive incoming traffic to the Paddington exchange which resulted caused a technical fault which severely restricted incoming and outgoing traffic. Service was restored to normal in twenty minutes.
  3. Eight thousand lines.
  4. Yes. In April 1978, telephone numbers commencing with the digits ‘366’ were converted to crossbar type equipment. In November 1978, 600 lines were provided to meet growth. In November 1979 a further 400 lines were provided to meet growth.
  5. Yes. In January a commencement was made on conversion of the exchange to stored program controlled (computer) operation, and this will be completed by the middle of 1980. By September 1980 the size of the exchange will be increased by a further 1,000 lines. As a separate issue negotiations are in progress with the three commercial TV stations to minimise the effect of the concentration of traffic caused by some types of program.

Tobacco Products and Alcoholic Beverages (Question No. 5517)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 26 February 1 980:

Will he recommend to the Treasurer the acceptance of the recommendation of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare in its Report Drug Problems in Australia- An Intoxicated Society? that the Commonwealth Government consider denying tax deductibility for expenses incurred in the promotion of tobacco products and alcoholic beverages.

Mr MacKellar:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The Government’s response to licit drugs aspects of the Report of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare entitled Drug Problems in A Australia-an Intoxicated Society? was announced in a Ministerial Statement in the Senate on 19 March 1980 (Senate Hansard, 19 March 1980, pages 795 and following).

That statement indicated that the Government did not accept Recommendations 25 and 48 of the Senate Standing Committee’s Report, which related to tax deductibility for expenses incurred in the promotion of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, respectively.

Statutory Authorities: Appointments (Question No. 5542)

Mr Peter Johnson:

asked the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 27 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) To which existing statutory authorities and from what dates will appointments be necessary during the period from 1 March 1 980 to 28 February 1 98 1 .
  2. What are the (a) names, (b) positions held, (c) remunerations (d) ages and (e) number of years in the position of current appointees whose terms will expire during this period.
  3. Do any of the current appointees hold positions on more than one statutory authority; if so, which authority and what is the (a) remuneration and (b) expiry date of the additional appointment s).
Mr MacKellar:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. to (3) The information is not immediately available and I do not see that I would be justified in asking departments and authorities to spend the considerable time and resources which would be involved in extracting and drawing together the information which the honourable member was requested. In any event, it is not possible to predict all vacancies. If the honourable member has a particular statutory authority in mind and indicates this, I shall examine what information is available.

Free Issue of Australian Flag (Question No. 5545)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 28 February 1980:

  1. What criteria are used to determine which organisations are entitled to receive a free issue of the Australian flag.
  2. Did his Department decide that a speedway supporters ‘ club was eligible for a flag but that the Geelong German Shepherd Club was ineligible.
  3. If so, what are the specific differences that disqualify an organisation of dog lovers as ineligible and make motorbike fans eligible.
Mr John McLeay:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Organisations eligible to receive a free-issue of the Australian National Flag were generally listed in my statement to Parliament on 10 May 1979 (Hansard, pages 2082-3).
  2. and (3) My Department has no record of a speedway supporters’ club as such being accepted as eligible to receive a free National Flag. Speedway racing has been accepted as coming within an internationally recognised definition of a sport and requests for free-issue National Flags for Speedway Clubs have been met. The Geelong German Shepherd Club was considered to be ineligible because dog clubs are outside the eligibility criteria I have previously announced.

I intend to have the eligibility criteria reviewed at a later stage, when consideration will be given to representations from groups at present ineligible to receive flags.

Transport and Removalist Company (Question No. 5559)

Mr Armitage:

asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 28 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) Further to the answer to question No. 49 1 9 ( Hansard, 20-21 November 1979, pages 3259-60), is a transport and removalist company named ABBCO Removals engaged by his Department for transport and storage work; if so, was the company engaged as a result of the calling of tenders.
  2. If the company was not engaged as a result of the calling of tenders, who gave approval or direction for it to be engaged.
  3. How many jobs has the company performed on behalf of the Commonwealth and how much has it been paid for this work.
Mr John McLeay:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) and (2) ABBCO Removals was engaged from October 1 976 to May 1 979 for Commonwealth removals and storage. The company received Commonwealth work after the calling of tenders (in accordance with Finance Directions) for each removal.
  2. The company performed approximately 1,600 jobs on behalf of the Commonwealth and was paid about $660,000 for the work.

Community Arts (Question No. 5568)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice, on 5 March 1980:

  1. What community arts centres and workshops have been allocated grants by the Community Arts Board for 1979-80.
  2. What sum (a) has each centre or workshop been allocated and (b) has been allocated to (i) national and overseas recipients, (ii) recipients in New South Wales, (iii) recipients in Victoria and (iv) recipients in Queensland for 1979-80.
  3. What grants are allocated for individuals in 1979-80 as a percentage of (a) total grants to community centres and workshops and (b) total grants.
  4. How many grants were made to each State during 1979-80.
Mr Ellicott:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) and (2) (a) I am advised that grants to community arts centres and workshops by the Community Arts Board of the Australia Council in 1979-80 are as follows:

Commonwealth Employment Service: Staff Statistics (Question No. 5573)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 5 March 1980:

  1. How many (a) unrelieved man-days and (b) mandays lost due to staff training did each Commonwealth Employment Service branch office in the Brisbane metropolitan area experience in each month from January 1979 to January 1980.
  2. What was the establishment level of each CES office in the Brisbane metropolitan area as at (a) 1 January 1976, (b) 1 January 1977, (c) 1 January 1978, (d) 1 January 1979 and (e) 28 February 1980.
  3. On how many days in the period 1 January 1979 to 28 February 1980 was each CES branch office iri the Brisbane metropolitan area operating at establishment level.
  4. What was the average number of staff operating the CES branch offices in the Brisbane metropolitan area in the period 1 January 1979 to 28 February 1980, expressed as a percentage of the establishment staff.
Mr Viner:

-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: ( 1 ), (2), (3) and (4) This information is not readily available within my Department and to obtain it would take considerable time and effort beyond the normal requirements of administration. For this reason, I do not propose to have officers take time out from their normal duties to seek and collate the information sought.

Commonwealth Employment Service: Staffing Establishments (Question No. 5574)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 5 March 1980:

  1. 1 ) What were the establishment staff levels in each Commonwealth Employment Service branch office in each State on (a) 1 July 1976, (b) 1 July 1977, (c) 1 July 1978, (d) 1 July 1979 and (e) 28 February 1980.
  2. Have proposals been made to change establishment levels at any of the Commonwealth Employment Service branches after 28 February 1980; if so, what are the proposed levels on a branch or regional basis.
  3. Where staff changes are proposed, have staff been informed; if so, have any staff voiced opposition to the changes and what is the nature of any objections received from staff.
Mr Viner:

-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. This information is not readily available within my Department and to obtain it would take considerable time and effort beyond the normal requirements of administration. For this reason, I do not propose to have officers take time out from their normal duties to seek and collate the information sought.
  2. and (3) Staffing levels for the CES for 1980-81 are still to be determined. When this matter is finalised, CES staff will be informed accordingly.

Commonwealth Employment Service: Staffing Establishments (Question No. 5575)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 5 March 1980:

Following adoption of the new works program system, will Commonwealth Employment Service staff be reduced from previous establishment levels by (a) approximately 70 in New South Wales offices and (b) approximately IS in the Brisbane metropolitan area (southside).

Mr Viner:

-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Staffing levels for offices of the Commonwealth Employment Service in 1 980-8 1 have not yet been determined.

Commonwealth Employment Service: Work Tests (Question No. 5577)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 5 March 1980:

  1. Are Commonwealth Employment Service (CES) branch offices required to provide CES regional managers with statistics relating to the (a) number of work test interviews conducted, (b) substance of those interviews and (c) number of work test reports or SU44 forms completed.
  2. If so, who requested this information and when was the request made.
  3. Are branch offices required to conduct recall interviews with applicants in the 7th and 17th week of receipt of unemployment benefits if those applicants have not, in that time, either (a) been referred to a job or (b) inquired about a job listed in the CES self-service facility.
  4. Are benefits terminated summarily on receipt of SU44 forms by the Department of Social Security and before any investigation is conducted by that Department.
  5. If benefits are terminated upon receipt of SU44 forms, was immediate termination in these circumstances introduced within the last S years; if so, why.
Mr Viner:

-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. (a)No.

    1. Not applicable.
    2. Yes.
  2. A decision was taken in May 1978 to keep the statistics referred to in 1(c) for management purposes.
  3. Yes. Applicants who the CES have not been able to refer to an employer are interviewed at about the 8th and 16th week after initial application for unemployment benefit.
  4. and (5) The responsibility for the termination of unemployment benefits rests with the Director-General of Social Services. Further questions should be directed to the Minister for Social Security.

Commonwealth Car Drivers (Question No. 5623)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 6 March 1980:

  1. Are Australian Transport badges now being worn by Commonwealth car drivers; if so, what is the purpose of the badges.
  2. Has (a) he and (b) his Department had difficulty in identifying their own car drivers.
  3. What staff are required to wear the badges and at what times must they be worn.
  4. How many Australian Transport badges were purchased and from whom were they purchased.
  5. What was the (a) cost per badge and (b) total cost of the badges purchased.
  6. Were tenders called for the manufacture of the badges; if so, who were the unsuccessful tenderers.
  7. 7) If tenders were not called, what was the reason.
Mr John McLeay:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) The badges are worn by Commonwealth car drivers when they are on duty and wearing their summer uniform which consists of an open-necked, short-sleeved shirt with no identification. The wearing of the pocket badge assists passengers in distinguishing the driver from other personnel in similar uniforms.

  1. A total of 800 badges were purchased from Stokes (Australasia) Limited.
  2. (a) $5.75 (b) $4,600.
  3. and (7) As the amount involved was under $5,000 it was not necessary to invite public tenders. Written invitations to quote were sent to six firms. It would be contrary to the established practice of my Department to disclose information relating to unsuccessful tenders.

Australian National Line Property at Mort Bay (Question No. 5650)

Mr Uren:

asked the Minister for Science and the Environment, upon notice, on 18 March 1980:

  1. 1 ) Has his Department been notified of a proposal for the Depanment of Defence to acquire part or all of the property presently occupied by the Australian National Line at Mort Bay near Sydney, NSW.
  2. If so, has he or his Department been provided with information as described in paragraph 2. 1 of the Administrative Procedures under the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974 for the purposes of determining the necessity of an environmental impact statement on the proposal.
  3. If this information has been provided, will he make it available to the public.
  4. If the relevant information has been provided, has he or his Depanment determined whether an environmental impact statement will be required; if so, (a) what has been determined, (b) what are the reasons for this decision and (c) did he consult with any (i) department or authority of New South Wales or (ii) local authority as provided for in paragraph 3.3 of the Administrative Procedures under the Act for the purposes of assisting in the determination of whether an environmental impact statement was required.
Mr Thomson:
Minister for Science and the Environment · LEICHHARDT, QUEENSLAND · NCP/NP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. and (2) Yes.
  2. No.
  3. (a) On 27 February 1980, 1 determined that the preparation and submission of an environmental impact statement was not required to meet the object of the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act.
  4. (b) This determination was made on the basis of the information provided under paragraph 2. 1 of the Environment Protection Administrative Procedures. The principal adverse environmental impact of the former ANL operation at Mon Bay resulted from the use of residential streets by large numbers of articulated vehicles. The information provided indicated that use of the site by the Depanment of De-, fence will result in markedly less articulated vehicle traffic and less overall environmental intrusion. The proposed Defence use of the site will be consistent with the current zoning which is Waterfront-Industrial. In addition, the relocation of Army elements to Mort Bay will allow the release to the State Government, under recently completed land exchange agreements, of land at Middle Head and possibly at Woolwich.
  5. (c) (i) Consultations between officers of the NSW State Pollution Control Commission and the Department of Science and the Environment took place prior to my determination.
  6. (c) (ii) Details of consultation with the Leichhardt Council and the Council’s attitude to the proposal were contained in the Department of Defence information supplied to the Department of Science and the Environment under paragraph 2.1 of Environment Protection Administrative Procedures.

Road Sealing Contract (Question No. 5654)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 18 March 1980:

  1. 1 ) What is the (a) location and (b) purpose of the access road sealed under contract Qtn 79/ 1003 notified on page 76 of the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette of 27 November 1979.
  2. ) For what reason was the road sealed.
  3. What is the length of the road.
  4. What is the level of traffic expected to pass over the road.
  5. Who were the unsuccessful tenderers for the contract.
Mr Hunt:
Minister for Transport · GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES · NCP/NP

-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1) (a) The access road is at Brisbane airport parallel te the main runway from taxiway F to taxiway J, international apron.

    1. It provides internal airside access for maintenance vehicles, fire tenders and other airport vehicles.
  2. The road is required to be traffickable 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Formerly it was unusable in wet weather by fire tenders.
  3. Six hundred metres.
  4. Fifty vehicles per day.
  5. Spraypave Pty Ltd, Emoleum (Aust) Ltd.

Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme (Question No. 5656)

Mr Short:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 18 March 1980:

  1. 1 ) Do the guidelines for the rates of assistance under the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme state that the rates are broadly equivalent to the difference by which the charge for transporting goods between a place in Tasmania and a place on the mainland exceeds, or is estimated to exceed, the charge for transporting goods over approximately the same distance between 2 places on the mainland.
  2. If so, does this mean that Tasmanian goods shipped to Sydney or Brisbane should have a higher net freight cost to those destinations than goods shipped to the same destinations from the nearer point of Ballarat, Victoria.
  3. ) If this is not the case, and the guidelines are as stated in part ( 1 ), what do the guidelines actually mean.
Mr Hunt:

-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) Yes. The present guidelines for the Northbound component of the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme (TFES) include the statement you have given.

However it is proposed to reprint these guidelines shortly to take account of the new rates of assistance for Northbound timber and livestock movements introduced on 1 March 1980. At the same time the particular statement mentioned will be amended to more accurately reflect the basis of calculation of the rates of assistance, as follows:

These rates are broadly equivalent to the difference by which the charge for transporting goods between a place in Tasmania and a place on the Mainland exceeds, or is extimated to exceed, the charge for transporting similar goods by road or rail over comparable interestate routes on the Mainland.’

  1. and (3) The comparable interstate routes used for assessing TFES rates of assistance are those recommended by the Nimmo Commission as follows:

The methodology is explained in the Bureau of Transport Economics Report titled ‘Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme: Recommended Assistance Rates at 1 January 1978’ which is a public document.

No comparison has been made between the freight costs of goods shipped from Tasmania to Sydney or Brisbane and goods shipped from Ballarat to Sydney or Brisbane.

Newcastle Passport Office (Question No. 5657)

Mr James:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 18 March 1980:

  1. 1 ) What is the current delay in issue of passports.
  2. What steps have been taken by his Department to eliminate this delay, particularly in the Newcastle, New South Wales area.
  3. Has a final decision been made regarding the operation of the Newcastle passport office.
Mr Peacock:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) The current delay in issue of passports ranges from three working days for applications lodged in person at the Department’s smallest Passport Office to twenty working days for applications lodged by mail at the largest Passport Office.
  2. Additional overtime funds have been provided to meet the increased passport application rate which is at its highest from February to May each year. A computerised system for the issue of passports is being installed in all major passport offices in Australia which should reduce significantly the processing time for passport issues. The majority of applications from the Newcastle area are being forwarded to the Melbourne Passport Office for processing and issue. As a result the delay has been reduced from eighteen working days to ten working days.
  3. Following a visit to Newcastle on 12 March 1980 by a Senior Officer from my Department, it has been decided that passport issuing facilities will continue to be provided in Newcastle for the time being. Arrangements are now in hand to provide the necessary additional staff to continue this service to the public in the region.

United States Military Personnel in Saudi Arabia (Question No. 5676)

Mr Uren:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 1 9 March 1 980:

  1. Further to my question without notice of 18 March 1980 (Hansard, page 836) can he state how many United States of America military personnel are currently situated in Saudi Arabia.
  2. Is he also able to state (a) if there has been a substantial build-up of US military personnel in Saudi Arabia since 1 January 1980 and (b) if there has been a build-up in what capacity these personnel are located in Saudi Arabia and what (i) have been and (ii) are now the reasons for the US military presence.
Mr Peacock:

– As I promised in my answer to the question without notice referred to by the honourable member, I sought information on this subject from the Ambassador of the United States of America. In response to my inquiry, the following information has been provided by the United States Government in answer to both his questions:

There has been no build-up of US military personnel in Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the year. Aside from the four Defense Attaches and their aides attached to the American Embassy, all uniformed military DOD personnel in Saudi Arabia are connected with the US foreign military sales (FMS) programs there; that is they provide sales program management for and instruction on military equipment purchased from the US or the construction of military facilities. There are ninety-two military personnel permanently assigned to the US Military Training Mission in Saudi Arabia, twenty-three managing the National Guard sales program, and seventy-three associated with the Corps of Engineers construction program.

Gladstone Airport (Question No. 5680)

Dr Everingham:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 1 9 March 1 980:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to statements by Captain T. Fitzsimons, Vice-President of the Australian Federation of Airline Pilots, in the Gladstone Observer of 15 March 1980, to the effect that Gladstone airport, Queensland is unsafe.
  2. ) When will adequate fire safety equipment and local air traffic control be available at Gladstone.
Mr Hunt:

-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Yes.
  2. The benchmark adopted by my Department for the provision of an airport fire service is currently set at 150,000 persons on board airline and commuter aircraft using the aerodrome per annum. The figure for Gladstone for the year ending 30 June 1 979 was approximately 74,600 and with an expected growth rate of 3 per cent per annum Gladstone will not qualify for an Airport Fire Service for a number of years.

The requirements for an Air Traffic Control unit at locations such as Gladstone are kept under continual review by my Department. There are no plans at present for the introduction of such a unit at Gladstone, but investigations are proceeding concerning the provision of a very high frequency air ground communications repeater in the Gladstone area to enable an improved flight information service to be provided by the Flight Service unit at Rockhampton, in respect of aircraft operating at Gladstone airport.

Hilton Hotel Bombing Incident (Question No. 5701)

Mr Armitage:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 25 March 1980:

  1. 1 ) Have payments totalling $ 1 90,000 been made to shopkeepers in the Hilton Hotel Arcade, NSW for the loss of trade due to the Hilton bombing incident.
  2. Has the Commonwealth refused to compensate families of people killed or injured as a result of the incident such as (a) the late Constable 1st Class Paul Birnistriw, who died as a result of the bombing, (b) Sergeant 3rd Class A. E. Hawtin who is now on permanent light duties, (c) Senior Constable Terry Griffiths, who has now been pensioned out of the New South Wales Police Force on medical grounds and ( d ) Constable R. J. Withers.
  3. If the facts are as stated, what is the justification for this approach.
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) to (3) It is correct that the Commonwealth compensated shopkeepers for loss of business resulting from security measures imposed at the time of the Hilton bomb incident.

The honourable member will be aware that in 1978 he made representations to me on behalf of members of the NSW Police Force. In my reply of 1 3 October 1978 1 pointed out that I had every sympathy for the Police involved but that it would be inappropriate for the Commonwealth to take any initiative in a matter of compensation for injuries sustained by employees of the NSW Government in the course of their duty. The honourable member informed me, in his letter of 28 September 1978, that he had also written to the Premier of NSW. It is to the NSW Government that he should be directing his present inquiries.

Commonwealth Employment Service: Social Workers (Question No. 5706)

Mr Les McMahon:

asked the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 26 March 1980:

Are social workers employed by each Commonwealth Employment Service office in New South Wales; if so, what qualifications are they required to hold.

Mr Viner:

-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:


Registered Nurses (Question No. 5710)

Mr Les McMahon:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 26 March 1980:

Is he able to state how many nurses are currently (a) registered in Australia and (b) employed as registered nurses in Australia.

Mr MacKellar:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The Report of the National Survey of Nursing Personnel tabled in the Parliament of 13 November 1979 indicated that-

there were 107,100 registered nurses in Australia; and

the estimated number of registered nurses in the nursing work force was 86,000.

Security Measures at Commonwealth Buildings (Question No. 5712)

Mr Les McMahon:

asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 26 March 1980:

  1. 1 ) Has his Depanment conducted an investigation into security measures at Commonwealth Government buildings other than Parliament House, Canberra.
  2. If so, has this investigation revealed a discrepancy between the elaborate security measures at Parliament House, Canberra, and the paucity of security measures at other buildings housing Ministers of the Government.
  3. Have there been recommendations for such measures as security glass to be installed in buildings such as the Commonwealth Centre, Sydney which are overlooked by other buildings, and where occupants could be easy targets for snipers.
Mr John McLeay:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) There have been reviews of security measures at ministerial offices in the States but it has been the long standing practice of this Government, and former Governments, not to comment on specific matters of security, and I intend to follow this practice. I am sure the honourable member will appreciate that to do so could prejudice any arrangements which are made. I can say however, that the Protective Services Coordination Centre (PSCC) of my Depanment is responsible, inter alia, for advising the Government on security arrangements for official residences and ministerial offices. It does this in conjunction with ASIO, relevant police forces and other authorities as necessary.
  2. As the Presiding Officers are responsible for security measures at Parliament House it would be inappropriate for me to comment on any security arrangements which have been made for Parliament House.
  3. See ( 1) above

Hilton Hotel Bombing Incident

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

-On 31 March 1980 (Hansard, page 1418) the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Les McMahon) asked me a question without notice, concerning compensation for members of the New South Wales Police Force injured in the Hilton Hotel bombing in February 1978.

The following is in answer to the honourable member’s question:

On 16 March 1978, a month after the bomb incident, I informed the honourable member for Kingsford Smith (Mr

Lionel Bowen) that compensation arrangements for the victims of the bombing came within the provisions of the State workers’ compensation legislation and that payments would therefore be determined by the appropriate State authorities (Hansard, page 897).

The honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) made representations to me in September 1978 on behalf of the police officers involved. My reply to Mr Armitage of 13 October 1978 made clear that it would be inappropriate for the Government to take any initiative in the matter of compensation for injury in the course of duty sustained by members of the New South Wales Police Force.

On 23 October 1978. 1 responded to representations I had received from the Hon. Mr Hayden, the Leader of the Opposition. In that letter I pointed out to Mr Hayden that compensation for the police involved was clearly a matter for the New South Wales Government. =

I have every sympathy for the individual police who were injured, their families, and the family of the police officer who was killed. However, the question of compensation for them is clearly a matter for the New South Wales Government.

Canberra Hospitals: Operating Costs (Question No. 4894)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 16 October 1979:

Why has the gross operating cost per occupied bed day at Canberra and Woden Valley Hospitals increased by over 47 per cent between 1976 and 1978.

Mr MacKellar:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The forty-seven per cent increase in the gross operating cost per occupied bed day at Canberra and Woden Valley Hospitals in the period was caused by two main factors:

a six per cent decline in total hospital inpatient activity; and

a thirty-eight per cent increase in gross operating costs.

The decline referred to in (a) above was related to the transfer of geriatric beds from Woden Valley Hospital to Jindalee Nursing Home in the early part of the period and the closure of paediatric beds at both hospitals.

In relation to (b) above the main contributing factor was an increase of forty-one per cent in hospital salaries and allowances over the period.

Energy Research (Question No. 5500)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 26 February 1 980:

  1. 1 ) Is the Minister able to state what sum is spent by the governments of (a) New Zealand, (b) the United Kingdom (c) the United States of America, (d) Canada, (e) the Federal Republic of Germany, (f) France, and (h) Australia on energy research programs, particularly programs dealing with the development of energy sources and petroleum based resources, (i) in Australian currency, and (ii) as a percentage of gross national product in each case.
  2. Can the Minister say whether Canada commits a specific percentage of the revenue received from the crude oil levy to an Energy Trust Fund for the development of alternative energy sources; if so, would the adoption of such a scheme be advantageous to Australia.
Mr Anthony:

-The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. Estimated expenditure for 1979 by the National Governments of New Zealand, United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, the Federal Republic of Germany and Australia on energy research, development and demonstration is shown in the attached table. The figures for the overseas countries are obtained from an International Energy Agency document and cover R, D & D on all energy sources, including petroleum based resources. Details are not held for France which is not a member of the International Energy Agency.
  2. Canada does not have a crude oil levy scheme similar to that adopted by Australia and in general funds for energy research, including alternative sources, come from consolidated revenue. However, in return for the Province of Alberta’s agreement to sell its crude oil below international levels, the Federal Government provides a fixed amount (not a specific percentage) of oil export tax revenues to be used by Alberta to strengthen and diversify its economy. Some of these funds are used for energy related projects.

Pesticide and Herbicide Residues (Question No. 5504)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 26 February 1980:

Has his attention been drawn to a report in the Brisbane Courier Mail of 24 January 1 980 entitled ‘Research into pesticides long overdue’; if so, will he consider an application for funding of $40,000 over 3 years from the Queensland University’s Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department to enable a full-scale survey to be made on at least 1,000 people in a selected appropriate community on the possible effects of pesticide and herbicide residues on humans.

Mr MacKellar:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The report has been brought to my notice. However, there must be serious doubts as to whether the amount of money specified would be adequate and whether the number of people proposed would be sufficient for valid conclusions to be drawn. 1 understand that a prospective study such as that proposed, but on a larger scale, was discussed by the committees of the National Health and Medical Research Council. It was felt however that it could take many years for such a study to produce worthwhile results and the cost could be disproportionately high. Consequently an alternative based on a comprehensive system of antenatal recording was considered to be preferable.

Steps have been taken, however, to elucidate the possible effects of chemicals on human health. In August 1979 the Government provided a research grant to the University of Sydney to establish a National Perinatal Statistics Unit. A grant of $80,000 in the first year was made for the analysis of statistics relating to the health of new-born infants and to undertake research into possible causes of birth defects. The Government decided to fund a national unit for several reasons, one of which was the public concern during 1978 that herbicides such as 2,4,5-T might cause birth defects. By monitoring the statistics on a national basis it would be possible to identify areas where an unusual incidence of birth defects occurred and possible causes could then be investigated.

More recently the Department of Veterans’ Affairs requested the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (now the Commonwealth Institute of Health) at the University of Sydney to investigate whether Vietnam veterans, or their children, might have been affected by the herbicides used in Vietnam. A study along these lines will be funded by the Government and the preliminary investigations have commenced.

I suggest that it might be of value to await reports from these two sources. However the Brisbane researchers should not be deterred from applying for a research grant to the National Health and Medical Research Council if they so desire.

Australian Atomic Energy Commission Research Establishment (Question No. 5647)

Mr Uren:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 18 March 1980:

  1. How many (a) Colombo Plan fellows and (b) other overseas visitors have been attached to the Australian Atomic Energy Commission Research Establishment since 1970.
  2. What was the (a) nationality, and (b) dates of (i) commencement and (ii) completion of attachment of each visitor.
  3. Did any of these visitors participate in AAEC work on (a) uranium enrichment and (b) plutonium separation; if so, who were they.
Mr Anthony:

-The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. and (2) Australian Atomic Energy Commission records indicate there have been 46 Colombo Plan attachments and 60 other attachments at the Research Establishment since 1970. The periods of attachment and country of origin are as follows:

Age Pension (Question No. 5662)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 19 March 1980:

What is the estimated cost of reducing the qualifying age for the male old age pension to 60 years (indicating the assumptions made in calculating this sum).

Mr Hunt:

-The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question: 1 refer the honourable member to my answer to House of Representatives Question No. 3653, asked on 4 April 1979 by Mr Chapman and answered in the Hansard of 29 and 30

May 1979. In my answer I outlined the difficulties in estimating the cost of lowering the pensionable age and provided estimates of the cost of paying an income test free pension to men aged 60 to 64 years at November 1978 pension rates.

Similar estimates have been prepared based on the numbers of persons, pensioners and beneficiaries at December 1979 and pension rates applicable from November 1979. The additional cost of paying an income test free pension toevidentially qualified men aged 60 to 64 years is now estimated to be about $485m in a full year. This cost is additional to the estimated $250m annual cost of existing payments to male invalid and repatriation service pensioners, unemployment and sickness benefit recipients aged 60 to 64 years.

Parliamentary Counsel (Question No. 5673)

Mr Holding:

asked the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice, on 19 March 1980:

  1. 1 ) What guidelines cover assistance by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel with regard to the drafting of private Members’ Bills for (a) Her Majesty’s Opposition or (b) backbench Members of Her Majesty’s Government.
  2. What are the duty statements for each of the positions listed in the Office of Parliamentary Counsel on page 73 of the 1979 Commonwealth Government Directory.
Mr Viner:

– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answers to the honourable member’s questions:

  1. 1 ) The provision of drafting assistance in the Parliament to private members, whether members of the Government or of the Opposition or independent members, is as outlined in a Ministerial statement made in 1970 by the then Attorney General, MrT. E. F. Hughes, Q.C. The statement appears in the House of Representatives Hansard of 14 May 1970. Consistently with the practice enunciated by Mr Hughes, sympathetic consideration is given to providing drafting assistance for private members (on a confidential basis, if required) but, having regard to the commitments of the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, no undertaking can be given that all requests for assistance will be met. Each request has to be considered in the light of the commitments for drafting required by the Government.

The usual practice is for a private member to approach the AttorneyGeneral with a request for his approval for the provision of assistance to the member by Parliamentary Counsel. If the member first approaches Parliamentary Counsel, he is requested by Parliamentary Counsel to seek the approval of the AttorneyGeneral. The AttorneyGeneral may wish to seek the authority of the Legislation Committee of Cabinet before making assistance available as the giving of assistance almost always involves some interference with the preparation of legislation for the Government. Approval for assistance is not given automatically and is usually refused if the drafting of Government Bills would be seriously interfered with. However, in the case of a minor or trivial amendment, the Office of Parliamentary Counsel might on occasions undertake the drafting for a private member without reference to the AttorneyGeneral.

  1. The duty statements of the senior Public Service positions in the Office of Parliamentary Counsel refer to carrying out the work of and incidental to the drafting of Bills and amendments of Bills and to miscellaneous associated duties. The duty statements do not distinguish between Government Bills and Bills for private members and no special reference is made to performing work for private members.

Copies of the full duty statements can be made available if required. However, the statement of the functions of the Office set out in the Parliamentary Counsel Act 1 970 may be of greater assistance.

Murray Valley Salinity and Drainage (Question No. 5698)

Mr FitzPatrick:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 25 March 1 980:

  1. 1 ) Has the Government made a decision on the Maunsell Report on Murray Valley salinity and drainage which was tabled in the House on 21 February 1980; if so, what action will be taken on the recommendations of the report.
  2. Was the Wakool-Tullakool, NSW, drainage and desalination scheme given high priority in the report; if so, what action will the Government take in regard to the scheme ‘s completion.
Mr Anthony:

– The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. No.
  2. The Wakool-Tullakool drainage scheme was identified by the consultants in their interim (June 1978) report as a high priority project ready for immediate implementation. The Government provided $968,000 in 1978-79 and $1,320,000 is being provided in 1979-80 towards the cost of the project under the National Water Resources Program. Further assistance will be considered in the light of annual allocations for the Program.

Meta-AMSA (Question No. 5700)

Mr James:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 25 March 1980:

  1. 1 ) Further to the answer to question No. 5552 (Hansard, 19 March 1980, page 989), can he state (a) who and/or what organisations have been given approval to study the safety of the drug Meta-AMSA, (b) where the trials are to be held, (c) how long the trials are anticipated to last and (d) whether the tests will be carried out on humans.
  2. If the tests are to be carried out on humans how will these persons be selected and should any person wish to volunteer for treatment, would his or her application be considered by health authorities.
Mr MacKellar:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. (a) The company sponsoring the trials with MetaAMSA in Australia is Parke Davis and Company of Sydney. The coordinators for the leukaemia protocol are-

Dr P. Vincent, Sydney Hospital: Dr C. N. Chesterman, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne; Dr M. Jackson, Royal Perth Hospital.

The coordinators for the solid tumour protocol are

Professor M. H. N. Tattersall, Ludwig Institute, Sydney; Dr J. Levi, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney; Dr R. Snyder, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne; Dr M. A. Schwartz, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne; Dr M. Byrne, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth.

  1. Patients may be entered into the studies (in accordance with the protocols) at any of the institutions which have been recognised as appropriate to use investigational anticancer drugs by the Anti-cancer Sub-Committee of the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee. The institutions are-

New South Wales- Royal Alexandria Hospital for Children; Royal Prince Alfred Hospital; St Vincent’s Hospital; Sydney Hospital; Royal North Shore Hospital; Repatriation General Hospital, Concord; St George Hospital; Prince Henry- Prince of Wales- Eastern Suburbs Hospital Group; The Parramatta Hospitals/Westmead Centre.

Victoria- Alfred Hospital; Royal Melbourne Hospital; St Vincent’s Hospital; Prince Henry’s Hospital; Austin Hospital; Royal Children’s Hospital; Peter MacCallum Hospital; The Royal Women’s Hospital.

Queensland- Princess Alexandra Hospital; Royal Brisbane Hospital; Mater Misericordiae Hospital.

South Australia-Royal Adelaide Hospital; Queen Elizabeth Hospital; Adelaide Children’s Hospital; Flinders Medical Centre.

Western Australia- Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital; Royal Penh Hospital.

Tasmania- Royal Hobart Hospital.

Australian Capital Territory- Woden Valley Hospital.

  1. No time limits for conclusion of the trials have been set, but the responses of the different tumour types to the drug in the early stages and the numbers of available patients in the tumour categories will be influencing factors.
  2. The trials are being conducted in human patients.

    1. Persons who satisfy the inclusion criteria of the approved protocols are eligible for inclusion in the study. Doctors not attached to the institutions previously mentioned with patients who may wish to participate should communicate with the contact person of the oncology groups at one of the approved hospitals for advice.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Charge (Question No. 5707)

Mr Les McMahon:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 26 March 1 980:

  1. Is his Department currently investigating the feasibility of reducing the charge of $2.75 for each prescription available on the pharmaceutical benefits list; if so, what results have emerged so far from the investigation.
  2. Has any specific reduction in the charge been proposed; if so, what is it.
Mr MacKellar:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) and (2) The level of patient contribution is the subject of regular examination by my Department. The level is a matter for Government policy decision and it is reviewed by the Government as the need arises. The next review will be during consideration of the Budget estimates for 1 980-8 1 .

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 April 1980, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.