27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - I wish to inform the Senate of thefollowingministerialarrangements:mr
Holten, in addition to his duties as Minister for Repatriation, will assist the Minister for Trade and Industry. The Prime Minister has also made the following appointments of Assistant Ministers: The Prime Minister will be assisted by Mr Dobie; the Minister for Health and Leader of the Government in the Senate will be assisted by Senator Marriott; the PostmasterGeneral will be assisted by Mr Robinson; the Minister for Labour and National Service will be assisted by Mr Street; the Minister for Civil Aviation will be assisted by Mr McLeay; and the Minister for Primary Industry will be assisted by Mr King on his return from overseas after he has been sworn as a member of the Executive Council.
-I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth -
That while the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies from the Australian Social Service system, a major inadequacy still remains in that a migrant who has been a member of the Australian workforce for many years, has paid taxes and acquired Australian citizenship, and seeks to live the last years of his life in his native land or, if an invalid, wishes to see his relatives in Europe, is denied pensioner transferability.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray -
That the Senate, in Parliament assembled, seek to have Australia adopt the principle followed by Britain, Italy, Greece, Malta. The Netherlands, France, Germany, Turkey, Canada and the United States of America, who already transfer the social entitlement of their citizens wherever they may choose to live.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
Estimates Committee A - Department of Health, Parliament, Department, of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Department of Defence, Department of the Treasury.
I shall be the Minister who responds.
Estimates Committee B- Department of Works, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Education and Science, Department of Labour and National Ser vice, Department of External Territories, Department of Housing.
Senator Wright will be the Minister who responds.
Estimates Committee C - Department of Civil Aviation, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of National Development, Department of Shipping and Transport, Department of Customs and Excise, Department of the Interior, and Tourist Activities.
Senator Cotton will be the Minister who responds.
Estimates Committee D - Department of Air, Department of Primary Industry, Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, Department of Supply, and Department of Repatriation.
– You have changed that. That used to be Estimates Committee E.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI am giving them as they are. Senator Drake-Brock man will be the Minister who responds in relation to Committee D. The terms of my motion will continue as follows:
Estimates Committee E - Attorney-General’s Department, Postmaster-General’s Department, Department of Immigration, Department of Social Services, Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts.
Senator Greenwood will be the Minister who responds.
A rearrangement in Ministers has been necessary because Senator Dame Annabelle
Rankin is not now with us. I am giving notice that tomorrow I will move that as a formal motion.
– It has caused confusion.
I am putting it down now so that the confusion can be sorted out.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting T shall move:
That the petition presented to the Senate by me this day be referred to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare.
– The Minister for Health made it clear in his statement on smoking and health to the Senate yesterday that there had been no suppression by the Government of the recommendations of the World Health Organisation in relation to the effects of smoking on health. Has the Minister received any report concerning the methods by which these recommendations may be implemented? Can the Minister say when the Government will implement the legislative recommendations of the WHO? Are there any recommendations which the Government will not implement?
Really the honourable senator’s question is directed to a matter of policy, in part if not in whole. Implementation of some of the recommendations is conditional upon what happens in the States. In all the circumstances, because of the implications of the question, I think I should take it on notice and give a considered reply to the honourable senator. Representations have been made to me. In fact, as late as this morning representations at the very highest level were made by certain groups as to what the Government should be doing in relation to these matters. I do not want to give an answer at question time which may shortweight any consideration that I . may be able to give to the quite considerable representations that have been made to me. I would like to give them a considered reply.
– Have you heard about this question before?
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware of the strong and growing volume of protest against the proposal that an airfield should be constructed in the Duffy’s Forest area in the heart of one of the few remaining natural flora and fauna reserves near Sydney? Can the Minister reassure the Senate that no airfield, whether for international, domestic or light aircraft purposes, will be permitted in this area?
– This matter has been referred to previously in the Senate. I acknowledge Senator Carrick’s personal interest in this matter. I also acknowledge that Senator Mulvihill has referred to it. At the time that it was previously referred to by Senator Mulvihill I mentioned thai I had received many letters about this proposal. Indeed, 1 have received 3 deputations altogether from people who are against a light aircraft Held being established at Duffy’s Forest. I have also been asked to receive deputations from people and associations who want to see an airfield established there. On Friday I am to meet the North Shore Aero Club, the Royal Federation of Aero Clubs, the Royal Aero Club of New South Wales, the Association of Commercial Flying Organisations, the General Aviation Distributors Association, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. When 1 have heard all their views we should be in a situation of having a fairly substantial balance of opinion from both sides. It will then be up to the Government to determine on recommendation whether or not anything further should be done.
– As the Leader of the Government admitted yesterday to what he called an easing of the labour market, what steps does the Government intend to take to boost the economy, or are the people suffering the social tragedy of unemployment to be regarded as so many statistics while the Government’s economic advisers wait for more and more economic indicators of a down trend in the economy?
– With great respect I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition is attempting to import a political element into what was a straightforward and fair statement of fact. I shall not respond to the politics of the question because I do not think that question time is really intended for that purpose. What I said, as 1 recall it, was that there was a movement in the employment market. I pointed to the historical and traditional significance of this movement at a certain time each year. In addition I stated the statistics which had been published in the previous 24 hours. Those statistics are factual. It is factual also that there is a movement in the labour market at present. It is equally factual that there will be a movement of school leavers, if not a significant movement, over that period. If the Leader of the Opposition wants to ride the political horse on this subject he may go as hard as he likes, but I shall not respond to it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. T preface my question by saying that on a previous occasion I addressed a question, to which I shall be referring, to Senator Wright, who is not now in the chamber, f assume that the matter I raised has been referred to his colleague. Does the Minister recall my question of 18th August concerning additional Australian assistance to East Pakistani refugees in East Bengal and his undertaking to transmit my request to the appropriate Minister for consideration? Can he now make a statement as to what further action the Government intends to take?
In the circumstances, which I believe have been fairly stated by Senator Wriedt, I would need to get information from the appropriate source as to what processes were adopted with the question that he asked on a’ previous occasion. I shall do that during the course of the afternoon and, if I can, I shall provide him with the information tomorrow.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science aware that about half the students in Canada who graduated from universities in May this year have been unable to find suitable employment and that university education in that country is becoming termed the ‘great training robbery’? In view of what has happened in Canada and other Western countries, has the Government any plans to investigate opportunities for students now at university, or yet to commence university training in Australia, so that they will not be encouraged to study courses for degrees that may be useless to them?
Following as it does on the earlier question addressed to me about unemployment, it is interesting to have a question which adverts to the circumstances in Canada. I feel bound to say that what happens in the Canadian scene is not necessarily applicable in Australia. I shall certainly have this question processed, but I have no doubt that people in the Department of Labour and National Service, who have a real concern in this matter, and people in the various universities throughout the Commonwealth, who have a responsibility in this area, would be conducting research and having regard to whether people should enter disciplines which will provide employment opportunities and to which particular students are suited. I think it would be almost axiomatic that they would be doing that sort of thing. However, since I am only acting for the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science 1 shall have the matter referred.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. In view of the great demand by residents of New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory for a direct telecast of the rugby league grand final at Sydney on Saturday, will the Minister investigate why the Australian Broadcasting’ Commission has not made an offer of a realistic price for television rights, - as it has in the past with other sports?
– I will convey the honourable senator’s question to the Postmaster-General and arrange for him to get an answer before this match takes place.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether any consideration has been given by the 2 major domestic airlines to the introduction of a 2-tier system of air fares to help reduce the high cost of air travel. By this 1 mean the present fares for those who wish to travel at their convenience and fares at a substantially less rate for those who are prepared to travel at the airlines’ convenience. I mention that a lower rate applies in many places overseas at less popular travel times and when there are empty seats. If this matter has not been considered already will the Minister take it up with the airlines concerned?
– The matter has not been considered in detail to my knowledge although it has been referred to from time to time in a very sketchy fashion. As I have been talking to the 2 airlines for some little time about the 2-airIine policy I shall certainly take the matter up and I thank the honourable senator for the suggestion.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. Is he aware of a posthumously published article by Professor John Read, who was Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney, in which he stated that Australia cannot afford to allow doctors to continue setting their own charges on a fee for service basis? I ask the Minister whether Professor Read stated:
It would not be too much to describe the present situation as politically and economically untenable.
Did Professor Read say that it was possible for a doctor of no more than average surgical skill but of sufficient reputation to earn between $500 and $1,000 in a single day? In view of this informed attack from within the medical profession, will the Government urgently review the present inadequate and piecemeal national health scheme which is rapidly putting medical services outside the financial reach of many- Australians?
The Professor was expressing a point of view in the article to which the honourable senator referred and this he was entitled to do. I am quite certain there would be an overwhelming group in the medical profession who would not agree either with his statistics relating to earning capacity or with the point he purports to make on abandoning the voluntary scheme we have today and imposing a nationalised medical scheme. Heaven help us if we ever get that. (Opposition senators interjecting)-
– Order! The Minister is answering a question to which he listened with the degree of civility which we expect from him. He is entitled to answer the question and to be heard in silence with the same good manners as he himself displays.
Thank you, Mr President. I was saying that 1 suppose it is almost a matter of political opinion whether we have a scheme based on the co-operation of the medical profession and a voluntary insurance scheme which protects the interests of the individual or whether we want nationalised medicine. If the Opposition wants nationalised medicine I know that the people of Australia do not want it. Examples all over the world where it has been applied show that if we want second rate medicine, that is the way to get it. Under the system we have in Australia today we have a high degree of cooperation with the medical profession.
– What about Sweden and Denmark?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONIt seems that Opposition senators know all about it so perhaps they can finish off the answer.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral by stating that it concerns an employee of the Australian Broadcasting Commission named Jon Cassidy about whom I asked a question on 18th August, the reply to that question not having been received yet. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to an article contained in the
Maxwell Newton publication ‘Melbourne Observer’ of 12th September which alleges, firstly, that one of the main speakers at a Workers Student Alliance conference held at the University of Melbourne on the previous weekend was Mr Jon ‘Darce’ Cassidy, special projects officer in the Australian Broadcasting Commission; secondly, that 120 delegates to the Workers Student Alliance conference-
– Order! Senator, ask your question.
– AsI was saying, 120 delegates to the Workers Student Alliance conference were told of plans to penetrate schools, universities, trade unions, the Australian Army and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation; thirdly, that Jon Cassidy in his opening address to the conference stressed the urgency-
– Order! Senator Kane, you are giving information. Will you ask your question?
– I am asking my question.
– You have not asked a question yet.
-I am asking whether the Minister’s attention has been directed to this article and I am stating what is in the article.
– You must not do that. The Standing Orders provide that you must not give information.
-I will rephrase the question. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to an article contained in the Maxwell Newton publication ‘Melbourne Observer’ of 12th September which alleges that one of the main speakers at a Workers Student Alliance conference held at the University of Melbourne was Mr Jon Cassidy, a special projects officer with the Australian . Broadcasting Commission? Will the Minister investigate this article and report urgently to the Senate upon the allegations contained in it?
– I did see the article in the ‘Melbourne Observer’ to which the honourable senator has referred and was alarmed by the allegations contained in it. I am unaware whether the attention of the Postmaster-General has been directed to the article, but in the light of the honourable senator’s request I shall certainly personally direct the Minister’s attention to it and endeavour to obtain from him an early reply on whether the allegations contained in the article can be sustained and. if they can be sustained, why the person concerned continues in the employ of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– Has the Leader of theGovernmentintheSenatenotednews reports that consideration is being given to the amalgamation of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and the Government Aircraft Factories? Is there any truth in those reports? If the Government is considering such a development will the Minister make the Senate aware of the possibilities involved in such important industrial changes?
– I think that to a degree the Senate is already aware of the situation because during the last sessional period I made it clear, in my capacity as Minister for Supply, that a study group was looking at the proposition of rationalisation. To my knowledge, that study has been going on for 18 months. This is a very complex matter. In the concept of rationalisation in an industry, particularly the aircraft industry in Australia in which we have the Government Aircraft Factories, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and Hawker De Havilland Australia Pty Ltd in Sydney all, in a sense, competing for a market in a very competitive world situation, especially in relation to the defence side of the aircraft industry, some processes possibly could be worked out by which duplication that could occur could be avoided. It needs to be understood that the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation is a private company and that any proposals for rationalisation involve a tremendous amount of negotiation. As far as I know, the subject matter is still under study and is still being examined. It is too early to ascertain what the end result will be or what the productivity of the end result will be.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is the Minister aware that it is the practice in a number of countries to conduct regular surveys to determine areas of economic depression or, conversely, areas which are flourishing so that the factors causing these situations can be identified and Treasury measures instituted to introduce a better balance and greater overall stability throughout that country? Is he further aware that the results of these surveys have been demonstrated to provide considerable benefits in the sense of decentralisation measures and stability programmes in areas vulnerable to seasonal or market variations or other causes, by means of budgetary, fiscal or financial corrections and adjustments? In the sense of using broad figures of percentages to express unemployment or similar undersirable economic patterns, is not this a dangerous and unrealistic practice which ignores the possibility of substantial misery, distress and economic disruption in limited regions, the extent of which is not truly reflected in overall figures?
– Order! The honourable senator heard me rebuke Senator Kane for asking a question in the form in which he had cast it. The honourable senator heard that, but he now proceeds to a question couched in much the same sort of informative way as that for which I rebuked Senator Kane. Would the honourable senator rephrase his question? I will call him later.
– I rise on a point of order. I find myself in an extremely difficult position. I am trying to direct my thoughts to a very important matter. Mr President, I seek your indulgence to enable me to finish asking my question.
– Order! I refer honourable senators to the Standing Orders which it is my duty to enforce impartially in this place. The relevant standing orders which relate to the asking of questions and to the seeking of information are standing orders 98 and 99. By virtue of my Presidential office, I can extend some latitude in these matters and I attempt to do so. But in the interests of other honourable senators, those asking questions must confine their remarks within the Standing Orders or I shall have to apply the Standing Orders. I call Senator Devitt to finish asking his question. He has given me an undertaking that he will finish it. I will decide then whether the question contravenes the Standing Orders.
– The final part of my question is as follows: Will the Minister ask the Treasurer to outline what is done in Australia to assess and anticipate economic problems such as those now causing very great concern to Tasmania, so that speedy and properly judged remedial measures can be taken before the position gets completely out of hand?
I shall refer the honourable senator’s question to the Treasurer. In truth, it was a very comprehensive and wide question. I think that notwithstanding the answer that I give the question should go on notice so that it can be processed properly. I feel bound to point out to the Senate and to the honourable senator that Australia is a federation of States with sovereign rights. Therefore each State has a degree of responsibility in these areas, having regard to the background of the financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States. In saying that, I do not mean that we should walk away from the overall responsibility of the national Parliament to look at the matter. With that reservation in my mind as to the efficacy of what the honourable senator has proposed, I ask the honourable senator to put his question on notice so that I can refer it to the Treasurer.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that there are trade associations in some States whose members are manufacturers and distributors of commodities subject to price control? As these associations do not come within the category of associations which fix the price of their products in horizontal agreements, will consideration be given to their exemption from the provisions of the Trade Practices Act in amending legislation which may currently be contemplated? Will provision be made for such exemption to remain as long as the commodity remains under State price control?
– Order! I remind honourable senators that the Standing Orders state that questions shall not ask for an expression of opinion, for a statement of the Government’s policy or for legal opinion. Within that context. 1 call Senator Greenwood to answer the question. - Senator GREENWOOD- I have listened to the honourable senator’s question. I must say that price control is a procedure under which maximum prices are fixed. The whole purport and intent of the Government’s trade practices legislation are to ensure that as far as possible the prices charged for commodities and services are those which are produced in a truly competitive system. The Government does not accept that price control is anything more than a register of price increases. For price control ever to be effective there has to be a rigorous control of wages, profits and charges generally - the very antithesis of the competitive system which has provided for Australia and Australians such prosperity and high living standards over the past 20 years. I say in answer to the honourable senator that the Government does not accept that price control, which is merely a fixing of maximum prices, is to be preferred to the system of competitive industry which the Government is seeking to establish.
– Does the Attorney-General recall that approximately 3 weeks ago he gave me an assurance that he would give early consideration and a reply to the application by the honourable member for Adelaide, Mr Hurford, for the release from Cadell prison of one, Charles Martin? ls the Attorney-General yet in a position to reply? If not, when could a reply be expected?
– The matter to which the honourable senator refers is currently under consideration. I am unable to say anything further than that. But I do hope that Mr Hurford will be able to have his reply in the near future.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration give the Senate any information on the denial of entry to United Kingdom migrant Mrs Moore, with particular reference to the rating of asthma symptoms as a rejection factor?
– I have been informed by the Minister for Immigration that Mrs Moore, whose case was referred to in the Press this morning, has not been refused entry to Australia. She and her husband and family have, however, been refused assisted passages. Assisted passages are granted to people whom Australia is positively seeking to encourage to enter Australia and who can make some contribution. The criteria for approval of applications for assisted passages, therefore, are more searching than those which are applied when people are seeking entry to Australia. The fact that Mrs Moore suffers from asthma would not necessarily have precluded her from receiving an assisted passage had her husband been able to meet all the requirements for an assisted passage. Her husband, however, is aged 61 years. He was retired from his employment in the Post Office on health grounds and receives a disability pension. He expressed the hope of securing a position as a security officer in Australia. In addition, there are 3 children under the age of 12 years and Mrs Moore herself has not worked since her marriage. Because the family does not meet the requirements for the grant of assisted passages, approval of their application was withheld.
– Has the Minister for Health seen a statement by Dr Smithurst, Senior Lecturer in Preventive Medicine at the Herston Medical School in Brisbane and a former director of Army health, that jet travel may facilitate the introduction of tropical diseases into Australia? Would the Minister inform the Senate whether the Department of Health shares Dr Smithurst’s view that a disease called malignant malaria may not be diagnosed by many doctors because they are unaware of the symptoms? Does the Department agree with Dr Smithurst that if this disease is not detected the chances are that 40 to 50 per cent of patients may die?
Yes, my attention was drawn to the statement by Dr Smithurst. 1 understand that he is referring to malaria caused by the organism Plasmodium falciparum which may sometimes be resistant to treatment with drugs normally used in the initial treatment of malaria. Doctors will be aware of the symptoms of the disease, but it is possible that in areas where the disease is not usually found the occurrence of a case of malaria might be unexpected and might thus be overlooked. The National Health and Medical Research Council in 1967, 1968 and 1970 made recommendations concerning malaria. The honourable senator also asked whether the Department agreed on the point he raised in his third question. I would say that if the disease was not diagnosed and treated the death rate could be as high as 50 per cent.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that a number of hospitals for the aged have established day hospitals for the treatment of aged persons? Is he also aware that the establishment of day hospitals is the result of lack of accommodation in aged persons’ hospitals for those people who need medical attention? Will the Minister use his considerable influence within the Cabinet for the payment of at least the Commonwealth subsidy of $2 a day to institutions which conduct day hospitals?
The honourable senator has asked an important but rather involved question. We would need to separate some points to ensure that we were on the same wave length. For instance, a pensioner patient in a nursing home attracts a Commonwealth subsidy of $2 a day, unless classified as receiving intensive care, in which case the subsidy is $5 a day. As I indicated yesterday, some critical situations are emerging and we are currently examining them. I am not quite certain that I am fully seised of the implications of the expression ‘day hospitals’. I am not sure whether the honourable senator is talking in terms of out patients or ordinary hospital care.
– I am referring to hospitals where people are brought to a centre for treatment and later taken home because there is no accommodation for them. It is not an out patient centre.
I see. This point may be linked with the provision in the legislation for domiciliary nursing under certain conditions. I have in mind where people are later brought back for treatment or treatment is taken to them in their homes. I will put the question to a complete study because I think this is warranted. I will get some background information and come back to the honourable senator to see whether we are on the same wave length. If we are not, we can discuss it again.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that stress induced or psychosomatic illnesses are reliably estimated now to represent up to 70 per cent of all illness treated by medical practitioners? Is he aware also that such illness is a significantly mounting burden of cost upon families, benefit funds and governments and could cripple any national health scheme? Will the Minister ascertain whether existing medical science sees any clear link between the growth of stress and stress diseases and the increasing resort of the community to drug taking? Is an effective scientific study in existence in Australia or elsewhere into the causation and reduction of psychosomatic illness?
The honourable senator paid me the courtesy of indicating that he would ask a question about psychosomatic illness. I had it put to some study in my Department. It has proved very difficult to collect reliable morbidity statistics on illnesses of this nature. I think honourable senators will agree on the difficulty of obtaining effective statistics on this subject. The report of a national morbidity survey which was published by the National Health and Medical Research Council in 1969 provides perhaps the most reliable instant figures available in Australia. The report states that psychiatric disturbances constituted 14 per cent of all episodes of illness recorded in the survey. This figure agreed with data obtained from similar surveys in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The vast majority of psychiatric conditions seen by general practitioners were functional disorders. It would be difficult to assess the cost of these illnesses to the community because they are poorly defined and overlap with other physical disorders. I think we would all understand that this is not a narrowed down matter for the purposes of diagnosis.
Major mental disorders constitute only a negligible proportion - 0.24 of 1 per cent - of all episodes recorded in the survey. Undoubtedly there is a connection between various psychogenic disorders and drug taking. Much research is being conducted into this problem as regards cause and treatment.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation inform the Parliament whether it is a fact that the 2 major Australian airlines persist with parallel timetables because neither the Department of Civil Aviation nor the Government has constitutional or legal power to compel the airlines to alter their timetables?
– This is part of the problem, but not the total problem. It has been a matter of economic balance - of the total number of people wishing to travel at a concentrated period, in the main between certain capital cities.
– I again ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether he is aware that there is a large difference between the prices offered at current wool auctions by the Australian Wool Commission and prices obtained in other wool producing countries where prices are 10 per cent to 15 per cent lower than Australian prices. Does the Government have any limit in mind for the amount which the taxpayers will be asked to pay wool growers to subsidise their product? Is there a ceiling on the amount which the Wool Commission can spend at auctions?
– Yesterday the honourable senator asked me whether I knew of the difference in price between various countries. I said that I did not and that I would be glad of any information which he could give me. I have not received any information so I am no further enlightened than I was yesterday. I ask the honourable senator to put the remainder of his question on notice.
– Can the Minister for Health inform the Parliament of the date on which the Department of Health carried out the last survey into doctors charging the most common fee?
As this is a question asking for a date I suggest that it be put on notice. I shall obtain the answer and provide it to the honourable senator.
– Does the Minister representing the Treasurer recall that the Federal Government used its initiative and invoked the provisions of section 96 of the Constitution to give some special and quite substantial help to regions in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia where economic conditions have badly affected the well being of those areas? Will the Government act in a like manner by taking similar initiatives under section 96 where economic conditions in Tasmania warrant such action but have not induced the Premier of that State to seek Commonwealth help?
The honourable senator poses a question in a new form - and I am not referring to what has happened here today - in relation to Commonwealth assistance to the States. He has pointed out quite properly that grants are made to the States under section 96 of the Constitution. 1 have indicated here before that when circumstances arise in a sovereign State which are within the capacity of that State to cope with, the State naturally is expected to do so, having regard to the financial arrangements that are entered into between the Commonwealth and the States. When in the judgment of a State an extraordinary disaster occurs and in its opinion the cost of meeting the emergency is beyond its resources, it is open to the State to seek special aid from the Commonwealth. That is a special circumstance. In such a case the normal, accepted procedure is for such a request to be discussed at a Premier-Prime Minister level. There are many examples where that procedure has been followed and special assistance has been given.
In other circumstances, an application for assistance has been made and the Commonwealth has declined to intercede because it felt that the type of circumstance did not warrant Commonwealth intervention and that the State concerned should be able to cope with it. The honourable senator has raised an individual matter. The responsibility in the first instance is with the Premier to make a judgment, and if having made that judgment he wants to make representations to the Commonwealth for assistance, he should do so by direct communication with the Prime Minister.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Air, bears a very close relationship to the question addressed by Senator Webster to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. 1 ask the Minister for Air: Why has the Government rejected a suggestion that it should guarantee a work load for a merger between the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd and the Government Aircraft Factories? Is it a fact that (he aircraft industry would welcome a clear cut Government statement of its intentions for the industry as well as the inclusion of the defence aircraft industry in the 5-year rolling defence programme? Does the Minister agree that such a statement would allow the industry to plan its future, thus eliminating employment troughs now occurring between major production runs?
– I cannot add anything to what the Leader of the Government said earlier in answer to Senator Webster. Therefore I suggest to Senator Poke that he put his question on the notice paper,
– I address my question to the Minister for Health. Is he aware of the high charges for dental treatment and is it possible for the Government to take action to reduce these charges?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI am not aware of what the honourable senator means specifically by ‘high charges’. The statement ‘high charges’ is a very wide one. They are high charges in comparison with what? Are they high in comparison with a particular area or a particular State? In any event, I would think that the Commonwealth has no control over prices. We do not have the constitutional power for price fixing. In truth I would need the honourable senator to elaborate on his question and put it into more specific terms before I could give an informative answer.
– I ask a further ques tion of the Minister for Health who represents the Treasurer. With an economy of words I ask: When may I expect an answer to questions 1280 and 1326 on the notice paper?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONResponding with an economy of words, I will look at the questions to which the honourable senator has referred and I will try to give him an answer perhaps later in the day, and if not today, tomorrow.
(Question No. 1002)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
However, Itis a requirement of current manganese mining operations on Groote Eylandt and bauxite mining on Gove Peninsula. In the Rum Jungle area, where mining ceased recently, some rehabilitation has taken place. During the 1970-71 financial year a further programme of work at Rum Jungle was undertaken, under the authority of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, on the control of pollution and general rehabilitation of the area. It is considered that the continuing programme at Rum Jungle will eventually lead to adequate rehabilitation of the area.
(Question No. 1215)
When will the translator to serve Nyngan and Cobar in western New South Wales be functioning.
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In addition to the planning and construction of the stations themselves, the establishment of these stations involves the provision of special microwave links to enable the relay of programmes to the stations concerned. Although construction of the Stations is nearing completion, it appears that due to an unavoidable delay in the manufacture and delivery of the microwave link equipment which was ordered some time ago and which can only be obtained overseas, it would not be possible for the Nyngan station to commence operation before June 1972 and the Cobar station before the end of 1972. The considerable work associated with the provision of the programme relay facilities will be undertaken as expeditiously as practicable as soon as the necessary equipment becomes available.
(Question No. 1227)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1240)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Has the United States Government recently proscribed 10th April, which is a day used by Ustashi to celebrate some of their World War II and subsequent post-war activities; if so, will Australia emulate the United States action?
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has furnished the following reply:
The answer to the first part of the Honourable Senator’s question is: ‘No’. The attitude of the Australian Government to this matter is contained in the answer of the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs to Question No. 3219, which appeared in Hansard, House of Representatives, on 28th April 1971.
(Question No. 1243)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is not possible to provide costs for the very wide range of activities that may be classified as having some public relations content or purpose. The amount spent on salaries and allowances of full time public relations staffs and on activities directly attributable to the functions of these staffs are as follows:
The present personnel establishment of the Department of Defence Public Relations Branch is:
In addition, and included in the above costs, a position of Stenographer (Female), Grade 1 $3,043-$3,205, established in the Department’s general typing pool, is detached for full-time duties within the Public Relations Branch.
– On 26th August 1971 Senator Lillico asked me the following question:
Because of the particular difficulties regarding television reception on King Island in Bass Strait, will a further investigation be made with a view to the expedition of the completion date for translators, etc., on that Island, which I understand has been delayed considerably from the originally intended completion date.
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
The extension of television to King Island involves the installation of a microwave radio system to relay signals from Smithton to a repeater station on Three Hummocks Island and then to the television transmitter at the Gentle Annie site on King Island. The erection of the station at King Island has commenced and is nearing completion. However, due to an unavoidable delay in the delivery of relay equipment which is being manufactured in Europe, it appears that it would not be possible for the station to commence operation before February 1972. The honourable Senator may be assured that the installation of the necessary relay facilities will be undertaken as expeditiously as practicable as soon as the equipment becomes available.
– On 19th August 1971 Senator Milliner asked me the following question:
Has the Post Office recently launched a campaign to advertise the priority paid mail service? Does this campaign involve sending business men a package of 4 spring loaded ping pong balls which pop out when the package is opened? What is the total cost of this promotional campaign? Does the Minister agree with Mr Neville Blyton, President of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia, that this campaign is a dreadful waste of public money?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
The Post Office has recently launched an advertising campaign to promote the Priority Paid Mail Service. Part of the campaign consisted of the direct mail piece referred to by the honourable senator and cost less than $2,500. This is equivalent to the cost of a medium size advertisement in 4 metropolitan daily newspapers and represents a very small proportion of our revenue from Priority Paid.
The value of the publicity obtained has exceeded this quite considerably. A number of letters have also been received commenting favourably on the campaign and a few have criticised it.
The 10 per cent traffic increase arising from the advertising and publicity amply justifies the expense.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONOn 7th September 1971 Senator Willesee asked me the following question:
Did the Government make any effort to prevent the beach sand mining companies Cudgen R.Z. Ltd and Consolidated Rutile Ltd and the tin producer Aberfoyle Ltd being sold out to foreign investors during the liquidation of Mineral Securities Australia Ltd?
My colleague, the Treasurer, has provided the following information:
The shareholdings referred to in Cudgen R.Z. Ltd, Consolidated Rutile Ltd and Aberfoyle Ltd were offered for sale by the Official Liquidator of Mineral Securities Australia Ltd (in Liquidation) by way of public tender. Australian interests naturally had full opportunity to tender. In his decisions as to the tenders to be accepted, the Liquidator acted as an officer of the Court, with obligations to the creditors and shareholders of Minsec to ensure the most satisfactory terms for the sale of the assets involved. The liquidator was not under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government and the Government saw no justification for seeking to interfere with his decisions.
– Yesterday Senator Brown asked me questions concerning the F4E lease. I have obtained the following information for htm:
Regarding the possibility of the lease being less than the agreed 2 years in the event of an early delivery of the F111c aircraft, I would suggest that this possibility is remote.
If the Government decides later this year, to accept the F111c, the probable date of delivery for this aircraft would not be earlier than September 1972.
– Pursuant to section 78 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-71, I present the 39th annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission for the year ended 30th June 1971.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act 1964-66, I present the report of the Council of the Institute for the year ended 30th June 1971, together with the Institute’s financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
Senator DAVIDSON (South Australia)I present the 1 0th report of the Publications Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, I present the report relating to the following proposed work.
Royal Australian Air Force Base, Laverton, Victoria.
– I have received a letter from Senator Withers requesting his discharge from attendance on the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances.
Motions (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) - by leave - agreed to:
That Senator Withers be discharged from attendance on the Regulations and Ordinances Committee.
That Senator Rae, having been duly nominated in accordance with standing order No. 36a be appointed to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances.
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from Senator Marriott requesting his discharge from the Publications Committee.
Motions (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) - agreed to:
That Senator Marriott be discharged from attendance on the Publications Committee.
That Senator Bonner be appointed to the Publications Committee.
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from the Leader of the Government appointing Senator Withers to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator Marriott.
– I inform the Senate thatI have received a letter from Senators Townley and Turnbull notifying the appointment of Senator Townley to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare in place of Senator Turnbull.
– by leave - After much detailed work and consideration a definite stage has now been reached in the plans and proposals for the airport needs of Sydney. As well as being the largest and oldest city in the Commonwealth, Sydney is also the principal gateway for people flying to and from Australia. Aviation is a growth industry. Although it is only a relatively young transport arm, it has in recent years exhibited dramatic growth rates. Its capacity for technological development is well known to all of us and because of our vast distances between major centres of population, Australia has relied heavily on its most important advantage - speed. But while it has brought our most remote centres within hours of the capital cities in every State of the Commonwealth, aviation has continued to demand a substantial share of the national resources. Although these resources are of course limited, it should be remembered that civil aviation is growing at a faster rate than the national growth rate.
The industry’s progress has demanded a high degree of forward planning and expertise not only in the air but on the ground in the development of airports and ground facilities. Take just one example. If you studied the rate of technological progress in aircraft over the years you would realise that the airport must not only be capable of handling the aircraft of the present and immediate future. The airport has to last a good deal longer than the generation of aircraft using it. In fact the study reveals that it has to last through at. least 3 generations of aircraft development.
Early in 1969 the Commonwealth Government set up an interdepartmental committee comprising representatives of the departments of Civil Aviation, Interior, Treasury and Works to advise the Government on the major airport requirements for Sydney. In particular the committee, under the chairmanship of the Department of Civil Aviation, was asked to consider the need for a second airport and if this was established to consider and report upon its location. Fully realising that this was a matter of great importance to the whole community I have, when questioned over recent months, pointed out that I would report on the matter as soon as it was practicable for me to do so. 1 am now in a position to inform the Senate of the results of the committee’s work as well as the decisions taken by the Government after considering its report.
It has also been judged appropriate to make this statement available concurrently to our colleagues in the State Parliament of New South Wales, through the Premier, and to the community at large.
The interdepartmental committee was created following the preliminary investigations which the Department of Civil Aviation had been carrying out over a number of years. For some time the Department has been conscious of an ultimate need to provide additional airport capacity for Sydney and its investigations had covered both the extension of the present airport site as well as a general study of areas around Sydney where a second airport could be established in due course, when it was needed. In its consideration of locations where a second airport might be established, the Department appreciated the difficulty in finding suitable places within a reasonable distance of Sydney.
A modern airport requires a large area of land, particularly if it is to cater for aircraft used on international services. It must also have obstruction-free approaches and be located on reasonably flat ground if construction costs are to be kept within acceptable limits. Airports are expensive assets and belong to the whole community. Once established it is vitally important that they are able to be located in areas where there is ample opportunity to have them adequately separated from the surrounding development that a large and fast growing metropolis like the Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong complex brings in its train. In these respects, the terrain around Sydney seriously restricts the number of alternative locations for such an airport. Also, the extent of built-up areas around Sydney precludes the use of a number of otherwise suitable areas. In its earlier considerations, the Department carefully examined a great number of locations and was able to reduce these to about a dozen, which then needed much more careful consideration individually in a number of respects. Honourable senators will agree, I am sure, that it was right and proper for a Commonwealth interdepartmental committee to be first to study the second airport proposal. The Commonwealth has a very heavy responsibility in providing and maintaining the major airports in this country and is, therefore, in a good position to establish the national requirements as a whole.
In examining the future airport requirements for Sydney, the committee first of all had to consider the probable growth in aircraft movements in air services of various classes for quite a long time ahead. Such predictions are complex and not necessarily precise as the actual growth can be influenced by unforeseen circumstances. Careful consideration of the capacity attainable in peak periods at Sydney Airport was also necessary. This depends on many factors such as weather conditions, the air traffic control facilities available, the mixture of aircraft types and noise abatement procedures. The committee found it necessary to take account of the various factors in order to arrive at capacity figures which could be used for comparison with the future traffic predictions. I am familiar with the voluminous working papers which the committee considered, and I would like to say I am most impressed by the thoroughness with which these aspects of the task were approached.
The committee determined that additional airport capacity, over and above that of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport in its present form, would be required in the late 1970s. The committee also concluded that even if the present airport is improved and its capacity increased, there will still be a need for a second airport. Depending upon the improvements made at Mascot and the growth in the traffic which it serves, the second airport will most probably be required not later than the early 1980s. From many points of view, Mascot is an excellent site for an airport, being within 8 miles of the centre of Sydney and surrounded to a large extent by Botany Bay. The value of its proximity to Sydney is all the more important as we now know that, with the particular problems of siting a new airport in the Sydney area, this could easily be about 40 miles or more from the centre of the city. Mascot also forms an integral part of a fast developing transport complex in which road, rail and ports are linked with the airport. In making these comments I am not overlooking some of the problems of the present site, its restricted area and the disturbances caused in some residential areas by aircraft noise.
Its location in relation to the centre of metropolitan Sydney is, therefore, extremely important if the air services using the airport are to meet the community needs. Obviously, there is, therefore, some conflict between the interests of Sydney as a whole, both now and in the future, and the interests of communities adjacent to the airport. A reasonable balance between these interests would not be achieved by accepting the propositions put by some sections that Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport should not be developed, or even that it should be abandoned. I have previously stated my view that we are committed to the present airport indefinitely. That it should remain and be developed was the view also expressed by the Chifley and Scullin governments. It currently represents a book value investment of SI 67m, SI 12m of this from public funds and $55m from private enterprise. It would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to replace. We cannot afford, nor do we intend, to throw away such a valuable and important community asset which, despite some difficult noise problems has very great advantages by comparison with any other potential airport site. The new runway, extending into Botany Bay and over 13,000 feet in length when it comes into operation early in 1972, will make the airport a better neighbour to the community and more operationally effective.
The Department of Civil Aviation has studied the noise problem very carefully and will continue to do so - and a great deal has been done to limit its severity. The various measures currently being taken add to the operating costs of the airline industry quite substantially and with other measures which will gradually have effect in the future, the situation will be kept under reasonable control. The Department is currently preparing a comprehensive noise monitoring system for this airport which I hope will be installed next year, ft is not often appreciated that this Department has played a leading role in world aviation organisations aimed at dealing with the noise problem and production of quieter engines. While it is, of course, intended to retain the present curfew, it is not only up to the civil aviation industry and the Department of Civil Aviation to limit the effects of aircraft noise. In the long term a great deal can be achieved by proper planning in areas adjacent to the airport. In this connection the Department is offering all the assistance it can to the local authorities as well as the State Government, which has the authority outside the airport boundaries.
For some time the Department of Civil Aviation has been carefully examining alternative proposals for increasing the capacity of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. No secret has been made of the fact that improvements such as parallel runways involving extensions into Botany Bay have been under examination. These investigations are still proceeding in consultation with appropriate elements of the aviation industry and the New South Wales State Government. The interdepartmental committee was acquainted with alternative proposals for the development of Mascot and was able to consider in general terms the differing effects of such proposals in meeting the airport needs for Sydney. Having reached this point, the committee turned its attention to alternative locations for a second airport and it reviewed the dozen or so locations which the Department believed had any prospect at all of accommodating a major airport. One of the first things to be determined for each location was the rough layout of an airport, the location and length of runways and the position of terminal areas. This work was necessarily preliminary in nature at this stage, but in considerable detail. It allowed the subsequent consideration of the effects of air traffic using such airports on the use of air space generally in the Sydney area. Not only were the effects of civil airport operations at Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport, Bankstown and other civil aerodromes taken into account, but Royal Australian Air Force operations at Richmond and even Williamtown had to be considered, as well as the requirements of other airspace users, such as the Army and the Navy. It was in these aspects that the Department of Defence and the Service departments were drawn into the committee’s discussions, and I would like to say that the advice of these other departments was of great assistance to the committee.
Engineering feasibility and order of cost of alternative plans, some 16 in all, at all these locations were considered, as well as the compatibility of such airports with the adjacent communities, access by surface transport, environmental aspects, etc. The 16 different preliminary airport layouts and detailed plans were examined at the following locations: Wyong (North Head), Wyong (Warnervale), Somersby, Richmond, Badgery’s Creek, Fleurs, Marsden Park, Long Point, Lucas Heights, Wattamolla (National Park) and Duffy’s Forrest. As a result of all these considerations, the committee was able to discard a number of locations and end up with four that it could not reject or place in order of preference without extensive consultation with the Government of New South Wales, together with detailed surveys and other technical economic and operational investigations in depth. These locations are: Duffy’s Forrest, Richmond, Somersby and Wattamolla. Duffy’s Forest could not be developed for use by international aircraft, whereas the other 3 sites appeared to be suitable for both domestic and international services.
Many honourable senators would have heard the suggestion made from time to time that rather than bring international air services to an airport within driving distance of Sydney, a more distant airport at Dubbo, Narromine or places even much further away from Sydney might be used. On this basis domestic services would connect that airport with Sydney, and perhaps other capital cities. Such a proposal is not compatible with the demand for fast airline connections between the major cities of the world. For instance one Boeing 747 carries enough passengers when fully laden and landing at a remote airport to call for 10 Fokker Friendship type aircraft to transfer its passengers to their capital city destinations. Furthermore, the committee clearly established that for domestic air services alone al Sydney, 2 airports will be required in the not distant future. The suggestion is, therefore, not considered applicable in meeting the airport requirements under consideration. Since receiving the report, it has been necessary for the Department of Civil Aviation to study very carefully in its own right as the Department with the ultimate responsibility the recommendations of the interdepartmental committee, particularly in connection with the alternative scheme for the extension of the present airport. Furthermore. I decided that I should acquaint myself with the various locations investigated and discussed in the report. Since then I have personally inspected many of the proposed sites where it was thought a new airport might be located. I also decided that I should examine current trends in airport planning and equipment becoming available overseas prior to placing the committee’s report before the Government. The growth and early experience in the operation of jumbo jets and the impending introduction of other wide-bodied aircraft, as well as the probable use of supersonic aircraft in the near future and the possible introduction of VSTOL and STOL aircraft, introduces new considerations in airport planning. I was therefore fortunate that the opportunity to inspect and discuss some 20 major airports in Europe and the United States of America was open to me during my recent visit overseas to attend the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s assembly in Vienna. These investigations overseas confirmed an earlier impression that other countries too are experiencing major problems in providing new airports to serve large cities.
As I have mentioned on prior occasions, New York and London are but 2 cases where the site of new airports within a reasonable distance of these cities involves great difficulties. Many honourable senators will be aware of the fairly recent decision to establish a third airport for London at Foulness, 50 miles east of that city. It has been estimated that this new airport will cost up to $ 1,500m. I might add, too, that London’s Gatwick Airport is 27 miles from the city while others worthy of mention in this context are Rome (20 miles), Washington (27 miles) and San Francisco (14 miles). Quite apart from the aspect I have mentioned, the very important interests of local communities, environmental factors and the very great cost involved in a second airport for Sydney require that this project be most carefully considered and that all available viewpoints be brought to bear upon it before any decisions are taken.
The committee recommended that the remaining investigations leading up to the selection of the most suitable site should be made by a joint Commonwealth-State committee. The Commonwealth has adopted this recommendation and, following several discussions I have had with the New South Wales Government, I am now able to say that the proposed joint committee will be set up quickly. Terms of reference have been agreed upon and the final stages of the work will begin quickly and be concluded as soon as possible. Briefly, the terms of reference of the committee will be:
but without necessarily restricting itself to these locations if the committee considers that other locations merit detailed consideration.
Speaking generally on these terms of reference, it will have been noted that the interdepartmental committee found itself unable to decide between 4 final sites or to place these in order of preference. The Commonwealth Government has decided that 2 of these sites - Richmond and Somersby - should be considered in priority above the others and has directed the joint committee to operate accordingly. If the committee wishes to evaluate further sites, the Commonwealth will not object. However, the Commonwealth’s view is that, for a variety of reasons, Duffy’s Forest and Wattamolla are neither desirable nor satisfactory sites, and it hopes that a quick determination between Richmond and Somersby can be made. The work of the interdepartmental committee was based on preliminary information about each location. It will be necessary now, in consultation with the State of New South Wales, to develop firmer proposals after careful study surveys are made in each area. From the information so obtained, more exact operational and engineering planning will be possible, leading to better estimates of construction quantities and costs. It will be appreciated that access to the airport - a matter for the State authorities - is a matter of essential importance if the new airport is to serve the community adequately.
The capital cost of the airport and associated facilities is expected to run into several hundred million dollars and the interdepartmental committee recommended that the Commonwealth Government should engage consultants, expert in this field, to carry out a comprehensive cost-benefit evaluation of the alternative proposals, including those for the development of Mascot. This will allow a very thorough assessment to be made of comparative costs. Such an economic analysis of the whole airport situation for Sydney will be available to the Commonwealth-State committee to take into account along with other important considerations. The Commonwealth has agreed with the recommendations and expressed the hope that scope might be found to use Australian consultants in conjunction with the overseas consultants who will be needed as principals.
It is difficult at this stage to determine how long these further inquiries leading up to a recommendation for the siting of a second airport will take. We are welt aware of the need for the earliest possible decision but equally well aware of the importance and cost of this whole question and the need for it to be fully considered from all points of view. The Government is aiming to resolve the matter as quickly as it can, but the making of an estimate of time with any reasonable accuracy is not possible at this stage, and any undertaking given may therefore be misleading. However. I will ensure that this task is given the highest priority with the object of it being completed as early as possible and the results reported to both governments.
We are very conscious, too, that in matters such as this there is a very broad community interest involved in addition to the detailed civil aviation considerations. The interests of local communities are very important and these will be properly taken into account so that the overall balance of public interest may be fairly and properly assessed. It will be competent for the joint Commonwealth-State committee to seek, and also receive in writing, any objections or additional proposals or information that it judges should be taken into account or would help its work. The committee will consist of members from the Commonwealth, the Department of Civil Aviation, whose member will also be the chairman, the Departments of the Treasury. Works and the Interior. The State of New South Wales will provide the remaining 3 from those departments it believes have the most to contribute. The committee will be free to draw on others as required. The Department of Defence, for instance, would have the right to appoint an observer.
In conclusion I would like to add that the Commonwealth Government looks forward to working with the State of New South Wales on this national project. Over the many months of investigations and deliberations we have been particularly impressed by the ready assistance and interest of the State Government in this important matter. I consider this to be an historic example of Commonwealth-State co-operation which will assist us all to carry out quickly the final phase of the investigation leading to the choice of a site for Sydney’s second airport which, in due course, will be worthy of that great city.
– by leave- The matter of providing airport facilities in the city of Sydney has been causing a great deal of concern to the residents in that metropolis. It is an activity carried out by the Commonwealth that affects very materially the environment of the people who live under the flight paths and in the vicinity of Mascot and any airport to be constructed in the future. 1 think the people of Sydney would agree with me that the statement of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) has arrived too late to avoid many of the difficulties that have arisen in respect of international airports overseas. In point of fact, the plans contained in the statement will perpetuate a number of the difficulties with which the residents around Mascot have had to contend for a considerable number of years. The statement indicates very little vision or forward planning by the Department of Civil Aviation. It must have become apparent many years ago that the volume of aircraft movements would necessitate some extensions at the principal airport at Mascot as well as the provision of additional airports around the city of Sydney. 1 think that what has taken place can be described as a matter of national planning by stealth. We have seen a piecemeal type of development of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.
Even the statement presented to the Senate today indicates that undoubtedly there will be a continuation of development in that area as well as the provision of another airport somewhere else. The statement shows that very little vision has been displayed and that very few steps will be taken to protect the people of Sydney from the new dimension of aircraft noise and pollution which today is exciting a great deal of concern in all sections of the community. As the Minister indicated in reply to several previous questions, the people of Duffys Forest, which some say is a more salubrious area than the suburbs of the southern part of Sydney, are just as much up in arms about the suggestion of an airport being placed in their area as are the people in the the St George and Sutherland areas about the suggestion that the airport be enlarged into their areas. The effects of the movement of aircraft in and out of Sydney would be felt around any of the other sites suggested in the report.
I have read the reports of a number of royal commissions that have dealt with the problems associated with aircraft move; ment and aircraft noise overseas. Such inquiries have been set up in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and several European countries. They all came to the same conclusion, that the only way to avoid aircraft noise, pollution and other effects upon environment is not to build airports near major cities. There is no other way to avoid these problems. In the United Kingdom the national government even offered a local authority certain sums of money for the soundproofing of homes around an airport. Because of the disabilities suffered by residents in the flight path a royal commission was set up.
Such royal commissions were conducted over a period of years and should be within the knowledge of the Department of Civil Aviation. Certainly they must be within the knowledge of the Minister. Yet these experiences which are vital from the point of view of protecting residents of Sydney seem to be by-passed. The 11 sites named in the report were finally narrowed down to 4. I put to the Minister than the 4 areas nominated for consideration possibly as favourites in the thinking of the Department are right in the middle of the region proposed by the New South Wales Government for the development of major residential areas by the year 2000. The Minister said in bis statement that we have to be prepared to recognise that at least 3 generations of movement of aircraft are associated with our existing and future airports, so that by the year 2000 the period of the 3 generations referred to will have passed.
Tha population r»f Sydney, accordinrr to the State Planning Authority - and this is accepted as a fact of life by the New South Wales Government - will be about 5i million by the year 2000. The 2 sites named in the Minister’s statement are right in the centre of the region envisaged as a major residential complex by the year 2000. From Port Stephens to Wollongong there will be a major residential complex, but within that area another airport is planned by the Department of Civil Aviation. I put to the Senate that from a planning point of view it is probable that even a second airport will not be adequate by the year 2000. Planning authorities have indicated clearly the need to double all the presently existing public facilities within the Sydney region by the year 2000, as I think it is fair to conclude that the Department of Civil Aviation will be involved in even more sites than it has been prepared to nominate.
I have asked for leave to move that the Senate take note of the statement made by the Minister because I am suggesting that the matter should be debated by the Senate. It is of great consequence to the people who live within the Sydney region. I regard the Minister’s reference to the Scullin Government as somewhat shabby. Surely he should not go back 41 years to justify further development in the Mascot region and in looking for another site on the perimeter of Sydney.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - Senator Gietzelt, are you asking for leave to move a motion?
– Yes, Sir.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
That the Senate take note of the statement. 1 feel that the thinking of the Minister and his Department is that we need another major airport virtually on the front steps of the Sydney General Post Office. Such erroneous thinking ignores the experience of almost every other country. It indicates that very little national planning has been done by the Government. I am sure that the local communities to which the Minister referred have not been consulted. For at least another 2 days I am President of Sutherland Shire and Wattamolla is within the boundaries of Sutherland Shire. We have not been consulted by the Department of Civil Aviation and I am therefore entitled to draw the conclusion that to date the Commonwealth Government has taken the view that as it has consulted the New South Wales Government, that is sufficient endeavour to take into consideration the views of the local authorities.
On 26th August last I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) a question and he indicated in his reply that there was no reason why the Commonwealth could not consult local authorities on matters of national or local significance. It is true that he did not commit the Government to that consideration but I felt entitled to conclude that the Government was not adverse to the principle of loose consultation with a local authority, representing as it does a local community. However, that point is made only in passing in the statement. No encouragement is given to the view that the Government will do more than simply consult the New South Wales Government.
I believe that overall it would be disastrous for the people of Sydney for us to accept as inevitable the further development of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. The suggestion has been made that by 1975 air traffic in and out of the Mascot area will have doubled and that additional runways and other facilities will have to be duplicated by then. If we are to accept the view put in the Minister’s statement today, the selection of a second airport and construction on the time table proposed will not be completed before 1980. I think we can therefore justifiably anticipate that Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport will be subjected not only to the provision of additional facilities for the next 4 or 5 years but will also carry a tremendous amount of additional traffic in its normal day to day activities. 1 wonder why a delay of 24 years has occurred in the making of recommendations by the interdepartmental committee. The matter of aircraft movement has been agitating the minds of many people over the last 5 or 6 years. It was not until action was taken by the people in the Sydney region that the Government set up an interdepartmental committee. Now that the committee has been set up, it is still not prepared to make precise recommendations about where Sydney’s second airport should be placed. There may be political reasons for this failure. It seems to me that the environment and the people in the 2 subject sites will be affected. There may be more than 2 subject sites but only 2 have been nominated by the Minister. There will be a great deal of uncertainty in these areas. Certainly there will be a great deal of uproar and reaction to the 2 sites which are finally nominated.
From the Minister’s statement it does not appear that the Government is prepared to exercise any of its power and influence to rezone the land. Surely if we are to consider further development of a major nature in the Mascot area we will have to do something about the zoning of the land. Much of that area is already in the process of being redeveloped. If we are going to do something about an airport at the western or northern perimeter of Sydney, in order to obviate difficulties in the future for residents in the area chosen the matter of zoning of the land is of prime and urgent importance. I believe that the matters of zoning, environment, pollution and congestion are so paramount in the minds of people today that this statement needs to be given further consideration in the Senate.
– I do not want to traverse all the ground which has been so aptly covered by Senator Gietzelt. I think he has dealt in a very clear and concise way with the urgent problems confronting us in the 1970s. As I watch the expression of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) I think he agrees with me that before this issue is finalised many State and Commonwealth departments will be involved.
As a jumping off point 1 go to the paragraph of the Minister’s statement in which he apparently endeavours to write off completely the long range concept of a major airport in the western division of Sydney. With my limited layman’s knowledge I certainly do not attempt to debunk that concept completely, but I do look ahead. I think the Minister does, too. During the next 2 years before the final decision has been made battles will be fought on all fronts such as at the local government and departmental level.
Early this year with Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and other honourable senators I had a look at the aircraft industry in France. It is quite obvious that in relation to the conception of feeder services and the advances in the use of helicopters - probably a by-product of the Vietnam War- we are turning back the transport clock. I know that the Minister finds that suggestion repugnant. What I mean is that on every occasion that flight times are reduced between Australia and other countries, when people reach their homeland the authorities will be faced with the problem of getting them to their abodes. With all deference to travel agents and kindred groups, there may have to be a time -I instance this as a possible example in the case of New South Wales - where Mr McCusker, the Commissioner for Railways, the airlines people and others will have to agree that for the sake of quiet and a better way of life there should be less noise in the community. When people arrive by air the time taken for the last leg of their journey may have to be extended so that they arrive at the metropolitan airports at a more reasonable time instead of when people are asleep. It may be argued that this is a Utopian concept. But who will have the most authority to decide? Who will agitate the most?
I make the point that it is inevitable that within the next 5 years the number of cars holding one person which travel into the capital cities will have to be controlled. We will have to return to bulk transport. I apply that analogy to this situation. I do not completely write off the planning of a major airport in the Narromine, Dubbo area in the 1980s or 1990s. I appreciate all the technical difficulties involved. We might be ahead of our time, but we might say to the technocrats - a word which was used elsewhere today - that emphasis should be placed on the modern development of helicopters, other types of aircraft and, in New South Wales, the integration of the more important diesel rail services. I make that suggestion to the Minister. I am sure he appreciates that when an inquiry is held that suggestion should not be completely written off. I do not think the Minister will accept the paragraph of his statement to which I have referred, and say: ‘This is it’.I leave these thoughts with the Minister.
Debate (on motion by Senator Young) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 14 September (vide page 714), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson;
That the Senate take note of the following papers:
Civil Works Programme 1971-72.
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1971-72.
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending 30th June 1972.
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the year ending 30th June 1972.
Particulars of Proposed Provisions for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30th June 1972.
Government Securities on Issue at 30th June 1971.
Commonwealth Income Tax Statistics for Income Year 1968-69.
National Income and Expenditure, 1970-71.
Upon which Senator Murphy had moved by way of amendment:
At end of motion add: ‘, but the Senate condemns the Budget because-
it breaks the Prime Minister’s pledge to Parliament on taking office to bring into effect for 1971-72 a fundamental review of social services and of methods for adjusting them.
it contains no proposals to balancethe finances and functions of the Commonwealth, the States and local government, and
it produces no programmes for high national objectives of social welfare, economic strength and national security.’
– Honourable senators will recall that at a late hour last night I commenced speaking. As I was about to launch into an attack on the Government the President scuttled me by putting the motion for the adjournment, under sessional orders. Again today I find myself faced with the problem of limited time. The programme for today is in some way limited because some new honourable senators are to make their first contributions to a debate. For that reason I do not intend to speak at great length. I believe that the shortcomings of the Budget which has been presented by this Government need to be condemned at length and in depth. What the Budget endeavours to do is based on the authority of the Government. But what it will do is the exact opposite of what the Government claims it will do. In fact, instead of being an anti-inflationary Budget it fuels the fires of inflation by adding costs to the price structure. This will further escalate the pressures for increased remuneration which will, under the system approved of by this Government, inevitably lead to increased prices.
The Government has failed lamentably to look at the cost of distribution of goods within this country and to appreciate that too many people are trying to make an income on the efforts of the few. Too many people are endeavouring to distribute goods - and make a profit out of that distribution - within the community. Whenever we move about the country how often do we see several outlets for the one commodity where only one would satisfy, whether it be a garage, a grocery store or a chemist shop? In effect there is an overcapitalisation in the area of distribution which lifts prices by demanding excess profit margins. In spite of what Senator Webster said, increased and unfair profit margins impose a theft upon the community.
– What does the honourable senator think is a reasonable margin?
– A reasonable margin on non-perishable products would be in the vicinity of 25 per cent instead of 50 per cent. In fairness to the businessman I make the point that when he has to compete against a similar enterprise situated alongside him and to maintain the same overhead and the same staff he finds himself required to work on a 50 per cent profit margin. In other circumstances with increased turnover he could operate on a profit margin of 25 per cent, and even less on hard goods. This fact has been proved by the various discounters who have been able to operate. But one of the dangers of discounting, of course, is that the quality of goods can be reduced to shoddy; and this is a danger which is ever present in the community. But the rural industry and the champions of the rural industry on the Government benches should be aware of this problem - that the distributor is demanding too much for his operation and the producer is receiving far too little. If we were to look at this area and this area alone, there could be a considerable improvement in the problems which face the productive industries - the rural industries of this country. But the Government has not faced up to this problem at all. This is another Budget in a series of budgets brought down by this Government which say either stop or go at rather irregular intervals. The community is left to bear the burden of progress. The community - and a very resilient one it happens to be - has been able to manage in spite of the efforts of this Government, not because of them.
The Government has been in a state of almost complete disintegration. One wonders, when one looks at the manoeuvres that have taken place, how it has managed to exist. The Government has managed to reshuffle the whole of the Ministry and to change over the whole of its responsibilities from person to person in such a way that the Executive, to my mind and to the minds of many people, is ineffective and is not capable of carrying out the function of governing this country. How can a Minister for Health expect in a period of 3 months to understand the problems which face his Ministry? How can he accept those responsibilities and develop expertise? How can he establish even the necessary communication with the heads of his Department in that short time? Yet this Government on 3 occasions, and for shorter periods, has imposed upon the Department of Health a different Minister.
Such changes do not occur only in this area; they occur in other areas. They occur in the areas of defence and foreign affairs. The Prime Ministership itself has changed too often. There is a desperate need for change in this country. I feel that people are beginning to believe that if the democratic institution is to survive there needs to be a change of government - an immediate change of government. I am certain that at the first opportunity the electorate is given the people will surely change the Government and there will be another reshuffle in this place. Those who happen to be on the left of you, Mr Deputy President, will move to the right of you.
The importance of the Budget, which now has been accepted with resignation by society at large, pales and becomes insignificant to the responsible citizen of the community when he views the disasters which are occurring overseas. I refer not only to the economic disasters and the down-valuation of the dollar but to the tragic collapse of human relations. The latest example of this, of course, is the horror and disaster of Attica. This is another name that will go down in history as one of the low spots in human history. This horror is a crystallisation of what is happening too often in the world today. Such an event is conditioning us; it is dehumanising a people with whom we should be more actively concerned. Events such as this are dehumanising us as well as those with whom we have to deal. They are conditioning us to the acceptance of violence and tragedy.
We have reached the stage these days where compassion begins to boggle. We do not know to whom we have to direct our sympathy or assistance these days. Do we give this to those who are caught up in a situation such as Attica and the resultant disaster and violence which had to be used to bring a situation under control; or are we to look to, if we have not forgotten already, the destruction and mutilation of Vietnam; or do we move further to Pakistan and the horrors and the deaths of thousands of children in that country which as yet our minds do not accept; or do we go on to the Middle East, from the Middle East to Ireland, from Ireland to Africa and from Africa to South Africa?
I am appalled at the condition of the blacks and the coloureds in South Africa. I am appalled by the lack of understanding on the part of the Government and those who support it; the lack of understanding on the part of those who criticise the people who were involved in the anti-apartheid struggle and demonstrations in Australia. Of course Government supporters do not understand. They have never bothered to’ find out exactly what has been happening in South Africa. What is happening in that country is what happened in effect to the Jews under Hitler in Nazi Germany. However, in Nazi Germany it was a matter of race. Some Jews were able to disguise themselves as being other than members of that race. But in South Africa it is impossible - and this point has been ignored and overlooked - for a person whose skin is black to change the colour of his skin. A person can change his religion, or appear to change his religion; he can change his politics or can appear to change his politics if the circumstances demand it and if his children need it; but he cannot change the colour of his skin. This is the terrifying iniquity of what is being imposed upon the coloured and black people in South Africa.
If honourable senators want to read for their own enlightment they should get a book which has just reached the Library entitled ‘Passing for White’. If they did so they would realise the desperate situation in which a coloured person finds himself in South Africa. A coloured person in South Africa has to prove before a board whether he is white or black. The terrifying situa-tion can exist where half of a family may be classified as black and the other half may be classified as white although they eat around the same table. This is the result of the racial policies of a government which we should have nothing to do with on any level whatsoever. Yet, those who oppose involvement with South Africa, even on the sporting field, have been abused, condemned, decried and insulted whenever they have sought to protest against any recognition of South Africa.
This attitude is understandable when we look at the Government’s behaviour because even in Australia we practise in the case of immigrants a policy which is in essence the same sort of policy that the South Africans impose. Just recently I read of a Greek migrant in Melbourne who had made application on 7 occasions to be naturalised and who, on 7 occasions, was refused in spite of the fact that he had been in this country for 39 years. His children are Australian citizens and his wife has been accepted as an Australian citizen. However he has not been accepted and no reason has been given. I do not recall this man’s name at the moment but he states that he thinks the reason is that he was a member of the Communist Party. So the Government, for a political reason, refuses him naturalisation. I have spoken of this before. But here is an instance where a man has decided for various reasons to change his political affiliations. This man states that he has not been a member of the Communist Party for the last 4 years. He has changed his point of view. He has come to a political decision. His attitudes are different. He has been a good citizen of this country and he has been guilty of no crime within the country, except that he has belonged to a political party and that is not a crime under our Constitution as has been decided by the High Court of Australia. In any case, he has changed his point of view. He has changed his political affiliations. Yet this Government insists further that he shall not be naturalised.
– Perhaps the Government thinks he will change back again.
– That is his prerogative.
– He may really believe in the Communist philosophy of wrecking the whole country.
– If that is the honourable senator’s attitude I can understand why the Government’s policy is not to recognise a person because of his political beliefs. How much better is the Government in this situation than Vorster of South Africa? Its apathy and attitude in this situation is appalling. Our attitude to our own Aboriginals in its end result places us on the same level as the Government of South Africa, except that our attitude is lesser in degree. I am talking about the end result and the conditions under which Aboriginals find themselves in many places in Australia. The conditions in which they find themselves are the same conditions in which the blacks and the coloureds find themselves in South Africa. We have achieved the same result in a different way. By our very indifference and by that strange quality of resignation and acceptance by the Aboriginals we are able to achieve with our coloureds the same result, to our eternal and continual humiliation. However, I will pass on to another point because I do not want to embarrass the honourable senators who will speak after me.
One question on which I seek to try to pierce the indifference of this Government is the question of metal pollution, which has recently been declared a threat in this country. It is a problem that is horrifying to those who are prepared to search out the consequences of neglect in this area. Metal pollution or mercury pollution has become evident in Tasmania and in Botany Bay and elsewhere in New South Wales. In particular I want to attract the attention of the Senate to the possibility of metal pollution occurring on the Great Barrier Reef. It is a threat which is considerably increased by the likely establishment of a Dow Chemicals (Aust.) Ltd complex at Gladstone. Mercury pollution is created by excess mercury which is released in a manufacturing process going to the sea. The level of wastage in the effluent could be as much as 23 per cent of the amount of mercury used in the process. This effluent enters the marine environment. It may remain inert under certain conditions, but in other conditions of added pollution it can transfer itself or convert itself into the highly volatile methyl mercury. It enters the marine food chain. On entering the marine food chain it escalates in tremendous proportions.
I refer honourable senators to 3 articles which I have read on the subject. For the sake of brevity I will merely give the names of the articles. The May 1971 edition of the ‘Scientific American’ carried an article entitled ‘Mercury in the Environment’. ‘Mercury Is Heavier Than You Think’ is an article by Jay Holmes in the Esquire’ of May 1971. An article in the Saturday Review’, an American periodical, of 6th February 1971 shows just how the escalation of metal pollution is dramatic as it moves from the effluent to the plankton.
– What did you say is dramatic?
– The escalation.
– Did you say it is dramatic?
– Yes, the escalation of the contamination by the mercury or metal pollution in the food chain is dramatic. lt compounds itself 10 times. So if there happened to be 5 procedures in the food chain, 100 or 1,000 times the pollution level could be apparent at the end of the food chain, which could be food which will eventually reach the table. The Dow Chemicals complex which is likely to be established at Gladstone is to use a process which was responsibe for the metal contamination of the Great Lakes. Dow Chemicals was the company responsible for the closing down of the Great Lakes. The process that will be used at Gladstone is exactly the same as was used in that case. The environment is extremely favourable for its operations because the effluent will flow into mangrove country, which is a breeding ground for plankton and for crustaceans, and so will commence the contamination of the food chain.
The seriousness of the position is this: The operations of this company can destroy the effectiveness of the whole of the food producing area of the Great Barrier Reef and therefore destroy the fishing industries and breeding grounds that stretch right across the Pacific Ocean. I am not certain to which Minister I should direct this matter. However I have before me the transcript of an interview in which the Minister for the Environment. Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) took part on the radio programme ‘A.M.’. The Minister engaged in a certain amount of prevarication, dissembling and, if I could use the term, buck passing, which is characteristic of this Government. The interviewer asked Mr Howson:
Do you have any plans to present any Bills to Parliament on the issue of pollution control in this Session?
The interviewer was referring in particular to mercury or metal pollution. The Minister answered in these terms: - No, because again in detail 1 expect most of this to be done either by the States or if it affects Commonwealth Territories by my colleague, the Minister for the Interior.
The interviewer then asked:
You don’t foresee any particular issue or any particular matter at this stage where the Commonwealth should step in over the States and put down some hard and fast legislation?
Mr Howson replied:
Well, we haven’t any power to do so-
So commenced the first move in the buck passing, which, as I said, is a characteristic of this Government - and this I want to make quite clear - in almost every case as I see it the actual legislation dealing with pollution must be the responsibility of die State governments. But we can make it quite clear as to what research we have undertaken . . .
It seems to mc that we are about to engage in an operation of moving the responsibility from the Federal sphere to the States sphere, and in the meantime we will lose the iniative that is required to control immediately this problem of mercury pollution, especially in the area of the Great Barrier Reef. Since we as a Federal Government are providing the finance for the power station which will produce the electricity which Dow Chemicals will use to produce the caustic that is required for the alumina industry at least we can see that some restriction is imposed. It is a growing problem in Australia because the alumina industry has the greatest growth rate in Australia. For that reason we can expect the problem of mercury pollution to increase.
Let me merely indicate to honourable senators the dangers of mercury pollution. If a person smokes excessively he increases his chance of dying of lung cancer at some stage, but the procedure is long and he can put off worrying about it, if he wants to, for quite a number of years. But that is a physical pain and the stability of one’s mind is not affected. But in the case of mercury poisoning, the person’s sanity is attacked. The disease is similar to a viral encephalitis. No person, whoever he may be, can with equanimity face the possibility of losing control of his senses. If anyone discounts what I have said, let him consider the origin of the phrase ‘mad hatter’. Does any honourable senator know how the term ‘mad hatter’ came to be used? It was because people who were engaged in the manufacture of hats in past centuries, when hats of this type were fashionable, seemed for some reason to go raving mad and to spend their last days in mental homes. It was subsequently proved that it was because of the use of methyl mercury in the processing of the felt from which the hat was manufactured. That is the origin of the term ‘mad hatter’.
– Have you not read Alice in Wonderland’?
– That was a subsequent story. The term ‘mad hatter’ came from the level of insanity among workers in the felt industry. I assure honourable senators opposite that it is no joke. In America, within 6 months of discovering the problem of mercurial pollution, it was decided that the pollution had to be controlled. Whole fishing industries were destroyed in the United States. Since this is so amusing to some honourable senators opposite, let me tell them of what has happened. Ernestine Huckleby, an 8-year old black girl, fell from the monkey bar at school-
– From where?
– From the monkey bar at school. This is no joke. This was at Alamogordo, New Mexico, on 4th December 1969. She went home complaining of dizziness and pain. During the following week she stumbled and staggered about so pathetically that her mystified parents, Ernest and Lois, robust people in their 40s, took her to a hospital in El Paso, Texas. By that time the girl had lost control of her voluntary body functions. Two weeks later, Ernestine’s brother, Amos, aged 14, complained of pain in his neck. Overnight he, too, lost control of his muscles. He could see only straight ahead, as though he were looking through a tunnel. That was the second case in the family. I shall not read the report on the other cases; suffice to say that the whole family was affected by mercurial poisoning. How did this happen? It was because the father had decided to obtain some cheap feed for his pigs. He went to a nearby army depot where there was some discarded seed. He was warned that the seed had been treated with methyl mercury, but he ignored the warning and fed it to his pigs. The family diet was mainly pork, and simply through the use of seed which had been protected by mercury the whole family was rendered incapable and virtually destroyed.
– It proved one thing, that it was not a Jewish family.
– Senator Gair seeks to joke about a very important problem, which is an increasing problem in Australia. What has been disclosed by Professor Bloom, an eminent professor in Tasmania who has carried out tests, reveals that in future we will not be able to eat oysters without doing so at our peril. If people are not prepared to take the risk with the oysters it will mean the destruction of the oyster industry in New South Wales and Tasmania. What is more, it could mean also the destruction of the fishing industry up and down the coast of Australia. If that is not something to be concerned about and if it is something that honourable senators opposite want to laugh about, they may continue to laugh.
– I have only a short time to speak and therefore I do not intend to speak on matters related directly to the Budget. However, having listened to Senator Georges, I am reminded that perhaps one could say that the time has come to speak of many things. I wish to speak briefly about a number of different subjects. The first and foremost of them is the question taken up by Senator Georges - pollution. I propose to approach the subject from a different direction. I approach it from the aspect that the Senate established the Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution and the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution to investigate these problems. Both these committees presented very full reports in which they arrived at a considerable number of conclusions of fact, some of which were alarming. They made a number of recommendations, a discussion of which on a public basis I have not heard since the reports were presented. I can but express my disappointment that a matter which is regarded by the community as one of very considerable importance, a matter which is regarded by government as being of considerable importance, a matter in respect of which Senate committees have spent a considerable amount of time in gathering together a vast body of opinion and fact evidence and have prepared a report, has not yet really been put into the public arena for debate as a result of any action of the Government.
– The Senate carried a resolution that the Government should give that report its urgent consideration. That was a resolution of this chamber.
– I thank the honourable senator for reminding me of that. I simply wish to take this opportunit to remind government generally, and the Minister in charge of questions relating to the environment, that these actions have been taken, that they are regarded by the Senate as urgent and that they are regarded by the people of Australia as urgent.
I should like very briefly to quote from some sections of the report of the Seriate Select Committee on Water Pollution. Perhaps one of the first references that I should take from the report is the statement:
Behind most pollution problems lie the twin factors of ignorance and inertia.
I hope that situation is changing, but I hope also that very shortly we will see some demonstration of the fact that it is a changing situation. I should like also to refer to another part of the report where it states:
The problem of pollution is so vast, the responsibility so diffused, and the ignorance of causes and consequences so widespread, that only a concerted national effort can save many Australian water resources from becoming unusable.
That was not an ill-considered statement; it was a statement made positively and clearly by the Committee as a result of the very great volume of evidence which it had received. I hope that the meetings which are taking place and which are to take place in relation to steps to be taken will bring about urgent action on the basis of a concerted national effort. In relation to a concerted natonal effort I mention that in the report of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution a number of points are set out on the question of a national approach. There is reference to the need for co-ordination, the need for an assessment of present and potential pollution, the question of techniques for abatement and control, the determination of criteria, finance and legislation, and international considerations.
The Committee recommended that Australia should adopt a national approach to the management of water resources, setting out acceptable standards, co-ordinating the aims and aspirations of State and local government authorities, and creating the machinery to achieve them in balance with other national goals such as those for growth and development, lt recommended that the Commonwealth should take urgent steps to establish a national water commission. I have been wondering what has happened to the suggestion of a national water commission. I am given cause to worry a little further when I am told, subject to correction, of course, that the inter-departmental committee set up to investigate this matter did not contain a member or representative of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. I would have thought that anybody seriously approaching the question of the recommendations made by the Senate Committee would be concerned to ascertain whether or not the Committee’s suggestions in relation to this matter* were valid under constitutional law.
I notice that there were other bodies whose recommendations were considered by the interdepartmental committee set up last year. They also recommended a national approach; that some steps should be taken not necessarily exactly along the lines taken by the Senate Committee but necessarily involving consideration of the question of the extent to which action could be taken under the Commonwealth Constitution either by the Commonwealth or by the Commonwealth and the States acting together to create a national water commission or a national environment body of some sort with sufficient power, sufficient teeth and sufficient incentive to take some action to overcome the problems which have been referred to and which are set out, in startling form, in the reports of the. 2 committees.
The statement by the new Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) quoted by Senator Georges a few moments ago is something else that causes me some concern. If Mr Howson says that the Commonwealth has no power, I would like to raise again the question whether that is a considered opinion. ls that an opinion of the Commonwealth’s legal advisers or is that an assumption based upon some consideration which has not extended to the same sort of consideration as was given, for instance, by the Senate Committee which had evidence before it from top constitutional lawyers in Australia whose views were taken into account at the time those recommendations were made. I would be extremely interested to know - as I am sure many other people would - just how far has the Commonwealth considered the extent to which it can take action either alone or jointly with the States in relation to this problem. In the short time available to me in which to speak the only other matter to which I wish to refer is the question of computers and the effects that they have upon the changing society in Australia. Computers have had a dramatic effect. It was feared that they would be likely to bring about redundancy and retrenchment of staff.
– The Golden Fleece case personified that last year, did it not?
– There have been some indications that this might happen. What I was going to say is that the further surveys conducted would indicate that it has been very rare that computers have caused redundancy and retrenchment of staff. Rather they have caused the need for replacement of staff into other activities. What has happened, I think, if one goes through the industries which have introduced computers, is that they have increased the productivity per person but have not brought about any large scale retrenchment. They have revealed a need for continuing education, for adult education, for the re-education of people perhaps made redundant in one particular aspect of their prior training and experience. The need for retraining them becomes greater with the increasing mechanisation of our society. This draws into emphasis the importance of adult education or continuing education - whichever name one likes to give to it.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend the National Adult Education Board for the steps it is starting to take in relation to this - the initiative which it is taking. I hope it will continue to receive adequate support from the Commonwealth Government and from the other bodies in industry and elsewhere in the community so that it will continue its work in relation to the question of computers and the reorganisation of the rural sector to provide re-training for people who no longer can be gainfully employed or gainfully engaged in the rural sector. All these are areas in which the continuing education programme in Australia can play an important role and, I believe, must play an important role.
Two other questions arise in relation to computers. One is the question of copyright which, again, does not seem to have been considered to any extent but which is a most important question. The second, which has caused legislation to be introduced in the United States of America, is the right of the employee as against the employer. If an employee who is a system expert programmes a computer in a particular way he can make himself indispensable. If he is dismissed or has to leave his employer for some reason or other then without his co-operation the cost to the company of working out a system and of reintroducing a system could be very great indeed. I understand that this is a matter which has caused people in the United States to give special consideration to what are the relative rights of the employer and the employee in that type of situation. I simply suggest that this is a matter which we in Australia also should be considering.
Those, Mr Deputy President, are the few remarks I wanted to make at this stage. Questions more directly related to the Budget and its implications, and some of the economic aspects of matters dealt with in the Budget, are matters which we will get the opportunity to debate at a later stage, at which time I shall take the opportunity open to me.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! In calling Senator Brown I should advise the Senate that this is the occasion of the honourable senator’s maiden speech.
– I was not aware, Mr Deputy President, until you just made the announcement, that I would be afforded the opportunity to make a second maiden speech but I certainly welcome the opportunity and take advantage of it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I tender my apologies.
– I intended initially to join other honourable senators in congratulating those new senators who have made their first speeches in this chamber. I extend the same congratulations to those who will follow me. I understand that there are 2 more honourable senators to make their maiden speeches. It is quite an occasion, one to be remembered. I recall the importance of the swearing in ceremony when this new Senate was formed and the historic event which was recorded in the annals of this Senate when Senator Bonner, a member of the indigenous race of the Commonwealth of Australia, was the first of his race to be recognised to represent the people of Australia, and In particular the people of Queensland. I regret, of course, that Senator Bonner happens to sit on the other side of the chamber but that is his choice and we all exercise our choice.
I wish to make a short summary of the Budget. I regret that Senator Webster has left the chamber for the time being. I hope he returns because I wish to direct the remaining period of my time to remarks he made on Wednesday evening in a most unwarranted and unjustified attack on the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Referring briefly to the Budget, it is 4 weeks and 1 day since the Commonwealth Treasurer (Mr Snedden) introduced a budget which he said was designed to deal with an inflationary condition, variously attributed to cost pressures, cost push, cost and price inflation and demand inflation. The other evening the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in an unguarded moment referred to the current inflationary trends as wage inflation. I shall deal first with that section of the Budget which relates to estimated revenue. This describes the sources from which new revenue will be obtained and the way in which it will be obtained. I am sure that a brief reference to the Budget will indicate that the stated intention of the Treasurer to arrest the continuing price increases has no substance. In fact, the sections of the Budget to which I shall direct attention indicate clearly that, rather than reducing cost pressures in the economy the Budget will have the adverse effect of increasing the cost structure.
I refer, firstly, to the new taxation measures. The Government has made a decision to increase company tax. No-one would imagine in his wildest dreams that an increase in company tax would not be passed on to the consumer. Obviously, increases in personal income tax will reduce what may be described as disposable personal income. The proposal to impose increased customs and excise duty on tobacco, cigarettes and cigars will also reduce disposable persona] income. The proposed increases in duty on motor spirit, automotive distillate used in road vehicles, aviation turbine fuel and aviation gasoline are probably the most inflationary increases that could be made, the reason being, as I understand it, that one of the major elements in our total cost structure is transport which is said to represent something like 25 per cent of our total cost structure. To increase customs and excise charges on fuels that are used in the transport industry must have only one effect - an inflationary effect.
Increases in radio and television licence fees will play their part in reducing disposable income, as will the proposed increases in postal, telephone and telegram charges which must be passed back into the total economy. The proposed increase in shipping freight rates will be manifested in the cost structure. The increase from 50c to $1 in the cost of prescriptions must have the effect of lowering the level of disposable income. In due course it is proposed to consider the present level of navigation charges, but it can be expected that those charges will be increased and that any increases will be passed on to the community. If one takes into account the proposed increases in indirect taxation which will flow back into the cost structure, and add to them the reduction in what may be described as personal disposable income, one must come to the conclusion that there will be a discrepancy between the cost of goods and services, on the one hand, and the availability of purchasing power to consumers on the other hand.
I was interested to read in the Treasurer’s preamble to his Budget Speech his reference to the causes of inflation, specific mention being made of the wage factor. He said:
In general, as we see the problem, there has been and still is a powerful upthrust of costs, stemming largely though not wholly from large wage claims relentlessly pursued.
In the section of the Budget Speech under the heading ‘Conclusion’ the Treasurer said, among other things: 1 might mention, in this Budget context, that the Government is considering what might be done by way of strengthening the arbitration system and, in particular, bringing more to the forefront the economic consequences of decisions which are taken within that system. When these studies have been completed, we will consider whether further measures should be taken to cope with the problem of excessive cost and price increases.
Stripped of all the camouflage, what the Treasurer is really saying in the preamble and in the conclusion to his Budget Speech to justify the measures thai had been introduced, is that the Government’s attention has been oriented, by and large, to only one section of the economy, namely, the wage and salary earners. He went on to say:
As il is. we believe the Budget will not discourage the real growth of the economy. Given the anticipated growth in productive capacity, there should be scope for growth in the demands of the private sector.
What do we find? lt is now only 4 weeks and I day since the Budget was introduced yet the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 8th September 1971 carried an article under the heading Fears of big credit squeeze’. The article is in these terms:
Australian business yesterday expressed concern at the prospect of a severe credit squeeze later in the 1971-72 financial year.
That statement was made by the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia. The article goes on:
The chambers are the latest in .a series of influential bodies to criticise the economic strategy of Hie Budget and to predict severe repercussions.
The Australian Industries Development Association last week claimed the Government soon would have to take action to reverse the depressive effects of the Budget
This week, a leading management consultation firm. W. D. Scott and Co., predicted that the Australian economy was heading for its worst unemployment situation since the 1961-63 recession
If statements of that nature had been made by the Australian Labor Party we would have been charged with being alarmists, with panicking and with talking the country into a depression. Seeing that the statements were made by organisations which are identifiable and which basically are supporters of the Government, I think it can be held that the criticisms levelled at the Budget by the Australian Labor Party are not only fortified but, in fa-t, are supported to the hilt. In the ‘Australian’ of Friday, 10th September 1971 there appeared an article bearing the heading ‘100pc drop in new money for industry’ and the sub-heading ‘Figures show economy is running down fast”. The article is as follows:
The rise in the rate of capital spending in Australia is expected to drop by more than 100 per cent in the 6 months ending in December . . . A survey by the Bank of New South Wales and the Associated Chambers of Manufactures said only 38 per cent of manufacturers are operating at a satisfactorily full rate of operation.
That means that 62 per cent of our industrial capacity is under-utilised at the - present time. The article goes on:
This is the slowest anticipated growth rate in capital spending for 3 years. The survey of anticipated expenditure is probably on the optimistic side because it was taken in July before the Budget was brought down and before the international currency crisis.
Our economist, Kenneth Davidson, says: ‘So far most of the statistical evidence which has emerged since the Budget has pointed to a steeper downturn in the business circle than the Government expected. This is likely to show up in an even higher level of unemployment than the Government had planned as a result of the deflationary Budget’.
I believe that those statements are justified and are based on fact. I turn now to the report of the Department of Labour and National Service which was presented the other evening. It disclosed that the figures for August 1971 showed an increase in unemployment and a decline in the number of jobs avaiable. There were 61,848 registered unempoyed which was 14,591 more than the number in August last year. A truer reflection of those out of work is the seasonally adjusted figure of about 75,000 people. The number of job vacancies fell to 34,673. Currently this means that 2 people are competing for each job available. However, the indicators portend even greater havoc in the labour market. This is disclosed in no uncertain terms in the ‘Financial Review’ of Tuesday, 14th September. I think members of the Government will concede that this is a reputable financial publication, lt reported:
Unemployment is growing at the monthly rate of 6.6 per cent after allowing for seasonal factors. This is from a low base but it is a high rate of increase despite that
Registered vacancies are falling at the monthly rate of 4.2 per cent.
On one hand there is a rapid increase in unemployment and on the other there is an almost equivalent decline in the number of jobs available. The ‘Financial Review’ called into question the so-called demand inflation and destroyed the claim made by the Government in support of the Budget The article stated:
The movement in personal consumption - the biggest single item in gross national expenditure - graphs out a plunging route.
This would be expected to be a major element in terms of demand pressures. The article continued:
In the March quarter of 1970 real personal consumption was growing at the annual rate of 4.8 per cent.
Tn the June quarter of 1970 this had started to fade and the rate of real growth was 4.2 per cent. Then in September 1970 it was 4.1 per cent; in the December quarter, 2.8 per cent; the March quarter. 2.2 per cent; and the June quarter 1971 saw a real rate of increase of only 1.6 per cent.
The figures covering the real rate of growth in gross national expenditure are just as disconcerting:
They show that in the June quarter the real annual rate of growth was only 0.7 per cent.
This figure has to be set against the March rate of increase of 5.4 per cent. But it remains a figure that no amount nf interpretation will support the proposition that demand was accelerating in the June quarter - Just the reverse.
A real annual rate of growth of 0.7 per cent means that demand was in fact not keeping pace wilh population growth.
One should add to that gloomy picture that has been painted by interested and influential elements in the community outside the Australian Labor Party the statement made only yesterday by Mr Blyton, President of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, about the latest unemployment figures. He said:
The figures are a further indication that the level of economic activity is continuing to ease.
He went on to say:
It seems that now is the right time for the Government to inject some renewed life into the economy.
The sentiments expressed by Mr Blyton were identical with the sentiments expressed by Mr Herford, the Federal President of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia. There is no doubt in my mind that the claims made by the Australian Labor Party have been borne out by the facts which I have just related, as stated by committees and interested organisations outside our movement.
The attacks levelled at the trade union movement for being responsible, if not wholly then in a large part, for the current inflationary trends do not stand up to examination. I shall cite an example of the double standards of this Government. It is interesting to recall the reaction of the Government when the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, after a very extensive and minute examination of the national economy and industry generally, made a decision on the basis that industry could pay an additional 6 per cent in the wage bill. The Commonwealth Treasurer attacked the Commission and the bench of the Commission for its decision. He became almost hysterical about it. Within about 2 months, Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd which had not long before announced a record profit of $50m, stated that it proposed to increase the cost of its commodity by 8 per cent. What was the reaction of the Treasurer? He made the profound observation that it was a pity. That was hardly likely to strike fear into the hearts of members of the Board of Directors of BHP.
I recognise that my speech is being broadcast. I say to those listening that the Budget was designed to disable (he trade union movement by a calculated and planned level of unemployment. What it has done is to register concern among business, commercial and manufacturing interests in the community at this time. I believe that whilst it is true that the Government would like to have that level of unemployment to be able to disable the trade union movement, I do not believe that business interests will permit the Government to allow this regressive and repressive trend to continue because their manufacturing interests are not being utilised fully and because this is interfering with their profitability. I understand that the Prime Minister has indicated that the position is not beyond reversal. I believe that one of two things should happen. If the Government does not see fit to reverse the trend now, in due course it should consider the introduction of a supplementary Budget. Serious consideration should be given to the reduction of bank interest charges and an injection of finance into the public sector of the economy to help stimulate and revive a flagging economy. It is beyond all doubt that the economy is flagging. 1 refer to the remarks made by Senator Webster last night.
– You must no’ be aggressive in your maiden speech.
– I note that remark. On Wednesday night Senator Webster, as is characteristic of members of the Government, found a pretext to attack the trade union movement. Supporters of the Government are always finding some pretext to do that. In the course of his speech on the Budget he found time to do precisely thai. He made 3 particular references, I quote from page 507 of Hansard of 7th September 1971 . He said:
The prices and profit margins are not quite true in the context in which he tries to put them.
He was answering an interjection by Senator Georges. He continued:
I am very interested to hear his comment because thai is a proposition which the Australian Council of Trade Unions advanced. Mr Hawke was involved in putting before the public the general proposition that prices were the problem and that what the unions should do was to get into the activity themselves by getting into the ACTU store.
The proposition pot to the public generally was that most businesses were making too high a percentage of profit or that they were adding too much margin in the prices of the goods they sold. Here was a leader with, I suggest, very little economic ability as far as business is concerned suggesting that he would run a business on no more than a 224 per cent mark-up.
He referred in passing to the fact that the ACTU proposed to buy the store within 3 years. He stated:
We all know that the ACTU has nol taken full control of the store. But it is counting on making sufficient profit out of this venture, however high ils prices may be, to purchase the store within 3 years.
He repeated these assertions when he resumed speaking in the debate. He also attacked the trade union movement on these grounds - and 1 quote from page 533 of Hansard:
I refer particularly lo the activity which has taken place in the blackmailing of the Dunlop organisation. While this was described as being in support of a proposition that resale price maintenance was something which was harmful, in truth that is far from the case. The reason for this action was that the ACTU store wanted to gel line leaders from the Dunlop organisation so that it would be able to rank in respect of stocking quality goods with like stores.
I regret that I have not a great deal of time left, but 1 want to deal with those three outlandish assertions made by Senator Webster. 1 am in a position, from first hand intimate knowledge, to do so. During the period I was out of office, from the day before the last Senate election until 1st July this year, I was engaged by the store to act as a public relations officer, as one commissioned to speak to groups within the community and to detail to them the facts concerning the ACTU acquisition of this store. Before accepting that appointment, I made it my business to ascertain, by first hand investigation and examination, precisely what it was all about. I did exactly that. Dealing with Senator Webster’s first allegation, namely that Mr Hawke claimed that the store would operate on the basis of a 224 per cent mark-up across the board, this cannot be said to be so.
– But it was a public statement.
– What the honourable senator mixes up, of course, is that Prestige Ltd, a subsidiary of Dunlop Australia Ltd, refused to supply the Bourke’s ACTU store buyers with certain female wear unless a condition of resale was observed, namely, that the resale price would be the price that the Bourke’s ACTU store paid to Prestige Ltd - that is, the wholesale price, which included ali the overheads of manufacture! - plus a 424 per cent mark-up. The ACTU store said no. lt refused to comply with that condition of resale and insisted that it would purchase only on the basis of no resale conditions. It stated that it would be satisfied with a 224- per cent mark-up. That mark-up referred specifically to that subject matter alone.
– What is the average margin it receives today, if you know?
– 1 can say from direct, first hand information that that store operates on approximately 50 per cent of the average mark-up in the retail industry. That is right across the board - across the great range, variety and volume of quality goods which are available in that store. 1 now wish to deal with the honourable senator’s second proposition, namely, that the ACTU proposed within 3 years to purchase these assets from accumulated profits. I can tell the honourable senator from first hand knowledge that the term of this agreement is 5 years. That is the first part of the agreement. It operates from 1st January 1971 to 31st December 1975. There is a sharing of what are described as disposable dividends equally between the original company and the ACTU over that period. At 31st December 1975 the ACTU will be in a position to exercise one of two options. One is to purchase outright the assets as agreed at 31st January 1971 and as valued at that time. If it has accumulated sufficient capital to be able to do that and if it desires to continue in this field of enterprise, the settlement will be made. If the ACTU decides that it wishes to consummate the agreement by purchasing the assets but the funds it has accumulated fall short of the actual value of the assets as determined on 1st January 1971, the agreement provides for a further arrangement of a 10-year agreement covering a different form of payment over that period of years. 1 am not aware of precisely where the honourable senator obtained his information. But it cannot be held that either of those 2 allegations that he made contains any substance whatsoever. 1 will now deal with the third allegation the honourable senator made, namely, about the ACTU blackmailing Dunlop Australia Ltd. It is interesting to note what the Melbourne ‘Age’ published. The Melbourne Age’, to my knowledge, has never been a supporter of the ACTU. I will shorten this as a matter of courtesy to the Senate. In its editorial dated 19th March 1971 entitled “Freer enterprise’ the Melbourne Age’ stated:
There is a real irony in the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ ‘victory’ over Dunlop Australia Ltd. In effect, the militant action of the socialist trade union movement has helped to reinforce and preserve a basic tenet of capitalism - the belief in free and open competition. lt went on to say:
By forcing Dunlop Australia Ltd to supply goods to its store without retail price lags attached, the ACTU has, therefore, helped to sustain the competitive free enterprise economy.
I do not think I am obliged at this late hour to waste the time of the Senate in repudiating the contents of the table that was incorporated in Hansard by Senator Webster with the concurrence of the Senate, lt outlined a comparison of prices between the Bourke’s ACTU store and some of its competitors. If the information the honourable senator has relied on in the compilation of that table is as sound as the information he has relied on to justify the 3 assertions which cannot stand up to the light of day, it stands as discredited as I believe the honourable senator does. I do not believe that he did himself a service at all by the attack he made on this occasion. I hope that the Government will see cause to reverse the obvious trends which are ominous for the economy generally and so allow a developing economy to continue to expand in the best interests of the people as a whole.
Sitting suspended from 5.52 to 8 p.m.
– I call Senator Guilfoyle. I remind honourable senators that Senator Guilfoyle will be making her maiden speech.
– In making my first speech as a senator for Victoria may I say that I am very conscious of the honour which has been given to me by my State in my election as one of its senators. I am also conscious of the distinction with which previous senators from the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party have served in this place. Since the formation of my Party 2 Victorian women senators have made noteworthy contributions to the Senate. I refer to former Senator Marie Breen and former Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood. I hope that in future I may add to their contributions, not only as a serving senator but perhaps also as a voice for the women of Australia.
Victoria has given continuous representation in this place to a woman senator since 1949 and I do not hold lightly the privilege which has been given to me. I acknowledge also the unselfish help which has been given to me by the women of my own Party and I have been very conscious of the interest of the women of Australia in my election as a senator. Victorian senators from my Party have not only served in this House but one has gone on to serve Australia as a great Prime Minister. Now, Mr President, I share the delight of the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party at your election to the high office of President of the Senate. It gives me much personal pleasure to serve again under your presidency. As an early State President of my Party you have had a continuous influence on those people who have served as members of this Parliament.
I acknowledge all the assistance you have given to me during our long association and may I also say that your dignity and wisdom in your high office are of very great service to Australia and to the institution of Parliament. The assistance of all honourable senators to me in the past few weeks has been valuable and the atmosphere of warmth and friendliness in this chamber is very valuable to us as we commence a term of parliamentary service. We are also very conscious of the fact that members of this Parliament have dignity and pride in the work they do and 1 am quite sure that the changing methods with which they work will explore to the fullest extent the skills, talents and training of honourable senators in representing their States.
I congratulate honourable senators who have preceded me in making their maiden speeches in this session and I feel sure that they will make very valuable contributions to the work of the Parliament in the future. My purpose in making my first speech here is to speak in support of the Budget for 1971-72. The framework of the Budget is designed to cover a situation of rapidly increasing costs, rising prices, a very tight labour market, very special difficulties with the wool industry and the prospect of increased pressures on resources in the near future. However, the Budget anticipates that the gross national product will increase by over 5 per cent this year, which is similar to the average of recent years. In 1970-71 the gross national product increased by 3.9 per cent despite a decline of 1.2 per cent in the farm product in that year.
There is considerable uncertainty about the farm product in the forthcoming year. The whole of Australia shares concern about that uncertainty. However, this Budget assumes that there will be a moderate increase in that sector. The total Commonwealth receipts are estimated to be of the order of $8,822’m, an increase of 9.9 per cent. Substantial increases in social services are provided for in the Budget. It also takes care of rising costs in the many services which the Government gives to the people of Australia.
I wish to confine my remarks in support of the Budget more specifically to some items which are related to the development of this nation. In discussing figures I turn firstly to the sum of $495m provided as advances for capital purposes. This figure shows an increase of $47 m over last year. An item of $262m is provided for other capital works and services, an increase of $22m over last year. Both of these enormous sums do not include payments to or for the States which, in their turn, will be providing for capital works in the States for their needs. Such figures tell of growth development and of a nation which is building for the future.
The capital works and services of the Department of National Development provided for in the Budget reach a total of almost $23m. When thinking of development we think of the development of our communication services and note that the appropriation for the Post Office this year is about §255m. That sum allows for considerable development of services throughout this vast continent. I want to speak now for a moment on additional national development which is being injected into our economy by the private sector through the mining industry. This is a rapidly developing part of our economy which has contributed to our development by decentralisation of activity in previously undeveloped areas of the north and north west of Australia. The report of the Australian Mining Industry Council released in March 1971 stated that Australian mining companies had spent $5 1 5m on ancillary transport and town and community facilities compared with $285m on productive mine development and ore handling facilities in remote areas.
The Australian Mining Industry Council has just completed a survey of 11 mining projects which have gone into production in previously uninhabited areas during the past 10 years. The survey showed that Australian mining companies spent $1.81 on such undertakings as port development, railways, airstrips, off-mine roads, power and water services for every $1 they expended on actual mine development and product handling facilities in the mining areas. A substantial proportion of this outlay was not eligible for taxation deductions even though mining production could not have been established without it.
These disproportionately high infrastructure costs impose severe limits on the mining industry’s ability to establish secondary transport facilities close to major mine development areas. It has been stated that the need to provide many facilities which governments would provide in other developed areas has almost trebled the cost of establishing a viable mining project. This is quite significant when we are discussing national development. The survey to which I have referred took in such developments as 13 new towns with a total population of about 13,000. lt also covered 8 ports and 7 airfields, 500 miles of railways, 7 television stations and 2 television translators. In these towns, the schools, hospitals, churches, shopping centres and all facilities were built in accordance with State government requirements in the respective areas and were built as a substantial interest in national development by the mining industry itself.
Despite the fact that the companies have provided a total of about $5 15m for these services, and in many instances without establishing eligibility for taxation deductions, large sums have been paid in rates to local government authorities. In other words, responsibility for State government and local government municipal rates has been accepted and no taxation deductibility has been allowed for the towns and services provided by the mining companies. I am making this point to show that out of a total capital investment of some $800m, $5 15m is for ancillary services. At this stage of our developing economy we understand the enormous contribution which is being made by the mining sector. We know that additional export income has been earned at a very critical time and we know that mining is an accepted method of decentralisation of industry which has proved successful in the really underdeveloped areas of our north and north west. I am not making these points at this stage to ask for a taxation review of policy with regard to these ancillary services but rather to link the development of our natural resources which is being undertaken with the more human development of our personal resources. I see these things as being closely linked.
I feel that the concept of Australia in the future is slightly different from that which we might have accepted in the past. I believe that one concept of Australia in the past has been that of a country with great employment opportunities, with unusually high statistics of home ownership, a vast physical continent with a large capital city in each of the States and a country in which material progress has been a matter of pride and a measurement which we regard as being very significant. But in more recent years we have learnt that material progress does not necessarily make people content. In common with many other countries a restlessness has reached the people of Australia which makes them question the standards and values which they once felt were quite important.
We have reached a year when there is a feeling of international environmental concern. This is leading to a United Nations conference in Sweden in 1972. We are sharing with the thinking people of the world a concern for our environment. We are realising that our responsibilities weigh heavily as we protect and conserve our environment for the future. In my State of Victoria environment has been a matter of immediate concern. The State Government has interpreted the concern of the people and reacted with very imaginative legislation with regard to conservation and very strong legislation with regard to pollution of water and the air. There was marked interest in a statement by Professor Paul Ehrlich who visited Australia recently. He spoke about our increasing population demands upon the resources of the earth and the necessity to protect this planet from ecological destruction. The Federal Government’s role in environmental measures perhaps will lie in the creation of a national advisory council which could work in conjunction with the Slates to share research which is undertaken, or to set up a council for the environment which would work with the 6 State governments. Such matters were referred to earlier today by an honourable senator in response to a report of an inquiry into related matters which had been undertaken by a Senate select committee.
When speaking of environmental measures we must speak of individual responsibilities. If we are talking about environmental measures we must accept that just as the first syllable of management is man, so is it man’s individual responsibility to ensure that a personal unselfishness and, perhaps, selflessness is brought to bear in the interests of the preservation of our natural resources. For several years a great deal of research has been undertaken by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation relating to animal life, plant life, fisheries and physical resources. In this Budget an amount of $53m is provided for this purpose. This is an increase of some $6m over the amount provided last year. I assume that the new Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts will also be making further opportunities available for research in matters of an environmental nature which directly concern us.
I shall now speak a little more closely on the development of the personal resources of Australia. Through the Department of Education and Science this Budget provides for a significant Commonwealth share in the cost of education throughout Australia by the support it gives to State Budgets by direct expenditure under Commonwealth programmes. In 1971-72 the payments to the States for particular types of education expenditure are to exceed $200m. Of that amount $128m is for tertiary level education. Expenditure on education in Commonwealth Territories will reach the amount of $77m this year with total Commonwealth direct expenditure on education amounting to $346m. This is an increase of 14 per cent over the amounts which were expended last year for this purpose. To this amount we must add the enormous amounts which are spent under State Budgets on the education programmes of the States. In my State of Victoria this matter has priority over all other forms of budgeting in the State Government allocations. If we accept that a nation’s greatest asset lies in her people then the opportunities which are provided for her people are the primary responsibility of sound government.
I turn now to an item in this Budget to which I give my strongest support. I refer to the amount of $4.5m for assistance for the arts. I refer also to an amount of $598,000 in additional assistance to the arts principally for the acquisition of works of art for our national collection, for art publications, for the Commonwealth Literary Fund and for assistance to Australian composers. These amounts total over $5m. This is a refreshing item in the Budget. Since the formation of the Australian Council for the Arts some 3 years ago we have seen an inspiring movement towards an involvement of government in supporting the arts. I have mentioned that I wish to speak on the development of human resources. I stress that an outlet is provided for some of the most valuable aspects of human resources in our intelligence, perception, sensibility and imagination. To have as an integral part of our community life a strong support for the arts will, I believe, involve our human resources in a greater degree of development. In the past Australia, like many other countries, had a portion of her hitman resources not fully utilised. Probably this will always be so. Creative people have been obliged during their professional lives to seek their satisfaction elsewhere, with a consequent talent drain from Australia. This has led to wastage in terms of contribution to the arts of our nation. The establishment of the Australian Council for the Arts acknowledges a wish to change this situation. The Budgets of the last 3 years have fostered this purpose.
The Council for the Arts has placed a great deal of emphasis on professionalism, on training and in seeking to find those areas where government can give support to a creative sector of our community - in a financial way to give the support of the people of Australia to this new venture which is being undertaken to develop and to foster the creative part of our life. The Council’s objective is not only to enrich the national life through providing artistic work of high quality but also to ensure that Australian artists are able to be used and recompensed within the Australian nation. The Council’s grants and subsidies are seen as general attempts to use all our human resources. Additional incentives are offered in the form of awards for merit in various fields such as script writing, music and other fields where critical awards can assist a person to foster his own talent.
It is fair to say that Australia’s geographical position has placed her at some disadvantage because of isolation from living in a world where the creative arts are all around us. Australians have, though the Council, attempted to overcome some of these disadvantages in one way by providing opportunities for our talented people to study overseas and in another way to have an opportunity to invite world class people to come and visit us, to work with our performing people and to assist in the development of our own standards and our own professional levels. These have been opportunities made through the Australian Council for the Arts which have enhanced greatly in the past 3 years the opportunities for our own people.
Perhaps it is wise to recall that historically the formation of the Australian
Council for the Arts took place because by J 968 there was government assistance of some Sim given to the Australian Elizabethean Theatre Trust which had been formed during the 1950s, mainly through private donations and assistance and which at this stage had been gradually receiving Federal and State Government help. It was then decided to form a Council for the Arts to advise government on those areas where help could most usefully be given and also to work towards some national training and development. One of its objectives was the formation of a film training school.
The creation of the Council has resulted in the channelling of the bulk of its funds through the established areas in the arts such as our opera company and ballet company and also assisting with the emergence of first class theatres in each State. Large sums of money were set aside for training programmes, including the plan for the national film television training school. I am sure that honourable senators will all agree that the achievements have been remarkable in these few years. The members of the Australian Council for the Arts have shown infinite wisdom in the way in which they have interpreted their role. The executive officer and staff of the Council have shown a dedication to their work which has enriched what they do in the work in which they associate with the people who have the talents which we wish to foster.
At this point of time our ballet company, which is based in Melbourne, has reached a standard of excellence and would be regarded as world class. Our opera company is very quickly reaching a world class standard. We are hoping that by the time the Sydney Opera House is opened - this may be in 1973 - we will have an opportunity with our world class company to gain world renown in that place.
To talk more personally, 1 would like to say that the arts are an enrichment for all the people - not just those who are creating them, but those of us who can appreciate them. There is a special place for the arts in the liberal philosophy which is part of us as Australians and which we would value. The arts provide a dimension of the leisure we need so much to balance the pressures of modern living. They provide pleasure and stimulate creative thinking in all that we do.
I said earlier that we had concern about our environment. I believe it is fair to say that the study of our ecology has now reached a dimension in our thinking which has burst upon us with a new awareness. I think that our consideration of pollution has hit us as a matter of conscience with a very resounding blow. 1 say equally that our new awareness of the pan which is played by each person through a desire to preserve and recreate for the future will be enhanced by an expression of the creativity through the arts, and the role of government is surely to provide the very best of services for its people.
In the area of entertainment we would have to say that third rate entertainment is just not good enough for Australia, lt would not be tolerated in any enlightened community. A diet of imported entertainment which might have been bought as part of a bulk purchase rather than as a product of chosen quality is not good enough for Australia or for the nation of the future which we are now building. Australia’s investment in artistic activities is not a luxury investment. I would not want to think that the $5m which has been provided in this Budget could be regarded in that light, lt is a very necessary investment for the development of the human resources of our people. Development in this field is linked very closely with the development of our national resources. The national wealth which the development of national resources may provide will give new opportunities for the other resources which we wish to stimulate. Much has been achieved, but we need educational and artistic excellence. Above all, in our nation building, I believe we need a sense of an Australian identity.
I referred a few moments ago to the provision for the plan of a national film television training school. From what 1 have been saying I am sure honourable senators will accept that I have a sense of disappointment at the announcement of its deferment at this stage. In a national Budget of some $8, 800m an amount of $7m for a film training school pales to insignificance when measured in terms of national identity for the future creation of
Australian films. I am hopeful that the plans will proceed for the television training school and that the interim council of the school will, in the administration of the experimental film fund, pursue the plans for a training school. I hope, too, that progress will be achieved through the Australian Film Development Corporation which was established to encourage the making of Australian films for cinema and television.
I have a personal interest in the future development of an Australian childrens film foundation or corporation or something of that nature, which will create, especially for the children of Australia, films with a national identity, films which will provide to them the opportunities to see the excellence of our arts from our own people and also which will perhaps enrich our children’s leisure in a way that is achieved by the Children’s Film Foundation of Great Britain. In Great Britain, the established film industry is able to support a children’s film foundation. Australia has no film industry able to do that at this time. So it is that we look to government to foster the growth of this aspect of development of a children’s film foundation.
In all of what I have been saying I think there is evidence of the need for a stronger and deeper commitment by government to the creative and performing arts in the various ways in which they are expressed. If excellence is to be presented and if opportunities to participate and appreciate are to be widened, government needs a sense of priority to the development of these human resources. The growing impersonalisation of large city dwelling, the sense of isolation as we attempt to develop our undeveloped areas in Australia and the pressures and tensions of the life which we lead at present in a somewhat restless society would be served by a deeper involvement in some of the creative arts and perhaps we would develop more strongly a desire to preserve that which is good in Australia.
But let me take this one step further. The announcement by the Government last week that Australia exhibited at the inauguration of the Kennedy Centre on the Performing Arts in Washington as the first in a series of specific Australian subjects to make better known the work of Australia in the North American area gives us a feeling of national identity. The fact that we could use Australian music created by Australian musicians and the fact that we could send artefacts and material produced through the ballet school and through our opera school - all of these things which have been created by Australians - give us a feeling that what we send must be of the very best when we present it internationally as something which gives an Australian identity. The fact that we could do this in Washington in these recent weeks has meant that we are now a member nation of the creative world. This underlines the need for the maintenance of excellence in everything that we do.
There are many other aspects of this Budget which do interest me but I wanted to use this very first speech in the Senate to apply my reactions to those things which are closest to the people in the development of their human resources. If government leads to enrich the lives of its people, and if government recognises that it has the powers which are freely given by a democratic society, then I hope that government will become more deeply committed to measures which give life a new dimension. I can see far enough ahead to visualise an Australian nation which has been founded in very good faith, enriched by a rounding of the personality of its people through education, creative and cultural opportunities, in turn demanding from government all the other measures which a mature nation would value. 1 can see the people of Australia with a new willingness to demand that the special help which the handicapped, the elderly and the ill require will become a commitment between the people and government. I would hope that in the stewardship of the great resources of Australia we would develop a deeper concern for the less fortunate nations and that we would have a sense of sharing with them, particularly in times of international emergency. I would believe that it is a national commitment that underprivileged people who live within Australia shall be underprivileged only temporarily and that all matters of underprivilege will be removed by government as a commitment between it and the people of Australia.
I hope that throughout my term in the Senate I will have many opportunities to talk more specifically on many of these things, but tonight I support the first Snedden Budget in all that it seeks to do for Australia in this next year. I feel sure that the people of Australia will know that collectively the members who form this Government share my philosophy that the enrichment of the life of the individual is ite prime responsibility. Mr President, 1 support the Budget.
– I call Senator McLaren. I remind honourable senators that Senator McLaren will be addressing the Senate for the first time.
– In rising to address the Senate for the first time. I want to say that 1 am deeply conscious of my responsibility U the Parliament, to my Party and to the electors of South Australia who have sent me here as their representative, ft is a great honour to be here as an elected member of the great Australian Labor Party, the Parly which I have been proud to serve continuously through good times and bad since my youth. 1 express my sincere thanks and deepest gratitude to the many thousands of dedicated members and supporters of the Australian Labor Party and the trade union movement who have worked untiringly and voluntarily year in and year out to further the cause of Labor. It was largely due to the efforts of these people that I was elected. The only reward that they ever seek is to assist in the election of a Labor government which will quickly take the necessary steps to ensure that the gross inequities existing in Australia today are replaced by a humane policy of compassion and understanding, so that the one million citizens at present struggling to exist below the poverty line can lift up their heads and live a life of dignity, free from the fear of want, sickness and old age.
The swearing in of the new Senate on 17th August brought about a great change in the personnel of the Labor Party. With the retirement of such men as Jim Toohey, Bert Hendrickson and Pat Kennelly. A wealth of experience and ability has departed. Being a South Australian, I knew Jim Toohey best, and over the years came to admire and respect his judgment, ability and integrity and, like many others in the Labor Party. I have often gone to him for advice. The advice was always given in a kindly and fatherly manner and as such has stood many a person, including myself, in good stead. If during my period of office here I can emulate even a few of the good qualities of Jim Toohey I will have served the electors of South Australia well.
As a new senator my thoughts are continuously centred on the Parliament and what is taking place within it. During the autumn session as a senator-elect I spent 7 weeks here alternating my time between the gallery of the Senate and the gallery of the other place. My impressions of that time, coupled with what has transpired since 17th August, have firmly convinced me that the present Government, like all previous Liberal governments, has a bitter hatred of the trade union movements, its leaders and its members. We witness here day after day almost without exception, Government members endeavouring to lay the blame for the sick and sorry mess this great co u tit 17 is in at present at the feet of the workers of Australia. Mr President, we on this side of the chamber know only too well the good qualities and the ability of the Australian workers. We know too, having been through the mill ourselves, thai the trade union movement has had to fight tooth and nail for the wages and conditions thai apply in this country today. Not one thing has ever been granted voluntarily. The only commodity the worker has to sell is his labour, and the price of his labour is pegged by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. His case for an increase in the price of his labour is argued in the Commission by his representatives - the respective trade unions - against skilled lawyers employed by the wealthy employers who also have on the:” side on numerous occasions skilled representatives of this Government instructed to oppose any increase in wages or betterment of working conditions.
To compile and present a case to arbitration is a lengthy and costly exercise for the unions. No sooner have they proved the justification of their claim for an increase based on past living costs and industry’s ability to pay than we find every manufacturer increasing the price of his commodity and using the false claim of increased wages being the cause, when in fact the actual increase in wages was given to restore the purchasing power of the wage earner, which is being constantly eroded by the policies of this Government. The present tactics being used by the Government and the Press in their attempt to crucify Mr Hawke, the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, are nothing new. Trade unionists have learnt down through the years that when their leader is under attack from a Liberal Government and the daily Press he is indeed doing the job they appointed him to do, and he is doing it well. Mr Hawke’s only crime is that hs has the ability to more than match the wiles and the schemes of the power hungry upper crust who look upon the workers as a convenience to be used to further their own selfish interests.
For honourable senators opposite to blame the labour force of this country for the financial difficulties in which a great many primary producers find themselves is, of course, nothing short of ridiculous, and they well know it. Government supporters by their daily criticism of the recent decision of the Arbitration Commission in granting wage increases are in fact instructing the Commission that its future decisions should in no way be sympathetic to the wage earners of this nation. Senator Webster has stated that the increase in prices can be attributed only to wages. He would have us believe that if only the wage earners would forgo their claims for wage justice the problem of inflation would not exist. At no time does he or any other Government supporter attack the uncontrolled price increases forced upon the people by the large corporate structures. He referred also to those senators who support the labouring section, to use his own words, and said that they should be concerned with greater productivity. At no time has he shown any concern that excess profits should be shared by those who make them possible. I am happy to inform Senator Webster that I am one who will support the just claims of the labouring section, as he puts it, in every way that I can and I will take great pride in doing so.
By far the greatest proportion of money earned by workers is spent in Australia in purchasing the essentials of life. Farm produce makes up a large part of this. The lowering of our present living standards will surely have an immediate worsening effect on primary industry. A quick glance through the society columns of any daily newspaper will clearly show the type of people the Government should be cracking down on to halt this galloping inflation. One would not find anywhere in these columns a report of a factory worker’s wife sporting a mink coat at an after 5 cocktail party or the daughter of a shearer spending 2 years at a finishing school in Europe. One would not read a report of a robbery at the home of a wharf labourer where thousands of dollars worth of jewellery and silver were stolen. People of the type we read about should be the ones under attack by honourable senators opposite, not the people who are born into the world with nothing and after a lifetime of toil go out with very little more.
We find in this Budget that the pensioner who in the main has been a working man all his life has been given practically no relief. Those who qualify for the increase will get very little at all by the time all the increased charges have their effect. Those 180,000 age, invalid and widow pensioners who are excluded from the increase because of a tightening of the means test will be worse off than they were before the introduction of this Budget. In fact the pension rate is now less than 19 per cent of the average weekly earnings, the lowest postwar rate that we have seen. We heard just the other day the New South Wales Father of the Year, Prime Minister McMahon, saying in an interview that he was concerned with the welfare of the elderly. I can only assume from the way that he is handing out the taxpayers’ hard earned cash through the Australian Wool Commission that he was referring to those stately old retired wool barons who live on the North Shore in Sydney, at Toorak in Melbourne or at Burnside in Adelaide.
This Budget continues the old, old story of assisting the rich to become richer and ensuring that the poor remain poor. Down through the years when the Australian Labor Party has been attempting to get a better deal for the elderly citizens of this country we have often been told by the arrogant rich that these people should have made provision for their old age by saving during their working life. We seldom hear those utterances these days. Is it because these people who have so frequently cast these cruel aspersions are now themselves pleading with the Government for financial aid? Socialism is no longer the dirty word that it used to be, because the very people who in the past despised socialistic measures are accepting every dollar of Government aid that they can get their hands on, without the blink of an eyelid. The same remark so callously used in the past by the landed gentry in relation to the problems of the sick and the aged could of course be used quite legitimately today about themselves.
Whilst the large majority of people in need of an adequate pension today have never been in the financial position to put anything aside for a rainy day, many of the now financially embarrassed wool growers have been in that position. To prove this point 1 should like to quote from a series of articles written by Owen Thompson for the ‘Australian’ entitled The Wool Crisis’ which is available in booklet form from that newspaper for a very small fee. Any person desirous of becoming acquainted with the wool industry should read this booklet. I remind honourable senators that in 1951 wool was being sold for as much as 240d per lb. At page 9 of this very enlightening booklet it states:
After the Korean buying spree, the prices in 1951 and 1952 dropped back to the vicinity of 53 and 60 pence a lb, where they stayed until 1958. This was considerably less than the 240 pence they had been getting in 1951, but it still gave them a level of prosperity never previously known on the land in Australia. lt was a priod in which small country towns, which only 10 years previously still had the horse and buggy as their main mode of transport, vied for the number of Jaguar and Rolls-Royce cars that cluttered their streets on a Friday morning.
Mr John Smuts, who was house manager of the Hotel Australia, Sydney, during the period, says: The graziers would come down for things like the Royal Easter Show and the Sheep Show and life was one big party. ‘It was nothing for them to give the doorman a £5 tip-
That is SIO today - to get them a cab or a head waiter £10 to get them a table at Romano’s or Prince’s.
There was something on all the time: Big dinners, big balls, and the most wonderful weddings. The country people had the most wonderful weddings with the beer, champagne and scotch flowing all night.
You could not call them nouveau riche because they were not trying to copy anybody. They were not trying to be wine snobs or anything.
They would break up a room and ask you to get it fixed. They were really very simple people. “There was one wool gentleman, Mr Otway Faulkner, who would have a lavish dinner, then turn up with the barmaids from our long bar when it had started. Everybody would be dancing on the tables, including Mr Faulkner.’
While some of the graziers were dancing on the tables at the Hotel Australia, others in the wool industry were wondering how long it would last.
Mr F. M. McDiarmid, the president of the Graziers Association of New South Wales, which is affiliated with the Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, says: ‘The wool boom of the 1950s was really a bad thing for the industry. Nobody was really looking to the future, or putting money aside for promotion to fight synthetics.’
As we all know, it has not lasted, but a wonderful time was had by those select few while it did last. The collapse of the wool market is not only having a serious financial effect on the squatter: it is also having the same effect on the coffers of the Liberal Party and the Country Party because they are not now getting the large donations to their party funds that they have been so accustomed to receiving over many years. We on this side of the chamber fully acknowledge the urgency of providing financial assistance to the wool industry, but we will support only a proposition which distributes Government or public money to those producers who genuinely need help. There should be a very rigid means test applied to all wool growers who seek Government assistance. If a means test is not applied we will find that 15 per cent of wool growers will be sharing 60 per cent of the money being made available and the other 40 per cent will have to be shared among the remaining 85 per cent of growers. The result will be, of course, that people with gross incomes of $50,000 or $100,000, and more in some cases, will be getting the lion’s share while the small producer, who is the backbone of country towns, will receive practically nothing. Once again the policy of this Government is being spelled out in capital letters: Help the rich to become richer and see that the poor remain poor.
I should like to congratulate Senator Bonner on his maiden speech in this chamber last Wednesday. In reminding the Parliament and the people of Australia once again of the callous and brutal treatment handed out by the white man to his ancestors less than 200 years ago, when they were shot, poisoned, hanged and broken in spirit, he has exposed to many newcomers to this country the brutal methods used by the squatters to acquire the best land in Australia, land which today is still possessed by their descendants. I sincerely hope that Senator Bonner has stirred the conscience of members of the Government of which he is a supporter. We on this side of the chamber wholeheartedly endorse his plea for a better deal for Aborigines. I trust that he will support us in our efforts to achieve justice for his people. I am not alone in my thinking when I say that Senator Bonner will have many disillusionments when he tries to persuade this Government to change its attitudes to the rights of Aborigines. The Sydney ‘Sun’ thinks likewise. A sub-editorial of the Sydney ‘Sun’ on Thursday, 9th September, the day following Senator Bonner’s very good speech on which I have congratulated him, stated under a heading ‘Our Colour Problem’:
In another maiden policy speech last night, Senator Bonner, an Aboriginal, made an eloquent appeal for Australia’s Aborigines.
More opportunities for self-help - not handdouts - is what they need, he said.
I agree with him. The sub-editorial continued:
He is wasting his time.
The Government he supports shows no sign of raising its social services thinking above the level of one dollar for one vole.
That is what the Sydney ‘Sun’ thinks of this Government. The situation is different in South Australia where we are blessed with a Labor Government under the leadership of Don Dunstan. That Government has dedicated itself to the welfare of Aborigines. South Australia has played a significant pioneering role in the field of legislation to assist the welfare of Aborigines in a positive fashion. One of South Australia’s most important achievements in this area is the Prohibition of Discrimination Act 1966. The provisions of this Act apply not simply to Aborigines but also to any group or individual who might be discriminated against, but it has had particular importance with Aborigines. The Act prohibits in a specific and quite detailed manner a broad range of discriminatory actions, such as refusing service in a hotel, access to housing, and so on. That is to say, under this legislation the advancement of Aborigines goes beyond the mere negative removal of specific legislative discriminations and deals positively with the informal discrimination which had previously operated under social rather than statutory sanctions. In this matter South Australia has clearly led the other States.
Another landmark in legislation for Aborigines which can be claimed by South Australia is the Aboriginal Land Trust Act 1966, under which land which had been reserved for Aborigines, but which had remained Crown land, was transferred to an Aboriginal Land Trust, made up of Aboriginal members, with the ownership of the land being vested in the Trust. The only other State which has followed South Australia in this form of legislation is Victoria, which has done so only quite recently. Mr Len King, the South Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, recently issued a statement setting out the broad lines of policy relating to Aboriginals which is being followed by the South Australian Government. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate this enlightening statement in Hansard.
All Governments, both Federal and State, are deeply involved with Aboriginal affairs. There is a Department of Aboriginal Affairs at both Federal and State level and both a Federal and State Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. Political policies and decisions necessarily affect Aborigines at many points, lt will be possible tonight to consider only certain broad principles upon which such policies should rest.
The first and fundamental question to be settled in any discussion of policy as to Aboriginal affairs is the objective or objectives which a policy in relation to the Aborigines should seek to attain. One possible objective is the assimilation of the Aboriginal population into the white community on the basis that there will be no differentiation between black and white in the community. This is an understandable objective and was indeed the objective of all Australian Governments until 1965. It is based upon an attitude towards the Aboriginal people and the culture which is deeply engrained in the outlook of white Australians. The attitude is to regard the Aboriginal people as a primitive and backward people possessed of an inferior culture and traditions. According to this view, Aborigines can never hope to lead a full and satisfactory civilized life until they are severed from their cultural traditions and from ties with their past. They must, it is said, be taught the white man’s ways and be made an indistinguishable part of the white community. Only in this way, it is said, can they be regarded as having full equality with the white citizen in a homogenous community.
Understandable as this objective is, it was repudiated in South Australia in 196S and must, I believe, be consistently and firmly rejected ia future. Many wrongs have been done to the
Aboriginal people. Initial conquest and deprivation of their lands, was followed by cruelty and in many cases virtual enslavement. This in turn was followed by and indeed at times accompanied by a handout system of charity which had the effect of producing a pauper mentality in many Aborigines. The final wrong would be to attempt to destroy the Aborigine’s racial and cultural identity and to turn him into a pseudo-white man. Self respect is easily lost and once lost is difficult to recover. The unhappy Aboriginal history since the white man came to this country has had the effect of undermining and in some cases destroying the self respect of Aboriginal people. All too many of them see themselves as inferior to the white man and incapable of sustained effort and true achievement. Any worthwhile objective of policy in relation to Aboriginal affairs must therefore be consistent with the restoration to the Aboriginal people of their self respect. There is no better means of restoring the self respect of any depressed group than to encourage an authentic sense of pride in that group’s heritage and culture. To be proud of one’s race and history is to go a long way towards the attainment o’ self respect This is clearly demonstrated in the history of Asian and African nationalism, lt is also demonstrated in the history of depressed migrant groups of European settlers, both in the United States and Australia. A most encouraging sign is the development amongst Aborigines of a desire to identify with their own people and to be proud of their race and its culture. A most commonly expressed sentiment amongst A horigines nowadays, both educated and uneducated is the desire to be with their own peo-‘ This desire of educated Aborigines to be with their own people rather than to escape from their environment into the white community, is a most hopeful indication of the rapid recovery of self respect of the Aboriginal people.
In 1963 the Government of South Australia set itself an objective which recognised the importance of the Aborigine’s sense of pride in his people and his people’s traditions and culture. The Government turned its back upon the objective of assimilation and set itself an objective which is usually described as integration. This recognises the right of the Aboriginal people to live in our community on fully equal terms but retaining, if they so desire, a separate and identifiable Aboriginal heritage and culture. Such an objective has many ramifications. On the reserves, it means the end of any economic pressure on Aborigines to leave the reserves and to work in the white community, lt involves the provision of facilities to enable the Aborigines on the reserves to live their own lives in the manner of their own choosing. If they wish to remain on the reserves in tribal situations or conditions, it must be made possible for them to do so. If they wish to live on the reserves under detribalised communal conditions, housing and employment should be provided. If they wish to obtain employment of the reserve but to continue to live on the reserve amongst their own people, this should also be possible. They should, of course, have every opportunity to live in the white community as white men, if that is their desire, lt should be possible for the Aborigines in the city and country towns, to work in the community but to live in groups their own centres and opportunities for the preservation of their own culture. They must be given the opportunity to make their own choices. In education, this means that Aboriginal children should, where possible, be taught in their mother tongue. English would follow as a second language. They should be given the fullest opportunity to learn about and understand their own race, culture and traditions, and every effort should be made to ensure that civilised education does not have the effect of educating them away from their own people and traditions. Nevertheless it is inevitable that as the children are educated, many of them will reject tribal conditions and practices and particularly tribal initiation and authority. This will undoubtedly produce social difficulties amongst the tribal Aborigine - and social tensions which will take a long period of time to resolve. Nevertheless I believe that young Aborigines must be given the opportunity of education and the right to make their own choice as to their future way of life. Governments can only aim to ease the pain of the tensions which must necessarily develop in tribal societies.
The principal objective of policies in relation to Aborigines should I believe therefore be the integration of the Aboriginal people into the community upon the basis of respect for their culture and traditions and their right to live in their own way and in a way which is different from the way of life of the white community. To this objective should be directed political policies relating to Aboriginal education, housing, employment and, of course, racial discrimination.
This process of shaping satisfactory policies for the aboriginal people is dependent to a great extent on the development of a sophisticated and articulate aboriginal public opinion, and of aboriginal organisations.
I should now like to glance at the involvement of Aborigines in political activity in South Australia. Four Aboriginal community groups, with exclusive Aboriginal membership, have emerged as stable organisations in recent years and all have to some extent influenced and sought to influence Government policies. They each, therefore, merit a mention in any discussion of the development of Aboriginal organisations. The Council of Aboriginal Women is a well-established body. It occupies a city office provided by the Government but is entirely independent of the Government and the Department, lt engages in welfare and education work amongst Aborigines. It appears to have a good deal of success in encouraging a sense of racial identity and pride amongst Aborigines. The Aborigines Progress Association also engages in social welfare work, lt sponsors the all-black Nunga football team. It also actively propounds Aboriginal policies which could be described as political in the wide and general sense of that word, and it engages in criticism of political policies and decisions. Other groups of similar character are the Port Lincoln Aboriginal Helpers Association, formed in 1969, and the Whyalla Aboriginal Association, also formed in 1969.
Turning from Associations which voice Aboriginal opinion as to political policies and decisions, I now consider the development of political or semi-political institutions amongst the Aborigines themselves. Of these by far the most significant have been the Aboriginal Reserve Councils. The«e
Councils are functioning on all Aboriginal reserves, except those in the far northern semitribal area. The Yalata Lutheran Mission also has a Council. The Councils have now been operating for some 6 or 7 years and it has become the custom to have annual elections, at which nine Councillors are chosen by the residents of the reserve. The problem has been to find candidates for election to the Council. Many do not have the confidence to seek such a position of leadership. Others shrink from the difficulties and unpleasantness associated wilh public life in any form. Difficult and unpopular decisions must be made. Sometimes these decisions involve relatives, friends and close associates on the reserve and result in unpleasantness and unpopularity. There are too the strong disagreements and controversies which are inseperable from the public debate and decision. The position however is improving and more and more Aborigines are taking the responsibility. As the Councils become stronger and more accepted and respected, the position will improve further. The Councils have their own furnished Council room where they transact their business and keep their papers. The Superintendent’s advice is available but in general the Councils conduct their own business and run their own meetings. Successful training courses have been conducted by the Adult Education Department for Aborigines who are interested in taking positions on Councils.
The ultimate objective must be autonomous local government for the reserves. The Councils are indeed assuming greater and greater responsibilities. At the present time the Councils act as a buffer and intermediary between the Superintendent and the residents. The Councils advise the Superintendent about the needs and wishes of the residents. They are concerned with the employment available and the organisation of the work force. They are concerned too with the provision of transport and ambulance services and the general running of the reserve town. Where changes are made by the Superintendent in consultation with the Council, the Council seeks to make the residents understand the reason for the change. The Councils have considerable authority in relation to permits for persons wishing to visit the reserves. They may grant a visiting permit to a person who wishes to visit the reserve for a day or so. They are then responsible for seeing that the conditions of the permit are observed. Where an Aborigine desires to live on the reserve, The Council considers his application and makes a recommendation to the Director of Aboriginal Affairs. The Council also organise sporting and welfare activities. A combined conference of Councillors has been held successfully at Port Augusta.
The Councils are, I think, significant political institutions developed by Aborigines for their own self government in local matters. As they, gain experience, further powers can be conferred on them until the reserves have all-Aboriginal local Government.
A development which exemplifies both the impact of political decision on the lives of Aborigines and also the involvement of Aborigines in the political process is the Aboriginal Lands Trust. The political decision involved was the recognition by the Aboriginal Lands Trust Act, 1966, of the need for Aboriginal ownership of land and of the need to place in the hands of Aborigines themselves control of their own economic destinies. The Act was a belated recognition of Aboriginal land rights so long and unfairly denied. The policy behind the creation of the Trust was that by degrees Aboriginal reserves, with the consent of the Councils, would be transferred to the Trust to be managed for the benefit of the Aboriginal people as a whole. Other Crown land could be transferred to the Trust or acquired by it. The trust is a practical and flexible means of rendering possible land rights for Aborigines. The Act confers on the Trust the right to minerals found on the Trust property and provides for the payment of royalties in respect of such mineral discoveries.
From the point of view of Aboriginal involvement in the political process, the central feature of the Act is that all members of the Trust must be Aborigines. Three are appointed by the Government and there is provision for nine further members to be elected by Aboriginal Councils. To the present time, the Aboriginal Councils have not elected members to the Trust but I intend on visiting the reserves to give them every encouragement to do so. The Trust has been operating actively since its formation and has a full-time Manager and a full-time Stenographer/Secretary, and a city office. On its .formation, the Trust set about the making of a preliminary assessment of the problems involved in the acquisition and development of land resources. A report was obtained from a firm of Management Consultants. The Trust has set about the development and operation of properties known as Gum Park and Block ‘K’ in the South East and has spent some $25,000 on this development. It is designed as an agricultural and pastoral enterprise and if successful should provide considerable employment for Aborigines. The Point Pearce Council has requested the transfer of this reserve to the Trust and the Trust has under consideration a development project at Point Pearce. The implementation of this project will depend upon the availability of Commonwealth finance. Before making a decision to provide finance, the Commonwealth Government has approved a grant to obtain a report as to the feasibility of the project from the Management Consultants.
The Aboriginal Lands Trust is an imaginative break-through on the difficult problem of Aboriginal land rights. The development of the knowhow and skills necessary to carry out its objectives is necessarily a slow process. I believe that the Trust is the most important single feature of the impact of political policy on the Aborigine and the Aborigine on political policy in South Australia. The Governments, both Commonwealth and State, must give it every encouragement and assistance.
There are some 150,000 Aborigines (including part-Aborigines) in Australia, of whom about 8,000 reside in South Australia. They are gradually becoming more independent and articulate and, in the process, more politically conscious. It is inevitable, and of course desirable, that their organisations will play an increasing part in influencing public opinion in the activities and policies of Governments. It is of course inevitable that specifically Aboriginal organisations will continue to agitate and press for solutions of specifically Aboriginal problems. Sectional organisations concerned with sectional interests and problems have a definite place in the community. Maturity of political development for the Aborigines will not be in sight, however, until the political outlook of Aborigines transcends their purely sectional interests and problems and begins to comprehend the problems and interests of the wider community. It is my hope that the development of specifically, Aboriginal organisations with political interests will not have the effect of concentrating Aboriginal political interest and activity in specifically Aboriginal organisations. 1 look to the day when Aborigines will take their places in the political parties, in general organisations of the community, and will seek and attain political office. The Aborigines’ own somewhat rudimentary political institutions, such as Aboriginal Councils, serve an important purpose. They are. however, only a stage in the fuller political development of the Aboriginal people. The ultimate political gaol depends upon the wishes of the Aborigines themselves. It is to be hoped that whatever the precise form of the ultimate involvement of the Aborigines in the political community, it will involve a full integration based upon the preservation of the Aborigines distinctive cultural and racial traditions and upon a recognition by the whole community of the contribution which this distinctive tradition has to make to the development of the community as a whole.
In shaping a new Aboriginal policy for the future, we must have full regard for the certainty that an increasing number of Aborigines, particularly young Aborigines, will seek employment in the cities and country towns. The problem of employment is difficult. Many of these Aborigines will lack the education and skills and even the habits of work necessary to obtain and hold regular employment. Future policies must embrace training programmes and programmes for the discovery of avenues of employment. I am convinced that the community generally and the aborigines in particular will be served best if these programmes are treated as part of ordinary, welfare activities of the community rather than as special Aboriginal services smacking of patronage. Obviously of course the welfare agencies should be equipped to deal with the special problems of Aboriginal people needing welfare assistance.
The movement of Aboriginal people into the cities and towns also necessitates the development of an adequate housing policy. Realism requires recognition of a number of problems. Many of the Aboriginal people who come to urban areas are unaccustomed to life in houses of the type prevailing in those areas. Moreover their traditions are such that they are very ready to accommodate relatives and friends with consequent overcrowding. The problems of house maintenance and relations with the neighbours thereby created are obvious. The reluctance of many Aboriginal people to continue to live in a house where a death has occurred also creates problems.
Future policy therefore must emphasise education and the provision of counselling and welfare services forming part of the general welfare ser vices of the community, but specially, equipped to assist in solving the personal and social problems of the Aboriginal people.
I want now to draw the attention of the Senate and, in particular, that of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry to the critical situation that egg producing poultry farmers find themselves in today. I say from the outset that my concern is for the family farmer who over the years has worked to build up a unit which will return to himself and his family a respectable living and an adequate return for his labour and enterprise. I carry no brief for the giant monopolies which at the present time are gaining a stranglehold on the industry at the expense of the family farmer. Having been a poultry farmer myself until quite recently I can rightly claim to have a first hand knowledge of the problems affecting the industry. My limited time in this debate will not permit me to go into the fine details of the matter. However, broadly speaking, the major cause of the present crisis is over-production with the return for exports, both in shell and in pulp being far below cost of production. The blame for the latter cannot be attributed to anyone here in Australia. However the blame for over-production certainly can, and this is the point I want to deal with here. The increase in recorded commercial egg production which was in evidence during 1969-70 continued throughout 1970-71. The year concluded with a record production of 202.2 million dozen, or 19.4 million dozen above the figure of 182.8 million dozen recorded in 1969-70 - an increase of 10.67 per cent. These included eggs received at State board grading floors and eggs sold by producers acting under State board authority. The increased production figures have been brought about by farmers desperately trying to offset their rapidly decreasing net incomes by increasing their production, the end result being, of course, a further aggravation of the initial problem and the marketing authorities being faced with an ever increasing burden of finding a market for eggs which are being over produced in nearly every country in the world. in 1970-71 production in excess of local demand became so great that producer prices had to be cut drastically. According lo figures supplied by the State Egg Marketing Boards the average net price which Australian producers obtained for their eggs in 1970-71 was 28.5c per dozen - a decrease of 5.7c compared with the 1969- 70 return of 34.2c. For years past poultry farmers through their organisations have acquainted ail State Ministers of Agriculture with this problem and have pleaded with them to come to agreement at Australian Agricultural Council meetings, which are under the chairmanship of the Federal Minister for Primary Industry, on a plan for controlled production of eggs. In a written reply to a question of mine on this mailer on 25th August, Senator Drake-Brockman - I thank him for his promptness - had this to say:
The question of controls on egg production has been considered on a number of occasions by the Agricultural Council. At its last meeting the Council considered model legislation for production controls which was broadly on the lines of the provisions of the Western Australian legislation
At the meeting the Ministers from New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia supported plans to control egg production and advice has since been received from Mr Row, the Queenland Minister for Primary Industries, that the Queensland Cabinet had approved in principle the introduction in Queensland of a scheme of egg production controls subject to like action in other States. Thi’ Minister for Primary Industry has been advised that the Tasmanian Cabinet will consider the position of their State if mainland States agree to introduce controls.
To be effective any scheme of production control would need lo be implemented at least by all the mainland States. The Minister for Primary Industry has therefore written to the Victorian Minister for Agriculture seeking advice on his Government’s attitude to the proposed legislation.
The Commonwealth Government is concerned with the problem of over-production in the egg industry and would Support any constitutional scheme acceptable to the majority of producers aimed at controlling production. However, constitutional limitations preclude the Commonwealth from unilaterally implementing such a scheme as control over production is one of the sovereign rights of the States.
Yours sincerely. Senator Drake-Brockman. lt can be clearly seen that it is the Victorian Minister of Agriculture alone who is preventing this plan of controlled production being put to the poultry farmers by way of a referendum. What sort of society are we living in when the pigheadedness of one man can put a nationwide industry in jeopardy? On behalf of the poultry industry I call upon the Minister for Primary
Industry (Mr Sinclair) to convene an emergency meeting of the Agricultural Council for the express purpose of reaching agreement on this issue. Australian poultry farmers, to their credit, are not asking for cash hand-outs from the Government to solve their problems. The plan they are supporting will not cost the Commonwealth Government one cent. How different the situation was when the wheat grower was in trouble. Overnight we saw the introduction of a quota system. We now see the spectacle of rich wool growers being compensated to the tune of millions of dollars with no solution to that problem in sight. These lavish hand-outs were also the result of a snap decision by the Government. What is so different about our poultry farmers that the Government . will nol listen to their urgent pleas for immediate action to eliminate their problem? Commercial egg producers all ever Australia are fed up with the buck passing that has been going on for years between the States and the Commonwealth on this very question. They are looking to the Federal Minister for Primary Industry to take a stand now before it is too late, and 1 join with them in adding my plea for urgent action.
Another matter is of great concern to all South Australians in particular is the impost of the wine excise applied by this Government in the Budget of 1970. Thousands of words have been spoken by Government supporters here and their counterparts in another place complaining about this impost and the disastrous effect it is having on the industry. I ask all of these people: What has happened to the much boasted latitude they are allowed in their Party? At every election we are told of the freedom of Liberal Country League candidates to vote according to their conscience on any issue. This very issue of wine excise has proved how false these claims are. Government members from South Australia have it in their hands to bring about the abolition of this tax but they lack the courage to take the necessary steps. The only reason they are making so much noise is no doubt because of the threat of the South Australian wine grape growers and the wineries to withdraw financial support from the LCL. 1 want now to quote an article from the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ of 26th August 1970 which is headed “Wine Tax Threat’:
Southern district winemaking companies have threatened to withdraw their support for the Liberal and Country Parties over the Budget tax on wine.
A telegram signed by 15 of the companies at a meeting at McLaren Vale yesterday was sent to the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) -
He was then Minister for Health - condemning the 50c tax on every gallon.
Dr Forbes is the Federal member for Barker, the electorate in which the companies operate.
The telegram warned: ‘Expect much withdrawal of financial support for LCL from members of this industry. We request and expect your full support as our Member in the House of Representatives on this vital issue’.
It bore the names of wine companies at McLaren Vale, Reynella, McLaren Flat, O’Halloran Hill and Langhorne Creek.
The Labor Party is vitally concerned at the effect this tax is having on an industry in South Australia and the following motion was carried at a meeting of the Federal Executive in Adelaide on 13th April last:
Recognising the great importance and potential of the Australian wine industry, the Federal Executive deplores the crippling effect of the Federal Government’s unprecedented action in imposing a heavy tax on Australian, wine. It congratulates Mr Al Grassby M.P. on his campaign to restore the wine industry to its pre-tax position and supports him in his call for the repeal of this unjust imposition upon the producers and customers of wine.
I notice that the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) has a motion on the notice paper of the other place, notice of which was given on 17th August last, which reads:
Mr Giles; To move : That Parliament abolish wine excise because (a) the grape grower section of the industry is bearing, and is likely to bear, the main burden of the tax, (b) it has caused damage through being the most important factor in a strong downturn in sales and (c) it is largely self-defeating. (Notice given 17th August 1971).
So far he has made no move to have the matter debated and I sincerely hope that this motion is not a political gimmick. As I stated a few moments ago, Government members from South Australia have it in their hands to take the positive action required to abolish this obnoxious tax. If they have the courage to initiate the move they will have the support of the Labor Party. I can assure them of that. Actions will speak louder than words. Action is what the grape growers and wineries want from Government supporters. They want action; there have been too many words spoken. In every paper I have picked up there has been criticism of this wine tax. I have here pages of extracts from newspapers criticising it. All we get from Government supporters is that they are going to take a look at it to see what effect it is having on the industry. I think conclusive proof has been brought forward to show that it has had a disastrous effect. South Australian Government members in both Houses of Parliament can have this excise repealed immediately if they have the courage. Mr President, I support the amendment to the motion to take note of the Budget papers moved by my leader, Senator Murphy.
– I advise you formally, Mr President, that for the present my remarks will not be directed to the original question before the Senate. Instead I propose to refer only to the amendment moved by Senator Murphy and to foreshadow the further amendment already referred to by my leader, Senator Gair. If necessary, I will speak to the original issue at that stage. At the outset let me say that all matters of this kind which come before the Parliament always engender a lot of discussion. It was refreshing to have so many new members of the Senate make their maiden speeches in the Budget debate. I feel confident of the future of this House having regard to the standards that have been set by those who have delivered their first speeches on this occasion.
I shall endeavour to be as constructive as I can. No issue could ever be submitted to this House in regard to the nation’s immediate future, and the handling of the immediate problems, in relation to which one could be completely right and someone else could be completely wrong. Invariably there must be a tremendous margin in any attempt to deal with problems of the magnitude that a nation always faces when what is thought to be the obvious solution will not be completely right nor need it necessarily be completely wrong and a failure. The first question covered by the amendment, and incidentally by the Budget itself, is the general economic well being of the nation. We all know that probably the greatest challenge at the present time is the inflationary period through which we are passing and which is only a quickening of what has been happening to us since the end of the last war. This process has been common in man’s economic history. It has occurred at the conclusion of all wars going back to the primitive days and even before economies were based on a metallist theory of money. It always became necessary to debase in some way the currency or to inflate the economy as a means of paying for the tremendous wastage of war, and as a means of increasing the capacity of the nation to produce to meet the banked up demands that accrued in the period when mau was destroying rather than producing goods for consumption.
The last confrontation that the world faced was no exception but it occurred in circumstances of an almost entirely new and of a less primitive economic character. We have not reached the millennium in economics. We have progressed, I believe, a little way and each of us in our time can contribute a little to the solution of this very pressing problem of man. In the old days the balancing of a nation’s economy at the conclusion of a war usually meant the addition of less valuable content to the metal money of the day. If it was gold they added silver. If it was silver they added zinc. By that means they were able to create more money.
The colossal expenditures of modern warfare are such that at the conclusion of the 1914-18 war those methods no longer held and the whole metallist theory of money was gradually swept away. Many resisted for some time and argued that the solution of man’s economic problems lay in getting back to the purist theory of pure gold, pure silver or pure something of value in the currency of the nation. All of that has gone. I have referred to it only because I believe that it is necessary for us to retain our perspective if we are to understand the pressing problems of today and realise that they are not new problems. Instead, they are old problems being dealt with in a new way. We have progressed into a more scientific age of money and credit although we have not learned yet to control it properly. The Government has some theories, I have some theories and economists have many and varied theories.
In this inexact science there probably is no area of such great controversy as that which exists between economists themselves on how to deal with this question.
Having reminded honourable senators of some of the history of this matter I should like now to recall to their minds how recent it is in the history of man that we have even grappled with or come to understand the magnitude of the problem that faces us. At the conclusion of the 1914-18 war probably one of the most sensational periods of inflation occurred. It is well to remember that in our lifetime we saw one of the most sensational or one of the most tragic periods of inflation in history, lt occurred in Germany in the immediate post war period and did not terminate until 1923. Germany was nol the only country involved. All of the countries of Europe, to a greater or lesser degree, suffered tremendous difficulties as a result of inflation. England and America controlled it better than did most; France and Italy were gravely affected, but Germany was the classic example of how man so completely misunderstood the problem that in the end he adopted more or less childish circumstances in an attempt to deal with it. I shall read from a book titled ‘Economic History of Europe’. I quote the book, not as an authority but rather as an historical record of what happened at the time, lt is a factual statement of the situation. The author has this to say:
This gap between receipts and expenditure was rilled by getting notes from the Reichsbank. At first the additions to the note issue were moderate; but as prices rose, as the purchasing power of the mark sank both at home and abroad, and as revenue became increasingly inadequate, the outpouring of paper swelled into a flood. In the last months before the collapse more than 300 paper mills worked at top speed to deliver notepaper to the Reichsbank, and ISO printing companies had 2,000 note presses running day and night to print the Reichsbank notes. In addition to lending lavishly to the state the Bank lent money at low interest rates to industrialists. They used these funds to extend their plants or to buy any others that could be procured. Then when the debt bad to be repaid, the value of the mark had fallen so low that the paper handed by the debtor to the Bank was almost worthless.
That statement is followed by a very interesting paper which shows how the value of the mark had been inflated. The value of the mark in 1913 is represented by the figure 1.
– Could not the Bank of England have helped the Social Democrats in Germany in the 1920s? If it had this would not have happened.
– I think that the Bank of England was in tremendous difficulty trying to stabilise the English £1, and was still fiddling with the idea of tying it to a pure gold standard and getting the sovereign back to the same value of undiluted gold as it was before the war. Probably America and England could have helped to avoid the situation which arose in Germany if they had not had the same pressing problems as we have today. We would bc in difficulties, I think, if we were to try to save a nation from collapsing as a result of inflation when the pressure is on us to try to preserve the purchasing power of our own economy.
According to the book, by January 1920 some 12.6 marks were required to buy goods which in 1913 could be bought for 1 mark. By 1921 this had arisen to 14.4 marks. By January 1922 it took 36.7 marks to purchase what 1 mark would purchase in 1913. There was a remarkable jump in January 1923 when 2,785 marks were required to buy what 1 mark bought in 1913. Six months later - in July 1923 - some 74,787 marks were required to purchase the same amount of goods. By November it had gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. It took 750 billion marks to buy what had previously been a product costing 1 mark. That was inflation gone mad. I quote that mainly to show that as far back as 1923 mankind, in endeavouring to deal with this problem, could not find a simple solution. There is no simple solution unless one adopts the same approach that Germany adopted, the resultant tragedy of which we all know.
That is not the end of the story. Germany in 1923 was in a terrible state because of its complete collapse, as everyone could imagine. By 1929 it had one of the strongest economies in Europe again. Why was the recovery so complete? What attracted the necessary basic finance to rebuild its economy? One of the very simple measures that Germany adopted was to have a rate of interest 2 per cent higher than that which operated in any of the neighbouring countries. Germany had a very high internal rate of interest so it attracted capital into Germany from 1923 to 1929 and by 1929 it had succeeded in attracting capital to such extent that it was in a better position than England and America were. It was in that position because it had an interest rate 2 per cent higher than that of neighbouring countries. That attracted overseas capital. That is the point I make. This reasoning still applies. Australia today has an interest rale 2 per cent higher than that of the major economies of the world.
The Government is puzzled as to why there is an inflationary tendency in the Australian economy. The Government says that this high rate of interest will control the inflationary tendency. Its control of the interest rate, I am sorry to say, will not help to maintain in the economy a level that will prevent inflation. Yet in Germany it attracted overseas capital. In Australia today it is attracting overseas capital. That throws out of balance the ratio between supply and demand. The influx of overseas capital seeking the high rate of interest is something over which the Government is exercising no worthwhile control at the moment. When I suggest this to the Government and its economic advisers, they say: ‘You are ill advised. You do not know what you are talking about. You believe in driving the rate of interest right back’. I have never suggested that. I do not want to suggest that argument.
As a result of something 1 said in a previous debate, the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) was kind enough to put to the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) my ideas on this unequalled rate of interest that Australia is maintaining today. I have received a reply that his attention was drawn to my comments. He commented on what I had said. He stated:
In the first place Senator Little faits to recognise that interest rates are the price that has to be paid for borrowed funds . . .
I cannot understand why the Treasurer should be so misguided as to attribute that statement to me. Of course I know that nobody recognises that. He continued:
That statement is not true. I would take issue with him and argue the matter because that is no longer the position in our economy, lt used to be. Yet the Government responsible for our economy is labouring under the delusion that this still pertains. The interest rate is not fixed basically by the demand for and supply of funds. It is fixed by the Government issuing instructions to the Reserve Bank as to what the interest rate should be. I would like the Leader of the Government to inform me whether 1 am mistaken on this subject. On 3 occasions since I have been a member of the Senate I have listened to him explaining why the Government was allowing the interest rate to rise. It has no relationship to the supply of and demand for funds. The Government says that that is not so because it says that it is increasing the interest rates to allow it to control inflation. The Treasurer, in his reply to my comments, stated:
A feature of the Australian economy over recent years has been the steadily increasing competition for available funds from both public and private borrowers.
I think that all of us must interpret tha: statement to mean that plenty of people want to borrow money. The Treasurer continued:
At the same time, over the past year and a half the Government has limited the supply of funds as part of its programme to contain inflationary pressures.
The Treasurer admitted that the Government is running the economy and that it has done this to contain inflationary pressures. He continued:
In these circumstances, it was inevitable that interest rates would rise.
Then he returned to the previous philosophy that the interest rates are doing this of their own accord. Is that so? In this set of circumstances will any economic flow inevitably raise interest rates? Will the increase in interest rates necessarily discourage the borrower or will it encourage the lender? In a time of inflation it could very well be a good idea to buy property. Bricks and mortar will not lose their value, as money does. If one lends money and gets it back at some future date, in a period of inflation, it might not be worth nearly as much as it was when one lent it. The pressure should be not to have money flowing into a normal interest rate market for lending purposes but into the creation of capital goods. But it does not do that because the Government has inflated the rate of interest far beyond the norm. The Government has inflated the rate of interest to nearly 8 per cent. It is still encouraging lenders to lend in a period of inflation. As the Government said, the borrowers are there thirsting for the funds.
Is it not a valid economic argument to suggest that the increased interest rates will promote the velocity of the circulation of money and credit because there is more profit in it for the lenders and that the borrowers are always there? I am prepared to argue that. 1 should like to hear a valid argument from the Government, but I cannot prompt such an argument. All I get are statements from the Government that mean nothing and that in themselves are contradictory. Those statements suggest that the present rates of interest arc such that the money is flowing freely because of the supply and demand in the market. I have referred to the historical background of Germany’s inflation and how the 2 per cent higher rate of interest from 1923 to 1929 attracted overseas capital. Do honourable senators know what that higher rate of interest was? lt was the extortionate rate of 5 per cent. The rates in neighbouring countries were 2i per cent to 3 per cent. The higher rate of interest attracted a flow of capital to Germany.
In the world money market today I think Britain’s rate has dropped to below 6 per cent and America’s rate is 5 per cent. We are maintaining a rate close to 8 per cent. The Government suggests that this is sound economic policy, that it maintains a natural flow and that it is not interfered with at all by the Government, but the Government gives instructions to the Commonwealth Banking Corporation to increase interest rates to curtail the circulation of money and credit. The Government says that the borrower will not borrow if he has to pay a high rate of interest. I wonder whether that is a valid argument. Could we examine that? Is the 8 per cent bank rate the only rate of interest being charged? A young man came to me for advice recently. He knew of my interest in this subject. He once worked for me as a paper boy. He is now a very good tradesman. He wants to buy a home and to put his brother and sister-in-law in it. He is not interested in marriage at the moment. He cannot get a normal housing loan, although he is an excellent citizen and a very good risk. The only money that he can borrow is at 13 per cent.
– Through one of the hire purchase finance companies?
– No, from the trust funds of a lawyer. He is only holding them on behalf of his clients. It is not the lawyer’s money. People in the community suggest that, with the Government and bank rates at their present levels, they can obtain these rates of interest - and they can do that. This young man was tempted to borrow money at a rate of interest of 13 per cent. I said to him: ‘If you do, you will pay for the house every 7 years and still owe the principal. Even at the risk of your brother having to suffer some hardship in his housing circumstances which you could alleviate if you built the house, my strong advice to you is not to embark upon a venture in which you have to pay such rates of interest’.
In this Parliament and throughout the Australian community as recently as 6 years ago such interest rates were described as rates of usury. Hire purchase companies were charging those interest rates on collateral security that disappeared almost overnight - refrigerators and washing machines which, when second hand, were virtually valueless. Those companies demanded such rates of interest. It was suggested then that that was usury. It was then, and it still is. Now, because of Government policy, it is a fact that in our community these rates of interest are paid on gilt-edged securities such as a newly built home. The Government suggests that that does not increase costs and help to promote inflation. I have discussed the inflationary situation as much as I can from a very simplified angle. I believe that too many people try to make economics a more inexact science than it is by using verbiage which is unnecessarily complicated and which clouds the issues rather than simplifies them.
The Australian Democratic Labor Party maintains that the high interest rates currently charged in this country are a tragedy for Australia, a contributing factor to inflation and an assistance in the destruction of the primary industries. We believe that until the Government can reverse its economic thinking on interest rates, it will contribute to the problem rather than alleviate it. In case the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) should hear of some of my remarks, let me say that I am not suggesting that the rates of interest could be driven back overnight from their present levels to the levels that apply in other countries. Of course, those of us who have interested ourselves in the subject at all understand that movements in these areas must be slow and that the economy must be given time to adapt itself to the circumstances of a change in interest rates. Even if the Government embarked immediately upon a programme of retrieving the situation which it has helped to create, it would take a considerable time to get our interest rates back to normal.
In being constructive in this debate, I want to take up several points that were made toy Senator Wriedt in his contribution, because I believe that they could be misleading and could give the people a distorted impression of some of the things that we need to do in trying to solve some of our problems. He referred to the crisis in education. Unfortunately, some school teachers who are campaigning for more money for education have been misled tremendously on this matter and are putting up propositions similar to those advanced by Senator Wriedt. He said that we have a crisis in education, and we all agree with that. He went on to say:
Only just recently we were told by an authoritative body that an additional $ 1,400m will need to be found over the next 3 years for the education system in Australia.
My only comment on that is that I hope that none of that money will be used to pay teachers holiday pay for a period immediately following one in which they have been on strike or to pay them twosevenths of their wages when they are on strike. I do not believe that if we do that we are getting value for money in education. I would like to see the money spent not on that type of luxury or indulgence of the teachers but on the education of children. I think Senator Wriedt would be fair enough to agree that that is pretty sound. He also said:
By contrast, we spend the enormous amount of $2,500m every year on buying and running our motor cars. In fact, that is not the total bill; that is what it costs us to buy them and to put petrol and oil into’ them.
One could add the cost of roads, bridges and many other things to that bill. A lot of tax is involved in that money, as we all know. Senator Wriedt went on to say:
The son of question we have to consider is whether our cars are more important than our children.
That is a tremendous oversimplification which adds nothing to the argument. If we look around the world today we see countries that are not manufacturing and consuming large numbers of motor cars, refrigerators, washing machines and all the other goods that one could foolishly say are not necessities for mankind. Those countries may say: ‘Let us go without those goods and give a better education to our children’. Let. us look at the nations that do not have the productivity and consumption of those sorts of goods that we have. Are they in an economic position to educate their children to even the insufficient standards that we are managing to achieve? Let us look at India and other underdeveloped nations.
We cannot solve the problems of today by turning the economic clock backwards and going back to a primitive state of society in which we say that the production of many of these goods should be curtailed so that we can spend more money on this, that or the other. The economic fact is that out: of the capacity to produce and consume these goods comes that which we can syphon off to use in the interests of infant welfare, a better deal for handicapped children, a better deal for education in general and so on. lt is an oversimplification of our problem to try to criticise the Government and to suggest that some of us want motor cars and not education for our children, as Senator Wriedt so unkindly suggested in reply to an interjection by me. I was being disorderly in interjecting; so he had the right to do that. But this is not a solution to the problem at all. Those of us who believe that we should produce motor cars and everything that we can produce do not necessarily believe that we should not also educate our children to the fullest possible extent. We realise that by manufacturing and consuming all the goods that the ingenuity of man enables us to manufacture and consume we are adding to the total economic strength of our country and our capacity to improve our standards of education by spending the’ money we can afford to spend upon our children.
At the present time it would be wrong to close a speech in a debate such as this without making some reference to the problems of the primary industries of this country. My remarks will have to be very brief as time will not permit me to go into the matter in depth. I have one considerable worry on my mind. It is a matter on which I believe we all support our primary industries, lt emanates from the challenge of the European Common Market, lt is the situation of the wool industry in this country today. Perhaps the European Common Market situation has brought to a head a problem that would have developed anyway for technical and scientific reasons. We supported the establishment of the Australian Wool Commission in an endeavour to maintain prices, ff that now is not going to work as well as we hoped it would, I think we all have to accept some responsibility because we hoped that it would offer a solution.
I have become worried because the Commission now has hanging over the market a colossal reserve supply in circumstances in which I cannot see the market ever returning to a normal price level. The buyer will always know that this reserve supply is waiting there ready to supply the market at any time. There will never be such a shortage of supply that he must compete against other buyers who are desirous of buying the product.
– It cannot be held back indefinitely.
– It cannot be held back indefinitely. So, the pressure to obtain the product is now being taken off the buyer and transferred slowly to the Commission. To a limited degree, the Commission may have met a temporary situation and offered something to the wool industry. But I believe that the position is rapidly reaching the stage where a reappraisal of this idea has to be made. I suggest to the Government in all sincerity that it is now a question of how long we can allow a situation to obtain in which we are continually adding to the reserve and tomorrow’s clip is being threatened by today’s clip that is still in this country and still has to be sold by the Government. I think any man who has conducted any sort of business would recognise the grave dangers in that course.
I draw the attention of the Government to a question I asked about synthetic fibres that are challengingthe wool industry. Today I have had no answer as to why acrylic fibres are brought from the United States of America and admitted to Australia duty free whereas the United States charges a duty of 25 per cent on our natural product of wool.I think the Government should take positive steps to equalise the situation, or at least to ensure that if synthetic fibres are to enter this country they should not do so completely free of duty when exported by the country that is charging such a vicious rate of duty on the natural fibre produced here.
The time allotted to me is drawing to an end. If necessary, I will outline once again the proposed amendment foreshadowed by the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair) and which I propose to move later. I have addressed myself to the amendment proposed by Senator Murphy. Mr Acting Deputy President, is it necessary for me now to read our proposed amendment? Ft has already been read by Senator Gair.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - You may read it if you so desire.
– The amendment that I will later move states:
At end of motion add - but the Senate expresses grave concern -
– The Senate is debating the motion that the Senate take note of the Budget papers. To that motion Senator Murphy has moved the customary Australian Labor Party amendment of criticism. I join with other honourable senators in welcoming the new senators who have made their maiden speeches in this debate. I particularly compliment them on the assurance with which, without exception, they have delivered their speeches. 1 do not propose to traverse the area which has been covered by the many speakers who have preceded me in this debate. There has been a great deal of assertion and counter-assertion about whether the steps taken by the Government should have been taken or are likely to achieve the results claimed for them. 1 simply say that it is transparently obvious to the Australian people that in this country there is an inflationary situation. We have had a tremendous increase in recent times in wages, as is reflected in the statistics of average weekly earnings. Wages represent a substantial element in the costs which are basic to the price structure for many of the goods and services which we receive. The situation which presents itself has great potential inflationary proportions in respect of which the Government is obliged to take action.
It ought not to be thought that the action taken by the Government is the action of only the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) or the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), notwithstanding that people might suppose that in view of the Prime Minister’s vast experience and competence in this field he could well take these decisions. The decisions which have been taken have been taken by the Government with the full resources of a competent Public Service behind it and with the advice which that
Service is able to provide as the basis for those decisions. I wish particularly to concentrate on one feature of the Budget to which no attention has been paid by any speaker who has preceded me in this debate.
I speak on the item which constitutes over one-third of the expenditure for which the Government has provided. I refer to allocations in the Budget for the States. The Budget has a total expenditure of just under $9,000m, of which just under $3,000m is allocated to the States for the performance by them of their constitutional functions. I think a significant feature of the Budget is the improvement in the position of the States in what has been one of the besetting problems of the Federation for many years, namely, Commonwealth and State financial arrangements.
Over the past 18 months positive and practical measures have transformed the position and the potential of the State governments. I wish to refer briefly to the background in which those decisions have been taken. At the heart of the financial problems of the Australian Commonwealth lies the language of the Constitution and the developments and interpretations which have accrued over 70 years of our development. The founders of the Constitution obviously assumed that the States would have available to them adequate revenues for the discharge of their governmental functions. The terms of the Constitution were obviously framed to ensure that the emerging Commonwealth would be secure in the revenues available to it.
However, by a variety of steps the Commonwealth has achieved a superior financial position and in the period since 1942 the States have had as against the Commonwealth a deteriorating oposition in respect of their ability to raise the finances necessary for the functions which they desire to perform. I suppose it started in the first decade of the century when the High Court decided that a provision in the Constitution that the surplus revenue of the Commonwealth would be paid to the States did not prevent the Commonwealth from avoiding surplus revenue by simply passing into a trust account moneys which were not expended in a particular year.
In 1929 the financial agreement reached by the Commonwealth and the States and approved by referendum of the Australian people limited the ability of the States to raise money in one of the 2 major ways in which State governments and all governments have raised money in times past, namely, by loans and borrowings. The third stage occurred in 1942 when, as an expressed temporary measure, the Government of the day in wartime exigency decided to impose a uniform tax system throughout Australia. In 1946, of course, a Labor Government unilaterally determined that what it had said was to be a temporary measure would be a permanent feature of the Australian economy. It has been a permanent feature ever since. There have been regular 5-yearly agreements under which the Commonwealth has determined what shall be the level of what were initially the tax reimbursement grants, and since 1959 have been financial assistance grants, under which the Commonwealth has paid to the States sums of money which they can dispense as they please.
In recent years - over the last 14 or 15 years in particular - there has been the growing development by the Commonwealth of economic grants to the States for specific purposes, whether by money for current expenditure towards a designated objective or whether by a capital sum for particular public works. The net result has been that increasingly the States have depended upon the Commonwealth for moneys which they require. Notwithstanding the concern of the States at this developing situation the High Court, on the occasion on which resort has been made to it, has clearly indicated the constitutional validity of the Commonwealth’s superior position.
It was throughout the 1960s that the increasing obligations of the States became apparent as the electorates in the States felt that there were activities in respect of which the States should take action. It also became apparent that the States did not have at their disposal revenues to enable them to give effect to what were obvious electorate objectives. As the Commonwealth Government was the only source to which the States could look for an expanding revenue unless they were to increase existing taxes or impose new taxes, so certain stresses appeared in the Australian federation. As the States and the Commonwealth concerned themselves with a proper application of the resources of the nation the stresses of the 1960s found expression in a variety of ways. I think one way in which they found expression was the need for each of the major political parties in Australia to expose the philosophy which they espoused and to show whether the policy was constant with the practice it was following. I think it is fair to say that this was an issue which confronted the party of which I am a member - and which has been in government in the Commonwealth sphere for 22 years - and which required it to face up to the problems which the Federal-State financial relations created. I think that that issue was faced and, as a result of the events of the last 2 to 3 years within the Liberal Party, the essence of this financial problem has been resolved.
The way in which this problem has been resolved is to be seen in the steps which have been taken over the past 18 months and which are reflected in the amounts which are now available to the States out of this commonwealth Budget. I have extracted some figures which indicate broadly how the revenues which the Commonwealth has made available to the States have increased in recent years. The Commonwealth provides sums of money to the States in 3 ways. Firstly there are general revenue grants which go to the States to enable them to utilise those moneys as they determine. Secondly there are specific grants which are spent by the State governments broadly in accordance with the designated objectives laid down by the Commonwealth. Thirdly, a variety of moneys are able to be borrowed by the States from the Commonwealth. In times past the States were obliged to pay interest on these sums and, to a lesser degree, they are still obliged to pay interest. if one looks at the first type of those grants one notices that in 1959-60 the total sum paid by the Commonwealth to the States by way of general revenue grants was $506m. By 1969-70 that amount had more than doubled to $1,1 89m. In the succeeding 2 years there were tremendous increases in the amount of these general revenue grants. In the year 1970-71 the amount increased from $1,1 89m to $t, 480m. Although this year the amount of general revenue grant is $13m less - namely $ 1,467m - there is to be added to that the amount which the States are now able to raise by way of payroll tax, the field of which the Commonwealth has entirely vacated in favour of the States. If one were able to indicate the total sums which the States are now able to raise by way of payroll tax one could show that the comparable amount of the general revenue grant has increased from $ 1,480m in 1970- 71 to $l,726m, which is the estimated amount for this year. Since the 1969 Budget there has been an effective increase of $537m in general revenue grants, an amount of increase equal to the increase over the 6-year period from 1963 to 1969. When those general revenue grants are added to the special assistance grants which this year total some $628 m there is a sum of $2,095 m. When that amount is added to all the allocations to the States from the Commonwealth which are referred to in the Budget the total amount payable is $2,93 lm. As I said earlier, this amount represents one-third of the total Commonwealth expenditure.
The Budget Speech indicates that when payroll tax is added to the amounts available to the States there is an increase in Commonwealth allocations and new revenue to the States over the past year of $437m. That figure represents a 15 per cent increase over the comparable figure for last year. This increase is to be set alongside the fact that Commonwealth revenues - after allowance is made for the fact that payroll tax has been yielded to the States - represents an increase of 9 per cent over the past year’s expenditure. The whole tenor of the Commonwealth Government’s approach with regard to expenditure has been to increase the rate of State expenditure while cutting back its own rate of expenditure. While this has been undertaken by the Commonwealth Government as part of. its own contribution to meeting the inflationary situation it has recognised to a remarkable degree the needs of the States. It has taken positive steps to assist them.
I said earlier that these are real, obvious and positive contributions to the financial arrangements which have been made between the Commonwealth and the States. I have stressed these things not only because they represent the most significant item in Commonwealth expenditure but. also because they have a particular relevance to what has been said by Senator Murphy, not in his speech but in the amendment which he moved. There is a certain perfunctory character about the Australian Labor Party’s approach to a Budget because every time the Budget Papers are noted an amendment is moved by the Labor Party which says very little. This year is no exception. Item (b) of the 3-paragraph amendment moved by Senator Murphy condemns the Budget because: it contains no proposals to balance the finances and functions of the Commonwealth, the States and local government; 1 think it is contrary to obvious fact to assert that the Budget contains no such proposals when, in fact, one-third of it is allocated to the State governments and when one recognises that the increase in the amount of money allocated to the States is 15 per cent above the amount provided last year. I suggest that the Labor Party’s amendment is unreal because it chooses to ignore what has been done over the past 2 years. I propose to elaborate in duc course some of those matters. As a considered criticism - if that is what Senator Murphy intended - that paragraph in his amendment is defective. As a criticism it is deceptive because it it presupposes that the Party of which he is a member has some such proposal. Notwithstanding Senator Murphy’s assertion that the Australian Labor Party had some such proposal, there is no clear indication of what it proposes to do. Approximately 2 months ago the Labor Party had a conference in Launceston. It passed a resolution in the language which I have just read from Senator Murphy’s amendment - that the policy of the Australian Labor Party is to have proposals which will balance the finances and functions of the Commonwealth, the States and local government. But it did not enable the Australian people to know what is involved in any Labour Party proposal to balance those functions. If one looks at other parts of the Labor Party’s policy, we notice that it would abolish the Senate, notwithstanding the tremendous strides and advances which the Senate has made in a variety of ways in recent times. And notwithstanding that the Labor Party gave over 2 years to the consideration of what its policy should be with regard to the Senate and whether it should amend its traditional policy, the Party affirmed at the Launceston conference that it would abolish the Senate. It makes somewhat hollow the protestations of its members that they really want to make the Senate and the Senate committees work.
The second aspect of the Labor Party’s policy which one extracts from other clauses from its platform is that it would clothe the Commonwealth Parliament with plenary powers to achieve national planning objectives and the Party’s economic and social objectives. When one considers the things which have been said by spokesmen of the Labor Party, including the Leader of the Australian Labor Party (Mr Whitlam), one knows that the objectives and the planning which the Labor Party ascribes to the Commonwealth Government are to reach into virtually every field of State activity. One senses, therefore, that the role which would be ascribed to the States is a role of agents or a role in which there is no effective power and in which the States are wholly subordinate to what the national Parliament decides.
There is in the Labor Party’s platform and in what Senator Murphy has said a general and unexplained proposal for a balance of functions and finances. I set against that the recent events to which I have referred as part of the present Government’s contribution to resolve the CommonwealthState financial problems. Honourable senators will remember that in 1970 there were 2 Premiers Conferences, one which was held in February and another which was held in June. As a result of those conferences, it was indicated quite clearly that although there was to be no entry by the States into the field of income taxation, the States did require some financial readjustment which would enable them better to perform their governmental functions. A number of significant steps were taken.
The first step was that the percentage element in the way in which the base grant of the States is calculated every 5 years was increased from 1.2 per cent to 1.8 per cent. When one considers that that is a percentage factor which is taken on the sum total of the previous year’s amount which was paid by the Commonwealth to the States, added to by a percentage amount which takes account of the increase in population and then added to by a percentage amount which takes into account the increase in average wages, one realises that a percentage increase of that character is of significant proportions. There was also added in 1970 to the base grants of the States financial assistance grants, a sum of $40m. Thirdly, there was provided interest free capital grants instead of loans which would relieve the States in the 5-year period from 1970 to 1975 of debt charges amounting to $l50m, thus freeing State funds for other purposes. Fourthly, there were new grants made to the States to assist them to reduce their growing indebtedness, covering an amount of $ 1, 000m. That, likewise, saves the States debt charges over the 5-year period of a further $173m. In addition to those amounts, there were provisions of financial assistance for each of the States according to the particular economic circumstances in which they found themselves.
These factors do represent a positive contribution, albeit a contribution which has involved an increasing Commonwealth expenditure which must be met out of the resources that are available to the Commonwealth each year. When one considers that as a result of the receipts duty invalidation by the High Court approximately 18 months ago the Commonwealth Government has been forced to provide out of its own revenues an amount to meet what the States have lost, one has some sense of the amounts which are involved. Likewise, the Commonwealth Government has yielded the right to exact a payroll tax. The total amount which has been given to the States is some S255m. Of course, the States, taking advantage of a tax which has a potential, have increased the rate of payroll tax by 1 per cent and thereby added a further S90m to their revenues.
– 1 am a bit sorry that 10 per cent rebate was given.
– I am not sure how Senator Gair views that, but I know he has spoken on many occasions about the problems which have confronted the States and I am sure be appreciates that there has been, as I said earlier, a very real amelioration of the position of the States. la addition to the position with regard to the State governments it should be recognised that at the time of the transfer of the payroll tax from the Commonwealth to the States, the Commonwealth took advantage of that occasion to ensure that local government authorities would not be compelled to pay payroll tax in respect of their non-business activities. That is a concession which has been recognised and found most acceptable by local government authorities which have been long pressing for this type of imposition to be removed. 1 have referred to these matters because, as I said, they represent one of the striking advances which have been made in a complex and difficult field in recent years. We have heard on many sides from all State governments, and from those who are interested in the future development of Australia, of the need for the Commonwealth Government to take the question of Commonwealth-State financial arrangements in hand and to undertake positive steps to improve the position. This is what the Commonwealth Government has done.
The cost to the Commonwealth Government is a cost which is measured in terms of the proportion of the Budget which it brings clown and which must be allocated to the States. I think it should be recognised that in this current Budget, because our contribution to the States represents such a significant proportion of the total Budget, the Commonwealth Government has made this allocation at the expense of other activities in which it could have expended money and in regard to which from time to time we have heard criticism from members of the Australian Labor Party. 1 think that the achievements of the Government are worthy of commendation. I think it is regrettable that in the generalised way in which Senator Murphy has moved his amendment he has chosen to give no credence whatever to the very substantial steps which have been taken, the moreso, may I say, when his own Party’s approach is an approach which is cloaked with uncertainty and general words and must be looked at in the light of an overall policy which would repose or concentrate all power in the Commonwealth Government.
The Liberal Party Government at present is a government which is committed to the federal system, and co-operation and consultation with the States in the belief that this is the only way in which full development and progress of this country can be sustained. I support the Budget.
– Together with honourable senators who have spoken before me in this debate I wish to congratulate the new senators on the way in which they have made their maiden speeches. I think we all agree that the standard of the speeches delivered by the new senators in the last few weeks has been of a very high calibre. They have done their homework and the high quality of their speeches presages well for future debates in this chamber. I congratulate the honourable senators who have made their maiden speeches during the course of this debate. I think there is one other who has reserved the right to make his maiden speech later, and I presume that be will do so very shortly. Also I am happy to say to Senator Little that for the first time in my sojourn here I find myself in complete agreement with the remarks he made during the first 23 minutes of his address. I thought his statement on the monetary and financial system and the way that inflation is brought about echoed a lot of my own thinking. I am not prepared to join him in his criticism of my colleagues on this side of the chamber, nor do 1 agree with his final remarks.
The main objective of the Budget that the Government has brought down - of course, it has to deal with all the normal objectives in running the country - was to meet the inflationary situation with which we are faced. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in the Budget Speech made repeated attacks on the increase in wages as being one of the prime causes of inflation. Obviously an increase in wages is a prime cause of costs rising but it does not necessarily mean that we are reaching an inflationary situation. When we look at the Budget to see what the Government is trying to do we find that this situation is not being adequately met. I find most encouraging the statement - it was not developed any further - which appears on pages 2 and 3 of the Budget Speech. The Treasurer stated:
This is the sort of thing that we ought to be looking at much more closely than we have during the course of this Budget debate. This is the criticism that we ought to be making. On first analysis it seems to me that when we look at the industries that are being established in the capital cities of this country we find a lot of capital expenditure being put into buildings and the development of major industries. Quite obviously this is putting money into the hands of the workers but it is not producing any extra goods for the workers to buy. My very elementary knowledge of economics has shown that an inflationary situation is created when there is greater purchasing power than there are goods to purchase.
It is very interesting to note this matter was taken up by the television programme This Day Tonight’ in Western Australia last Monday. The Australian Broadcasting Commission’s team went to some bother to produce a 20 minute programme. It was extremely interesting. On the programme Professor Bowen, who is the professor of economics at the University of Western Australia, was interviewed. One of the things that he said was that we are losing sight of the fact that the moves being made by the United States of America in financial circles are likely to have more far reaching effects on our economy than the Government realised when it was drawing up the Budget. This statement was made by a professor of economics. He said that in his opinion more emphasis should be placed on what is happening outside Australia than on what is happening inside Australia in order to correct the economy. I certainly feel that we have to look at what has happened inside Australia, but he made the point that more emphasis should be placed on what is happening outside.
The team that produced this segment on the programme ‘This Day Tonight’ conducted a survey in Western Australia by interviewing representatives of a number of business houses who were asked a few pertinent questions with regard to the situation as they found it in view of the Budget which has been brought down by the Government. The team interviewed people who had small businesses of 20 to 30 employees and people who had businesses with 200 to 300 employees. So answers were obtained from a pretty good cross-section of industry. One of the questions asked was:
In view of the Budget, do you have any plans for expansion?
Of those people interviewed, 75 per cent said ‘No’. The next question asked was:
Are you holding current levels of production?
In answer to this question, 20 per cent of those interviewed expected that the rate of production would drop; 10 per cent - that is half of those people included in this 20 per cent - went even further and said that they expected that they would have to cut back production. This is the sort of thing that industry is looking at. The next question asked was:
To whom do you attribute this recession that you are experiencing In your manufacturing industry?
Forty-five per cent said that they believed it was due to Government policy that was brought down in the Budget. This survey, which was conducted in Western Australia, was said to be on a voluntary basis. The figures I have given are not my own; they are the figures that were given on this programme. Twenty per cent of the people said that they felt that the recession was due to the crisis in the rural industry, that because the value of primary products had dropped so sharply the farmers did not have money to spend in the city, in manufacturing businesses and so on. Of the 20 per cent who said that they felt that this is where the trouble lay, 10 per cent felt that this was not the entire reason. They did not blame the Government; they said that the rural crisis had brought about this situation but they said thai a slow down in the mining field at this stage had also contributed to the situation. I thought that these figures were very interesting and something that we ought to have had a look at here.
I omitted to say that I did not intend to make a long address tonight because I think most matters have been presented already. However, there are 3 matters that I want to mention. I have dealt with one of them. 1 want to have a look at the Defence vole in the Budget. If we look at the anticipated expenditure on defence we find that it comes in round figures to some $ 1.200m. I think this is the third largest expenditure in this Budget and therefore i.s a pretty considerable item out of the total expenditure of $8,833m. Actually, the Defence vote covers the ancillary services of Navy, Army, Air, as well as Supply and General Services. When we look at these figures individually we find that the vote for the Department of Defence i& he smallest. It is only $25m. The appropriation for General Services is. in round figures, $40.8m; for the Department of Supply it is SI 10.5m; Navy is S282.75m; Air $3 1 6m, and Army $4 77m.
I do not think that this is the proper occasion on which to delve into where the money is being spent. This should be looked at very closely when we are examining the Estimates to find out whether the money is being spent to the best advantage. I say this because we are dealing with $ 1,200m. What do we have to show at the end of 12 months for the expenditure of that sum? If we consider the expenditure for this purpose last year and subtract the wages and salaries of the personnel involved, if we consider the new equipment that we have bought and the new buildings that we have erected, what else do we have for the expenditure of this amount of money? I think this situation should be looked at very closely to see where economies can be made, lt is probable that we could have the same sort of service with a reduction in cost.
We must not forget that most of these people have a vested interest in their own department and want to get as much as possible for their department. This is rather like Parkinson’s Law. But we should remember also that there is a Peter’s principle which also applies to the situation and which should not be forgotten. For those who have not read it, the book The Peter Principle’ states the principle that everybody eventually, when advanced in his position, reaches a level at which he is incompetent. If we could find economies in our defence spending the amounts that are now spent on defence could be spent in other ways. We should give consideration to our additional requirements for education, housing and social services, including pensions and child endowment. These areas need further examination because it is essential that something be done in these spheres. I reiterate: When dealing with the defence estimates, let us look closely at where the money is being spent.
Another matter that I propose to mention is one dealt with by Senator Guilfoyle, who has just come into the chamber. She drew to our attention the fact that $21 5m will be spent on postal services. 1 always object to the way in which we look at the cost of our postal and telecommunications services. We seem to forget that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department operates on the $255m that it receives under a one-line entry in the Budget, the $639m that it receives from telecommunications and the $2 15m that it receives from its postal services, a total of $l,109m to be spent by the Postmaster-General’s Department in 1971-72. This is a big amount which should be closely scrutinised. No scrutiny has been given to this, except on the occasions when I have had an opportunity to bring this matter to the notice of the Senate during the Estimates debate by the Committee of the Whole. Nowadays it is not possible to attend all meetings of the Committee and I have not been able to raise this matter because my time has been occupied with primary industries. I hope that the expenditure of Si, 109m by the Postmaster-General’s Department will be closely scrutinised to ensure that the expenditure of this amount is necessary.
Some years ago when I criticised expenditure by the Postal Department there was a great song about the Department providing SDT services for everybody in every part of Australia. We were told that this was a wonderful advance. Of course it is a wonderful advance, but we have to pay for it if we want it. It is not simply a matter of the Postmaster-General’s Department adopting this system because it thinks it is a necessary advance which will improve efficiency and of the Parliament approving the expenditure without complaint. It is matters of this kind that we must examine.
I propose to refer quickly to wool. This subject was mentioned by Senator Little. I agree, up to a point, with his approach to this question, but I should like to mention another feature of the wool situation. We are all tremendously disturbed about the wool industry and are wondering what can be done. One point seems to have been forgotten. The Australian Labor Party opposed the establishment of the Australian Wool Commission because we thought it would not function unless there were an opportunity for collective selling in the same way as there is collective buying. But the matter goes further than that. I believe that one of the problems of the wool industry arises from the fact that 80 per cent of wool in Australia is sold before it reaches the auction floor. I support my statement by referring to the ‘West Australian’ of 14th April last year in which there was a report of a meeting held in Melbourne. The report stated:
The chairman of Squatting Investment Co., Mr J. S. Balderstone, has estimated that 80 per cent of Australia’s wool clip was now sold firm by wool traders before it was auctioned.
If this was so, these exporters had a financial interest in seeing wool prices decline progressively, he told the annual meeting of the company in Melbourne.
The directors believe that, because of this and other factors, the auction system for wool was likely to become inadequate.
There was no point in spending millions of dollars on publicity and promotion only to see its effects dissipated by unfair restrictive bidding practices in buyer price control at what should be competitive auction.
Mr Balderstone said that the industry today faced the challenge of ensuring real value for its products, or facing the inevitability of an acquisition scheme.
I think an acquisition scheme has lo come. A little later the report continued:
The present price levels for wool were the lowest for 20 years and in terms of real money value, they were the lowest for 40 years.
That was only the opinion of the chairman of directors of Squatting Investment Co., so a question on the subject was addressed to the Minister for Agriculture in the Western Australian Parliament. He was asked whether he had seen the report which I have just read out. He was asked also whether he would have investigations made to obtain further information concerning this allegation. Mr Nalder, the Minister for Agriculture, replied:
For the benefit of those who do not understand what goes on so far as futures selling is concerned, the situation is that the wool is now sold before it hits the auction floor. In this way the brokers or buyers - whichever way one likes to put it, but whoever is doing the bidding - bid only to the price that they have agreed, that being the price for which they contracted to get the wool for their principals in England, Europe or some other place. They will refrain from bidding until the wool comes down to this price. What can we do about it? They want the price to be lower so that they can make a profit. This is the normal way for brokers to operate. Less than a week later the question was asked: What can we do? The Minister for Agriculture in Western Australia was asked:
This was the reply from the Minister:
This is the sort of problem that has to be looked into. It is of no use for the Australian Wool Commission to fix prices and say that they will not get any lower. I ask honourable senators to imagine that they are wool brokers and that the Government states that it will make the price up to 36c, whatever the wool is sold for. Would they not buy it at the lowest possible price they could get knowing that the Government would make up the difference? Of course they would. This is the situation we are faced with and this is what is wrong with the wool industry. The Government will not get anywhere until it gets this sort of thing straightened out.
Mr President, there are other matters which have been canvassed in this debate that we ought to take up when we deal with the Estimates. That is the proper time to deal with them. I mentioned those 3 matters only because they had not been mentioned and I thought they should be looked at. I think we must be much more careful in our scrutiny as we go through the Estimates and I think that in view of the way the Estimates Committees functioned last year, they will go a long way towards achieving this objective. If we thoroughly investigate the expenditure which is put before us we will do a service to the country which will show up the anomalies that are occurring. At the same time we will wipe out some of the vested interest on the part of the people directly concerned.
The Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) criticised the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition, particularly the second clause which states that the Budget:
One can do no more, Mr President, than bring this forward in a general way. It is not possible to say that the Government ought to give another $lm, or $20m, or $1 00m. That would be ridiculous. One really has to look at the situation. That is why the amendment was couched in those general terms. If you talk to any Premiers or State Treasurers and ask them whether they are entirely satisfied with the way in which the Government distributed moneys in this Budget you will find that all of them have reservations about what they have been allocated. It is fatuous to compare this motion with a policy decision of the Australian Labor Party. It is of no use to say that we have as part of our policy a resolution calling for the abolition of the Senate and therefore you cannot take any notice of anything else that we have in our policy. This is nonsense. We try to make the Senate work. We are here in the Senate and while it exists it is our duty to see that it functions as well as possible. That is what we are going to do. That does not mean that we think the Senate ought to exist forever; it means that while we are here we have a responsibility to the people who put us here. I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Murphy’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority .. .. 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– As I foreshadowed in my speech earlier, I move:
– I second the amendment. The content of the amendment has been canvassed both by Senator Gair, the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, in presenting his speech on the Budget, and by Senator Little in speaking to the amendment proposed by the Australian Labor Party and to this then foreshadowed amendment so it is not necessary for me, 1 take it, at this stage to examine in depth and present to the Senate the terms of this amendment. I merely make one comment. The Budget has assumed a rather extraordinary situation very recently after its introduction. Whatever was the pourpose of the Budget, there is now considerable doubt whether that purpose is being achieved and whether the Budget is not having a counter-effect to that which was contemplated originally.
– Who believes that?
– That is an opinion expressed very widely. While it is not certain, there is now some concern whether the Budget is having the effect that was originally contemplated and predicated or whether, on the other hand, it is not having an unduly deflationary effect and precipitating some constriction in business and, consequentially, mounting unemployment. If, in fact, this is the economic effect which the Budget is having and will continue to have to an increasing degree, it is important that this Parliament be alerted to the fact that it may be necessary to have Government or parliamentary intervention to rectify a position that perhaps very quickly can deteriorate and create grave social and personal consequences for the nation.
It will be noticed that placitum (J) of our amendment rather contemplates this situation because we refer to the antiinflationary effect of the Budget whilst maintaining full employment. That apparently is not what has transpired. While the Budget may be anti-inflationary, certainly at present it is not maintaining full employment, and that is a situation that might develop increasingly as month follows month. In those circumstances we commend to honourable senators the terms of this amendment. It contains propositions that we continuously present, such as the creation of an independent tribunal to determine pension rates instead of this harassing experience of pensions becoming the plaything of politics at Budget time. We contemplate a stronger defence programme. We are disappointed that the Budget does not provide for the necessary logistic support programme which we think a viable and adequate defence policy in Australia and for Australia must embrace.
We are gravely concerned about the condition of the rural industries. I think the point should be made that we contemplate a short term and long term solution. The short term solution is the provision, through a finance corporation outside the banking system structured to the nature and relevant to the demands of the rural industries, of the necessary finance on appropriate terms with interest and redemption free periods. But we also see the necessity - it is becoming more apparent every day - of a fundamental examination of the whole rural economy. Today everyone is guessing and plucking at solutions. The unfortunate experience of the wool industry to which a succession of remedies has been applied, none of which has been successful and the most recent of which does not promise to be successful, indicates that obviously there is a problem which must be examined in depth if the proper solution is to be discovered.
These propositions that we embrace in our amendment are not new propositions which have been presented merely for the purpose of this Budget. Some of them are particularly relevant and appropriate ad hoc to the situation, but many of them are merely a reiteration of propositions that we have been presenting for a long time and which we feel, had they been accepted and implemented, may well have taken us along the path of avoiding some of the tragic economic circumstances which we see operating and developing in the country today. For those reasons I warmly commend this amendment to honourable senators and trust that its propositions will receive that support which has been denied in the past but which circumsances today are demanding should receive increasing support as day follows day and tragic circumstance follows tragic circumstance.
(10.39) - The Government is not prepared to accept the amendment moved by Senator Little and to which Senator Byrne has spoken. It is true that the amendment is couched in terms which merely add to the motion that the Senate take note of the Budget papers. It states 7 reasons for the concern of Senator Little and the Party to which he belongs. I think it is fair comment, as Senator Byrne has said, that most of the matters raised in the amendment have been debated very vigorously in the Budget debate. In the same spirit as that in which he expressed his views in favour of the amendment, while not developing an argument for it I respond by saying that the points which have been raised have been debated and I do not propose to canvass them further. The Budget is calculated to preserve the policy of full employment and the prosperity of the Australian community. As I indicated at question time today and yesterday, it contains a flexibility to enable us to meet any changing conditions which may emerge.
It is true that there are problems in the rural sector of the economy. The Budget has not walked away from those problems. They are associated with world prices. We have taken steps in an attempt to meet the situation. I believe that the measures that have been and are being proposed are adequate. If they are not adequate, at least they are directed towards trying to arrest the situation. I make it perfectly clear that one does not introduce a Budget, press a button and expect that its results will be in evidence during the currency of the debate. The Budget is a fiscal matter. It contains the concept of a yearly appreciation of trends. The Budget not only does that in terms of the economy but also it makes special concessions in relation to pensions and social service matters of that nature. In the spirit in which the amendment was moved and without wanting to embark on a further debate, I close my comments by saying that we do not support the amendment. I take the opportunity to express my congratulations to those senators on both sides who made their maiden speeches during the Budget debate. I am sure that they will make valuable contributions to debates as the session proceeds. As the Leader of the Government, I congratulate them on their maiden speeches.
– I join in the congratulations expressed to the senators who made their maiden speeches. They were fine speeches. 1 am sure that those senators will be great contributors to debates in the Senate. The Opposition will not support the amendment moved by the Australian Democratic Labor Party. The Democratic Labor Party has adopted its usual tactic of failing to support a reasonable amendment moved by the Opposition and then tendering an amendment as some excuse for its attitude. If one were satisfied that the statements in the amendment moved by Senator Little were correct - leaving aside the ones on which there might be some contention of matters of minor detail such as economic matters - the amendment amounts to a condemnation of the Government. If the amendment is correct, the Government is not fit to govern and is betraying the people in relation to security and domestic matters. Yet the DLP has put this Government in power in the past and, without any doubt, it will support the Government at the next election in an endeavour, this time we believe unsuccessfully, to help it to keep on carrying out policies such as those which are condemned in its amendment. There is no need to go through the amendment because there is no point in discussing it. lt is simply, a charade. At election times the DLP helps the Government by directing its preferences to the Government. It does everything it can to help a Party, yet it consistently says that that Party is betraying the country. The amendment states:
That the inadequate defence vote reveals the Government’s failure to appreciate the deterioration in Australia’s strategic situation . . .
So it continues, lt also states:
That the Government’s fiscal and monetary policies will not prevent a further erosion of domestic purchasing power. . . .
The family man has been betrayed and the security of the country has been let down. These accusations are contained in this document. There is no point in discussing it. We have been through it all before. We know exactly what part the DLP is playing in the politics of this country. For those reasons, the Opposition will not support the amendment
– On behalf of the Opposition Senator Murphy said that the Opposition cannot support our amendment because it is innocuous. The truth is that the amendment moved by the Opposition was innocuous. Senator Murphy’s remarks seemed to be more concerned about the Government being in office only because of the support of the Democratic Labor Party. He said that if the DLP means what it says in the amendment moved by my colleague Senator Little it should be doing all it can to throw the Government out of office. The alternative would be so immeasurably worse than the present Government that under no circumstances would we in any way assist the Australian Labor Party in its present condition to become the Government. If Senator Murphy really meant what he said, surely he would support the amendment moved by Senator Little, particularly in respect of the matter of pensions. I think it is true to say that in the other place an amendment in relation to the Budget made reference to the necessity for an independent tribunal to deal with pensions. Here is the opportunity for the Party to which Senator Murphy belongs to support such a proposition, if it wishes to do so. That opportunity is certainly in this amendment. 1 think it was mentioned also in another place during the debate that what was needed more than anything else was long term low interest loans for the rural industries. Again this is to be found in the amendment moved by my colleague Senator Little. In short, if the Opposition is genuine in what it claims to stand for, it would have no alternative but to vote for the amendment. But as it has done in the past, it will vote against the amendment. We can well expect that it will do so again. On no occasion has the ALP judged matters on their merits. It has always played party politics and judged matters on the source from which they emanated.
– Of course the DLP does not do that.
– I am sorry that I am upsetting our friends. The simple truth, whether one likes it or not, is that the ALP is out of government today because of its own doing.
– And because of the DLP.
– I am prepared to accept that. If the ALP stands for what we claim it stands for, perhaps the most positive thing that we have done in the last 15 years is to keep ALP members on the Opposition benches.
– I would not have entered this debate but when Senator Kane talked about genuineness I thought it was time that somebody entered the debate. Those who have been here for more than a year or so know perfectly well that this great phoney is pulled by the Democratic Labor Party at this time each year. Its members know that perfectly well, in spite of what Senator Kane said. Each year the DLP amendment contains a clause which it knows the Australian Labor Party will not support. They laugh about it in the corridors. They are not ashamed to say it outside because they know perfectly well that the Labor Party will not accept clauses such as this:
The Budget again fails to remove pensions from the area of politics by setting up an independent tribunal of experts to determine pension rates which would make a more equitable adjustment than does the provision of the Budget.
The amendment includes clauses such as that because members of the DLP know that the Australian Labor Party will not accept that. They know that the Government will not accept that. They know perfectly well that any Party which might have to face up to the possibility of being the Government could not accept that. We have asked for inquiries to be conducted into this matter. Pensions are a part of politics. Pensions are a very important part of budgetary processes and budgetary planning. What we members of the Australian Labor Party have said about the matter is that the Government has not given the pensioners of Australia a fair go and that we would do better. That is a perfectly honest approach to make.
We members of the Australian Labor Party do not propose to say that this question should be put to an independent body which is outside the control of this Parliament and which has no responsibility for the rest of the budgetary situation as it has to be dealt with from year to year. We have made our own criticisms on this sub ject. Honourable senators of the Australian Democratic Labor Party . know this perfectly well. They make a joke of the position in the corridors of the Parliament because they know that the Australian Labor Party cannot accept the amendment. The Liberal Party cannot accept the amendment because it is the Government. The Australian Labor Party cannot accept it because it is the alternative government and could well be the government. What sort of irresponsibility is involved in a proposal to hand this question to a body of people and say: ‘You fix the amount of money that the government is to give the pensioners and it will be incorporated in a Budget’? I ask honourable senators to look at the sloppy manner in which the amendment is drawn up. It states:
That the Budget makes no provision for a comprehensive national insurance scheme.
Yet honourable senators of the Democratic Labor Party have only to pick up the notice paper to see that the Australian Labor Party has already had this matter referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare. This is a subject on which we have criticised the Government. Let us be completely honest. The Government has made promises in regard to a national superannuation scheme but obviously has found it very heavy going. It has had to come back into the Parliament and say that it is not possible to introduce such a scheme. Therefore. I accept that difficulties are involved.
Our own people are working on the question continuously. That is why the Australian Labor Party has submitted it to the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare. The Committee can call all the evidence it likes from any part of Australia or any part of the world. It can examine the evidence and present its report to the Senate. The Democratic Labor Party has adopted this sloppy attitude of not even looking at this fact in moving its amendment, lt is completely phoney. The DLP uses the words ‘not genuine’ which are a complete description of the Party itself. Members of the DLP could have supported our amendment. It contained in a more succinct form most of the things that they are saying in their amendment. They know perfectly well that an amendment such as the one Senator Little has moved will not be accepted. They put up the same hoary headed things every year, knowing that they cannot be accepted. They leave this place as the poor little babes in the wood after seeing everybody else in the Senate vote against what I say is the phoniness of this amendment.
Any party would be completely irresponsible to move away from the budgetary situation and not face up to the whole question of pensions. Of course, members of the Australian Labor Party reject the amendment. We would be the laughing stock of Australia if we were to accept the phoney things that are being advanced by this phoney party. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has put the position very well, as has Senator Murphy. We have adopted this attitude on every occasion. We will not be irresponsible, lt is all right for members of a knocker party who know perfectly well that they will never govern, never sit on the treasury bench, to shoot off their mouths with the greatest phoniness. This is a false approach to the very important question of the Budget.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Little’s amendment) be so added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 40
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 September 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1971/19710915_senate_27_s49/>.