31st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden) took the chair at 2. 1 5 p.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:
Whereas a fully-accredited degree course in chiropractic has been established at Preston Institute of Technology, and
Whereas three hundred students who pay their own fees are in all five years of the program, and
Whereas students and the profession can no longer carry the financial burden amounting to over $1,000,000 per year, and
Whereas a debt of $240,000 is being incurred in 1980, and
Whereas if funding is not approved by August the course will close and students’ careers placed in grave jeopardy,
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should ensure that funding of the Preston Institute of Technology Chiropractic Program by the Tertiary Education Commission be no longer delayed.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Armitage, Dr Blewett, Mr John Brown, Mr N. A. Brown, Mr Burns, Mr Ewen Cameron, Dr Cass, Mr Corbett, Mr Dobie, Dr Everingham, Mr Fisher, Mr Garland, Mr Giles, Mr Gillard, Mr Goodluck, Mr Hodges, Mr Charles Jones, Mr Newman, Mr Eric Robinson and Mr Wilson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That 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:
Taxation relief for pensioners and others on low incomes by:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Braithwaite, Mr Burns, Mr Burr, Dr Cass, Dr Everingham, Mr Fitzpatrick, Mr Howe, Mr Keith Johnson, Mr Barry Jones, Mr Lynch, Mr Charles Jones, Mr MacKellar, Mr Morris, Mr Newman, Mr Ruddock, Mr West and Mr Willis.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of Parliament assembled in the House of Representatives. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:
Taxpayers who incur child-care expenses in order to earn income should be able to have those expenses exempt from income taxation in the same way as other taxpayers can deduct business expenses from their assessable income.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Armitage, Mr Burr, Mr Connolly, Mr Dean, Mr Garland, Mr Haslem, Mr Charles Jones, Mr Lynch and Mr Shack.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that Parliament will:
Reform income tax laws to allow the joint income of husband and wife to be equally divided between them for taxation purposes.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Connolly, Dr Klugman, Mr Lucock, Mr Newman and Mr Wilson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia, being employees of The Australian Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industries, respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore pray that the Parliament recognise the rights of Australian workers in these industries and that tariff experiments of the kind proposed by the I.A.C. in 1977 and 1979 be rejected.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Hurford, Mr Charles Jones and Mr
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth, do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:
Note that legislation establishing plant breeders’ rights in other countries has had serious adverse effects, namely:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Baume, Mr Lucock and Mr Morris.
To the Right Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned concerned citizens respectfully showeth:
That Local authorities throughout Australia are appalled at the recently announced Commonwealth Government allocation of a mere $628 million for roads in 1980-81 . There is extreme disappointment at both the level of total Commonwealth funding for all road categories and at the specific allocation for the local roads category.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Corbett and Mr Dean.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That we the undersigned, having great concern at the way in which children are now being used in the production of pornography call upon the Government to introduce immediate legislation:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your honourable House will protect all children and immediately prohibit pornographic child-abuse materials, publications or films.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Connolly.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Dean.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully requests that the Australian Government withdraw recognition of the Pol Pot regime in Kampuchea in view of the atrocities committed by that regime against the Kampuchean people.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled consider recognition of Heng Samrin’s government as the rightful government of Kampuchea. This step would greatly ease the suffering of the Kampuchean people.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Dean.
To the 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 XII Olympic Games to be held in Moscow, USSR, from 1 9 July to 3 August 1 980.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Dr Everingham.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that many Australians are concerned with the inadequacy of Overseas Aid tax deductibility for citizens in this country.
Foster Parents Plan of Australia is contributing $3,000,000 in Asia, Africa, Central and South America to give relief in terms of Medical, Health, Clean Water, Education, Community Development, and new hope to help people to help themselves.
More than 11,000 families are being supported by Australians, and we therefore respectfully request that the Commonwealth Government provide some incentive to encourage the people in our country, in making contributions to Foster Parents Plan for tax concessions for overseas funds, as are already provided for charities working within this country of Australia.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Lynch.
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 Lynch.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in the Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the anti-social activities of certain organisations, in the main purporting to be religious and under foreign control, are causing increasing mental, physical and/or social distress to citizens throughout the Commonwealth of Australia.
Such adverse affects include drastic personality changes, alienation and severance from persons’ families and normal society, dispossession under undue influence of persons’ worldly assets, abandonment of socially useful occupations or career education, mental disorientation, and a common requirement to surrender their labour with little or no pay, working unduly long hours fund-raising for the exclusive benefit of the organisations’ leaderships.
Furthermore, a disturbing number of our country’s youth have died prematurely in unsatisfactorily explained circumstances or have become so mentally or physically debilitated as to require hospitalisation or treatment following their involvment with the subject organisations commonly, but erroneously, described as ‘religious cults’.
All evidence points to the fact that the subject organisations are commercial enterprises which, for the purpose of evading tax and other business obligations, have falsely assumed the status of ‘religions’ in order to take advantage of the blanket protection provided by Section 116 of the Australian Constitution.
It is your petitioners’ sincere belief that proliferation of such organisations unchecked with their personalitydisorientating and family-divisive practices and effects, represents a serious threat to the health, welfare, and peace of the whole community.
Notwithstanding the decision of the combined Australian Attorneys-General at their October 1979 meeting, that no special action should be taken by Government /s to curb undesirable activities of religious cults and that these should be dealt with under existing laws, such laws as would provide protection against the aforementioned malpractices do not appear to exist.
For this reason the Government should proceed with all haste to investigate the widely-alleged malpractices of the subject organisations which include Hare Krishnas, the Unification Church (Moonies) and such other groups as are subject to complaints, preparatory to introducing appropriate legislations to curtail the said malpractices to ensure citizens’ continuing enjoyment of peace and harmony.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Morris.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That Aboriginal land rights, religion, sacred sites, and culture are being threatened and denied by the West Australian Government which is denying the Noonkanbah Community the right to consider and negotiate the Amax Mining Company’s proposals by bringing in police to intimidate Aboriginal people and by instructing the Western Australian Museum to allow drilling on sacred sites at Noonkanbah.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government honours its responsibilities to Aboriginal people according to the spirit of the 1967 Referendum vote giving the Commonwealth Government power to intervene in State affairs where Aboriginal matterrs are involved; that it takes action to ensure that the Noonkanbah community have the right to engage in full negotiations with the Western Australian Government and Amax Company without intimidation and with sufficient time and information to consider the proposals and with a Commonwealth Government presence in order to ensure fair-dealing; and that, the Commonwealth Government ensure that the administration of the Aboriginal Heritage Act by the Western Australian Museum is not tampered with by the Western Australian Government for political expediency against the spirit of the Act and the wishes of the Aboriginal people who have entrusted their culture, their religious objects and law to the Museum.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr West.
Concern that the government has failed to recognise the importance, indeed necessity, of Women’s Health Programs in New South Wales. Established services have already been severely affected by cuts in recent years or have not been able to expand to meet the growing needs of women in the community.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that funding to Women’s Health Services be upgraded to meet present needs.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson and Mr West.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives, of the Australian Parliament assembled. The petition of certain citizens of New South Wales respectfully showeth that the Federal Government did not make increased funding available for government school programs such as:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your honourable House will restore and increase substantially, in real terms, the allocation of funds for government school programs. by Mr Neil.
To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives, the Minister for Social Security and the Minister for Health, Federal Government, Canberra. The Petition of the undersigned electors, citizens and pensioners of this electorate of Paterson.
We desire to express our strong disapproval and disgust at the application of those bureaucratic policy decisions of both the Department of Social Security and the Department of Health which have so savagely dislocated the living conditions of a section of our community least able to defend itself from such attacks, namely the invalid pensioners.
That such penny-pinching tactics could be conceived in minds of any petty bureaucrat in a country as affluent as ours is beyond our comprehension. That our Governmnent is allowing such insensitive treatment of these people to continue in such ruthless fashion seems to indicate lack of control by the Government as we cannot believe that this situation is the result of a policy decision.
We therefore call on the Government and the Departments concerned to rectify the situation immediately and order the restoration of pension and benefits to all those entitled persons from whom these have been recently withdrawn.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrO’Keefe.
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That this House believes that the Prices Justification Tribunal should establish the wholesale price of petrol on the minimum rate rather than the maximum rate as at present in order to allow the lowest retail price possible to be established.
– I refer the Treasurer to last night’s Budget announcement of substantial tax deductions for contributions by self-employed persons to superannuation funds. I also remind him again of the widespread use of internal superannuation schemes to avoid tax, which schemes he continues to allow to operate. In view of the open use of this type of scheme, has the Treasurer considered the implications of last night’s announcement for increased tax avoidance? Does he realise that it will now be a profitable exercise for an enterprising accountant to set up a superannuation fund for a group of selfemployed persons who would gain substantial tax benefits for contributions which then could be loaned back to them at low interest for their own tax free enjoyment? Does the Treasurer plan to implement any safeguards against this abuse?
– The honourable member for Gellibrand gives me the opportunity to say that the Government regards this measure as one of the most important free enterprise initiatives in the taxation area that it has taken for a long time. We all know the record of the Australian Labor Party when it comes to acting against tax avoidance. So let us not start talking about–
Opposition members interjecting -
– Only last weekend the Leader of the Opposition, running around the country promising something to every group to which he spoke, said he would wipe out from the Income Tax Assessment Act that section which taxes the provision of benefits in kind rather than in cash and wages. He knows what sorts of loopholes would open up if that section were taken out of the Act. He ought to know that the people who would bear the burden of that would be the ordinary wage and salary earners of Australia whom he claims to represent so effectively. If I may return to the question asked by the honourable member for Gellibrand -
– The Treasurer may return to it.
– Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The measure that the Government announced last night is not only of benefit to selfemployed people but also is of benefit to employed persons who are not already covered by employer sponsored schemes. In other words, it is totally even-handed and I believe a very important measure. I can assure the honourable member for Gellibrand that the Government will be very anxious to see that these provisions are not exploited. We will be very anxious to see that the proposed legislative provisions are effective so as to prevent any abuses. I will, of course, be ready to examine and discuss with the honourable member for Gellibrand any proposals that he might put to me in terms of effective safeguards against tax avoidance, provided that in the process they do not unfairly and unnecessarily impede normal and proper commercial arrangements.
– Has the Minister for Industry and Commerce seen an article in today’s Australian entitled ‘Businesses in front line to revitalise economy’, but suggesting ‘Few incentives to provide the inspiration’? Can the Minister inform the House what measures were contained in the Budget which will assist manufacturing industry?
– I have seen the article. It correctly identifies the private sector as the area of the economy most important in realising this country’s potential for growth and development. Of particular importance in the Treasurer’s speech last night was the reference to the expected real increase of some 10 per cent in business fixed investment in 1980-81. This stimulus, certainly in prospect, reflects in large measure the success of the Government’s economic policies in recent years. This Budget continues to follow that strategy. I think it is of interest to the House to report that very significant business associations around the country, including the Confederation of Australian Industry and the Metal Trades Industry Association of Australia, have welcomed the Budget as a responsible one which certainly should assist business confidence and further support the improvement of industries’ competitiveness. Recognising industries’ competitive need to be more export oriented, more innovative, and more technologically advanced than at the present time, the Budget continues to accord very high priority to specific incentives which are designed to assist industry policy objectives.
Outlays on industry development programs have received particular attention over the past three years. Funding for the export development schemes and the industrial research and development program has increased from $43. 7m in 1977-78 to almost $3 14m in 1980-81, which is a sevenfold increase. This year, funding of the export development programs is up by 21 per cent, and the industrial research and development assistance will increase by 55 per cent. I also mention the significance of the business depreciation breakthrough which the Budget has indicated. This will provide Australian industry with additional incentive to modernise capital equipment requirements, and of course is complementary to the investment allowance, which will continue to apply at the existing level. The Budget is entirely consistent with the Government’s antiinflationary strategy but, within the expenditure constraint requirements of the strategy, further significant increases in industry development programs have been provided.
– I ask the Treasurer: Is it a fact that, on average, the rate of growth in the money supply of 10 per cent as against the nominal gross domestic product growth of 14 per cent for this financial year represents a substantial contraction in the money supply as against community needs? Coupled with the fact that the Government expects the private external account to add appreciably to domestic liquidity this year, as appears on page 61 in Statement No. 2 of Budget Paper No. 1, does this mean that there is no room in the Government’s strategy for interest rate reductions in the near future? Can the Treasurer guarantee that there will be no increases in interest rates? Further, will he state when relief from the burden of high interest rates for home buyers and small businesses can be expected?
– The Leader of the Opposition knows quite well that I will not give any guarantees about the future level of interest rates. The Leader of the Opposition also knows quite well that the greatest contribution any government can make to the cause of keeping down interest rates is to reduce its own avaricious demands on the capital markets of this country. Everybody on this side of the House, and I suspect a growing number on the other side, will recognise that the alternative economic strategy of the man who is now the Leader of the Opposition would mean a much higher Commonwealth Budget deficit and therefore, unavoidably, much higher interest rates for everybody.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and refer to the use of Australian loan personnel attached to elements of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force currently operating in Vanuatu and the reported arrest yesterday by that force of some 50 rebel supporters on the island of Espiritu Santo. I ask the Minister: What was the basis for Australia’s agreement to the use of loan personnel within the Force in Vanuatu? Is it envisaged that Australian loan personnel will be involved in any combat situations which could arise? Were any Australian citizens included amongst the 50 reported arrests made yesterday by the Force?
– Australia agreed to requests by the governments of both Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu to provide Australian loan personnel serving within the present Papua New Guinea Defence Force so that they could form part of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force sent to Vanuatu. Only a small number- approximately 20 - is involved in essentially support duties, including such tasks as aircraft maintenance, communications, and on occasions helping fly transport aircraft on resupply missions. They will not be involved in combat operations.
The honourable member asked about their legal status. Arrangements have been made to provide a legal status for the Australian loan personnel serving with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force in Vanuatu. These arrangements consist of two parts. The bilateral Status of Forces Agreement between Australia and Papua New Guinea has been extended to cover Australian loan personnel in Vanuatu. A separate arrangement has also been made between Australia and Vanuatu confirming that Australian loan personnel in that country form part of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force contingent and confirming Australian standing and interest in their deployment.
The Papua New Guinea Defence Force is intended primarily, of course, to provide a presence in support of the Vanuatu police in consolidating the authority of the elected Government. It is a matter of some regret that the outgoing administering authorities failed to achieve this either before independence or before their joint force was withdrawn from Santo Island on 1 8 August. It is also a matter of regret that they failed to provide the new state with an adequate and unified police force. Obviously Australia has a vital interest in the stability and unity of Vanuatu, as it does in the other neighbouring states of the South Pacific. We are optimistic that the Papua New Guinea presence will be successful in establishing conditions whereby differences that exist between the national Government and the groups on the island can be resolved through negotiation rather than confrontation.
In answer to the latter part of the honourable member’s question, the Government of Vanuatu considers that it has evidence that a number of foreigners, including possibly three Australian citizens, have been active supporters of the Santo secessionist movement. It has asked those concerned to leave the country voluntarily or face deportation. I understand that a dual AustralianFrench national was amongst those arrested on Santo yesterday. My Department is seeking further details from the appropriate authorities of Vanuatu.
Whilst the Australian Government is not in a position to make judgments about the evidence against the three citizens, it wishes to remind Australians abroad of their obligation to abide by the laws of the countries in which they are temporarily or, indeed, premanently resident.
– I refer the Treasurer to his 25 Press statements, listing 32 tax avoidance schemes, and to the 10 Bills introduced into this House which have produced 300 pages of legislation allegedly to plug tax avoidance loopholes. Does the Budget for 1 980-8 1 include an allowance of $300m for anticipated losses of revenue from provisional and company tax payments to bring the total loss from these sources to almost S600m in two years? Does this mean that the Government’s efforts to curb tax avoidance have failed or that the Government has given up the fight? Does this also mean a shift in the tax burden from the self-employed and corporate sectors to the wage and salary earners of Australia?
– There is certainly no doubt that the Australian Labor Party is highly sensitive on this subject. Of course the Government has introduced the number of measures that the honourable member for Grayndler itemised. That indicates that this Government, unlike any of its predecessors, has been prepared to do something serious about cracking down on tax avoidance in this community. The plain answer to the honourable gentleman’s question is no. I believe that the Government has had very considerable success in respect of the elimination of a large number of very sophisticated tax avoidance schemes. I believe that it does command the support of the vast majority of the Australian community. I think the point ought to be made that it is not just ordinary wage and salary earners who support what the Government is doing. There is also a significant number of high income provisional taxpayers in this community who are quite prepared to bear their legitimate tax burdens. They are as supportive of what the Government is doing as any other section of the community.
– I ask the Prime Minister: What has been done by this Government during the past five years to reduce the taxation burden of the Australian community? Does the 1980 Budget provide continuing evidence of the Government’s commitment to tax reform and tax relief - a situation that did not apply between 1972 and 1975? Is it true that the promises made by the Opposition would cause great hardship to the Australian taxpayer?
– There have been two tax cuts within the last 1 2 months.
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. I draw your attention to the last part of the question which asked for comment on something emanating from the Opposition.
-The first part of the question was in order; the latter part, as the honourable member for Adelaide correctly points out, was out of order. The Prime Minister is not responsible for Opposition policy. I did not want to interrupt because the Prime Minister, when answering, is entitled to make comment on that aspect if he chooses.
- Mr Speaker, I thank you for relieving me of the responsibility you referred to. I think honourable gentlemen sometimes forget that there have in fact been two tax cuts within the last 1 2 months. The surcharge was removed towards the end of the last calendar year. The tax cuts effective from 1 July this year total over $600m. While there was a modest, indeed a small, tax cut for all taxpayers, at the same time there was a very substantial tax reduction for single income families - an area where this Government believed the need was greatest. That benefit was very real and must be looked at as an integral part of the totality of the Government’s budgetary approach to this year. We wanted people to get the benefit of that reduction as early as possible. So, that tax cut, totalling over $600m, was effective from 1 July.
I am sure that honourable gentlemen will recall that the Government, during its period of office, has introduced substantial tax reforms. The simplification of the tax scales, which put the great majority of taxpayers on a standard rate and relieved a significant number of taxpayers from paying any tax at all because of the much higher tax threshold, was a very real advance. We then abolished estate and gift duties. This was of enormous help to small businesses, farmers and people who wanted to do something for their families and to help hold their family assets together.
In earlier Budgets we substantially reduced sales tax on cars and station wagons from 27.5 per cent to 15 per cent. For primary producers we greatly improved tax averaging and introduced income equalisation deposits. Because of a drought situation that looked like developing and which could have engulfed the whole of Australia last autumn, we introduced special tax concessions, of a very generous kind but of a very necessary kind, in relation to water conservation. That assistance would have been provided in this Budget, but because of the drought situation the Government thought it ought to be introduced, as it was, from April of this year. That was a very significant measure.
Last year, of course, we introduced tax concessions for primary producers in relation to the storage of grain, hay and fodder. The investment allowance was introduced, and the investment allowance continues. This Budget provided for accelerated depreciation, of plant and equipment which, I am certain, will be greatly appreciated by Australian industry. It will help to maintain the competitiveness of Australian industry and our capacity to sell in Australia and overseas and hence enhance our capacity to employ. Of course, the last Budget contained significant tax concessions for the tourist industry. In recent Budgets the retention allowances for small businesses have been increased from 50 per cent to 70 per cent. This Budget introduced an imaginative proposal concerning the superannuation of self-employed persons and employees who are not supported by superannuation funds. That latter point in particular needs emphasising because it will be of great benefit not only to the self-employed but also to the many employees who do not have access to an employer-supported superannuation fund.
I think it would be relevant to ask what the impact of alternative policies might be if the Government were prepared to adopt alternative policies which, in fact, it is not. We cannot stretch the resources of this country beyond that which we produce today. One cannot spend more than one earns as an individual or as a family. As a nation we cannot spend more than we earn unless we are prepared to go to the mythical stage of printing dollars or creating inflation. There is no doubt that if we did adopt policies that resulted in an additional expenditure in a few areas of government, of approximately $2,000m a year–
– You are lying again.
-Order! The honourable member for Fremantle will withdraw, and I warn him that if he interjects in those terms again I will deal with him.
– You tell him to stop, Mr Speaker. If you insist I will withdraw, but tell him to tell the truth.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will withdraw unqualifiedly.
– If you insist, I withdraw.
-I give a final warning. The honourable gentleman will withdraw unqualifiedly.
– I withdraw.
– If we did adopt policies that resulted in an additional $2,000m of expenditure, that action would not only be grossly irresponsible but also it would add enormously to the deficit or to the tax burden, and either would have a very damaging impact on the Australian community. I think it is also worth noting that even though under this Government the age pension is now about the highest proportion of average weekly earnings that it has been for many years, if we were to adopt a policy of lifting that proportion to 30 per cent of average weekly earnings, instead of around 24 per cent as it is–
Honourable members interjecting ;
-Order! The right honourable gentleman will resume his seat. The purpose of Question Time is for honourable members to seek information and to be given answers. The right honourable gentleman is answering a question and I do not intend to call him again until the House remains silent. If Question Time departs then so be it.
– He couldn’t lie straight in bed.
-The honourable member for Melbourne will withdraw.
– I withdraw.
-Is the honourable member for Corio raising a point of order?
– Mr Speaker, recognising the difficulty of Standing Orders relating to answers to questions, I draw your attention to the fact that the Prime Minister is answering a section of a question which you have already ruled out of order.
-The honourable member for Corio ought to know that the Standing Orders bind me and bind all honourable members of the House. The question was in order as to part. I permitted it. The answer given by the right honourable gentleman is relevant to the part that was in order and I will permit him to answer that, but I do not intend to call him until I feel confident that the House will remain silent. I call the Prime Minister.
– Up to this point I have only indicated the situation if the Government were to adopt certain policies. I have not mentioned the Labor Party at all in relation to it. I think it is worth noting also that if we were to adopt policies that were indicated on a certain radio program earlier this morning, that is of lifting pensions and benefits to 30 per cent of average weekly earnings over a period, that would cost, on estimates that have been given to me by my colleague the Minister for Social Security, an extra $ 1,830m a year. Of course that is a commitment which I know is made over time; nevertheless I am sure that people listening to that program would have regarded it as a commitment.
I think it is also worth noting that if this Government were to state, on the basis of Government policy, that it committed itself to a capital gains tax, a resource rental tax, a levy on domestic oil producers and a number of initiatives in the tax area and ‘other measures’ of that nature- if I had theoretically said that- and if another Minister had come along and said that he wanted to amplify what the ‘other measures’ meant and said that it was wrong that we did not have some form of tax on capital, be it death duties, capital gains tax or wealth tax, or perhaps some combination of those or all three of them, of course I think we would terrify most people throughout the Australian community.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If we in the Opposition have to put up with this intolerable situation of the Prime Minister getting unlimited time to answer questions between now and the election, we might as well leave the Parliament.
Government members interjecting-
- Mr Speaker, I have not finished taking my point of order.
-I know that the honourable gentleman has not finished. Honourable members on the Government side should realise that, if there is that outburst of noise, it is very difficult for me to ask honourable members of the Opposition to remain silent. I ask honourable members on the Government side to remain silent while the point of order is being made. I call the honourable member for Port Adelaide.
- Mr Speaker, there is no reluctance from this side of the House to debate any of the matters which the Prime Minister is raising. But, as you know, Mr Speaker, we are in an election period. We have only to wait on the Premier of Queensland to tell us when we can have it and we will be into a campaign.
-I ask the honourable member to make his point of order.
– We cannot tolerate this situation every day. You will have to give the Opposition the same ultraprotection that you are now giving to the Government.
-I believe that the purpose of the point of order was to make a protest. I accept it as a protest. There is no point of order. The honourable member well knows that. The honourable member for Port Adelaide should realise - I am sure he does - that the Standing Orders make a provision as to what questions are in order and what questions are not in order. The Standing Orders make no provision whatever about answers or the length of them except that they must be relevant. The right honourable gentleman’s answer is relevant. I call the Prime Minister.
– There are only two other points that I want to make briefly. From the reaction of my friends in the Australian Labor Party, I think it is quite clear that they know that the hypothetical questions that this Government has no intention of adopting are the policies to which they are firmly committed. I am reminded of something that Clem Jones, the former Lord Mayor of Brisbane, said. He was obviously well versed in financial matters. Mr Hauenschild said that the Leader of the Opposition was a confused person and Mr Jones said he has admitted that he could not read a balance sheet. That is why the Leader of the Opposition wants five-yearly Budget figures- so that he can get Bill Hartley to tell him what the red figures mean.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that in September 1978 he said:
The Government is not in the business of hitting the pockets of the working men and women of Australia.
Is it also a fact that under his taxation policy the Australian people have paid more tax in the last four years than the combined total of all taxes collected in the previous 1 1 years by the Menzies
Government, the Holt Government, the Gorton Government, the McMahon Government, and the Whitlam Government?
– Bring back Billy.
– Which one?
– If you feel like making a proposition, Mr Speaker, I will be very happy to look at it. I think people would be well aware that, during the Australian Labor Party’s years in office, income tax collections rose by something like 125 per cent. In one year the Labor Government’s expenditure increased by 46 per cent. Government spokesmen have been extraordinarily modest. There are some 290 programs, new statutory authorities, and other things to which the Labor Party has committed itself. We have been kind because we have tried to cost only about five of them, together with the commitment made this morning on A M about the 30 per cent for all pensions and benefits. It is perfectly plain that, if the Labor Party were to apply those policies with any degree of responsibility, the taxes on the Australian people would have to rise enormously. But we know it will not be won–
- Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. Would you ask the Prime Minister to put on a different record?
-Order! The honourable member for Prospect is not amusing.
– Honourable gentlemen opposite are somewhat sensitive this afternoon. They know quite well that their expenditure commitments represent a total irresponsibility. This self-confessed expert, the Leader of the Opposition, goes around saying how responsible he is, that it is recognised by everyone what a good Treasurer he was. Clem Jones says that he cannot even read a balance sheet. Members of the Labor Party are self-confessed failures. Not only that, but also they are so proud of the Leader of the Opposition that they have to try to hide him behind somebody who cannot talk. He is also being submerged by Mr Hawke, who we know wants his job and will probably get it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Transport, and I refer to his recent Press release regarding concessional air fares introduced by major domestic operators and the fact that these concessions have had a beneficial effect on consumers and the airline industry. I ask: Will the Minister consider very seriously the effect any curtailing attitude by the Government may have on important visits by sportsmen, coaches, umpires, et cetera, to and from the Northern Territory and other outback areas? As the Minister will know, Trans-Australia Airlines supports the Cerebral Palsy Association. Will any curtailment of concessional fares inhibit such outstanding fund-raising organisations? Will it affect beneficial visits by Test cricketers, leading footballers, show judges, and other such persons? Finally, can an accommodating policy on this matter be expounded?
– That seems a fairly nonpolitical question.
– The honourable member left out the Girl Guides, Mr Speaker. The Government will not do anything to deprive sporting bodies of concessional fare arrangements. I have had discussions with the Minister for Home Affairs, who has a responsibility for the sporting bodies of this country. Naturally, he has a very strong interest, and a strong desire to ensure that the arrangements the sporting bodies have had with the domestic airlines in Australia are not in any way upset by our determination to stop illegal discounting. Such a practice, of course, benefits only a limited or favoured few. I intend to have discussions in the very near future with the airlines and with the Confederation of Australian Sport to make sure that suitable arrangements are made for the sporting bodies. One aspect of the arrangements that I would want taken account of is that any concession the airlines give to select groups in the community should be made public. When a concession is given, others have to pay. Ultimately it is loaded into the fare structure generally.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. I refer him to his 1977 policy speech where he said:
We have ended the big tax rip oft”.
Will the petrol tax increases in this year’s Budget bring the total payments for an average Australian household to $900 per annum? Would an Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries price rise in December of this year similar to the one last year add at least another $50 a household to this figure? When will the Prime Minister end the tax rip-off?
-The honourable member for Blaxland indicated in a Press article earlier this year - if the honourable gentleman has not seen it I will give him the reference to it a little later today - that under the kind of tax on oil companies and whatever that a Labor government would institute it would collect more money than this Government collects from the levy. He went on to say that it would mean nothing–
– I raise a point of order.
– He cannot take it, once again. Poor old Mick. He did not want it–
– Even though I am only an unfinancial Catholic, I cannot sit in Parliament and hear the Prime Minister tell untruths.
– The honourable gentleman is not making a point of order.
– His statement is just not true. He can go and get the clipping and look at it. He should send some of his people out to look at it. That is just not true. Will he please tell the truth.
-Order! I will not tolerate from the honourable member for Port Adelaide another interjection which he knows is an argument, not a point of order. That is not a point of order and the honourable gentleman well knows it. If he does it again I shall have to deal with him immediately.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I do so with respect for the difficult position you are in. It is quite clear that the Prime Minister has decided that, rather than face the facts and be candid about issues which are raised in Parliament today, because of the obvious embarrassment that would cause him–
-Order! The honourable gentleman is making an argument.
– No, I am putting a proposition to you.
-I ask the honourable gentleman to put the point of order.
– He has decided to embark upon a provocative course of plain dishonesty. In the course of this he is prepared to pave his way to the polls with dishonesty.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition has used a term and accusation which he knows is unparliamentary. I ask him to withdraw it.
- Mr Speaker, of course I will withdraw it. I recognise how difficult it is for you. Any of the passion generated from this side of the House is not directed towards you.
-Order! The honourable gentleman stood to make a point of order. I ask the honourable gentleman to make his point of order.
– I must raise a point of procedure and decorum with you. The Prime Minister is converting the House into low farce with his behaviour. We can ask a question. We are tightly restricted, as you know, as to the length of the question, the relevance of the matter and the content of the matter, but a Minister can range as widely as he wants and be as irrelevant as he wants and, quite frankly, be–
-Order! That is not correct. He must be relevant.
– I would suggest otherwise because this afternoon we had an instance where you ruled that a part of a question directed to the Prime Minister was out of order and then he proceeded to answer it and you accepted that situation. The other ingredient of the Prime Minister’s behaviour is that it lacks substance in fact. Uncouth people would say that it was dishonest. I would refrain from making such a statement.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– I am putting it to you squarely, Mr Speaker, that, if this House is to conduct itself properly, respect will have to be extended to the Prime Minister from this side.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– He will attract that only by a decency of conduct that he has never displayed. He lacks legitimacy in this place.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition’s behaviour in stating those words is unwarranted. In particular, I say that I ruled part of a question out of order because that part of it was out of order under the Standing Orders. The part to which the Prime Minister replied was relevant to the other parts of the question which were in order. The honourable gentleman, allegedly in raising a point of order, has been most disrespectful to the Chair. He also prevaricated with the Chair. It has been my practice to give the honourable–
– I am sorry. Could you repeat that word? I did not catch it. I have a hearing defect and honourable members know it.
-The honourable gentleman has in fact spoken in a fashion which I am not prepared to accept. I know that an election is coming up. I know that political points will be made in the House. But, despite that fact, I am determined that the House will act with decorum. I ask the honourable gentleman not to make a point which purports to be a point of order but which is not.
- Mr Speaker, I raise–
– There is no point of order.
– I raise a point of order. Mr Speaker, in your own terminology you have accused me of prevaricating. I refer you to Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice, 19th edition, page 445. The ‘Appendix of Unparliamentary Expressions’ states that prevaricating is one such expression. I ask you to withdraw.
-I would be very happy to withdraw.
– Thank you.
-I hope that I will hear the Leader of the Opposition complying with the rules of the House with the same clarity as I have. I call the Prime Minister.
– When members of the Australian Labor Party find some facts which they do not like because they contradict other things they say, they make charges of falsehood against other people when it is they themselves who are telling the falsehood. I have here the extract from the Sydney Morning Herald of an interview with Mr Keating. In answer to a question he stated:
No. The debate about resources taxes doesn’t matter much to the motorist at all.
What can that mean except that the motorist is going to have to pay the same, no matter what?
-Mr Speaker, I take a point of order.
-The honourable gentleman would be well advised to keep–
-The right honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
-Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. This text has been quoted before in this Parliament–
– There is no point of order.
– And has been subject to correction by the honourable member who, because of ill health, cannot be here.
– That may have happened. The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– The Prime Minister knowingly pursues an untrue statement.
- Mr Keating went on to say:
What does matter is if, over time, the resources tax does collect more than the levy - and I expect it will.
That is perfectly plain. He is saying that a resource tax in the oil area will collect more than the levy and that it is not going to matter much to the motorist. What can that mean except that the whole approach by the Labor Party to oil policy and pricing is a total and absolute fraud? We have a policy of world parity pricing for very good and sufficient reasons. We have that policy because, if we use up Bass Strait reserves, making it comfortable–
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. The quotation that the Prime Minister is using is a matter which has been subject to correction by an honourable member in this House. It is a matter of–
-The honourable member for Melbourne Ports will resume his seat. I must point out to the House that what is being raised by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports is an argument in contradiction. It is not a point of order. Under the Standing Orders 1 can permit a point of order but not an argument in contradiction. The honourable gentleman is saying that what the right honourable gentleman has quoted has been corrected by the honourable member for Blaxland. There is no point of order.
– With respect, that is not the argument I was going to put to you.
-If the honourable gentleman will put his point of order, I will hear it.
– The way I was going to put it was that, if the Prime Minister or any other honourable member uses a quotation which has been the subject of a personal explanation to this House and does so with that knowledge, the honourable member who uses it in that way must be deliberately misleading the House, in which case under the Standing Orders you, Sir, should point that out to the honourable member concerned and ask him not to continue in that way. You have a duty to see that the House is not misled–
-The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– And the Prime Minister is deliberately misleading the House.
– The honourable member will resume his seat immediately. It is not for the Chair to decide whether an honourable member is misleading the House. It is for the House to decide that question. I call the Prime Minister.
– Mr Speaker, I have just been handed another quote, I think from the same article headed ‘Oil: Better Deal under Labor?’ by Ross Gittins. The interviewer asked:
Would the resources tax raise more or less than the oil production levy?
The answer was:
I think it would probably raise more.
– Who said that?
– Oh, that is Mr Keating. That is established firmly and plainly. The Opposition has said that the oil resource tax would collect more and it would not mean much to the motorist. Honourable gentlemen can draw their own conclusions about that.
We have an oil parity pricing policy for very clear and sufficient reasons. It is encouraging conservation of a scarce resource. It is encouraging the search for additional supplies. The Esso-BHP consortium alone has committed itself to $ 1 ,200m of additional exploration and development. The policy is also promoting the development of great shale oil deposits such as Rundle in Queensland that we hope will be the first of many. The pilot stage is to go ahead. The objective is to make sure that we get shale oil out of Rundle and other shale oil projects in Queensland at about the time Bass Strait production starts to run down, thus maintaining a degree of self-sufficiency and independence for Australia.
It would be very easy for us - this generation of Australians - to take the view: ‘Bass Strait is there; let’s use it up cheaply’. But that would be a very short-sighted view. It would mean that our kids would have to make adjustments much harsher than any we are trying to make today. It would be a totally selfish policy. It would be a policy for today, ignoring the needs of building a better and a more secure country which must maintain its independence in these matters if that is at all possible. Policies which will bring on alternative sources of supply will achieve those objectives in a very realistic way.
The policy is working. The consumption of these fuels is diminishing. There is greater exploration for additional oil and gas and alternatives are starting to come on stream as a result of the policies that we have put in place. I am quite sure that the overwhelming majority of Australians, wherever they may be, will support a policy that looks after the interests of their children rather than one that is just as selfish as the proposal to promote a 35-hour week at the expense of the unemployed.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Is it a fact that the–
– If the honourable member had been sitting over here–
– Well, we do not get two from the one side. If honourable gentlemen had been sitting over here they would have found out how boring it was and recognised–
-Order! I think that I have called successive questions from the Opposition side. I will correct that. The Leader of the Opposition may proceed.
– Is it a fact that the effect of a resource rental tax is to raise a greater level of revenue from a given level of market prices whether domestic retail prices in the case of a commodity supplied domestically or export market prices in the case of a commodity exported? Does he deny, therefore, that the effect of the resource rental tax proposed by the Australian Labor Party would be to raise a greater amount of revenue from domestic mineral producers, including petroleum producers, without in any way at all affecting the domestic price for that commodity? Is he aware in fact that, if the pricing policies of the Labor Party had applied in the last 12 months, motorists would have saved $3.60 on each occasion they filled the petrol tank of an average six-cylinder car? Finally, why has the Prime Minister on this occasion, as on earlier occasions today, either completely misunderstood or wilfully misrepresented–
-The honourable member will ask his question.
– The situation in relation to these matters?
– Let me repeat the sections I have quoted from the Sydney Morning Herald article. The interviewer was told:
No. The debate about resources taxes doesn’t matter . . to the motorist at all.
If it does not matter to the motorist at all, surely it means that the motorist will have to pay about the same price for petrol.
– I raise a point of order.
- Mr Speaker, he just cannot take it. This poor little man–
– I cannot take it because I am used to dealing with honourable men.
– Like Yasser Arafat. He is your hero - Yasser Arafat and the PLO.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat.
– Throw him out.
-Order! The honourable member for Grey does not usually interject. I ask him to give a lead to his colleagues. The honourable member for Denison will withdraw those remarks.
- Mr Speaker, will you hear me on a point of order?
– No, I will not.
- Mr Speaker–
– Sit down, you log.
-Order! The honourable member for Melbourne will be quiet. The honourable member for Denison will withdraw.
– You will not hear me?
-The honourable member will withdraw.
– I will withdraw then.
– If every day between now and the election is like this, it will be a very difficult time for me. I ask for the co-operation of all honourable members. I call the Leader of the Opposition on a point of order.
– Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister has reduced the procedures of Question Time to low bathos.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will make a point of order, if he wishes to.
– Mr Speaker, I am putting it to you that there are certain discretionary powers which, I would suggest, you ought to apply in a situation like this. Otherwise, the workings of the Parliament, which are already quite unseemly - and I feel as discomfited by that as you do - will degenerate further. The behaviour of the honourable member for Denison has surpassed itself in its fancifulness.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will put his point of order. I will hear him on a point of order, but not otherwise.
– What I am putting to you is that the Prime Minister has embarked upon a campaign, because of the unacceptability of the Budget, of dishonesty.
-Order! There is no point of order in what the honourable gentleman is saying.
– I am putting it to you that the Prime Minister wears his honour as a badge - a badge of shame. It is a disgrace to the Parliament.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. I call the Prime Minister.
– Of course, the purpose of a large part of the Government’s policies is to enable the companies .involved in these matters to have additional funds for exploration and development. An amount of $ 1,200m has been invested by Esso-BHP alone. That is no mean sum; it is a great sum. The Government wishes to encourage all companies to use additional funds so that reserves can be extended, new fields found and new exploration undertaken. The catalogue of policies of some other people I believe would prevent that happening. The policies and the quotes I have given from the honourable member for Blaxland do not indicate all that much change. Before ending this particular point, I hope the Leader of the Opposition will accept the accuracy of Hansard of 1 1 September 1975, when my colleague the Minister for Productivity was speaking in another capacity. He said:
In case there is any doubt about what are the real feelings of the honourable member for Blaxland, I should point out that I know that deep down inside - I have a great respect for him, I must say- he agrees with what we are doing.
There was an interjection from the honourable member for Blaxland, who said:
Yes, I do.
– In 1975? In September 1975, he was a Minister.
– It was 1979.
– You are even lying about the dates.
-Order! The honourable member for Prospect will withdraw.
– I withdraw, but the fact is–
-Order! The honourable member will withdraw.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware of the interest amongst wheat growers in the concern of the Auditor-General about some Australian Wheat Board accounts? Can he give the House details of arrangements made by the Government to overcome these problems?
– The honourable member could not have been in the House yesterday when I answered a similar question. I refer him to the relevant answer in yesterday’s Hansard.
– For the information of honourable members I present the annual report of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet for the year ended 30 June 1 980.
– Pursuant to section 18 of the Australian Canned Fruits (Sales Promotion) Act 1 959 1 present the Australian Canned Fruits Sales Promotion Committee’s report for 1979, together with financial statements.
– Pursuant to section 62 of the Canned Fruits Marketing Act 1979 I present the Australian Canned Fruits Board’s annual report for 1979, together with financial statements.
– For the information of honourable members I present the 1978-79 annual review of Australia’s development assistance programs. Copies of the review were circulated to honourable members during the parliamentary recess.
– Pursuant to section 34 of the Services Trust Funds Act 1947 I present the Royal Australian Air Force Welfare Trust Fund’s annual report for 1979.
For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Department of Education for 1979.
– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on copper and certain copper products, including the removal of export control.
– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on perfumery, cosmetics and toilet preparations.
– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on apples and pears.
– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on textiles, clothing and footwear.
– Pursuant to section 34 of the Services Trust Funds Act 1947 I present the Australian Military Forces Relief Trust Fund’s annual report for 1979.
– Pursuant to section 34 of the Services Trust Funds Act 1947 I present the Royal Australian Navy Relief Trust Fund’s report for 1979.
– For the information of honourable members I present copies of an agreement dated 13 June 1980 between the Commonwealth of Australia and the State of New South Wales relating to the provision of financial assistance to the Chrysotile Corporation of Australia Pty Ltd for the 15-month period from 1 October 1978 to 31 December 1979.
- Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a personal explanation in relation to the Hansard record, the ‘greens’ of which I have seen but the print of which I am informed will not be available until 4 p.m.
-The honourable gentleman may proceed.
- Mr Speaker, you will recall that yesterday in this House I sought to give notice of a motion in the following terms:
That this House notes with alarm that even though the date for the Federal election has not yet been officially announced, the Leader of the Opposition has made promises all around Australia relating to five Federal departments and involving a total additional cost to the taxpayers of Australia of $2,000m a year.
Although I did not, in the noise which followed my attempt to give that notice of motion, hear the remark, it has been drawn to my attention that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) immediately commented ‘Make it four’, presumably meaning $4,000m. I naturally did not respond to the Leader of the Opposition’s comment. I have seen the Hansard ‘green’, which does not include the words ‘make it four’. I ask you, Mr Speaker, to have the tape checked and, upon the use of those words being confirmed, to have them included in Hansard so that the people of Australia will be aware of what was said. I repeat that I did not hear the words but they were clearly heard in the Press Gallery and by a number of honourable members. It was a serious comment by the Leader of the Opposition and ought to be recorded in Hansard. I ask you, Mr Speaker, whether you would be prepared to check the tape and to have those words recorded in the final print of Hansard.
– Mr Speaker, I interjected:
Make it four. You have never been restrained by a want of responsibility and honesty before.
Put that in Hansard.
– Order! The rules in relation to Hansard are quite clear. They are that if the honourable member speaking does not respond to an interjection it will not be recorded. Normally an interjection is not recorded unless some action flows from it, such as a call from the Speaker or Chairman of Committees for its withdrawal. That rule will be observed. I am bound to point out, however, that if people look at today’s Hansard they will see the remarks of the honourable member for Denison and the Leader of the Opposition.
– by leave- In June 1978, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure, the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns), announced that the Committee had resolved to inquire into the Australian Industry Development Corporation. The Chairman indicated that the purpose of the inquiry was to inform the House of the operations of the Corporation, an organisation which had been established in 1970 and which had not been subjected to parliamentary scrutiny. The inquiry was the first by a standing committee on expenditure on the operations of a major statutory authority. The Standing Committee’s report was tabled in this House on 20 February 1 980.
– It was a very good one, too.
– Yes, it was. The Committee received submissions and heard written evidence from many persons and organisations, including the AIDC itself. I do not intend to detail all the findings and recommendations of the Committee in this statement. The report has been available to honourable members for some time, and the findings and recommendations are clearly identified in the report. However, it is appropriate to mention some of the major issues identified by the Committee. The Committee found that the Corporation has an established role in the Australian capital market, generally for lending sizable amounts in the medium to long term area. It considered that the AIDC can usefully continue to complement the activities of other lending institutions, and expressed its satisfaction that the AIDC has developed expertise as a financial adviser in the restructuring of industries and in the development of new techniques for financing industrial development.
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure found that the obligation on the AIDC to consider non-commercial aims in financing operations may have affected its commercial performance and has created a degree of uncertainty and difficulty in judgment of that performance. From the broad findings, and other more detailed conclusions, flowed the Committee’s recommendations. The Committee recommended that the provision of the Act that the AIDC should act in accordance with sound business principles in the performance of its functions should override non-commercial aims in its financing operations. In relation to the capital structure of the Corporation, the Committee recommended that the Act be amended to provide that the liabilities of the Corporation be guaranteed by the Government; to allow the maximum gearing ratio to be varied by the Board in consultation with the Reserve Bank; to require any uncalled capital to be included in the capital base for measuring gearing; to provide that, other than in stated circumstances, additional government funds be provided in the form of subordinated loans; and to permit paid-up capital to be used in the Corporation’s operations. It is recommended that the areas in which the Corporation may operate be extended to include explicitly service industries. There is a number of recommendations in a more administrative vein.
The Government has considered the Standing Committee’s report in accordance with the undertaking given to this House by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on 25 May 1978 that Ministers and the Government would give full and careful attention to reports by committees of this Parliament. Honourable members will recall, however, that the Committee of Inquiry into the Australian Financial System chaired by Mr J. K. Campbell and known as the Campbell Committee was also requested by its terms of reference to inquire into and report on specialist development finance institutions including the Australian Industry Development Corporation.
As is evident from the outline of the recommendations that I have given, some of the Standing Committee’s proposals are far-reaching. If adopted, they would have fundamental implications for the nature of the Corporation. The Committee indicated in its report that it left the question of the role of AIDC in the Australian capital market, as well as overall deficiencies in that market, to examination by the Campbell Committee. I have formally referred a copy of the Standing Committee’s report to the Campbell Committee and the Chairman indicated that the matters raised in the Standing Committee’s report will be considered in relation to the Campbell Committee’s inquiries on the operations of the AIDC.
In the circumstances, therefore, it is felt that it would be inappropriate for the Government to reach views on the Standing Committee’s recommendations in advance of its consideration of the Campbell Committee’s report. The Chairman of the Standing Committee in effect recognised this in the statement he made to the House when tabling the report. He said at that time that the two reports - the Standing Committee’s report and the Campbell Committee’s reports - ‘can hardly be considered exclusive of one another’. The Government has decided, therefore, to give further detailed consideration to the Standing Committee’s recommendations at the time that it considers the Campbell Committee’s report on AIDC.
Before concluding I wish to inform the House that I propose to introduce legislation early in these sittings to amend the Australian Industry Development Corporation Act 1970 to increase the Corporation’s maximum gearing ratio of borrowings- other than for temporary purposes- to paid capital and reserves from 5 : 1 to 8 : 1. The higher gearing ratio would permit AIDC to finance its commitments without a call for additional capital from the Budget. While that amendment is not inconsistent with the Committee’s recommendation on this matter - it is in fact in accordance with the spirit of finding (0 of the report of the Committee- it does not in any way prejudice consideration of this or any other recommendation of the Committee which as I have said will be considered together with the Campbell Committee recommendations on AIDC. I take this opportunity on behalf of the Government to thank the members of the Standing Committee- and in particular the honourable member for Lilley- for the time and effort they expended considering the issues and preparing the report.
– by leave - As a member of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure and on behalf of the Opposition I take some solace from the fact that the Government, in accord with the promises that have been made several times in this Parliament, has responded within a six months period; though only just. But, it has done so, and we take some solace from that. The Expenditure Committee viewed the report that it made in a very serious vein. It was looking at a statutory authority which has had the use of about $100m of public money and which has not until this stage been the subject of any parliamentary scrutiny. Under those terms the members of the Committee considered the report to be very important.
I am a little disappointed that the Government has fobbed the matter off by saying that we made at least some suggestion in the report that the authority should be the subject of some inspection by the Committee of Inquiry into the Australian Financial System chaired by Mr J. K. Campbell. I cannot blame the Treasurer (Mr Howard) too much I suppose for hiding behind that aspect. I think it is important to realise that many of the recommendations made within that report need not necessarily become the subject of inquiry by the Campbell Committee in order to be implemented. In fact, the Treasurer pointed out in his statement that we said that there were overall deficiencies in the capital market and that we had decided that the Campbell Committee should consider exactly what importance the Australian Industry Development Corporation has in that market. That was the reason for our proposed reference. Many other more important things could be done by the Government without necessarily having that reference. I will point out a few.
The AIDC, of course, was created by Jack McEwen when he was a member of the House. I guess that there are some philosophical considerations by the Government that do not make it amenable to what the AIDC stands for, but this side of the House is very impressed with the prospective potential for the AIDC to involve itself in some real public ownership of Australian industry. We are stressful of that fact. When the Bill that the Treasurer has foreshadowed comes up for debate we will make very strong statements as to what we would do in government to bolster the AIDC and to make it fulfil what we believe to be its proper destiny.
In the course of our committee inquiry we found that the AIDC had developed, within the ranks of its staff, a great deal of expertise in all areas of industry. It had also developed market expertise in relation to the garnering of finance. The Committee thought that the AIDC, with proper support from the Government, was a great vehicle for organising consortiums of finance to involve themselves in what the Government keeps loudly trumpeting as the great future development of Australia’s resources. The Committee also made the very important point in the report that the AIDC should have the capacity to get itself involved in the service industries, which it now does not have. I do not know that that should necessarily be the subject of scrutiny by the Campbell Committee in order for it to be implemented.
We also made some very strong recommendations about sections 6 and 8 of the Act under which the AIDC operates and which in fact at this stage cause a great deal of confusion and conflict with regard to how the AIDC sees itself. Some parts of those sections of the Act make it the primary condition that all lending operations need not necessarily satisfy commercial criteria. There is some confusion as to whether public interest in the form of providing employment and export opportunities et cetera, should not be overriden by pure commercial considerations to make the organisation produce a profit.
The AIDC had a fairly chequered career in its early period. I think it is accepted by the Government, as it was by the Committee, that its early performances were not good; that it’s more recent performances have been very good no matter by which criteria they are judged. The Committee felt that the Government should be encouraging the AIDC to get on with the job of doing the task it was given when it was first formed. I am not - I am sure the other members of the Committee are not - very satisfied that the Government has seen fit to fob the matter off to the Campbell Committee of Inquiry. However, we take some solace from the fact that at least the Treasurer has foreshadowed the Bill which will be introduced to free the gearing of the maximum ratio of borrowings to paid capital and reserves from 5:1 to 8:1. It is some solace to us that one of the more important recommendations has been taken up.
As I said before, when the Bill comes before the House the Opposition will put very strongly its case about what it will do when in government, with the AIDC to make sure that the AIDC fulfils its proper destiny in the Australian capital market. Before concluding, I want to bolster the Treasurer’s remarks regarding the work that the Committee put into this report. I am sure all members of the Committee were strongly supportive of our Chairman, the honourable member for for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns). The Expenditure Committee is one of the better committees of this House.
– It sounds like a club.
– It is a very happy club; it has a great deal of support from both sides. I am a little disappointed that the Treasurer does not share our view.
– by leaveThe honourable member for Parramatta (Mr John Brown) has just replied very truly and wisely. His comments concerning the House of Represenatives Standing Committee on Expenditure, of which he is Deputy Chairman, are perfectly correct. Firstly, I make a comment concerning the nature of the reports of the Expenditure Committee. The great openness of mind by Committee members to one another has characterised our activities ever since the Committee has been in existence. The reports we have brought forward have not been facetious or fractious. We have always sought to make the reports workable and ones that can be implemented by a government if it wishes to carry out the present operations or develop another way of carrying out its objectives.
The Treasurer (Mr Howard) has responded by proposing a Bill which will amend the Australian Industry Development Corporation Act and in doing so has clearly agreed with the spirit of finding (F) of the Committee. I will read from finding (F) and indicate what the Treasurer intends to do. One can see the similarity of thinking. He stated:
The existing capital structure of the AIDC is no longer relevant to the Corporation’s needs and unnecessarily ties up substantial public funds.
The report goes on to argue that the gearing ratio could then be moved on. Paragraph 70 of the committee’s report states:
Evidence suggests that the AIDC could move cautiously towards say 10 to one initially in terms of the gearing ratio.
On this occasion the Treasurer proposes to move to eight to one, so he is nearly where we originally wanted to go. He is 80 per cent of the way. We have made those recommendations for one or two important reasons, namely, to save taxpayers money and to save appropriations by this Parliament to the capital funds of the AIDC. We made another couple of recommendations in that area concerning the payment of dividends and subordinated loans and we hope that they will be considered. I welcome the Treasurer’s statements which are in the spirit of our findings in recommendation F. We look forward ultimately to the full response of the Government to those recommendations. I believe that the Deputy Chairman of the Committee has spoken truly and correctly and has the interests of the committee and of the Parliament at heart.
– by leave - Pursuant to the commitment that the Treasurer (Mr Howard) made last evening I make this statement.
The Treasurer in his speech to the House last night mentioned briefly certain decisions taken by the Government in respect to benefits affecting Australian veterans and also in some respects persons still serving in the Australian Defence Force. I propose, for the information of honourable members, to mention more details of these measures, which I believe represent a further very real advance in the welfare and care of our veterans and their dependants. As honourable members are aware, during the first two or three years in office, the Government found it had to exercise the greatest possible financial restraint. It was not possible then to improve benefits for veterans by any marked degree, although, being very much aware of the deleterious effect which inflation has upon the living standards of persons on fixed incomes such as pensions, the Government acted in its first Budget to introduce indexation of the main repatriation pensions. We have continued to do so since then. I am sure that this firm action taken then to protect the purchasing power of our veterans and their dependants is greatly appreciated in the ex-service community. As I announced on 31 July this year, there will be increases in these main repatriation pensions as from 13 November this year, in line with the movement in the consumer price index over the six months to 30 June.
In last year’s Budget, we were able to make substantial increases in the value of a wide range of the minor repatriation benefits. These included the funeral benefit, which was increased by $200 to a new figure of $300, the orphan’s pension, the attendant’s allowance for the severely handicapped, recreation transport allowance, allowance for maintenance of gift cars, clothing allowance, and allowances for subsistence and car travel for veterans required to attend for treatment, pension or review purposes. At the same time all rail travel for departmental purposes was made first class. These increases last year were of particular benefit to the more severely handicapped veterans. Last year, also, eligibility for the Service pension, which is like the Department of Social Security’s age pension, was extended to allied veterans on a similar basis to that applying to British Commonwealth veterans, and this new provision came into effect on 7 February this year. Over 1,000 allied veterans applied for this benefit in the first six months of its operation. In this year’s Budget our objective has been to build upon last year’s improvements. For instance, from 13 November, there will be further increases in the orphan’s pension, clothing allowance, attendant’s allowance, recreation transport allowance and gift car maintenance allowance to offset the effects of inflation since they were increased in last year’s Budget. In addition, in respect of a benefit which was not changed last year, there are to be substantial increases in the additions to pension payable to veterans who have had amputations or suffer a loss of vision.
The Government Has decided that the access which veterans receiving the Service pension have to fringe benefits provided by my Department should be improved. As from 1 January next year, half of any disability pension will be disregarded when considering a Service pensioner’s income for the purpose of determining entitlement to fringe benefits. This means that an estimated 5,000 additional veterans will receive free treatment for all disabilities, whether service-related or not, through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The Government has decided to extend eligibility for free medical treatment to new classes of veterans. These are Australian merchant mariners who were captured and detained by the enemy and also veterans and mariners with service-related amputation or loss of vision in one eye, who do not qualify on other grounds. From 1 3 November they will be eligible to free treatment, subject to some exceptions, for all conditions, whether or not related to the veteran’s service or, in the case of Australian mariners, to a war injury.
The Government has taken a very important initiative in respect of veterans who are temporarily incapacitated. From 1 November this year, a veteran whose stay in hospital, together with posthospital convalescence or other treatment on a full time basis after hospitalisation, has been for the purpose of treatment for a service-related disability which in total exceeds 28 days, will be entitled to receive a temporary incapacity allowance. The maximum rate of this allowance will be equal to the special rate pension - commonly known as the TPI pension - less any disability pension being received by the veteran. Pensions for Papua New Guinea veterans and their dependants, will be increased as from the first payday in November. These increases will bring the total incapacity pension for Papua New Guinea veterans up to the related secondary urban wage in their country.
The Government has been aware for some time that the maximum loan available under the Defence Service Homes Scheme has not been adequate in terms of its contribution towards purchasing a home at today’s prices. The Government has reviewed this matter each year but until now, because of financial restraints, has not been able to increase the maximum amount of loan available to veterans and certain serving members of the Defence Force. As mentioned by the Treasurer last night the maximum loan of $1 5,000 is to be increased to $25,000. The rates of interest on the first $ 1 2,000 and the next $3,000 of the loan remain unchanged at 3.75 per cent and 7.25 per cent respectively. The new addition of $1 0,000 will carry the concessional interest rate of 1 0 per cent. The effective interest rate on a loan of $25,000 will, in round figures, be only 7 per cent per annum, which I am sure honourable members will agree, is a very favourable rate compared with rates on loans available from commercial lenders. Legislation to amend the Defence Service Homes Act to provide these benefits will be introduced as soon as possible. In addition the waiting period of 1 4 months for a loan to purchase a new or previously occupied home has been reduced immediately to 10 months.
As I said initially the objective behind this year’s Budget measures affecting Australian veterans and their dependants and, in some cases some serving members of the defence forces, has been to build upon last year’s achievements. They represent very real advances in many areas of veterans’ affairs. It will be clear to honourable members that the increases in the allowances which I have mentioned can be expected to take care of inflationary effects. More people than ever are now included in benefits provided by my Department. There have been tremendous improvements in the defence service homes area, and I am particularly pleased that we, as a Government, have been able to give substantial assistance to eligible veterans and serving members seeking to achieve home ownership.
I might just add that the above measures were decided upon after considering proposals put to the Government by the major ex-service organisations. I might stress that there has been the closest consultation between the representatives of these organisations and the Government in reaching these decisions. We have not been able to grant all that has been requested of us, but I feel that in the economic circumstances still facing Australia we have been able to act very positively to continue the good work on behalf of veterans and their dependants which the Government has attempted to do throughout its period in office. Finally, I have not given details of the new measures down to the last dollar and cent. These details are set out in a one-page summary which has been prepared by my Department. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a copy of the summary.
The document read as follows -
VETERANS’ AFFAIRS BENEFITS INCREASED, EXTENDED
The following changes in a number of benefits available to veterans and other eligible members and former members of the Defence Force have been approved in the 1980-81 Budget.
Defence Service Homes Loans
Legislation will be introduced as soon as practicable to increase the maximum Defence Service H lines loan from SI 5,000 to $25,000.
The rate of interest on loan amounts above $1 5,000 will be 10 per cent per annum. The present rates of 3.75 per cent per annum on the first $12,000 of a loan and 7.25 per cent per annum on the next $3,000 will be retained.
Applications for loans in excess of $15,000 may be lodged immediately with the Defence Service Homes Corporation but cannot be settled until the amending legislation is enacted.
Provided the normal requirements of the Act are met, persons who applied for a $1 5,000 loan before the announcement of the Budget decision to increase the loan and whose loans are settled after the amending legislation has been enacted, will be able to take advantage of the higher lending limit of $25,000.
The waiting time for a loan to buy a home has been reduced from 1 4 months to 1 0 months. The reduction applies to applications already lodged as well as to new applications.
Disregarding of disability pension for fringe benefit entitlement purposes
From 1 January 1981, half of any disability pension will be disregarded for the purpose of determining entitlement for fringe benefits. This new provision will bring assessment procedures for fringe benefits into line with that for Service Pension assessment.
Provision of free medical treatment for Australian mariners who were prisoners-of-war and veterans with service-related amputation or loss of vision in one eye
From 13 November 1980, Australian mariners who were prisoners-of-war and veterans with the above disabilities who do not currently qualify on other grounds, will be eligible for medical treatment at Departmental expense, subject to certain qualifications, for all conditions whether or not they are related to the veteran’s service or, in the case of an Australian mariner, to a ‘war injury’.
Temporary Incapacity Allowance
From 1 November 1980, a veteran whose stay in hospital together with post-hospital convalescence or other treatment on a full-time basis after hospitalisation for a service-related disability which in total exceeds 28 days, will be entitled to a Temporary Incapacity Allowance.
The maximum rate of this allowance is equivalent to the Special (T. & P.I.) Rate pension less any disability pension being received by the veteran.
Increase in pension rates for Papua New Guinea pensioners and their dependants
From the first payday in November, monthly pension rates will be increased to the following:
This increase will bring the total incapacity pension up to the relevant secondary urban wage in Papua New Guinea.
Increased Repatriation Pension Rates
In addition to the changes announced in the Budget Speech, increases in the main Repatriation pensions, announced on 31 July 1980, will apply from 13 November 1980. They flow from the 5.0 per cent rise in the Consumer Price Index in the six months to 30 June. The pensions affected, the increases and the new weekly rates are:
Other Benefit Increases
Other Repatriation benefits will be increased from the dates shown below.
Additions to pension for amputation or loss of vision (From 13 November 1980)
The minimum addition to pension for these purposes will be $3.95 (increase $1.40) and the maximum $25.80 (increase $9.20).
I present the following paper:
Benefits: Australian Veterans- Ministerial Statement, 20 August 1980.
Motion (by Mr Fife) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– The Opposition naturally welcomes the easing of pension eligibility conditions and rates of benefits payable to veterans. Whilst I agree with the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Mr Adermann) that the Government has consulted with ex-service organisations and has responded to requests from those organisations, I submit that the response has been fairly limited and fairly tardy. It has certainly not gone, in the vast majority of the spending commitments, beyond indexation of the commitments of last year. It has omitted some of the more worthy projects that have been asked for by veterans’ organisations. A list of changes in the document which was incorporated in Hansard by the Minister refers, first of all, to defence service home loans. Of course, the maximum loan now is raised from $15,000 to $25,000 which is still well short of the average cost of a house in the metropolitan area of Sydney where it is closer to $40,000 than to $35,000. It is a substantial percentage increase but the matter has been dragging for many years. At the time of the last Labor Budget, we made available the $1 5,000 which has remained unchanged until almost this moment. In fact, in 1975-76, $122m was available for defence service homes. That was a cut from the previous Budget figure of $130m. The amount provided has not kept pace with inflation since that time.
One of the terms of eligibility that we introduced - three years continuous service in the armed forces - was also squeezed by the Fraser Government at that time. The availability of a loan was squeezed down to cover only those who had undertaken six years continuous service and who enlisted after a certain date in 1976 or 1977. We have already ventilated this change in the debate on the Defence Service Homes Amendment Bill 1978. The honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) spelt out some of the initiatives of the Labor Government, not only for defence service homes but also for the availability of housing under more liberal terms for members of the community generally. We have extended that this year in our proposal for assistance to those seeking home loans.
With regard to some of the other items that have been proposed, the Minister stressed the commitment of the Government to indexing the base rate of pensions on a six-monthly basis. Of course, this was suspended temporarily. It was made after a 12-monthly interval at one stage because of what the Government calls ‘financial restraints’. Must was made in the Budget Speech of the fact that for the first time since 1973 there is a Budget surplus. But if we compare the sort of economic constraints that have existed in recent years with those that exist this year and add in some of the deficit items that would have been included in a Budget deficit in former years, we will find that the Budget deficit is really not very much different. If we look at the borrowings of Telecom Australia which are no longer included in the Budget deficit and at the overseas deficit which has gone up, basically it is a stay-as-you-are kind of financial constraint that applies to the Government now. I suggest that what appears to be a lessening of financial constraints because of the lessening of the Budget deficit is in part due to the increased petrol tax and in part due to this bookkeeping. The fact is that many of the things that were included in the Budget deficit last year such as Telecom deficits, overseas deficits and so on are now included in other areas of bookkeeping.
The reason for the tendency to index many of these allowances- travel allowances, family allowances and the like - on what was offered last year is related more to the fact that it is an election year than to any success in the Government’s financial policies and programs. The Minister, in the first part of his statement, referred to the financial constraints making it hard to relax the eligibility for service home loans. In fact, we found when we were in government that there was not a shortage of resources for building homes but that there was a slack in the building industry. This has been the case through most of this Government’s period in office.
-The waiting period has increased.
– Yes, the waiting period has increased and that has delayed the construction of homes for many service people. The restoration of the waiting period down to 10 months is not really very much better than it was when it was increased from 1 1 months up to 14 months. It has marginally improved the position before the waiting period was lengthened. The argument of financial restraints inhibiting loans for housing does not fit in with the Government’s stated policy of financial restraint which is to contain inflation. In fact, it is doubtful whether we can get buildings more cheaply by keeping idle 20 or 30 per cent of the work force, capital and other resources in the building industry. It would have been very salutary in a time of stagflation for the building industry to have had the fillip of more readily available funds for essential housing, welfare housing and defence service homes. We do not accept the argument that it is financial constraints and the need to fight inflation that has delayed the move for so long.
The Government certainly deserves credit for having adopted the policy of indexing the base rate pensions. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) described the policy as having taken politics out of pensions. Of course, it did nothing of the kind. It saved the Government from the embarrassment of being seen to increase pensions, usually only in election years, and then allowing them to fall. At one stage before the Australian Labor Party came to power in 1 972 the base rate pension fell below 20 per cent of average earnings from a level of 25 per cent of average earnings at the time of the Chifley Government. It was a Labor Party commitment to restore pensions to 25 per cent of average earnings. We came within one per cent of achieving that. Within the space of three Budgets we restored pensions to over 24 per cent of average earnings. That was very much better than the indexation that has applied since, which barely keeps pensions level pegging with the rest of the community in terms of living costs.
Whilst the Opposition welcomes the Government’s relaxation of the purse strings, we do not see it as responding to the need of pensioners and veterans to keep pace with living costs. Those people are still falling behind in many of the allowances that have not been indexed and have not been increased in proportion to inflation. Many of the initiatives that have been taken do not go far enough. For example, the commitment to allied veterans is fairly restricted. It does not allow for partisan forces that were not formally recruited. There is a need to extend the area of application of Department of Veterans’ Affairs eligibility to other allied veterans. We should be looking at extending the benefits to merchant seamen much more widely than has been done in this Budget. They are now eligible for treatment for war injuries, certain severe injuries, and other classes of medical treatment, where they have been captured, and so on.
It is true that merchant mariners did not work under quite the same onerous conditions of pay that applied to people in the Regular Navy and the other armed forces but had conditions negotiated as industrial awards. Nevertheless, for that small extra amount of money - one might say the only advantage they had - they had disadvantages. They were not often in vessels of a speed and fire power to defend them as readily as many of the naval ships. There was a very high casualty rate among merchant seamen. They were as thoroughly subject to naval orders relating to where they could work, where they could go, and when, as anybody in the armed services. There are now so few of these men left that I think it would be a nice gesture to extend to them a major proportion of the benefits that apply to exservicemen who have seen service in war zones. I look forward to further liberalisation of the Government’s policies, and I assure the House and the nation that when there is a change of government that liberalisation will occur.
Debate (on motion by Mr Gillard) adjourned.
– by leave - Total Commonwealth expenditure
on education will grow by 10 per cent in 1980-81. In absolute terms, an additional $260m will be spent, bringing the total to $2, 867m. Major elements in this increase are: Schools, up by SI 12m; universities, colleges, and technical and further education, up by $125m; and student assistance up by $ 19m.
The reports of both education commissions recommending the detailed distribution of funds for the 1 98 1 calendar year have just been received and will be released publicly tomorrow. The Government will consider the commission’s recommendations and announce its decisions on them during the Budget session. In the meantime, overall funding in accordance with the guidelines previously given to the commissions is provided for in the Budget.
The Government has given careful consideration to the needs of students and their parents in deciding on increases in allowances and adjustments of means tests for each of the student assistance schemes. Major allowances under the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme and the Secondary Allowances Scheme are to be increased by 20 per cent. Living allowances under the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme and other schemes will rise by 10 per cent. The means tests will also be adjusted. These changes will take effect from the beginning of 1981. They will cost an additional $ 19m in 1980-81 and $38m in a full year. Total expenditure on student assistance during 1980-81 is expected to be $229.7m. Full details of the changes in allowances and means tests are provided in the attached tables, and I seek leave to have them incorporated in Hansard.
The tables read as follows -
Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme (TEAS)
As evidence of the Government’s commitment to providing assistance for tertiary students on the basis of need, and bearing in mind the increases in costs incurred by parents who contribute to the support of their children during tertiary study, it has been decided to increase living allowances for 1981 and to adjust the means test in line with movements in average incomes. The maximum living-at-home allowance will rise from $29.29 to $32.21 a week for 1981, while the awayfromhome and independent rates will increase from $45.15 to $49.67 a week. The allowance for a dependent spouse will be increased from $31.40 to $42.70 a week, and for each dependent child from $7.50 to $10 a week.
The level of family income, after deductions for dependants and other allowable items, at which maximum benefits will be payable will be increased from $9,400 to $10,312. From 1981, students will be able to earn $2,000 before the allowance is affected, including up to an amount of $500 from another award. The previous limits were $1,500 and $150 respectively. These increases will cost $ 10.8m in 1980-81 and $24m in a full year. About 89,000 students are expected to be assisted under TEAS in 1 98 1 .
Adult Secondary Education Assistance Scheme (ASEAS)
The Adult Secondary Education Assistance Scheme assists mature students to undertake the final year of secondary study. The increases in allowances and adjustments to the means test applicable to TEAS for 1981 will also be extended to cover ASEAS. These increases will cost $0.3m in 1980-81 and $0.6m for the 1981 year. About 1,950 students are expected to receive ASEAS assistance in 1981.
The stipend and dependants’ allowance under postgraduate awards will also be increased for 1981. The stipend will be increased from $4,200 for 1980 to $4,620 for 1981 , while the allowances for dependants will be increased in line with the increase under TEAS. The Government has taken note of the recommendation of the Committee of Inquiry into Education and Training - the Williams Committee - that the number of new postgraduate awards made available each year should be increased. Eight hundred new awards will be provided for 1981 compared with the 700 for 1 980. The increase will enable an additional 80 research awards, 15 course awards and 5 advanced education institution awards to be provided. The cost of increased allowances and the additional awards will be $0.7m for 1980-81. About 2,000 postgraduate award holders will receive assistance in 1 98 1 .
The Aboriginal Study Grants Scheme (Abstudy) and the Aboriginal Secondary Grants Scheme (Abseg) have done much to improve the educational opportunities amongst the Aboriginal people. Under Abseg, living at home and boarding allowances will be increased for 1981 by 10 per cent, whilst the books and clothing allowance will be raised by 20 per cent. Similarly, the living allowances payable under Abstudy have been increased by 10 per cent and dependants’ allowances will be raised, as for TEAS. These increases will cost $1.0m for Abseg and $0.5m for Abstudy in 1980-81. Some 16,500 students are expected to benefit under Abseg in 1981 and about 10,000 under Abstudy.
Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC)
The Government is mindful of the problems of families whose homes are remote from norma) school facilities. The costs such families must meet in boarding their children away from home have increased significantly in recent years. The major boarding allowances payable under the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme have each been increased by $100 from $500 to $600 per annum. The special supplementary allowance will from the beginning of 1981 have a maximum value of $360 per annum for primary students, $540 per annum for junior secondary students and of $660 per annum for senior secondary students. The means tests on both the additional boarding allowance and the special supplementary allowance will be adjusted, with maximum benefits being payable at adjusted family income levels of $10,312 and $7,440 respectively compared with the present levels of $9,400 and $6,200. The Government has also decided that second home allowances payable under the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme should be increased; for example, where there are three children in the family the basic allowance will be $1,530 per annum as against the present rate of $1,275 per annum. The correspondence allowance all also be restructured and the short term boarding allowance increased. The provisions of the Scheme have also been widened so that they cover all categories of handicapped children as well as those who are obliged to live away from home for medical reasons. The additional cost of these measures for the AIC scheme will be $2m in 1980-81. Approximately 20,500 students are expected to be assisted under the AIC scheme during the 1981 calendar year.
Secondary Allowances Scheme (SAS)
The Secondary Allowances Scheme provides support for families with limited financial resources to assist them to maintain student children enrolled in the final two years of secondary education. It has been decided that the maximum benefits payable under this Scheme should be increased by 20 per cent to an amount of $660 per annum. The means test will also be liberalised by 20 per cent. Maximum benefits will thus be payable at an adjusted family income of $7,440 per annum. The additional cost of these measures for 1980-81 will be $3.5m. Some 25,000 students will receive assistance under SAS in 1 98 1 .
The Transition from School to Work Program, to provide appropriate education and training opportunities for young people leaving school with poor employment prospects, was announced in November 1979. The Commonwealth will provide $150m over the five years 1980-1984 on the understanding that the States and the Northern Territory will provide contributions from 1981. The Commonwealth’s contribution in 1980 is $25m, rising to $40m in real terms in 1984. The Transition Program is now well under way in all States and Territories. The rate at which authorities in the States have been able to develop their programs has varied and actual expenditure under the Program to June 1980 was $4.5m. The rate of development, however, is increasing substantially and is expected to reach a high level of activity in the second half of 1980. Projects have so far been approved to a total commitment of $20m for 1980 and additional proposals are under consideration.
The 1980-81 Budget makes provision for $3 2.9m to be available. Of this amount $32. 4m will be available to the States and the Northern Territory and $0.-5m to the Australian Capital Territory. For the calendar year 1981, the Commonwealth will make available $27.4m and it expects that the States will contribute a total of $9.9m to bring the total cost of the Program in that year to $37.3m. The Commonwealth is at present negotiating with the States concerning their financial contributions to the Program in 1 98 1 and subsequent years. As a first step towards the objective of rationalising the range of allowances and benefits available to the 15 to 19 years age group in the process of transition, the Government has increased the secondary allowances and means test by 20 per cent and has made adjustments to the TEAS allowances and means test. This whole question is being kept under review.
Education Program for Unemployed Youth (EPUY)
Estimated expenditure under this Program is expected to rise from $3.6m in 1979-80 to $4m in 1980-81. Additional funds will also be available under the School to Work Transition Program for more EPUY courses. It is estimated that this will provide for an increase of some 50 per cent in the number of students in EPUY courses in 1980 compared with 1979.
An allocation of $2.5m is proposed for the Curriculum Development Centre in 1980-81 compared with $2.4m in 1979-80. Increases in activity will occur in mathematics, language development, science and the Aboriginal education curriculum areas. A major project will be to develop further the concept of core curriculum.
Education Research and Development Committee (ERDC)
The funding for the Education Research and Development Committee for 1980-81 is $1.2m compared with $lm in 1979-80. These funds will enable an increase in the number of grants for projects in priority areas which are of concern to the Government.
As a new policy proposal in 1980-81, an additional Sim will be provided under the Schools Commision’s Special Education Program for the extra staff resources required to allow the integration of a further 300 handicapped children into normal schools. This will be in addition to ongoing Commonwealth expenditure on the education of handicapped children, which will amount to $ 17.8m in 1981 under the Special Education Program.
During 1980-81 some 5,500 school age children are expected to arrive in Australia under the Government’s refugee and special humanitarian programs. The amount provided for the Commonwealth Contingency Program for Refugee Children will be increased from $2.7m to $3. 3m.
The overall recurrent expenditure in the Australian Capital Territory for government schools and pre-schools for 1980-81 will increase by 7 per cent from $69.8m in 1979-80 to $74.8m. Total outlay for these schools in 1980-81 including capital is estimated at $78. 8m. Capital expenditure is, however, expected to fall from $7. 3m to $4m because of the reduced requirement for new schools as school enrolments have levelled out.
Despite the Government’s continued emphasis on expenditure restraint, the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority has been given additional financial resources to open three new secondary schools in 1981. These are Erindale College, Wanniassa High School and Charnwood High School. This achievement has been made possible by keeping the initial funding and staffing costs to a minimum. For 1980-81, $1 .7m has been set aside for modifications to the ventilation systems of Australian Capital Territory government schools. This will enable the work to be completed in three years rather than the five years originally contemplated, representing a substantial acceleration of the ventilation program.
A total of $ 11.6m will be made available to Australian Capital Territory non-government schools in recurrent per capita grants this year. This compares with $ 10.4m in 1979-80. A further $400,000 will be made available under other programs of assistance such as text book subsidies and library grants. An estimated $3. 5m for capital programs will be provided to fund new and existing school projects. Funds will be provided for the erection of two Catholic systemic primary schools, at Wanniassa and Kaleen, expected to open in 1982.
The financial provision made for the development of further education in the Australian Capital Territory in 1980-81 reflects an increase of 18 per cent in recurrent expenditure over the previous year, from $ 12.1m to $ 14.4m. Spending on plant and equipment will rise from $700,000 in 1979-80 to $lm in 1980-81, an increase of 35 per cent. The additional provision will allow for major new buildings to be equipped and also for obsolete equipment to be replaced. Funds available for furniture and fittings will rise from $300,000 to $lm. At the same time the funds made available in the program of the National Capital Development Commission for capital works will fall in 1980-81 to $7.7m from the total of $11.7m provided in 1979-80. This reduction reflects the tapering oft* of an extensive building program which has been carried out in recent years. A start is, however, to be made on a major new building, the central services building, at the Canberra College of Technical and Further Education to cost $3.9m.
As from the beginning of 1981 the Woden Technical and Further Education College will take possession of its major new building in the heart of the Woden Valley, and the Canberra School of Art will occupy the impressive new buildings which complete the initial development of its site at Acton. From the beginning of 1981 there will be an increase of 1 5 per cent to 20 per cent in the fees charged for non-vocational courses in Australian Capital Territory further education institutions, in evening colleges and in charges for the use of school facilities by community groups. Details will be announced separately.
Eight educational organisations are to receive grants-in-aid in 1980-81 with a total value of $483,500. The largest single grant is for the Australian Council for Educational Research, which will receive $319,000, an increase of $24,000 over the previous year. It is usual for State governments as a group to match the Commonwealth contribution. The grant to the United World Colleges Trust has been increased from $18,000 to $28,000 to provide for four - an increase of two - scholarships for Australian students in the final two years of secondary schooling to study at United World Colleges in Singapore, Canada and Wales. The Australian Council of State Schools Organisations is to receive a grant of $25,000, the level to which assistance was increased during 1979-80, while the grant to the Australian Parents Council will be increased from $15,000 to $16,500. The Australian Music Examinations Board will continue to receive a grant of $35,000. The grant for the Current Affairs Bulletin, produced by the Adult Education Department of the University of Sydney, has been reduced from $1 5,000 to $10,000. The Australian Association of Adult Education will receive a grant of $20,000, an increase of $3,000. A new grant-in-aid of $30,000 will go to Outward Bound Australia, to assist in the development of courses offered for young people and to help keep course fees at a reasonable level. The grant is recognition of outstanding achievement by a voluntary organisation.
The decisions taken by the Government both in formulating the guidelines for the education commissions and in the Budget context indicate beyond doubt the continuing commitment to maintain the priority of educational programs. Decisions on assistance for students in particular demonstrate the Government’s commitment to maintain its support of students both at schools and tertiary institutions. I present the following paper:
Commonwealth Education Funding 1980-81 - Ministerial Statement, 20 August 1980.
Motion (by Mr Peacock) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– The Budget statements and the statement just made by the Minister for Education (Mr Fife) are clearly a confession of a declining significance given to education in the perspectives of the Fraser Government. For instance, over the last three years education expenditure, as a percentage of total outlays in the Budget, has fallen each year. It was 8.7 per cent in 1978-79, 8.2 per cent in 1979-80 and in 1980-81 it is 8 per cent of total Budget outlays. It is typical, when we look at the Budget, that the only other major functional areas to show this kind of decline are social security and welfare. Indeed, I think it illustrates the basic values which underlie the economic policy of this Government. It is, of course, extremely important that we do not allow the education system of this country slowly to run down in this manner if we are to cope with the industry and employment changes of the 1980s.
Any discussion of this Government’s education policies and any consideration of this year’s expenditure on education must be viewed against the transformation of the Commonwealth commitment to education which was one of the great achievements of the Whitlam Government. Any analysis of contemporary education and, as I say, any judgment on this Government’s achievement on education this year or in its five years of office must start with the achievement of the Labor Government. I want to outline very briefly the major achievements of that Government to see what has happened in. the last five years, culminating in the decisions in the Budget of yesterday.
Between 1972 and 1975 the Commonwealth accepted for the first time complete responsibility for the funding of all universities and colleges of advanced education. The Whitlam Government introduced the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme, which I will return to in a moment. The Whitlam Government established technical and further education on a proper national footing. The Whitlam Government created the Schools Commission and established a Commonwealth provision for all Australian schools on a needs basis. It introduced a wide range of Schools Commission programs which were designed to encourage innovation, community involvement in education, teacher development and attention to deprived areas.
By contrast in the past five years - this year is very much a culmination, with one set of exceptions which I will talk about - we have had a falling away from that kind of commitment. For instance, the guidelines which have been given to the Schools Commission and the Tertiary Education Commission have become increasingly restrictive and pre-emptive of their independence. Secondly, there has been a gradual erosion of the basis of funding in relation to schools. There has been a shift in emphasis if one examines the figures, so that increasingly funding allocations have favoured the wealthier independent schools as against both state schools and the poorer parish, parochial schools. There have been significant cuts in the level of funding in real terms since 1975 right across the educational board, particularly in the more imaginative fields established in the period from 1972 to 1975.
One of the few allegedly imaginative efforts is this cosmetic School to Work Program which the Minister has talked about today. Quite clearly that scheme, which was set up in a hurry and a flurry of advertisements towards the end of last year, has simply produced a series of ad hoc, largely ineffective and hastily drawn up arrangements.
– A mail order scheme.
– Yes. Honourable members do not have to take my word. They can take the word of the Victorian Government on this matter as set out in a document which the Opposition has secured. In it, the Victorian Government describes the School to Work Program as it stands as ill-defined and directionless. It said the program would tie up the State in terms of educational priorities and funding even more than other such programs. So we have here a cosmetic scheme. I noticed that one of the best passages of flannelling in the Minister’s statement referred to those schemes for which it is already clear that at this stage of the year the allocation made in November last year is not yet spent and is unlikely to be spent because of all the problems and complexities resulting from what is an ill thoughtout, hastily prepared, ad hoc type of scheme.
I now want to turn to what might be called the innovations in this statement and in the Budget presented last night. It is characteristic of this Budget that in the education field and most other fields there are a whole series of dollops- little bits of money to keep people happy. It seems almost as though the basic principle was: Do not spend too much on any of these people; do not re- spond logically in any way to their problems; just give them enough to keep them happy in an election year. It is interesting to note that most of these dollops last occurred in the Budget of 1977- that is before the last election. The education budget is very typical of this - a whole series of sweeteners for the electorate and small dollops handed out.
I want to refer to what the ALP has promised the electorate we will do in education and to the logical and rational basis of each of our commitments and compare those changes to the dollops in the same field that have been provided by this Government without in fact very much thought behind them. I want to take first of all that area which relates to general student assistance because this is one of the areas in which there are some signs of expansion in this Government’s Budget. I am happy to acknowledge that the Government’s overall spending in this field is to increase by $38m in a full year. I am prepared to state that the Labor Party will increase spending by $100m in the education field which is some $62m more than is being spent by the Government. Our commitment has been very carefully costed in relation to our total program. Again, I am happy to discover that a document which somehow emerged from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet describes our education proposals in this way: ‘It’s additional expenditure proposals are comparatively modest’. That is, they are modest and reasonable proposals. I might explain that each of those proposals is based on considerations of equity and fairness in accordance with cost of living increases since we were in government in 1975.
How does the Government plan to spend the money? First of all, as the Minister has told us, the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme allowance has been increased by 10 per cent or $4.51 a week which brings it to $49.66 a week. Therefore, the TEAS allowance is less than the new dole level of $53.45 a week; it is less than the value in real terms of the TEAS allowance in 1974. No review has been promised of the anomalies which are increasingly apparent in that scheme. We are also told that the cut-off level for the means test has been increased and that the level is based on the increase in average weekly earnings in the last year. Therefore, not many additional people will be brought within the scope of this scheme. If we simply up the means test level in accordance with the increase in average weekly earnings last year, we will do very little to expand the scope of that scheme.
In contrast with these increases, the Labor Party is committed to a 19.6 per cent increase which will raise the value of the allowance by $8 to $54 a week. This is simply based on the value of the TEAS allowance in 1974 adjusted for the consumer price index increases over the six years since. That seems to us to be a sensible basis for an appropriate and equitable payment. If it was the right and appropriate payment in 1974 it seems proper that the allowance should be raised by $8 to $54 - based on increases in the CPI since 1 974. This adjustment would take the value of the TEAS allowance to just above the present dole level. We are also committed to a review of the means test and its anomalies. There is no doubt that an enormous amount of dissatisfaction exists at present with the TEAS provision. We need a review of those anomalies before we commit ourselves to the types of changes that would be necessary.
I would now like to refer to the second part of the Government’s education proposals set out in the Budget. Post-graduate awards are to be increased by $420 a year, that is from $4,200 to $4,620. The Government introduced this provision in 1977 which was another election year. At that time the benefit was valued at $4,200 and, of course, it has not been raised since. This benefit would have to be raised to $6,500 a year if we were to maintain its value at 1 977 levels, given the fact that a decision was made to tax the benefit in 1978. We are committed to returning this benefit to what the Government thought in 1977 was a fair level. Allowing for the tax and allowing for cost of living increases, the value of the benefit should be $6,500.
Secondary allowance scheme payments have been increased in the Budget by 20 per cent from $550 to $660. All we have done on this issue has been to promise to review this scheme because we regard the whole provision of support for students in secondary schools at this stage of this country’s development as something which requires a much greater review than anything suggested by the Government. As I have said, the Government has raised the payment by 20 per cent - from $550 to $660. This is another of those payments which was last increased in the last election year - that is, 1977. If this payment were to be increased in line with changes in the cost of living since 1977 the amount of money promised by the Government in this year’s Budget would have to be nearly doubled.
Finally, the isolated children’s allowance, which is a basic boarding allowance, is now to be increased by 20 per cent to $600. The total additional spending involved is $2.1m. We have promised a basic allowance of $700 based again on cost of living increases in the period since it was first introduced. Our expenditure on this item, of course, will be somewhat greater.
I have gone through these items in some detail to suggest that there are two sets of proposals. The set of increases in this Budget seems to be fairly arbitrary. There are certainly some increases but it is very difficult to see on what those increases are based. On the other hand in our proposals we have looked at each of these student allowances and tried to relate them either to the value they held under the Labor Government, because some have not been changed since the time of Labor Government, or in other cases to their value in 1977- that is, three years ago when a number of changes were made in these fields. That is the basis of our proposals as against the proposals that have been offered by the Government.
I think what I have said in detail today is typical of the Labor Party’s approach right across the education, health and social welfare fields. We are not committing ourselves, as is sometimes presented, to a whole range of extravagant proposals. What we are doing is looking carefully at cost of living changes that have occurred in the five or six years since changes were made in many of these provisions. We are trying to make adjustments so that people’s living standards are maintained. In addition, there are certain schemes such as the secondary allowance scheme which require wider appraisal. Serious problems have been produced by changes in the last five or six years. Also, changes will clearly occur in the 1980s that demand some expansion of services. Here we may need wider reforms. Let me say again that all of these things have been done cautiously and carefully. They have been costed cautiously and in logical and rational terms.
Debate (on motion by Mr Graham) adjourned.
Speaker has received a letter from the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The failure of the Government to recognise the need for Government sponsored job creation programs.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.
More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places -
- Mr Deputy Speaker, some consideration went into the framing of the matter of public importance before the House, which states:
The failure of the Government to recognise the need for Government sponsored job creation programs.
Some 2,000 years ago a certain person washed his hands of any responsibility for an incident that was to occur a little later on. In the case of unemployment in Australia, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and this Government indicated to Australia as late as last night that they have now washed their hands of the problem of the unemployed in this country. I emphasise these words the need for Government sponsored job creation programs’. It is now almost five years since the honourable member for Wannon became Prime Minister of this country. In all those years we have been told that all we had to do was wait for this Government’s economic management to work, wait for inflation to be reduced, wait for interest rates to be reduced, wait for our industry to become more internationally competitive, and everybody would have jobs. In fact, on no fewer than three occasions the Prime Minister has promised full employment. If I may quote him, he has said: ‘Under the Liberals, there will be jobs for all those who want to go to work’. In November 1978 the Prime Minister said: ‘In February of 1979, unemployment will start to drop and from then on will be less and less in Australia’.
I wish to emphasise that we on this side of the House see unemployment as a top priority and a top responsibility for any government in this country. We do not believe that one can govern for 90 per cent of the people and hope to forget about the problems of the other 10 per cent who are carrying the burden of not being furnished with employment in our society. The Labor Party is not prepared to have policies which totally ignore those people. Incidentally, the figure is a lot higher than 10 per cent. We talk about 6 per cent unemployment, but when the families of those concerned are considered then we are talking about a lot more than 10 per cent of the population. We are talking not just about the unemployed but about the mentality that is being imposed on many young people who are studying very hard, wondering whether they will be able to find employment when they leave school. Young people are being encouraged to leave school early because getting a job is more important than finishing their education. They are leaving school when they should be continuing their education. People are being put out of work because of technological changes.
In spite of everything the Government has said about the provision of employment in Australia, every day during the period in which the honourable member for Wannon has been Prime Minister an additional 1 1 1 people have been put out of work. Since he became Prime Minister an additional 162,000 people have become unemployed. We are now talking about a registered total of 400,000 people who are out of work. Today we do not have even the rhetoric we have had over the years from the Prime Minister and the various employment Ministers about what they will do, their solutions to unemployment, their care for the unemployed, and the way in which they are attacking the problems. As I said earlier, this Government has washed its hands of the problem. It has been made very clear to everybody who has to vote in a few weeks time just who they should vote for after considering the problem of unemployment. If they vote for the Liberal and National Country parties, they are assured by the statements made as late as last night by the Treasurer (Mr Howard) that nothing will be done to reduce to less than 400,000 the number of people in Australia who are registered as unemployed, Those people should look at the proposals that have been put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) and myself, which state that the Government does have a responsibility to the young, the middle aged and the elderly to try to keep them in employment.
There is a very clear alternative as far as the voters of Australia are concerned, not only on this issue but also on many other issues, in the lead-up to the election. The argument is whether there is a need in Australia for a government to intervene in this area. Should a government with the vast resources of the Federal Government intervene to assist the unemployed? There is no doubt at all on our side of politics. Of course the Government should intervene. Of course it should have some responsibility to do something about unemployment. I remind the House that when this Government was coming to power at the end of 1975 it made certain promises about unemployment to the people of Australia. It said that it had a five point plan to fight for the jobless, and this was when the unemployment figure was only 240,000 and not 400,000, as it is today.
Let me tell honourable members what the then Opposition, the Liberal and National Country parties, promised the people of Australia in those days. It promised the retraining of workers whose skills were no longer needed; retention of the regional employment scheme; relocation of workers unable to find jobs to suit their skills and financial aid to them at such a time; local government-run employment schemes in areas of high unemployment where no mass employment opportunities existed; and better access to job information. It is a different story for those parties when they are in Opposition. They make all sorts of promises.
One of the features of this Government which has not gone unnoticed by Australia’s newspapers, and in fact many of them have printed supplements about it, is the Government’s broken promises. In order to achieve power it said that it would do all these things, but there has been absolutely no attempt in the nearly five years it has been in government to treat unemployment as a serious problem. As I said earlier, this Government has washed its hands of the problem. It does not intend to do anything about unemployment, and it is left to the Australian Labor Party to raise the issue and ask everybody in Australia to think seriously about it. If we continue on any longer with the policies of this Government we will be talking not about 400,000 unemployed but about 500,000 or 600,000 unemployed. At the moment, the only figures we have are those that are caught up in the net of the Australian Bureau of Statistics or compiled from the numbers of people who, despite not receiving unemployment benefits, are prepared to register with the Commonwealth Employment Service. We know that approximately 400,000 people are unemployed. In addition, many old people have dropped out of the work force because they find it impossible to get employment. The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research estimates that there are 300,000 hidden unemployed. That Institute does not say that 400,000 people are out of work, it says that 700,000 people are out of work.
Let us consider the way in which the ratio of people out of work to vacancies has grown. In 1980 there were 24 registered unemployed for every vacancy; four years ago there were 14 such people. It is much tougher today to find a job than it was four years ago. There are 38 young Australians out of work throughout this country for every job vacancy. The enormity of the job crisis for the unskilled is staggering, with 79 adult unskilled manual workers competing for every vacancy- 79 unskilled people in this country for every job available for them. Unless the Government does something, those people are doomed to permanent unemployment. Nothing other than
Government sponsored job creation will get them into work.
The other issue which must be considered is the duration for which these people are unemployed, because that also has changed drastically. The average duration for which people in Australia are unemployed at the moment is 29 weeks. Four years ago it was 17 weeks. The average duration for 15-year-olds to 19-year-olds has gone from 18 weeks to 24 weeks. It has gone from 27 weeks to 38 weeks for those 55 years old and over. Honourable members can rest asssured that many of the people in the group where the average duration of unemployment is now 38 weeks will never work again. This Government does not care about that. This Government has told Australia that it does not care what happens to the people who are unemployed. We have been told by government authorities that 1,100,000 people- 300,000 more than in 1976 - suffered the degradation of unemployment during 1979. More people are being affected by unemployment. More people are unemployed for a longer period. This affects every area of Australia- the major cities, the provincial towns and the smaller country towns. No matter where one goes, one finds people who are unemployed.
We have been told by the Government that, by reducing inflation, the private sector will take over and employ all the people who require jobs in Australia. An examination of that theory shows that, in spite of the fact that the Goverment pumped $2.5 billion of the taxpayers money into private industry in the last four years, fewer people are employed in private industry in Australia today than were employed four years ago. It is of no use believing what one is told by this Government. If the situation were not so serious it would be laughable to continue to believe what this Government says about putting people back to work.
The climax of this Government’s performance on unemployment was reached last night. One can look through all the statements which are attached to the Budget but one will not find one word of rhetoric which tells us that the Government intends to do anything about unemployment. We saw and heard the Treasurer (Mr Howard) on television and radio. We heard the Prime Minister on radio this morning. The fact is that this Government is trying to condition the people of Australia into believing that nothing at all can be done. The Opposition is asking the people of Australia to think very seriously about this issue before they vote. The Opposition will spend money to create jobs right throughout Australia. At least 100,000 Australians will be employed under programs which the Opposition, if elected, would put into operation instantly.
The Government is spending more than $1 billion of the taxpayers money on unemployment benefit. Everybody who goes to work has to pay $180 in tax so that this Government can pay out unemployment benefit. The Government spends $1 billion on that but it will not spend one cent on finding a job for any person of any age, sex or colour in this country.
The Labor Party is committed to governmentsponsored job creation programs because it understands the need of the families and the social need of the community. The purchasing power that would go back to these people would assist lots of other people to find employment. The Opposition would prefer someone to have the dignity of a job than to suffer the loss of dignity by having to pick up an employment benefit cheque in the post every couple of weeks.
A sea of difference exists between the humane attitude that the Opposition is taking and the attitude that this Government is taking. I understand clearly the attitude this Government is taking. It is doing so because it is led by a man of great privilege and of great wealth who does not understand how families have to live in this country and who does not understand what it is like to be unemployed and to try to live on $150 or $200 per week. He has never experienced any of those things. He does not have any relationship at all with the average family in this country, so how can one expect him to take some sort of charitable attitude to the tens of thousands of fellow Australians upon whom a great burden has been placed and who have been told that they cannot be supplied with work? Unemployment will be an issue for debate between now and the election. I hope that the tens of thousands of Australians whom I know are concerned about the issue- just as concerned as the Opposition - will join the Opposition and vote for a policy of job creation sponsored by the government.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– We have not heard anything new in the debate this afternoon. It has covered exactly the same ground as was covered in a debate in this House on 25 March this year. The people of Australia are not being offered anything new by way of policy or argument on behalf of the Opposition. It is clear that there is a difference of view between the Opposition and the Government on how to tackle the matter of unemployment. The honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) made the rather trite observation that nothing but job creation will get people back to work. At the centre of the issue is the question of whether jobs are created substantially by obtaining growth in the economy through private enterprise or by spending the taxpayers’ money, that is, by a government-funded job creation program whereby the community is asked to pay higher and higher taxes and to put more and more money into the hands of government and the government decides where to invest and spend that money. That, of course, is the clear distinction between the socialist philosophy of taking money from the people by way of tax and then letting the government decide where to spend it and the Liberal philosophy of leaving money with the people so that they can make their own choices and their own decisions as to investment and thereby produce growth in the economy.
The Government has said very clearly and unashamedly that it follows the private enterprise philosophy. The facts bear out the success of our philosophy not only during the last five years but also in the post-war period. Can anybody deny that Australia has prospered under the private enterprise polices of former Liberal-National Country Party governments? Can anybody deny that Australia suffered seriously under the socialist economic policies of the Whitlam Government, led by people such as Dr Jim Cairns and the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) when he was Treasurer?
As I said in the debate on 25 March, the Opposition is now putting forward precisely the same job creation proposals as it abandoned when the Leader of the Opposition was Treasurer in 1975. 1 refer, of course, to the well-known Regional Employment Development Scheme. This scheme was not only well known but also greatly discredited. It could not succeed and it did not succeed. It was acknowledged by the Labor Government of the day to be a failure. Rather than pour more and more money into such job creation schemes, the Labor Government abandoned that policy in its 1975 Budget. That cannt be denied because it is on record. Let me put one other simple proposition which I am sure the people of Australia will appreciate. If the spending of more and more of the taxpayers’ money by the Government were the answer to unemployment, the Whitlam Government would have solved the unemployment problem overnight. Any government in the world would be able to solve the unemployment problem overnight simply by levying more and more taxes on the people and spending more and more money on so-called job creation schemes. Honourable members and the public know that that kind of economic policy and social policy has been a failure throughout the world. As I have said, if the spending of government money were the simple answer to unemployment, the problem of unemployment would have been solved many years ago.
Let me point out to honourable members what has happened over the last 1 2 months in particular to indicate the very strong growth in employment throughout 1979 and 1980. Between June 1979 and June 1980 total employment increased by 1 75,000 persons. That figure comprised 60,700 males and 114,400 females- 77,000 unmarried women and 37,400 married women. Some 130,700 people included in that figure of 175,100 were in full time employment. The bulk of the growth in 12 months has been in full time employment. Between June 1 979 and June 1 980 total employment increased by 175,100. In fact, the yearonyear increase in employment has been in excess of 100,000 persons, since September 1979. That means a persistent and sustained growth in the number qf people employed and compares very favourably with the four years up to 1978 when the average annual increase in employment was only about 30,000. As I have said, since September 1979 the annual increase has been in excess of 100,000 persons.
One of the reasons that unemployment has not reduced in direct correlation to the increase in employment is that the economy has been sufficiently strong to absorb that growth in employment. Because it has been so strong it has attracted more people into the labour force. People know that the economy is stronger and that job opportunities are greater; therefore they are being attracted into the labour force. In fact, this is reflected in the strong rise in the labour force participation rate.
– Do you believe that?
– Perhaps the honourable member for Fremantle read some economics at some time, and labour economics in particular, and will understand what is involved in the participation rate. I repeat that this trend is reflected in the strong rise in the labour force participation rate. It has risen from an average of 60.7 per cent in the June quarter of 1979 to an average of 61.3 per cent in the June quarter of 1980. In other words, significantly more people are seeking work because they know that the economy is stronger.
As I advised the House in a debate on 25 March of this year, the cost of the Labor Government’s job creation proposals is about $ 1,000m. That has not been denied in this debate today.
– Yes it has.
– It has not been denied because the Opposition knows that the costing that I put forward in March this year is correct. The job creation proposal will be a cost to the taxpayer. The Budget introduced by the Treasurer (Mr Howard) provides a domestic surplus of $39m. The Labor Party proposals mean that the Labor Party will have to ask the taxpayer to go into debt by $1 ,000m or will have to increase taxes in order to raise that $ 1,000m. How can the Labor Party put forward a proposition in one breath to spend $ 1 ,000m more on job creation proposals- this can be done only by increasing the debt or raising taxes - and in the other breath claim it will cut taxes?
I am quite sure, come the election time that the honourable member for Port Adelaide was speaking about, that one of the key policies of the Labor Party will be a promise to cut taxes. If that is so, the economic logic - let alone the figures - means that if taxes are cut to finance this sort of program the debt will be increased even further, and so there will be a higher deficit. As I said before when referring the House to the Whitlam days, if money alone were the answer to unemployment we would have seen unemployment dealt with overnight. We know that that is not the answer because of the experience of the Whitlam years. I remind the House again that between August 1973 and August 1975- that might be said to be the heyday of the Whitlam Government - the number of unemployed looking for fulltime work rose from 67,200 to 21 5,500. That was an increase of 210 per cent. The Whitlam Government spent more money more liberally than any other government in Australian history. Let not the Opposition in this House try to tell the Australian people that by spending $ 1,000m unemployment will be solved overnight. The man in the street knows that the only way in which Australia can create work for its people is by economic growth. The only way to see the economy grow is to provide the industrial and commercial environment for private people to be prepared to invest their money, that is, to risk their capital, and in that way to employ people. Over the last 1 2 months, without any cost to the taxpayer and by way of publicly funded job creation programs, employment has increased by 1 75,000.
Let me outline some of the things that the Government will be doing in this year’s Budget to help the unemployed and the work force generally. About 236,000 Australians will be assisted under the Government’s manpower, training and youth support programs. More than 100,000 people will be assisted under the National Employment and Training Program; 90,000 people will be assisted under the Commonwealth Rebate for Apprentice Full-time Training; and 52,000 will be assisted under the Community Youth Support Scheme. The Government will spend $ 138.57m. I like to think of this as an investment in the future of young Australians and as an investment in the retraining and training of older Australians. The allocation for the manpower, training and youth support programs represents an increase of $25m or 22 per cent over what was spent last year. That is not a bad record for my Department. In fact, the Government is investing $56.6m in the training of apprentices - an increase of $13.8m or 32 per cent on the 1979-80 expenditure.
We will help the handicapped into open employment as distinct from sheltered employment. We will increase by $1 .3m the money that is available to my Department in this area. The total will now be $2.3m. Out of that, $300,000 will be spent on a national program to promote employment and training opportunities for the handicapped. In occupational information, which is so utterly vital for our young people, particularly those leaving school, we will spend $162m - an increase of 1 88 per cent. We aim to provide careers libraries to all Australian secondary schools. Let me repeat that: We aim to provide careers libraries to all Australian secondary schools.
Let us look at the Government’s record over the last few years which has been so maligned by the honourable member for Port Adelaide. The programs of the Fraser Government over that time have assisted more than 570,000 people. That number is expected to rise to nearly 800,000 by the end of this financial year. Let nobody in the Opposition say that those figures demonstrate a lack of concern by this Government for our young people or for our unemployed. The figures demonstrate that we are prepared to invest the taxpayers’ money effectively in order to provide them with greater opportunities for training and work experience and also to provide support, if it is needed, while they are seeking work.
I mention in particular the new Budget measures to encourage part time work for those unemployed by lifting the allowable income that the unemployed may earn. That is something about which all of us have received representations. 1 think of all the matters that have come forward in the Budget - and there are many, particularly in the social security and the labour and employment area- this one will be of the greatest benefit to the young unemployed. It will particularly help those young people who are suffering from a long period of unemployment. It will enable them to earn more without losing their unemployment benefit. It will keep them in the work force and keep their motivation and morale high while they are seeking full time employment. I draw that matter to the attention of the House because it will be of great benefit to the unemployed.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– The Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) is even more dismal in his portfolio than he was as Leader of the House. It is easy to see why he was removed from that job and he will be removed from the Ministry by the electors quite soon, probably at the end of October. Let me set him straight on a few of the facts. First of all, on the question of unemployment, he ought to know that throughout the 1970s the rise in unemployment was a universal phenomenon in the Western world. Whilst it is true that between 1973 and 1975 there was an increase in unemployment in Australia and an end to the ‘golden era’ of full employment characteristic of Western economies between 1945 and 1974, it must be remembered that in that period unemployment in Australia was well below the average of the 25 countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. One thing that is quite clear is that unemployment in Australia is now well above the OECD average.
The OECD countries with the best employment figures are Sweden and West Germany. West Germany has a Socialist government. Sweden has a coalition government at the moment but honourable members know full well that for the last 50 years the socialist party has been in control for about 45 years. So much for the nonsense that a free enterprise economy will bring Australia back to full employment. It is utter naivety for the Minister to suggest that the remedy for economic growth lies completely in the hands of the Australian consumer, that he will pull money out of his pocket and that is what will decide how the economy will go.
Let us look at what has happened to our economy recently. I refer, for example, to the closure of the General Motors-Holden’s Pagewood plant in Sydney. What part did the ordinary Australian consumer have in that? That was not a decision made in Australia. It was not a decision made by the Australian Government. It was not a decision made by the New South Wales Government. It was not even a decision made by the Australian board of General Motors. The decision was made in Detroit and communicated by telephone. There is enormous consolidation towards large scale, high volume but low employing industry and the elimination of many small businesses, which are still relatively very high employers. In the last few years we have the phenomenon of record profits for big business and record numbers of bankruptcy for small businesses.
Increasingly the commanding heights in the Australian economy are being dominated by the multinationals. As a result we are losing control over our economic destiny. The Government, in fact, is losing the power to control the economy and what is even worse, it has utterly lost the will to attempt to control it. These are the commanding heights of the Australian economy controlled not by Australians but by people from other nations: Coal, copper, aluminium, uranium, motor manufacturing, food processing, advertising, computers, drugs, chemicals, plastics and petrol. The only thing we have which is entirely our own is Liberal Party rhetoric and humbug. That, as yet, has not been taken over by multinational corporations, perhaps because they do not see any profitability in it.
There is a complete failure by the Government to understand what is happening in the world economy. They have a complete misunderstanding of economic history. The Government tried to give the impression that since the Industrial Revolution, which began 200 years ago in Great Britain, full employment has been the norm and that current high levels of unemployment are a mere temporary phase, due to reduced levels of demand. In that 200 years since 1 780 in Britain, the characteristic form of employment has been instability. Over a period of 200 years there has been 30 years of full employment, 30 years of war and 140 years of unstable employment with sharp alternations between high and low levels. Even in the period 1919 to 1939, when Britain still had a dominant world economic position, average unemployment was 1 1 per cent per annum.
That golden era to which I referred before of full employment between 1945 and 1974 was an anomoly, not the norm, in countries such as Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. What was the characteristic of that period? The characteristic was heavy government intervention in the economy. This was the period when, Great Britain, for example, adopted the economic teaching of J. M. Keynes and the White Paper on full employment produced by Sir William Beveridge. In Australia J. B. Chifley also produced a White Paper on full employment. It was the period of the Attlee Government in Great
Britain, of the Chifley Government here, of Truman’s Fair Deal in the United States. That was the first time in 200 years of economic history that Western economies had full employment in peace time.
It is nonsense and mendacious of the Government to suggest that somehow we are just going through a temporary phase of unemployment. It has been quite exceptional to have full employment in peace time and this has always been accompanied by a heavy degree of Government intervention. The period 1945-74 involved a revolution in education, a revolution in secondary education, a revolution in motor transport and in the massive provision of health services. We had vast programs of building schools, universities, roads, public works in Australia - such public works as the Snowy River scheme and the beginning of the social welfare scheme.
It is true that there was also a heavy contribution to employment in that period of the Cold War because of heavy defence expenditure and defence related industries. But honourable members on the Government side should not delude themselves that that transition to full employment after the Second World War was something that just happened. It did not just happen. It was the result of direct Government intervention, of public involvement in promoting all manner of things that are now very much out of fashion. What we have instead is a sharp dose of Friedmanite economic policies, marked by that sharp swing to the Right in the English speaking world during the middle of the late 1970s, with Malcolm Fraser, Robert Muldoon in New Zealand, Mrs Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain and to some extent even Jimmy Carter in the United States. The Dr Strangeloves in the Department of the Treasury reject the idea of Government intervention in the economy and rely entirely on the operation of market forces. Look at the dazzling successes of this achievement in Great Britain; look at the 1,800,000 unemployed there. That was because of a government which is following, in a somewhat less inhibited form, the policies that this Government would like to pursue. Of course, Great Britain does not have anything like the National Country Party involved in the Government.
– What about Friedman’s other successes in Chile and Israel?
– Certainly the case of Chile is one of the great disaster areas where the adoption of so-called free market economics has led to a situation so catastrophic that no election of any kind can be permitted for 19 years. The government has made a complete falsification of economic history. Those people do not understand what they are doing. There is also a complete failure to recognise the tragic wastage of human talent and the skill and ingenuity of human beings that is going down the drain. The Minister does not appear to recognise what he ought to recognise and that is that while there has certainly been an increase in the absolute numbers of people who are in some form of work - I include part time work - he spoke deceptively as though the figure to which he was referring was full time work. That is not the case. It is full and part time work. There is also–
-Order! Is the Minister taking a point of order?
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I take objection to the use of the word ‘deceptively’ because I very clearly stated to the House the number of people in full time employment, as part of that 130,000, as part of 175,000 growth in employment.
-Order! Does the Minister take this as a personal reflection on himself?
– It was an attempted deception.
– Will the honourable member withdraw?
– Yes, I withdraw. There is a complete failure to recognise what governments can do in order to promote employment here. Let me give an example. Nothing has been done to help small and medium size industry gain access to venture capital. The firm Solarhart Ltd, an innovative Australian manufacturer of solar heating and cooling appliances, could not raise from local banks or government institutions the capital it required for expansion. As a result, Solarhart had to sell a half interest to Royal Dutch Shell. The price of expansion was to sell 50 per cent, in practice a controlling interest, to a foreign owned multinational corporation whose operations represent a complete conflict of interest. That is absolutely scandalous. We have to look at the horror story of the Government’s failure to support Ted Pritchards steam car, which was a proven success and which could have been a major world contributor to the energy crisis.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. I call the honourable member for Kingston.
– The honourable member for Mitsubishi.
– I am amazed that the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) could get his tongue around such a word. He amazes me. What we have heard from the honourable member for Port Adelaide and his colleague, the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones), today is not only a further farrago of abuse in relation to the Government’s policies in the area of employment but also an abuse of statistics. They have been used as the drunk uses a lamp post - more for support than for illumination.
The honourable member for Port Adelaide asserted that there were fewer people employed in the private sector now than some four years ago. Of course, what he failed to tell us was that during the period the Labor Government was in office and, more especially, between August 1974 and August 1 975, some 1 55,000 jobs were destroyed in the private sector as a direct result of the policies pursued by the Whitlam Labor Government. The Fraser Government, when it came to office, had to restore those jobs and rebuild employment generally in the private sector. Hence his abuse of statistics.
Of course, what is really important is not what happened three or four years ago or what has happened over the intervening period but what is happening here and now in Australia and what we have seen happen over the last 12 months. The facts are that over the last 12 months we have seen a growth in employment of 175,000 people compared with a growth’ of about 1 86,000 over the whole of the previous five years. That clearly demonstrates the success of the Government’s approach to economic management and long term job creation in the private sector, as against the short term approach that the Opposition would have used.
The proposals put forward by the Australian Labor Party for government job creation give full vent to its socialist intentions, supposedly to solve the problem of unemployment by more government intervention and increased government spending.
Whenever there is a problem to be solved in our community, the Labor Party uses it as an excuse for more government intervention, for more government control over the lives of people and for further destruction of individual freedom. Of course, it always dresses this up as being well intentioned. But apart from the fact that, in most instances, government intervention to solve a problem is not the best solution, the Labor Party is really motivated by the desire to centralise power and to centralise government control. This is reflected especially in its proposals for so-called government job creation.
The proposals that were put forward in March and which have been promoted ever since by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden), the honourable member for Port Adelaide and today by the honourable member for Lalor they claim would create 100,000 jobs at a full year cost of $330m. Back in 1974-75 when the Labor Party was last in office, its economic management and the same basic economic policy and proposals it has put forward again this year led to a decline of 155,000 jobs in private sector employment. It spent nearly $200m over a 1 5 month period on the Regional Employment Development scheme before it finally abandoned it in its last Budget before it went out of office. Under the RED scheme in mid- 1975, public sector employment reached its peak of 32,000 jobs. No one who seriously examines the proposals put forward by the honourable member for Port Adelaide can possibly believe that the costing is realistic.
The simplistic reasoning underlying the Labor Party’s proposals is that all wage subsidy and public employment programs create jobs. It is assumed that if a person who is unemployed is placed on a public sector job creation program or is taken on by the private sector through a wage subsidy, he or she will represent an additional employed person. No account is taken of the complexity of the economic system and the likelihood that the financing of the worker on the job creation project will result in a diversion of funds from elsewhere which will put someone else’s job at risk. Nor is it apparently realised that the job creation project may result in reduced spending elsewhere or a reduction in the demand for capital or labour from some other area or that the output produced by that subsidised worker may be competitive with and therefore substituted for the output of an unsubsidised worker.
Then we get to the real costs of the proposed program of the Labor Party. The real cost is not $330m as it would have us believe but something nearer $ 1,000m a year. Apart from the wages of those involved- those for whom the jobs are being created - there are considerable additional costs of administration, materials and equipment and, of course, higher wage related expenses such as workers’ compensation. If we once again compare the estimate of cost given by the Labor Party for its current proposals against the real cost of its previous RED scheme, it becomes obvious that the estimates are far too small. So the program is far more costly than has been estimated by the
Labor Party. It is just not telling the truth again in this instance.
What we need to recognise is the effects that this massive increase in government spending would have, either on the deficit or on increased taxation. If the Labor Party does not increase taxation and fund such a project purely by increasing the deficit, a deficit which the present Fraser Government has fought hard and successfully to reduce to restore economic stability to this country, with that increased deficit we would see increased inflation and increased interest rates which would destroy the hard won recovery of this Government. So that would destroy more jobs eventually than would be created in the short term through the job creation project. Of course, if the Labor Party decided, on the other hand, to increase taxation, that would take money out of the pockets of people, money which they would spend on consumer goods or other activities and which would, therefore, create jobs in the private sector. Not having that money to spend, those goods and services will not be demanded and so those jobs in that private sector will be destroyed. Once again, the long term effect of this job creation program would be to destroy more jobs than it would create.
– What do you think the recipients would do with it? Send it abroad? What do you think they are going to do with the money when they get it in their hands?
– The honourable member for Lalor just does not understand that if we increase inflation and interest rates by increasing the deficit, the effect of that will far outweigh any money that is put into the hands of unemployed people through the job creation program, as 1 have just explained. The honourable member needs to take a few lessons in basic economics.
– They cannot afford to employ kids.
– Of course they cannot afford to employ people. These criticisms are made, not only on the basis of experience here in Australia, but also overseas where job creation projects have been experimented with in Great Britain, Sweden and other countries. In each case, research now being made available by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that those job creation programs have been detrimental to long term job growth in those countries and have destroyed the potential for economic growth. This is evident in the case of the Temporary Employment Subsidy Scheme in the United Kingdom. That is a specific example. Of course, the key factor about such proposals is that they are merely a temporary treatment of the symptoms. They completely ignore the underlying causes of unemployment. To the great credit of the present Government, it has given attention to these underlying causes.
The other thing we need to remember in relation to long term job creation is the threat which is posed by the unrealistic attitude which has been adopted by trade union leaders and foisted on their members. The potential for longer term job creation is jeopardised by the currency given to the economic madness that every wage earner is entitled to the benefits of collective bargaining, work value wage hikes, indexation and productivity increases and a shorter working week all added together. To argue in this way is to raise the expectations of the Australian wage earner beyond what is an economic reality. The economy does not have the capacity to pay and those in the end who do pay are the unemployed. The president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Hawke, the would-be member for Wills, made a great song and dance in his Boyer lectures about the problems of unemployment.
– The Leader of the Opposition.
– Well, he is the would-be Leader of the Opposition. But all such concern evaporates when the ACTU argues its case before the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Without exception, under the presidency of Mr Hawke, the union movement has persistently demanded more and more for its members ignoring, in the process, those who are unemployed and the way in which such demands have the potential to create further unemployment. It seems that there is nobody so forgotten by his trade union than the person who is no longer a union member because he is out of a job. There is nobody so unknown by the unions as he who has never been a union member because he has never had a job.
It is no longer valid to imagine that economic growth will occur independently of what the trade union movement does. Of course, the Australian Labor Party claims a special relationship with trade unions. If it has that special relationship - I do not believe it has; it was demonstrated not to be in existence the last time we saw Labor in office - then surely it ought to use that special relationship to influence the trade union movement to adopt a more moderate approach and thereby contribute to an improved employment situation in the longer term. The only approach that can be adopted is that which has been adopted by the Government over the last five years - to ensure that there is a sound economic policy, and to adopt training programs to assist those who are unemployed. Those programs have been detailed today by the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner), and on that basis we can expect a significant improvement in employment. Such improvement has occurred in the last 12 months and will continue in the decade of the 1980s.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. The discussion is concluded.
Bill presented by Mr Hunt, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to increase the assistance available to organisations providing Meals on Wheels services. These services form an important part of the comprehensive health and welfare program introduced in the late 1960s to help the most needy and disadvantaged members of our community. The fundamental objective of the programs introduced at that time was to encourage and enable elderly and disabled people to remain in their own homes. Measures which are designed to achieve this objective include: The States Grants (Home Care) Act 1969, which in association with the States, local government authorities, community and charitable organisations provides financial assistance for a range of home care services, for senior citizens centres and for welfare officers; the States Grants (Paramedical Services) Act 1969, which assists the States or an approved service to provide paramedical support to aged people in the community; the States Grants (Dwellings For Aged Pensioners) Act 1969, which has now been absorbed into the Housing Assistance Act 1 978; and the Delivered Meals Subsidy Act 1970, which assists approved organisations in the provision of meals for aged or invalid persons.
The Government has significantly expanded the program of assistance for aged and disabled people needing home care services. Allocations for subsidies for welfare officer salaries, housekeeper services, home repairs, gardening, laundry, and other home care services under the States Grants (Home Care) Act have been increased by some $7m, or 1 1 1 per cent compared with the expenditure in the 1975-76 financial year. This program is a very important contribution to helping aged, infirm and disabled people to remain independent of institutional care, within their own familiar surroundings, for as long as possible.
Turning to the Delivered Meals Subsidy Act, which is the subject of this Bill, honourable members will know that Meals on Wheels organisations were first established in Australia by voluntary organisations, without Commonwealth aid. Those organisations made every effort to expand the scope of their operations, and in 1970 the Commonwealth introduced the principal Act to provide a stimulus to the organisations in this very worthy aim. That the intentions of both the organisations and the Commonwealth have been met may be gauged from the current scope of the program. At 30 June 1980, 671 separate services were being funded, involving the provision during the 1979-80 financial year of over 8.35 million meals. The total subsidy provided in 1979-80 was $2.493m. This may be compared with approximately 100 services delivering almost 800,000 meals annually before the legislation was introduced. It may be of further interest to honourable members to note that since the inception of the Act almost 60 million meals have been delivered.
These achievements have been made possible only by the efforts of voluntary and local government organisations. Co-operation between the Commonwealth and these organisations is vital. This Bill does much to facilitate the furtherance of this very real partnership. We know that voluntary organisations are faced with increasing overhead expenditure, and although it is still possible to obtain public donations towards the cost of a tangible project such as a building, it is much more difficult to raise community funds to meet operational costs. This Bill will materially assist organisations to meet operating costs. However, the subsidy is not intended to cover the full costs of operation, in recognition of the importance of the continuing contribution from the community itself and from those who receive meals. The Bill increases the subsidy for delivered meals from 30 cents per meal where a vitamin C supplement is provided, and 25 cents for every other meal, to 45 cents and 40 cents respectively. It is anticipated that these increases will involve additional Commonwealth expenditure of $ 1.29m in the 1980-81 financial year. Total estimated expenditure for the year is $3.94m.
As honourable members will readily appreciate, this program, as well as being of great significance within the community, is most favourable in cost effectiveness terms, and is critical to maintaining people in their own homes. I am sure that all honourable members will recognise the importance of giving every encouragement for community-based services, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank those voluntary organisations and workers who provide their time to make this service to the community as successful as it is. This Bill will further encourage voluntary effort in assisting aged and disabled members of the community to remain in their own homes, an aim which is most appropriate for 1981, the International Year of Disabled Persons. I commend this Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Dr Cass) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Garland, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to enact the excise tariff alterations moved in the House on 17 April 1980 by Excise Tariff Proposals (No. 2) 1980. Excise Tariff Proposals (No. 2) 1980 increased the excise duty on naturally-occurring liquefied petroleum gas from $14 to $41 .65 per kilolitre. This measure was taken against the background of substantial increases in the price of LPG. Government policies set out by the Minister for National Development and Energy (Senator Carrick) on 8 April 1980 explained a comprehensive package of measures designed to encourage the use of LPG as a means of reducing our dependence on imported oil, particularly in areas where LPG has a premium value, such as for automotive use. Australia will also be more self-sufficient and hence more secure in supplies of essential energy requirements if greater quantities of LPG are used in the Australian domestic market rather than being exported.
In accordance with Government policy, the new maximum wholesale price of LPG was reduced to $205 per tonne with effect from 9 April 1980. From that date the wholesale price of naturally occurring LPG will be linked with the price of indigenous crude oil and will increase by the same percentage as any increase in the price of that oil. The price of ex-refinery LPG will also move in accordance with any such adjustment. These arrangements will maintain an appropriate price differential between LPG and crude oil. The controlled prices will not apply, however, to LPG when used as a petrochemical feedstock in nontraditional industrial uses or for exports. The only exception to the nexus between crude oil and LPG pricing will occur on those occasions when world prices for LPG become lower than the Australian domestic price. In this event the lower export parity price would become the basic price for domestic purposes. Against this background the Government has decided to set a formula to provide an appropriate level of excise collections from the revenue received by producers of naturally occurring LPG derived from fields in production in August 1977. The excise will be set at a rate which is equivalent to 60 per cent of the average wholesale price in excess of $147 per tonne. The revenue raised from the new excise arrangements is estimated to be $104m in 1980-81 . 1 commend this Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Dr Cass) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 1 May, on motion by Mr Macphee:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not intend to oppose the Immigration (Unauthorized Arrivals) Bill 1980, but I want to make it clear at the outset that the Opposition did envisage seeking to have it referred to a legislative committee because in its view it is a good example of legislation which needs to be reviewed carefully to ensure that no injustices are done while ensuring that the aim and purpose of the legislation is fulfilled. In saying that, I want to make it clear that the comments I am about to make, although critical, are not critical of the purpose. We are simply worried about whether the purpose can be achieved. We have decided, therefore, not to oppose the motion for the second reading of the Bill but to propose a series of amendments. If the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Macphee) does not have a copy of them, I will give him one now. They are an attempt to be constructive and to encompass the doubts we have. I will touch on the proposed amendments now and deal with them in more detail in the Committee stage.
The main offence created by this legislation is to be found in clause 6, which applies to the master and all members of the crew of an aircraft or ship which brings to Australia more than the relevant number of persons who are not Australian citizens and are not holding visas. That is a pretty stiff penalty. It is right and proper because we have to do something about stopping the trade that is occurring in human bodies and misery. We agree with that. The relevant number of persons is five or whatever number is specified by the regulations. Technically, the bringing of more than the relevant number of persons to Australia would be an offence even if those persons were stowaways and their presence on the vessel was unknown to the captain and crew. The Minister may be able to clarify that and ensure that that problem does not arise. It is conceivable that more than the specified number of persons may manage to secrete themselves on a vessel without anybody knowing. Although that may not be true in practice it is at least theoretically possible. I will await the Minister’s clarification on that.
The legislation is extremely wide. It is intended that its operation be cut down under clause 23 by the process of requiring the Attorney-General to give consent to prosecutions. In other words, if it is thought that someone has broken the law and that charges should be laid, the Attorney-General has to give his approval before the charges are proceeded with. We feel that that ought not to be necessary. Either the departmental official feels that someting is wrong or he does not. If the departmental official feels that the law has been broken, he should feel that way because of fairly clearly defined criteria. We do not see why it should be necessary to obtain a second opinion at that stage from the Attorney-General. After all, one is asking the Attorney-General in a sense to be a judge without having to hear the evidence. The individual about to be prosecuted would be fortunate if the Attorney-General says that he has no charge to face. Good luck to him. It is a matter of the luck of the draw or the mood of the Attorney-General whether evidence is submitted to a court. In other words, we are almost suggesting that the legislation should be made a bit stricter and tougher simply by saying that if it appears that the law has been broken the matter should be taken to court. The matter should not depend on whether the Attorney-General thinks one might win. It should be taken to court and fought out there. We will oppose clause 23 when the time comes and hope that it is deleted.
The provision in clause 6 making the members of the crew of ships and aircraft equally as guilty as the master seems to us to be unjustifiable. The Minister should clarify this matter. What can the crew of an aircraft say if the captain decides to fly here with an aircraft full of illegal immigrants? The crew cannot get out up there. Similarly, if a fair sized ship stops well off shore somewhere and picks up a lot of illegal immigrants, the master alone being aware that that is to happen and the members of the crew simply doing their job, the members of the crew cannot be expected to swim to shore. They are caught. We need some reassurance that everyone will not be considered guilty and that an effort will be made to differentiate between the person really responsible and the crew members who are innocently doing their job.
The Minister specifies in the legislation that defences under clause 6, such as unforeseen emergencies and, in the case of ships, the right of innocent passage, are for the defendant to prove. In other words, if something goes wrong and the aircraft or ship finishes up in one of our ports or airports, in the way in which we understand the legislation, the Government expects the captain or the master to prove that he was forced to come here. It is up to him to prove it; it is not up to the prosecutor to prove that the captain or master did not have to come, that he chose to come because he was doing something illegal. In other words, it is a reversal of the onus of proof. We feel that in this case the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, with all the resources behind it, would not find it difficult to prove that when a master puts into Darwin he does it quite deliberately and conversely, that he was not driven off course by a storm. The Department would know that he was not telling the truth about the storm because it would have access to weather information and so on. The Department should have to prove an allegation rather than expect the master to call the appropriate witnesses to prove that there was a storm and that he had to put in because he had no other choice or because something went wrong. The Opposition is worried about the onus of proof. We say that if the master has done it and it is proved, he is guilty and should be fined.
Under clause 1 1 of the Bill the master of the ship may be required to remove from Australia unauthorised arrivals at his expense. We do not disagree with that. It is not clear whether the reasonable period referred to in this section is justifiable- that is, whether it is subject to challenge. This comes up in other places. I will refer to that later. But I want to make the point now that it may not be in the circumstances a reasonable period that the officer has granted the master to get the offending persons out of the country. If the ship breaks down and has to be repaired and the master is told that it will take only three weeks but it is discovered later that it will take longer, what does the master do? Is it possible for him to challenge the period in which he is expected to take the people out, claiming that it is unreasonably short? I have not come up with a form of words because I could not think of any to amend that part, but I feel that is something which needs to be taken into account. Otherwise it is conceivable that some poor blighter, accepting that it is his responsibility but unable to do it because of circumstances beyond his control, will be caught because somebody has decided that a reasonable period is such and such and he will be able to do nothing about it. I would be grateful if the Minister would look into that situation.
Clause 1 2 allows not only arrest without warrant in all cases of people who are unauthorised arrivals - 1 think that is probably necessary - but also an inquisition-style hearing before a magistrate. These hearings need not comply with the rules of evidence and people can be forced to give evidence, including evidence which would amount to self-incrimination. The clause I am complaining about states, in part:
A prescribed authority-
shall make a thorough investigation of the matter which he is required to inquire into–
Of course, he should. But it continues:
Without regard to legal forms, and shall not be bound by any rules of evidence, but may inform himself of any relevant matter in such manner as he thinks fit.
That is the kernel of our worry. We think there should be some rules so that people’s rights cannot be dismissed or ignored. We are suggesting that those words should be omitted. We suggest that not because we do not think people should be charged, because of course they should, but, if they are to be charged, the proper rules of an ordinary court should hold so that the charged person has some chance- the sort of option we recognise in courts of law - to defend himself. If he has committed the offence of which he is suspected, with all the powers at the disposal of the state it will not be difficult to prove the case. But for the poor blighter not to expect the normal courtesies of a court to help him protect himself seems to the Opposition to be a bit much.
In clause 18 we again have the problem of a specified period, and we raise the question whether the Minister may specify an unreasonable period. We think there ought to be a right to challenge that - not to challenge the need to move the people, but simply the time in which it is going to be done - because, as the legislation puts it, no matter how unreasonable the period specified may be, failure to comply with the notice renders a master liable to a fine of $ 1 00,000, 1 0 years gaol, or both. That is fairly hefty punishment.
The next item is clause 21 which makes it an offence to obstruct an officer but it does not take into account that a person may fail to comply with the direction because he did not understand it due to a lack of understanding of English. This also applies in a number of other clauses, such as clauses 16, 17, 18 and 19, whereby instructions or a notice will be given, presumably in English. But the person it is served upon may not understand English. I know that has been the practice in the past. I am not suggesting that he should not act on notices given. But we pride ourselves on being a multicultural society. How about taking a little step in that direction by saying that these notices will be given in English - one would expect that in a predominantly English-speaking country- and in a language we know the individual can understand? Again at the third reading stage we will be making suggestions to propose that because, I repeat, we are not opposing the second reading.
Finally, we note that under clause 31 the proposed Act will expire 1 2 months from the date on which it comes into operation. We think such sunset clauses are desirable in principle, and we accept the need for this legislation at present. We would be in the same difficult position that the Government is in with these scurrilous characters bringing refugees here in this manner. We accept the need for legislation. We hope that it can be refined in the ways we have suggested and we agree that it ought to be reviewed by the Parliament in 12 months time. If the problem is still around, we can re-enact it. If not, of course, it lapses. That is the way it should be. It is wrong to keep such draconian measures on the statute book without reviewing them regularly.
– The House is debating the Immigration (Unauthorized Arrivals) Bill 1980. The purpose of the Bill is to provide the Government with a weapon to deal with those who would traffic in human lives, namely, those of refugees. It is directed at such people as owners, masters, crews, agents or charterers of vessels or aircraft carrying refugees to Australia. It must be emphasised that the Bill is not aimed at the refugees themselves - those people who are in a desperate situation and who are seeking a land in which to settle - but it is aimed very much at those who would seek to profit from the tragic circumstances in which those refugees find themselves. I was very pleased to hear the support that the Opposition spokesman has given to this Bill, and that in many respects, I suppose, will shorten the debate. Indeed, the Opposition spokesman went to the extent of making a number of constructive suggestions, I thought, some of which may well be able to be considered by those on this side of the House. We will have to look at them a little more closely as the debate proceeds.
There has been some experience in countries to our north of large numbers of refugees being brought into territorial waters in large boats.
Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and the Philippines have all had experience in the last year or two with large boats containing 1,500 to 3,000 refugees coming into their territorial waters. Then, of course, an international controversy develops as to who will look after those refugees and who will receive them. Most of those refugees had in fact paid large sums of money to the people who organised their departure from Vietnam in the first instance and who, in some instances, sought to organise rackets for their entry into other countries. I think most of us have heard stories of large sums of money - in some cases several thousand dollars - changing hands with respect to individual refugees who have been able to gain places on those boats.
I think everyone in this Parliament would have sympathy for the refugees in their plight and in their efforts to find somewhere to settle. That is why the Bill is not directed at the refugees. It is certainly the case that a number of refugees, in their efforts to settle elsewhere, make misleading statements and become involved with racketeers who seek to profit from their plight. I had the opportunity in January to visit some refugee camps in South East Asia, notably Bidong in Malaysia and Nong Khai in Thailand, and to examine Australian selection procedures which were implemented at those camps. It was interesting to see the way in which Australian selection officers had to ensure that the details provided by refugees were accurate and that the criteria which had been laid down for the selection of refugees to settle in Australia were observed. There were many stories, of course, of refugees claiming relationships with refugees who had already settled in Australia. I think we can understand why they do that. Of course, that required that documents be checked. Application papers filled in by people presently in camps had to be compared with application papers which had been filled in by the claimed relatives one, two or three years previously when they gained entry to Australia to see whether there were any anomalies about the family structures claimed in those papers. That sort of checking had to be done.
Also, of course, it was common knowledge in the camps that when a refugee successfully gained approval to come to Australia and if that refugee was, say, an electrician, suddenly a rash of applications would come from people in the camp claiming that that was their qualification. Those qualifications had to be checked. In many instances they just did not measure up with the technical knowledge of the trade or profession that the refugee may have claimed. So, these sorts of things have to be checked. I think we can understand why refugees go to those measures to gain resettlement. At the time we have to support the efforts of Australian selection officers in the camps to weed out the frauds in order to ensure that those criteria which have been laid down for the selection of refugees to settle in Australia are observed and that the right people are gaining entry to Australia. That is one aspect. I do not think that in any sense we ought to penalise harshly individual refugees who, in view of their circumstances, take those steps to gain entry to Australia. We must penalise harshly those who would profit from the efforts of refugees to settle in Australia.
The aim of this Bill is not to deal with any sudden emergency with which we find ourselves confronted but to flag to those who might be inclined to indulge in such profiteering activities that Australia is prepared to take strong steps and that it will not be worth their while to seek to carry close to Australia’s shores large numbers of refugees in one vessel. I believe that one other step that Australia must take, apart from this legal step to prevent racketeers bringing refugees to Australia, is to ensure that we maintain a humane and rational selection policy in the countries to our north so that refugees settled there temporarily in refugee camps know that they have a reasonable chance of gaining entry to Australia if they meet our criteria. I think that is of great importance to the countries to our north which are bearing the brunt of the refugee problem, particularly countries like Malaysia and Thailand which I have had the opportunity to visit. It certainly is the case that many people in those countries, some of them at government level, would be prepared to facilitate the departure of large numbers of refugees from the camps on their shores if countries like Australia, the United States of America and Canada did not offer a reasonable prospect of making a substantial contribution towards1 solving the refugee problem by enabling the refugees to be resettled elsewhere. I believe that as a complementary step we must maintain an active, positive and humane refugee resettlement program so that people know they have a reasonable chance to make a new life for themselves in Australia and other like-minded countries.
That is the positive side of what we are doing. Indeed, in the last financial year Australia received about 15,000 Indo-Chinese refugees and on a population basis that was the greatest number received by any country. In this financial year we are maintaining a refugee resettlement program of a similar order. I am aware that one of the problems facing the Government was how to distinguish between racketeers and the occupants of small boats that might come to Australia from time to time on a spontaneous basis. I refer to instances of small fishing vessels perhaps containing a dozen or two dozen people which do not really constitute the same sort of threat posed to Australia by large vessels containing up to 3,000 people. For the purpose of finding some sort of dividing line the Government has settled on a figure of five as being the number of persons who may be in a vessel without invoking the provisions of this legislation. It is proposed in this legislation that this number can be increased or decreased by regulation. This means that effectively a couple of people clinging to a life-raft cannot be accused of being involved in a racket. It means also, for example, that the owners of shipping or airline services which operate on a regular basis who perhaps inadvertently allow one or two people to come aboard their vessel or flight to Australia - refugees who do not have specific approval to come to Australia - will not be brought within the provisions of the legislation. In fact such an occurrence could quite likely happen. I think any of us who observe the manner in which people are processed in their hundreds and thousands to go aboard jumbo jets at international airports these days can only wonder at the fact that more illegal travellers do not get onto aircraft. Cheaper fares have meant that more and more people are travelling from country to country. As I said, the figure of five has been determined as the dividing line. This means that the provisions of the legislation will not be invoked in the case of an airline which inadvertently brings one or two people to Australia. I support the Bill. I welcome the support that has been given to it by the Opposition.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, the House is debating the Immigration (Unauthorized Arrivals) Bill 1980. The stated purpose of the Bill is to prevent profiteers - some would say racketeers - from exploiting people wishing to leave their country of origin and seek entry to Australia. The Parliamentary Library’s summary of the legislation is to this effect:
To prevent commercial attempts to bring to Australia by sea or air passengers who have not received previous permission to enter.
I think that is a succinct account of the legislation. The Bill is directed against immigration rackets, often involving large numbers of refugees and organised by unscrupulous traders in human suffering and misery. The honourable member for
Maribyrnong (Dr Cass), who led for the Opposition in this debate, has indicated that the Opposition generally supports the aims of the legislation and considers unacceptable the practice of arranging for profit the importation of people in contravention of the immigration laws of the country. So the Bill is not being opposed, but certainly the Opposition is taking the opportunity to indicate that it does not regard the legislation as being totally desirable. Possibly there is something wrong with the drafting; the Bill is a little lazy in its definitions. We find some vulnerabilities which involve encroachment on the established concepts of justice.
The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Macphee) in his second reading speech gave an account of the exploitation of refugees who have been landed at Asian and Australian ports. He mentioned the five large freighters filled with Vietnamese who had paid large sums to leave their homeland. He said that each of those ships carried between 1,500 and 3,000 passengers. When returning by sea from Canton, on the mainland of China, to Hong Kong I remember seeing one of these ships, which had run aground on a beach at Hong Kong. The refugees were scrambling ashore as best they could with their few possessions, and the authorities of Hong Kong were seeking to assist them, lt was a rotten, rusty old hulk which had gone very close to being broken up for scrap iron. It could easily have foundered on the way to Hong Kong and its cargo of passengers been drowned in those perilous seas or exposed to the ravages of rape and the pillage of pirates - not infrequent occurrences in that part of the world. The exploitive and merciless entrepreneur who had registered his rotten, rusty, risky hulk under a foreign flag, a flag of convenience - I think it was the flag of Liberia - had already pocketed his ill-gotten gains. This is a very unhappy practice to behold.
The Minister instanced the case of the vessel Southern Cross, which sailed into Indonesian waters. He referred to the Hai Hong, which arrived off Malaysia, to the Huey Fong and the Sky Luck, which cams into Hong Kong, and to the Tung An, which went to the Philippines. Over the last five years Australia has received 53 small boats carrying a total of 2,067 boat people, or refugees. No doubt many boats have foundered on the way to Australia, and possibly hundreds or even thousands of people have been lost to the ravages of the seas. All these arrivals have been characterised by some controversy, as Australians do not always understand the international obligations this country has. Australia is a signatory to an international convention which places the onus of humanitarianism on us in a very justifiable way. All told, between 1975 and 30 June 1980 Australia has accepted for resettlement 37,913 Indo-Chinese refugees and displaced persons. I do not think that number of people necessarily has remained in Australia, but a large number has. I have before me a document from the office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which provides statistics of Indo-Chinese refugees and displaced persons and indicates the places to which they have gone for resettlement. I seek leave to have this table incorporated in Hansard.
The table read as follows -
– I thank the Minister and the House. The figures show that to the end of June 1980 no fewer than 223,339 refugees from Indonesia were accommodated in various countries. There were 94,486 boat people and 1 28,853 land people. It is interesting to look at the table. I have mentioned that Australia has taken 37,913 Indo-Chinese refugees. To mention just a couple of other countries, New Zealand has taken 2,667, the United Kingdom 10,001, Canada 58,701, the German Federal Republic 14,209, little Hong Kong 9,372, an amazing demonstration of human concern, Italy 2,273, and Japan 540. It has often been contended that a greater effort could have been made by Japan. The United States has taken 254,852 refugees during that period, and many other countries are mentioned in that table. Of course, honourable members have had contact, as has the Australian citizenry generally, with many of these people, and we have found them to be very good settlers. At the East Hills migrant centre, which is in my electorate, over the last three years we have had 357, then 1,165, and this year 900 people domiciled at the centre. They seem to be effectively assimilated and are well regarded by the Australian community.
As a matter of philosophical conjecture, it is worth considering whether there are other ways of assisting refugees to leave their countries. Australia is a signatory to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. We became a party to that Convention on 22 April 1954. In addition, there is the 1 967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. Article 31 of the Convention, under the heading ‘Refugees unlawfully in the Country of Refuge’, contains the following provision:
They are reasonable and considerate provisions, designed to assist people who suffer these unfortunate circumstances. Having seen the extent to which countries are prepared to co-operate to facilitate the acceptance and movement of refugees, I put it to the House that a case exists for reasonable conjecture as to how people can otherwise be moved from their perilous situations. I take as an example people in Vietnam who have opposed and are disliked by the current regime. Some may contend that their lives are threatened and their freedom is to be curtailed. They could virtually be at the end of the plank, at the tip of the peninsula. Who will facilitate their movement from their country if in fact their movement is essential for survival? The whole purpose of this legislation is to heap our venom and our hositility on the people who move in to facilitate the transportation of refugees. Australia seems to be taking the view in the Convention to which it is a party that it is reasonable for refugees to seek to leave a country which threatens their well-being and, if they are successful, to be harboured, cared for and accommodated in very considerate ways.
If we do not like the fact that people with ships are moving in to shift refugees from the shores of Indo-China to Asian ports or to Australia, we have to consider who should undertake that process. It seems to me that a vacuum exists that ought to be filled. It might be reasonable to suggest that the agency of the International Red Cross for example could be charged by the United Nations with the responsibility for shifting these refugees so that these unscrupulous, exploitive and entrepreneurial people whose lousy, rusty ships are likely to sink along the way are not discharging this obligation. What is wrong with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees being charged with that responsibility? It has already been proved that a quarter of a million people are seeking to leave Indo-China as legitimate refugees. Yet the Government is simply saying in its legislation - justifiably in my view - that it is bad for people to exploit refugees. Who can reasonably be expected to fulfill that obligation without being the subject of penalties? So many instances have occurred around the world in recent times- there are many comtemporary examples - of people having to flee their regular place of abode that this kind of philosophical question should be examined carefully. I hope it will be examined by the Minister, possibly in a more international atmosphere.
Whilst the general aims of the Bill are unequivocally supported, the Opposition does not believe that the provisions included in the Bill contain sufficient checks to ensure that there is no miscarriage of justice. In short, the provisions of the Bill vest wide, almost unfettered, powers in the Minister and his Department. The objectives of the legislation could have been achieved without the inclusion of such enormous discretionary powers and wide-ranging draconian penalties. The Bill provides for a fine of $100,000 or imprisonment for up to 10 years or both for the master and members of the crew of an aircraft or ship which brings in five or more unauthorised persons. Owners, agents or charterers who are parties to the bringing of unauthorised people to Australia are liable to the same penalties as any person who unlawfully seizes an aircraft or vessel for such purposes. This is a blanket provision applying to the key personnel and the secondary personnel. It seems to me that there is scope for discretionary penalties in respect of the seriousness of the offence created. The Opposition questions the wide-ranging application of this penalty provision to cover members of the crew of ships and aircraft equally as it does the master.
The statutory defences under clause 6, which deals with unforeseen emergency and the right of innocent passage for ships, does not exempt crew members obliged to carry out their duties. Under the Bill the onus of proof for the statutory defences to the penalties in clause 6 has been placed on the defendant, which is a reversal of normal practice. The defendant has to establish to the satisfaction of the court that the emergency landing or entry into Australian territorial waters with more than five people without authority was in consequence of an unforeseen emergency. This matter is the subject of an amendment to be moved by the Opposition. The onus is not to prove on the balance of probabilities. In the Opposition’s view the case can be made for placing the onus of proof on the prosecutor. Accordingly, we will seek to amend the legislation in that way.
Clause 8 imposes penalties of $5,000 or imprisonment for two years or both on masters and members of the crew of ships who, through act or omission, directly or indirectly permit any prescribed person to disembark in Australia. The extension of this provision equally to cover crew members seems unjustifiable. Another provision which does not clearly define the situation or is inadequate in providing safeguards against unwanted prosecution is clause II. It is not clear whether this clause establishes a statutory right to challenge legally the reasonableness of the period in a notice requiring the conveyance from Australia of specified passengers. The wording of the clause permits the interpretation that the period is determined by the authorised officer and no submissions by the defendant can be made after the period is set. In short, the provisions of clause 1 1 are ambiguous and inadequately defined. A defendant would not be clear as to his obligations. The penalty for failure to comply with the notice is $5,000 or imprisonment for two years or both in respect of each relevant passenger to whom the requirement relates.
Clause 12 allows members of the Australian Federal Police or the police force of a State or Territory or any other officer authorised by the Minister to arrest without warrant a person whom he reasonably believes to be a passenger who has breached disembarkation provisions under the Act. This needs some justification over and above the justification so far given. The person arrested is to be brought before a prescribed authority - a magistrate, I believe - within 48 hours. The Act does not ensure that the defendant is protected by the normal legal rules of evidence otherwise applying in our courts. This provision obviously needs clarification. Sub-clause (7) gives the prescribed authority power to investigate the matter without regard to legal forms and releases the authority from being bound by the rules of evidence. Clause 18, which requires masters of aircraft and ships to repair their unsafe aircraft or ships within a period specified in the notice, gives no right to the master to challenge the time given to carry out repairs on the grounds that it is, for example, unreasonable. Failure to comply carries a penalty of $100,000 or 10 years gaol or both. This, of course, is the same penalty as is imposed for the principal racketeer. Again, it is very hard to justify.
There are many other provisions to which I will not have time to refer. Clause 26 gives power to officers of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and to Customs officers to arrest without warrant a person whom they reasonably think has committed an offence under this legislation. I hope that when we reach the sunset stage of the legislation which is provided for in clause 31 we will have a good look at these excessive provisions and the rough justice which seems to be involved. I recommend that the Minister use the intervening period to talk this matter over with the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) so that this legislation can be brought into line with the principles of justice which predominate in this country.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to support the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Macphee) and the Immigration (Unauthorized Arrivals) Bill 1980. Although I have promised to cut my contribution to 10 minutes I wish to say one or two things about some of the remarks made by the previous speaker, my friend the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson). He made references to entrepreneurs in evil. I presume that is a fair and proper socialist reference and employs a term which would be abhorrent to every good socialist wherever he may be. I also understood his references to philosophical conjecture but I am at a loss to understand how he can confuse this legislation with Australia’s being a contracting state under the United Nations treaty of 1954 to which he referred.
We are dealing with people who engage in criminal operations. These people prey upon their victims by offering entry into Australia provided so much money is given to them. Then, by criminal methods, they get their victims into Australia and seek to impress the Government and the representatives of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs that they should be allowed to stay. The references that were made to Vietnam by the honourable gentleman are understandable but if one wants a classic illustration of this type of situation one should look at Mexico and the United States of America. There is no doubt at all in my mind’ that if people are engaged in criminal operations and taking millions of people out of one country and into another they will be found in that area of the world. They are highly organised. The Government of the United States needs to take a great deal of action, as quickly as possible, to stop this terrible trade.
The honourable member referred to ‘unfettered powers’ in terms such as ‘draconian’. I think that is an exaggeration. I agree entirely with the Minister that there are governments which regard persecution, prejudice and discrimination as acceptable forms of conduct because they are dealing in their own countries with their political enemies. Whilst in the historical sense this legislation is not so remarkable, it is necessary in the interest of Australia because of a by-product of the fact to which I have referred. Authoritarian governments throughout history have been threatened by revolution from within their own national boundaries. In recent years new techniques have been evolved which are designed to reduce this internal threat.
The Minister, when introducing this Bill on 1 May 1980, made particular reference to the situation in Cuba which was at that time a remarkable development in a communist country. The Government of the United States responded with compassion. Although there were difficulties the generosity of the United States is not open to challenge. Many people have fled from Indo-China, without the approval of governments, to escape from the environment of communism. We are all familiar with the reasons for the historically famous Iron Curtain which stretches from the’ Baltic to the Black Sea. However, in recent years criminal activities have emerged in the processes of movement and it is now clear that the laws of Australia can be flouted and thus the clandestine importation of illegal immigrants can take place. The criminals responsible for these activities manipulate their victims and extort their assets. It is admitted by all that this criminal trade is extremely profitable.
The Bill seeks to provide the means of dealing with the criminal manipulators if we can catch them. After all, there are Australian citizens who are involved in what is known as the drug trade, and some of them have been identified and caught by governments overseas. With respect, I venture to suggest that there might be Australians so depraved as to see advantages in this type of operation. I hope that the Government and the courts deal with them with no compunction.
The Minister has made it clear that the legislation is not directed at the passengers and victims duped by the criminals because it is quite possible that these unfortunates will qualify in due course for resettlement within Australia as refugees. Circumstances in recent years have led to the Government’s introduction of this legislation. The Minister said in his second reading speech:
Towards the end of 1978 five large freighters filled with Vietnamese arrived in parts of South East Asia. The Southern Cross sailed into Indonesian waters, the Hai Hong arrived off Malaysia, the Huey Fong and the Sky Luck showed up in Hong Kong and the Tung An went to the Philippines. Each carried between 1,300 and 3,000 passengers who had paid to leave their homeland with the sanction of their government.
Over th; past five years, small boatloads of refugees have made their way direct to our shores.
Of course, they have been the survivors. We now know that those who set out on the perilous voyages have to go through the misery of the attention of pirates in the Gulf of Siam and in the waters to the north-east of Singapore. They undergo incredible experiences from which probably half of them lose their lives and assets. The Minister continued:
A total of S3 such small boats has arrived in Australia carrying a total of 2,067 people. This total number is smaller than the numbers carried by some of the large vessels … We have continued to be concerned about the risks taken by people in small boats who undertake this hazardous journey. The Government has established machinery to ensure that only those among these arrivals who qualify to remain in Australia are permitted to do so.
That is the background of the legislation. We are dealing with people who are criminals and who seek to break the laws of Australia and in so doing manipulate the unfortunate, wretched victims and extort from them their assets. No reasonable country, no reasonable government, can possibly tolerate that.
If the amendments of the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) become part of the legislation they will help and not hinder those who are deemed to be guilty of crimes to which we have referred. I turn now to the onus of proof. I think that in a court of law a decision will be made about an individual without an onus being fully and totally discharged. If it is apparent on compassionate grounds to a judge that a defendant is not one of the major associates in what has been referred to in this House as a ‘racket’, such a defendant would get the benefit of the judgment. I repeat that I support the Bill. Unless the Government has made up its mind that it will accept some of the amendments my preference is to oppose them.
– The Parliament is now into its second day of the session and already honourable members are being asked to reduce discussion time. Although the Immigration (Unauthorized Arrivals) Bill is a relatively minor Bill, it deals with an important part of the Australian social system. I was intrigued when I started reading the Bill to notice that we are spelling unauthorised with a ‘z’. Apparently my friend from Capricornia (Dr Everingham) is having a very great influence on the revolutionary intent of this Government and we are getting some spelling reform. I am not too sure that I agreed with the honourable member or whoever was responsible, but there it is.
I am wondering whether all of this is necessary. How many people are we really after? So far we have had 53 ships arrive in Australia. How many of the people on those ships have been involved in what I might call the vulture side of the refugee system? Are we not using a sledge hammer to crack a nut in this issue, and putting on the statute books a piece of legislation which I think could be best described as draconian and which could possibly give rise to an opportunity for the people who enforce the law to overlook the general principles upon which we ordinarily administer it. I do not like the idea of people being arrested on suspicion. I do not like the idea of courts of summary jurisdiction having some of the authority they are getting under this Bill.
I represent a very large migrant population. Therefore I speak with some sympathy about the difficulties of a person who does not know the language and who is faced with the possibility of being requested to explain exactly why he or she is here and so on. I want to remind all Australians who are very critical about the acceptance of refugees into this country, that basically we have all come here - our grandparents or our great grandparents- and found Australia a refuge. Some came to find it a prison, of course. A lot of people came here because it was a refuge. I am not speaking of them as refugees but they brought nothing here but themselves. They brought no documents; they did not need them. I suppose some people saw it as a promised land or a land of opportunity and now we face the refugee system.
The general details of this legislation have been discussed, I think, adequately here this afternoon and this evening. I think it is time that we tackled the heart of the matter, that is the governments of the countries from where the refugees come. The governments who cause the refugees to flow out of their countries are the villains of the piece. What was wrong with the Vietnamese Government that it caused this situation? You and I might disagree with that Government. I disagree with the Government of this country, but I do not propose to leave. What was wrong with the Vietnamese Government once it decided that it would be just as well off if these people left, that it did not negotiate with the various governments of the world and say: How do we do it officially? What was wrong with us that we did not at some stage say: All right, how do we establish a system which overcomes the difficulties of people such as these, if we are willing to have them in the country? I am willing, although lots of Australians are not. But if we were willing to have them here, why did we not get closer to the Vietnamese Government in this situation and say: How do we solve this matter?
I recognise that the communist governments of the world, like a lot of others- not all communist - would refuse to believe that people should want to leave the benefits of living under their government. The world is in a terrible state when there are one million Afghans as refugees in Pakistan; when there are goodness knows how many million or more refugees from various countries around the Sudan; when there are 800,000 people from Southern Africa and the Portuguese territories in Portugal; when there are I do not know how many Timorese scattered around the world in Portugal and here in Australia; and when there are millions in the Middle East. I do not know whether the corporate body of the world has tackled the problem. There are hundreds and thousands of refugees in South East Asia.
I am deeply sympathetic to the plight of the Thai Government, the Malaysian Government and so on, but the Thai people are the ones carrying the principal burden. I recognise that that is an enormous financial burden, an enormous social pressure and a great political difficulty for the government of that country. What have we done about it? We have taken about 23,000 people altogether, depending on who honourable members regard as refugees and who they regard as migrants. I do not know whether we have done more than we ought, but compared with the rest of the world- the half dozen countries such as ourselves, France, to a certain extent Britain, the United States of America and Canada- we have done a lot more than all the rest. What is wrong with them? The corporate body of the world has to use pressure on the home governments. Somehow this situation has to be stopped. I think this is the issue that is before us.
I support the legislation insofar as it pursues the vultures of the system, insofar as we can determine who they are, and insofar as we can determine whether it was a reasonable charge if they came from Vietnam. After all, people cannot travel from Vietnam to Australia by any means without paying some fare. There are so many rumours about the situation that I half believe them, but I have my doubts about most of them. I hope that we will take this to heart - not so much as a piece of legislation - and when its sunset time is up that we will let is pass into oblivion and try to do something else about the matter.
I am not happy about the power of the courts of summary jurisdiction. Under the provisions of clause 6(1) and so on a person can end up being fined $100,000 or getting 10 years in gaol. Clauses 7 and 18 are the same- $ 1 00,000 or 10 years, or both. A person may choose to be tried by a court of summary jurisdiction. Perhaps he will be tried by a single magistrate. He is strange to the country and its legal processes. The Minister may have arranged for that person to have the situation explained to him in his own language. But what does he really know about it?
– You would get a fairer go in Australia than you would get in Hanoi, anyway.
– Yes, one may. I will have to talk to the honourable member privately about this matter. My office is only three or four hundred yards from Pentridge Gaol and I have gone there to bail out people who have been treated with great injustice. It happens here. A person can be picked up for loitering because he cannot answer the police as he does not know the language well enough. He ends up in prison because he cannot answer questions in a court either. I put a lot of faith in the courts but it is not an absolute faith. I raise my objections - even though a person has agreed to be tried by the magistrate in a court of summary jurisdiction - to the fact that that magistrate is able to send a person to prison by his own, unaided judgment. I am for the jury system and I think that if we send people to prison it should be done by juries and nobody else. As I have said I strongly object to a magistrate being able to send somebody to prison on his own, unaided judgment which is, I think, the provision here, taking two or three different clauses and putting them together. A person can end up being fined $2,000 or spending a year in gaol. I want to make those points quite clear. I suppose I am speaking on the generalities of the matter.
I raise the point, as did my friend from Maribyrnong (Dr Cass), about the absolute necessity of being clear about the usage of language. On the whole I think Australia makes a better fist of this than most countries. I was intrigued when I looked at the Melbourne telephone book, for instance- I suppose the same principle seeps through to Sydney and other more benighted places - to see that five or six languages are used to explain how one works the telephone system. But I noted in a number of places in Europe that they do not do that. In Holland, for instance, if one cannot speak Dutch one has to guess how to find one’s way through the telephone book, even though there are probably millions of people passing through that country every year who speak every language in the world.
There are one or two other matters that I would like to raise while the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Macphee) is here. I refer to our rather patchy performance on refugees. There was the disgraceful episode in the not too distant past when two leaders of the West Papua freedom movement, having left their country found refuge in Papua New Guinea. They were put in prison there as illegal immigrants and, on being released in the end, had nowhere to go. They ended up in Sweden and this country befused to let them in. Why? We did not want to offend the Indonesians, I guess. It is a most miserable and craven attitude.
But I do say to the Minister that in whatever he does to influence, by whatever means he has, the system to assist us to put pressure on the guilty governments which have caused the refugee problem, he will have our absolute support. In the 25 years I have been a member of this Parliament, I have resisted what I regard as draconian legislation. I have grave doubts about many of the processes of the law in these matters, especially where it deals with people who are not in real contact with us by not speaking our language. As I say, I am not too sure that we are not creating a piece of legislation with dangerous overtones to pursue a handful of people who probably would be caught in some other way.
I just remind honourable members that we have a pretty wide area of freedom when we travel. We can fly to Germany and walk out of the airport to the freedom of Europe without even a rubber stamp being placed in our passports. It is true that we cannot stay for ever, that we cannot get jobs and so on. But I ask honourable members to think about getting out of Tullamarine and Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airports in the same way. I think we are too defensive about these things. I know that a lot of my colleagues worry a great deal about illegal immigrants coming to this country. All our ancestors came here without documents. They all came here to find refuge paying little heed to the people who already lived here. Therefore, I am not too sure that this is not an unnecessary piece of legislation and that there are not other ways of handling these problems. I hope that when the legislation comes to its sunset time it sets well and truly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– by leave- I move:
That is a person who has to look into the matter -
I ask honourable members to bear in mind that if the person being investigated is found guilty, he faces enormous penalties. In view of that, it strikes us that that person should at least be given the opportunity to feel that he is being investigated with the normal procedures of a court of law being followed. It seems far too free and easy to allow an investigation without an investigating agent being required to have any particular regard to legal forms or to be bound by rules of evidence. Surely we require these things normally because to go to gaol and to be penalised in a court is a very serious business. We want to make sure that there is no mistake in the assessment and that there is no injustice taking place.
One of the devices we have come to accept in our legal system to try to ensure that justice not only is done but also is seen to be done is to provide certain mechanisms whereby people can seek to defend themselves. People are not necessarily required to incriminate themselves by answering questions. If the prospect is that by answering a question they are likely to go to gaol, they are entitled to have legal advice and all of the rigmarole that goes with a court of law and not just be expected, without any concern for the rules of evidence, to own up without the protection of legal forms. So the Opposition fairly strongly pushes that amendment mainly to remove those two subclauses - sub-clauses 7 and 8.
I do not wish to linger on this matter, but I must point out that many of the people being brought here do not speak or understand English and probably most of the people involved in bringing these refugees here do not understand English. Therefore, we feel it is not unreasonable to expect that instructions, notices and requests made to a non-English speaking person be made, of course in English, but also in a language which that person understands. For instance, to ask someone who does not understand simply to step aside could lead to a very unpleasant situation if that person feels he is being pushed around. If, when that person is asked to step aside, he tries to protect himself, this can be interpreted as obstructing the law. This can give rise to very unfortunate circumstances. This amendment does not change the meaning of this Bill. It does not diminish in any way what the Bill seeks to achieve. It simply acknowledges that this is a multicultural society and that we are seeking to provide for the needs of people who do not speak English. In some way we should be able to specify this in the legislation.
Finally, clause 23 refers to action not being taken until the Attorney-General has approved, for instance, of action being taken in the case of a proposed action against someone who has claimed to have brought in refugees, unauthorised persons or proscribed people. It is suggested that nothing should be done until the Attorney-General has reviewed the matter. The legislation should provide quite clearly the guidelines of what is or is not breaking the law. If the investigating officer considers that the law is broken surely he should pursue the matter in the court. We do not quite understand why it is necessary to have the Attorney-General look at it and check up. Depending on the mood of the Attorney-General, some people may be lucky and be let off and others may find that whatever the circumstances, they are for it anyway. It should not be left to that sort of an arbitrary judgment. The procedure ought to be clearly and explicitly placed in the legislation and the actions taken responsibly by the officer who believes that something has happened and that a law has been broken. In that belief he is prepared to take it to the court and present the case. That, in our view, is what should happen. It should not be left to the AttorneyGeneral to make a final decision.
– Before referring specifically to the remarks made by the honourable member for Maribrynong (Dr Cass) I would like to make a couple of general comments on remarks made by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) and his colleague, the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson). They both referred to the draconian character, as they saw it, of this legislation. Like the honourable member for Maribyrnong, I recognise that it is severe legislation, hence the tabling of this Bill during the winter recess, the inclusion of the sunset provision, and the undertaking not to proclaim the legislation unless and until it should be necessary to do so.
One has to consider the point made by my colleagues the honourable member for Casey (Mr Falconer) and the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) that this legislation clearly is not aimed at refugees. It is aimed at those unscrupulous people who might organise rackets which involve refugees. The people of Australia, no matter how recently they have arrived here, have a right and a responsibility to take action against such racketeers, in the same way as the Government has a humanitarian obligation to take in the refugees. I might say in passing that our record is infinitely better than was indicated by the honourable member for Wills. We have already settled over 40,000 Indo-Chinese and, as the Treasurer (Mr Howard) said last night, we have undertaken to settle still more in the coming financial year. Let me remind the Committee that this legislation is aimed at those unscrupulous persons who organise large scale enterprises to bring people to Australia without prior authority, in contravention of Australian immigration policies. In some cases the numbers of persons on some of the large vessels could easily reach tens of thousands. That is not difficult; we know already that over 3,000 persons have been carried in many vessels. The profits can be large; indeed, they can be as much as $4m a vessel.
I thank the honourable member for Maribyrnong and also my own colleagues for their constructive support in this debate. Several matters which concern the Opposition were raised by the honourable member for Maribyrnong, and perhaps I ought to deal with those in the order in which they were raised during the debate on the second reading. Firstly, in relation to the question of stowaways, if there were more than five stowaways on board a vessel the master would be liable to prosecution for an offence under the provisions of the Bill. It should be noted, however, that it is generally accepted as a principle that the master of a vessel is responsible for the proper management of his vessel and all persons on board. The provisions contained in the Bill are not unusual in that the Migration Act imposes penalties upon the carriers for bringing persons, including stowaways, into Australia in similar situations to those envisaged in this Bill. Should the master discover during the voyage to Australia that he has stowaways on board, it is his responsibility to advise the immigration authorities on the arrival of his vessel or aircraft in Australia before the stowaways disembark. Surely not all responsibility must rest with people in Australia in circumstances like that. I think it is fair to say that under international law and custom the master has a clear obligation. However, a prosecution would not be initiated against a master who had done all that was in his power to meet the requirements of the law. I assure the honourable member for Maribyrnong that in the administration of this legislation, if it has to be proclaimed, a prosecution would not be initiated against a master who we believed had done all that was reasonably within his power to meet the requirements of our law.
The second point raised by the honourable member for Maribyrnong was whether the Bill should contain provisions requiring the AttorneyGeneral to consent to the prosecution. I gave careful consideration to this matter and I believe that the provision ought to remain in the Bill. I point out that the Attorney-General’s consent is required only for offences which attract the maximum penalties under the Bill, namely, a $100,000 fine, or ten years imprisonment, or both. They are, of course, the very draconian measures to which several members have referred. It is because of the nature of those provisions that it is essential, as a safeguard for those who might be liable to prosecution, to ensure that the matter is given proper consideration by the senior law enforcement officer, the Attorney-General, as well as by the
Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. 1 believe that justice will be done if those two Ministers are charged with the responsibility of examining matters prior to prosecution.
Because of the sincerity with which the honourable member for Maribyrnong and each of the Opposition spokesmen have raised this point, I think I ought to place in Hansard a statement indicating the spirit in which the legislation will be administered. I have indicated that I have some sympathy for the views expressed by the Opposition about the position of crew members. I have said that privately to the honourable member for Maribyrnong and I repeat it here. It must be remembered, though, that the provisions of this Bill are directed to meet a very unusual situation. It is important that the crew members of the big refugee boats be liable to the same penalties as a master, particularly as our experience so far has established that crew members of these big refugee boats have been intimately involved in the carriage of refugees and have derived substantial profits from that carriage.
As I stated in my second reading speech, the Bill is designed principally as a deterrent to profiteers bringing large numbers of refugees to Australia. Failure to render crew members liable to the substantial penalties contained in the Bill would lessen this deterrent effect. We are not dealing with the usual situation where there are articled crew members on board. In most cases there is no formal documentation on board these vessels to show who is the master and who is the crew. The Government is of the opinion that, because of this unusual situation, of necessity the Bill must cast a very wide net in order to prosecute all who derive profits from the voyage. In this regard, I point out that since the introduction of the Bill on 1 May this year neither I nor my Department has received any adverse reaction to this proposal from shipping or airline operators. The reason, I am sure, is that they know we will administer the Bill in a sane way, and I believe that that meets the points raised by the honourable member for Maribyrnong.
I assure honourable members that the Government has no intention of prosecuting innocent crew members, nor has it any intention of prosecuting bona fide commercial carriers who may, for example, effect a genuine rescue at sea. To ensure that this does not occur and that proper consideration is given to the matter, clause 23 of the Bill requires that any prosecutions for offences attracting the maximum penalties must be consented to by the Attorney-General. The AttorneyGeneral would not give his consent unless he were satisfied that the interests of justice required the prosecution. I would also point out that, as a result of the provisions of clauses 2 and 31, the Bill will not come into operation until a date to be proclaimed and, when proclaimed, will operate only for a period of 12 months, unless its operation is further extended by the GovernorGeneral in accordance with a resolution passed by both Houses of this Parliament. This mechanism will give the Parliament control over the extension and operation of the Act. Having regard to that I do not believe that the views expressed by the honourable member for Wills have any substance.
Because of the time my friend the honourable member for Maribyrnong has spent on this matter, I think I should add a further note in respect of clause 23. Because of the heavy penalties which may be imposed under the Bill, and in order to avoid the possibility of embarrassment to the Government in the event that it became necessary to withdraw or discontinue proceedings because of lack of evidence, the clause provides that proceedings for an offence which attracts the higher penalties are not to be instituted except with the written consent of the Attorney-General or a person authorised by him to give such consent. Consent will be required to institute proceedings in the following circumstances: Firstly, bringing into Australia more than the prescribed number of persons who do not possess visas, for example, proceedings against the master, crew, owner, agent, charterer or commandeerers, and I refer the Committee to clause 6; secondly, disabling or scuttling vessels, as in clause 7; and thirdly, failing to comply with a notice to repair or depart, and I refer honourable members to clauses 18 and 19. The clause provides further that, even though the Attorney-General’s consent has not been given, a person can be charged with an offence, can be arrested for an offence and remanded in custody or on bail. This means that in effect we are enabled to take immediate action against the persons concerned before the matter reaches the hearing stage and before the Attorney-General’s consent must be obtained to proceed further.
The honourable member for Maribyrnong has foreshadowed three amendments in respect of clause 6 of the Bill which would overcome concerns expressed by him that persons charged with the major offence of entering Australia with more than five relevant persons on board should not have to establish the defences referred to in subclauses (5), (7) and (8) of clause 6 of the Bill. These sub-clauses offer a defence to the master of a vessel who genuinely brings his vessel into
Australia as a result of an emergency. It is consistent with established common law and other statute law that the onus of proof is on the prosecution to establish certain elements of the offence, but then the onus shifts to the defence to establish defences provided by common law or, in this case, by statute. So the statute is providing defences. It is certainly not within the knowledge of the prosecutor to discuss whether the cause of the emergency might have been a storm or whatever, but we do provide the defence that it is reasonable and in accordance with the spirit of the administration of justice that the onus is then on the master of the vessel to satisfy the clauses providing the defence.
Clause 6 requires the master, if he raises the defence of emergency, to establish the defence to the satisfaction of the court. The master is the only one who is in a position to establish the nature of any such emergency and it would be unreasonable to expect the Commonwealth to establish, for example, that the master could not have weathered the storm or indeed established the circumstances of something that happened before the vessel reached Australia. Because the provisions of clause 6 apply to vessels which bring people to Australia in circumstances when they do not intend to disembark in Australia and when it is not intended that the vessels land or come into port, sub-clauses (5) to (8) set out a number of defences which may be raised in a prosecution for an offence against the clause.
Sub-clause (5) makes it a defence if the person charged can establish that when the vessel landed or entered Australia it was under the control of persons who commandeered it. Sub-clause (7) makes it a defence to a prosecution in relation to an aircraft if the person charged can establish that the aircraft landed in Australia only by reason of an unforeseen emergency which rendered it necessary to land in order to secure the safety of the aircraft, its cargo or human life. Sub-clause (8) makes it a defence to a prosecution in relation to a ship if the person charged satisfies the court that the ship entered the territorial sea in the right of innocent passage or entered Australian waters in consequence of an unforeseen emergency which rendered it necessary for the ship to be brought into those waters in order to secure the safety of the ship, its cargo or human life. I appeal to the honourable member for Maribyrnong to recognise that the knowledge of those facts and the proof of those matters can only be within the ken of the master of the ship and not within the ken of the prosecuting authority.
The honourable member for Maribyrnong also suggested the need for amendment to clause 1 1 .
That clause requires an officer authorised by the Minister to serve a notice on the master requiring him to convey from Australia within a reasonable period and without charge to the Commonwealth persons whom he had brought here as a result of an emergency. I wish to draw the attention of honourable members to the provisions of subclause (4) of clause 1 1 , which enables the authorised officer to vary, amend or revoke the notice to remove. This sub-clause will provide the officer with the opportunity to exercise his or her judgment having regard to the particular situation and the nature of the delay involved. For example, in situations where a storm has abated, it might be feasible to require the master to depart immediately. In situations where the master has to effect repairs there may be a number of factors which arise during the course of those repairs that make it impossible for him to depart within the time stipulated. These factors will be assessed during the course of the repairs. In addition, should he fail to depart within the time stipulated and should he be prosecuted for failing to do so, the court will assess whether the time allocated to depart was reasonable in all circumstances. I think my colleague the honourable member for North Sydney made pretty much that point in respect of a number of matters.
The honourable member for Maribyrnong also drew attention to what he classified as the inquisitional nature of the provisions of sub-clauses (7) and (8) of clause 12. He suggests that the prescribed authority should in all cases be bound by the rules of evidence. Clause 12 requires a prescribed authority, who under clause 1 4 will be a magistrate, to inquire into, among other things, whether a person who had disembarked from a vessel without authority is in fact such a person. These inquiries may frequently be made in situations where the observance of formalities may be at best extremely difficult. The magistrate should be able to make whatever inquiries he considers appropriate, even in an isolated situation of the kind which could arise with a boat arriving unexpectedly at a remote area. I think that the overriding need to establish the facts of the matter - it is considered that the experience possessed by magistrates will ensure that they adhere to the normal procedures as far as practicable - justifies the provision. In passing, 1 observe that coronial inquiries proceed precisely along these lines. I believe that our magistrates have enough experience and conviction about the spirit of the administration of justice to ensure that natural justice prevails and that the fears of the honourable member will not be realised.
Finally, it was suggested that provisions be included in the Bill to ensure that any requests, instructions or notices served on a non-English speaking person be in a language understood by that person. Whilst I agree with the need for directions to be given in a manner in which they will be understood, I find it difficult to envisage a situation in which this would not occur. Such an understanding is essential to ensure that the instruction is properly carried out in the first place. Not only would the Department be at pains to do it but also the courts would most certainly require it.
I believe that there are some immense problems in what is otherwise, 1 think, a most sincere and genuine consideration felt by the honourable member for Maribyrnong. Among the immense problems are several matters relating to legal interpretation - for example, transliteration. Not every language can be easily transliterated into English or vice versa. I am extremely sympathetic to the point which he raises, but one then moves on to the fact that his amendments appear to relate to written instructions, whereas a good deal of the communication will need to be oral. Of course, oral interpretation would then need to be proved in a court of law. It is a common daily occurrence for interpreters translating evidence to indicate the nature of the communication. Not only would we go out of our way to communicate but also, I repeat, the courts would expect it of us. In practice, the Department goes further than the requirement of the amendment. In particular, I want to bring this to the attention of the honourable member. In practice, the Department already goes further in these communications than the requirements of the amendment.
In fact, the amendment does not cover some other exigencies. It is actually too narrow because we have had people arrive as refugees, as crew or as masters who have been illiterate in their own language and therefore written communication is of no avail. That is not uncommon with seamen around the world. We have had some people arrive who are deaf and dumb. One ought to remember that the natives of many countries near to us, especially in the Pacific region, do not have an alphabet. Those who have written languages often have had them written by missionaries in a script that the natives did not have.
I am extremely sympathetic to the matters raised, but in summary at this stage I see lots of serious problems inherent in the approach suggested by the amendment. I perhaps should just summarise the matters again because I know that several honourable members spent time on this matter. Firstly, there are persons who are illiterate in their own language. Secondly, there are some languages which are not in a written form. Again I stress that in many cases those languages are spoken in countries not very far from Australia. Thirdly, the way in which the amendment was drafted would enable those responsible for administering the legislation to rely simply on serving notices in writing in English and in one other language which might be fully understood. I take as an illustration the term ‘fully understood’ as contained in the amendment. It might be rather difficult to ascertain whether the language is fully understood by the person who is being dealt with. This is not as much in the interests of the unauthorised arrival as having oral interpretation available throughout the interview, which is now our practice. Then the formal action of making requests or issuing instructions or notices, I think, could become a perfunctory substitute for the present careful practice. The current practice is for such oral interpretation to be available as a matter of course. Again it is not always possible to provide in some languages exact written translation of legal terms especially and of legal concepts used in English. Oral interpretation can clarify more readily what is involved in requests, instructions, notices, et cetera.
So, I understand, respect and am very sympathetic to the thinking behind the amendment, but for the reasons I have given, amongst others, I conclude that the amendment would not in fact achieve the purpose for which it has been designed and could even have some unfortunate consequences as a result. I repeat for the benefit of the chamber that we will not be proclaiming the legislation until or unless we really believe we must. There is a sunset provision and certainly I will make sure that we use the time that is available to us because of those situations to examine the practicability of building in, in practice if not in the legislation, the sorts of guarantees that honourable members are looking for without constraining the flexibility of our approach administratively. Having regard to the matters mentioned, the Government is not prepared to accept any of the amendments moved by the Opposition.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Macphee)- by leaveread a third time.
Debate resumed from 2 April, on motion by Mr Ellicott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– It was my intention to commence this speech by saying that the Australian Labor Party strongly supports the Museum of Australia Bill and commends the Government for its action in implementing recommendation 2.1 1 of the Pigott report.
– Have you changed your mind?
– Do not get excited. The honourable member will find out. I listened to the second reading speech of the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott). I was not fooled but like many other people I did not read the Bill perhaps as carefully as I might, because I was of the view that this Bill made provision for the Museum of Australia to be constructed now. It does not in fact do that at all. The Bill is for an Act to make provision for the establishment of a Museum of Australia, but neither the Minister’s second reading speech nor the Bill provides answers to a number of questions that need to be answered before the people of Australia and of the Australian Capital Territory in particular can be assured that this magnificent concept is to proceed.
The passage of this Bill will not ensure that the construction of the Museum of Australia will proceed within a specified time frame. That is what concerns us. In other words, when will it be commenced and when will it be finished? How and when will decisions about the design and cost of the Museum be decided? Does the Government propose to stick to the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry on Museums and National Collections that an area of 90 hectares west of Black Mountain be allocated for the Museum? If so, has that area of land been acquired? The questions are vital. I do not wish to sound cynical but we need to be assured that this Museum of Australia Bill is not just a public relations exercise aimed at boosting the Government’s stocks in the Australian Capital Territory. We would like an assurance that the passage of the Bill will not just allow a great fanfare of publicity about a major new attraction for Canberra followed, after the election, by the project’s being quietly shelved or postponed to some distant date in the future. I hope that my scepticism is unfounded- I say this in the best spirit; it is not an attempt at point scoring on our part- and that the Minister will provide details as to the likely commencement and completion. Those are really the only serious doubts we raise about this Bill.
Let me start again in the sense that I would like to say that the Australian Labor Party does support the concept incorporated in this Bill. What we want some assurance about is when the Museum of Australia is likely to be a reality. Honourable members will be aware that the Committee of Inquiry on Museums and National Collections was announced on 10 April 1974 by the Whitlam Government and that one of its terms of reference was to:
Institute new developments. and institutions, with particular attention to the establishment of a national museum of history in Canberra.
Does the honourable member for Diamond Valley have something to say?
– No, please go on.
– We would like to hear from him occasionally. I suppose that he will be making the occasional speech now that an election is coming up.
– When he speaks he talks sense.
– It would be nice to hear from him now and again.
– The honourable member for Robertson will not answer interjections. He will address the Chair. Honourable members who are interjecting will be quiet.
– Thank you for the protection, Mr Deputy Speaker.
– You do not need it.
– After the Committee of Inquiry had been established, the then Special Minister of State, Mr Bowen, and the then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Cavanagh, announced that a separate committee under Professor Mulvaney would examine and report on the possibility of establishing a gallery of Aboriginal Australia. The report was incorporated in the Museums in Australia 1975 report, otherwise known as the Pigott Report, after the name of its Chairman, Mr Peter Pigott.
At this stage I would like to pay a special tribute to the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Peter Pigott. Australia is very fortunate in having citizens of the calibre of Peter Pigott. Too often we fail to acknowledge the debt our society owes to men who give up years of their lives to public duties with no other recompense than the personal satisfaction of knowing that they have made a contribution to their community. Peter Pigott is one such person whose love of his country, its heritage and its unique flora and fauna has led him to become involved in a whole range of activities involved with conservation and the preservation of the national heritage. I count myself fortunate to have known the Pigott family for over a quarter of a century. Both Peter and his brother Robert have given Australia sterling service in their roles as public citizens. I pay tribute to Peter’s selfless service and in particular to his chairmanship of the inquiry into the museums of Australia.
The Australian Labor Party is very proud of its initiatory role in bringing about the Museum of Australia and the fact that at long last the Aboriginal people of Australia will have their history, which dates back some 40,000 years, properly recorded and presented in an honest, dignified way rather than in the totally inappropriate, often patronising and sometimes insulting manner in which it has been told in so many Australian museums. Recommendation 2.1 1 of the Pigott report had this to say:
We recommend that a Museum of Australia be established in Canberra and that its board of trustees be charged by Act of Parliament with the collecting, preserving, study and display of materials related to the history of man in Australia and the interaction between man and the Australian environment. The new national museum should not attempt to imitate or duplicate those fields in which older Australian museums are strong, but should concentrate on three main themes of galleries: Aboriginal man in Australia; European man in Australia; and the Australian environment and its interaction with the two main themes.
Obviously a building of this nature cannot be erected overnight. I would expect that a project of such national significance would take a great deal of detailed planning and design not dissimilar in size and scope to that required for the new and permanent Parliament House. This is the case not so much in respect of the grandeur of the design or even the cost, because the Committee strongly recommended against a major monument, but in respect of the considerable thought that is required in integrating the three themes and the considerable amount of planning and acquisition that will be required to ensure that the museum has quality material for its display when it finally opens.
It is not possible to put an operation like the Museum of Australia together in a year or two. In view of the historical nature of museums, and this museum in particular, what more appropriate time could there be to aim for its opening than 1988, the bicentennial of European civilisation in Australia. With 1 980 almost three-quarters over and the need to have the museum completed by the end of 1987, that would leave a full seven years for all the intricate design planning and construction that I believe is required. Let me assure the House that when we take over in a few months, a Labor government will ensure that the Museum of Australia, conceived by a Labor government, will be open and fully operational by 1988.
There will, of course, be criticisms of this proposal. There will be those who will seek to make capital out of the fact that this is another major item of government expense and, of course, that it is to be located in Canberra where all the nation’s major buildings now seem to be located. The High Court of Australia building has just been completed, the National Gallery will be open, I understand, in 1983, and the new and permanent Parliament House is on the drawing board. Now it will be said that Canberra is to get another magnificant national building. I have never been one of those members of parliament who try to secure a few political points back in my electorate by attacking expenditure on the nation’s capital.
Canberra, despite its critics, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and increasingly it is becoming a place to which millions of Australian and international visitors come to visit. Outside of government, tourism is its major industry. In excess of two million visitors come here every year and a large proportion of those visitors are school children. Surprisingly, though, despite the fact that it is a mecca for so many tourists, there are remarkably few major man-made attractions to occupy the tourist time outside the unique design of the city itself and its myriad of embassy buildings. The Royal Australian Mint, the Australian War Memorial, the Australian Academy of Science, this Parliament House and perhaps the High Court building are really the only public attractions that would occupy a visitor’s time for more than a few minutes. A visitor is hardly likely to spend a great deal of time at the National Library unless he has a specific project in mind. The National Gallery, of course, will be a different proposition but that building does not open until 1983.
Canberra’s problem from the tourist’s viewpoint is that the majority of domestic visitors are in and out of Canberra in a day or two. Attractions such as the National Gallery and the Museum of Australia will assist materially in encouraging visitors to lengthen their stay in Canberra and, in the case of international visitors, their period of stay in Australia. However, the tourist value of the Museum of Australia is secondary to its true importance - its real importance - which is to provide the nation with a museum that for the first time tells accurately, entertainingly and educationally a history of Aboriginal and European society in Australia and the interaction of both with the unique Australian environment.
The Pigott report puts the case for a national museum very effectively and succinctly. The report states:
Virtually every nation has its national museum but here the argument ibr a national museum is particularly powerful. For the nation covers a whole continent; and moreover that continent, because of its long isolation from the other land masses, has had an unusual natural history and human history. A new comprehensive museum offers - for the first time - an unsurpassed opportunity to display the geological, climatic, natural and human histories of an entire continent.
It should be stressed that a continent, rather than a nation, is the ideal focus for a museum, because the natural boundaries are more permanent and powerful than man-made boundaries. Hitherto, because of natural boundaries, no continent has constituted the central theme of a large museum … the major museums which were created in Australia in the nineteenth century tended to divorce Aboriginal man from European man and to divorce European man from Nature. The achievements of Aboriginal society over 40,000 years were minimised. Accordingly, many of the factors which moulded the human history of both black and white settlers were neglected.
The report also made the point that Sydney and Melbourne had museums of national significance at a time when their populations were smaller than Canberra and that Hobart and Launceston with much smaller populations than Canberra have long provided their residents with museum displays not available to the people of Canberra, not to mention the two million tourists to whom I referred earlier.
I was not aware before I read the Pigott report the other day that no museum of national significance has been founded in Australia for more than half a century. In evaluating the worth of the proposed Museum of Australia one should bear in mind the themes proposed - namely, Aboriginal history; European history in Australia; the Australian environment- land and sea, geology, flora, fauna and climates - and man’s interaction with that environment. No current major Australian museum deals fully with any of these themes. The Pigott report had this to say:
The quickening public interest in Australia’s recent history has not been satisfied by the State museums. They have usually lacked funds to collect adequately in that field; moreover, they have been oriented more to the natural sciences, though occasionally they have built up valuable collections in facets of applied science and technology. It is fair to say that so far no museum in Australia has attempted, even on a moderate scale, to depict the history of Australia since the coming of the British.
One of the most exciting proposals put forward in the recommendations was that the three themes should be linked together by a nature park that contained live fauna unique to Australia. Such a concept would be unique in the world. A nature park would have some very decided advantages over traditional museums. It would lessen the reliance on prepared animals and plants for internal displays. A live specimen in a natural setting always has more effect than a stuffed skin in a showcase. Visitors will be more interested in the biology of the species if the live specimen is before them. Live specimens can aid ecological research, and the Museum should make visitors more aware of the fauna and flora of their country and of the case for the protection of a particular species. One can only hope that, if and when the Museum proceeds, these recommendations are accepted by the Government and included in the final concept. A number of other recommendations of the Pigott report are invaluable, and one hopes that eventually they will be accepted by the Government. I seek the indulgence of the Minister for Home Affairs. I wish to incorporate in Hansard the major recommendations of the Pigott report. I have sinned in that I did not bring them with me, but they are available.
I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard paragraphs 2.1 to 2. 1 7 of chapter 2 of the report.
The document read as follows -
1 The Committee of Inquiry, in the course of the following chapters, sets out many conclusions and recommendations, major and minor, about museums and collections in Australia. The main recommendations can be briefly summarised as follows. 2.2 To assist in co-ordinating federal expenditure on museums and art galleries, and to foster the development of museums generally in Australia, we recommend the creation of an Australian Museums Commission, a statutory authority employing its own small staff and enlisting, whenever possible, the advice and specialised services of other government agencies. 2.3 For the purposes of defining the level and range of government financial support, we recommend that the Australian Museums Commission divide museums into the categories of major museums, associated museums and local museums. For local museums, government support can be given most efficiently if the museums form themselves into regional networks or associations. 2.4 As museums have unique advantages as a means of education, and as a large proportion of school children rarely visit them, or visit them without adequate preparation or proper briefing, museums should be used more as a source of formal education and by universities. If necessary, this development should be funded at the expense of certain other facets of the Australian Government’s education program. 2.5 As rational acquisition and preservation represents a vital function of museums, and as Australian museums are often outbid by overseas buyers for objects of unique importance to this country, we recommend that a national fund should be set up to facilitate emergency acquisitions of collections in history, the fine arts, sciences and other areas of strong Australian interest. 2.6 As public funds can easily be squandered on ineffective museums, and as requests by museums for finance are multiplying, we recommend that public funds not be used unless the museums will meet a community need, will use a building suitable as a museum, will adequately display and catalogue and conserve their collections, and will hold collections of historic significance. 2.7 As many agencies of the Australian Government at present assist museums, we recommend that this funding be co-ordinated and conform to agreed principles: we recommend that funds not be granted to museums which are so strongly directed towards tourism and entertainment that their standards of historical accuracy are violated. 2.8 We recommend that responsibility for all the Australian Government’s own museums should be placed under one Ministerial portfolio and that these museums, while receiving their basic funding from that Ministry, should have the same access as State or municipal museums to the special assistance programs of the Australian Museums Commission. 2.9 As the deterioration of valuable collections in Australian museums, great and small, has reached the proportion of a crisis, conservation should have high priority when additional funds are provided by the Australian Government. We recommend the creation of a Cultural Materials Conservation Institute to study - and disseminate- ways of preventing deterioration of fragile and perishable museum objects, especially under Australian climatic and other conditions. 2.10 We recommend the establishing of a post-graduate course to train professional conservators at a degree-granting institution, a system of training technical staff for museums on an apprenticeship basis, and special training programs in those aspects of Australian social, economic and technological history which are increasingly central to museum collections and displays. 2.1 1 We recommend that a Museum of Australia be established in Canberra and that its board of trustees be charged by Act of Parliament with the collecting, preserving, study and display of materials related to the history of man in Australia and the interaction between man and the Australian environment. The new national museum should not attempt to imitate or duplicate those fields in which the older Australian museums are strong, but should concentrate on three main themes or galleries: Aboriginal man in Australia; European man in Australia; and the Australian environment and its interaction with the two-named themes. 2.12 While many proposals were put to this Committee for the creation of a variety of specialist national museums, we recommend that no more than three themes merit special museums. We recommend that early priority be given to a national maritime museum in Sydney and to a national aviation museum at a growth centre such as Albury-Wodonga, and that later consideration be given to locating a Gallery or Museum of Australian Biography within the Parliamentary Triangle in Canberra. 2.13 We recommend that those Australian universities which operate museums or hold important collections should either safeguard those collections adequately or with the cooperation of the Australian Universities and the Australian Museums Commissions, or arrange to transfer them on longterm loan to major museums. 2.14 In view of the indiscriminate looting of historic shipwrecks along the Australian coast, and the danger to historic sites on land, we recommend that protective legislation be drawn up and enacted. While the protection of historic sites on land and sea is at present even more important than application of archaeology to those sites, the Australian Museums Commission should encourage marine and historical archaeology, and provide special help to the pioneering work of the Maritime Museum at Fremantle.
15 To retain rare Australian cultural material, we recommend that the Australian Government introduce specific legislation to regulate or prohibit the export of particular items or categories of items. We recommend that the protection of cultural relics would be furthered if Australia ratified and implemented the UNESCO Convention of 1970 on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. 2.16 To assist in the conservation, display, study and the retention within Australia of museum objects of national significance, we recommend that a National Register be compiled. 2.17 We recommend that consideration be given to changing legislation in order to provide tax incentives to those who donate valuable items of national significance to public museums, libraries and archival authorities in Australia; an independent board, we recommend, should be set up to assess gifts, and decide whether they merit a tax rebate on the grounds of their national, historic and cultural and scientific importance.
– I thank the Minister. There are 1 7 recommendations in the Pigott report and, as far as I can determine, only five of those recommendations have been acted upon. Of course, some of them do not require action. Recommendation 2.8 states:
As far as I can ascertain, that is now the case. Recommendation 2.10 states: the establishing of a post-graduate course to train professional conservators at a degree-granting institution . . .
I understand that that course has been established at the Canberra College of Advanced Education and that it is a great success. Recommendation 2.11 is covered by this Bill, and recommendation 2.14 involves the historic shipwrecks legislation, which has been implemented. Recommendation 2.17 deals with tax incentives for those who donate valuable items of national significance to public museums. The implementation of those five recommendations is most welcome, but the fact is that quite a number of recommendations have been ignored. Some quite critical areas have been ignored, I think largely because they are not the sorts of issues that are headline-grabbing and likely to win votes. However, they involve the sorts of priorities that determine how responsible a government is in protecting a nation’s heritage. I refer in particular to those recommendations that deal with preservation and acquisition. Chapter 4 of the Pigott report has this to say about the state of many priceless objects in Australian museum collections:
More damaging and less visible is the slow deterioration of museum collections. Many collections are increasingly endangered by their own immediate environment; by the temperature; by the light; by dust or fumes in the atmosphere; by humidity; by vermin and fungi; or even by vibrations. Some collections are rotting in the museums, turning these institutions literally into cemeteries of dead objects. Of the major governmental museums in Australia, only four have effective control over temperature and humidity. Even in these favoured museums, some collections are stored in an uncontrolled atmosphere . . .
The silent, scarcely visible damage to items in Australian museums probably exceeds, at present prices, one million dollars a year. As the damage takes place in basements or in locked storehouses out of sight, the public pressure to take remedial action is slight.
I think this Parliament has a responsibility to take greater note of that recommendation. We will not grab headlines if we say that we will spend a lot of money on preserving the nation’s heritage, but if we are really concerned about these objects that are priceless in terms of the country’s history then it ought to be done. The Committee makes the point in its report that it would prefer not to see displays in the Museum of Australia, when it is built, fragmented into separate compartmentsfor example, transport, geology and sport - but rather that visitors should experience the sensation of travelling through time. The report states:
The old system of dividing knowledge into the familiar compartments of the school syllabus, into history and anthropology and zoology, naturally has advantages and can be seen in most museums. But there are also great advantages in bridging those divisions. A new museum provides an exciting opportunity for new bridges.
The report goes on:
It is not this Committee’s responsibility to suggest in detail the sequence and arrangement of The Museum of Australia. That is rather the responsibility of the director and curators, working within the guidelines identified by their trustees. We would envisage, in general terms, that the sequence of displays within the museum would commence with the origins of the Australian landmass and its slow northwards drift; the evolution of its distinctive flora and fauna; the moulding of regional landscapes; the effects of the last of the ice ages; the arrival of the first Aborigines; their influence through fire and hunting on the environment; the environment’s effects on the Aborigines’ various ways of life and in turn their skillful harnessing of the environment; the long isolation of the Tasmanian Aboriginals; the last rising of the seas and the separating of Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Can honourable members imagine a more exciting concept? To the best of my knowledge, no other museum in Australia, if in the world, would have such a unique display. When I travel overseas one of the first things I try to do is see the museums of the countries I visit. Unfortunately, there are many occasions when I feel that the visit is more of a duty than a pleasure. Too many museums are full of dull, lifeless displays, no doubt fascinating to the keen student of a particular discipline but crushingly boring to the layman, who lacks the expert knowledge to appreciate fully, for example, 3,000 neatly labelled pieces of pottery made some 2,000 to 3,000 years ago. I can see the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Giles) nodding in agreement. He has been through those sorts of tortuous experiences. After two or three hours in many museums, the average person begins to suffer from what is termed museum fatigue. What should be a stimulating adventure becomes, on many occasions, an exercise in eyeglazing boredom.
Finally, as I said before, it is important that a decision be made about the site of the Museum of Australia. The Committee in its report envisaged a totally new concept in museums, including the three themes I mentioned earlier - the nature park, provisions for display, and the training of artisans in skills that are no longer in common usage. For example, there would be blacksmiths, cobblers, coopers and thatchers. The Committee has in mind that these skills are being lost in Australia and that people should be trained by the few who still have those skills. In the future, people would be able to see that type of thing in the Museum, which would be a museum of artisan skills as well as the other things I have been talking about. There would also be displays on issues of current public debate. I talked to Mr Peter Pigott, and he put forward the very exciting concept that, if there were a debate about the environment, both sides of the argument could be illustrated in display form so that people could grasp the issues in a way that they cannot do at present from the newspapers of Parliament.
If the concept is to be implemented successfully a fairly substantial area of land will have to be set aside so that the Museum of Australia can grow as Australia’s history unfolds. It would be a disaster if the concept outlined in the Pigott report were lost. I think it would be getting away from the whole concept of the recommendations contained in the Pigott report if the decision were made to incorporate the Museum in the Parliamentary Triangle and it was just another museum built in the style of so many of our traditional museums. I would be delighted if the Minister would inform us whether the Government proposes to accept the recommendation that a 90-hectare site west of Black Mountain known, I understand, as the cork plantation is to be the site of the Museum. Its location at such a site would enable the free flowing display outlined in the report. Because much of the display will be quite different from traditional displays in museums, it is essential to have lots of open space. Because it will be a uniquely Australian museum, it is important that it be integrated into the Australian landscape. I know the area suggested reasonably well. It is a magnificent site that is suitable to the thematic concept previously outlined. Let us hope that the Government has the good sense to take the report’s advice and construct the Museum in the area west of Black Mountain.
If the ideas contained in the Pigott report are followed through faithfully, Australia will have a museum that will be not only educational, scientific and protective of Australia’s heritage but also a dynamic and invigorating experience for everyone who visits it. lt is an extremely exciting and new concept. The Australian Labor Party strongly supports the Museum of Australia Bill. It supports the Bill because it wants to see the Museum functioning as soon as possible. It recognises that it will take time to plan, design and construct the Museum. The Opposition is not unmindful of the fact that it would be a disaster to rush the project just to get erected a building that can be called the Museum of Australia. The Opposition simply asks the Government to provide the Parliament with a time frame in which the Museum will be constructed. It does not want to see long delays as the proposals are shuffled from one committee to another.
– I welcome the attitude of the Australian Labor Party, as expressed by its spokesman on these matters, about this important and brilliant concept.
– It was boring.
– I hope I do not suffer from not having a written speech prepared, as did the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen). He was perturbed about the time frame for the establishment of the Museum of Australia. In his second reading speech of some months ago the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) dealt with various aspects of that. He dealt with the Government’s intention to appoint a director of the Museum soon after the Council was set up. This Bill, the Museum of Australia Bill, gives legislative effect to the main thrust of the recommendations contained in the Pigott report which affect the establishment of the Museum of Australia.
That report also recommends the establishment of a national aviation museum and a national maritime museum on the assumption that these specialised museums cover particularly important parts of our history that could not adequately be covered in a museum of general history along the lines already discussed by the honourable member for Robertson. The Government has shown its concern for the preservation of Australian history and has endeavoured to ensure that people have the opportunity to learn about the country from major museums, associated museums and minor museums of some consequence at places such as Ballarat. No doubt this debate would have attracted the interest of the honourable member for Ballarat (Mr Short) if more time had been allocated to it. Indeed, the museum at Swan Hill and many others like it, some of which are not so minor, add to the general range of museums in small, localised areas throughout Australia.
I should like to refer initially to the threepronged - I am not sure whether that is the right word - decision by the Government based on the recommendations of the Pigott report. I refer to the three themes of the Museum of Australia which one anticipates will be located in Canberra. At the risk of boring the House, the themes refer to the history of Aboriginal man in Australia, the history of non-Aboriginal man in Australia and the interaction of man with the Australian environment. Before we look on this as perhaps a somewhat wild idea, let us stop and consider the dreadful problems of duplication within museums already situated in this country. It is no secret that we are all bound by the constitutional problems of the early formation of this country. Many historic records of great importance are located in State museums in particular and in minor museums in the Northern Territory. This Bill attempts, among other things, to equate the problems in that respect and tries to establish guidelines, some of which 1 am not altogether satisfied with. I might deal with that later. It seems strange that I found the finest display of Aboriginal art I have ever seen - I have some interest in this area- in the Chicago Art Museum some eight years ago. The display was finer than any display of Aboriginal art I have ever seen in this country.
– Have you seen Basle in Switzerland?
– I have not. That establishes two very important points. Part of the object of this Bill is to stop the export of important relics, whether they be Aboriginal art or aircraft, such as a prominent Messerschmitt 109 aircraft that would have disappeared from this country in parts but for the most stringent supervision and inspection of this project as it developed. A departmental officer who is present in the gallery had much to do with the fact that that aircraft did not leave Australia. From that Aboriginal art display in Chicago it was evident that those relics of our history should not have left this country. If that had been the case, I would not have had to go to Chicago to see such a magnificent display. This Bill is trying to cut off the exodus of very important historic art and other forms of our cultural history.
As I said earlier, we are posed with the problem of duplication. I think that this concept of the construction of a museum in Canberra with those three basic themes is a proper way of attempting to handle the situation as it emerges. I hope there will be a major display in Canberra. Apart from the three principal themes to which I have referred, another problem arises. The Pigott report and the Minister’s second reading speech, which was made some time ago, deal with two other aspects of the museum concept in Australia. I refer to the proposed national aviation museum and the national maritime museum. The Pigott report goes far beyond that but I wish to comment particularly on those aspects. It is not clear to me - I do not believe the Government is clear on this point - what trust should cope with what form of museum. It is perfectly clear- it is laid down within the ambit of this Bill- that there should be a trust to care for the general museum in Canberra. I am not clear about whether that trust and the council associated with it should necessarily be the body to oversee the collection of, say, aviation relics in an aviation museum. I am also not clear whether that sort of trust is necessarily the right one to look after a maritime museum.
It is quite clear to all members of the House that if the major Museum - an exciting concept - is located in Canberra there is very good reason why these other two adjuncts should not be located in Canberra. 1 think that a maritime museum quite properly should be located a trifle nearer the coast than Canberra, lt is equally logical to think that a national aviation museum with a flying adjunct should be located in slightly kinder winter conditions than Canberra. Likewise, it is equally logical to think that the higher convection currents of Queensland and the rapidity with which storms can develop are not necessarily the kindest environment for flying replicas of old box kites at 30 miles an hour.
I think one has to look at New South Wales, and perhaps further south where flying conditions are kinder to locate the flying adjunct of a national aviation museum. Indeed, the Pigott report mentions factors other than that in relation to a national aviation museum. It mentions a factor that I think is of great importance. It says that the national aviation museum should be properly located on some arterial highway between major centres of population. It also mentions the fact that air space is of prime importance. This rather precludes Richmond or Essendon as possible sites. We cannot have two-engined Cessnas howling around air space reserved, as I hope it will be, for older type aircraft which will fly along at a very slow speed and, in modern parlance, in rather a dicky situation. Likewise, the matter of hanger space is important if we look at the economics of the project.
I think it is quite proper that various country towns at this stage are trying to put forward their case for the establishment of a national aviation museum. I hope the Government takes into account the fact that we must allow for the flying adjunct of a national aviation museum, lt is critical to take into account the sorts of factors I have just enumerated.
This leads me inexorably towards the project in which I have personally taken a great interest. I refer to the building of the Southern Cross replica - Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s aircraftwhich is currently being undertaken in Parafield in South Australia. The Southern Cross Museum Trust, set up under the chairmanship of the exPremier of New South Wales, the Honourable Tom Lewis, is busy currently raising funds. It has an agreement with a company known as FA A - Famous Australian Aircraft - to construct the Southern Cross replica. The progress is extraordinarily good. According to senior people in the aircraft construction industry the quality of the work is very high.
I take the opportunity to thank those members of the House who, in some cases as a personal favour to me and in other cases because of their belief in the project, donated to this fund. Some of my friends on this side of the House have donated in a mammoth fashion. 1 am most grateful. I am even more grateful to some members of the Opposition for donating to the fund. I would like to make a particular reference to the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) who, of course, is just the member of the Opposition one would expect to donate to such a project due to his sincere belief in the importance of the history of these things to the Australian nation. Let me refer now to the Southern Cross Museum Trust brochure which states:
Sir Charles KingsfordSmith and his plane the ‘Southern Cross’;
One could well add Ulm to that statement- - hold a unique place in aviation history. They evoke warm memories from all those familiar with ‘Smithy’s’ records around the world.
These records are daunting to us, even today; at the time when they were set, they must surely have defied belief.
The catalogue of ‘firsts’ by Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith and his plane bear repeating; indeed, they will never be forgotten.
He was the first to circumnavigate the world, via the great circle. He was the first to fly the Pacific Ocean; the first to fly the Tasman Ocean. He made the first successful east-west crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
His was the first registered Australian National Airline. He started the first official international air-mail carrier, from the United Kingdom to Australia.
These are outstanding achievements and in recognition of them, the Southern Cross Museum Trust has been established under the chairmanship of the Hon. T. L. Lewis . . .
This replica will not only honour a great Australian aviation pioneer, but also it will give Australians the opportunity of seeing and participating
And for some of them flying in the Southern Cross—- in an important part of our history.
The article goes on to describe the Commonwealth Government’s generous donation to the building fund. I emphasise the fact that I see the building of the Southern Cross as a catalyst toward the future Australian aviation museum. I particularly see it as a catalyst toward the flying side of that museum. I see the flying side of the museum being composed of Spitfires, Boomerangs, Wirraways, Lancasters, Beau forts and what have you that are still available for collection around Australia. I also see the museum as having flying replicas of aircraft far too old to get a licence to fly in this day and age. 1 have no doubt the Southern Cross will reside for a long time where it currently is at the Brisbane airport. I see this as a magnificent success story of the future. If countries such as America and those in Europe are any criteria this project in years to come will take off, if I might use a corny phrase, in a very real way. The aerial displays of vintage aircraft in those countries today are so popular that one American company is turning out up to six replicas a day of old and valued aircraft.
In the time remaining I will refer to the three themes of the Museum. I will quote from the Pigott report. With my slight knowledge of Mr Peter Pigott I back up everything that the honourable member for Robertson said. Those people with the dedication to help the nation, such as Mr Pigott, perform a most admirable service to the rest of the community. The report typifies the group around Mr Pigott. The section of the report to which I will refer concerns some of the difficulties of establishing both an Aboriginal and European historical display, with environmental effects covering both cultures, in the one museum. The Pigott report quotes an observation of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute - an institution known very well to many of us and which has application to the gallery so described for future construction in Canberra. The Secretary states:
By creating a dignified aura of self-examination and self research it might be possible to raise more rapidly the selfesteem and pride in individuality of these marvellous people–
That is, the Indians of America- before they trample the last remnants of their own uniqueness to death, rushing to be like everyone else.’
The Committee went on to say:
This Committee is aware that many Aboriginal people have expressed misgivings about the role of museums in Australia . . . However, because of possible Aboriginal doubts concerning the role of the Gallery, some matters require comment. Any Gallery interim planning council should include them in their deliberations.
The Committee then went on to note the following criticisms: that the gallery will be devised by and controlled by Europeans;
This is a problem and we must recognise it now.
The report continued: that it would display secret or sacred objects, or the bones of dead people;
Let us recognise that now. The report further states: that the type of research initiated might benefit white scholars, but is not relevant to Aboriginal needs; that museums are not interested in the educational requirements or aspirations of Aborigines and that little is done to encourage them as visitors; that museums hoard items of material culture which being more rightly the possessions of the tribal group which made them, should be returned to their original owners.
All honourable members in this House who have had access to Aboriginal reserves and missions in the old days will know that there is validity in these comments. My only reason for mentioning these matters tonight is to make quite sure that, if it is within my bounds to do so, these problems are made known. The Aboriginal people should be brought into the decision making field as soon as possible if this gallery is to be a success. I welcome the Minister’s introduction of this Bill which will give legislative effect to the concept of the museum plan of Australia. Credit is due, which is proper in great schemes, to more than one government. In fact, the Pigott committee and its establishment goes back some years. I look forward to some impetus being given it over the years. I hope the Museum will be established as rapidly as possible, subject to the Public Works Committee inquiry into the building costs. I think, that fairly promptly an interim report is coming up the chute as to which aerodromes in Australia are suitable. I look forward to the early promotion of this scheme which I think, in a non-party sense, is to the credit of this House. I wish the project the best of success in the future.
– I rise to support the Museum of Australia Bill. Like by colleague, the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) I am a little disappointed that we are not moving forward a little more quickly on this project, but better slow than never. I was pleased to be assured last night by the Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Ellicott) that some funds have been made available in this
Budget for part of the planning procedure. Of course we would like to see the work get under way with provision in the present Budget as there is an urgent need to create employment opportunities, particularly in Canberra.
I hope that one of the first things the interim council will do will be to look at the training of staff for this Museum. We have an excellent course on conservation at the Canberra College of Advanced Education. I would like to see the council get that work in hand quickly. I would particularly like the council to look into the training of Aborigines for work in the Aboriginal gallery, by giving them proper professional training. I would like the council to get onto this matter at an early date and not wait until the building is on the ground. Of course if the planning had been more advanced we would have had the prospect of having one stage ready by 1988, the bicentenary year. I suppose that is still possible but the Government would want to be a bit more energetic in the future than it has been in the past about getting this project underway.
I would like briefly to pay tribute to former Ministers of the Whitlam Government for their part in reactivating this project. I know it has been around for a long while but the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) convened the planning committee in 1973 to get the project reactivated. In 1974 the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) announced the committee of inquiry. Then in 1975 Senator Cavanagh requested the planning committee to report to the committee of inquiry. So all of these colleagues have played a valuable role and I pay tribute to their contribution in getting this project underway. It has taken a long while but at least now it is starting to move. I also pay tribute to Peter Pigott and particularly to Professor Mulvaney who has had a great deal to do with the report on the Aboriginal gallery. These reports pointed up all the problems that are connected with this very ambitious program. It pointed up the storage problems and the great damage that was being done to very valuable material because of lack of proper storage facilities. Material was stored in situations where we did not have proper control over the humidity or temperature. Of course some permanent damage has been done to irreplaceable material.
These reports also pointed up the tourist potential and we were very pleased, as members of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Australian Capital Territory who looked at the tourist potential of Canberra, to incorporate those thoughts about the very great tourist potential of the Museum of Australia. We were quite pleased to highlight that in our report. Just as important as the tourist potential is the educational role. This was pointed up in these reports. What a boost it would be to organisations like the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies and the Aboriginal Arts Board if they could be housed within the Aboriginal gallery of the museum. The exchanges of collections and exhibitions could be arranged within such an organisation and would be of value. There would be a very close connection between the Museum and the many teaching institutions in Canberra, particularly Australian National University undergraduate and postgraduate students studying history, prehistory and anthropology. These students would all have a very keen interest in this project and their studies would benefit from the presence of such a Museum. They would be able to make a contribution to the effectiveness of that Museum.
I would like to endorse the remarks of my colleague about the site. It is a magnificent site and I cannot say that I am disinterested because it happens to be in my electorate. But even if it were in the electorate of the honourable member for Canberra (Mr Haslem) I would still be just as enthusiastic about it. It is ideally situated in that it is very accessible to the three main town centres of Canberra. It is quite close to Civic - just south on the south-west side of Black Mountain - only two or three miles from the Belconnen Town Centre, quite convenient to the Woden Town Centre and it has a very good freeway access to the Tuggeranong Town Centre.
I think the actual nature of the land would also be an advantage. It is fairly fiat land. It has excellent mountains as a very suitable backdrop to the outdoor aspects of the displays and it is quite handy to the Botanic Gardens which are composed entirely of Australian flora. Unlike the Black Mountain Tower which is in conflict with the Burley Griffin concept of Canberra - that is that the mountains should be kept clear- this site is not on the top of a mountain although it does have mountains on various aspects which form a very desirable backdrop. I challenge anybody to find a better site. I am sorry that the decision on the site could not have been written into the Bill at which we are looking tonight, but I hope that that will be an early decision of the interim council. The thing that is most fascinating about this scheme is its general broad concept. I think it can only be described as a brilliant concept, a unique concept. But to bring it to a reality, of course, will require an exceptional breadth of vision. It will require highly developed professional skills, a great deal of dedication, and, of course, a lot of money.
I notice that the Minister, in his second reading speech, says that such a museum will demonstrate to the world the pride we have in our country. I do not think we need to demonstrate to the world that we have a pride in our country. I think we need to create a Museum of history which will allow Australians and visitors to view a composite picture of the whole of our known history, that is, the land and its flora and fauna untouched by man, then the interaction between the land and the Aboriginal people which went on for something like 40,000 years and then, much more recently, the interaction between the land and the Aborigines and the European and other ethnic groups which were involved in the development of Australia. We refer generally to Europeans but, of course, Asians, Chinese, Americans and all sorts of people were concerned with the early history of Australia. But they were basically Europeans. I believe the objective can be achieved if the broad concept, as proposed by the Committee, is accepted in its entirety. I think this concept marks a great step forward in our historical perception.
It has been described in the report as the reciprocal interrelationship between man and the land. I think the whole important crux of the concept is that it is the interrelationship that we are talking about. Whereas we tend to look through a sort of tunnel when we read a history of the Aborigines, of European settlement or of the environment, this concept brings them all together and interrelates them in a realistic sort of way so that people can get a total picture of our history. I think it is worth noting that historians and fiction writers too frequently refer to the interrelationship, particularly in relation to European settlement of Australia, as man struggling to overcome his environment.
I do not think this is a very correct perception of the interrelationship. I think a much more perceptive description of that relationship would be to see man reacting with the environment in two broad ways: Firstly, in the way that he adapts himself, his knowledge, his imported technology and his methods to the environment and, secondly, the attempts he makes to adapt and to change the environment to his needs. He usually does this in a way which allows him to exploit the environment for profit. Unfortunately in adapting the environment to his needs man has frequently decimated it. He has exploited it and often he has done permanent damage to the environment by overclearing, overstocking and overcropping it and causing soil erosion and other damage. I hope the broad concept of this Museum will not depict man as struggling to overcome the environment but rather as man learning to live with, to understand and to conserve his environment, and certainly to change it, if possible, to his advantage.
In the process of learning to understand and live with his environment, I hope that the Museum will show how at times - but not always - we have misused it, exploited it and decimated it. The Museum would also show the interrelationship between the Europeans, Asians and Aboriginal people and how we have misunderstood them, misused them and exploited them. But the exciting thing about the whole concept is that it attempts to present a complete picture and bring it all together so that visitors who have only a limited time in which to look at our history will be able to get a broad overview of how Australia came to be what it is today. I think this is a very exciting and innovative concept. I am confident that there are people in Australia - I am sure that there are quite a few people here in Canberra - who, I am sure, with the benefit of the latest overseas knowledge, could bring this very visionary concept of an Australian museum to a reality. I hope that the Government will pursue it with vigour and that we will have something on the ground to show our visitors from overseas by 1988.
– I am very pleased indeed to be able to join the bipartisan support for the Museum of Australia Bill which is now before the House. The Bill provides for the establishment of a national museum of Australian history. In supporting the Bill, I join with others in congratulating the members of the Pigott committee of inquiry on Museums and National Collections which, in 1975, produced a report recommending, amongst other things, the establishment of a Museum of Australia along the lines now proposed in this Bill. I would also like to congratulate the Government and particularly the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) who is sitting at the table for having picked up this recommendation and for having brought it to this stage. I am sure that we all look forward to the day when the Museum does become a reality.
In passing, I would also mention for the record that the Pigott report contained a number of other important recommendations, several of which the Government has already implemented. In particular, it has implemented the scheme on tax incentives for the arts, it has introduced the Historic Shipwrecks Act and implemented training courses in materials conservation. The latter is a very important issue in my mind. Each of these initiatives by the present Government has been significant in helping us better to preserve our heritage and to appreciate better our nation’s history. The Museum of Australia will be a real and very exciting jewel in this crown. For too long we Australians neglected our past. Very fortunately, however, there has been a major shift in attitude over the past decade or so. We seem at last to have come of age in this respect. We have gotten over the tendency to pull things down and /or to belittle them because they are old. We have developed a pride in our past, a strong wish to preserve our past and a desire, very importantly to learn more about it. The Museum of Australia will allow us to further this admirable development.
It is particularly pleasing that the Museum will combine three main themes - the history of Aboriginal man, the history of non-Aboriginal man and the interaction of man with his environment. As the Minister pointed out in his second reading speech, the history of Aboriginal man is by far the longest of these three, although it is, as with the history of non-Aboriginal man, impossible to disentangle either of these from the interaction between man and his environment. It is therefore completely appropriate that the Bill should pay so much attention to the history of Aboriginal man. But it is to the implications of the latter two themes of the Museum that I wish to address my brief remarks tonight, in view of the time.
I wish to make two main points. The first is that it will be important for the Interim Council and subsequently the Council of the Museum, to recognise the role of other institutions throughout Australia in depicting the history of nonAboriginal man and his interaction with the environment. My second point is that those institutions must not be neglected by the Government in the pursuit of making the Museum of Australia the outstanding and unique attraction that we would all wish it to be. I represent the electorate of Ballarat which I am proud to say can boast the most impressive historical park in Australia. I refer, of course, to Sovereign Hill, which is essentially a re-creation of a gold mining town of the 1 860s which is one of the most important periods in Australia’s history. I am pleased to note that official reports including the Pigott report have commented very favourably on the quality of Sovereign Hill and on the professionalism with which it is run. Almost half a million visitors pass through Sovereign Hill each year. Many of them are school children. The Victorian Department of Education employs three teachers there plus a fourth who runs the Red Hill National School.
This is a re-creation of a school of the 1860s. Children from all over Victoria and elsewhere come to attend it for a couple of days at a time.
The educational value of places like Sovereign Hill is enormous, not only to school children but also to adults. Not all visitors are Australians. Some five per cent of the visitors are overseas tourists and the proportion is growing. Sovereign Hill brings enormous benefits to Ballarat, just as other similar attractions do to the areas in which they are located. For example, I refer to Pioneer Village at Swan Hill and the Stockman’s Hall of Fame at Longreach. Most of these attractions are located outside the major capitals. They are a vital part of Australia’s rapidly growing tourist industry, an industry encouraged by assistance from Federal, State and local governments, lt is already one of Australia’s most important industries. It certainly is the fastest growing industry.
On the further development of the industry rests the hopes and the future of many nonmetropolitan centres. The Federal Government devotes little or no direct financial assistance to attractions such as Sovereign Hill. I am not suggesting that it necessarily should. But what I am extremely anxious to avoid is the situation where major and highly desirable new attractions such as the Museum of Australia, which is fully funded by the Commonwealth, and which have other advantages accruing to them which are not available to other worthwhile and impressive depicitions of aspects of Australia’s history, are provided with such resources as to positively hinder the viability of those other less privileged but no less deserving attractions. I recognise in what I have said that I am raising an issue which at this stage is hypothetical. However, if we do not anticipate possible problems in the future we will find them the more difficult to oversome satisfactorily if and when they arise.
That leads me to the proposition that in the establishment and development of the Museum of Australia there must be close co-operation between its Interim Council and subsequent council and representatives from some of the other major historical attractions throughout Australia. The Minister referred in his second reading speech to the need for the Museum of Australia to draw on the wealth of experience embodied in the operations of State museums. That is an admirable sentiment. I simply suggest to the Minister that he also not ignore the wealth of experience which by now has been gained by professional persons such as those represented in the Australian Historical and Tourist Association, and by those who run such important historical institutions as Sovereign Hill.
The final thought I wish to leave with the House and the Minister, and perhaps it is embodied in what I have already said, is that there is a strong need for the closest possible cooperation between those concerned with the establishment and development of the Museum of Australia and those involved with the running of the types of major historical attractions I have already mentioned. It is more than a matter of merely drawing on the experience of these people. Rather, it is a matter of working in harmony with them, in ways which will ensure the broadly based development of Australia’s heritage and historical perspective and the continued vital and viable development of Australia’s tourism industry. On this latter point, I take the opportunity to congratulate the Government, and in particular the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch), for their very valuable support and encouragement of the Australian tourism industry over the past several years. 1 believe that this Government has done more than any other Federal government to put Australia on the map as a tourist destination of world renown. We have many obstacles to overcome, such as distance and the heavy wage costs due to our ridiculous system of penalty rates in the industry, but we are getting there. As a member of the former House of Representatives Select Committee on Tourism and the representative of an electorate for which tourism is of tremendous importance, I am delighted to see the positive response to the Government’s tourism initiatives. The number of overseas visitors to Australia is increasing rapidly, and so too is the number of Australians travelling within Australia. We must improve these figures still more, but we can do that only if we have the attractions necessary to bring people to Australia and to encourage Australians to see their own country. The proposed Museum of Australia will be an important addition to our armoury of attractions. For that reason, and for the other equally if not more important reasons I have already mentioned, I strongly support the Bill.
– in reply - Very shortly, I want to thank honourable members on both sides of the House for their contributions to the debate. It is always very satisfying to participate in a debate in which both sides of the House are in agreement. This is a subject on which members on both sides of the House have made a contribution. The report of the Committee of Inquiry on Museums and National Collections- the Pigott report - and the decision behind that inquiry are well known, and the report contributed significantly to this project. The present Government has now taken it up. During the debate a question was raised as to whether the Government was involved in some way in a public relations exercise. I assure all honourable members that the Government is not involved in such an exercise.
As I said in my second reading speech, the Museum of Australia Bill has been drafted to encourage the Interim Council, which will be appointed following the proclamation of the Act, to develop the concept and bring it to fruition. That is the purpose of the Bill and the purpose of setting up the Interim Council. It will be established as soon as practicable and will be given a charter to put together the propositions that are necessary to establish the Museum and also to bring to the Government more concrete suggestions as to how the collection should be put together, how it will be financed and, of course, how it will be housed. One of the basic questions to be determined is the site. Honourable members opposite have referred to the 90 hectares of land that currently exist on the other side of Black Mountain. I assure honourable members that those 90 hectares are still there and that the National Capital Development Commission has them in mind for reservation for the Museum. On the other hand, the Interim Council will have to make a decision in relation to the site. The Government has not predetermined the site, and one issue that has to be considered is whether the Museum will go there or whether it will go, for instance, in the Parliamentary Triangle.
I know that honourable members will have differing views as to where the Museum should be located, but the question needs to be asked and it needs to be answered by the Government. The Pigott report has favoured one site, which I trust will be preserved. However, others may look to the Parliamentary Triangle. I have referred publicly to the fact that the Government has changed a basic policy that no further buildings should be built in the Parliamentary Triangle, which was the Government’s policy up until recent months. The Government has decided that it is appropriate to build other buildings on either side of this temporary Parliament House and right down to the lake so as to give a mall effect, as provided for in the original Burley Griffin plan. One of the issues to which the Interim Council will need to turn its attention is whether the Museum, or parts of the Museum, should be a part of that Parliamentary Triangle construction. I do not say that to place in jeopardy the other site. I simply indicate that it is an issue that has to be looked into and determined.
The Interim Council will be a very significant body. It will comprise people of considerable expertise, and a great deal of that expertise is located in the national capital. It will have to interrelate with the situation in the States. There is no point in duplication. Of course, there are many people around Australia who have a great interest in this Museum but who, like the States, do not exactly represent the Commonwealth. They would like to make representations to the Council about the development of the Museum. For my own part, I do not see the aviation and maritime museums as something with which the Museum of Australia will be concerned. I suspect that the maritime museum will be located in some harbour site in Australia. Alternatively, the aviation museum will be located at some airport. Those matters are being considered at the moment and are the subject of separate consideration.
– What about the possibility of its being completed by 1988?
– Needless to say, the question of when it will be constructed will depend on the difficulties of timing, if any, and I expect some difficulties, in relation to getting together the planning and design of the Museum. It is one thing to indicate the themes; it is yet another thing to indicate the nature of the buildings, particularly in relation to the site. Those buildings need a permanent character about them. They need to be great public buildings. One hopes that they will have the aspect of the great museums in Mexico City, that they will delight not only the eye but also the spirit and the soul as one moves through them. The Museum of Australia needs to be such a building and, one hopes, on an appropriate site. Those things need to be tackled carefully, lt is much more important to do the job properly than to rush it. On the other hand, if time allows one would hope that, subject to budgetary requirements, this project will proceed well before 1988. No doubt those interested in the development of the national capital will be pressing for that. I have no doubt that the Interim Council will be doing likewise.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! It being 10.30 p.m., I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– The construction of the Museum is a matter which will have to take its course, but it is not a matter for the Government not being committed to the development and construction of the Museum. I remind honourable members that the planning for the National Gallery started, I think, somewhere in the mid-1960s and has proceeded since. The collection for the National Gallery is not something that has been put together overnight. In this year’s Budget some $7m, I think, has been set aside for that collection. The National Gallery is still putting together a collection which, one hopes, will be on exhibition towards the end of 1982, which is when the National Gallery should be ready to be opened. I stress again that these things cannot be done overnight. On the other hand, the Government is as anxious as anybody else to see our national capital with a fine museum which embodies the three themes that the Pigott report has suggested. They are magnificent themes. Obviously they have the support of both sides of the House. They will fulfil whichever object one wants to fulfil - whether it be an indication of the pride that Australians have in their heritage or something that speaks of what Australians are, what their background is and what their environment has been and means to them. It is a magnificent concept. Again I commend this Bill to the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– by leave - I move:
– The Government has not made any decision to build such a hall of fame. On the other hand, the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) usually embraces the possible and those things that are very worthwhile. I would not disagree with him about the need to preserve the memory of the great achievements of Australian sportsmen and women. One project in which the Government is involved at the moment is the setting up of the Australian Institute of Sport. I think that the honourable member would recognise that the Museum of Australia itself may not be an appropriate place, because of the themes, for a sporting hall of fame. At the same time it seems to me to be a project which could fit within the functions and objects of a body like the Australian Institute of Sport. I will commend to the Board of the Institute consideration in the future of promoting this matter. I know that there are some people in private enterprise who are interested in establishing a sporting hall of fame in the national capital. The Confederation of Australian Sport also has made submissions to me in relation to that. The honourable member may rest assured that the matter is embraced in principle by the Government and by me. At the moment I would see the Institute as a significant vehicle through which that objective could be achieved.
Amendments agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Ellicott) - by leave - read a third time.
Bill presented by Mr Howard, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to provide the legislative authority needed to meet the prospective deficit in the Consolidated Revenue Fund in 1980-81. At the same time it will, together with authorities expected to be available under other legislation, provide the borrowing authority needed to finance the estimated overall Budget deficit for the financial year.
Honourable members will be aware that, for many years, there has been legislation for these purposes in the legislative programs of successive governments. In my Budget Speech I announced that the prospective overall Budget deficit for 1980-81 is estimated to be $ 1,566m. Except insofar as funds are available from accumulated cash balances or other miscellaneous financing transactions, this deficit must be financed by net borrowings. Such net borrowings must, of course, be within proper legislative authority derived from the Parliament. The overall Budget deficit takes into account all relevant transactions of the three separate funds used to record the Commonwealth’s receipts and expenditures. These funds are the Consolidated Revenue Fund, the Loan Fund and the Trust Fund. The amounts which may be paid from each fund are limited to the amounts legally available to it.
Underlying the overall deficit estimated for 1980-81 is an estimated deficit in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of $662m. Details of the current estimate of the Consolidated Revenue Fund transactions are set out, for the information of honourable members, in table 3 of Budget Paper No. 4 - Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the Year Ending 30 June 1981. As payments from the Consolidated Revenue Fund cannot exceed moneys available in it, it is necessary either to reduce payments from the Consolidated Revenue Fund by charging to Loan Fund some expenditures normally met from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or, alternatively, to supplement the receipts of the Consolidated Revenue Fund from some other source. Appropriate legislative authority is needed for such transfers. The simplest and traditional means of providing appropriate legislative authority is a loan Bill of the type I am now presenting.
This Bill will authorise borrowings for defence purposes in order that defence expenditure, which would normally be met from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, may instead be met from the Loan Fund. The Bill authorises borrowing for defence purposes. I should make it clear, however, that it does not authorise any defence expenditures additional to those which have already been authorised by Parliament in Supply Act (No. I) 1 980-8 1 or which will subsequently be authorised in Appropriation Acts for this financial year. It will simply allow reallocations of defence expenditures between the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the Loan Fund to be made during the remainder of the financial year, following the enactment of this legislation.
In this regard I draw the attention of honourable members to clause 8 of the recently introduced Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1980-81, which makes that Bill subject to the provisions of the proposed Loan Act. I should also mention that, as borrowings under this legislation will be for the purpose of financing defence expenditure, those borrowings will not require approval from the Australian Loan Council. The Bill includes a specific limit to the amount of such borrowings that may be undertaken. This limit is directly related to the level of defence expenditure which is expected to be made from the date of enactment of the Bill to 30 June 1981. Honourable members will be aware that, at this early stage, the estimate of the Consolidated Revenue Fund deficit is inevitably a qualified one. The actual figure for the year will be affected by presently unforseen developments during the year which could cause departures from current estimates of receipts and payments of the Fund. In setting a limit on borrowings for inclusion in the Bill these inherent uncertainties need to be recognised. The limit that has been included is $900m. This provides a reasonable margin over the estimated Consolidated Revenue Fund deficit of $662m. Borrowings under this proposed legislation will be undertaken within the framework of the monetary policy objective to which I referred in my Budget Speech. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr West) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Howard, and read a first time.
– I move:
As foreshadowed in Budget Statement No. 3 and also in the statement I made to the House today on the report from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure into the Australian Industry Development Corporation, the Government proposes, with the approval of the Board of AIDC, to amend the Australian Industry Development Corporation Act 1970 to increase the Corporation’s maximum gearing ratio from 5:1 to 8:1. This means in essence that the Corporation’s borrowings, other than borrowings for temporary purposes, would be allowed to total up to eight times instead of five times the sum of its paid capital and reserves. The higher gearing ratio will permit the AIDC to finance its lending and other commitments to Australian industry for the time being without a call for additional capital from the Budget.
The directors of AIDC consider that the original conservative gearing ratio of 5:1 is no longer necessary or even appropriate for AIDC. At the same time, I wish to make it clear to honourable members that, although the proposed gearing increase is not inconsistent with the recommendation on this matter of the report on the Corporation of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure, it does not in any way prejudice consideration of the recommendations of that Committee on this or other matters. As I have said in the ministerial statement concerning the Committee’s report, its recommendations will be considered together with the recommendations on AIDC of the Committee of Inquiry into the Australian Financial System.
The opportunity has also been taken in the Bill to amend the provisions relating to disclosure of precuniary. interest in the Act to bring them into line with standard provisions which are being incorporated in statutory authority legislation to give effect to the Government’s adoption of the relevant recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry into Public Duty and Private Interest, otherwise known as the Bowen Committee. A number of formal amendments are also included. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr West) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Howard, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill will provide legislative authority for the entry into force of a revised comprehensive double taxation agreement with Canada. The agreement that it replaces was concluded in 1957. The new treaty was signed earlier this year, but cannot enter into force until all necessary constitutions! processes are completed by Australia and Canada. For Australia, this Bill will, when assented to, complete the processes required for us.
Revision of the 1 957 agreement became necessary because of changes in the tax laws of both countries, particularly in Canada, where major reforms of the tax system came into effect in 1976. When it ienters into force the new agreement will replace the previous agreement, with effect in Australia from 1 July 1975 and in Canada from 1 January 1976. The revised agreement covers in a more detailed way than did the old treaty, all forms of income flowing between Australia and Canada. It corresponds closely with other modern double taxation agreements Australia has concluded.
Under this agreement, Australia will continue to limit to 1 5 per cent its tax on dividends flowing to Canada. Canada will similarly limit its tax on dividends flowing to Australia. While there was, as I have just indicated, an article dealing with dividends in the on agreement, there was not one for interest, and only a very limited coverage of royalties. Comprehensive articles covering these forms of income are a feature of the new agreement.
A limit of 1 5 per cent on each country’s tax on interest flowing to the other is specified in the new agreement. For Australia, this will mean no reduction in our interest withholding tax, which is charged at a rate of 1 0 per cent. On the Canadian side, the reciprocal 15 per cent limit contrasts with the rate of 25 per cent fixed by Canadian domestic law. For royalties flowing to Canada, our tax will be limited to 10 per cent of gross payments, instead of tax at general rates on net royalties. Instead of being able to charge the 25 per cent fixed by its own law Canada too will limit to 10 per cent its tax on royalties coming in this direction.
Apart from other changes that bring the arrangements with Canada into line with Australia’s modern agreements, the agreement provides for limited taxation rights for the country of source in respect of pensions paid to residents of the other country. There is also some relaxation of the rules under which residents of one country working for short periods in the other are free from tax in the country being visited. Reflecting the difficulties that Canada has experienced with such articles, the agreement does not include a provision specifically covering the remuneration of professors and teachers of one country who are visiting the other. The agreement contains measures for the formal relief of double taxation of income that may be taxed by both countries. As is customary, the country of residence of the taxpayer is obliged to provide the necessary relief.
So far as Australian residents are concerned, the combined effect of the agreement and of amendments to Australian tax law proposed by the Bill will be that dividends received by individuals, and interest and royalties on which Canadian tax is limited by the agreement, will be taxed here but with credit being allowed for the Canadian tax. Because of the general rebate on inter-company distributions there is effectively no tax on dividends received from Canada by Australian companies. Other items of income that an Australian resident derives from Canada will continue to be tax-free in Australia if taxed in Canada.
There will be transitional measures associated with the rules I have just outlined and with the fact that in some areas the old agreement gave greater relief from tax of one of the countries than does the new agreement. These will ensure that there is no retrospective increase in tax liability. For example, where there is a provision of the previous agreement that gives greater relief from the tax of either country than the new agreement does, the former will apply in Australia for the 1979-80 and any earlier income year. I recall here that I announced this rule on 21 May last, when the agreement was signed. An explanatory memorandum containing more detailed explanations of technical aspects of the Bill and of the arrangements with Canada is being made available to honourable members. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr West) adjourned.
Petrol Pricing: Effect on Rural Areas - Utilisation of Airport Facilities at Tullamarine
Motion (by Mr Ellicott) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr FitzPATRICK (Riverina) (10.52) - I ask the Government to show a little more concern for the quality of life of people who live in country areas. I remind the House that when the Fraser Government came to power, petrol cost 13c a litre. It now costs 32c to 34c a litre in most metropolitan outlets and much more than that in country towns. Members of the National Country Party of Australia would know that this not only represents a big drain on the incomes of country workers and farmers but also is sending many small businesses to the wall.
Why do members of the National Country Party remain silent while the Fraser Government’s oil pricing policy is keeping thousands of young country youths out of work? I believe that there can be only one answer. The Leader of the National Country Party, the Minister for Trade and Resources (Mr Anthony), is not worried about how the price of fuel affects country people. He is not only a full partner in the Fraser oil parity pricing policy but also the architect of the scheme. I think it must be admitted that oil parity pricing is the greatest revenue gatherer that any government has ever had. The 1 50 per cent increase in petrol prices is due almost entirely to the taxes imposed by the Fraser Government. This not only represents a crippling burden on every citizen but also is a particularly cruel blow to those who live in country centres. We must ask why some attempt is not made to equalise the burden and why country people have to bear an unequal share of this unnecessary tax.
I want to emphasise the fact that country people are forced to use their cars. As you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, many country people have to take their children to school or several miles to catch a school bus. People in smaller towns have to go to larger country towns to get their provisions. People from towns such as Balranald in my electorate have to go to Hay or Narrandera at weekends to enjoy a game of sport. Oil parity pricing is gradually affecting the quality of life because more and more people are forced to forgo these activities.
We must ask ourselves how this lines up with the Fraser Government’s pre-election promise to end the great tax rip-off. Personal income tax, expressed as a proportion of the national income, is the highest it has ever been, and the $3, 000m crude oil levy is additional to that record tax. All of this is crippling country industries. But the Government’s economic vandalism does not stop here. Interest rates have gone up by 2.5 per cent since Mr Fraser said in November 1 977–
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable member will refer to the Prime Minister as such.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
– In the time available to me this evening I want to make a plea to the Government that facilities available at Melbourne airport be used to a greater extent than they are at present. There is growing concern in Victoria about the underutilisation of Melbourne airport compared to a number of other airports in Australia. There is a great deal of controversy in New South Wales about the possible sites for a future $500m-plus airport. From time to time members who represent other capital cities quite rightly make speeches in which they advocate better airport facilities for their capital cities. But it is a tragedy that the best airport facilities in Australia at Tullamarine in Melbourne are underutilised.
The Citizens’ Committee for Melbourne Airport under the chairmanship of Mr Ronald Walker, a former lord mayor of Melbourne, was recently established to correct the situation. The committee has made the point that in fact almost twice as many international flights pass through Sydney airport as pass through Melbourne airport. This sort of difference cannot be justified in terms of the commercial and tourist realities of Australia. It is of importance not only to Victoria but also to Tasmania and South Australia that greater use be made of Melbourne airport. A booklet put out by the committee points out that a survey conducted by the Australian Tourist Commission indicates that between April and September last year 62 per cent of visitors to Australia used Sydney as their first or last port of call and that only 17 per cent used Melbourne. It is impossible to argue that Sydney has almost four times the drawing power of Melbourne. Moreover, the situation is made even more ridiculous by the fact that there is a curfew on Sydney airport whereas Melbourne airport is a roundtheclock operation. Many of the airlines that are presently scheduling flights through Sydney would in fact be better served if they scheduled them through Melbourne where the restrictions that presently exist at Sydney airport would not be placed on them. The booklet also points out that on 4 June, during the first hour after the lifting of the curfew, Sydney handled seven international arrivals which were all wide-bodied jets. The pressures of customs, immigration, baggage, freight and passenger handling services can be imagined. At Melbourne there would have been no such problem.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! It being 1 1 p.m., the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.
The following notices were given:
Mr Macphee to present a Bill for an Act to grant financial assistance to the States in connection with expenditure of a capital nature and to authorise the borrowing of certain moneys by the Commonwealth.
Mr Macphee to present a Bill for an Act relating to the International Monetary Fund.
Mr John McLeay to present a Bill for an Act to amend the Ministers of State Act 1 952.
Mr Hunt to present a Bill for an Act to approve an agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australia relating to the construction of a railway from Adelaide to Crystal Brook, and for other purposes.
Mr Viner to present a Bill for an Act relating to the appointment of the Honourable Robert James Baldwin St John as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Samoa.
Mr Viner to present a Bill for an Act to amend the Remuneration and Allowances Act 1 973.
Mr Nixon to present a Bill for an Act to amend the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation Act 1977.
Mr Anthony to present a Bill for an Act to amend the Atomic Energy Act 1953.
1 ) That, for the purposes of sub-section 8 (2) of the Parliament House Construction Authority Act 1979, the House of Representatives-
authorizes the commencement of work on the following declared stage in the design of Parliament House, namely, the preparation of a detailed design of Parliament House (including specifications and tender documents); and
authorize the commencement of work on the following declared stage in the construction of Parliament House, namely, the preparation and excavation of the site of Parliament House.
That a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of this resolution agreed to by the House of Representatives.
The following papers were deemed to have been presented on 19 August, pursuant to statute:
Air Force Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, Nos. 221,224.
Air Navigation Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, Nos. 106, 136, 187,204.
Ashmore and Cartier Islands Acceptance Act - Ordinance- 1 980- No. 1 -Migratory Birds.
Audit Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, Nos. 1 14, 115.
Australian Antarctic Territory Act- Ordinances- 1 980-
No. 1 - Endangered Species.
No. 2 - Migratory Birds.
Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act- Rules of Court- Statutory Rules 1980, Nos. 210, 214.
Australian Federal Police Act- Regulations - Statutory Rules 1980, Nos. 140, 141.
Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation Act - Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, No. 192.
Australian National University Act-
Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, No. 143.
No. 136- Faculties (School of General Studies) Amendment No. 14.
No. 137- Library.
No. 1 38- Board of the Faculties.
No. 139 - Board of the Institute of Advanced Studies Amendment No. 5.
No. 140- Statutes Revision (The Faculties and Chairmen of Boards).
Australian Overseas Projects Corporation Act - Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, No. 232.
Australian Security Intelligence Organization Act - Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, No. 138.
Australian War Memorial Act- Regulations - Statutory Rules 1980, No. 182.
Banking Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, No. 167.
Bounty (Agricultural Tractors) Act- Regulations - Statutory Rules 1980, No. 180.
Canberra College of Advanced Education ActRegulations Statutory Rules 1980, No. 144.
Christmas Island Act - Ordinances- 1980-
No. 4- Migratory Birds.
No. 5- Endangered Species.
No. 6 - Workers’ Compensation.
Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act - Ordinances - 1 980 -
No. 1- Migratory Birds.
No. 2 - Endangered Species.
Commonwealth Banks Act - Appointment certificates- K. L. Lewis, A. R. S. Loch, D. G. Robinson.
Commonwealth Legal Aid Commission Act - Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, No. 200.
Conciliation and Arbitration Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, Nos. 119, 189, 190.
Coral Sea Islands Act- Ordinances- 1 980-
No.1 - Migratory Birds.
No. 2 - Endangered Species.
Customs Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, Nos. 109,110,150,211,212.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) ActRegulations Statutory Rules 1980, Nos. 120, 121, 122, 123,124,125,126,134,198,201.
Dairy Industry Stabilization Levy Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1980, No. 183.
Dairying Industry Research and Promotion Levy Act - Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, No. 185.
Determinations - 1 980 -
No. 17- Amendments of determinations made under section 58b.
No. 1 8- Initial Outfit Allowance- Female Members.
No. 19 - Recreation Leave.
No. 20 - Leave for Members Under Training.
No. 21- Leave for Special Purposes.
No. 22- Resident Medical Officers- Additional Salary.
Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, Nos. 220,222.
Defence Act, Naval Defence Act and Air Force Act - Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, Nos. 142, 165, 217, 218.
Defence Amendment Act- Interim Determinations - Statutory Rules 1980, Nos. 129, 130, 131, 132, 146, 147, 148, 151, 152, 153. 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164, 173, 174, 175, 176, 177, 178, 179,216, 229, 230.
No. 182- Professional Officers Association, Australian Public Service.
No. 1 83 - Commonwealth Medical Officers Association.
No. 184 - Repatriation Department Medical Officers Association.
No. 185 - Professional Officers Association, Australian Public Service.
No. 186- Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union of Australia.
No. 1 87- Federated Clerks Union of Australia.
No. 188 - Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners of Australia and others.
No. 189 - Line Inspectors’ Association, Commonwealth of Australia.
No. 190 - Professional Radio and Electronics Institute of Australasia.
No. 191 - Civil Air Operations Officers’ Association of Australia.
No. 192 - Electrical Trades Union of Australia.
No. 193 - Vehicle Builders Employees Federation of Australia.
No. 194 - Transport Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 195- Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association.
No. 1 96 - Federal Firefighters’ Union.
No. 198 - Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners of Australia and others.
No. 199- C.S.I.R.O. Laboratory Craftsmen Association.
No. 200 - Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen of Australia.
No. 201 - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Technical Association.
No. 202 - Commonwealth Foremen’s Association of Australia (Australian Public Service).
No. 203- Transport Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 204 - Amalgamated Metal Workers’ and Shipwrights Union and others.
No. 205 - Australian Capital Territory Medical Officers’ Association.
No. 206 - Transport Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 207 - Administrative and Clerical Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service and others.
No. 208 - Association of Officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and another.
No. 209 - Association of Officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
No. 210 - Association of Professional Engineers, Australia and another.
No. 211 - Telecommunication Technical Officers Association.
No. 212 - Australian Journalists Association.
No. 213 - Federated Storemen and Packers Union of Australia.
No. 214 - Australian Public Service Artisans’ Association and another.
No. 215 - Federated Clerks Union of Australia.
No. 216 - Industrial Arbitration Registrars’ Association.
No. 2 1 7 - Professional Radio and Electronics Institute of Australasia.
No. 218- Hospital Employees Federation of Australia.
Nos 219 and 220- Professional Officers Association, Australian Public Service.
No. 221 - Professional Officers Association, Australian Public Service and another.
No. 222- Australian Theatrical and Amusement Employees Association.
No. 223- Hospital Employees Federation of Australia.
No. 224- Professional Officers Association, Australian Public Service.
No. 225- Arbitration Inspectors’ Association.
No. 226- Professional Officers Association, Australian Public Service.
No. 227- Royal Australian Nursing Federation.
No. 228- Electrical Trades Union of Australia.
No. 229- Australian Workers’ Union.
No. 230 - Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union of Australia.
Nos 231 and 232- Meat Inspectors Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
Nos 233 and 234- Commonwealth Foremen’s Association of Australia, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 235 - Professional Officers Association, Australian Public Service.
No. 236- Federated Clerks Union of Australia.
No. 237- Commonwealth Foremen’s Association of Australia, Commonwealth Public Service and another.
Nos 238 to 245- Royal Australian Nursing Federation and others.
No. 246 - Australian Public Service Association (Fourth Division Officers).
No. 247 - Federated Storemen and Packers Union of Australia.
No. 248- Professional Officers Association, Australian Public Service.
No. 249- Federated Clerks Union of Australia.
No. 250- Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen of Australia.
No. 251 - Federated Clerks Union of Australia.
No. 252- Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union of Australia.
Nos 253 and 254- Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen of Australia and others.
No. 255 - Australian Journalists Association.
No. 256- Professional Officers Association, Australian Public Service.
No. 257- Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen of Australia and others.
Nos 258 and 259- Professional Officers Association, Australian Public Service.
No. 260- Professional Officers Association, Australian Public Service.
No. 261 - Electrical Trades Union of Australia.
No. 262- Australian Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 263- Federated Clerks Union of Australia.
No. 264 - Australian Journalists Association.
Nos 265 and 266 - Professional Officers Association, Australian Public Service.
No. 267 - Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen of Australia and another.
No. 268 - Printing and Kindred Industries Union.
No. 269- Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen of Australia.
No. 270- Amalgamated Metal Workers’ and Shipwrights Union and others.
No. 271 - Australian Workers’ Union.
No. 272- Amalgamated Metal Workers’ and Shipwrights Union and others.
Nos 273 and 274- Amalgamated Metal Workers’ and Shipwrights Union and others.
No. 275 - Australian Public Service Artisans’ Association.
Nos 276 and 277- Amalgamated Metal Workers’ and Shipwrights Union and others.
No. 278- Electrical Trades Union of Australia.
No. 279- Australian Public Service Artisans’ Association and another.
No. 280- Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers.
No. 281 - Administrative and Clerical Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service and others.
No. 282 - Federated Engine Drivers’ and Firemens’ Association of Australasia.
No. 283 - Repatriation Department Medical Officers Association.
Nos 284 to 286- Plumbers and Gasfitters Employees’ Union of Australia and others.
Nos 287 and 288- Amalgamated Metal Workers’ and Shipwrights Union and others..
No. 289 - Australian Public Service Artisans’ Association and others.
No. 290 - Federated Liquior and Allied Industries Employees Union of Australia.
No. 291- Federated Storemen and Packers Union of Australia.
No. 292 - Professional Officers Association, Australian Public Service.
No. 293 - Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen of Australia.
No. 294 - Commonwealth Works Supervisors Association.
No. 295 - Australian Public Service Association (Fourth Division Officers).
Nos 296 and 297 - Administrative and Clerical Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service and others.
No. 298 - Transport Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 299 - Amalgamated Metal Workers’ and Shipwrights Union and others.
No. 300 - Australian Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 301 - Transport Workers’ Union of Australia and another.
No. 302 - Public Service Board and others.
No. 304- Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen of Australia and others.
No. 305 - Administrative and Clerical Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 306 - Professional Officers Association, Australian Public Service.
No. 307 - Hospital Employees Federation of Australia.
No. 308 - Amalgamated Metal Workers’ and Shipwrights Union and others.
No. 309 - Australian Public Service Association (Fourth Division Officers).
Quarantine Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1980, Nos
Remuneration Tribunals Act-
Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, No. 139.
Remuneration Tribunal - Determination- 1 980/ 1 0-
Chairman of the Committee of Inquiry into Electricity Generation and the Sharing of Power Resources in SouthEast Australia.
Seat of Government (Administration) Act -
No. 15 - Legal Aid (Amendment).
No. 16- Legal Practitioners (Amendment).
No. 17 - Police Offences (Amendment).
No. 18 - Sewerage Rates (Amendment).
No. 19- Water Rates (Amendment).
No. 20 - Nature Conservation.
No. 21- Canberra Retail Markets (Amendment).
No. 22- Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment).
No. 23 - Rabbit Destruction (Amendment).
No. 24 - Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Amendment).
No. 25 - House of Assembly (Amendment).
No. 26- Canberra Showground Trust (Amendment).
No. 27- Water Rates (Amendment) (No. 2).
No. 7 - (Flammable Liquids Ordinance).
Nos 8, 9- (Health Commission Ordinance).
No. 10- (Remuneration Ordinance).
No. 1 1 - (Building and Services Ordinance).
Spirits Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1 980, No. 1 1 2.
States Grants (Petroleum Products) Act - Amendments of the schedules to the subsidy schemes in relation to the States of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia, dated I June 1 980.
States Grants (Schools Assistance) Act - Statement of particulars of directions given by Minister under sub-section 13(3).
Student Assistance Act - Regulation- Statutory Rules 1980, No. 194.
Superannuation Act - Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, Nos 108, 181, 195, 196,233.
Telecommunications Act - Australian Telecommunications Commission - By-laws - Telecommunications (Charging Zones and Charging Districts) - Amendment No. 2(1980).
Trade Commissioners Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1980, No. 203.
Wheat Marketing Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1980, No. 191.
Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1980, No. 188.
Wool Tax Act (No. 1) - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1980, No. 168.
Wool Tax Act (No. 2) - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1980, No. 169.
Wool Tax Act (No. 3) - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1980, No. 170.
Wool Tax Act (No. 4) - Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, No. 171.
Wool Tax Act (No. 5)- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, No. 172.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Science and the Environment, upon notice, on 6 June 1 979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I refer the honourable member to the response given by the Minister for National Development and Energy to a question without notice asked by Senator Keeffe and which appears in Senate Hansard of 23 April 1980, page 1703.
Information in Migrant Languages (Question No. 5280)
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:
In view of the Government’s undertaking to implement the recommendation of the Galbally Inquiry concerning production of information in the languages of the major ethnic communities, will he ensure that (a) Government-funded community information projects such as Project Australia, the National Energy Conservation Campaign and the Australian Bi-Centennial Commemoration will be produced in migrant languages as well as in English and (b) appropriate sums for this purpose will be made available so that Australia’s overseas-born people will be able to participate in and have the benefit of these activities to the same extent as all other Australians.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Government has already indicated its commitment to the provision of information in the languages of the major ethnic communities. The Galbally Report, which I tabled on 30 May 1978 was produced in ten languages, and the significant level of Commonwealth Government funding for Interpreting and Translating Services is an indication of this commitment.
Information on the National Energy Conservation Campaign has been translated into 8 languages (Italian, Greek, Yugoslav, Serbo-Croation, Arabic, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese). Consideration will be given to production of the later stages of Project Australia information in ethnic languages and the Australian Bicentennial Authority is being asked to give special consideration to the use of multi-lingual information as planning for the Bicentennial celebrations proceeds.
asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 20 February 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) The decision not to include tariff details in the Information Pages of the 1 979 Perth telephone directory was based mainly on the fact that tariff changes can render the information out-of-date for much of the life of the directory. Telecom also considers that direct publicity is a more effective means of publicising tariff information. From the customers viewpoint, the appearance of out-of-date tariff information in directories is more likely to lead to customers unintentionally incurring higher charges than is the absence of charging information. Customers can readily obtain up-to-date call charge information by calling the telephone numbers (free calls) listed on pages 1 and 2 of the Perth directory. (4), (5) and (6) Only a few telephoned complaints have been received concerning the absence of tariff information. It had been intended to carry out a post-issue survey but in view of the very low level of customer complaints and higher priority demands on available funds, a survey has not been undertaken.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 27 February 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 6 March 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question provides information sought not only by Question 5637, but also answers Questions Nos 5630-5635 and 5639-5640. Those Questions were directed respectively to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, Minister representing the Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Administrative Services, Minister for Productivity, Minister for Post and Telecommunications, Minister for Education, Minister for Industrial Relations and the Minister for Home Affairs who have agreed that I should respond as the portfolio of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs includes overall responsibility for implementation of the recommendations of the Galbally Report of the Review of PostArrival Programs and Services for Migrants.
Within the established cycle of reporting to the Parliament and without diverting scarce resources which would otherwise be engaged on implementation of the recommendations, the following information is provided:
A statement of expenditure for 1979-80 will be provided with a report to the House on implementation of the Galbally Report to 30 June 1980.
The figures should be interpreted with care as they cannot be related to particular Galbally ‘years’ because the 57 major recommendations are at different stages of progress, some being more advanced than others. As the implementation program progresses it will become increasingly difficult to match actual expenditure against the Galbally estimates based on a pattern of years 1 , 2 and 3.
The Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs chairs the Galbally Implementation Task Force, an interdepartmental body charged with monitoring the progress of implementing recommendations by concerned departments and has established a cell of senior officers responsible for servicing the Task Force. Other departments consult, as required in taking action to implement recommendations of the Galbally Report for which they have functional responsibility.
It is difficult to identify sums appropriated over and above those recommended by the Galbally Report particularly when: on-going programs subsume certain recommendations; the Galbally years 1,2 and 3 have varying start points and lead in times for some programs due to a number of factors including the need for prior consultation with State Governments and community and ethnic groups; on-going programs include pre-Galbally Report initiatives which are very similar to those included in, or resulting from, the Report; a number of recommendations are implemented on a calendar year basis; or implementation is ahead of the schedules included in the report.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 18 March 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Should it become necessary to train an additional twenty thousand or more for up to fifty days per annum, either:
The nature and cost of buildings would depend on a number of factors including purpose, location, design, construction time and durability.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 2 April 1 980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Bilateral nuclear safeguards agreements have been negotiated with nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. Nuclear weapon states are not obliged under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to renounce nuclear weapons or accept international safeguards. The two agreements so far negotiated with nuclear weapon states (the United States and the United Kingdom), do not therefore require the application of IAEA safeguards to all nuclear material in these countries. Nonetheless Australia’s agreements with the United States and the United Kingdom require that nuclear material of Australian origin supplied under these agreements will not be used for military or explosive purposes, and that such material will be covered by IAEA safeguards.
The three agreements signed so far with non-nuclear weapon states are with Finland, the Philippines and the Republic of Korea, all of which are parties of the NPT and have placed their entire civil nuclear industries under IAEA safeguards pursuant to their obligations under the NPT.
The text of all five of these agreements have been presented to Parliament. It is necessary to read each agreement as a whole in order to see the way in which Australia’s requirements, including the application of IAEA safeguards, are fulfilled.
Negotiations on further nuclear safeguards agreements are being conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Government’s nuclear safeguards policy. The texts of such safeguards agreements will be tabled in Parliament as soon as practicable after signature in accordance with the Government’s practice.
Nuclear Explosion near South Africa (Question No. 5829)
asked the Minister for Science and the Environment, upon notice, on 1 5 April 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) and (b) There are facilities in Australia that can assist in detecting nuclear events:
It would be within the capability of some of these facilities to detect an atmospheric explosion of a neutron bomb under certain circumstances, but they would not be assured of detecting every such event.
MrG.R. Lynch (Question No. 5833)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 2 April 1 980:
– The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 2 April 1980: (1)Has his attention been drawn to reports of recent research findings relating to the medical substrate Laetrile B-17 (Amygdalin) by Professor Harold Manners, Professor of Biology, at the University of Chicago, U.S.A.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 2 April 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Poisons Schedule Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NH & MRC) is currently reviewing the many problems associated with multilingual labelling of a miscellany of hazardous chemicals, including drugs and pesticides. The Poisons Schedule Committee would welcome advice from the honourable member if he is aware of significant problems in this regard.
As stated in (1) the Poisons Schedule Committee is currently examining aspects of multi-lingual labelling of poisons and hazardous substances.
Multi-lingual warnings are not mandatory given that they could be required in over fifty languages. In localities with a high proportion of a specific nationality some drug companies may provide bilingual labels with the pharmacist usually making the decision as to whether their use is appropriate.
Bilingual signs and directories are not used in the Woden Valley, Royal Canberra or Calvary Hospitals. Some universally recognised signs such as those indicating rest rooms are used. The Telephone Interpreter Service sign is on display at the three hospitals.
Under administrative arrangements applying to the Community Health Program, Commonwealth payments are by way of block grant allocations to the States and the Northern Territory. The State and Territory health authorities have the responsibility for the detailed administration of the Program.
The only health centres for which the Federal Minister is responsible are those in the Australian Capital Territory and the position in these centres follows:
All the Capital Territory Health Commission health centres, of which there are nine at the present time, display the Telephone Interpreter Service sign. In some cases this is the only bi- or multi-lingual sign. No health centre provides bilingual directories. Health information pamphlets are on display in various community languages at some health centres.
Two health centres have multi-lingual receptionists and bilingual staff work within other centres.
The Commission has recently employed an adviser on ethnic affairs to provide advice on these matters.
The Department of Health endeavours to cater for the needs of aged and newly arrived migrants in the following ways:
Tuberculosis; 1 979 Health Benefits Changes;
Domiciliary Nursing Care Benefits;
Quarantine in Australia:
Further publications on Emergency Medical Aid and Health and Medical Services in Australia are shortly to be printed.
My Department has recognised the need to be wellinformed about the needs of older migrants, particularly in regard to their health care, and has collected a considerable amount of material and statistical data on this subject.
Other Departments, including the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, have contributed to this information bank which is being used, inter alia, to formulate guidelines for use when such matters as hospital facilities and nursing home licences are being considered.
My colleague, the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, has a responsibility for providing services for the needs of the ethnic aged and newly arrived migrants. These services include:
Settlement Sections providing personal counselling, community consultation and general assistance to migrants from outlets in the Department’s Regional Offices located in all capital cities and some district centres such as Wollongong, Geelong, Townsville and Parramatta (approx. 250 personnel are involved).
The Telephone Interpreter Service which now extends throughout Australia (approx. 70,000 calls will be received during 1980).
The Grant-in-Aid Scheme to enable ethnic or other voluntary organisations to employ social welfare workers to assist ethnic communities.
Migrant Project Subsidy Scheme: ‘Once only’ grants up to $5,000 to ethnic or other voluntary organisations to assist with welfare or welfare-related projects.
Translations units provide assistance to new arrivals to facilitate their settlement. This service is extended to other government authorities needing translation of information material having a bearing on migrant welfare.
Education services: The Adult Migrant Education Program provides English language courses and information about Australia to persons from non-English speaking backgrounds. The Program is at present being reshaped to place a major emphasis on education provisions for new arrivals following the Government’s acceptance of the Galbally Report. Elderly migrants are eligible to participate in all of the Program’s activities depending upon their needs. Studies of the needs of migrants for English language teaching are at present in various stages of completion in all States and the Australian Capital Territory. The studies which result from Galbally Recommendation 10 (i.e. survey the needs of migrants for English language teaching and collect information from which future program development can proceed) are expected to provide more precise information on the extent and nature of needs, including those of elderly persons.
Funding for the Program nationally has increased substantially in recent years as is shown by the following expenditure and appropriation figures:
Special Grants have been approved by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs to assist the ethnic aged as follows:
Grant-in-Aid Scheme: A total of 89 grants-in-aid have been allocated of which 1 1 have been made specifically to service aged migrants each at a cost of approximately $15,000 p.a. Appropriation for grants to assist older migrants in the present trienniumwere:
Grants to the following organisations have been approved to date:
New South Wales- Co.As.It. (Italian Assistance Association), Council on the Ageing of New South Wales, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, Polish Welfare Bureau.
Victoria - Aust. German Welfare Association, Aust. Greek Welfare Society, Catholic Dutch Migrant Association, Co.As.It. (Italian Assistance Society).
South Australia- Ethnic Communities Council.
Western Australia - Council on the Ageing of Western Australia.
Queensland - Polonia- Polish Association of Queensland.
Migrant Project Subsidy Scheme: In 1978-79 forty-eight grants were made with a further 28 made to date. Five grants were allocated specifically for aged migrants amounting to $18,000..
Details of the country of birth of staff are on individual personal files and not in a central record. It would be a major task to search the personal file of every Departmental officer throughout Australia to obtain this information and I am not prepared to commit Departmental resources and funds of this order to undertake the very large task involved.
The most recent figures on discharges and deaths available are for the year 1977 and show the following distribution:
In respect of (b), (d), (e), (f) and (g) no data are available because no record of the information required is maintained for any of the hospitals.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 1 5 April 1980:
– The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Australian Institute of Marine Science (Question No. 5911)
asked the Minister for Science and the Environment the following question, on notice, on 16 April 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 16 April 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Science and the Environment, upon notice, on 17 April 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
On June 5 the Government announced the closure of waters between 12° and 19° within the Great Barrier Reef Region to all long-line fishing. With regard to Japanese longline fishing this provision will apply after the present Subsidiary Tuna Long-lining Agreement with Japan expires on 31 October 1980.
The question of continued Japanese access to the remainder of the Great Barrier Reef Region after the expiry of the current arrangements on 31 October 1980 is one of the subjects under consideration during the current negotiations on a new Subsidiary Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of Japan concerning Japanese Tuna Long-line Fishing.
asked the Minister for Science and the Environment the following question, upon notice, on 17 April 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Following detailed consideration by the Government of the Royal Commissions’ findings, the Prime Minister announced on 4 June 1979 that there should be no further exploration for petroleum, and no renewal of petroleum exploration permits, in the Great Barrier Reef Region until the results of both short and longer term research are known. The Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland further announced, in a joint statement of 14 June 1979, that it is the policy of both the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments to prohibit any drilling on the Reef or any drilling or mining which could damage the Reef.
asked the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 21 April 1980.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Department of the Special Trade Representative: Canberra Staff (Question No. 5970)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Special Trade Representations, upon notice, on 21 April 1980:
– The Minister for Special Trade Representations has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Defence Force Reserves: Recruitment (Questions No. 5979)
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 22 April 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Science and the Environment the following question, upon notice, on 23 April 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 29 April 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 29 April 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Translator Grade 4, Supply Division, Melbourne. Languages - French, German, Italian.
Translator Grade 3, HQ Support Command, Air Office, Melbourne. Languages - French and Italian.
My Department also has a number of staff trained in foreign languages for operational purposes.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice on 29 April 1980:
– The Attorney-General has supplied the following answers to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 29 April 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Ventilation in Schools and Colleges in Canberra (Question No. 6066)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 30 April 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) Yes. Stirling College, Stirling; Padua Catholic High School, Wanniassa; and Hartley Street Centre, Turner.
asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 1 May 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Off -shore Industry Mobile Units (Question No. 6080)
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 1 3 May 1 980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As a result of those discussions, the restricted area has been increased in size and improved surveillance arrangements have been instituted.
Safety zones are not declared around off-shore industry mobile units.
The observance of the restricted area is advisory. As the result of improved surveillance, it is now possible to intercept most of the intruding vessels and advise them to avoid the restricted area and to interview their masters on their arrival in port.
Off-shore Industry Mobile Units (Question No. 6081)
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 1 3 May 1980:
What (a) procedures and (b) equipment exist to (i) effect the rescue of personnel involved in collisions between offshore industry mobile units and ships and (ii) deal with (a) safety aspects and (b) environmental hazards accompanying these incidents.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 13 May 1980:
Has he examined the question of giving greater emphasis to research projects aimed at reducing health care costs in the allocation of health research funds as recommended by the Australian Science and Technology Council; if so, has he taken any steps to ensure this shift of emphasis.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In addition to medical research supported through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NH and MRC), my Department also administers the Health Services Research and Development Grants Program, a program having two fundamental objectives. The first is to support research into the effectiveness and efficiency of various health care activities and procedures in the context of promoting efficient and effective services. The second objective of the program is to support the development, testing and evaluation of innovative health care services which may be cost-effective alternatives to existing services.
Since its inception in 1973, some 170 research projects have been funded under this program. In 1979-80, a total of $ 1.8m was spent both in project grants and matched grants to the States. This whole program is aimed at researching ways to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of health care services in Australia.
So far as medical research is concerned, the NH & MRC funds only high quality research which is demonstrated, after examination by a complex peer review system, to be of a sufficiently high level of scientific merit to warrant support. This concentration on ‘excellence’ as the criterion for support has also been endorsed by the Australian Science and Technology Council (ASTEC) in its report on ‘Direct Funding of Basic Research’.
The NH & MRC is well aware of the need to obtain the best value from each research dollar and continues to support research initiatives relating to health care costs. These have included, inter alia, a multiphasic health screening study and the establishment of a health economics and an epidemiology research unit. More importantly, however, the high level of support of project grants in hospitals and universities, directly affects medical education and training and thus the quality of health care provided to patients.
The NH & MRC, in formulating its proposals for the development of medical research, has paid close attention to the thrust of the ASTEC recommendation to which the honourable member referred. A number of initiatives have been proposed which have considerable implication for health care costs, including research into addictive behaviour, traffic accidents and evaluation of patient care and treatment procedures.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 14 May 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In this regard each State has decided on items which are generally provided to patients of its recognised hospitals and those items have been accepted for the purpose of the costsharing arrangements. As the States have the responsibility for the provision of hospital services, and are aware of the various forms of assistance available to the community, any changes to these lists are mainly initiated by the respective States. The Commonwealth has always given consideration to any reasonable State request to extend or vary the list of agreed items.
According to the agreed lists, the position in each State regarding the supply of wigs and mammary prostheses to patients of recognised hospitals is as follows:
New South Wales
Wigs - listed as not available. (However wigs are available on a means test basis from the New South Wales Department of Youth and Community Affairs).
Mammary Prosthesis -initial prosthesis provided without means test.
Wigs - provided when prescribed for medical reasons and purchase would cause hardship to the patient.
Mammary Prosthesis- initial prosthesis provided without means test.
Wigs - provided subject to the application of a means test.
Mammary Prosthesis- not included in the ‘agreed list’.
Wigs - provided to inpatients and former inpatients without means test - means test normally applied to non-inpatients.
Mammary Prosthesis - initial prosthesis provided without means test.
Wigs - provided without means test.
Mammary Prosthesis - initial prosthesis provided without means test.
Wigs- provided without means test.
Mammary Prosthesis - initial prosthesis provided without means test.
The variations between States concerning the supply of wigs and mammary prostheses in public hospitals reflect the policies adopted by the individual States in this area. I am unaware of the reasons as the States do not, nor are they required to, keep me informed.
The position is that there is no specific legislation governing the benefits an organisation may offer under supplementary benefits tables. The Government’s role in this area is essentially one of the approving the benefits and relevant contribution rates in the context of the financial viability of the table.
As organisations are free to decide the nature of the item or services which will attract supplementary benefits, the question of providing benefits for wigs or mammary prostheses, or any other aid or appliance, is a matter for individual organisations to determine.
Given the competitive environment in which organisations operate, they are influenced by consumer demand for particular benefits. An important consideration in any review by an organisation of its supplementary benefits offered would undoubtedly be the effect on contribution rates of the introduction of new benefit items.
asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 14 May 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Such a case occurred in January this year when a ban was placed on the sale in, and import into, Australia of children’s toys and playthings coated with materials containing excessive levels of toxic materials such as cadmium, arsenic, mercury and lead.
There are differing opinion as to which toys might be classed as ‘war’ toys. Furthermore, the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs has not received any information that any particular toy which might be considered to be a war’ toy caused injury to children.
Should any toy be proven to present a risk of injury to children then the Government will take appropriate action to control the sale of that toy. At present there is not sufficient evidence available to support the view that a banning of so called ‘war’ toys would be justified.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 1 5 May 1980:
– The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The Australian Government has never sought to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons. Action of this kind was definitively precluded when Australia ratified the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1973. Under that Treaty non-nuclear weapon States undertake not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Additionally, they agree to accept international safeguards on all their peaceful nuclear activities which provide assurance that they are abiding by that undertaking.
asked the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 20 May 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Australian Regular Army Camp at Coolah Valley, New South Wales (Question No. 6151)
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 20 May 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Compensation for Sale of Land at Cribb Island, Queensland (Question No. 6155)
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 20 May 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Science and the Environment the following question, upon notice, on 21 May 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Most of the Reef area north of Cape York lies within the Protected Zone defined by that Treaty, which is to be subject to a special regime for the protection and preservation of the marine environment, including a prohibition on mining and drilling of the seabed for an initial period of 10 years.
Non-official Post Offices in Queensland (Question No. 6169)
asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 21 May 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Bowman- 19; Brisbane - 11; Capricornia- 40; Darling Downs- 31; Dawson- 44; Fadden - 18; Fisher - 36; Griffith- 8; Herbert- 33; Kennedy- 62; Leichhardt- 70; Lilley- 18; McPherson- 19; Maranoa- 82; Moreton- 11; Oxley- 22; Petrie- 13; Ryan- 5; Wide Bay- 35.
Basically, consideration is given to providing a non-official post office where: customers are being significantly inconvenienced by the lack of a post office facility; a specified minimum demand level for basic postal services (as distinct from agency services) could be anticipated; and satisfactory accommodation and a suitable person to conduct the post office are available.
More specifically, the criteria for provision of non-official post offices require that:
In Urban Areas, the expected volume of basic postal business would be equivalent to a workload of at least 20 hours a week.
In Rural Areas, the expected volume of basic postal business would be equivalent to a workload of at least 4 hours a week, with good prospects for future growth in business. (Note: Generally, a non-official post office would not be established within 2 km of another post office.)
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 27 February 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 21 April 1980:
1 ) How many officers of the Department of Social Security are assigned to respond to and prepare evidence for
What is the total number of staff of the Department based in Canberra.
– The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
In the State Administrations of the Department there are no positions with full-time responsibilities associated with Parliamentary Committees, the Commonwealth Ombudsman or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. However, throughout the State Offices there are 13 positions with partial responsibilities for work arising from representations to the Commonwealth Ombudsman and Appeals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. As is the case in Central Office other officers assist in these tasks as the need arises.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on Tuesday, 29 April 1980:
– The Minister for Social Security has supplied the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Other sources, such as the James Cook University (Qld) and the Migrant Information Service (NT) are used when necessary.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 22 May 1980:
Have any positions in the Department of Social Security remained unfilled due to the imposition of the Government’s staff ceilings policy in each of the last three years; if so, how many have remained unfilled in each year.
– The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
I am informed that it is not possible to state the number of positions vacant because of the application of staff ceilings. The difference between the number of positions (Establishment) and the number of positions occupied in individual Departments and Authorities is attributable to a variety of factors. For example, at any time positions may well be unfilled due to losses of staff from the Service, or to normal internal promotion and transfer procedures.
Some base grade staff (e.g., Clerks, Class I, Clerical Assistants, Grade 1 ) are generally appointed to the service as ‘unattached’ officers - such staff are transferred to positions as positions become available. Under current working arrangements each Department also has a central pool of vacant positions, termed ‘Reserve Establishment’, available for allocation as required in the light of changes in workload. There is no direct relationship between the staff ceiling and the number of positions vacant.
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 22 May 1 980:
Airport, New South Wales, on 21 February 1980 so as to enable the inquiry to examine and report on the advisability of all third level twin engined aircraft being crewed by two licensed pilots.
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 August 1980, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1980/19800820_REPS_31_HoR119/>.