27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Australian Education Council’s report on the needs of government education services has established serious deficiencies in education, the most important areas being a severe shortage of teachers, inadequate accommodation, and, as a result, oversized classes.
That extra Federal finance is urgently required to save the government school system.
That while the needs of the government schools are being neglected, large amounts of public money are being given, in various and numerous grants, to private schools.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate and the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to make emergency Federal finance available to the States for State school education, and divert the large sums of public money being spent on private schools, to the government school system for which the government is specifically responsible.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in his capacity as Minister for Health. What progress has been made in dealing with the alarming infant mortality among Aborigines in Central Australia and other areas?
The mortality rates for all Aboriginal deaths indicate that approximately 40 per cent of deaths occur in the first year of life. I am talking particularly about Aboriginal infant mortality. This figure is considerably higher than the total Australian figure which is about 4 per cent. The main causes of infant deaths are premature birth, gastro-enteritis and respiratory infections. Such a high infant mortality rate reflects a high level of morbidity. The more prevalent causes of morbidity are chronic ear infections, lung diseases, eye diseases, anaemia, skin infections and, from time to time, epidemic diseases such as measles. My Department in the Territory watches closely patterns of disease in order to establish whether epidemics are imminent or disease endemic. In cases of threatening epidemics, mass immunisation campaigns are carried out to help curb the effects of the disease.
A child health unit for Aborigines has recently been established at Mt Gillen. Tt is hoped through this medium to educate the mothers and further reduce infant mortality, as well as reduce cross-infection occurring when normally in a hospital. Until recently, this was a very serious issue. As well as emergency immunisation campaigns, routine immunisation is being continued. It is hoped through this method to reduce further mortality amongst infants. It is necessary once again to educate Aborigines to present children for treatment when symptoms are first manifested rather than wait until the disease has a foothold. This is only one of the real problems. Infant welfare sisters are doing all within their power to bring about this change in attitude of the mother to the health of her children. Further procedures are being followed at the present time and it is a little premature for me to reflect upon them now, but there is a very real awareness of this problem and every effort is being made, wtihin the limits of our capacity, to play our part in coming to grips with it.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It refers to the renewal of the bombing of North Vietnam by America. Is it a fact that the bombing of North Vietnam was stopped by President Johnson on 31st October 1968 on the basis of 2 agreements and 3 understandings, namely, agreements that the Saigon Government would participate in the negotiations and that serious talks seeking a negotiated end of the war would begin promptly; and understandings that the demilitarised zone would not be violated, that major attacks on the cities of South Vietnam would not take place and that aerial reconnaissance of North Vietnam would continue without military riposte? Is it not a fact that North
Vietnam has broken totally all such agreements and understandings? Was it not repeatedly made clear to Hanoi and Moscow that violation would lead to resumption of bombing?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Senator Wright, if you were able to hear that question over the interjections you may answer it.
– I heard Senator Carrick say in his question that the cessation of bombing of North Vietnam was agreed upon by President Johnson as far back as 1968 on the basis of 2 agreements and 3 understandings. As I heard the question, the agreements were that there should be a participation on the part of the Saigon government in the peace talks to take place, and that serious peace talks would take place. The 3 understandings were that the demilitarised zone would not be violated, that the cities would not be attacked and that aerial reconnaissance, as distinct from bombing, would continue in North Vietnam. It is my understanding that those were substantially the terms of President Johnson’s announcement. As we know, repeated warnings have been given to North Vietnam that any infringement of those conditions would lead to action on the part of the United States. The United States Government’s action last week was in response to a series of warnings to that effect.
– Do you still justify the slaughter that is going on?
– Having regard to Senator Cavanagh’s interruption, it is appropriate to say that the peace terms that were offered by President Nixon last week were very simple indeed, involving as they did a requirement simply that North Vietnam should cease fire and yield up prisoners of war. If that ceasefire were maintained, all American forces would be withdrawn within 4 months. In spite of those overtures by President Nixon we still have from the Opposition carping criticism of America and outright support for its enemies.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Is it a fact that a Department of Defence report recommends a production run of 12 to 20 Project N aircraft? If so, does this indicate that orders have been received from (he
Services or other Commonwealth departments? When is it likely that an announcement about this aircraft will be made?
– I was not aware that a Department of Defence announcement had been made. My understanding is that a committee working within the Department of Defence is making the final preparations prior to presenting to the Mnister for Defence a report for his examination. No doubt, in due course, having studied that report, the Minister for Defence will make a submission to Cabinet for its consideration.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry been drawn to a statement made by Mr Jeffrey Penfold-Hyland, President of the Federal Wine and Brandy Producers Council of Australia, that wine sales had risen by a meagre 0.2 per cent in 1970- 71 as against an average annual growth rate of 1 1 per cent for some years prior to the imposition of the 50c per gallon excise on wine and urging an early announcement of the Government’s decision in respect of the excise, in the light of the Grant inquiry and report? To what stage has governmental consideration gone in respect of this report? When can the grape growing and wine making industries expect to have the Government’s decision?
– 1 saw the report to which the honourable senator referred, but I am not in a position to say whether the figures he quoted are correct. However, my understanding is that the Minister for Primary Industry is examining the whole matter of surplus of grapes, levels of sales of wine and the position in relation to wine stocks held by wineries at present. When he has this information, together with an examination of the Grant report, which is a report of fact, I believe he will be in a position to present a submission to Cabinet for its consideration. At present I cannot inform the honourable senator when that will be.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry this question: When does the
Minister expect the completion of the Randall Report on the wool industry, and will the report be presented to Parliament?
– I was asked a similar question yesterday. I said that on 2nd May the Prime Minister made the statement that he hoped that the Randall Report would be presented to him in the next fortnight. The fortnight ended yesterday. My understanding is that the Randall Committee has already produced an interim report to the Government and that it is about to produce a second report to the Government. I understand that further reports will be presented later. The Government must consider the reports and make a decision on the matter. Yesterday I indicated that the time lag would be such that the report could not be presented to Parliament prior to the winter recess. I will convey the substance of the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for Primary Industry and if he has any further information I will give it to the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General a question. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to reports from overseas that unscrupulous people have discovered that it is possible for anyone to make STD calls at no cost to themselves from emergency telephones in lifts? Will the Minister ask the Postmaster-General’s Department to take action to counter this move by making it impossible for people to use emergency telephones in lifts for STD calls in Australia?
– I understand that the Postmaster-General is aware of the report. One can only assume that the use of emergency telephones in lifts for STD calls is for purposes other than that of relieving an emergency. The position is that in this country it would be possible to make trunk calls, including STD calls, from emergency telephones provided in lifts. In those circumstances it is advisable for subscribers of such emergency telephones to have their use for both manual and automatic trunk calls bar-ing. The facility is available for this to be done. Whilst there is a cost for bar-ing the use of a telephone for that purpose, this cost is relatively small. Anyone who is apprehensive about the use that might be made of their emergency telephones in lifts is well advised to take this course.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. Can the Minister give an assurance that before there is any capitulation to the demands of the Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association of Australia for hospital fee increases he will probe the profits of such organisations and also bear in mind that the award handed down by the conciliation commissioner had regard to the capacity of the industry to pay? Conversely, will he consider providing to people who have relatives in such homes supplementary aid from the hospital contribution funds, which at the moment have large reserves?
It is true that an article appeared in a newspaper several days ago which carried a reported statement of a Dr Thomson, who is the Chairman of the Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association of Australia. I issued a Press statement in response to what I read as having been attributed to him. I would hope that all honourable senators have received a copy of my Press statement in their boxes by now. However if they have not I will check to see why it has not been distributed to them. In that statement I said that I did not accept the presentation of the newspaper report as being in my judgment an accurate account of the situation. I pointed out that the nursing homes concerned were largely homes that were being run on a profit basis. Also I pointed out that the advisers of my Department and I did not believe that the mathematics of what had appeared in the Press were a proper representation of the true position as we understood it. Nevertheless, I have indicated that whilst I had reservations about it I felt bound to make available time for that organisation to come and put its case. When representatives of that organisation put their case, if they are making a case, the fact that they are in business for profit will have to be taken into account.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. In view of the increasing violence in the United States of America and in other areas of the western world, will the Minister say whether he is prepared to re-examine the admission criteria of films depicting undue violence and keep out of Australia such films until his Department or some other department has had a study carried out to establish possible links between violence seen on the movie and television screens and violence that occurs in the community?
– This is a matter which the Minister has under continuous review. He is aided in that process by the Film Board of Review. I do not think that I can add anything to that information. I shall put the honourable senator’s question to the Minister to see whether there is anything up to date that the honourable senator might be told.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is the Minister aware that there have been recent inquiries in Queensland into allegations that fraudulent claims have been made for freight rebates on fodder for drought relief during the Queensland drought of 1970-71? Is the Minister aware also that substantial loans and grants were made from Commonwealth finance for drought relief and freight rebates? Can the Minister inform the Parliament of the amount of Commonwealth funds involved in the alleged fraud?
– The question is an extraordinary one. The honourable senator asks whether I am aware that there have been allegations of freight frauds, or whatever it is. Then he asks whether I would know what the amount involved was. This is one of those questions which, I think, make an accusation in cold blood about a whole multitude of situations. I would think that the only real answer that I could give is to say that I will seek from the Treasurer some information. Obviously, inquiries would need to go beyond the Treasury. If I may say so with great courtesy to Senator Keeffe it is a pretty serious thing to phrase a question on such a matter in that way because the accusation is implied against all persons who, in the generality, have been obtaining this relief which they so desperately need.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport: What progress has been made on the study being conducted by the Bureau of Transport Economics in relation to the transport disabilities suffered by the State of Tasmania?
– There were questions earlier on this subject: I think that they came from the honourable senator and from others representing Tasmania. I have no information additional to that which I previously gave, although it would be quite appropriate for me now, in the light of this question, to seek more up to date information on the situation.
Does the Minister for Civil Aviation recall answering questions earlier in this session as to whether the Government had given permission for the Anglo-French Concorde aircraft to fly over Australia? The Minister stated at that time that no permission had been given and that an article appearing to this effect in the British ‘Guardian’ towards the end of last year stating that permission had been given was not correct. Now that the announcement has been made that the Concorde is to be allowed to fly over Australia - and at a supersonic speed - can the Minister state when it first was that the Australian Government agreed to such a flight taking place?
– I would need to seek back through the files, but when I first made the comment that no permission had been given that was indeed the case. I announced within a day of the final permission being given by the Government, after study of an application made, I think, about 8 days before by the British Government, that that permission in fact had been given. What I will get for the honourable senator is the exact sequence of timing and events so that he can satisfy his concern.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Did a Melbourne businessman, Mr Strecho Rover, recently have his passport seized in Canada on instructions from the Department of Immigration? If so, can the Minister give the reasons for such action?
– It is a fact that Mr Rover was travelling overseas on an Australian passport and while in Canada had his passport seized. I understand that the seizure was made on the instructions of the Minister for Immigration, who has a discretion under the relevant legislation to cancel the passport.
– Was that under the instructions of the Canadian Minister or the Australian Minister?
– The Australian Minister for Immigration, acting under the powers granted by the Australian legislation, cancelled the passport and arranged for Mr Rover to have a document of identity which would enable him to return to Australia. As to the balance of the honourable senator’s question concerning the reasons why this was done, I will ask the Minister for Immigration to give him a considered reply.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Supply is further to the question asked by Senator Bishop. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the article by David Balderstone in today’s issue of the ‘Age’ which states that 30 orders for the Australian developed aircraft Project N are believed to be assured if the Federal Cabinet gives approval for production of the aircraft, that the Government Aircraft Factories are reasonably certain of another 20 orders for the aircraft, and that a letter of intent to buy 10 aircraft has been signed by a foreign consortium believed to be based on France and Sweden. Firstly, from what source would this information be made available to the aviation writer of the ‘Age’? Secondly, will the Minister request the Minister for Supply to make a statement in this Parliament on the future of this aircraft before the Parliament rises for the winter recess?
– I saw the article and I well understand the honourable senator’s interest in this matter because over a long period he has questioned me in this place as the representative of the Minister for Supply on Project N. I am afraid that I have nothing further to add to what I said in reply to Senator Bishop a short while ago. If the honourable senator wishes, I will convey the substance of his question to the Minister for Defence, and if the Minister has anything to add to what I have already said I will pass it on to the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is the Minister aware that Federal estate duty is sometimes assessed before State probate duty is finalised? Is he also aware that some State laws prevent the disposition of any part of the estate until State probate duty has first been secured? Is he further aware that the Commonwealth Taxation Office imposes a penalty rate of interest of 10 per cent from the date on which Federal estate duty is payable? Will the Minister take up this matter with his colleague, the Federal Treasurer, and request that this unfair imposition be discontinued?
– I will be happy to refer this matter to the Treasurer. When one talks about it, one tends always to look at probate duty and estate duty as the moment of truth for us all. As I understand the question, the inference is that although in some instances executors are ready to dispose of Federal estate duty, they cannot do so because State probate duty has not been secured, and in consequence a penalty is imposed upon the estate. This matter may well have different implications in different States where there may be different !aws in relation to death duty. As asked by the honourable senator, I will refer his question to the Treasurer.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Air. Is a party of about 20 Royal Australian Air Force personnel going to the United States to obtain spares and support equipment for the 12
Chinook helicopters purchased by the RAAF? If so, how long will these personnel be overseas?
– It is true that these Royal Australian Air Force personnel are going to the United States of America and that they are going there to do a particular job. How long they will stay will depend on how long the job will take them. I will seek further information and make it available to the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: With the concern being expressed by some people over the proposed supersonic flight of the Concorde aircraft over some parts of Australia, can he say whether any figures are available of supersonic flights over Europe and the United States of America and what were the effects of those flights?
– Fairly precise figures are available on supersonic flights over the continental United States of America. There are in the order of 26,000 such flights each year and they have been taking place since about 1967. There is no evidence of any kind of harm being caused by these flights. There have been instances where specific supersonic flights have taken place at low levels to determine possible damage. I do not have precise figures of supersonic flights in Europe and the United Kingdom although there is some information which I can get. It is known that there has been quite a number of flights over Paris at supersonic levels by the Concorde 001 prototype.
– 1 ask the AttorneyGeneral whether, as I detect, there is any link between the activities of his Department to curb the physical excesses of a minority of the ultra-rightist Croatian group in Australia and the action taken in the Canadian episode which was referred to in the question asked by Senator Kane.
– I should emphasise that the action taken by lawful authorities in this country is not taken against groups as such. It is action taken with a view to ascertaining prospective wrong doing and I feel it is important in the area about which the honourable senator is asking questions not, as it were, to blacken the name of a migrant national group when it is just some individuals within that group in respect of whom investigations take place. As to whether there is any link between the actions taken here and in Canada, I will refer that question to the Minister for Immigration because the decision which was made in this case was the decision of that Minister.
– My question which is directed to the Minister for Health relates to Aborigines and medical services. Are any specific provisions made by the Government to ensure that Aborigines are not deprived of medical services through inability to pay contributions to the health funds and are the benefits available under the subsidised health benefits plan made widely known to the Aborigines?
To my knowledge there are no inhibitions on the Aboriginal community in that sense. In fairness to Senator Guilfoyle, I would need to have the second side of the question, which relates to Aboriginal participation in health schemes, referred for advice. I will make a response lo the honourable senator’s 2 questions tomorrow.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that despite the Government’s effort to obscure the true position, the employment statistics to February this year show the rate of growth of employment to be 1 per cent compared with nearly 4 per cent for the previous 12 months? What measures is the Government taking to increase the rate of growth in employment to absorb the normal growth in the Australian work force?
– Dynamic measures have been taken by the Government over the past 2 months with a view to assisting the rate of economic growth and so preventing unemployment. It is not for me to recapitulate those measures. They come more appropriately within the realm of the Treasurer. The measures have been announced by the Prime Minister from time to time and are readily in the minds of all honourable senators.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services whether his attention has been attracted to publicity given to the discussions of the Hobart City Council which is reported to have stated that, in its belief, a home for the aged which was recently established and built with the substantial aid of a Commonwealth grant under the Aged Persons Homes Act is not a charitable institution. Does the Commonwealth prior to making a grant under the Aged Persons Homes Act, establish to its satisfaction that the proposed institution which will receive aid is either a religious or a charitable institution? Does the Minister realise that in some instances after renewal or rebuilding of aged persons homes the main benefactors are local municipal bodies? I shall instance the case to which I refer. The Council raised the local rates from $250 on the land prior to the erection of the Commonwealth assisted building to $5,000 on completion of the building. Will the Minister declare Commonwealth assisted aged persons homes to be charitable? Will he attempt to intervene to save unduly high charges by municipal authorities which are causing higher charges to be made to inmates who, in most instances, are pensioners?
– I comprehend the matters which have been raised by the honourable senator. I was not aware of what the Hobart City Council had said. Nor am I aware that there has been any problem of the character mentioned by the honourable senator. I shall draw the matter to the attention of the Minister for Social Services. It must be recognised that the Commonwealth Government makes available facilities to enable these aged persons homes to be constructed to as wide a group of persons as possible who are prepared to take the action of raising some money themselves. It may well be that in some circumstances such homes do not qualify as charitable institutions for the purposes of local government legislation. It would be a very bold step for the Commonwealth Government to seek to interfere in local government legislation, which is essentially a State matter, or to limit the types of assistance which it makes available to only those institutions which can be charitable institutions. But having said that by way of amplification to a long question, I shall convey the tenor of what the honourable senator has said, and my answer, to the Minister to see whether he wants to add anything more to it.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether Mr Andrew Farran, a former private secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs when Mr Freeth held that portfolio, is the author of an article entitled ‘The Freeth Experiment’ published in the ‘Australian Outlook’, the journal of the Australian Institute of International Affairs. Did Mr Farran have any part in drafting the Freeth statement, often referred to as the soft-on-Russia statement of August 1969? Is his defence of the Freeth statement an essay in selfjustification? Finally, is the supply of arms by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to North Vietnam, without which the invasion of South Vietnam could not have taken place, a good example of the benefits we could hope to enjoy as a result of our association with the Soviet Union?
– Interest has been attracted to the article by Mr Farran about what has become known as the Freeth Affair. I found it a very interesting article. I saw a rejoinder from Senator McManus which interested me somewhat. I have seen a rejoinder by Mr Farran which declines to disclose his part, if any, in the authorship of the speech which has been the subject of this intense interest. I am not disposed to enter into any exercise which will say what officers of the Department of External Affairs, as it was at that time, participated or whether the private secretary to Mr Freeth participated in the compilation of the speech. That is a matter which is not subject to scrutiny by question. With regard to the contribution of arms made by Soviet Russia to North Vietnam, in the light of the satirical fashion in which the question was asked I respond quite phlegmatically by saying that it is a gross assistance to the invaders, the North Vietnamese, who at the present time are launching such a savage attack against the South Vietnamese to the danger of South East Asia and to the detriment of this country.
– My question, which is supplementary to the one I asked previously, is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I hope it contains the information the Minister asked me to provide. Is the Minister aware that more than 100 persons have been involved by police questioning in the alleged misappropriation of Commonwealth-State drought aid funds? Is he also aware that some prominent persons in the South Burnett area of Queensland have been linked with the alleged offences and that approximately 97 charges have been made or are to be filed against a number of people? As the apparent delay in proceeding with the charges has been brought about because of the imminence of the Queensland State elections and because of the allegedly close ties of some persons involved in the charges with one of the conservative parties, will the Minister request the Queensland Government to proceed with all charges immediately so that innocent people whose names have been mentioned by rumour will be cleared of charges in which they are in no way involved?
I do not respond to wide-sweeping, smear questions of that nature.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Are holders of pastoral leases eligible for assistance under the rural reconstruction scheme? If so, are any special considerations taken into account in assessing the viability of the applicants in order to iron out the effects of drought in the years immediately prior to their applications?
– I am quite sure that the honourable senator is well aware that eligibility for assistance under the rural reconstruction scheme is a matter for the State authorities, working within the framework of the agreement entered into with the Commonwealth. I think the honourable senator would be aware also that each case is assessed on its merits and in the light of the individual circumstances. The viability of an applicant is based on his average production over a number of years and his income expectation over that period rather than on years in which production has been reduced by drought. There is nothing in that sort of assessment that precludes the holders of pastoral leases from obtaining assistance. In fact, the latest figures I saw for Western Australia showed that there were 30 applications for assistance from holders of pastoral leases. I understand that six of those applications have been approved. Approximately half of them have been rejected because of non-viability or because the holders of those leases were not in personal working occupation of those leases, and I believe that is the only circumstance in which leaseholders are not able to obtain assistance under the scheme.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Is it a fact that, since the Government reviewed the list of exports on the strategic list last June, steel scrap, tin plate, pig iron and aluminium alloys to the value of $20m have been exported to China from Australia? If this is a fact, does it mean that the Australian Government no longer considers China a threat to Australia’s security?
I am not aware of the details of the question that the honourable senator poses, but very properly I will have it directed to the appropriate department and I will make the response available to the honourable senator as soon as I receive it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the fact that Tasmanians suffer from high freight rates charged by the Australian National Line, and as many Tasmanians feel that waste of money caused by lack of business administrative ability on the part of the Line is partly the cause, will the Minister ask his colleague to inform the Senate of the cost of the current Press advertising campaign relating to the re-scheduling of the passenger cargo ships on the Bass Strait service?
– Yes, I will direct that question to my colleague the Minister for Shipping and Transport.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. By way of preface I refer the Minister to an answer he gave me yesterday in reply to a question on notice concerning the remuneration paid to advertising agencies employed from time to time by the Commonwealth. The Minister will recall that he told me yesterday that the agencies were remunerated almost entirely from commissions derived from the media and material production firms; and that the earnings were pooled and distributed by the Commonwealth Advertising Council which then does not disclose details of commission allocations to individual agencies. Is the Minister prepared to remind the Commonwealth Advertising Council that the finance so disbursed is public finance raised by taxpayers and that this Parliament is entitled to know the fullest details of the manner in which public finance is handled and appropriated? Will the Minister demand that details of this expenditure be made available to the Parliament?
– Implicit in all that the honourable senator asks are many assumptions, some of them of some importance. The appropriate course is to refer this question, and the honourable senator’s demand, to the Minister I represent so that he can look at the whole matter and make such response as he thinks is appropriate.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate as the representative in this place of the Treasurer. Has his attention been drawn to the estimate put forward by Mr M. J. Story, of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, Melbourne, at the Clean Air Conference yesterday, that the cost of air pollution control required of Australian industry in order to conform to the various Australian clean air Acts over the 5-year period from 1971 to 1976 could be of the order of $ 1,000m? As these costs to industry are economically unproductive, in the main, will the Government give early consideration to increasing depreciation allowances on pollution control equipment to encourage and assist industry in meeting air pollution problems, as recommended by the Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution?
– I will refer the matter to the Treasurer. The cost factor is a very real problem. I appreciate that there was a reference to this matter in the report of one of our Senate select committees. I think all honourable senators recognise that the cost factor associated with air pollution control involves not only the Commonwealth Government but also the State governments. I would not like it to be thought that an argument relating to the projection of costs would in any way prejudice the concept of the stern and continuing efforts that must be made, particularly in regard to industrial pollution. We in Australia have, perhaps, a better opportunity than most other countries, because of the state of our growth, to come to grips with this problem. Many other countries are far more industrialised and developed and more heavily populated. I appreciate that what I have said is not inherent in the question asked by the honourable senator. He seeks mitigation, in some way, of the cost to industry of conforming to air pollution control laws, according to the extent to which industry is responsible. This opens up the question whether industry should face some special requirement as distinct from the overall pattern of the cost of air pollution control. This is a very wide question to which the Senate Committee gave a lot of attention. I will refer it to the Treasurer, as requested, and I hope we will get a reply before the end of the present series of sittings.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral received a number of submissions from individuals and organisations requesting changes in divorce procedures in Aus- tralia? Does he agree that the cost of divorce proceedings is beyond the reach of many persons and that considerable hardship and suffering still exist in this field despite amendments to the law in recent years? Will he make representations to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs to expedite its consideration of this matter as in many cases justice delayed is justice denied?
– I am fully aware that the cost of divorce is beyond the means of some people and problems thereby are caused. It is part of the material involved in a continuing review of the legislation to which I have referred in this place from time to time. As to the other part of the honourable senator’s question, I am not sure that I am the best person to approach the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs which has, as one of the many matters charged to it, the review of the whole question of divorce, family law and custody in this country. I am sure that the honourable senators who are members of the Committee and are present in the Senate will have heard the honourable senator’s question. They will be able to take appropriate action. I have indicated to the Committee that I am prepared to assist in a general way.
– Does the Minister representing the Postmaster-General recall that some weeks ago I asked a question querying the delay in the correcting of anomalies in the payment of travelling allowance to permanent members of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board? I realise that the Minister’s colleague, the Postmaster-General, has been away ill for some time, but can he advise when he will be able to secure an answer for me from his colleague who recently returned to duty?
– I will take every step that I can to ensure that an answer is provided as expeditiously as is possible.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that the fees paid by parents to registered child care centres are not an allowable deduction from income when calculating income tax? Does he acknowledge that neither justice nor equity appears to exist for those parents who find it necessary to place children in child care centres and pay fees for that service? Will he consider an appeal that tax deductibility for such fees should be granted? Will the Government consider this in budgetary proposals for the coming year?
– I do not think it is appropriate to ask me to express views on a question of that nature at question time. It is true that it is a budgetary matter seeing that it relates to possible taxation deductions. I have a clear responsibility to refer the honourable senator’s question to the Treasurer. This I will faithfully do. We all know that it is at Budget time that questions of deductibility in various fields are considered in that context.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Will the Minister make an effort on behalf of country storekeepers in the far western areas of Queensland, and other drought stricken areas, so that they may receive low interest loans with very favourable repayment periods on similar lines to those already available to assist primary producers in these areas in view of the fact that the financial hardship of storekeepers is no less than that of primary producers?
– I feel sure the honourable senator is aware that already the Minister for Primary Industry has asked the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to carry out an examination of rural credit and the availability of credit to rural producers both in Australia and overseas. I will convey the honourable senator’s question to the Minister. If he has any further comments to make, I will see that the honourable senator gets them.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration aware of a document published in the name of the Immigration Control Association and forwarded to many members of the community, including members of Parliament? Is the Minister aware that that document claims that figures published recently by the Department of Immigration show that the total intake of people of non-European and mixed descent for the year to June 1971 is 9,055? The Bureau of Census and Statistics reveals that for the same period the number of arrivals, less departures, of people born in Asia and Africa, excluding temporary visitors and whites from South Africa, was 26,828. Will the Minister seek to obtain a full statement as to the accuracy or otherwise of the reconciliation in relation to those figures? Will the Minister comment upon the apparent racialist basis of the Immigration Control Association’s publications, the nature and extent of its membership and the circulation of its newsletters?
– I am aware of the publication to which the honourable senator has referred and of the ready impression which one can draw as to where the interests of the Immigration Control Association lie. I feel that I should draw to the attention of the Minister for Immigration, whom I represent, the other matters to which the honourable senator has referred - the nature of the publication, the people who publish it as well as the particular statistics to which he has referred - and leave it to the Minister to make such statement or to give such advice as he considers appropriate.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, follows that asked earlier by Senator Marriott about the operations of the Australian National Line to Tasmania. Will the Government take immediate steps to implement recommendations 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Trade and Industry in relation to shipping freights and thus relieve the Australian National Line of some of the impossible statutory restrictions under which it is forced by the Government to operate?
– I think I should direct that question, as well as the one I which was asked earlier by Senator Marriott, to the Minister for Shipping and
Transport. The report of the Senate Standing Committee on Trade and Industry has been studied by the Department of Shipping and Transport, but at the moment I am in no greater state of knowledge than that.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. What action does the Government intend to take to prevent across the board wheat sales, as mentioned by the immediate past Chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, Sir Alan Callaghan, in the Board’s annual report issued earlier this month?
– I saw the report. At this stage I do not know what action the Government intends to take, but I shall ask the Minister for Primary Industry to furnish me with a reply so that I can give it to the honourable senator.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
States Grants Bill 1972.
States Grants Capital Assistance Bill (No. 2) 1972.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) - by leave - agreed to:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Accounts Committee Act 1951-1966, Senator McAuliffe be appointed to fill the vacancy now existing on the Joint Committee of Public Accounts.
(4.7) - Mr Deputy President, for the information of honourable senators I lay on the table the report of the inquiry into the fees to be adopted for general practitioner medical services in New South Wales - items 1 and 4 - for the purpose of the National Health Act. I ask for leave to make a statement relating thereto.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I should indicate, first, that an arrangement has been made for copies of the report to be circulated to honourable senators this afternoon. On 8th March 1972 I announced the establishment of an inquiry into the fees to be adopted for general practitioner medical services in New South Wales - items 1 and 4 - for the purpose of the National Health Act. The inquiry was carried out at the request of the Government by Mr Justice Mason who took over from Mr Justice Kerr on his appointment as Chief Justice of New South Wales. The inquiry was initiated by the Government because a situation had developed in New South Wales in which a large percentage of patients was not receiving the protection from the medical benefits scheme for general practitioner services that the Government had set out to achieve for them.
The Government has established the medical benefits scheme on the basis that the patient’s share of a general practitioner’s account for a surgery consultation is 80c where the doctor charges the common fee; that the patient’s share of an account for a home visit is $1.20 where the doctor charges the common fee; and that the patient’s share of a doctor’s account for any medical service is no more than $5, subject in the same way to the common fee being observed. The Government’s objective is that the scheme be made as effective as possible by the maintenance of a high level of observance of most common fees by the medical profession. This objective has, generally speaking, been achieved throughout Australia except for general practitioner surgery consultations and for home visits in New South Wales.
In the second half of 1971 a dispute developed in the medical profession in New South Wales as to what were the common fees for a general practitioners surgery consultation and home visit. The Federal Council of the Australian Medical Association had agreed with the Government in April 1971 that the common fees for these services from 1st July 1971 would be $3. SO and S5.05 respectively. Sections of the profession claimed that these fees were wrongly based and higher fees should have been adopted. Sixteen out of 27 local associations of doctors in New
South Wales recommended to their members fees higher than those accepted by the Government. A large percentage of doctors followed the recommendations of their local associations and for medical benefit claims processed during the quarter ended 30th September 1971, only 53 per cent of general practitioner surgery consultations and 35 per cent of home visits in New South Wales were charged at the common fee or less. Thus, almost half of the surgery consultations and two-thirds of home visits in New South Wales were involving patients in paying more than the patient share intended by the Government.
The Government was extremely concerned that these patients were not receiving the full measure of protection desired by the Government and was determined to take proper steps within its powers to restore in New South Wales the effective protection which a majority of patients in that State had received when the common fee scheme was first brought in and which, generally speaking, patients in other States were continuing to receive. The Government decided that, in this situation, a judicial inquiry should be held to determine what were fair and reasonable fees for general practitioner surgery consultations and home visits in New South Wales. Mr Justice Mason has now determined that the following fees were fair and reasonable as the fees to be adopted for the purpose of the medical benefits scheme for the period 1st July 1971 to 30th June 1973:
Item 1 - General practitioner surgery consultations - S3. 90; an increase of 10c on the present $3.80.
Item 4 - General practitioner home visits - $5.45. an increase of 40c on the present $5.05.
Mr Justice Mason has, however, noted that the result of his determination would be that doctors in New South Wales who have charged the most common fee have, since 1st July 1971, in effect lost income equivalent to 10c for each surgery consultation and 40c for each home visit during almost half of the 2-year period for which the fees should apply. He has observed that, if it should be thought that some step should be taken so that doctors will receive the income which they would have received had the fee determined by him prevailed throughout the period of 2 years, the amount he has determined for item 1 could be increased by an additional 10c for the balance of the period, bringing it up to a total of $4. He has added that item 4 does not seem to him to necesarily stand in the same position as it is a service less frequently occurring and has, in relation to item 1, increased at a greater rate since 1968.
Mr Justice Mason has emphasised that, if it should be decided to add a further 10c to the most common fee for item 1, thereby bringing it up to $4 for the balance of the 2-year period ending on 30th June 1973, subsequent calculations of the most common fee for the next 2-year period, that is, 1st July 1973 to 30th June 1975, should proceed as if the amount determined for the entire current 2-year period ending on 30th June 1973 had been $3.90. The Government has given careful consideration to the determinations made by Mr Justice Mason and has decided that the following most common fees will apply in New South Wales for the period 1st July 1972 to 30th June 1973-
Item 1- $4.00
Item 4- $5.45
In addition, there are 11 items of little significance in the medical benefits schedule which are directly related to item 1 and the most common fees for these 11 sevices for the period 1st July 1972 to 30th June 1973 will also be appropriately increased. These overall changes are estimated to involve the addition of an estimated $2.4m per annum to common fees in New South Wales.
The Government has also decided that the increases in the fees for item 1 - 20c - and item 4 - 40c - will be met by increases in Commonwealth benefit. Accordingly, there will be no change in the amounts of 80c and $1.20 which are met by patients where the most common fees are charged for general practitioner surgery consultations and home visits, respectively. Arising out of the differences in opinion in New South Wales as to what common fees should be, to which earlier reference was made, a large number of item 1 services in New South Wales are currently being charged for at $4. Consequently, the doctors charging this amount will receive no benefit from the increased most common fee. The increase in the common fee to $4 will assist the patients of those doctors by reducing their share of the account from $1 to 80c. The Government’s decision will enable these patients to secure the protection the Government believes they should have. In coming to its decision, the Government has given consideration to the fact that it is the continuing policy of the Federal Council of the Australian Medical Association to advise and encourge its members to observe the common fee concept.
Mr Justice Mason’s inquiry was directed to a particular situation in New South Wales. He was not asked to examine the common fee levels in the other 5 States. However, because the Government’s decision has brought about an increase in common fees in New South Wales, it has made an examination of the consequences of the inquiry for other States. The common fees in each of the States have been:
It will be seen there have been quite substantial differences between the New South Wales fees and those prevailing in the other States. The Government is also aware of the policy of the Australian Medical Association, as determined by its federal assembly in 1971, to progress towards a national common fee. The Government has made no decision on its attitude to the national common fee concept and will not do so until the matter has been explored in great depth with the Federal council. This will obviously require considerable time. Nevertheless, the Government recognises that the problems which arise from the existing differences in common fees between the various States would be aggravated if those differences were further widened. It further recognises that such a development could lead to a decline in the acceptance of the common fee concept, with inevitable financial disadvantages to patients.
The Government above all wants the common fee concept to continue to work effectively in all States so that patients throughout Australia will receive the high degree of protection from medical expenses that the scheme is designed to provide. The continuance of this protection for patients requires that the common fees and benefits be adjusted as necessary when it is shown that as a matter of relativity an alteration needs to be made. In view of the outcome of the judicial inquiry in New South Wales the Government is convinced that an increase equivalent to that determined in New South Wales is justified for items 1 and 4 services in the other States.
The Government has therefore informed the Federal President of the Australian Medical Association that it is prepared to accept an increase in common fees for the purposes of the National Health Act for general practitioner consultations and home visits for all other States by 20c and 40c respectively, with effect from 1st July 1972, on the same basis as is being done in New South Wales. The President has promised to communicate with branches of the Australian Medical Association in the other States and to advise them that increases in items 1 and 4 for those other States equal to the increases being made in New South Wales should be accepted. The Federal President has agreed to advise the Government of the Association’s response, at an early date. In conclusion, I would like to express the Government’s appreciation for the thorough way in which Mr Justice Mason has conducted his inquiry and for presenting his comprehensive report within such a short time of his appointment. I move:
That the Senate take note of the report.
– The Opposition thanks the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) for introducing this report promptly. The Opposition would hope to have time to examine it properly. One thing stands out very clearly and that is that patients will suffer quite severely unless the common fee that has now been determined and accepted by the Government is adhered to by doctors throughout the Commonwealth. It is perhaps anomalous that there has been an increase in States other than New South Wales without any inquiry into those increases. However that may be, the nature of the scheme is such that patients will be severely hurt if this common fee is departed from. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Pursuant to Section 23 of the Egg Export Control Act 1947-1966, I present the twenty-fourth annual report of the Australian Egg Board on the operation of the Act for the year ended 30th June 1971, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements. An interim report of the Board was presented to the Senate on 8th September 1971.
– Pursuant to section 5 of the States Grants (Secondary Schools Libraries) Act 1968,I present a statement describing the arrangements in accordance with which payments under this Act have been authorised in 1971.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Greenwood) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time
The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1972 contains the most significant amendments of the Act since 1947. This Bill is being brought down when our system of conciliation and arbitration has been undergoing severe strain against a background of increasing industrial unrest and serious wage induced inflation. In December last year the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) made a comprehensive statement to Parliament outlining proposals for amendment of the Act designed to improve and strengthen the system. In that statement the Minister emphasised that our aim was to ensure that the Act would provide for the orderly conduct of industrial relations in this country, benefit both workers and employers and protect the interests of the entire community.
Since that time there has been the opportunity to consider a wide range of representations from many individuals and organisations. This was in accordance with what was said in the December statement - that it would ‘provide the opportunity for the development of an informed public mind’. Indeed, the whole intent of the statement was to encourage the presentation of views so that the Government would have available to it a broad cross section of opinion before determining its final position. It was most desirable that the far reaching amendments now being proposed should have been the subject of consideration in depth by the Government and interested parties. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act is one of the most important statutes of this Parliament. The Bill will be recognised by the community as evidence of the objective, balanced and constructive approach taken by this Government. That the review of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act undertaken by the Government has been comprehensive will be evident from the provisions of the Bill itself. The Bill deals with every significant Part of the Act.
Before I outline to honourable senators the salient features of the Bill, it must be seen in its proper context. A speech of this nature should not simply be a catalogue of what the Bill itself contains. Its provisions are part of a total approach to conciliation and arbitration. Our system of conciliation and arbitration does not exist simply to serve the parties to industrial disputes. The Act gives a special position to organisations of both employers and workers. That arrangement serves many purposes. In the ultimate, however, the system of conciliation and arbitration exists to serve the community. It follows, therefore, that the behaviour of the organisations which use that system to assist them in the resolution of their differences should not be contrary to the interests of the community as a whole.
In many respects our system is a unique one. A heavy responsibility rests upon those who take part in this functioning. Although Government is not directly involved in the day to day affairs of the system as are the immediate parties, the Government’s role is no less important because it represents the community and not simply the immediate parties. The Government cannot be merely an interested bystander. Employers and unions simply cannot be permitted to resolve their differences without regard to the effect on those groups who are not themselves directly involved. Moreover, the role of Government in this area has become more significant in recent years than at any time since federation- With its responsibility for the management of an increasingly sophisticated economy, the Government cannot leave entirely to the immediate parties to industrial relations the settlement of industrial disputes, even though its intervention may be seen on some occasions as unwelcome. There are 3 parties to the industrial relationship - employers, trade unions and government, representing the community interest.
Our system of conciliation and arbitration has been subject to considerable criticism. As the Minister emphasised in his statement to Parliament in December: ‘No institution can be free from criticism or from the need for change’. Largely, the operation of the system will be as satisfactory as the parties themselves permit it to be. In one sense, they are the system. The Government, however, has a total responsibility for the economy of the country. What happens in the field of industrial relations between employers and unions can be of profound significance for the community. Government must, therefore, seek to ensure that in the prevention and settlement of disputes and in the determination of wages and conditions of employment, proper account is taken of the national interest. The achievement of this aim is conditioned by a number of factors. Only 40 per cent of employees are covered by Federal awards and there are separate industrial tribunals in each of the States. There are limits placed on the Commonwealth by the Constitution. There is the need to preserve the statutory independence df the industrial tribunals. There is the need to ensure freedom of action by unions and employers, consistent with the need to protect the public interest.
It would be a mistake to overlook the fact that every action taken within our system of conciliation and arbitration affects individuals. I am not speaking here simply of the results that flow from decisions of bodies such as the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The legislation is also concerned with the activities of union and employer organisations in relation to their members and the activities of members within those organisations. Union and employer bodies exist primarily to protect and advance the interests of their members. It is the members who must determine the affairs of these organisations. Honourable senators will note, therefore, that this Bill pays particular attention to the provisions of the Act which aim at ensuring democratic processes and affect membership control in organisations registered under the Act.
Productivity growth determines the improvement in the level of our standard of living. It is essential, therefore, that there be a minimum of interruption to production of goods and services through industrial action. With our system of conciliation and arbitration there need be no interruption, lt is essential that employers and trade unions resolve their differences by means which do not disrupt production. The inescapable fact is that there are far too many strikes in this country and far too many man days are lost as a result of them. The December statement indicated the deplorable loss in working time and wages because of the upsurge in industrial unrest during the 2 preceding years. The official figures show that working days lost in 1971 increased by 28 per cent over the loss for 1970 and wages lost increased by 46.5 per cent. Already, this year has seen several serious disputes such as that inflicted on the State Electricity Commission of Victoria. That dispute undoubtedly contributed heavily to a very substantial loss in man days for the month of February.
The effects of industrial disputes on the community are not simply measurable by the loss of man days. This only represents the tip of the iceberg. Strikes and other forms of industrial action cause hardship to workers not directly involved. This is graphically illustrated by the SEC strike in Victoria. While only 11,000 SEC workers were actually involved in industrial action, the strike resulted in up to some 200,000 workers in Victoria and some thousands in other States being stood down for varying periods of time. Furthermore, many employees who were not stood down were not productively employed for long periods as a result of power restrictions and other adverse effects of the strike. These losses are not reflected in the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures of man days lost because he only records the losses in establishments where strike action takes place. Nor do the statistics reveal the disruption to business and commerce, including the effect on employment caused by direct industrial action, such as the loss suffered by businesses within the Sydney metropolitan area as a result of the Atlantean bus dispute in the latter part of last year.
Then there is the danger to the economy from the wage-induced inflation associated with industrial unrest. This can pose a long term threat to economic growth, the balance of payments and full employment. This wage-induced inflation derives from industrial unrest brought about by union militancy and by employers who are unable or not prepared to resist union tactics and claims. Together, these are important factors in the acceleration of prices that has occurred in recent years. The Government has taken positive economic steps to deal with the problem of cost-push inflation in this country - the most important economic problem facing Australia - and I do not need to dwell in detail on the action that has been taken. An important element of the Government’s policies in relation to inflation has been to encourage wags restraint. As part of this approach, it has intervened in hearings before the Arbitration Commission and it will continue to do so in cases with major economic implications. There are those who for their sectional interests may resent this intervention. The Government makes no apology whatsoever for exercising its statutory right to place its views before the Commission in appropriate cases. Mr Deputy President, the Bill is an integral part of the steps this Government has taken and is continuing to take to ensure a sound and well balanced economy.
I now outline to the Senate the salient features of the Bill. The amendments to the Act can be classified under 6 main headings: Firstly, the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes, including the structure of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, the separation of the conciliation and arbitration functions of the Commission, and appeals and references; secondly, a strengthening of the sanctions provisions of the Act, including a review of all penalties provided by the Act; thirdly, the regulation of registered organisations established by the Act to ensure more effective democratic control of those organisations, including provisions as to secret ballots in relation to industrial bans and stoppages; fourthly, the role of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in dealing with matters of particular significance to the economy of this country; fifthly, the amalgamation of organisations; and sixthly, a wide range of other provisions of the Act which are not without their own special importance to the operation of our system of conciliation and arbitration.
The Government believes that it is important to enhance the influence of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The Bill provides for the separation of the Commission’s function of conciliation and arbitration with a view to making more attractive to the parties to industrial relations the prospect of settling their differences within the system. Honourable senators will note in particular the clause in the Bill which would insert a series of new sections dealing with the role of the Commission. These proposed sections deal with the functions of conciliation commissioners, arbitration commissioners and presidential members. The Senate will note that the Bill will expand the role of presidential members of the Commission. No longer will these members of the Commission be mainly concerned with reserved matters (section 33 of the existing Act) and appeals and references (sections 34 and 35). They will now play a greater role in the day to day activities of the Commission. Along with the Commissioners, they will be intimately involved in settling individual disputes and will be responsible for what might be referred to as ‘task forces’ within the Commission. The proposed new section 23 will enable the establishment of these task forces of the Commission or panels as they are termed in the Bill. The President will assign an industry or a group of industries to a panel of the Commission consisting of a presidential member, at least one arbitration commissioner and at least one conciliation commissioner. As far as practicable, the functions of the Commission in relation to that industry or group of industries will be exercised by members of that panel. This will bring about more speedy attention to disputes arising in industries and a broadening of the Commission’s familiarity with the affairs and problems of industries coming within the scope of the panels.
When a dispute is reported to the Commission, it will go before a conciliation commissioner. He will have the power to call a compulsory conference if this be necessary. If the parties can reach agreement they will be able to make a memorandum of their agreement and request the conciliation commissioner to certify that memorandum as an award or, alternatively, request him to make an award or order giving effect to their agreement. The conciliation commissioner will be required to satisfy himself that the agreement reached by the parties is in the public interest. That provision, therefore, continues a like provision to that in the existing section 31 of the Act. If the parties do not reach agreement, a conciliation commissioner will report that to the presidential member responsible for the panel. An arbitration commissioner or a presidential member will then proceed to deal with the dispute or matters remaining in dispute by arbitration. Nevertheless, we recognise that parties may even resolve their differences at this late stage. If they are able to do so at the arbitration stage, an award can be made by the Commission as if it were made pursuant to the conciliation process I have just outlined.
The Bill widens the criteria for appointment of presidential members of the Commission. Except for the office of President, for appointment to which legal qualifications will be required, it will be possible, on the Bill becoming law, to appoint as a Deputy President a person who is or has been a barrister or solicitor of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth of not less than 5 years’ standing; has had experience at a high level in industry, commerce, industrial relations or the service of a government or an authority of a government; or has, not less than 5 years previously, obtained a degree of a university or an educational qualification of a similar standard, after studies in the field of law, economics or industrial relations or some other field of study considered by the Governor-General to have substantial relevance to the duties of a deputy president.
The Government believes that these new provisions will greatly assist in bringing to the presidential bench of the Commission men of the widest range of experience and practical knowledge. The Bill also provides for the retirement of future presidential members at age 65 instead of 70 as now. The tenure of office and the existing standing of the presidential members of the Commission who now hold office will not be affected. The Senate will note that the Bill contains provision for an increase in salaries for the commissioners. I have no doubt that this provision will be supported by all members of the Senate as a warranted recognition of the valuable service given to the community by the holders of that office. I am informed that, when the Bill was before the House, this proposal was opposed by the Opposition. I would sincerely hope that, in the intervening period, the Opposition in this chamber will have reflected on the matter and will have decided to give its support to the proposal.
By the proposed new section 31, the Bill will extend the matters which, under the Act as it now stands, may only be determined by a Full Bench of the Commission. We believe that there are certain matters which arise in industrial disputes that, because of their very nature, should not be determined on a piece-meal basis. They are matters which can have wide ramifications for the whole of industry. There should be a co-ordinated approach to them and every opportunity given to parties, including the Government, who may not be direct parties to a particular dispute to express their views to the Commission. Only in this way will the Commission be able to form the best judgment on how disputes over these particular matters should be settled.
The proposed new section 31 will, therefore, reserve for determination by a Full
Bench the question of standard hours of work, national wage cases, the minimum wage, equal pay except where an alteration in rates of pay is in accordance with principles determined by a Full Bench, annual leave, and long service leave.
At this point, it is convenient for me to refer to the provisions of the Bill as to Full Benches of the Commission. The Bill has rationalised these provisions so that a Full Bench will consist of at least 3 members of the Commission, each of whom is either a presidential member or an arbitration commissioner, and shall include at least 2 presidential members. In respect of the reserved matters mentioned above, at least 3 presidential members will be required to sit on a Full Bench. The Government has taken the view that there should be a widening of the provisions relating to appeals. The proposed new section 35, therefore, provides for appeals against awards, certain decisions in relation to awards and agreements and it extends appeal rights to the whole of section 41 (1) (d) of the Act. At present, the Act does not permit appeals against decisions made under the whole of that paragraph of that section.
The Bill will extend the time in which appeals may be lodged from 14 days to 21 days. There will be provision for appeals where the Commission has made an award that affects or supersedes a previous award and that new award is binding on some only of the organisations or persons who were bound by the previous award. An organisation or person bound by the previous award but not bound by the new award will be permitted to appeal against the new award, provided the Commission is satisfied that the organisation or person has a sufficient interest to justify the institution of the appeal and that the matter is of such importance that in the public interest an appeal should lie.
In the Minister’s statement of 7th December 1971, he indicated that the Government intended to provide that a Full Bench of the Commission must review a conciliated award if the Commonwealth referred such an award on the issue of public interest. After careful consideration, the Government has decided not to proceed with this proposal. This clearly indicates the responsible manner in which the
Government has undertaken the task of reviewing the Act. We have decided that, on balance, the earlier proposal could have been detrimental to the proposed new conciliation process. We are of the view that the public interest will be adequately protected by the Commonwealth’s statutory right of intervention before Full Benches and by the expanded appeal provisions I have outlined. Moreover, I shall be referring later in this speech to the provision in the Bill which will require the Commission to pay regard to the state of the national economy. The Bill proposes a new section 20 of the Act which will encourage parties to agree on procedures for preventing and settling further disputes between them by discussion and agreement and to have those procedures incorporated in awards or agreements. The parties will have for guidance the principles agreed to in May 1970 by the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the National Employers’ Policy Committee.
In December the Minister outlined the Government’s philosophy on the question of industrial sanctions. It is important to remind the Senate of the principal features of that part of his statement. The Minister said:
The central element of our system is that Industrial disputes as to remuneration and other conditions of work should be the subject of settlement by an impartial tribunal, the decision of which shall have the force of law. Arbitration is a form of legislation. No law can be effective unless it is enforceable. No law can be enforceable unless there be a sanction for its breach. Any system of industrial relations such as ours which provides for industrial awards to regulate with the force of law the relations between employers and employees and the conditions under which workers may be employed must also provide judicial support for these awards to have legal force. The Australian system aims to prevent direct action in industrial disputes by providing for conciliation and arbitration. The basis of the sanctions is that the terms of awards must be capable of being upheld at law. Awards of the Commission grant benefits but they also place obligations upon the parties. Employers are bound to apply the provisions of awards to their employees. Both unions and employers are bound to observe the settlement of the disputes which awards bring about.
The Minister’s statement indicated then that we did not propose to make changes in the level of penalties provided by section 119 of the Act. It was also indicated, however, that we would strengthen the provisions of what is now section 32a of the Act by stressing that the first obligation of a presidential member in dealing with a notification to him under that section would be to bring about a cessation of the conduct which has given rise to the notification. If he could not achieve this, he would be required to issue a certificate unless he was clearly of the view that a prompt settlement of the dispute was likely. That proposal of the Government is given effect to in the Bill by the proposed new section 33.
Beyond this, I would draw particular attention to the fact that in this section of the Bill it is provided that presidential members, to whom, as now, applications under the section are reserved, will be able to exercise the functions of both conciliation and arbitration despite the general separation of these functions. This clearly indicates the Government’s consistent policy that sanctions are a last resort and that every reasonable endeavour should be made to settle disputes by the traditional methods of conciliation and/or arbitration. Only when these processes have been of no avail should sanctions proceedings be instituted. I believe the sanctions process of the Bill demonstrates a restrained yet determined approach on the part of the Government to this question.
I emphasise, therefore, that, if organisations find themselves the subject of sanctions proceedings in the Industrial Court they have only themselves to blame. Even at the late stage of proceedings under the proposed new section 33, an organisation will have the opportunity of withdrawing from industrial action in favour of the processes of conciliation and arbitration. The Government realises that, on some occasions, industrial action takes place before Federal and State officials of organisations are aware of or able to control it. The legislation will give officials who find themselves in that position an opportunity to rectify the situation. They have a clear responsibility under our system to meet that obligation. If they are not prepared to accept the responsibility, their organisations must accept the consequences. They will have been given every opportunity to avoid proceedings in the Court by behaving in a responsible manner. lt is because of this that 1 re-emphasise the Government’s clear intention indicated in the December statement that the Government will ensure that all future fines imposed under the sanctions provisions of the Act are collected. There arc now none owing under the provisions inserted in the Act in 1970. As further evidence of our determination in this respect, I draw attention to those provisions of the Bill which require registered organisations in future to keep the Industrial Registrar informed of the location of their bank accounts. The Bill contains provisions giving effect to the intention announced in December that there would be a general review of the penalties provided in the Act. The Bill updates those penalties in the light of changed money values.
The Bill includes new provisions as to the holding of ‘court-controlled’ ballots in connection with industrial disputes. I believe that, in very many instances, industrial stoppages do not have the support of rank and file trade unionists. Consistent with our aim of ensuring maximum membership control of organisations, we believe that the rank and file should have every opportunity of being consulted on the fundamental question of whether they should withdraw their labour by striking and so suffer loss of wages with consequent hardship to their families. At present, the Act only empowers the Commission to order that a vote be taken of the members of an organisation where it considers that this would assist the settlement of a dispute. This Bill will develop this provision so as to enable the Commission to order a ballot where a ban or strike is threatened or exists. There are detailed provisions in the Bill as to the conduct of such ballots and for penalties on persons who may commit offences in relation to them.
I have already emphasised the implications that decisions of the Commission can have for the national economy. Therefore, the Bill proposes an amendment of section 39 of the Act to ensure that, when the Commission is constituted to deal with appeals and references and with the reserved matters under the new section 31, it shall, in considering the public interest, have regard, in particular, to the state of the national economy and the likely effects on that economy of any award that it might make.
The Bill contains provisions designed to assist in the democratic control of registered organisations by their members. The Act already contains many provisions towards this end. I instance those provisions as to the holding of what are commonly called ‘court-controlled’ ballots, inquiries into elections conducted by organisations and provisions as to the rules and to the enforcement of the rules of organisations. We believe that these provisions need to be developed further. Thus, the Bill proposes amendments to sections 140 and 141 of the Act which deal with the requirements as to rules and to directions by the Industrial Court for the performance of rules.
We have provided that where, under section 140 of the Act, the Commonwealth Industrial Court makes a declaration as to the rules of an organisation, those rules should be amended in a manner which, in the opinion of the Registrar, in light of the Court’s judgment, brings them into conformity with the requirements of the Act. The Bill goes on to provide that, if the organisation concerned does not attend to this within 3 months of the Court’s declaration, the Registrar shall, after inviting the organisation to consult with him, determine such alterations of the rules as will bring them into conformity. The existing provisions of the Act will apply as to appeals from a decision of the Registrar. The Government has decided to bring down this amendment because it believes there is presently a weakness in this respect in section 140 of the Act.
Similarly, we believe there is a need for amendment of the section because it does not permit the Court to make interim orders when proceedings have been instituted under the section. It is clear that, if a member claims before the Court that the rules of his organisation are oppressive, unreasonable or unjust, he should be able to secure, if he can satisfy the Court, an interim order from the Court which would preclude some action being taken by the organisation before the Court has had a full opportunity to examine in detail the complaint brought against the rules. A like provision is made in the Bill in relation to section 141 for precisely the same reasons.
We have also provided in the Bill for inquiries to be instituted into ‘courtcontrolled’ ballots. This is no reflection upon the officers who have conducted these ballots over the years. Rather does the amendment stem from the Government’s view that it is preferable that ‘courtcontrolled’ ballots be subject to inquiry by the Court instead of those ballots being made the subject of proceedings under section 141 of the Act as has been the case particularly in recent years.
By amendment of the Bill in the House, we have provided that an action under section 141 of the Act in relation to an election for office in an organisation must be taken within 12 months of the completion of the election. If it is instituted after that time but before the expiration of the period of office concerned, the Court is not to proceed with the matter unless it is satisfied that the person instituting the proceedings did not have within the 12 months period and could not by reasonable diligence have acquired within that period, knowledge of and the means of establishing the matters that are alleged as a reason for the making of an order.
By virtue of a further amendment in the House, we have made a like provision in relation to application for an inquiry into a court-controlled’ ballot for election to office in an organisation except that the period for instituting proceedings is 6 and not 12 months. Nevertheless, the Court will have the same discretion to entertain an application lodged outside that time if it is satisfied that the applicant did not have within that period and could not by reasonable diligence have acquired within that time knowledge of and the means of establishing the matters that are alleged as a reason for the making of an order.
In his statement in December the Minister said that we would widen the scope for granting financial assistance in relation to proceedings under sections 140 and 141 of the Act. My colleague the Minister for Labour and National Service and I announced recently that we would widen the existing provisions by regulation. A new regulation has been promulgated. As we indicated in a joint statement, recent cases arising under the existing regulation have revealed deficiencies in that regulation. Moreover, it is more desirable that these provisions now form part of the Act itself. Thus, the Bill contains 2 new sections, 141a and 141b, giving effect to our intentions.
At this point, Mr Acting Deputy President, I want to make clear to the Senate our attitude to the administration of the provisions we are including in the Bill in clause 47 for the provision of financial assistance in relation to proceedings under sections 140 or 141.
I want to indicate to the Senate that it is the Government’s intention that these provisions be administered in accordance with our belief that a person who institutes bona fide proceedings in the Industrial Court is not only protecting his own interests but also the interests of his fellow members and indeed, therefore, he is carrying out a community service. Therefore, the provision in the Bill rests primarily upon a rule nisi having been granted by the Court or a judge but once that has been secured the applicant may apply to the Attorney-General for assistance. There are criteria included in the proposed new provisions to guide the Attorney-General in deciding individual cases. I should perhaps elaborate further on these provisions. The word ‘hardship’ is used in the proposed new section. That, of course, does not connote questions in the nature of a means test of the kind common in general legal aid schemes being applied in connection with an application to the AttorneyGeneral. As will be seen, we have extended the existing financial assistance provisions to embrace respondents in actions under sections 140 or 141 where hardship is involved. 1 also announce at this point the Government’s intention to amend at an early date regulation 139 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Regulations to reduce to 250 or 5 per cent of the membership of an organisation or a branch of an organisation, whichever is the less, the number of persons who may make a request for a court-controlled ballot in an organisation. The existing provision is 1,000 or 10 per cent in the case of an organisation or 500 or 5 per cent in the case of a branch. These provisions are intended to ensure better government in organisations and to provide greater opportunity for rank and file members to protect their interests where they believe that those interests are not being properly served by the manner in which the affairs of their organisations are being carried out. I am certain they will be welcomed by rank and file members of registered organisations.
I turn now to the provisions of the Bill which are covered by the proposed new Part VIIIA of the Act - Amalgamation of Organisations. The question of amalgamation’ is a most important one. It was the subject of submission to and discussion by the Tripartite National Conference on the Conciliation and Arbitration Act last year. Following the Conference, it was under consideration by the Government at the time of the Minister’s December statement but, at that stage, the Government’s consideration of it had not been finalised. It has also been the subject of representations to the Minister by various parties. Although this subject was not specifically referred to in the Minister’s December statement, he subsequently made it clear, however, that the question of whether there should be changes in the legislation to specify more clearly the procedures under which organisations could amalgamate was one which the Government had Under detailed examination.
The primary intention of the new Part VIIIA, therefore is to lay down clearly the processes that should be followed by organisations which propose to amalgamate. As the Act and the Regulations now stand, there is no specific provision for amalgamation though that can be achieved under those existing provisions. The Government recognises that amalgamation of employer organisations and of unions is a characteristic of industrialised societies in the Western world and that there are benefits for the members of organisations in combining together their resources to undertake more effectively their responsibilities in the field of industrial relations. We believe quite firmly, however, that, before amalgamation takes place, every opportunity should be given to the members of the amalgamating organisations to express their views about that amalgamation in a democratic manner.
In light of the Government’s firm view of the importance of amalgamation to the membership of the organisations concerned, we have provided in the Bill that, before an amalgamation is approved, there must be a clear indication that the widest possible vote of the membership has been taken. For an amalgamation to succeed, therefore, it will require a vote by at least half of the eligible membership of each organisation and a vote in favour by more than half of those voting formally in each organisation. Thus, if the eligible membership of an organisation is 1,000, 500 will be required to cast a vote and, assuming that that 500 vote formally, 251 or approximately 25 per cent will be required to vote in favour of amalgamation.
The new Part VIIIA provides for a total scheme of amalgamation to be submitted to the Registrar by the organisations concerned. There is provision for objection to be made to the scheme insofar as it involves the registration of an organisation, the change of name of an organisation, the alteration of rules or deregistration of an organisation. The Registrar will be required to decide these objections. If he decides that they are not sustained or if they are resolved before him by the objectors and the organisations proposing to amalgamate, he will be required to refer the amalgamation to a ballot of the members of the organisations. Such a ballot will be court-controlled. It will be conducted, independently of the organisations involved, by an officer of the Registry or by the Commonwealth Electoral Office. Each voter will receive a copy of the scheme of amalgamation with his ballot paper and there is provision for cases for and against an intended amalgamation to be sent to each voter. The detail of this is spelt out in the Bill. Honourable senators will note that, in the House of Representatives, the Bill was amended on the initiative of the Government, to enhance this particular provision of the proposed new Part dealing with amalgamation.
We have also provided for the Industrial Court to inquire into alleged irregularities in or in connection with an amalgamation ballot. If an amalgamation is approved at ballot, the Registrar will be required to fix a date from which the amalgamation is to take place. In fixing this date, he will be required to consult with the organisations concerned so that the most convenient date is fixed. This will enable the organisations to place their affairs in order by that date.
There is one particularly important provision of the new Part VII IA. It will provide that an amalgamated organisation will be bound by awards that were binding upon organisations which amalgamated with it. This will make it unnecessary for proceedings to be instituted before the Commission to have the respondency of awards changed. I am sure that both employers and unions will welcome this provision.
There is provision in proposed new section 158t for the Minister to direct that expenses incurred in running an amalgamation ballot be borne by the Commonwealth to the extent that those expenses amount to more than the expenses that would have been incurred by an organisation if it had conducted the ballot itself. The Government believes that the new Part VIIIa is an eminently sensible one and that it should leave organisations in no doubt as to what will be required of them under the law if they wish to enter into arrangements directed towards amalgamation.
I want to make clear the Government’s intention as to clauses 51 and 68 of the Bill. Clause 51 inserts the new amalgamation provisions. Clause 68 deals with the operation of the new Part VI IIA in relation to an amalgamation as to which, before the date of commencement of the clause, certain applications had been made to the Registrar. It is proposed by clause 2 of the Bill that both clauses 51 and 68 shall come into operation on such respective dates as are fixed by proclamation. I now make it known to the Senate that it is the Government’s intention to proclaim clauses 51 and 68 as soon as this can be possibly carried out after the Bill receives royal assent. The matter will be handled with the greatest possible expedition. We have decided upon this course because of the importance that we attach to the coming into operation of the new Part VIIIa.
Before turning to a new subject, I want to refer to the proposals as to compulsory unionism outlined in the Minister’s statement of 7th December last. Since then, the government has given very careful consideration to this matter. On balance, we are now of the view that disadvantages and practical problems associated with amendments of the nature we had in mind could outweigh the advantages.
Two further very short Bills will be introduced to the Senate for debate along with this Bill. These will propose amendments to the Seat of Government (Administration) Act and the Northern Territory (Administration) Act. Honourable senators will recall that these amendments were also foreshadowed in December last. They provide that no longer will the jurisdiction of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory be limited to dealing with disputes in an industry. The Bills to amend these 2 Acts will make possible the extension of the Commission’s jurisdiction in these 2 Territories to disputes involving persons in employment, whether or not they are in an industry, in the constitutional sense of that word. The amendments proposed to these Acts, however, will not interfere with existing arbitral arrangements applying in the 2 Territories by virtue of legislation other than the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. In other words, the jurisdiction of arbitral tribunals set up by Ordinance and the jurisdiction of the Public Service Arbitrator will continue in the normal way.
The Minister’s December statement also indicated that the Bill would contain a number of other provisions which are not without their own special importance to the operation of our conciliation and arbitration system. I shall deal briefly with these amendments now. The Bill contains a provision for amendment of section 145 to provide that a member of an organisation may resign his membership by notice in writing if the notice is given not less than 3 months or not less than such shorter period as is specified in the rules of the organisation before the resignation is to take effect and any requirement of those rules as to payment of dues to the date on which the resignation is to take effect are complied with. These amendments are designed to overcome difficulties that have arisen as the result of proceedings in the Industrial Court.
The Bill will enable awards to be made allowing for the unlimited accumulation of sick leave and this should be of considerable significance in reducing time lost in industry through unauthorised work absences. There are in the Bill proposed amendments to section 125 of the Act to strengthen the powers of Arbitration inspectors. The amendments proposed will enhance their authority to enter premises and to require persons to make available documents for inspection. These amendments are proposed because the Government believes in the importance of the awards of the Commission being upheld. This is consistent with our attitude to sanctions. The amendments will also assist towards our ratification of International Labour Organisation Convention No. 81.
So far in this speech, I have spoken of the principal features of the Bill. The Bill is a long one and, of necessity, I have not been able to dwell in detail on all its provisions, many of which are consequential upon the main provisions to which I have drawn attention. The detailed provisions will, of course, emerge in the course of the debate and in Committee.
I have already indicated to the Senate in the course of this speech some of the amendments put forward by the Government and which are incorporated in the Bill as passed by the House. I should also mention that the Bill contains a number of other amendments of a machinery nature which the Government also initiated in the House. They are incorporated in clauses 51, 57, 61 and 68 of the Bill now before the Senate.
I refer to the amendments which relate to the problems thrown up by the Commonwealth Industrial Court’s judgment in the case of Moore v. Doyle. I refer also to the Government’s further consideration of this matter. As was indicated in December, the problems emerging from this case are complex. The Government believes it is important that the Commonwealth take legislative action in connection with them. The implications of the Court’s observations have been under detailed consideration by a working party formed under the auspices of the National Labour Advisory Council. That working party consists of representatives of the Department of Labour and National Service, the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, State officials and representatives of the employers and the ACTU. I understand that the working party is close to completing its task and that proposals for legislative action by the Commonwealth will be available shortly for examination by the Government. This Bill, however, contains amendments to section 141 as foreshadowed in December. Shortly stated, they will place a time limit upon the institution of proceedings under that section in relation to the election of office-bearers in organisations. The Government will consider the final suggestions of the working party for further amendments to the Act and it is anticipated that a Bill will be presented to Parliament at the earliest possible opportunity.
The Bill shows clearly the total and detailed nature of the review of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act that the Government has carried out. Without doubt, the Bill represents the most sweeping review of the Act since 1947. I emphasise again, however, that the success or otherwise of its operation must depend on the attitudes that the parties themselves adopt to the manner in which they make use of its provisions. The extent to which those parties make a genuine effort to have the new provisions operate successfully will mark the extent to which the community itself enjoys the results of better industrial relationships in this country. Our system of conciliation and arbitration is a sophisticated one and I believe it extends to the parties to industrial relations every facility to enable them to resolve their differences amicably and without disruption to the community. The system itself has been the subject of continuing controversy in recent years. The Government has shown that it has not been unresponsive to the many views that have been expressed to it about the system. The legislation now before the Senate and certain representations that have been made to the Government will necessitate consideration by the Government of other Acts such as the Public Service Arbitration Act and the Coal Industry Act. A review of those Acts, including consultations with interested parties, will be undertaken on the Bill now presented being passed by Parliament.
In this connection, I should also point out that, whilst the separation of the functions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has been carried through into Part IIIA of the Act which deals with the Flight Crew Officers Industrial Tribunal, no attempt has been made to extend other major changes in the Act to that Part. The
Minister has made it known that he will be inviting the parties involved in the industry covered by the Tribunal to consult with him on those matters.
The conciliation and arbitration system is a dynamic institution. It evolves according to changes in community standards and needs. It has always done so and will continue to do so. Touching as it does the very life of the community, it must be responsive to change. In these circumstances, the operation of the changes now proposed will be kept under the closest scrutiny by the Government. The Government will welcome observations from interested persons and organisations on how the new system functions and any suggestions they might have for further improvement. Some of the provisions of this Bill will not be capable of introduction immediately. That is why the Bill contains provisions for its progressive implementation. Nevertheless, the administrative tasks that will need to be completed before the revised system comes into operation will be carried out with the greatest possible expedition. Moreover, it will be essential that those most closely involved in its operation secure a clear understanding of the meaning of and intentions behind the various provisions of the Bill now before the Senate. Therefore, on the Bill being passed by Parliament, arrangements will be made for an explanatory booklet on the Bill to be published and given the widest possible distribution. There will also be raised with the appropriate authorities the question of the Act, as amended by the Bill, being published in consolidated form. 1 commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Greenwood) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
My remarks on this Bill will be brief. I foreshadowed it when I introduced the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to the Senate earlier. Moreover, when the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) made his statement on 7th December 1971 to the House of Representatives outlining the Government’s proposals as to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, he indicated that the Government would introduce legislation to give effect to the proposals that are now contained in this Bill. The Bill is a simple yet most significant one. It proposes that, for the purposes of the application of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to industrial disputes in the Australian Capital Territory, a person employed for the purpose of work wholly or mainly in the Territory shall be deemed to be employed in an industry and an industrial dispute in relation to the employment of persons in the Territory shall be deemed to be an industrial dispute in the Territory.
Under the Constitution, the Commonwealth has power to legislate for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes. I emphasise the word ‘industrial* because this indicates that a dispute must involve persons who are employed in or in connection with an industry. The question of what is the meaning of ‘industry’ or industrial’ has been considered on several occasions by the High Court. Perhaps the most notable cases are the teachers case of 1929, the professional engineers case of 1959 and, more recently, the firefighters case of 1970. In that last-mentioned case the High Court held that firefighting was not an industry. Following that decision the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission held that it lacked jurisdiction to make an award in the Australian Capital Territory covering firefighters employed in the Territory. This Parliament cannot legislate to widen the meaning of the word industrial’ for the purposes of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act generally. It cannot give it a meaning different from that intended by the Constitution. However, Parliament can, by legislation, widen the meaning of ‘industrial’ in relation to the operation of that Act in the 2 mainland territories - the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
The Conciliation and Arbitration Act has long been applied in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory by the Seat of Government (Administration) Act and the Northern Territory (Administration) Act, respectively. However, its application has been limited to the prevention and settlement of disputes in an industry in the constitutional meaning of that word. Thus, in light of its consideration of the decision in the firefighters’ case and the particular result that has flowed from that decision in the Australian Capital Territory, the Government sees no reason why the jurisdiction of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission should be restricted in the Territories to dealing with industrial disputes involving only persons who are engaged in an industry in the constitutional sense of that word.
The Bill to amend the Seat of Government (Administration) Act, therefore, proposes to widen the Commission’s jurisdiction in the manner I have already indicated as to the Australian Capital Territory. A further Bill that I am about to introduce proposes the same widening of the Commission’s jurisdiction as to the Northern Territory. Honourable senators will note, however, that neither this Bill nor that as to the Northern Territory will interfere with the jurisdiction of other dispute settling tribunals. These are the Public Service Arbitrator and tribunals set up under ordinances to deal with claims lodged by police in the Australian Capital Territory and by firemen, prison staff and police in the Northern Territory. 1 am sure honourable senators on both sides of the chamber will welcome these 2 measures.
I commend the Bill to honourable senators and I propose that it be debated along with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill currently before the Senate because it forms part of the Government’s total measures to improve the system of conciliation and arbitration in the country.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Greenwood) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I do not propose to speak in detail on this measure. In my remarks in connection with the Seat of Government (Administration) Bill that I have just introduced to the Senate I indicated the reasons which have moved the Government to introduce this Bill. I would also propose that it be debated along with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill presently before the Senate. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 16 May (vide page 1698), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I participated in the debate on this Bill for only a few minutes last night and 1 want to continue my remarks today. I want briefly to point to some of the fallacies in the remarks that have been made by speakers on the Government side of the chamber. Firstly I refer to a paragraph of Senator Maunsell’s speech which appears on page 1684 of Hansard. Senator Maunsell claimed:
And he was referring to members of the Opposition - have not wanted mining companies to come into Queensland. But Queensland will have all of these forms of development in time. It will not be too long before Queensland will notice the millions of dollars that the mining companies will bring in. A new company has commenced operations up near Townsville. Some $200m will be spent there in a few years on nickel mining. There have been knockers of that project, too. People are going around and saying that the mining will pollute the sea, the atmosphere and everything else around the place. They are trying their hardest to stop nickel mining in Townsville. That is the sort of thinking of the present Opposition.
This is what was claimed by Senator Maunsell and it is just one of the things that ought to be repudiated at this time.
The Australian Labor Party has not at any stage said that it did not want nickel mining development to go ahead. In any case, the nickel is not being mined at Townsville. It is being mined at the other end of a 140 mile long railway line which extends into the west of the State. It is true that some treatment of nickel will be carried out at a processing plant some 15 or 16 miles north of Townsville.
Members of the Australian Labor Party have rightly said in the other place that all the precautions in the world ought to be taken to ensure that pollution does not ensue as a result of this development. The controversial off-shore legislation which nas caused division within the Government parties and the marine science legislation are 2 Bills that have still to be debated in this Parliament. One of the first things we have to do is to decide the law of the sea. If the proposed marine science institute is established at Cape Pallarenda it may not be a ‘goer’, to use an Australian slang phrase, if water pollution is so great that marine life is not able to live in the area. However, it is quite improper, unfair and untrue to say that the Labor Party is opposed to the development of the Greenvale nickel deposit. The Labor Party has not said this at any time. All the Party has said is that there ought to be a greater share in the mineral deposits of Queensland for the Queensland people and the Australian people generally. Members of the Australian Labor Party have said this right across the board; they have not applied this belief to a particular mine. The Labor Party is critical of the way the Australian Country Party is continuing, and has continued over a long period of time, to turn this country into a quarry, not only sending out of this country base minerals that we will need ourselves within the foreseeable future, but also selling these minerals for a pittance.
Senator Bonner, in an effort to take up from where previous speakers on the Government side had left off, made what appears to me to be a direct quotation from the policy speech delivered by Mr Bjelke-Petersen. On page 1696 of Hansard Senator Bonner said:
In 19S7 Queensland’s consolidated revenue expenditure was $170m. I ask honourable senators to note that this year that expenditure will total more than $570m. This is a massive increase in any man’s language. These are figures that speak for themselves. The additional funds provided under this Bill will be very welcome in Queensland. They will help the State to continue with the task it is facing in its development projects.
That is another fallacy because inflation over this period of time has increased tremendously the overall figures. The fact that expenditure has increased from $170m in 1957 to $570m does not tell the real story. Under the present inflationary trends perhaps if that figure were $700m or $800m it might be nearer the mark. Later in this debate my colleague, Senator Devitt, from Tasmania, will probably be speaking. To obtain a grant of this kind Queensland has become a mendicant State. Queensland has come to the Commonwealth Parliament on its political hands and knees. It is giving away its sovereignty as a State. Some people would say that this is a good idea. But Tasmania and its governments can tell the real story of what happens when a State is placed in such a situation.
It is more than probable - in fact, highly likely - that Queensland would never have been in this position if the present Queensland Government had not been in control of the affairs of that State for the last 15 years. That Government has mismanaged Queensland’s economy and its assets to the extent that Queensland now is virtually bankrupt. Later in this debate, I will prove what I have said by reading from the application made by the Queensland Government to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. I wish to quote now a couple of points from the annual report for 1971 of the Townsville Chamber of Commerce. Reference is made to development works about which we hear each election time but about which the Queensland Government, especially the Country Party component of it, has failed to do anything. This report states at page 34:
For many years water conservation has been strongly requested of both State and Federal Governments from Local Authorities, organisations and individuals from all over North Queensland districts. One of the most discussed schemes is the Burdekin River Dam, and from the following facts and figures it will be appreciated what this famous river has to offer.
Catchment Area: 50,000 square miles.
Average annual run-off: 8,000 acre feet.
Dam Site: 99 miles from the mouth. There are several other sites which are smaller but nevertheless quite suitable.
Dam Capacity: 6) million acre feet, which is 16 times that of Sydney Harbour.
Daily Output: 1,500 million gallons.
No mention at all has been made of schemes of this type in the application made to the Commonwealth Grants Commission by the Queensland Government for financial assistance. The application touches superficially on a number of points but from reading it we see that Queensland is short of money for its police force, for its hospitals and for education. In fact, the Government of Mr Bjelke-Petersen is short of money, period.
– After last week, it is not.
– I do not know what happened last week, unless the Premier won the Golden Casket because his Government could not get the money from anywhere else. The second point made by the business people of Townsville is in relation to the fishing industry. The annual report of the Townsville Chamber of Commerce states:
Unfortunately complete details are not procurable, nevertheless we are aware that the Townsville Fish Board alone handled 280,000 lb of fish which included 159,000lb of mackerel this year and 70,000 lb of prawns.
The report goes on to give some additional details. Queensland is the only State in Australia in which a proper survey of fishing grounds has never been carried out.
What manner of man is running the hillbilly government in the State of Queensland? Let me quote from a letter which I have received from a friend of mine who is a good worker for the Australian Labor Party. He attended a meeting at which the Premier spoke in support of one of the State Country Party candidates, the Reverent Mr Male. My friend entered the meeting with a tag which read that it was time for a change of government. The Premier read out the inscription on the tag. My friend writes:
It was lovely to hear him say it.
At another point I mentioned Mr Hinze.
Mr Hinze as my colleague Senator McAuliffe could tell the Senate, has isolated himself because he is interested in looking after Mr Hinze and he does not worry too much about the Country Party or the Liberal Party. My friend mentioned his name and said:
Isn’t he the person who tried to remove you as Leader of the Country Party?
In fact, he was. He was one of a small group who tried to remove the Premier not so many months ago. But the Premier at this meeting defended Mr Hinze and said that he was a fine man. Speaking again of the Premier, my friend states:
He told us what a lot he had done for education.
The Premier went on in some detail, all of which I will not quote. My correspondent pointed out that in the area in which he lived there were 8 public schools all of which had tin shed classrooms. Our Premier, the man who has come cap in hand to the Commonwealth Government for assistance, denied that they were tin and said that they were made of galvanised iron. He continued:
Anyway, I went to school under a tree.
My correspondent said:
That is obvious.
At that point, the election meeting was brought down with laughter. On a further note-
– You mean a more intelligent note, surely?
– Well, I think that this is in keeping with the general intelligence of the Country Party. I cannot help it if the honourable senator’s colleague in Queensland makes statements that are not intelligent. At this meeting an interjection came from the back of the hall. A gentleman said that his father was a Country Party member and that he was raised as a strong supporter of the coalition. Then he made various remarks about the religious attitudes of the Reverend Mr Male. The Reverend Mr Male then endeavoured-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! Senator Keeffe, come back to the Bill before the Senate which is the Queensland Grant Bill.
– I am talking about the Bill, Mr Acting Deputy President. I am trying to inform you that, when this grant is made to Queensland, it will be administered for some short time at any rate by the sort of people that I am describing. This is a little like what happened here this afternoon. I am not casting any aspersions on the Chair. It is well known that in the drought years of 1970 and 1971 very large sums of Commonwealth money - taxpayer’s money - were paid into the coffers of the Queensland Government. The dogs are barking - my colleague Senator
McAuliffe used the same expression about another matter yesterday - that tens of thousands of dollars of that money have been misappropriated. Yet, when 1 asked a question on the matter this afternoon I did not get a civil reply from the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). What is the reason for this? Is the Government trying to protect those engaged in graft and corruption because these people happen to be its political colleagues? It is neither fair nor proper that this should happen in the national Parliament.
– I take a point of order. The honourable senator is making no reference whatsoever to the Bill before the Senate.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! The point of order is not without substance. I ask you, Senator Keeffe, to keep your remarks relevant to the matter before the Senate, which is the Queensland Grant Bill.
– I am. I am illustrating it. If corruption must be exposed at any point, I will not back away from a consideration of it. If a government has mismanaged the affairs of this country, I will not back away from discussing that matter either. If the truth must be told, I propose to tell it in this Senate which is the proper forum in this country to debate the matter. The claim has been made that, because the Queensland Government is bankrupt in respect of both money and attitudes, this special assistance is needed for development to carry on and, as it were, to balance the Queensland budget. These problems arise because of the mismanagement of the Queensland Government.
The latest unemployment figures indicate that 7,797 males and 4,748 females are registered as unemployed in Queensland. Let us look at the details of these figures. In the metropolitan area, 2,991 males and 1,778 females are registered as unemployed. This is less than half the total figure. Turning to country areas - these are the areas whose interests the Country Party Government ought to be looking after and the areas in which it will waste the money that will be given to it by this legislation - we find that in Cairns the total number registered as unemployed is 1,346 while unfilled vacancies number 39 for males and 27 for females. The break-up of the figures reveals that there are 1,114 males and 232 females registered as unemployed in Cairns. One could probably double those figures because very many people in this community do not register for unemployment benefit.
In my own city of Townsville 1,036 persons - 639 males and 397 females - are registered as unemployed. The job vacancies unfilled are a little in excess of one hundred. Yet we are told that this money will be expended in other areas but will not be used to look after those facing these problems in Queensland. Because of the limitations of time I will not bc able to mention the other figures available. But these figures do prove that it is the country areas of Queensland from which the greatest exodus has taken place. There arc no jobs; there is no possibility of youngsters getting apprenticeships, and facilities for higher education, particularly for the children of people on low wages, are almost non-existent. When we cover some of the notes in the application I shall look at some of the details in that area.
Longreach, a very small town, has 27 people out of work, though it is true that the number of job vacancies there is high. In Rockhampton in the central district, the total number of registered unemployed is 840 but the total number of job vacancies is fewer than 100. We have heard sad stories from the Queensland Premier and his colleagues about all the money that the State has spent as a result of natural disasters, firstly, the big drought, and secondly the damage caused by floods and cyclones late last year and early this year. I know Townsville well. The Prime Minister visited that city and promised unlimited financial support, but it never eventuated. Statements have been made that the State Government has made substantial cash payments for the relief of distress in the Townsville area following that disaster. It never has. Less than $500,000 has been paid to date, I waited 3 months for this Government to tell me the total grant for Queensland. It was well under $3m - I am speaking now from memory - of which approximately Sim was for local government repair works. The insurance payout alone for damage to buildings and dwellings will be about S50m. The State Government adopted a niggardly attitude in its measures to assist people, affected by the disaster. Hundreds of houses in Townsville remain wrecked and hundreds of houses still have tarpaulins over the roof. There is no suggestion in the application by Queensland that any of this money will be used in the future to relieve the plight of victims of natural disasters.
I want to refer briefly to the effects of mining operations on conservation. We all know that many hundreds of thousands of acres of Queensland beaches have been destroyed over the. last 10 or 15 years owing to the inroads made by mining companies. Stradbroke Island is a good example of this. Cooloola is another area that could have been gravely damaged by unchecked mining developments. We were told a long time ago that this area was to be preserved as a natural forest. We are now told that the Premier will make a statement - I think tomorrow - on what will happen at Cooloola.
In the few moments I have left for my speech, I want to refer to some of the terms of the application. I think that a school child moving into the secondary education field would have been able to compile a better application. In paragraph 5 on page 6 the following appears:
Queensland examined its budgetary prospects for 1971-72 in the light of actual figures for the first six months of the year and other information which had become available since the estimates were presented to the Parliament. It considered that the final budget deficit was likely to be about $10.5 million rather than the figure of $7 million indicated in the budget.
The Queensland Government budgeted for a deficit of $7m, but it was $3.5m out. If that Government cannot keep a set of books for its own State, how will it look after this grant of $9m from the Commonwealth? The whole application is an exercise in incompetent government. The report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission at page. 7, paragraph 12, states:
Dealing with police expenditure, the submission presented comparative information for Queensland and the standard States-
Honourable senators must remember that the standard States are the big States. They will decide what the mendicant States will get and how it will be allocated - with regard to area, length of roads requiring traffic control and supervision, length of coastline (requiring provision for search and rescue), density and distribution of population, lt pointed to the high cost of transfer of pol.’ce and provision of relief for staff on leave arising from the large areas and distances in the State. It also claimed that, because of the much lower density of population over much of the State, police officers in Queensland have a greater rang; of “extraneous” duties for other Stale departments than their counterparts in the standard States; and since most of these duties are in the “unadjusted” field “the State surfers the unfavourable adjustment under Police but receives no compensating benefit elsewhere in the calculation of a grant”. It concluded that “although we are not able to give statistical support to any definite level” a 10 per cent disability allowance for these special factors, which would amount to $2.3 million, “would not be unreasonable”.
I submit that the Minister in his reply should give some indication of how the Commonwealth Government made an assessment before deciding to give this grant to Queensland. To me, that is a very vague paragraph in the application. If honourable senators want to delve into detail, they will find that the police force in Queensland is completely mismanaged starting from the Minister and working down. The police union in Queensland has said so time and time again, as has the Leader of the Opposition. There is currently a vote of no confidence in the Minister and the administrative officers at the top level in various police districts throughout Queensland. Not many months ago a state of emergency was declared over a football match. Whole cities and towns were left without police while they were transported to the city to visit a football match. While this was going on, there were more road accidents in country areas and some youngsters lost their lives because there was no police supervision in the area. At page 8 of the report it is stated:
It was argued that ‘Public Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Mental Hospitals are to an extent inter-connected’, and Queensland supported the proposal submitted by Tasmania in December 1971 that these three groups should be considered together and that a percentage allowance should be added to the standard in recognition of special difficulties. It was submitted that in the absence of a precise figure a 10 per cent allowance, amounting to $5.1m on hospital and nursing home expenditure, would be appropriate.
Here is another department which the State Government does not know how to organise or what its losses and expenditure are likely to be. The report then goes on to deal with railway charges. It is a well known fact that there are preferential freights in Queensland. If a person belongs to the ‘haves’ he can get freight concessions, but if he belongs to the ‘have nots’ he cannot. North of Capricorn, in fact north of the metropolitan area, sales tax is charged by the Commonwealth Government on all freights on vehicles, consumer goods and durable goods of any type. Anyone buying a car in Townsville must pay freight amounting to $150 or more, and also sales tax at the current rate of, I think, 27.5 per cent. Every time we raise this matter in the Parliament we are told that the Treasury accountants do not have the ability to separate the charges. What a lot of poppycock. People in isolated areas have to put up with these disabilities. The Commonwealth Government is aided and abetted in this by the incompetent Queensland Government. The final paragraph of the submission - paragraph 16 - states:
Queensland submitted that it should receive a favourable adjustment for its above-standard level of rail freights of an amount at least sufficient to offset the estimated unfavourable adjustment of $9.7m on account of below-standard severity of Slate taxation. Its estimate that Queensland’s rates are 13 per cent above standard would imply a favourable adjustment of $14m. In assessing the minimum’ special grant of $ 10.5m claimed for 1971-72 it had not taken into account any favourable adjustment for railway charges.
I join my colleagues in criticising the Commonwealth Government’s action in making this grant to Queensland which ought to have been able to stand on its own feet. It would have been able to do so if there had been competent government in that State. But government has run down so much in the past 10 to 15 years that today it is virtually non-existent. The only way in which it is able to stay in power is by approaching the Commonwealth on its political hands and knees. Asking for handouts, grants, aid and anything else it can get, selling its soul iti the process and gerrymandering electoral boundaries. That is an important factor in keeping the Country Party-Liberal Government in office in Queensland. Without the gerrymander, that Government would not have been able to survive, even on the sums generously given to it by the Commonwealth over the past decade.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 p.m. to 8 p.m.
– 1 have very great pleasure in speaking in the debate on this Bill as it relates to my own State of Queensland. It involves the matter of aid to that State, lt is of very great interest to learn how applications for grants are considered by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. One particular paragraph, crystallised into a very few words, shows the basis upon which assessments of grants to States are made, lt says that special grants are justified when a State, through financial stress from any cause, is unable efficiently to discharge its functions as a member of the Federation and should be determined by the amount of help found necessary to make it possible for that State by a reasonable effort to function at a standard not appreciably below the other States. So far as my State is concerned, this request for a grant is something new. The grant has been decried by some honourable senators on the other side of the chamber. I feel that if my State can get this money to assist it Queensland senators should welcome such a grant. It is not right for honourable senators from that State to decry our State to such an extent that it appears in the public mind to be a State not very worthy of much consideration.
– That is not what we said. You want to give the lot away.
- Senator Keeffe has made his speech and I did not interject then. I do not worry about interjections-
– I said nothing wrong.
– Senator Keeffe at various times certainly takes the opportunity to degrade his State and this is entirely wrong.
– I degraded the Government.
– The honourable senator said that be degraded the Government. One of the fascinating things about this debate is that anything that the present CountryLiberal Party Government in Queensland has done has been wrong in the eyes of Labor senators. Of course, they say, the good thing for Queensland was the previous Labor Government. I sat here entranced last night-
– Did you say in a trance?
– I said ‘entranced’. I was entranced at the very fine story of the Gair Government which was put forward by Labor senators in this chamber. I am convinced on the view expressed by Labor senators that they had a very high regard for the Gair Labor Government when it was in office. It would appear to me that honourable senators opposite are dripping tears of sympathy over the loss of the Gair Labor Government in Queensland. So much was I taken by this story told by honourable senators opposite that I got the impression that Queensland senators on the other side of the chamber really have gone over to the Democratic Labor Party. It looks as though the DLP will have an influx of present Labor senators and I warn Senator McManus that he had better be prepared to open the ranks a little further.
– Do you ever vote against your Government?
– I never vote against my Government unless I feel the need to do so. That is a privilege we have on this side of the House and I exercise it whenever necessary. I make a judgment of legislation and decide what will benefit the country most and vote accordingly.
– Do you know what your Party members call you?
– I do not care what my Party members call me. All I worry about is that when I lay my head down at night my heart and conscience can rest easily. I do not care what anybody thinks about me as long as what I do is right. What people in this chamber think about me does not worry me. It is what the people of Queensland think about me with which I am most concerned. We have heard this very gloomy story about Queensland but I feel that Queensland has a most fascinating story to tell. It is a story of progress, prosperity and development since the present Country-Liberal Party Government took office.
– You praised Senator Gair.
– It was not I who was praising him. I am glad to hear Senator Mulvihill praise him. I say quite honestly that he was a good Premier. I am quite happy to see quality in the Opposition. There are some honourable senators on the Opposition side to whom I pay a tribute for their quality. So I am never blind to the quality that there is on the other side of the chamber. I hope
I will always feel that way. The story of the development of Queensland is a very fascinating one, particularly in the mining field. Over the years there has been a transformation. I will not accuse the previous State Labor Government of having fallen down in its dealings with matters such as coal because in days gone by, I think when Senator Gair was the Premier, coal was a drug on the market. There was difficulty in getting people to take coal. In my district of Mackay there is one of the biggest coal fields in Australia. For years it was impossible to get people to take coal at all and a great deal of credit is due to the late Ernie Evans, the previous Minister for Mines, for encouraging men like Thiess Bros to go out into this area to drill and to find coal. Very often, of course, such endeavours come about by the development of markets.
– And a good Federal member like Dr Patterson.
– I have a great respect for Dr Patterson but these moves were made many years before Dr Patterson appeared on the political scene. For years efforts were made to try to get some interest taken in what are now magnificent coal fields. The late Ernie Evans, who was the Minister at the time, gave strong encouragement to this development. He must have realised that one of the great opportunities that would come to this country would be the big industrial development in Japan which lies to the north of us. What has been done makes a very fine story. Opposition senators were talking about the small royalty paid by the people taking the coal out. The royalty paid to the Queensland Government is 5c a ton. However, it is not just royalty that counts but what else flows to the economy of the State. Whatever royalty is fixed by the State Government is fixed for the whole term of the lease operated by the mining company. But there are other ways in which the Government can receive far more considerable benefits than the simple royalty. Last night Senator Georges spoke about the line to Goonyella which runs south of Mackay. He asked: What does Mackay get from it? During the building and development of the railway line to the fields and also the development of the mine, the city and district of Mackay received very strong help in their development and great wealth has been brought to the area as a result of this development at Goonyella.
– How much Australian investment is in it?
– 1 will tell Senator McAuliffe how much investment there is in it. This project is being undertaken by Utah Construction and Engineering Pty Ltd, an American company. Honourable senators opposite, including Senator McAuliffe, have spoken about the 5c royalty. However, there has been a railway line built in this area at a cost of $36m which in a matter of a few years, during which time there will be payment of rail charges for the carrying of coal to the coast, will be handed over free to the State Government of Queensland. The construction cost of that line, $36m, represents the equivalent of 75c a ton royalty.
– Is this a confidential concession rate?
– It is not a confidential concession rate. I know what the honourable senator is talking about. What I am trying to tell honourable senators is that the line has been built and over a number of years the freight rates will pay for it. lt will then become the property of the Queensland Government free of charge. Sir Gordon Chalk in a statement made in the ‘Courier Mail’ away back on 10th February 1969 said:
The State will receive $50m from Goonyella over 12) years.
Of course this is a magnificent contribution. To talk about royalties only - they are chickenfeed. The Opposition has been talking about 10c or 15c. Honourable senators will see that what the Queensland Government has done is better by far than what the Opposition has talked about. Earlier in a speech the Premier said:
Just think carefully what the Goonyella agreement means. We have negotiated an agreement whereby the Utah company has to supply every penny to build the railway line which the Queensland Government will control and operate with the first shipment of coal and in 121 years the whole debt will be redeemed and the railway handed over to the Government at no cost (o the people of Queensland.
I think a very fine job has been done by the Queensland Government to bring that about. I think that was much better than fixing a higher royalty, because I ask honourable senators to remember that the royalty rate cannot be altered once it is fixed, but the rail freight rates can be increased whenever it is desired. So with altering economic conditions it is within the control of the Queensland Government to maintain its rate of profit on the coal area, comparable with the rate applicable when the project started.
– Does the honourable senator think that the Treasury officials were unfair in saying that Queensland was charging too low a rate for royalties?
– I would say that they did not understand the situation.
– The Treasury officials did not?
– If the Treasury officials said that they did not understand the situation.
– They did say that.
– I do not care what they said. One has to look at the situation in terms of pounds, shillings and pence or dollars, whatever honourable senators would like to term it. Queensland will benefit greatly as a result of this development Over a period of years we will find flowing into Queensland great wealth because of the development of our coal.
– Has the honourable senator any shares in Goonyella?
– No, unfortunately, I do not have any shares in Goonyella. I think that a company was floated in Australia and that quite a number of Australians hold shares. I know that Labor senators, and Opposition senators in general, talk about selling the country. As they term it, foreigners are coming in and digging out our coal. Let me remind honourable senators that it is all right having coal but the thing to do is to use it. Changes in industry are taking place. New inventions and new ideas are coming out. There are changes in the treatment of copper and in the iron and steel industry, and so on. The point is that if we do not sell this coal now we might find that we will have to keep it because we will never be able to sell it. It is rather interesting to note that in completing this deal the Queensland Government was well aware that, in the long term, there must be a diminishing market for coking coal. The position was put very well in a statement in the ‘Courier Mail’ of 23rd January by the Professor of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering at the Queensland University, Professor R. L. Whitmore. The statement was reported as follows:
He so properly pointed out that steel-making methods might well dispense, in the long term, with the need for huge quantities of coking coal.
The professor made a particularly pertinent remark in his Press report when he said: ‘Let’s get some of it (the coal) out and get something back for it’.
These remarks were particularly appropriate when regard is had to the fact that the State was able to obtain most lucrative terms and conditions in negotiating such a long-term agreement.
It is probably easy to say and to think that that will not happen. But it is happening. Already changes have been made in the steel making industry. To indicate that changes do take place in the coal industry let us look at our gas coal areas such as Rosewood. We know that many of the mines in that area were closed down because of the change that took place. There were no orders for the gas-making coal and, as a consequence, a lot of those mines have been closed down. The position is this: Not only is the Government of Queensland receiving a royalty and high profits from the utilisation of the railways carrying coal to the coast, so opening up sparsely populated areas, but also the railway lines are being used for the carrying of goods and crops such as grain. This is helping to develop those sparsely populated areas. This is playing a magnificent part in the development of our country. Also these mining projects which are going on in Queensland have a flow-on. The Premier in a statement gave figures to prove that the flow-on benefit from mineral operations to the State’s economy was incontestable.
Let us look at the railway revenue from mining. From 1967 to 1968 the revenue from the Mount Isa area was $7,435,209. From Moura it was $5,223,262. From Blackwater for the 1968 calendar year it was about $3im. I turn now to harbour dues at main ports. At Weipa, which of course ships bauxite, the harbour dues increased from $140,509 in 1965-66 to $686,536 in 1967-68. At Gladstone the figure increased from less than $500,000 in 1965-66 to about $750,000 in 1967-68. In Townsville the figure for harbour dues rose to $722,000-odd in 1965-66. Subsequent figures are not available because of other reasons. This will give honourable senators an idea of the flow-on in matters of harbour dues and other things. But what about employment? At Weipa 307 people are working plus 103 contractors. Wages, excluding contractors’, amounted to $ 1.66m yearly. Capital expenditure by Comalco is $25.4m. The Government’s expenditure of $5. 2m has been mainly on the harbour and port works which enables the Government to maintain control of the port. In Mount Isa, because of mining, the urban population is 16,877. Mine employees number 4,766 with 142 contractors, totalling 4,908. At Moura there are 434 miners above ground and 125 below, making a total of 559. Another development is Utah-Blackwater with 188 people working.
This is the way the situation goes, lt is a fantastic story of development and decentralisation. It is an exciting story of employment and a more exciting story of prosperity for the State. Mining is very important to Queensland. The national development authorities in the Federal sphere estimate that mining exports will be worth $l,000m to this country by 1973. Of this amount $140m will be contributed by the aluminium industry. The aluminium industry is very important to Queensland. By 1980, 25 per cent of the world’s aluminium is expected to come from the Australian industry. Six hundred men are employed by Queensland Alumina Ltd at Gladstone, at a plant which processes the bauxite from Weipa. The plant’s rated capacity recently was increased by 50 per cent to 900,000 long tons. Some idea of the immensity of the project can be gained from the fact that that expansion meant the addition of 10,000 tons of steel, 32,000 cubic yards of concrete and 45 miles of piping. The Queensland Alumina company has now invested SI 60m in the construction of the Gladstone refinery. The capital investment of $115m for the original plant and $40m for stage 2 represented the greatest infusion of capital into any Queensland industry in such a short space of time.
– You are reading from the Comalco company’s annual report.
– The Comalco project also was fostered by the present CountryLiberal Party Government. Honourable senators will remember that Mr Ernie Evans was Minister for Mines at that time. Because of his farsightedness and his vision, we see this magnificent result.
– Who started Mount lsa?
– Mount Isa was started many years ago.
– By whom?
– I am not saying that the present Government started it. It was started long before that Government came to power. But under that Government it has received further encouragement and, as a consequence, it has developed further, until today Mount lsa is a magnificent mine. To be quite fair, 1 should say that when Mount Isa was started the government of the day played an important part in the original development. So the cumulative actions of governments in Queensland over a period of time have developed this area into a mining proposition of which we as Queenslanders can be very proud.
– When were you last in Gladstone?
– You mean people such as those in the Gair Government?
– In the days of the Gair Government.
– Give us some idea of the housing conditions in Gladstone.
– To give an idea of what this sort of project means to the country, I point out that next year Queensland Alumina Ltd will consume 2 million tons of Weipa bauxite, 150,000 tons of fuel oil from a refinery in Brisbane, 60,000 tons of central Queensland limestone - that is another industry in Queensland - 2,000 tons of central Queensland sorghum flour, 370,000 tons of central Queensland coal and 30 megawatts of electricity. In 1969 this company was expected to contribute more than $13m to the economy for labour and services, exclusive of moneys spent on raw materials sad supplies. In addition, the company was expected to produce alumina for export valued at more than $40m, giving a large boost to the national income of this country. That is a very important point.
– Will you tell us that company’s profit now.
– I know that honourable senators opposite are always talking about foreign money, but this does not mean only that foreign money is coming into the country; it means also many advantages to this country.
– The Attorney-General wants to make a contribution.
– The Opposition deliberately ignores the fact that money is flowing in as a result of these major mining prospects. Queensland Alumina Ltd is just one example of this. Labour senators concentrate on royalty payments. How many times must we repeat that royalties in mineral development are a minimum factor, a minimum part of the benefit to the State. The State of Queensland and the country as a whole receive from mining much greater benefits than just the royalties.
– How much tax have Comalco and Queensland Alumina paid?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! Senator Georges, you will cease interjecting. I have warned you repeatedly and I will not allow continual disobedience of the Chair.
– If I might make my point-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order Senator Georges, you will cease interrupting.
– I have not much time left because of the fact-
– I rise to a point of order. Mr Deputy President, if you care to look at the Hansard record of last night’s proceedings-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Do you have a point of order?
– I am stating my point of order.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- What is your point of order?
– My point of order is that I object to your disciplining of me, especially in view of the fact that last night when 1 was on my feet I was interrupted on a number of occasions and the Senate was not brought to order. I think that in fairness I should be allowed to make the occasional interjection, even if it is to the disadvantage of the person speaking. But if you will look at the Hansard record of last night’s debate, Mr Deputy President, you will see that on many occasions I was interrupted and that my line of thought was-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Senator Georges, you will resume your seat. You cannot rise to a point of order for the purpose of making a speech. There is no substance in the point of order.
– Because my time has been cut in half through interjections, no doubt deliberately, let me just outline some of the important features of these projects. They have been brought into effect by the Country-Liberal Party Government in Queensland and have created employment in quite a number of areas, decentralisation, and so on. Let me give a striking illustration of the advantages of these projects in respect of school students. In Blackwater in 1965 only 35 children were enrolled in the school. In 1972 the number rose to 570 because of the development of this coal field. In 1975 the number of enrolments is expected to be 900, whereas in 1965 it was only 35. If the State of Queensland is supposed to be so badly run, these figures prove rather interesting. Putting the position in short terms, the Queensland Government was the only State government in Australia, to my knowledge, that made a profit on its railway operations.
– Then why is it a claimant State?
– The State of Victoria has been harassed by the terrific losses that it has suffered. The other States are in a similar position. Yet Queensland has made a profit.
– I rise to a point of order. Standing order 422 provides that no senator shall interrupt another senator while he is speaking. Senator Georges has been doing it continuously.
– It is a bit late. I rise to a point of order, Mr Deputy President.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! You have no point of order.
– A point of order has been raised and I wish to speak to that point of order. I am entitled to speak to that point of order. I want to know why the Minister in charge of this Bill did not raise this point of order last night when I was interrupted continually by members of the opposition. I was not given the opportunity to state my case without interruption. So, it is unfair of the Minister at this stage to raise a point of order against me.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - At the present time you are grossly out of order in criticising the Chair.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator Georges referred to us as the opposition’.
– Well, you are the opposition to us.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I call Senator Wood,
– Of course, these interruptions are deliberately designed to cut into my time. Last night Senator Georges was weeping tears about New South Wales coal mines closing down. Why did they close down? The reason is that over a period of years the New South Wales Labor Minister for Mines, who had been a miner, was persuaded by the miners to try to prevent open cut mining. What happened as a result? One of these mines was producing 3 tons per man-day. In modern conditions who can operate a mine on 3 tons per man-day? What did the coal miners from a mine which was closed down do recently? They took over the mine unlawfully. What happened? They produced 1 ton per man-day. This is the sort of thing that has been happening. When the Rosewood mines in Queensland closed because they were not receiving orders for gas coal, did the New South Wales mines and miners come to the rescue by sending orders for gas coal? Of course they did not.
Let us have a look at the record of those miners in New South Wales. How many strikes did they have over the 4 or 5 year period? What were the reasons for the strikes? How long did they last? How was production affected? The New South Wales miners are squealing, but they have only themselves to blame. By their strikes, their disturbances and their upsetting of production, they have made it uneconomic for mines to work in those areas. My time has been eaten into by all these interjections. No doubt this was done for a purpose. Today Queensland is on the great road of prosperity because the Country-Liberal Party Government has achieved so much in developing the great mining projects in the wonderful State of Queensland. Last night honourable senators opposite were electioneering in the speeches they made, but they were whistling up their sleeves because on the 27th of this month Queensland will again have a Country-Liberal Party government.
– It appears to me, Mr Acting Deputy President, that nobody else wishes to speak. I will be happy to sit down if anyone wants to continue the debate.
– Yes, I would like to speak in this debate and to say something which is sweet and straight to the point. I have not been a member of the Senate for very long but I have not heard so many interjections going on during a reasonable and fair debate. It is disgusting to me that Opposition senators should make a point of interjecting. I am an independent senator. I think that the first thing honourable senators should do is to give another honourable senator a decent hearing while he is making a speech. Even though I am a Western Australian I consider that if an amount of money is to be granted to the Queensland Government it is because that Government needs it. I believe we can rest assured that the present Commonwealth Government has looked into this matter very carefully. I strongly support the grant of this money to the Queensland Government. I sincerely trust that honourable senators will cut out the shenanigans and get down to some decent business.
– Although no-one would believe it, the Bill we are debating is the Queensland Grant Bill 1972. The main purpose of the Bill is to authorise the payment of a special advance grant of $9m to Queensland in 1971-72 in accordance with the recommendation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission which is contained in its report on the application by the Queensland Government. The report recommending that grant already has been tabled. There are one or two brief comments I might make. Special grants are paid to financially weaker States as supplements to the financial assistance grants, the main general revenue grants, to the States. The purpose of these special grants is to compensate the States concerned for such factors as lower capacity to raise revenue and higher costs. The Commonwealth Government stated on an earlier occasion that each of the 4 less populous States may apply for these grants if any or all of them believe that their share of the financial assistance grants is too low when compared with those for New South Wales and Victoria. Tasmania has applied continually for such grants. South Australia applied again in 1970-71, having not applied since 1959- 60. It had previously been a claimant. Queensland applied for the first time in September 1971. Normally the States make their applications for special grants well before the beginning of each financial year. The Commission makes its recommendation near the beginning of the year and the necessary legislation is passed in the Budget session. The special grants to South Australia and Tasmania in 1970-71 were authorised by the States Grants (Special Assistance) Act 1971 which was passed last year.
This debate really has been most entertaining. I have sat here for over a day quite fascinated, indeed spellbound. I think Senator Georges would admit that I listened even to him as well as to many of his colleagues with rapt attention and it could not be said that I interrupted any of them. This exercise has been most illuminating. We have heard a series of speeches relating not to this Queensland Grant Bill at all but to the Queensland State election. That is what we had from Opposition senators. From honourable senators on the Government side we have heard a series of most constructive, sensible, well-balanced and illuminating speeches, characterised by the final remarks of Senator Wood who is not without some experience in Queensland as he is Mayor of the city of Mackay. I emphasise the word city.
– You did not say that about him in 1961, did you?
– I was not here then. Senator Wood has been a friend of mine since 1949 and 1 have thought very highly of him always. My view has never changed; I sustain that view today. The proposals that have come from members of the Opposition are not clear. Do they want Queensland to have this money from the Commonwealth Grants Commission or do they not? What do they want? Do they or do they not want the people of Queensland to have this? Those who vote for the Bill will indicate their support for the view that the living standards of the people of Queensland should be lifted at least to the level of that of the people of every other State. There will be nothing wrong with doing this. Indeed, this is what ought to be done in a Federation. Those who do not vote for the Bill, or who have indicated in their speeches that they do not support it, will not want Queensland to receive this 9m. Perhaps they will indicate by using their feet that they do not want this to happen. What are we to understand from what has been said by members of the Opposition? They told us that they supported the Bill; then they condemned their own State Government out of hand. Progressively, throughout a period of just over a day of debate, they have subjected the Queensland Premier, the Queensland Government, and indeed their own State to a series of observations which would not have impressed a Queenslander very much.
I still gather from my notes and from previous comments that, strange as it may seem, the Opposition supports the Bill, irrespective of many remarks directed by senators to matters which are purely and simply, without doubt, the concern of the Queensland Government, the administration of that State, and those charged with that administration, both in the Parliament and in the Public Service. Senator McAuliffe claimed that the State Government had been incompetent in putting its case to the Grants Commission. He drew attention to certain points made by the Commonwealth Treasury in its submission to the Commission which he said were critical of the State’s submission. Senator Milliner claimed that the Commonwealth Treasury had criticised the State Government over a number of matters.
Those remarks really were quite gross misinterpretations of the situation. I am not unfamiliar with the work of the Commonwealth Grants Commission; I know some of the Commissioners. I do not think that the recommendations of the Commission have ever been opposed in its history. It has been led by, and composed of, most distinguished and competent Australians. They have served it, the Commonwealth and the States, with great capacity and dedication. Their work has been notable. It has been acknowledged outside this country as being of a singularly high character. If Senator Georges wants to condemn the Grants Commission he may do so on a later occasion.
– We did not condemn the Grants Commission and it is unfair of you to say that we did.
– I think it is fair for me to say that the construction placed by your colleagues on the report misinterprets what the Commission said. The Grants Commission is involved in a detailed comparison of the finances of the claimant States as against the 2 States which it takes as standard States - New South Wales and Victoria. Those who read the full report of the Commission in any one year, not the special cases - and the Commission issues a very full report - will find that this is a complex task. This was made more difficult in this present case because Queensland is a claimant State for the first time.
– It put in such a poor submission.
– That is for you, Senator Georges, as a Queensland senator claiming to represent your State, to make a judgment upon in your own State during the election campaign, but hardly in the Commonwealth Senate when it is dealing with a Commonwealth Grants Commission Bill designed to give $9m to the people of your State in order to lift living standards there.
The Commonwealth Treasury made no comments, either favourable or unfavourable about the financial policy adopted by the Queensland Government. That is not its function; it does not do that. All that the Commonwealth Treasury did was to draw attention to what it believes to be the implications of the assessment of the special grant, to differences between the finances of Queensland on the one hand and those of New South Wales and Victoria on the other. No implications, either expressed or intended, should be drawn about the financial decisions or procedures in Queensland. There was no suggestion that they were not correct in any way. It might be noted, Senator Georges, that had the Commonwealth Treasury indicated, as it did according to your construction, that it thought the State was not able, to carry on business properly, the Commission would not have found in favour of giving the Queensland Government $9m from the total Australian pool. The Commission is a very proper body of people, a very able body of people, and had they been in any doubt they would not have been in favour. However, they did find in Queensland’s favour.
Senator Milliner and Senator Georges, as they devoted themselves to the subject and as I interpreted them, continually labelled Queensland as a mendicant State. I think that this is a misunderstanding which in the interests of the federation of Australian peoples we ought to correct. The Commonwealth Grants Commission has made it clear in its reports and in statements made by members at its hearings that in its recommendations it does not attempt, and would not contemplate attempting, to influence financial decisions of the States which have sought special grants. The recommendations of the Commission are based on the. principle that special grants should be determined by the amount of help found necessary to make it possible for the claimant States by reasonable effort to function at a standard not appreciably below that of other States.
In effect, in the federation of Australia it has been argued through time that it is proper and fair that all Australian people should have equality of opportunity and that those who momentarily are better placed than the others should help those who are not so well placed. This is what the Commonwealth Grants Commission is all about. In applying this principle the Commission makes comparisons of the efforts made by claimant States and those made by standard States, which one. ought to remember are the 2 older States and the States that are traditionally wealthier than the others because they are older and more established. This comparison is designed to raise revenue and to control expenditure uopn a basis which can be evaluated.
Over the years the Commission has devised methods of comparison which ensure that a claimant State which makes an over standard effort does not reduce its special grant, and conversely that a claimant State which makes a below standard effort does not increase its special grant. The claimant States are thus placed in a situation of equality with the standard States, the older States which are larger and therefore a little wealthier. The claimant States are free to decide their own policies. In particular, Queensland’s policy of providing free hospitalisation will not - I repeat ‘not* - be affected by the Commonwealth Grants Commission’s examination of the State’s finances. I rather wondered at one stage whether Sentor Keeffe really wanted Queensland to have the $9m. I was not too sure. I think he does, but I was not positive. He criticised the roundness of some of the. figures and made some comments about the claims for Queensland’s special difficulties, the provision of police protection and hospitals. Once again, one ought to emphasise that this is a Commonwealth Parliament Senate, debate dealing with the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the provision of a sum of money on application by Queensland for special assistance to lift its living standards to one of equality. That is what we are discussing, not whether any honourable senator considers himself to be better qualified to run the State of Queensland than are those who are doing it. If he thinks that, he should stand for election as a member of the Queensland State Parliament.
– As a Queensland senator, he was driving the point home.
– The honourable senators could have fooled me on many occasions in the debate during the last day and a half that they were Queensland senators. They have shown a lack of understanding of what the Commonwealth Grants Commission is all about. They are conducting a State election campaign in the Commonwealth Senate. Let us be honest and fair about it. They know they are doing that.
– What do you think you are doing?
– I am trying to explain in rational words and give some answers to what I believe are the things honourable senators have attempted to say. In many areas the Commonwealth Grants Commission makes comparisons. It is not possible to quantify precisely the extent to which a claimant State needs to spend more per head of population in order to provide a standard of service comparable with that of a standard State. The Commission can do no more than make a broad judgment. We believe that it is not fair to criticise the Queensland Government because it cannot do better than suggest a percentage disability.
– That is our complaint.
– I suggest that the honourable senator has a proper place in which to make it. Senator Keeffe claimed - I thought rather unfairly to his own State - that Queensland was bankrupt. I do not think that is a good way to describe the affairs of a State. The total public balance of Queensland revenue loan and trust and special funds is over $80m. If I was a Premier and had $80m in my total revenue loan and trust and special funds I do not think I would be regarding myself as being on the line of poverty. The recommendation of a special grant for Queensland simply means that what is attempted to be done is to put it in a situation of greater equality or make it more equal than perhaps it is at the present time. Anybody who looks at the history of the Commonwealth Grants Commission will find that South Australia was in the Commission, then passed out and came back in again. Tasmania has always been in the Commission. Western Australia was in and has now passed out. In the federation of Australia there will be situations in which there will be fluctuating prosperity State by State from time to time.
What one hopes will happen is that the Australian people in the federation will join together to help each other so that the levels and opportunities will be the same throughout Australia. That is what the Commonwealth Grants Commission is really all about. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, I think I am entitled to say that this debate has borne little relation to the Queensland application to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. It bore a lot of relation to the pending State election in Queensland. I did not start that. I am just making the observation. Having listened very carefully to the debate for over a day now, and to the proposition put by the Opposition senators I must say that I have been always a great supporter of the Leader of the Queensland Country Party, who is the Premier, Mr Joe Bjelke-Petersen. Having listened to the debate tonight I am an even stronger supporter than I was before. I support the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from Committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Cotton) proposed:
That the Bill be now react a third time.
– I want to speak on the motion for the third reading of the Queensland Grant Bill 1972. There is a saying that there are none so blind as those who do not want to see. I think that phrase sums up the attitude that was taken by Senator Cotton. He made an extraordinary statement when he said that the Opposition turned the debate into an election campaign and that at no time did the Commonwealth Grants Commission make the criticisms that the Opposition claimed it had made. I suggest to Senator Cotton that he should do some homework. He should study carefully the Commonwealth Grants Commission’s report and arrive at his own conclusions, not those contained in the prepared speech that was given to him. For instance, on page 11 of the Commission’s report it is stated:
The Commonwealth Treasury expressed a belief that the material presented in Queensland’s submission concerning the 1971-72 budgets of Queensland and the standard States - ‘is not necessarily reliable as an overall guide to whether or not a special grant is justified and, if so, of what size.’
The report continues in paragraph 22, part (iii):
Uncertainty as to the validity of ‘a great deal of detailed argument and workings in the State submission.’
In paragraph 24 the report states:
The Commonwealth Treasury suggested that the value of mining output might give some indication of capacity to raise mining royalties. This would suggest that Queensland’s capacity is above standard; and as the royalties collected per head of population in Queensland arc below the average par capita for the standard States it would appear that Queensland makes a relatively low effort in this field.
I shall read what the report has to say on education. It is published in black and white and can be obtained at any office of the Australian Government Publishing Service, for everybody to see. Paragraph 25 of the report states:
The Commonwealth Treasury contrasted this with its own approach, referred to in earlier reports of the Commission, which would assess relative needs in education by comparing the percentage of the eligible population in the total State population of the claimant State with the corresponding percentage for the standard States. Applying this comparison to Queensland would show a ‘positive’ need (that is, a need for a higher level of expenditure per head of population than in the standard States), in contrast to the negative’ need shown by the Commission’s method of comparing education expenditures on the basis of actual school enrolments.
If those 4 paragraphs from the Commonwealth Grants Commission’s report are not a caustic criticism of the submissions of the Queensland Government I would like Senator Cotton to explain to me why he feels that they are not. They are not, as he claimed, the accusations of the Australian Labor Party seeking to make political capital at a time when a State election is pending in Queensland. The Labor senators did their job in the debate properly. At the outset of their speeches they announced that they were supporting the Bill but that they reserved the right to make observations about the criticisms that had been levelled not by them but by top public servants of the Commonwealth - Federal Treasury officials. If Senator Cotton, as a Minister of the Crown, does not want to accept the advice of Treasury officials that is his business, and I am pleased that it is not mine.
Senator Maunsell is quoted at page 1682 of Hansard as saying:
It is to the credit of the present Queensland Government that in the 15 years it has been in office the rail freights to the outlying areas of Queensland have been reduced and not increased, as one would expect in view of the way costs have increased in most other sectors.
He complimented the Government for having reduced the rail freights to outlying areas of Queensland. He quoted an example. He said:
The freight on groceries and other commodities of that nature from Brisbane to Longreach was as high as £98 a ton, but it has been reduced to $46 a ton.
Converted to dollars, the freight has been reduced from $196 a ton to $46 a ton. I wonder whether Senator Maunsell knows on which side he is debating. That is the argument that we advanced at the outset. We challenged the Queensland Government on its concessional rate policy because it charges low rates to Brisbane business people so that they can freight their goods to the country areas and can compete at an advantage against their country or provincial competitors. That is the point we made. He congratulated the Government for doing that. In fairness to him, he had previously said:
Wool freights into Brisbane have been reduced by some 20 per cent since 1956.
That statement also supports the contention that we made. I made that statement in my speech. I said that the punch line on the confidential freight concession rates was that the Queensland Government’s rail policy was to charge low freight rates in the Southern Division and to charge high freight rates in the Northern and Central Divisions. I thought I gave a very telling example of the point that I was trying to make. It was this: To freight packaged beer from Cairns to Winton, a distance of 580 miles, costs $61.95 a ton. The same commodity railed from Brisbane, which is a distance of 930 miles, costs only $33 a ton. That was the point that I was making. Surely if Senator Maunsell is here representing the country people of Queensland, as he should be, he should be joining forces with me and asking for an explanation. Instead, he congratulated the Queensland Government on what it was doing.
I do not want to misrepresent him. I draw the conclusion that he, a Country Party senator from Queensland, felt that it was a good thing to charge low rail freights in Brisbane but that in the Northern and Central Divisions of Queensland which, in the main, are the Country Party areas, it is all right to charge high freights. He must take that argument to its logical conclusion in that if he agrees with that persuasion he must also agree that it is quite in order for the Queensland Government to enter into confidential concessional rates at low cost and not publish them, as the Labor Government did, for everybody to see. He must condone that part of the Queensland Government’s policy also. I hope that before the debate concludes he will clear the matter up completely because if he maintains what he said, as quoted at page 1682 of Hansard, that he congratulates the Government for the low freights from Brisbane to the country, I will be very interested to see what kind of a Cinquevalli act he puts on when he goes to Longreach and explains his statement to the country people of Queensland. So much for the freight rates.
I do not agree with the accusations made by Senator Cotton that the debate has turned into a political campaign, simply because the Opposition developed 4 arguments and issued to the Government 4 challenges which at this stage of the debate remain unanswered. The first challenge is a claim of incompetence, not by Labor Party senators but by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. I suggest to him, as an experienced Minister, that before he gets completely punch drunk because of the pounding he has received he should throw in the towel and call it a day in respect to the findings of the Treasury officials. On the second score, I do not know how he will explain why the Queensland Premier in 1969 gave an assurance to the people of Queensland, prior to the previous State election, that he would order an inquiry into the freight anomalies in Queensland. He did that to satisfy the electors whom Senator Lawrie and Senator Maunsell represent - the country people - because he knew full well the opposition that was being levelled at him because of the disparity in freight charges in the south as against those in the country. He gave an assurance to the electors of Queensland. Three years have passed and the report has not been tabled. Beckingsale Management Services Pty Ltd, the management consultant firm which was engaged to carry out the survey, completed it 8 months ago and handed the report to Cabinet. I challenge the Government, particularly the Country Party senators from Queensland, to tell the people of Queensland why that report and its findings have not been given to the Parliament or to the people of Queensland. That is the second score that has gone unanswered. I am hopeful that before the debate concludes some honourable senator might satisfy us on that matter.
The third challenge and the third question that still remains unanswered relates to the $25m that has been given by the Commonwealth to the States to erect dwellings under the States Grants (Dwellings for Aged Pensioners) Act. Under that scheme $3im has been allocated to Queensland, with no matching grant required, to be spent in 5 years. In the first 2 years of the scheme $9m has been spent, but all of it has been spent in the other States. Nothing has been spent in Queensland. The Minister for Works and Housing in Queensland is a Country Party Minister. If asking a question in this Parliament about why Federal money, which is given as a grant to Queensland, is not being used is regarded as being political, I want to remain political all my life. I believe that the people of Queensland have a right to be told whether this money is wanted.
I now turn to the fourth point that we raised, which still remains unanswered. I must admit that Senator Wood gave a very illuminating address, that is if I was sitting in the stock exchange building. We heard about the annual report of Comalco and the annual reports of several other mining companies. The only annual report he did not give us was that of the Queensland Government and they are the people who are under discussion.
– I rise on a point of order. Senator McAuliffe is completely misrepresenting my speech. I did not give any annual report on Comalco or any other company. I just gave facts relating to what has been spent and done in Queensland in the field of mining.
– That is no point of order.
– On my point of order-
– I must intervene on this point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. You cannot allow this.
– In no circumstances would I suggest -
– Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order.
– I too take a point of order. Senator Wood is speaking on a point of order and I suggest that Senator Willesee should sit down.
– It is quite obvious that Senator Wood has not raised any point of order. He is actually making a speech. I suggest that Senator Wood knows the procedures to be followed if he has been misrepresented. If he claims to have been misrepresented there is a proper time under Standing Orders at which he should raise this matter.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - There is no point of order. If Senator Wood feels that he has been misrepresented he has the opportunity to reply to that misrepresentation at a later stage of the proceedings.
– I will accept the assurance of Senator Wood that he was not quoting from the annual reports of Comalco or other mining companies. If in fact, as he said, he was quoting facts regarding these companies, I will accept that. But this does not answer the criticism of the Commonwealth Grants Commission which suggested that royalties of 5c a ton for mining rights in Queensland was insufficient.
Senator Wood developed an argument in regard to railway lines that are being built. With all deference to Senator Wood - and I have a good opinion of him - I think I would prefer to accept the opinion of the Federal Treasury than his or my opinion on economic matters. I feel that the Commission has given good advice to Queensland that in the future that State should try to get greater royalties from mining contracts. As I said at the outset, members of the Opposition made 4 points on the second reading of this Bill. Other honourable senators have made some valuable points and we are not going to add a postscript to a good letter. However, I would like to make a point in regard to freight charges. I am disappointed and amazed to think that Government senators from Queensland have taken this lying down. They have made no attempt to refute the claims that I have made regarding confidential freight concession rates. They have made no attempt to refute the allegations of intrigue or the claim that the Queensland Government does not publicly advertise with whom it enters into confidential freight concession rates and the reasons why this information is withheld. They have not explained why the Queensland Government discontinued the practice of making this information available in 1959 when it had been the policy of previous Labor governments to do so. Government senators have not answered any of these questions.
As Government senators are making no attempt to answer the questions, let me summarise and conclude my contribution on the third reading stage of this Bill by giving some advice to the Australian Country Party senators from Queensland. If they have no ammunition to fire themselves I will pass some on to them. What I have to say regards freight rates. Senator Maunsell cited groceries. I would like to State to the Senate some of the findings on groceries. There are many other discrepancies in freight rates, particularly in grocery items where some items of a similar nature are charged ridiculously different rates. For example, in some areas canned tomato juice is almost double the figure for canned fruit juice, and barbecue sauce almost twice the freight on vinegar. The sugar industry is an area about which Country Party senators should know something. However, that industry is in such a disarray over freight charges that it would prefer to use road rather than rail to transport its product. But the State Transport Act places a levy of 3c a ton mile outside a 25-mile radius on road transport. It is common sense to know that a 25-mile radius outside Brisbane would be a much more densely populated area than a 25-mile radius outside a country or provincial town. I would have thought that instead of remaining stunned in their seats Country Party and the other Queensland senators would have risen in their places and said that in the interests of the people who they represent in this chamber, the radius in country areas for this tax of 3c a ton mile should be increased to 50 miles as against 25 miles in the city. But they have remained silent. Therefore in conclusion, I hope I have given members of the Country Party something to think over and digest.
– I rise to explain some of the remarks that were made by Senator
McAuliffe who comes from my own State of Queensland, t thank him for drawing my attention to the figure of £98 which appeared in the Hansard report of yesterday’s proceedings. I accept that this amount should be $98 and I will have it changed in Hansard. No doubt the inclusion of this amount was due to a typographical error.
– What about the matters raised by Senator McAuliffe?
– It is all right, Senator - you will have your chance later to speak. Obviously Senator McAuliffe has not been in other parts of Queensland outside Brisbane and the south coast area. If he had he would understand that prior to the Country-Liberal Party Government coming into office in Queensland road transport was not allowed to operate at all except on special runs such as from Toowoomba to Brisbane. Road transport was not allowed to compete under any circumstances with the railways. However, the Country-Liberal Party Government allowed road transport to operate.
Also it is significant that that Queensland Government was responsible for building a tremendous amount of bitumen roads to the outback of Queensland. Because of this, transport operators were able to go in and operate in competition with the railways. An important fact was that interstate operators, using section 92 of the Constitution, were able to bring produce up from the other States and compete with the railways. These operators did not pay road tax and were able to go to areas such as Longreach and cart goods at rates lower than the railways were charging. This is why the Government was able to negotiate with local business houses in places like Longreach a reduced rate for groceries and all other items. Let us face it, places such as Longreach buy most of their groceries and other goods from Brisbane and some from provincial cities such as Rockhampton.
When the Minister for Transport, who was then Mr Chalk, negotiated the agreements with the business houses for the supply of goods at a reduced rate to Longreach and other places, businesses in Rockhampton in particular objected that this was cutting them out of their business with Longreach. This objection was fair enough. After all, the Country Party believes in decentralisation and therefore it is only right that the interests of Rockhampton should have been looked after. Nevertheless a freight rate was negotiated in which grocery lines in particular could be sent at a reduced rate between Brisbane and Rockhampton. Also, a reduced rate was negotiated between Rockhampton and Longreach. A $4 a ton handling charge was given to the distributors in Rockhampton and it was considered that this would give them a reasonable profit margin. The freight rates in those days were in pounds; I am expressing them in dollars. The freight charge per ton from Brisbane to Rockhampton was $28. A charge of S4 was imposed to meet overheads. The freight rate from Rockhampton to Longreach was $14. So the freight rate per ton from Brisbane to Longreach, including the $4 to meet overheads, was $46. But if the product was ordered through distributors in Rockhampton, the charge from Brisbane to Longreach was $42. When a product was transported from Longreach to Winton
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! Honourable senators will cease interjecting.
– They do not know what I am talking about. They do not want to hear an explanation of these matters that they have queried.
– Give us the Beckingsale report.
– Hang on. You asked the question. You wanted me to answer you.
– You are taking too long.
– I am trying to explain it to you. If you will give me a chance, I will explain it. This is what happened in that area. The Townsville business houses then realised that they could lose a bit of business if products were carried through to Winton. So they negotiated a contract with the Railway Department involving the use of the line to Mount Isa. The object was that the Townsville business houses were not to encroach on the Rockhampton area and Rockhampton business houses were not to encroach on the Townsville area. That is the explanation as to why freight charges for goods transported between Rockhampton and Winton have been lower than those in respect of products coming from Cairns. No approach has been made by the business houses of Winton. They said: ‘We have had a fair go in one direction. We do not ask for a lower rate in the other direction. People on the northern line operate through Townsville. We obtain our benefit by operating through Rockhampton, that is fair enough’. That is the explanation of that situation. The next point with which I wish to deal is secret contracts. As honourable senators know, secret contracts have always been part of railway business.
– I know that the honourable senator abhors these secret contracts.
– 1 do not like secret contracts. But I believe that, in the circumstances, the Queensland Government had to act in this way. Interstate hauliers - the Thomas Nationwide Transport company among others - intruded. They were able to cart goods from New South Wales and elsewhere to Queensland and were not required to disclose their contract rates. They were able to cart, in particular, loads of steel from Newcastle to Queensland cities and so compete against the Queensland railways. The Queensland Railway Department lost a good deal of business as a result of this development. From what I have heard from Opposition members, it appears obvious that they wish to see the Queensland railways destroyed. The Queensland Railway Department in order to try to preserve its business had to offer contract rates to Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and other steel manufacturing companies in order to compete against TNT and the other interstate hauliers. The Railway Department believed that it had the right not to disclose the details of its contracts and to keep them secret in the same way as TNT and other hauliers did not disclose this information. Whether or not the honourable senator or 1 think that this practice is right, I still believe that the Queensland Railway Department and the Queensland Government have the responsibility to see that Queensland railways do obtain a fair share of the business from interstate business houses.
– Would the honourable senator like to see the Beckingsale report tabled?
– Yes, I would.
– Well, good on you.
– I would say that the Country Party has done more than any other Party to try to have that report tabled. We have been informed that certain matters dealt with in the Beckingsale report have already been put into action. I have been a party to the Scott report. We have been trying to get this information. The Queensland Government - and probably quite rightly so - has said that until such time as it has studied all the ramifications of the Beckingsale report, particularly all the ramifications of the Scott report - a private industry report which conflicts with the Beckingsale report - it is not prepared to disclose the findings of the Beckingsale report. That approach may be fair enough. I think that I have answered all the queries that Senator McAuliffe raised.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, I am sorry that on the third reading of this Bill this 2-way contest is developing. It was bad enough when the back bench Country Party members turned the debate into a farce right from the start, but I think the fact that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) decided to become one of the players in the farce is rather reprehensible. lt was a very poor show that he should take the opportunity in winding up the debate - that is what the situation amounted to because our intention was not to enter into a major debate on the third reading of the Bill - to be facetiously provocative and to accuse the Opposition of turning the debate into a forum for an election campaign. For the Minister’s benefit, I inform him that the $9m that Mr Johannes Bjelke-Petersen is getting under this legislation will be paying for part of his election campaign. As I said earlier in this debate, if honourable senators started to trace where some of the dollars provided by this grant are to go they would be very disturbed indeed.
I join my colleague Senator McAuliffe in saying that it is the Commonwealth Grants Commission itself which backs up the argument which has been put forward by Queensland senators on this side of the chamber. I direct the attention of honourable senators to paragraphs 37 and 38 of the Special Report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. These last 2 paragraphs appear on pages 15 and 16 of that report. The Commission states:
I turn now to page 14 of the report to refer to sub-paragraph (iii) of paragraph 33, which states:
I could continue to quote extracts from the report, but there are certain time limitations on speeches in this debate at this stage. I wish to refer to 2 points that were raised, first, by Senator McAuliffe-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! I remind the honourable senator that a debate on the third reading of a Bill does not permit the honourable senator to revive matters already debated. He may bring forward fresh material.
– Members of the Democratic Labor Party are interjecting. One thing that they do not have is fresh material. I am raising points which have not been previously raised. Mr Deputy President, I seek your help because I believe that, if additional charges are made by Government senators, surely I, representing my Party, have the right to answer those charges.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The honourable senator has the right to remove misapprehensions.
– Thank you very much. Senator Mcauliffe and I made reference earlier to the freight inquiry, the report of which we have not yet seen. This is a hardy perennial which is raised every time there is an election campaign in Queensland. The Country Party says: ‘We will have an inquiry’ in respect of any matter raised. But we never see the results of these inquiries. The last one in this category was to be a major inquiry. Do senators know why we have not seen it? We have not seen it because it has been placed before the Literature Board of Review and, like ‘The Little Red Schoolbook’, it has been declared obscene.
Let me bring up another point. This is new matter, too. I did not have time to raise it earlier in my submissions at the second reading stage. It goes back to what my colleague Senator McAuliffe mentioned. Many months ago a group of people in the Goondiwindi area made an application for aid to build an aged persons home. They were not able to get any satisfaction from any department, Commonwealth or State. Ask Mr BjelkePetersen where he is salting away the money given to him by the Commonwealth for this purpose. We have seen no evidence of the expenditure of any of it, certainly not in this field. I wrote to the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) thinking I would get a prompt reply. After many weeks of delay, I got a reply today saying - this is the spirit of the letter - ‘I am terribly sorry about all this, but the Minister for Housing is now looking into it’. My God, when does one get results in these matters? This is happening in all fields, Commonwealth and State. Members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party are so busy with their in-fighting that they have no time to attend to the business of government.
Let me rebut some of the stupid arguments advanced by Senator Maunsell. His after dinner speech this evening was the first occasion in this chamber on which he has been able to put 5 sentences together with some coherence. I am not saying that nastily; I am saying it politically. He said that in Queensland these days the highways were wide and free; that no more taxes were charged; that the roads were running beside the railway lines and so on. Can he recall the occasion in the life of this administration in Queensland when it gaoled a man for not paying his road taxes on the cartage of fresh fruit and vegetables from the Atherton Tablelands to Townsville. I am speaking of course of the Country Party-Liberal Government in Queensland. I have in my possession a photograph of this man as he was being removed from the train at Roma Street in handcuffs and carted off to the Boggo Road gaol. Senator Maunsell told a deliberate untruth tonight in saying that there are now no such penalties. It is time he woke up to the political facts of history. He told honourable senators the fairy story that he believed in the Queensland Government’s system of secret contracts on rail freights. It is obvious that these contracts favour organisations such as Mount Isa Mines Ltd; they favour all the mining companies with which Senator Wood was and is associated unless they have all gone bankrupt; they favour all the big organisations. But, as I said earlier, they do not favour the little man, the worker-
– Or the country man.
– Or the country people unless they live within 50 miles of Brisbane, when they receive some sort of favouritism. The cost of living outside the Brisbane metropolitan area, and certainly north of the Tropic of Capricorn, is certainly the highest in Australia. The specious arguments that have been raised in an endeavour to defend the actions of the Country Party-Liberal Government in Queensland have to be heard to be believed. I hope that enough people read the Hansard report of this debate before 27th May to become convinced that the arguments of senators on the Government side are fallacious. I am sorry for the Minister, who was sucked into the argument by back benchers of his own Party and who now finds himself in deeper water than ever. I hope he does not find himself being sucked to death by a political box jellyfish.
– 1 dare say that a non-Queenslander has only limited rights even to enter this debate. It was not my intention to do so, but I was prompted to take part in it by the Minister’s reply to the second reading debate. As a Tasmanian I also am interested in the operation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. My contribution to the debate will be short but I will be introducing, I hope, new material. I want to make this point: I think the Minister in his reply said that the purpose of the Commonwealth Grants Commission was to give a fair and equal opportunity to all the States, or words to that effect. I think that was the intention of what he said. I have said before in the Senate that Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia do not get equal treatment with the other States under the present structure of the Grants Commission. There are 3 principal sources from which the States can obtain finance for their development. Firstly they can get it through Commonwealth-State loans and grants; secondly, through Commonwealth departmental spending, which this year is in excess of $3 billion; and thirdly, through private investment in the various States. The 3 States that I have mentioned include Queensland. I am disappointed that no honourable senator on either side has made this point. It is in this area that those 3 States are missing out. It is not the responsibility of the Grants Commission to take these factors into account. Until the Grants Commission or some other authority is instituted to look at all the relevant factors concerning the development of the States, these disabilities will apply in the 3 States that I have mentioned - Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia.
Let me give a quick instance of this. In the 12 months to June 1971, 74 per cent of private investment in secondary industry in Australia went to Victoria and New South Wales, which have only 63 per cent of the population. Tasmania, with 3 per cent of the population, received 1.5 per cent of that investment. 1 cannot remember from the top of my head the figures for South Australia and Queensland, but South Australia was second last and Queensland was third last. In other words, Tasmania was sixth, South Australia was fifth and Queensland was fourth.
Last year the Department of Supply built at a cost of $1.7m in Melbourne, of all places, a factory for the production of clothes for the armed forces. This is the sort of establishment that should have been built in Queensland, South Australia or Tasmania. Until the Grants Commission or the Commonwealth realises that all these factors are relevant to the development of these States, there will always be this disparity. To talk in terms of $9m for Queensland is a laugh. Queensland, tike Tasmania and South Australia, needs a lot more than $9m. If honourable senators total the level of private investment in the 3 States that are winning - New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia - they will find that 87 per cent of private investment in secondary industry is going into those 3 States, leaving only 13 per cent for the other 3 States. Is it any wonder that those States are not able to keep up with Victoria and New South Wales? The Grants Commission is falling down on its job, mainly because the Commonwealth has never recognised this fact. That is why the 3 States I have mentioned - Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania - will continue to be mendicant States for years on end. I wanted to take the opportunity to make that point.
– In the course of the debate on the motion for the third reading of this Bill Senator McAuliffe mentioned the non-expenditure of moneys by the Queensland Government in regard to old people’s homes. Queensland over many years has subsidised the building of old people’s homes. Possibly the records will show that it was the first State to do so.
– 1 was not talking about that.
– The honourable senator was talking about old people’s homes. The Queensland Government has been subsidising them on a State basis, and so has the Federal Government.
– They have not built a home out of Commonwealth subsidy.
– This is not a Commonwealth subsidy, it is a State subsidy. As a matter of fact, speaking as one who has been in local government for a long time, the Queensland Government has subsidised the building of aged people’s homes. Please do not tell me 1 do not know what I am talking about because I am not one of those people who go drinking in a bar and then cannot remember what I am talking about. It is the truth; the Queensland Government did build aged people’s homes.
– What do you mean by ‘drinking at bars’?
– What 1 mean is that I have a clear mind on this matter so do not tell me that I do not know what I am talking about.
– No-one else does.
– Senator Cavanagh knows what I am talking about as well as I do. He has a pretty clear mind and I always pay him that tribute. There has been quite a bit of feeling in this debate. It was said that there was an electioneering aspect about it. I would say that there is no question about it. The debate from the other side of the chamber did have an election flair to it and 1 am quite confident that if the Queensland elections were not to be held on 27th May we would not have had the outburst that we have had. The whole tenor of what has been said by Opposition speakers has been to denigrate Queensland, which is my State, whereas we should be seeking to uphold the State and show its good features. During the course of Senator Keeffe’s address, and just as I went back to my office, he talked about rail freights and some companies getting them cheaply. He spoke also about mining companies and indicated that 1 was a director of a mining company. There is no company with which I am associated in any way which could be placed in the category that Senator Keeffe referred to. None are using the Queensland Railways to obtain cheap freights. What I emphasised is that the railway lines built by these companies will bring great benefits to the State.
– Were they paid for by the mining companies?
– These lines were paid for by the mining companies.
– Are you certain of that?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Mr Prowse) - Order! I have indicated already in this debate that honourable senators are not allowed to traverse arguments that have already been put.
– He is repeating what he has said before.
– The statements are being refuted but what I am telling is the truth. The building of the railway lines has been paid for completely by the mining companies. The lines ultimately will become the property of the Queensland Government at no cost and will over the years return a handsome profit to Queensland, much greater than the piffling royalty honourable senators opposite are talking about. Queensland has done a terriffic job and Mr Bjelke-Petersen is a very strong leader who is not afraid to stand up to demonstrators against the South African footballers or cricketers. I understand that one of the men who encouraged the State Government to seek grants was Mr Kevin Cairns, the Minister for Housing in this Parliament. If that is the case, and I believe it to be the case, it shows that he is a very good Queenslander who is looking after the interests of Queensland. I am very pleased to see this grant being made because I know it will be handled very well by the very capable Government of Queensland which will still be the Government after 27th May.
– I had no intention of speaking on the third reading of this Bill until such time as Senator Wood, Senator Lawrie and Senator Maunsell had made such pitiful attempts to speak, felt he should come into the debate. But when he did come into it he paraded the fact that he does not get around the bars drinking. Of course he does not, he is a teetotaller. Why should he get around them? But as a Queenslander he does not take sugar in his tea, and that is a crime in Queensland. Of course he does not get around the bars. Neither does he have to go home to his wife at night because he is a bachelor and anybody of his age who is still a bachelor has something wrong with him. I am astounded that Senator Wood would try to justify the performance of the Queensland Government which he has criticised on so many occasions for being of a very poor standard in the same way as he has in this chamber criticised his own Government for doing things that were entirely wrong. Senator Wood says that the royalty paid by overseas interests for our coal and bauxite of 5c a ton or $1 for 20 tons is a particularly good royalty and that the Queensland Government negotiated a good deal for Queensland. We on this side of the chamber say that it is a pitiful performance by that Government. One can say that sometimes there is an area of politics in these matters and that honourable senators speak with it in mind, but one does not expect the Commonwealth Grants Commission to say that something is good or bad unless it has had evidence placed before it. In this instance it had evidence placed before it and what did it say about the royalties that Queensland collects?
– It is worth repeating.
– I am sorry to have to repeat it. The Commission said:
The Commonwealth Treasury suggested that the value of mining output might give some indication of capacity to raise mining royalties. This would suggest that Queensland’s capacity is above standard; and as royalties collected per head of population in Queensland are below the average per capita in the standard States it would appear that Queensland makes a relatively low effort in this field.
They are the words of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, not of Senator Wood and not of any senator on this side of the chamber. They are the words of the Commonwealth Grants Commission when it was determining its attitude to the application by the Queensland Government. Honourable senators opposite cannot avoid that fact. The Commonwealth Grants Commission has been so critical of the submissions of the Queensland Government that it would be an advantage if we were to move that the tables and submissions of the Queensland Government to the Commission be tabled. Then we would be able to say, with the same strength as the Commonwealth Grants Commission when it said that the submissions were of a poor standard, that the performance of the Queensland Government in the collection of royalties was of an equally low capacity. I am sorry to have had to rise again to speak on this matter. I bad no intention of doing so but when Senator Wood came into the debate and said that he is one who is going to take up the case on behalf of the Government because his 2 colleagues made such pitiful attempts to speak in support of the Government’s attitude, I believed it was time that he was shown up in the colours in which he has been shown up tonight, and that is as an apology for the Queensland Government.
– May I explain to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton), who seems now to be handling the Bill, the outrage that Queensland senators feel at the position in which we have been placed and in which Queensland has been placed as a result of his speech. For the first time in its history Queensland has become a claimant State. We express to the Minister the embarrassment that we feel when we hear him state that Queensland now is a lesser State than New South Wales or Victoria. Can he imagine or will he ever be in a position to feel such a humiliation? I doubt if he ever will be. I hope he will not; he comes from the strongest State. But he must appreciate that for the first time Queensland has become a claimant State, with all the consequences which flow from that. It is for this reason that we have entered this debate.
As Queenslanders we have a right to debate this proposition in this chamber. On many occasions we have listened to honourable senators from Tasmania thrashing out their tribal problems in this chamber. They have a right to do so. For many hours we have listened to honourable senators from South Australia argue the rights and the wrongs of the Chowilla Dam. They had a right to debate that in this chamber because, after all, this is a States House. Honourable senators from Queensland and all other honourable senators have a responsibility to expose the weaknesses which exist in their area of representation. The Minister has no right to criticise Queensland honourable senators for endeavouring to outline the weaknesses of the present Country-Liberal Party Government. That Government because of its in competence has placed Queensland for the first time in the position of being a claimant State. We make no apologies whatsoever to the Minister or to any member of the Government for standing here over the last day and a half and debating points, making points, exposing criticisms and denouncing the Queensland Government and its leaders for incompetency.
– Does the honourable senator not think that the Queensland Government spent a lot of money trying to clear people out of the gutters up there?
– Senator Webster refers to an incident which occurred some time ago when many Australians were protesting against the-
– The escalation in Vietnam?
– It was not so much that-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! Honourable senators will cease this argument across the chamber.
– The interjections merely disclose the position of honourable senators on the Government side on some very vital issues. I suggest to them that they not raise these matters, because by their doing so we might enter into a debate which might be to their-
– Might end up in the gutter?
– It might lead to a debate which will be to their considerable disadvantage. But Senator Webster refers to the situation, position or events which occurred in Queensland during the antiapartheid demonstrations. Those demonstrations were caused by the actions of the Queensland Premier, no less, who escalated the protests.
– I think this is good to go on the air.
– Yes, it is good to go on the air. The. incident to which the honourable senator refers merely highlights the incompetence of the Queensland Premier who is, as I have explained before, a precursor of violence..
– What does ‘precursor’ mean?
– A precursor is one who is a forerunner. If the honourable senator does not know what precursor means I suggest that he look up the meaning in the dictionary. This Premier of Queensland through his very incompetence, and his failure to assess the situation properly, declared a state of emergency in Queensland. As a result members of the police force who were supposed to be protecting the ordinary citizens against criminals were drawn from all parts of Queensland and brought to Brisbane to supervise and to so-call protect 30 footballers at the Exhibition Grounds. It was an overreaction by a Premier who has no sense of priorities whatsoever. As we have said in this debate, it merely indicates that he and his Government are not a government of sufficient competence to lead Queensland or to in any way fulfil its destiny. I am sorry that J have been in some way sidetracked. At another time I shall take on Senator Webster in relation to the matter that he raised. We will see just where the honourable senator stands on apartheid, racialism and what is happening in Vietnam. We will give the honourable, senator an opportunity to get to his feet and explain just where he stands on these issues. 1 reiterate, that we have come into this debate to highlight the feelings of the Opposition, especially Queensland senators, and to press very strong opposition to a government which has brought Queensland to the point of applying as a claimant State, for Federal assistance. As I say, that is the ultimate humiliation. We hope that this does not occur again. I say that the most effective way to see that there is no recurrence of this claim is to see - we trust, that we will see - a change of government in Queensland on the 27th May. Senator Wood is the one who mentioned the election. He is the one who claimed that we were electioneering. Since he has brought this matter before the Senate, we hope that on 27th May there will be a change of government in Queensland so that this situation will not recur.
– in reply - Mr Deputy President, I accept your ruling that you do not want the debating situation canvassed again or the various pieces of material which have been covered given again. I want to make one or two very brief points. I think it has become clear that there is a tremendous amount of interest in this measure which adopts a recommendation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission to grant Queensland $9m following an application by that State. The subject of the. report has become a much broader debate. I do not think it could be fairly said that the Government side sought to debate the matter in the context to which I referred. I did not refer to it offensively. I referred to it in the context of what had happened. I think that the quickest way to overcome this matter is, first of all, to make the point that the paragraphs which have been quoted by many honourable, senators opposite do not criticise the policies. They are technical arguments advanced by the Treasury, through the Commonwealth Grants Commission, concerning the way in which the legitimate differences between Queensland and the standard States are taken into account and determined. Honourable senators will find if they read my speech that I quoted at some length the various factors that were taken into account. I do not see any point in quoting them again. But the recommendations of the Commission are based on the principle that special grants should be determined by the amount of help found to be necessary to make it possible for the claimant States by reasonable effort to function at a standard not appreciably below that of other States.
In reference to the various differences of view as to what the. Grants Commission meant when it made a statement, I refer honourable senators to the second reading speech, which was not made by me. Honourable senators will note that the Commonwealth Grants Commission operates on what is called an advanced grant basis. At the end of 2 years, if inaccuracies are found in the original claim, an adjustment is made to the completion grant. So the matter is done very carefully. If we look into the history of the Commonwealth Grants Commission we find that this has happened in the past. Those Queensland senators who have taken a special interest in this matter will find reference to this in the second reading speech. They should note the way in which the grant is devised. It is first of all an advanced grant and later a completion grant which is adjusted to give more money or less money depending upon the results of the final investigation.
Various honourable senators referred to a number of factors. I do not want to say much more to Senator Keeffe, except that he did refer to paragraphs 37 and 38 of the report. He mentioned particularly paragraph 37 which refers to the difference of opinion about the police, hospitals, etc. The honourable senator will find that paragraph 38 reads:
The Commission considers that it does not at present have enough information to make a judgment as to the validity of these claims by Queensland. In determining the amount of its recommended advance grant it has not made specific allowance for these factors.
If the honourable senator reads that paragraph carefully he will find that it answers his ciriticism. What we have here is a change in many ways in the methodology by which one State devises its accounts, the way by which another State does so, and the way in which the Commonwealth Treasury does so. Often there are differences in viewpoint. Matters of a freight inquiry are for State governments and not matters that the Commonwealth Parliament should take out of the hands of the States. I was interested in the observations by Senator Wriedt. He is not in the chamber but, nevertheless, I would like to make the comment that I thought the points he made were of quite some interest, particularly for myself. I thought what he said about the level of State activity being influenced by private investment and by Government spending outside the Grants Commission was a factor well worthy of consideration. I believe that point ought to be taken into account in due course in looking at the total problem of intergovernmental finance. As some honourable senators will know, that work has begun at the Australian National University. Even though we have had a certain amount of difference of opinion, I think the kind of extended base that the honourable senator suggested for examination quite objectively is a matter worthy of consideration by those people engaged in this work. But we are concerned with a Grants Commission and we are involved in the public finance area. So this specifically is what we are talking about tonight.
I listened with some care to Senator Georges and I detected the very considerable emotion and concern that he has. 1 do not want to get involved in anything other than a discussion with him on this matter. I do not think he is right in taking the view that he does. I do not think he ought to be considering this grant as a public disgrace. I do not think it is that at all. In a federation there are the older States which are larger and which have had better opportunity to develop. In having a Grants Commission I think one hopes that the whole of the Australian people will seek to help each other. For the life of me I cannot see that Western Australia, which once upon a time was helped by its sister States, has anything to feel ashamed about in the remarkable progress that it has made. 1 am quite sure that with a continuation of good government in Queensland that very great State will make the sort of progress that Senator Georges hopes it will make.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Drake-Brockman) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - I call Senator Townley. In calling Senator Townley I remind honourable senators that this is an occasion for the honourable senator’s maiden speech. I am sure that honourable senators will do him the customary honour of hearing him in silence. I am sure, in view of what happened in the course of the last debate, that this will be a relief to us all.
– Thank you very much, Mr Deputy President. It is not without some feeling of a great responsibility that I have sat in this chamber for the numerically few days since being sworn in. I now take this opportunity to address this august assembly of honourable senators but, if I may, just prior to moving on to the few points that 1 wish to make during this speech, I would consider myself to be most incorrect if 1 did not make mention of the many kindnesses that have been extended to me since I first walked into this chamber. From every quarter I have received true assistance. The attendants and staff all have attended to my needs in a manner that could not have been bettered. I thank them all. The members of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare have made me welcome. Honourable senators, without exception, willingly have helped their youngest fellow settle into this place, and to Mr President I owe a special vote of thanks for the way in which he has recognised me quite early during question time and made me feel comfortable in this chamber. They are the local thanks that 1 gratefully give, and I hope some day to be able to repay them.
May I now say that I feel it is a tremendous honour to represent Tasmania and to do so as an independent senator. It is wise perhaps for an independent to make certain things clear in his maiden speech. Recently I read a passage which stated:
It you work for a man, in heaven’s name work for him. If he pays your wages that supply your bread and butter, work for him, speak well of him, stand by him and the institutions he represents.
As a Tasmanian senator I am being paid to work for the people of Tasmania, and this I shall do. Those honourable senators who have listened to many of the questions that I have asked will realise that a great many of them involve Tasmanian problems. I make no apology for that. I feel that I am here to work for Tasmania first of all. This couples with or, should I say, results from my rather old-fashioned ideas about the Senate. I do not believe that the Senate was ever intended by the framers of the Constitution to be a Party House where decisions of the Executive merely received a rubber stamp of approval simply because of a majority of Government supporters in this chamber. I regard the Senate as a House of Review and a House where the smaller States are as important as the larger States. I think I would have adopted this same attitude had I come here as a member of a Party. I am aware that in some quarters Independents are regarded somewhat as a nuisance. I cannot speak for other Independent senators on the back bench but I would say that I shall not be a nuisance any more than I have to be. Honourable senators perhaps will find that I cannot be bothered with a lot of reiteration, such as I have noticed here from time to time, and I will try not to waste more breath than necessary in repetition.
Having said those few words I would now touch on a few matters which I believe to be important to Australia and Tasmania. Almost every day we see headlines in the Press relating to this Government’s handling of the economy. I refer to statements such as ‘Australia’s income tax structure has become a disincentive to work’, ‘the economy needs a transfusion’, the savage impact of inflation on the pensioner’, and ‘probate reform necessary’. These are the kind of things that we see. One sometimes wonders whether the Press has the knife out for this Government; or maybe the Government has been just meddling along the economic path instead of striding courageously forward. Therefore I would like to refer to a few segments of the economy.
Firstly I want to refer to pensions and what we could call the treatment of our poor. Those honourable senators who have noticed the number of questions I have asked over recent months will have noted that a great many of them concern matters relating to obtaining benefits for our poor, particularly our pensioners, the unemployed and the superannuitants. I believe that the treatment of pensioners by this Government is not all that it could be. I am not impressed by those who say that the Government has increased pensions so much over the years. It is all very well and very easy to say this, provided nothing else increases at the same time. But we all know just how much the essentials of life, things like food, clothing and so on, have increased in cost. Those honourable senators who meet and deal with pensioners in day to day life, as I do, or who have relatives who are pensioners, will know only too well that instead of being better off these days pensioners and superannuitants are falling further and further behind into the pool of poverty in this country.
What is wrong with our Government when it needs the church leaders to point out the state of poverty? What is wrong with the Government when it allows almost all its public servants to travel first class in aircraft at a cost of some several million dollars a year more than it would if they went economy class? What is wrong with a Government which gives us members of Parliament an extra $7 a day and yet will not give pensioners more than $1 a week extra? There is nothing magical in the figure of $1; there is nothing magical in a figure of $5 either but I think that that would be a bit closer to the mark of what is needed right now by our pensioners, particularly single people. I therefore call upon the Government to ease the means test immediately and to make at least a $5 a week increase in pensions. None of this waiting until Budget time. Tasmania pensioners have to get through the winter. Pension increases are not inflationary, except to a very small degree, so it seems to me that this could be a very humane way of helping to stimulate the economy at the same time. It will mean, of course, that the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) will have one less rabbit to pull out of the hat in August but it will show the people that the Government is not fat or that it could not care less. It will show them that it can make decisions that are morally right.
I want now to say a little about taxation and inflation because I believe that Australians have become far too heavily taxed. Over the years wages have been inflating, giving much more total income but a reduced real income due to higher tax rates on the extra income. This increased tax has made revenue raising very easy for the Federal Government but it is now becoming a burden on those people who are even on an average income and it makes us amongst the highest taxpayers in the Western world. We should have a totally new package deal in taxation. Our sister nation Canada recently introduced tax reform which involved many worthwhile benefits such as child care expenses, a general reduction in tax rates, a relocation allowance for people when they change jobs, an income averaging plan to permit taxpayers to spread unusual income, and lower tax rates for Canadian owned companies. They are just a few things that I think Australia could well copy but I will deal with this matter at greater length some other day. It is a subject that interests me a great deal and one that I feel is important to the rate of development in this country. At the moment I am afraid that we are losing out because incentive is being taxed out of existence.
Another matter related to the economy that will have to wait until another day for deep discussion is inflation. I feel that a very speedy reduction of many tariffs would help reduce the rate of price increase. Tariffs designed to help Aus-, tralian manufacturers have been a tremendous help to foreign investors. General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd, for instance, may in fact be making a higher percentage return from its investment in this country than it does in Detroit. High rates of profit by Australian companies are due in part to high tariffs combined with a lack of effective or proven legislation concerning restrictive trade practices. The link between absence of competition and rate of price increase has been demonstrated. For industries that are dominated by a few firms, increases in price have more to do with excess tariffs than with excessive wage rises. We cannot stop inflation by just bashing the unions. Measures to reduce tariffs and increased competition and efficiency are infinitely more important.
Finally in this section of my speech relating to our economy, I would like to see an immediate pension increase, as already requested, and the means test removed over a period of years. It is time, too, for a reduction of all sales taxes, particularly that on cars. I think that the sales tax on cars should be reduced by about 5 per cent to a fairer figure straight away. I would like to see the tax on low incomes reduced and a tax on peak incomes limited to SO per cent, which has been done in New Zealand and Canada. These measures would admittedly cost the Government a considerable amount but the general stimulus to the economy would be beneficial.
I now turn to the apple and pear industry. Uppermost in the mind of any Tasmanian senator when talking on this subject must be the importance of this industry to Tasmania. Perhaps because Tasmania has been known as the ‘Apple Isle’ for so many years, there is sometimes a danger that we will fail to recognise that this industry and its associated canning and processing companies makes up an important part of the Tasmanian economy. The whole of Tasmania derives benefit from the sale of apples and pears, both fresh and canned, and as Tasmania is the main exporter of apples and pears from Australia this is an industry which should be supported, when necessary, for the good of the country as well as for the good of Tasmania. Those who grow the fruit are vitally concerned with the viability of the industry but so too are those who pack and cart and those who load the fruit onto ships. In fact really the whole of Tasmania, particularly southern Tasmania, has a vested interest in seeing that this industry continues to grow. Certainly it must not be allowed to decline.
What is the national picture of the apple and pear industry? Over the past 5 or 6 years there has only been a very slight increase in the number of acres of orchard in Australia. However, the Australian output has been rising a little due to better yields. Of this output about 70 per cent was absorbed locally. In the domestic market the wholesale price for apples has declined slightly, particularly when compared with other price rises, but even with this price decline the consumption has remained steady. The consumption of canned fruit has increased and in fact this is where most of the increased production has gone.
Tasmania is vitally concerned with the export of apples and pears and unfortunately over the last couple of seasons this has remained fairly stagnant. Some 60 per cent of the canned fruit and 30 per cent of the fresh fruit that Australia exports finds its way to the United Kingdom market. The cost of getting the fruit there has increased a lot over past years and all along the line producers have been faced with significant cost increases, particularly in this export sector. With Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community it is to be expected that our exports will suffer. Production of apples in places that compete with Australian sales in the United Kingdom, such as South Africa and France, is presently rising. We can no longer expect the long existing favourable access to the British market that we have experienced in the past and we can expect countries such as South Africa, whose fruit arrives in England earlier than ours, gradually to take a larger share of the market. We will then have an 8 per cent EEC customs duty to add to the price of our apples. This cost will result in some loss of sales due to an increased selling price, and new methods of storage may also allow EEC fruit to come onto the market during the time of traditional Australian supply.
Australian apple exports have levelled off over the last 2 years. These exports came predominantly from Tasmania, and to Tasmania continued export income from apples is vital. As I said earlier, it is not only the orchardists but also the many thousands of people in my State who could be affected. Prospects in the industry do not appear too bright for our export markets in apples due to the increasing competition, increased local and shipping costs and the likely effect of British entry into the European Economic Community. These problems are not insurmountable. We must concentrate on the production of those varieties and sizes which are most favoured in the export market. We must find new markets. Without these the industry will regress. These new markets should be preferably closer to us than England. Let us send a trade mission to the South East Asian area and see whether markets cannot be developed in the countries there. The industry in Tasmania is at the crossroads.
Earlier I said that the growth section of the industry was in the canning section. I have asked that assistance be given to this section of the industry in Tasmania comparable with that being given to canning co-operatives in Victoria and New South Wales. This industry needs some form of government assistance now if the orchard acreage is not be be allowed to decline even further in Tasmania. At the moment, the industry, particularly in Tasmania, faces a somewhat bleak future. But I am heartened by the fact that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) has advised me via his representative in the Senate, the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) that the Government is concerned about the serious marketing difficulties being faced. I have been advised that the Department of Primary Industry is to investigate the position fully. I, along with those associated with the industry in Tasmania, can hope only that a full report is made shortly and not in a few months time. It cannot wait that long.
From the problems of the south, I should now like to say a little about our near northern neighbours. It is of tremendous importance that Australians should know as much as possible about their near northern neighbours. Of course, Indonesia has a common border with us in New Guinea. Much of Indonesia is closer to Darwin than Darwin is to any capital city in Australia. Singapore and Malaysia are not much further away than that. We are part of South East Asia. But Australians in the main do not always understand the implications of this proximity to our nearest neighbours, nor do we realise that in this region things are prone to happen very quickly. Indonesia, with its 120 million people, has had traumatic experiences in the last 10 years which have impoverished a naturally rich country but which have seemingly now produced a stable government which is unlikely to be overthrown in the foreseeable future.
Australia recently welcomed the first Indonesian President to visit our country. In his welcoming speech our Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) referred to the 130 million Indonesians. President Suharto a few minutes later referred to his country’s US million people. Probably neither gentleman really knows how many people there are in the multitude of islands that make up Indonesia. Whoever is right, there are very many Indonesians ready to trade, ready to learn and ready for friendship and help from our technically richer country. The new Cabinet in Indonesia gives reason to hope that the rich resources of that country are about to be better utilised than ever before. In a 24-man Cabinet, not fewer than 12 members are graduates, most of them in science and economics. We will be wise, then, to maintain ties with this potentially rich and powerful country and to do all that we can to foster friendship.
Although numerically less important for strategic, commercial and other reasons it is wise for us to promote friendship with Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines. Thailand and other countries in this region in which we are placed. Other countries are certainly going out of their way to woo South East Asian countries. Japan is actively penetrating all of them with its goahead marketing practices. Red China is not at all slow in finding markets in these places for all kinds of consumer goods. Recently, Russia and her satellite countries have manifested a new interest in all the nations of this region. We are doing reasonably well in promoting trade. But we can do more, especially if we get to know more of the culture, customs and trading methods of these countries. Because of our favourable geographical position we should have an edge on any of the other countries that are competing for trade and friendship. But this will not happen while our ideas continue to be Europe-orientated or dominated. It is very important that we get to know the people who live just over the fence.
In days past European nations could come to these areas of South East Asia, exploit them and, if they made mistakes, they could go home again. But we cannot do this. We live here, so we have to take care that we do not make mistakes. The big test of our political adroitness will come if, or when, the United States of America pulls out of South East Asia. Something of a political vacuum will be created which surely will be filled by someone. Red China, Japan and Russia will be contenders in this sphere of influence. The US may maintain a presence but it is unlikely to be of the recent scale.
So far the most efficient of the interested nations has been Japan. We already have a large trade with Japan and it is likely that we may have competition with Japan for markets in the countries of South East Asia. One thing that I feel our Government should certainly be doing is studying how best we and the Japanese can get along in the region. It is of paramount importance that we learn more about Japanese methods of exploiting markets and seeing how best we can use the changing situation which is sure to follow the American withdrawal. It is not my intention to dogmatise as to how we should act in regard to each of the countries to our north. My one contention is that we must get to know them and, as far as possible, to understand them. We should do all that we can to foster trade with them because it has been well said that frontiers that are crossed by trade are less likely to be crossed by guns. May that be true in our case.
In closing I would like to draw the attention of honourable senators to the special needs of Tasmania for more favourable treatment than has been meted out to our forgotten island in the past. Being cut off from the mainland by Bass Strait costs us a lot. Sea freights continue to rise. As a result, most commodities brought to or sent from Tasmania suffer additional costs. I think that the cost of living in Tasmania is the highest in the Commonwealth. Yet in many respects the services available to Tasmanians are inferior to those available in this northern part, of Australia. I instance wireless and television licence fees. We have just 3 television stations, 2 in Hobart and an additional one in Launceston, yet we pay the same for television and radio licences as do those mainlanders who live in Melbourne or Sydney, or who have a dozen or half a dozen channels from which to choose. It would be reasonable to grade television and radio licence charges according to the number of channels available to viewers and listeners. Colour television is on the way. In Tasmania I suppose we will have 2 or 3 stations showing colour television. A new colour television set will cost $600 or $700. Very few people will be able to afford this. Certainly with the licence fee being as high as it is, it is just one other unfair impost for a State with only a few television channels.
Another aspect of this cost of living question concerns pensioners in Tasmania. For about 9 months of the year elderly persons in Tasmania need artificial heating for their dwellings if they are to remain comfortable. In old age or in sickness, keeping warm is very important. Pensioners in Tasmania should be given an addition to their pensions to pay for whatever form of heating may be desirable. Perhaps our cold climate is bracing for the young but for the aged it is a real problem. Besides warmth in their living environment, old people require additional nutrition to supply the body with extra fuel foods for warmth. Many foods are more expensive in Tasmania than in the rest of Australia. So Tasmanian pensioners need to spend more of their money on food. These matters are not nearly as important in the warmer climates. I contend that an additional amount should be paid to Tasmanian pensioners. I suggest that the same amount be paid to superannuitants. Extra money paid to pensioners is not inflationary to any extent. It is mostly spent on essentials, not on luxuries.
I deal briefly with transport. Tasmanian railways suffer from several handicaps. The first is the short distances travelled. Everyone knows that railways are economical only for transporting heavy loads on long hauls or where a large population makes rail travel relatively cheap for its passengers. Tasmania has little passenger traffic on the railways. If the north-south line were shortened by eliminating many of the sharp curves between Hobart and Rhyndaston people might use the trains because the time taken to travel between Hobart and the north would be reduced and because travelling would be more comfortable. When one realises just how much Commonwealth money was spent on the east-west railway on the mainland and on eliminating the break of gauge, it would seem reasonable to grant Tasmania as much money as would be necessary to modernise some of its rail transport.
The other transport matter on which I will touch relates to the crossing of Bass Strait. That is a real barrier when one wishes to visit the mainland. It is not always possible to get a berth on one of the ferries, so most people fly. Australians fly more miles per capita that any other people and Tasmanians, I think, fly more than other Australians, because they have to. It is time that the Government had a look at the cost of air travel, especially between Tasmania and the mainland. When one sees how overseas fares have been cut by some companies it would appear that our interstate fares may be too high. I suggest that a close examination be made of the cost of interstate air travel to see whether economies can be made and reductions brought about. I offer my thanks to those honourable senators who have been kind enough to listen to me. I very much appreciate their courtesy tonight.
– I take the liberty of speaking for all honourable senators. I congratulate Senator Townley on a very able maiden speech. It was thought-provoking and it contained many valuable suggestions. I believe that the Senate is indebted to Senator Townley for his speech. I hope to hear more such speeches. This is the first reading debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1972. We will wait until the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) has made his second reading speech before we deal with the substance of the Bill.
– Like Senator Murphy, I pay a sincere tribute to our parliamentary colleague Senator Townley on his outstanding maiden speech. Those honourable senators who have been members of this chamber for a long while would know that when I was appointed by the Tasmanian Parliament to this honourable chamber in 1953 I was secretary to the Leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party in Tasmania, the Hon. Rex Townley, the father of our Senator Townley. After my appointment I became a parliamentary colleague of the late Athol Townley, Minister for Defence and for many other portfolios in his time, an uncle of our Senator Townley. I have had a long association with the Townley family. It has helped me in many aspects of my life. It is a great joy for me to be able to congratulate him on his maiden speech. He has adopted what I believe for a young man, a new man, to be an excellent practice. Since he was elected to the Senate he has watched, listened and learned. He has kept himself before the public by asking questions of a searching nature, seeking opinions and seeking help for the people whom he represents. His speech was bereft of party politics or kite flying. Well nigh a year passed before he made his maiden speech.
I remember the late Harold Holt being asked by a new member whether that new member should make his maiden speech during the first debate in the Parliament. Harold Holt said: ‘Do you know what Disraeli said when he was asked by a new member of the House of Commons: Should 1 make my maiden speech in the first debate, Mr Prime Minister?’ That great man said: ‘Young man, it is better that they ask: ‘Why did he not speak?’ than ‘Why did he speak?’. Senator Townley has my congratulations. Tonight he has proved the value of waiting, listening and learning. He has come forward with a contribution that he will be able to circulate proudly to the electors of Tasmania.
There is a degree of divergence of opinion between us on certain aspects of his speech tonight. I refer to the rather strong emphasis he placed on the cold and long winters in Tasmania, its isolation and that watery mass - Bass Strait - that separates us from our off-shore island. Admittedly the climate is cooler, but it is not the cold wet place that he made it out to be. Hobart has 24.87 inches of rain per annum. I believe that it has more hours of sunshine than any other Australian capital city. I believe that it has a clearer atmosphere and a better climate than any other capital city. I would like the honourable senator to join other senators from Tasmania, me particularly, in advocating for Tasmania an even more fair deal from the Commonwealth purse. Senator Wood’s presence reminds me that I would like Senator Townley to join us in doing all we can to further the tourist potential of our island State - the most valued, valuable and varied piece of real estate in the Commonwealth - because it is from the tourist industry that we will get our improved standards of living from which better conditions will flow.
I am glad that Senator Townley dealt with the situation in regard to the Tasmanian railways. Our early settlers and those in government were unwise when they placed the railways next to the sea along the northern coast and when they placed the road next to the railway. Today aircraft fly over the 3. That was bad planning. It is a plan from which we cannot escape. During the last 3 years the State Liberal Party Government did much to improve our road system. During those 3 years, by representations to the Commonwealth Government, the Liberal Government of Mr Bethune was able to start work on a railway from Launceston to the new industrial centre of Bell Bay. That railway was opposed by the previous government. I believe it is essential. That is why I am pleased that Senator Townley raised the point. It gives me the opportunity to join with him in expressing appreciation that the railway was commenced. I believe that we should press on with our claims for the Commonwealth Government to look at the Tasmanian railway system.
We heard from Queensland senators a little about coal in the last 2 days. I am one who believes that if the railway system from the Fingal Valley through to the port of Bell Bay can be improved and if modern rolling stock can be acquired for the transport of coal we can see a rebirth of the coal industry in this industrious part of Tasmania. This is an industry that at the moment is practically dead. I will be alongside Senator Townley and my colleagues from whatever party or group they may come in making representations to this Government, of which I am proud to be a member, for instance, on the rehabilitation of our railway system. I know that Senator Townley will be willing to join me in making representations to the Commonwealth Government on a policy for which I have been pleading for a number of years. I am quite ready to admit that I cannot achieve all that I desire. However, this is a plea, through you Mr Deputy President, to Senator Townley that I hope he will join me in this respect.
I now turn to Commonwealth expenditure in Tasmania on elements of the defence forces. I believe that Tasmania requires and deserves a better deal in respect to expenditure on defence Services. Also I believe that decisions in this regard should not be made just for the sake of spending money but for the strategic deployment of some of our Services. I have raised before today the question of transferring elements of the Navy to the Derwent estuary. Here is an ideal opportunity to deploy our naval forces and also to win political friends. I believe that we would win friends in New South Wales by taking some of the naval defence services from along the harbour shores of Sydney and returning those shores to the people of New South Wales. Some of these naval forces could be deployed in southern Tasmania.
I do not propose to go any further into this matter. However, as a colleague from Tasmania I wanted to congratulate Senator Townley and to show my agreement with him in some respects although I admonish him a little perhaps for decrying our wonderful climate. 1 request him to muster all of the powerful self-will that he can bring to bear to support the things that I and my colleagues will be putting to the Government.
– I understand that an agreement has been reached between the leaders to cut down the time taken on the first reading of this Bill. I shall observe this agreement by limiting my contribution. I want to take this opportunity quickly to congratulate Senator Townley on his maiden speech. It is a lonely job when making a maiden speech in this chamber and probably as an independent the honourable senator found it a little lonelier still. Nevertheless he made a good speech, and I congratulate him on it.
Earlier this evening Senator Wood made a spirited defence of certain mining companies. At question time today in this chamber I was given a reply to a question which I placed on notice on 8th December 1971. 1 asked:
Is Nickelfields of Australia NL one of the latest of a long list of bankrupt mining companies, and have numbers of small investors, particularly in Queensland, lost many thousands of dollars?
I was told where I could get the information. Also I asked whether certain people would be brought before the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange and whether appropriate steps would be taken to investigate this company. I was told by the appropriate Minister that the reply was: No’. In other words, the Government did not propose to do anything about .it. Very briefly, the original directors of Nickelfields of Australia NL included former Senator M. F. Scott and Senator I. A. C. Wood, a sitting member of the chamber.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! In this debate honourable senators are not permitted to discuss matters that have been raised during earlier debates.
– Certainly, Mr Deputy President. I had no intention of doing that. I merely said that I had been provoked into raising this matter now because of 2 things that happened previously today. But I certainly have not discussed them’ earlier.
– You are only using that as an excuse.
– Well, you know, it is not a bad excuse. Through you, Mr Deputy President, if Senator Wood has a reply I hope that he will give it; if he has not I hope that <he will resign from this Parliament.
I will honour what I said earlier and I will not devote a lot of time to this. But I want to say that the first annual general meeting of Nickelfields of Australia NL was set down for Wednesday 30th December 1970. However, it is interesting to note that a proxy form which was sent out stated:
So there is a postponement there which I have not noted in any journals covering the finances of this country or the finances of mining companies. Another significant aspect is a photostat copy of an envelope which I have which was posted in Perth to people of the eastern States. The postmark on the envelope is 22nd December. So quite obviously if the meeting was to be held on 21st the shareholders had no chance of getting there. Equally, if it was to be held on 30th December they still bad no chance of getting there. However, someone has got a lot of money out of this company which has now been suspended from the stock exchange. Item 3 of the company’s business sheet states:
To consider, and if thought fit, to pass the following Resoultion - “That as from 1st July, 1970, the remuneration payable to the Directors pursuant iO rticle 74(a) of the Company’s Articles of Association shall be at the total rate not exceeding $7,500 per annum.
So it would appear that if the shareholders have lost their money the directors did not lose their money if this amount in fact was paid. I am not making a personal attack on anybody. However, this country is in serious trouble because of mushroom mining companies which suck in small shareholders, take over their investment and then go out of existence. In other words, they either become suspended or they disappear.
I have quoted details of this company and Other relevant information which I think is very important. On 15th March this year a South American gentleman, who subsequently took over a major part of this company, apparently died of suicide because he lost all of his money in that company. Prior to his death he felt one of the leases was worth Sim. But the general offering price of this lease, according to the financial pundits, was about $200. I reiterate that I shall observe the statement I made earlier that I will cut down my speaking time. However, what is being done is not enough. The legislators of this country ought not to be associating themselves with mushroom mining companies which bring havoc and wreck the lives of tens of thousands and perhaps millions of small investors in this country. I am talking about the person who puts $100 into one of these, what I call, fake mining companies. Minerals are not found and these people do not get their money back. Their investment might have been their savings for two or three years; it might be the savings that they have accumulated for a holiday, for a new car or something like that. These people thought that they would make, in the slang phrase, a quick buck. However, they are not able to do this.
I am sorry that Senator Wood has seen fit to leave the chamber. If that is the way he feels about it he ought to make a public statement about what happened to Nickelfields of Australia NL and one or two other companies, or alternatively be a decent politician and resign from this place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to obtain parliamentary authority for expenditure in the current financial year for which provision was not made in the Appropriation Act (No. 1) 1971-72. The total appropriations sought in this Bill amount to $71,075,000. The Schedule to this Bill is the same as that contained in the document ‘Particulars of Proposed Provision for Additional Expenditure for the Service of the Year Ending 30th June 1972* which was referred on 18th April for examination by the Senate Estimates Committees. Although additional appropriations are being sought, actual expenditure will not exceed the amounts included in Appropriation Act (No. 1) 1971-72 by $71,075,000. For a variety of reasons, it is expected that savings of about $28.5m will be available in existing appropriations to offset the additional appropriations now proposed. For reasons associated with parliamentary control over the appropriation of moneys for specified purposes, these savings cannot be utilised as an offset in the sense that the total new appropriations sought can be reduced to a net figure in this Appropriation Bill. Thus the Bill seeks parliamentary authority for additional expenditure in the divisions, subdivisions and items set out in the Schedule. To the extent that an item of any annual appropriation is unexpended the appropriation lapses at 30th June in accordance with section 36 of the Audit Act 1901-1969.
For the information of honourable senators a separate document has been provided listing the estimated savings in existing annual appropriations. I emphasise that these are estimated savings. It is not intended to present an accurate prediction of the final expenditure under those appropriations, nor is it intended to imply that there will be no savings under other appropriations. The information is provided by way of background to senators’ consideration of the additional amounts now being sought. The various items included in this Bill have been examined by the Estimates Committees and I propose to refer Only to some of the major provisions.
The additional requirement for departmental salaries is $ 14.6m and provides for increases in salaries arising from arbitration determinations, reclassification of offices and additional staff positions approved earlier in the financial year. The amount needed to meet salary increases resulting from arbitration determinations that have become effective in this financial year is approximately Si Om and in accordance with established practice no provision for these was made in the Budget. Further appropriations totalling $ 13.1m are required for departmental administrative expenses including $1.4m for the Department of Civil Aviation; $1.8m for overseas representation; Sim for rents; $0.8m for the Commonwealth Railways; SI. 3m for increased allowances and other benefits for overseas officers of the Papua New Guinea Public Service as a result of the flow-on of salary increases in the Commonwealth Public Service; $0.6m for the Commonwealth Taxation Office; and $0.5m for the Department of Works. The balance is made up of a considerable number of appropriations each of which is less than $500,000.
Additional appropriations amounting to $27.6m required for departmental other services include $0.8m for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation; $2.4m for Commonwealth scholarships to cover a greater number cf awards and an increase in university fees; $1.2m for education services in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory mainly for increases in teachers’ salaries; $0.6m is sought for payment to the Aboriginal Advancement Trust Account for the acquisition of land off reserves - further funds pursuant to the policy statement by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) of 26th January last will be provided in the Budgets for 1972-73 and subsequent years; Sl.Sm aid for Pakistan refugees before the establishment of the independent State of Bangladesh; $1.5m rehabilitation and relief aid for Bangladesh; $1.6m for migrant education to cover increased salaries and on expanded programme of activity; $0.7m for various services in the Northern Territory; $1.7m for broadcasting and television services, mainly to meet salary increases; $0.9m for repatriation pharmaceutical services; $8m for ship construction; and $1.8m to meet a rise in the number of grants under the Aged Persons Homes Act. The balance is made up of a number of appropriations each of which is less than $500,000.
Additional appropriations totalling $15. 8m are sought for Defence services, including about $2.1m for increases in services pay and allowances arising from the Government’s implementation of the Kerr Committee recommendations; and $4.3m for increases in salaries of civilian staff including the effect of arbitration determinations. However, it is expected that, for various reasons, there will be savings of $ 16.1m in other Defence appropriations. The Schedules to the Bills have been prepared in a new format designed to show, in each case where an additional appropriation is sought, the amount appropriated by the Appropriation Act (No. 1) 1971-72 and the actual expenditure for that item in 1970-71. This comparative information should further assist honourable senators in their understanding of the significance of the figures. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Drake.Brockman) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to obtain parliamentary authority for additional expenditure in 1971-72 amounting to $80.4m on various items relating to capital works and services, payments to or for the States and certain other services. However, savings of about $9.2m are estimated in expenditures under other appropriations in Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1971-72. It is expected, therefore, that the total expenditure will exceed the amount appropriated in Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1971-72 by about $71. 2m. Of this amount $45. 8m relates to payments to or for the States. The Schedule to this Bill is the same as that contained in the document ‘Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Additional Expenditure in Respect of the Year Ending 30th June 1972’ which was referred on 18th April for examination by the Senate Estimates Committees.
When introducing Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1971-72 I informed the Senate that savings expected in amounts appropriated by Appropriation Act (No. 1) 1971-72 had been listed in an information paper for the benefit of honourable senators. The information paper likewise contains details of savings expected in amounts appropriated by Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1971-72. Although additional appropriations of $3 1.3 m are sought for capital works and services, it is expected that this amount will be partially offset by savings of about $5. 6m in other similar appropriations in Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1971-72. As I explained in relation to the Appropriation Bill (No. 4), it is not possible to utilise savings under an appropriation to offset additional expenditure in another. Unexpended appropriations, of course, lapse at 30th June.
Of the $3 1.3m now sought, the major requirements are $1.7m for an additional repayable advance to the Papua New Guinea Administration towards the construction of a township at Arawa; $5m for loans under the War Service Homes Act to meet the increased loan limit and to eliminate delays in meeting applications; $lm for loans to co-operative building societies in the Australian Capital Territory - this is offset by a reduction of $lm in advances to the Australian Capital Territory Housing Trust Account; $lm for the National Capital Development Commission to cover rise and fall variations to contracts because of wage increases; $15m for payment to the Post Office Trust Account to meet an expected short fall in postal revenue, increased liability for superannuation payments and additional funds required for expenditure on works to sustain employment in accordance with government policy. An additional $4.5m is required for buildings and works to meet rise and fall payments under contracts because of wage increases and other items.
Additional appropriations of $49. lm are sought for payments to or for the States, the main requirements being $27m for non-metropolitan unemployment relief; $17.5m for a special loan to New South Wales, and $3. 5m for cyclone assistance in Queensland. It is expected that there will be a savings of about $3.3m in other appropriations for payments to or for the states in Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1971- 72. As in the case of Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1971-72 the form of the Schedule to this Bill has been revised to show comparative information which may assist honourable senators in their consideration of the amounts sought. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate moneys to carry on the necessary normal services of the Government during the first 5 months of the financial year 1972-73. The total amount sought in this Bill is $ 1 ,3 1 7,790,000 comprising departmental, $797,290,000; Defence Services, $495,500,000; and advance to the Treasurer. $25,000,000. These amounts do not, of course, include the requirements for expenditure under special appropriations for which standing parliamentary authority is available under the relevant legislation. The amounts included for salaries and payments in the nature of salary represent estimates of the payments which will be made at existing rates of pay and employment levels over the 11 pay days falling with the supply period. The amounts included for administrative expenses are five-twelfths of the 1971-72 appropriations. Amounts included for other services are limited to commitments which departments will be required to meet in the supply period. No provision is made for new services. An amount of $25m is sought to enable the Treasurer to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year and to make moneys available to meet expenditure on ordinary annual services of the Government, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Drake.Brockman) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate $370,594,000 for certain expenditures to carry on the necessary services of the Government for the first 5 months of 1972-73. The total amount sought comprises: capital works and services $313,533,000; payments to or for the States $32,061,000; and advance to the Treasurer $25,000,000. The amounts sought for capital works ind services are in general to meet continuing commitments. An amount of $30m has been sought for advances by way of loan to the Australian Wool Commission. Whether or not the Commission, in the course of reserve price operations, will be making net purchases of wool in the early part of the 1972-73 selling season cannot be foreseen at this time. In the event that net purchases are made and other sources of finance are not available to the Commission, provision is made for the Commonwealth to advance funds. Provision has been made in the Bill for a subscription of $10m of new capital to Qantas Airways Ltd. The company requires additional capital to assist in financing its capital equipment programme, which includes significant commitments arising from the introduction of Boeing 747 aircraft. The company will need this amount to meet some large commitments falling due in August and September next.
In addition $5m has been included to provide for advances to the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission to assist in financing the 1972-73 capital programme of ship construction and other equipment. An amount of $0.8m is sought as additional capital for the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. Amounts included for payments to or for the States are based on existing arrangements for approved payments from annual appropriations. Generally, they do not exceed five-twelfths of the 1971-72 appropriations but where the arrangement is for quarterly or half-yearly payments provision has been made accordingly. Other payments to or for the States’ will be made from special appropriations andthe Loan Fund. An amount of $25m is sought to enable the Treasurer to make other advances which will be. recovered within the financial year, and to make moneys available to meet expenditure on services of the Government, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! It being after 11 p.m., 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.
Senate adjourned at 11.2 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
Senator COTTON - The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The short answer is that the view of the Corporation’s clients would prevail. The following comments elaborate on the position:
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
– On 9th March 1972 Senator Bonner asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, whether any thought was being given to the employment of Torres Strait Islanders to deal with the problem of the crown of thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef.
The Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts has now advised me that grants for study into the problem of the crown of thorns starfish are administered by the Department of Education and Science, on the advice of an advisory committee. The employment of personnel on such projects is a matter for the recipients of the grants.
(Question No. 2039) Senator MULVIHILL asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 May 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1972/19720517_senate_27_s52/>.