27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I inform honourable senators that I have received, through His Excellency the Governor-General, a communication from Her Majesty the Queen expressing Her Majesty’s appreciation of the address from the Senate on the occasion of the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Windsor and of the expression of sympathy sent on behalf of the people of the Commonwealth of Australia.
– It is with very great regret that I have to inform the Senate of the death on 7th July last of Sir Owen Dixon, a former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, at the age of 86 years. Sir Owen Dixon was without doubt one of the truly great Australians of his time. His reputation as an outstanding jurist was acknowledged both in Australia and overseas, particularly in Great Britain and the United States of America. But his contributions extended far beyond the legal field.
Sir Owen Dixon was born at Hawthorn, Victoria, on 28th April 1886. He was educated at Hawthorn College, now
Death of Sir Owen Dixon defunct, and at the University of Melbourne where he took out degrees in arts and law. He was called to the Victorian Bar in 1910 and in 1922, at the age of 36, he became a King’s Counsel. Within the next 2 years he was to appear twice in London before the Privy Council, an unusual event for an Australian lawyer in those days, and nearly 3 decades before he was appointed a member of the Council. In 1926 he became Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria and in 1929 he was appointed as a Justice of the High Court. He was Chief Justice of the High Court from 1952 until his retirement in 1964.
When called upon in times of crisis, Sir Owen Dixon served with equally great distinction in other spheres. In 1940, at the request of the Menzies Government, he undertook the chairmanship of the Central Wool Committee which had been set up to administer the wartime handling of the Australian wool clip. During the following 2 years he become chairman of the Australian Shipping Control Board, the Marine Risks Insurance Board, the Commonwealth Marine Salvage Board and the Allied Consultative Shipping Council in Australia. In 1942 he was appointed by the Curtin Government as Australian Minister to the United States and he remained in that important post until he resumed his seat on the bench in 1944. In 1950 he was appointed by the United Nations as mediator in the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. His tireless efforts to bring an end to that unhappy conflict were not to succeed, but it was widely recognised that he had done as much as any man could possibly have done in most difficult circumstances.
In 1963 he was awarded by Her Majesty the Queen the Order of Merit, a rare distinction and one bestowed only on the personal initiative of the Sovereign. He also was a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George and he held honorary law doctorates from Oxford and Harvard. It is, nonetheless, as an outstanding man of law that Sir Owen Dixon will be remembered. His immense scholarship, his qualities of mind and his unfailing personal dignity set him out among his fellows wherever he moved. He commanded respect in every field of human endeavour
Death of Sir Owen Dixon to which his talents were called and he was held in deep affection by all who knew him. Australia has indeed lost a great man. This country is richer for the life of Owen Dixon. We salute his memory and we extend our deepest sympathy to his family. Perhaps the Leaders of the other parties will wish to join me in the remarks I make on behalf of honourable senators of the Government parties and indeed, I am sure, on behalf of all honourable senators.
– On behalf of the Australian Labor Party 1 fully endorse the remarks of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) and support the motion. By any standards, Sir Owen Dixon was a great Australian. His death on 7th July took from us a man whose legal eminence was such that he was regarded by many as the greatest judge in the English speaking world. He was a member of the High Court of Australia for 35 years until his retirement in 1964. For 12 of those years, he was Chief Justice. His pre-eminent positron was illustrated by the words of his successor, Sir Garfield Barwick, in a tribute paid in the High Court in Melbourne on 25th July. Sir Garfield said:
As scholar, lawyer, judge, administrator and diplomat he must rank wilh Australia’s greatest sons. By unremitting pursuit of excellence he brought fame to himself, authority to this Court and distinction to Australia. He won for himself universal acclaim throughout the English speaking world as a great master of the common law and as a leading jurist in the British Commonwealth.
Yet this man who towered amongst his contempories was a gentle, kind, courteous and patient man. He was kindly, especially to the young lawyers who sought his advice and to those who came before him in the Court. He was always courteous not only to lawyers but also to litigants who sometimes appeared in person before the High Court. He exhibited in every way the attributes which we regard as being essential to the judicial approach to affairs. He possessed a retiring disposition, but to those who knew him well he was a man of very great friendship, a man who was loved very much by all who knew him. It is wonderful that a man of such quality, such great attainment and of such fame throughout the world lost none of the modesty of a gentleman and of a scholar. His work on behalf of Australia was not
only in the judicial field. As an administrator, he did a great deal for Australia in the difficult times of war. As a representative in the United States of America he strove hard to make Australia’s views clearly known, but I agree with the Leader of the Government that it is as a lawyer that he will go down in Australia’s history. We too salute him as a jurist and as a simple, kindly man.
– lt is a sad privilege that is mine today, speaking on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party to identify the members of our Party with the motion of condolence extended by the Senate to the family of the late Sir Owen Dixon. In the concept of all Australians and particularly in the knowledge of those who are intimate with the law. the late distinguished jurist was one of the great lawyers of the British legal jurisdiction. He was considered to bc the greatest common lawyer of his day and, as Senator Murphy has said, perhaps the greatest lawyer in the English speaking world. We are inclined sometimes to think of members of the judiciary as somewhat remore figures who have little other than a theoretical impact upon the history and destiny of their country. But more particularly in Australia, where we operate under a written Constitution, where we have this great problem of the separation of State and Commonwealth powers, the impact of the judiciary in determining the course of this nation has been immense and the influence of the late Sir Owen Dixon perhaps had no equal in the effect it had on the interpretation of the Constitution and in acquitting that Constitution to the modern Australia and to the movement of Australia into the modern world.
Sir Owen Dixon was not only erudite in the law; he also had a very deep affection for it. That became evident to anybody who had the privilege of appearing before him. It was a love that he transmitted to all members of the profession, lt will be one of the fondest memories of members of the Australian bar that they were privileged to know and to appear before this great jurist. The Democratic Labor Party, in common with Australia, mourns the passing of this great Australian who, in every field of national endeavour, made his contribution at a distinguished level. We extend to those who survive him our very deepest sympathy. 1 trust that the portrait of Sir Owen which hangs in one of the lobbies of this Parliament the only portrait I can recall hanging in these halls of a Justice of the High Court who was not at some time a member of this Parliament - will be transferred to a more public position so that those who see it and who may not know may ask who this man was. Thus the history and the story of Sir Owen Dixon will be more widely transmitted to the nation. I join with Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and Senator Murphy in extending condolences to those who survive this great man.
– J call Senator Greenwood, one time Associate to the late Chief Justice.
– It is entirely fitting that this Senate should pay homage to the late Sir Owen Dixon. He was at no time a member of this Parliament, but he was a great Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia in which is reposed the judicial power which the Constitution establishes. His work as a member of the High Court over a period of some 35 years, for 12 of which he was Chief Justice, has left an indelible impact on the development of Australian constitutional law. There would be few who have engaged in the practice of the law or in the work of this Parliament in the last half century who have not had occasion at some time to recognise the unique prestige which he achieved. He was, as Sir Garfield Barwick said on the occasion of the High Court’s tribute to his memory, the most outstanding lawyer this country has produced and one of the greatest judges to sit upon a bench in Australia. He established for himself and for the judiciary of Australia a standing of excellence. His contribution to the law in Australia is never likely to be surpassed. He performed many duties in the service of his country but, above all else, it was in his work as a member of the High Court that he will always be remembered with the highest esteem and with great affection. His legal scholarship was immense; his adherence to the lawyer’s approach to the construction and application of the Constitution was unfailing.
On the occasion when he was sworn in as Chief Justice he said that the function of the High Court in constitutional matters was to interpret a constitutional description of power or restraint upon power and to determine whether a given measure falls on one side of a line or on the other. In that, he said, close adherence to legal reasoning was the only way to maintain the confidence of all parties in a federal conflict. He said there was no other safe guide to judicial decisions in great conflict than a strict and complete legalism, lt was the stamp of the man and the quality of his intellect that he adhered to that faithfully. I had, as you indicated, Mr President, the inestimable privilege of working with him as his Associate. I know that all who had that same privilege and the privilege of appearing before him will always treasure their memories of a great man of vast legal intellect and also a towering man of unfailing courtesy and great modesty. He was a profound lawyer and a great Australian.
– I rise on the occasion when the Senate offers its tribute to Sir Owen Dixon because his inestimable qualities have been a beacon to most of us who had the privilege to live through his generation. Others have spoken of the affection and admiration which all men and women of the Bar and people having business before the Court held with abiding feeling for him. His unfailing courtesy and attention to the arguments of even the most unable of the Bar signalised him as a man to whom genuine respect was accorded always.
Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has referred to the contributions by Sir Owen Dixon to the public life of Australia outside his court. I wish to say 2 things only in that respect. One demonstrates the humility of this man. 1 have the first on the information of a non-lawyer, a great human character, the late Senator George McLeay, who was Minister responsible for shipping and transport at the time. As soon as Dixon disembarked from his ship about 3rd, 4th or 5th September 1939, he telephoned Senator McLeay to ask: ‘Can I be of service?’ Dixon came down here saying that all he wanted was a desk in the corridor and a pen. He evolved the structure by which the shipping of the Commonwealth was to be controlled throughout the war.
A little later, when the Curtin Government took office, he was commissioned and took authority from the Government on the 4th of the month - I forget which month; I verified the figures in 1956 and perhaps my memory is a little astray - aided on one side by the arch conservative. Sir Thomas Gordon, the shipping magnate, and on the other by the ultra-communist. Jim Healy. By the 7th of the month he had formulated the legal framework by which the stevedoring operations of the Commonwealth should be guided through the war.
Other speakers have mentioned his great diplomatic efforts. As Senator Greenwood has quite properly said it is for his work in court that he will wish to be remembered and will be remembered for all time not only by people in Australia but also by people in other countries. Chief Justice Parker of England, Lord Chancel-‘ lor Simmons and judges of the Supreme Court of the United States of America have gone on record to say that he was acknowledged as pre-eminent as a jurist of the English-speaking courts of his period.
He was a great master of the common law principles, which he analysed at all times with clarity. He used a striking Anglo-Saxon diction which he never permitted to be obscured but often aided with his storehouse of classical knowledge. But I venture to say, Mr President, in the presence of my fellow senators that it was in application of these principles to our own specially important Constitution that the late Chief Justice made his most substantial mark and contributed to the building of a body of doctrine which, in my assessment, will stamp his as an era of exposition superior in importance to the great constitutional decisions of the Stuart period. He worked in a period of great challenge, a period in which the judge was tested as the final repository and the protector of individual rights under the law. We remember that it was in the airways case that he established the essentials of freedom as outlined in section 92 of the Constitution. He further expounded those essentials, against strong dissent but with great perseverance, in the road transport cases, in which he declared that freedom must insist upon opposing arbitrary government discretion. Then in the Communist Party dissolution case he took a notable lead. Two sentences from his judgment in that case I take leave to quote, for they are etched indelibly upon my mind:
History, and not only ancient history, shows that in countries where democratic institutions have been unconstitutionally superseded, it has been done not seldom by those holding executive power. Forms of government may need protection from dangers likely to arise from within the institutions to be protected.
The last of the four great pillars, as 1 think of his decisions was in the boilermakers’ case in which he insisted that no other arm of government should encumber the judiciary by adding to it non-judicial power, and no other arm of government should detract from the judiciary by weakening or undermining its proper constitutional jurisdiction. My hope is that some scholar of adequate capacity will undertake a complete study of every judgment that Sir Owen Dixon delivered judicially, dissenting judgments and majority judgments alike.I believe that a complete study of those judgments would reveal a body of jurisprudence which would be invaluable in the guidance of the government of this country for centuries to come.
You have listened with patience to me speaking at greater length than I usually permit myself on occasions such as these. It is with the memory of a character exalted and revered in the highest degree that every honourable senator in this place pays tribute to the late great Chief Justice of our High Court.
– I ask honourable senators to stand in their places as a mark of respect and to join me in a small tribute to the memory of the late Right Honourable Sir Owen Dixon, one time Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. (Honourable senators stood in their places.)
-I am informed that honourable senators have a multiplicity of petitions to present. Honourable senators will recall that during the last session we agreed upon a method of handling petitions and I invite their co-operation in following that procedure today.
-I present the following petition from 12 citizens of the Commonwealth.
To the honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembed. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
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 truly responsible.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
A similar petition was presented by Senator Douglas McClelland.
Sentaor GAIR - I present the following petition from11 citizens of the Commonwealth.
To the honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth humbly showeth:
That the undersigned believe:
That hunger, illiteracy, abject poverty and injustice are intolerable anywhere in the world.
That the knowledge, skills and resources to change those unjust conditions now exist.
That to obtain justice among peoples, world financial and trading systems can and must be changed.
That Australia has the capacity to play a more significant part in enabling the developing countries to achieve improved social conditions for all their people.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that:
Australia’s Official Development Assistance in 1972-73 be increased to at least $240 million.
Australia’s aid policies be reviewed so that aid given provides maximum benefit to the peoples of developing countries.
Australia’s trade policies be reviewed to provide more favourable conditions for developing countries. And that the Senate refer this petition to the appropriate Standing Committees for enquiry and report.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
Similar petitions were presented by Senators McAuliffe and Lawrie.
– I present the following petition from 175 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Honourable the President and Senators in Parliament assembled, the humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectively show that the Australian Government should recognise its responsibility to the people of Australia and their children and take the following action to prevent the possibility of danger to our community from the French Nuclear Tests in the Pacific:
Notify the French Government that Australians object to the carrying out of Nuclear Tests in our region, and that Australian ships will be in the area carrying official Government representatives during the period of the proposed tests.
The Australian representative at the Stockholm Conference will make a statement supports the New Zealand representative and other South West Pacific countries by condemning the French Tests as an immoral contamination of a region remote from its own borders.
The Federal Government should endeavour to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 34 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Honourable the President and Senators in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:
That the state of Aboriginal rights, health, infant mortality, life expectancy, education, training, employment, ownership, movement and democratic political advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Peoples everywhere in Australia is unequal compared with people of European origin, whether migrating to or bom in Australia; and this constitutes a challenge to the Australian people on grounds of racial discrimination, racism and even forms of genocide;
And the People of Australia, having voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Commonwealth having power and responsibility for making laws for the good government of the Aboriginal and Island people of Australia in the Referendum of May 1967;
Your petitioners request that the honourable Senate initiate a debate on all features of governmental and other discrimination against the indigenous people.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
Senator MURPHY (New South Wales-
Leader of the Opposition) - Mr President, I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That there be referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence the following matters for urgent inquiry and report:
Complaints by the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia that there are in Australia bases, training ranges, storage places for weapons and diversionist material for criminal activity against Yugoslavia’ and that the Australian Government ‘has tolerated migrants engaged in terrorist activity against Yugoslavia’ and that Australia has not adhered to international law in regard to terrorist activity.
Whether there have been or are in Australia extremist or terrorist elements engaged in violence or other illegal activity directed against representatives or property of the Yugoslav Government in Australia.
Whether persons in Australia have engaged in training or preparation for or been in any way party to terrorist or attempted terrorist activity in Yugoslavia.
Whether the Australian authorities have taken sufficient steps to discourage, prevent, investigate and prosecute offences in relation to such activities.
Whether, in relation to Yugoslavia, Australia has failed to observe the requirements of international law and the comity between nations in respect of terrorist activity.
- Mr President, I give notice that at the next day of sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to restrict increases in prices of certain goods and services resulting from the making of industrial agreements and for purposes connected therewith.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Does the Government share the nationwide alarm at the latest unemployment figures, which show that more than 100.000 people are out of work and which are the highest July figures for 10 years? Can we expect the Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Lynch, and the Prime Minister to continue to make absurdly optomistic comments as each month shows a worsening trend? Will the Minister now tell us what positive urgent action is planned to alleviate the despair of the 2 per cent of the work force which is unemployed and those who are dependent on them?
– The Government of course shares a concern for the figure that was recorded in the last survey of unemployment. Although it is low in comparison with international experience - in the United States of America for several years no.v it has been 5 per cent or 6 per cent and in the United Kingdom it has been 5 per cent or 6 per cent - nevertheless the Australian Government is determined to make every effort it can to keep unemployment to the very minimum. The Prime Minister and the Minister for Labour and National Service have not been making absurdly optomistic statements on this subject. They have been thoughtfully bringing to the attention of the public, not despairing even yet, the view that if only industrial chaos and industrial wastage of employment were eliminated by the leaders of the trade union movement a great improvement in the employment position would be achieved.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral reached any agreement with the States regarding a uniform system of controls for travel agents involving such things as a bonding and licensing system? Regardless of any such agreement, does the Attorney-General propose any regulation of the travel agencies operating in Commonwealth territories?
– I must say that I have not reached any such agreement and I am not aware what stage has been reached in relation to any discussions of that matter. I think the honourable senator may have addressed the question to me assuming that the matter was within my ministerial responsibility, which it is not. I think that the question could be more appropriately addressed to the Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities because 1 know that this is an area of discussion which has taken place between him and his corresponding State Ministers.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry been drawn to a statement made by Mr Allan Preece, President of the Federal Grapegrowers’ Council of Australia, that imported brandy is now displacing the equivalent of 7,000 tons of wine grapes a year on the local market? Can the Minister indicate what is being done to overcome this situation which presents a major threat to the ability of grape growers to dispose of their production in future vintages?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honourable senator refers. I do know that there is some concern within the grape growing industry in regard to the flow of brandy into this country. It is my understanding that representations were made to the Tariff Board for an inquiry into the brandy industry. It is also my understanding that representatives of grape grower organisations have gone before the Tariff Board and given evidence. No doubt the evidence that has been given will be noted when the final report is made by the Tariff Board.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General make available to the Senate the terms of the successful tenders for publication of the pink pages in the telephone directory, recently accepted in all States?
– I can only say that I will convey the request made by the honourable senator to the PostmasterGeneral and endeavour to have an answer supplied to the honourable senator as soon as possible.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether his attention has been drawn to statements made by provincial Press representatives that the Postmaster-General’s householder mailing system was threatening the existence of some country newspapers? Does the Minister agree that the existence of a country and local Press is of value in programmes of community development and decentralisation? Is the Minister aware of claims being made that the Postmaster-General’s bulk mailing system is threatening the employment of many country workers. Will he ask the PostmasterGeneral to examine the claims to recognise the role and place of country newspapers by an inquiry into the problems which have been raised?
– I am not aware of the many matters which the honourable senator has comprehended within one question. Naturally, one is aware that there have been increased costs of certain postal services in recent times and that this has imposed a considerable burden upon those whose business depends upon being able to transmit by mail what they have to sell. But we ali appreciate that this increase in postal charges is one segment of the tremendous increase in costs which we are all experiencing and that we all have to make our adjustments. The Government has been trying constantly to bring home a sense of responsibility to those who have some responsibilities in the area of increasing costs.
– Order! On the very first day on which the Senate resumes after the winter recess I hoped that some of the lessons which I had tried to persuade honourable senators to accept willingly in the autumn session would have been retained in their minds. I now merely indicate to honourable senators that there is a standing order relating to the form in which Senate questions should be presented. It is standing order 99. To the limit of my capacity 1 intend to apply that standing order.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral information from the Commonwealth Police that American crime syndicates have infiltrated Australian business and that leading American crime organisers have come here to meet Australian criminals and their associates? Have these crime syndicates infiltrated New South Wales clubs which use a particular type of poker machine? If the Attorney-General is determined, as stated in the Press, that no overseas crime syndicates should be allowed to operate in Australia, what is happening in the Department of Immigration that entry visas are being or would be issued to these criminals? Does the AttorneyGeneral intend to exercise his powers of arrest and does he intend to deport these people as undsirable aliens?
– I note the honourable senator’s concern. I think all of us share hrs concern. He asked me what evidence the Commonwealth Police have uncovered. I think I indicated to the Press - 1 repeat it now - that that evidence disclosed links or contacts between persons alleged to be criminals in the United States of America and persons with criminal records in this country. I do not think it appropriate to mention names, clubs or other details of identification, because of the very character of the statement which I made as to what the. evidence revealed. In those circumstances, as I have said - I repeat it - what we must do is to ensure as far as possible that -we have available the best intelligence as to what flows from these contacts, to prevent the practices which have been engaged in, or which it is believed have been engaged in by Australian criminals with or without the links with organised crime overseas, and to ensure as far as possible that we are welt enough informed to stop it happening in future. The responsibility in this area lies pre-eminently with the New South Wales authorities or other State authorities which may be concerned. The Commonwealth, through its immigration controls, can endeavour to keep a watch on persons who come into this country. As I have said, that is what will be done.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the serious economic effect that the announced new fares on Australian National Line ships to Tasmania will have on that State and in view of the way that these rises will further disadvantage residents of Tasmania, will the Minister ask the ANL to retain the fares at the old level while the situation is investigated with a view to giving Tasmania some form of preferential treatment by means of an ANL subsidy?
– I heard of these increases and I immediately understood the problems that they would present to Tasmania and the interest that they would generate among a number of Tasmanian senators. Accordingly, I will direct the honourable senator’s request to the responsible Minister.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Supply. The Chairman of the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee said that he had visited Paris twice and had also visited the Pacific test site in connection with the recent series of French nuclear tests. Did he make these trips officially? If so, what was their purpose? Did he negotiate with the French authorities regarding the tests?
– I think the honourable senator would understand that I, representing in this place the Minister for Supply, would not be familiar with all that information. . Therefore I suggest that the honourable senator put his question on notice.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that the South Australian Government recently announced that it would pay the costs owing by a Mr J. E. Dunford to a Kangaroo Island farmer who had successfully taken civil action against him to lift a black ban imposed on the shipment of the farmer’s wool? Is the Attorney-General aware that the South Australian Government justified this action on the ground that the Commonwealth Government had paid legal costs in similar cases? Is there any precedent in Commonwealth Government actions?
– I am aware that there was a prolonged court action in South Australia between a Kangaroo Island farmer and an official of a trade union, under which action the farmer sued the trade union official because of a black ban which had been imposed and which had caused him loss and inconvenience because it delayed the transhipment of his wool. I am also aware that the farmer succeeded in his action and received a judgment from the court, and that the South Aus tralian Government indicated in the court that it had paid or was prepared to pay the costs of the unsuccessful union official. I am also aware that considerable publicity was given to an assertion, I think by the Premier of South Australia, that this was no more than what had been done by the Commonwealth in paying the costs of certain unionists who had been engaged in proceedings before the Commonwealth Industrial Court. That assertion was categorically denied but the denial was not given very much publicity. I am happy to say that there is absolutely no corelationship between the 2 situations. The Commonwealth Government, through the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, has provided a means whereby union members can control their union officials, can ensure that the rules of their organisations are observed and can have properly conducted elections. (Honourable Senators interjecting).
– Order! The AttorneyGeneral is entitled to answer the question.
– I gather from the constant barrage of interjections from the Opposition that these democratic rights which the Government confers on union members do not altogether appeal to the more militant members of the Australian Labor Party who have been making a noise in this chamber. The point is that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act has made this provision for union members to control their union affairs and has facilitated a system of payment of costs whereby union members can pay costs without hardship to themselves. I would have thought that members of the ALP would have supported that instead of jeering at it. There is a great difference between that situation and the situation in which a person has gone to the ordinary courts of the land to have a black ban lifted which was unjustly, and arbitrarily imposed by a union which is engaging in victimisation and in which a goverment of this country pays the costs of a person who has been held by the court to have been guilty of such victimisation.
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLANDDid the Leader of the Government in the Senate see a report last week that Friday, 1 1 th August, was a bumper day for companies announcing profits? One was a Sydney property developer which boosted its profits by 105 per cent and others had increased their profits by as much as 35 per cent and 63 per cent.
– Order! I have just warned honourable senators about giving information. Thai is covered by Standing Order 99. The honourable senator should ask his question.
– ls the Minister also aware that this morning it was reported that over 112,000 Australians are out of work? Will he agree that these 2 reports, appearing within 3 days of one another, highlight the hopeless and unjust policies of this Government? Will he agree that the ordinary Australian citizen is entitled to a more equitable distribution of the wealth of this country?
Probably for the first time today we have a question which has obvious political overtones. I can say with complete frankness that I did not see the statement which Senator Douglas McClelland saw on 11th August and which referred to the profits of a particular company or companies. But had I done so I would not necessarily have drawn the conclusions that the honourable senator has chosen to draw from it. The simple economic fact, which I should think even Senator Douglas McClelland would appreciate, is that company profits are related to a whole series of matters such as capital investment and to circumstances which apply at a particular time. Senator Wright, who represents the Minister for Labour and National Service in this place, already has answered a question in relation to the release of the July unemployment figures. I believe that what he said was completely accurate.
This Government has always sought a condition of full employment in Australia and has been able to achieve that since 1949 when it came into office. But even in a state of full employment there is always some movement up or down in the employment figures. It is a fact that the July figures revealed a movement - not a dramatic one, but nevertheless a movement. If the honourable senator looks at the document published by Mr Lynch he will find that the very first sentence says:
The number of persons registered as unemployed with the Commonwealth Employment Service fell by 2i during July.
– You do not believe everything that he says, do you?
If that remark was meant as a reflection on a Minister I ask that it be not persisted with. 1 believe that whatever the Minister says officially in a document he will be prepared to back. He does not have to go around the corner to substantiate what he says. A point that must be borne m mind is, as I have said so frequently here, that Australia is a primary producing country whose employment figures often move in accordance with seasons and in accordance with other conditions. I am certain that the situation reflected in the July figures will improve significantly as the months go on.
I wish to add to something said by Senator Wright because of my personal experience overseas during the recess. Lt is true that I was away on health matters and found the task very strenuous and exhausting, but in every country that 1 visited, when I, as every honourable senator does if he is proud of his country, told people that we in Australia have an unemployment figure which runs between 1.4 per cent and 1.7 or 1.8 per cent of the work force, most of them would not believe me.
– Do you think that justifies the present situation?
– 1 am answering the question. If the honourable senator wants to ask a further question later I shall reply to him then. We cannot expect much better figures than those I have cited. During the life of a previous government the unemployment rate was much higher than it is now. Do not let us walk away from that.
– How much of the profits are being transmitted abroad?
That does not necessarily have a relationship to the question which was asked. The question to which 1 am replying was loaded, so I am taking a little time to give an extended answer.
– My question to the Minister for Health relates to the mercury content of fish. In view of the recent decision of the State Government of Victoria to ban the sale of school shark more than 28 inches in length, has the Minister any information to provide with regard to the recommendation of the National Health and Medical Research Council that a safe level of mercury content in fish is .5 parts per million?
A story of significance has been published in relation to the sale of school shark in Victoria. I have seen reports concerning the action taken by the Victorian Government on shark which is sold as flake in that State. Food legislation is, of course, primarily a matter for the States. The National Health and Medical Research Council at its 74th session in May of this year recommended a level of 0.5 parts per million for mercury in fish, which is the same as the guideline adopted ‘by the United States of America. The Council established a sub-committee to investigate the metallic contamination of seafoods and I understand that the mercury content of shark is one matter being examined at the present time.
– I ask a question of the Attorney-General. In 1969 were 119 people found guilty in a Federal court sitting in Sydney of breaches of the Commonwealth Crimes Act insofar as they had signed a statement inciting lads not to obey the National Service Act? Were the 119 fined $50 each or in default 25 days gaol? Have only 2 of the fines been paid? Has there been no subsequent action to collect the fines or to issue warrants for the arrest of the 117 who have not paid fines?
– I cannot answer accurately each of the parts of the question asked by the honourable senator. lt is a fact that a number of people approximating the number that he mentioned were fined in about 1969 for a breach of section 7 (a) of the Crimes Act. I am not sure whether any of the fines have been paid. Certainly no action has been taken by the Crown law authorities. There is a very simple reason for this. These fines were imposed as a result of private prosecutions. They were colluded prosecutions in which the only persons who were prosecuted were those people who consented to be prosecuted. They were people who pleaded guilty to signing a document which, as my predecessor said, had been so carefully drawn that if any prosecution had been launched by the Commonwealth it was bound to fail.
What we have is a situation in which in order to obtain publicity and in order to cast some doubts upon the bona fides of the Government, certain people instituted prosecutions against willing defendants and then sought to blame the Government for not having warrants of arrest issued. It is a fact that one of these persons went to the Supreme Court of New South Wales with a view to having a warrant issued so that these people could be arrested. The Supreme Court of New South Wales ruled that there was no right in the private person in those circumstances to have a warrant issued. In the light of the facts, I am surprised that the honourable senator should raise the question because, in all the circumstances, I would have thought that he was aware that this was one of many ruses which a number of people adopt in order to create an impression which is entirely false.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, who is the Attorney-General. Having in mind the arrangement which was made with the Prime Minister of Singapore on the jettisoning of security screenings of certain students entering Australia from that country, did we follow a similar procedure in regard to the entry into Australia of European student groups mentioned in Press statement 19/17? Furthermore, following the latest statement by the Attorney-General on the entry of United States criminals into Australia, are we to assume that in the past we placed undue emphasis on political activity and not sufficient emphasis on criminal activity when screening entrants into Australia?
– I can give some information in answer to the honourable senator’s question. I can say quite definitely on advice from the Minister for
Immigration that there has been no jettisoning of security screening as the honourable senator suggested in his question. That part is without foundation.
– In relation to the Singapore case?
– That is so. There has been no jettisoning of it. The Press statement to which he refers relates to the visit of a number of undergraduates who came to Australia from Great Britain and Europe on working holidays. These are short term visits which take place annually and they have no relevance to the case of the one student who was allowed, with full knowledge of his background, to come here from Singapore for study purposes. On the question directed to me with regard to persons with known criminal records or believed to be implicated in criminal activities in another country coming to Australia, the general policy which is pursued by the Department of Immigration is not to allow those persons to enter into Australia. It must be recognised that it is not always possible to check the character of every applicant for a visitor’s visa as this would cause great inconvenience and embarrassment to, and be an imposition on, the vast majority of honest people who seek to come here simply as tourists.
– I direct a question without notice to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. It relates to the questions asked by Senator Murphy and Senator Douglas McClelland. Has the Minister noticed that the latest unemployment figures reflect the highest levels in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania? Has he also seen a report that 25,000 metal workers in South Australia are taking part in a halfday stoppage today which is symptomatic of trade union sickness in that State? Can the Minister say whether this type of activity creates uncertainty in the minds of employers with regard to productivity within their industries? Can he say also whether this is a significant factor in the creation of additional employment opportunities?
– It is an unfortunate fact that in South Australia, Western Aus tralia and Tasmania the figures show unemployment at a higher rate than elsewhere.
– What about Queensland?
– I will take into account any information that Senator Keeffe places before me in relation to Queensland, lt is obvious when one sees a development such as Senator Jessop referred to. in which 25,000 metal workers were not requested but were directed to cease work at the bidding of the union for consultation on whether they should strike, that there is a dislocation in industry that leads to economic waste. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer of England said in his Budget speech, the best way to put industry out of existence is to overprice its units. If wages are overpriced, obviously employers will go bankrupt or increase their prices or dissipate their businesses. These are the things that are bedevilling the economy, and if only those who organise these strikes could see that they are simply self-defeating we would then get a factor in the employment situation that would enable better figures to be produced.
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General. Is he in a position to say, in relation to the constitutional requirement for equality of opportunity and treatment for each of the 6 States, that when the level of freight costs reaches a point at which the trade and commerce of one of those States are involved and the economic progress and development of that State are threatened, this would amount to a contravention in 2 respects of the Commonwealth Constitution? Further, would the Attorney-General turn his special attention to some of the implications of the proposed Australian National Line shipping freight rises in the context of the serious threat to Tasmania’s economic progress and stability?
-] must respond to the question by saying it clearly invites a legal opinion - and on a matter of some complexity in view of the provisions of section 99. Not only would the question be contrary to Standing Orders, but I feel that without notice I would not be able to answer it effectively anyway.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that it is being freely claimed that the Budget to be presented tonight provides for an increase from $35 to S43 in the weekly compensation payments made under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act? If this claim is correct, will the Minister immediately inquire as to how this confidential information became public?
I have been a member of this Parliament for 19 or 20 years. I do not suppose that in that time there has been one occasion on which there has not been speculation as to what the Budget would contain. That speculation has come from people who work for the Press, radio stations and, in modern times, television stations. I think it was Lord Asquith who said ‘Wait and see’. With great respect, I say that it is the right and privilege of journalists in a free democracy to speculate in that way and I believe that the honourable senator ought so to regard the comments to which he has referred.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate as representative of the Treasurer: Is the Commonwealth alert to the stress which has been placed on many residents and primary producers in the Gippsland area of Victoria? Is the Commonwealth aware that a serious drought situation persists in that part of the Commonwealth? Has the Commonwealth received from the Victorian Government a request for financial assistance for people in that part of Victoria? Will the Minister assure the Senate that any request for such assistance will be met with prompt compliance by the Commonwealth Government?
As honourable senators would be aware, in our federal system any State can seek assistance from the Commonwealth at the Premier to Prime Minister level. A Premier may seek aid in circumstances which in his judgment require resources beyond the capacity of his State to supply in accordance with the financial structure of the Commonwealth and the States. In the past, assistance has traditionally been sought in circumstances of drought and disaster. 1 am aware that a serious drought has persisted in certain parts of Australia including Gippsland and parts of New South Wales. Happily, last week in some areas of New South Wales which were facing a serious drought position almost an inch of rain fell. I am not aware whether representations have been made by a Premier to the Prime Minister for special assistance. I will seek that information and if possible I will make it available to the honourable senator at question time tomorrow.
– I address my question to the Minister for Air. Is it a fact that the United States Government has made an offer to sell to Australia the Phantom aircraft currently on lease to the Royal Australian Air Force? Is the offer at a price very much below the world- market price for this aircraft? If so, does the Minister agree that the motive behind the offer is to delay an Australian decision on a replacement for the Mirage fighter and thus allow new American aircraft designs time to compete with other aircraft currently under consideration? Will the Minister assure the Senate that this Government will not enter into any agreement with the United States which might lead us into another Fill fiasco?
– I think it would be fair to say to the honourable senator that an offer has been made by the United States Government and that this offer is under consideration at the present time. However, a report on the Phantom and the United States offer is now with the Department of Defence. While the head of the Department and the Air Member for Technical Services, Air Vice Marshal Hey, were recently in America, they obtained some further information on the offer. However, I want to say to the honourable senator that there is no truth in the statements he has made in regard to the delay of the decision on this offer, and there is no truth in the reasons that he has .given. The cost of the Phantoms is not yet known. If they are purchased, their cost would still have to be worked out between the Department of Defence and the United States Government.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that the Hotel Kurrajong was sited and planned for accommodation for members of Parliament? ls it also a fact that the standard of accommodation and service is such that most members have left and found other accommodation? In view of the serious losses and apparent decline in management efficiency, will the Minister immediately obtain the services of a competent firm of consultants or a consultant fully experienced in management in the hotel industry to investigate thoroughly and recommend changes in management and procedures? Will the Minister also delay implementing the proposed changes in tariff and service at the Hotel Kurrajong already advertised by Commonwealth Hostels Ltd until such time as the report of the consultants is presented?
– I call Senator Wright who represents the Minister for Labour and National Service and who will be representing his own interests too, I suppose.
– 1 shall reveal that as I go along. I wish to inform the honourable senator that I am aware that the Hotel Kurrajong was planned principally as an abiding place for parliamentarians. Secondly, I am not aware that the standard is such that most members and senators have left there. It is still of a standard acceptable to me. Thirdly, as to the losses, 1 am unable to understand the business sagacity whereby the problem of losses was met by the recent procedure on the part of Commonwealth Hostels Ltd in closing down the hotel completely for the 2 winter months. What was done with the staff and what other arrangements were made, of course, I do not know. 1 simply inform the honourable senator that I am not able to understand the procedure. With regard to the advisability of employing consultants, I certainly think that some advice is necessary in the present predicament and I will convey the suggestion of the honourable senator to the Minister. However, it would be completely unbusinesslike to delay until the consultant has come up with his views the advertising and the charging of the new tariffs already advertised. Management must go on until the consultants are ready to make their report.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, ls it a fact that airport workers in Fiji made an application for a minimum wage of $40 per week and that this application will be heard by a tribunal in Fiji on Monday? Has the management nf Qantas Airways Ltd slated that if airport workers in Fiji persist with extravagant claims they will force Qantas to pull out of Fiji and they, the airport workers, will then have to deal wilh American airlines? ls the Minister aware of this? Is it true that Qantas has made this statement? Does the Minister support it? Does he consider that a minimum wage of $40 per week is extravagant for Fijian airport workers? Does he intend to support Qantas in its continuing stand against every effort by Fijian workers to improve their standards of living?
– The industrial conditions and wages in Fiji are a matter for the Government of Fiji. The management of Qantas Airways Ltd is a matter for the Board and the management of that company. To the extent that I am able to investigate this matter and obtain some more detail about it, I shall do so.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Did Professor B. W. Cherry of Monash University, at the behest of the Snowy Mountains Authority, carry out investigations into the cause of a failure in the Geehi aqueduct? If so. will a full report of Professor Cherry’s investigations be made available to the Parliament? Did the Minister for National Development make a personal visit to the scene of the failure? If so, on what date?
– It will be appreciated that that question will need to be put on notice in order that an accurate answer may be given. I remember the failure of the aqueduct being reported, but beyond that I cannot help the honourable senator. I shall try to obtain more information for him.
– I desire to ask a question of the Attorney-General which arises out of my previous question on this matter. Do 1 gather from the answer given to my previous question that nothing will be done by the Commonwealth to enforce the penalty imposed by a Federal court on citizens mentioned in my previous question who were found in breach of Commonwealth law?
– I think the honourable senator is quite right in his assumption that no action will be taken by the Commonwealth. The reason no action will be taken by the Commonwealth is as I have said, that they were colluded prosecutions. As to the attitude which was adopted, these were private prosecutions of peop’e who consented to be prosecuted and who pleaded guilty not for the purpose of vindicating or upholding a law but simply for the purpose of attacking a law. This is so abundantly clear that I just wonder how long the honourable senator will persist with a matter which his colleagues gave away 3 years ago.
– J ask the Minister for Health: When will the proposed warning that smoking is a health hazard be required to appear on cigarette packets? When does the Government propose to proclaim the appropriate legislation?
The labelling of cigarette packets with a warning as to the risks involved in cigarette smoking is a State matter and the Commonwealth’s commitment can be only in relation to the Commonwealth territories, namely, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. As Minister for Health I did have discussions with Health Ministers from the States in order to get a uniform date for the introduction of the labelling of cigarette packets. It was believed that the uniform date would be 1st January next year. However, since then some States have indicated, without departing from the principle of the matter, some variation as to the date of operation. For instance, I understand that the new Tasmanian Government has indicated that 1st May is the appro priate date. I understand that the New South Wales Government has also indicated that 1st May is the appropriate date. However, Victoria has indicated 1st January next year as its date of operation. I hope I am not wrong on this but my understanding is that the Western Australian Government has indicated 1st January next year also. The South Australian Government has indicated that it will bring this proposal into operation when 3 States have brought it into effect. The Queensland Government has indicated that it will bring it into operation when all the other States have brought it into effect. So this is a bit of a grey area, but as I see the situation now it is definite that Victoria and one other State - I think it is Western Australia - will put the proposal into effect on 1st January next year. At (east 2 States have suggested that at the moment they are looking critically at 1st May next year as their commencing date. So far as the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory are concerned, because cigarettes are not manufactured and packaged in our Territories, we will be influenced by what happens in the States. It is my hope and desire that the Commonwealth will make it applicable as from 1st January of next year.
Whilst I am on my feet I would like to make an announcement about legislation which was passed by both Houses of the Parliament during the last session regarding cigarette advertising on television and radio and the warning which is to come into effect on a date to be proclaimed. The Postmaster-General has informed me that it is proposed that the proclamation become effective from 1st January of next year.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts and Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities. I ask: Is the Minister aware that at a meeting of Aborigines held in Canberra on Fiday, 11th August, it was resolved to ask for the re-establishment of the black embassy in Canberra? Can the Minister inform the Parliament whether permission has been granted or is likely to be granted for the re-establishment of the embassy?
– I am aware that a meeting of Aboriginal advisory councillors was held in Canberra last Friday. I am aware that a resolution, not as Senator Keeffe stated it but in somewhat similar terms, was passed. I think the precise resolution was that there was no intention of discussing with the Government the creation of an Aboriginal centre in Canberra until the tents were re-established on the lawns in front of Parliament House. I think it is actually the Minister for the Interior who has the responsibility for this matter. I am confident that he will give consideration to that resolution, but I atn quite sure that the Government will not act contrary to its own laws.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Is it a fact that repeated questions and letters from une relating to a Bureau of Transport Economics investigation into the question of a shipping subsidy to Tasmania have been answered with a statement that the Government does not consider that a subsidy is an appropriate solution to the problem of that State’s trade? When will the Bureau of Transport Economics study of Tasmania’s transport disabilities be completed? Will it be made public upon completion? Finally, why is it considered that a subsidy is not an appropriate solution to the problems in the Tasmanian trade?
– In general, subsidies do not lead to an improvement in efficiency or operating economics and therefore a better result for the consumer. That is one of the problems of subsidies in general, although there may be particular cases in Tasmania which are exceptions to this general rule. The Bureau of Transport Economics is a body for which I have some regard. I know that it is engaged in a study of the Tasmanian transport position. I cannot say when the final result will be announced nor what will be the process of letting it be known, but I shall certainly find out as much as I can for the honourable senator about this matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation in his capacity as Minister representing the
Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities and it refers to the recurring failure of some travel agencies. I ask: What action has been taken by the Commonwealth Government to promote uniform Commonwealth controls over travel agencies to prevent distress to and loss of savings by those persons who have paid deposits to travel agencies which have failed? Has any such legislation or scheme for licensing been put to the State governments for joint action with the Commonwealth?
– I share the honourable senator’s concern that some people who have saved a lot of money to travel have had their savings stolen from them by others who are very often of no repute or are not to be trusted. These things are of concern to me but they are not within my province as Minister for Civil Aviation. The Commonwealth and State Ministers who are responsible for tourism have been directing their attention to this matter for some time now. I think the problem has been to arrive at a comparable series of legislative issues which can be put together. That is the limit of my knowledge. I repeat that I share the honourable senators concern. I shall see what I can find out about this matter.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Does the Attorney-General know enough about the presence of an American crime syndicate operating in Australia to be able to identify members of it as not being members of the Mafia? Does the continual reference by the Attorney-General to the existence of the Mafia in Australia not impute criminal involvement to a section of the Italian community in Australia and by repeatedly using the word ‘Mafia’ does he not compound the insult to the Italians in Australia?
- Senator O’Byrne, I have on 2 or 3 occasions already expressed my concern about the manner in which certain questions have been phrased, but you have deliberately gone and asked a rhetorical question, given information and heaven knows what else. Please ask your question.
– It is an explicit question, Mr President.
– lt has not been explicit so far.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral explicitly admit that the presence of organised criminal groups in New South Wales reflects on the Liberal-Country Party governments responsible for the enforcement of federal laws on immigration and the introduction of foreign money, as well as New South Wales criminal laws.
– I direct that question to be placed on notice.
– Mr President-
– Do you wish to answer the question?
– I have ordered the question to be placed on notice, which I am entitled to do.
– I seek leave to make a personal explanation in the light of the imputations which were made, which were quite unfounded and which 1 feel 1 ought to have the opportunity of rebutting.
– On those grounds, 1 call the Attorney-General.
– I want to say quite categorically that there is no basis for Senator O’Byrne’s statement that I had used the word ‘Mafia’ in regard to organised crime in this country. There is absolutely no statement to which he can point-
– Yesterday’s statement in the ‘Australian*.
– … in which I have used the word ‘Mafia’ at any time to categorise what is called organised crime from the United States. I heard Senator O’Byrne refer by way of interjection to yesterday’s ‘Australian’. My recollection of reading yesterday’s ‘Australian’ is that it did not make any such imputation. If it did it is an incorrect report of a Press release I gave in which I said quite emphatically that there was no evidence to indicate that the Mafia was involved. I went on to say further - it is disgraceful that Senator O’Byrne should come into this place and make a statement categorically the opposite- that it was unfair to use that word and to impute to the Italian commun ity in this country that it was in some way involved. 1 can only say that 1 am appreciative of the opportunity that you have given me, Mr President, to set right what was an unfounded and unwarranted assertion with absolutely nothing to back it up.
– I seek leave to make a personal explanation, Mr President.
– Do you claim to have been misrepresented by the AttorneyGeneral?
– Yes. I quoted from a statement in yesterday’s ‘Australian’ attributed to the Attorney-General which said, amongst other things:
He said there was no evidence to suggest that any of the criminals were members of the Mafia.
– I quite agree that that is what I said. Senator O’Byrne has been saying that I have been saying precisely the opposite.
– You have been saying that the Mafia is present in Australia but you have not been doing anything about it.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General, ls it a fact that the Attorney-General authorised the payment of costs amounting to approximately $11,000 awarded against a union official in New South Wales? Was the authority given by the AttorneyGeneral after the Commonwealth Industrial Registrar had previously refused a request for the payment of those costs?
– I must say that I am unable to identify the particular matter to which the honourable senator is referring. I do recall an ex gratia payment of approximately $11,000 that was made, I think, to persons who were involved in certain court litigation in connection with the affairs of the Australian Workers Union. I suggest that the honourable senator put his question on the notice paper and I will have an examination made of the particular aspect he invited me to comment upon.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for Air who represents the Minister for Defence. Is it true that since the Senate rose for the winter recess the Government has made a decision on the purchase of an aircraft to replace the Winjeel as a trainer for the Royal Australian Air Force? Is it a fact that the aircraft purchased is manufactured by the Victa Aircraft Company which formerly operated in Australia but which transferred its activities to New Zealand because of the refusal by the Government to assist the company financially in its operations? Will the Minister provide to the Senate details of this purchase transaction? If he will, can we be assured that the information will be provided at an early date.
– I do not represent the Minister for Defence in this chamber but I recognise that the Minister for Defence made an announcement relating to the purchase of this aircraft on behalf of the Department of Air. it is true that following the Air Force staff requirement which was issued earlier in the year for a basic trainer a number of proposals were put before the Department. A technical examination of all the proposals was carried out and, finally, a physical examination was made of two of the proposals. One was from Scotland and one was from New Zealand. Following the reports of the officers and officials who visited these two countries the CT4 air trainer aircraft was finally agreed upon. This was a redesign by Aero Engine Services Ltd of the original Air Cruiser aircraft which was designed but not produced by the Victa company.
The Victa company produced an aircraft which was called the ‘Air Tourer’. The company designed and produced a prototype aircraft which it called the Air Cruiser but it was never produced in this country. Following the decision by the Tariff Board not to offer assistance to the Victa company the company sold its design and tooling of the Air Tourer aircraft to the New Zealand company. The Victa company did not sell the designs and tooling of the prototype of the Air Cruiser to New Zealand until much later. That is the background of the aircraft which we have purchased. The facts as to the purchase of this aircraft were made available in a statement in New Zealand by the Minister for Defence. Spares will be made in this country not only for the aircraft ordered but also for all orders which may be placed in future, both military and civilian, for this particular aircraft. I shall make a copy of the statement to which I have referred available to the honourable senator as soon as possible.
– I desire to ask a further question of the Attorney-General. Was a Mr Mack Gudgeon of Wollongong, New South Wales, in September 1969, found guilty of having failed to register for national service and fined $102 or, in default, 55 days gaol? Has the fine not been paid? In late 1969 did the Commonwealth Police call at the home of Mr Gudgeon with a warrant for his arrest? Were the police told that the person was away from home but that he would be at home and available for arrest on the following Saturday? Have the Commonwealth Police failed to return to the home and execute the warrant?
– To the best of my knowledge, no.
- Mr President, I will be guided by your wisdom as to who should answer this question. Will the Commonwealth Government give some consideration to the provision of compensation to those Victorian fisherman whose income will now be cut to nil because of the ban on flake due to mercury content or will the Commonwealth, in conjunction with Victoria, evolve some reconstruction programme for these people similar to that which applies to some other primary industries?
– I suppose the Ministers can decide among themselves to whom that question is addressed and who will answer it.
– I imagine that it belongs to the Minister for Health but the next closest subject happens to be Shipping and Transport soI shall look after the matter.I shall see whatI can find out for the honourable senator.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1972.
Seat of Government (Administration) Bill 1972.
Northern Territory (Administration) Bill 1972.
Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1971-72.
Appropriation Bill (No. 5) 1971-72.
Airline Equipment (Loan Guarantee) Bill 1972.
Loans (Australian National Airlines Commission) Bill 1972.
Supply Bill (No. 1) 1972-73.
Supply Bill (No. 2) 1972-73.
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1972.
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3) 1972.
Income Tax (International Agreements) Bill 1972.
Broadcasting and Television Bill 1972.
Tariff Board Bill 1972.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1972.
Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Bill 1972.
Social Services Bill (No. 3) 1972.
Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill 1972.
Australian Institute of Marine Science Bill 1972.
Papua New Guinea Loan (International Bank) Bill 1972.
Public Works Committee Bill 1972.
States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill 1972.
-I ask for leave to give notice of motion relating to the Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I give notice that I shall move:
That Ordinance No. 20 of 1972 to amend the Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance 1932-66 made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910-72 be now disallowed.
– Notice of motion No. 2 is in the name of Senator Byrne. Is this formal or not formal?
– Not formal.
– Is it desired to postpone or to rearrange the Business Paper?
BUSINESS OF the SENATE
– I desire to move a motion in relation to the 2 matters under this heading.
– What is your motion?
– I was proposing to move that the first matter be postponed. I assumed that Senator Byrne would want his matter postponed also.
– I assumed that also.
– That was the assumption when it was declared not formal.
– I have not discussed it with the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I would not like to take him or the Leader of theOpposition by surprise. 1 am happy to have it postponed.
– I move:
That notices of motion Nos1 and 2 under
Business of the Senate be postponed until the next day of silting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Mr President, I crave the indulgence of the Senate to make a statement about procedure this evening. In accordance with our tradition, at 8 p.m. I will be moving a motion and tabling papers. Then, on behalf of the Treasurer (Mr Snedden),I shall read the Budget Speech. I shall start about 2 or 3 minutes after the Treasurer has started. When I conclude, as is the tradition. Senator Murphy, as Leader of the Opposition, will move the adjournment of the debate. It has been agreed between us, as leaders - Senator Gair in concurrence - that after Senator Murphy moves the adjournment of the debate I shall move that the Senate adjourn until 3 p.m. tomorrow. softwood forestry agreement BILL 1972
Debate resumed from 31 May (vide page 2343), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Senator mulvihill (New South Wales) (4.49) - The Opposition accepts the reason for the introduction of the Bill which is to provide assistance to the States for 5 years to extend their softwood plantings. However, the Opposition feels that some matters should be elaborated upon. I hope that they will be elaborated upon by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) when he concludes the debate. It is on that basis that on behalf of the Opposition i move an amendment in the following form:
At end of motion add - but the Senate deplores the Government’s failure to prepare and publish, in consultation wilh the States, a national plan for -
the full use and development of Australia’s forestry resources; and
the conservation of existing hardwood forests and associated flora and fauna in relation to softwood plantings.
In 1968 Sir John McEwen stated that the Government should embark upon a feasibility study to decide the prospects for the Australian timber industry. We want to be much more precise. It is interesting to note that at a stage when we are talking about stabilising our forest resources Papua New Guinea is on the threshold of independence. Undoubtedly we hope that an economic understanding will be developed between the new country and the older country, and I have no doubt that timber will be one of the exports to Australia that will be vital to the Papua New Guinea economy. On the other hand, we know that at times our timber industry can be subject to pressures from New Zealand. As Senator Cotton would well know from his long association with the industry, over the last 50 years or so there have been at times quite sizeable imports of timber from countries such as Finland.
While we support the principles of the Bill, we pose one very interesting question. Is it wise to go ahead with bulldozer madness, as we are in some areas, and destroy gum forests and replace them with pine? I think that at a time when the Government is pouring millions of dollars into the rehabilitation of the wool industry it is time we had a good, hard look at some of our marginal country and considered whether it would not be better to have large pine plantations there rather than to plant them in areas where there are now gum forests. There is a developing world shortage of timber. We can see that by the year 2000 the demand for timber will be enormous, but I cannot see, and the Opposition cannot see, that it is necessary to demolish non-pine trees when it is more logical to plant pine trees in other areas where there can be regeneration. I think Senator Cotton would be well aware that Michigan in the United States of America faced a situation such as the one with which we are faced. There was tremendous regeneration there. I cannot see why there should not be a lot more regeneration in some of our own areas. I know that there has been some regeneration in the electorate of Macarthur, which I know fairly well. There have been some private forestry projects, in a very small way.
We feel that there is not enough liaison between conservaton authorities and foresters and that more pine forests could be planted without encroaching on our normal gum bushland concept. With all due respect to foresters, the attitude of many of them is simply that timber is a cash crop J That is all there is to it. With the big question mark so far as the wool industry is concerned, in many cases one could argue for pine cultivation at the expense of our grazing lands rather than to have the constant conflict that goes on between conservationists and foresters. I think the Minister would be well aware of the intense agitation that has been generated by the Save the Colong Caves Committee, which argues that the Boyd Plateau area of New South Wales should not be sacrificed simply to achieve the particular pines targets for which we strive. There has been much agitation in regard to this matter.
The position is highlighted when we fly over many areas of the States and see the tragedy of the implementation of a short term policy rather than of a long term policy. In support of my attitude and that of the Opposition, I point out to the Minister that clause (b) of the amendment refers to flora and fauna. I wish to refer to a pamphlet titled ‘The Boyd Plateau- Park or Pines?’. I think that the Minister will be aware that it covers the history of Boyd Park land back to the 1800s. The early settlers of New South Wales who were insistent that this land be kept in its natural state were looking a long way ahead. The KanangraBoyd National Park was dedicated in 1969, but much preliminary work had been done before that time. There is no reason why the Boyd Plateau should not remain in its present state without the inevitable scarring which would occur. This is the problem which concerns us.
This plateau 4,000 feet above sea level is the chief watershed of the National Park to which I refer. There is no doubt that the first run off will increase erosion sharply after clearing and the introduction of pine plantations. We are vitally concerned about this situation. Since the Commonwealth is providing the funds to the Slates for this purpose it should insist that any forestry expansion of the pine variety should not take place to the detriment of all non-pine bushland. If Senator Prowse were here he would be extremely vocal about some of the stupid propaganda that has been expounded by some of the forestry interests which claim blandly that Australian wildlife can live in pine forests. That is absolutely stupid. I remember visiting many of the pine plantations in the Australian Capital Territory, again with Senator Prowse, as a member of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution. I respect the financial potential of these areas and 1 am not cavilling at what was done, but when the foresters said to us blandly: ‘You know, there are kangaroos there’. Senator Prowse pointed out that the only places where there were kangaroos was where they were grazing on some of the fire breaks. The position applies also to bird life which is non-existent in these pine forests.
A portfolio was created to cover conservation and Mr Howson is now Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. But I would like to feel that within the Department of National Development which normally covers the activities of the Forestry and Timber Bureau there was a greater recognition of the live and let live policy, f know that all honourable senators have been inundated by various publications. 1 have one here called the ‘Forest Products Bulletin’ which is issued by New Zealand Forest Products (Aust.) Pty Ltd. 1 know that within the Australian timber industry, even on the north coast of New South Wales to which my colleague, Senator Douglas McClelland will probably refer, there are local problems. The burden of my remarks is that with proper planning - I am not being aggressive towards the States - there is not the faintest reason why some of the natural bushland oases cannot be protected and not sacrified to the bulldozer. There is no question about what should be done when we look at some of these situations.
The Minister will be aware that for over 2 years we have been watting for the implementation of the interim report of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Wildlife Conservation which is chaired by the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox). The Committee recommended the immediate retention of habitat for certain wildlife. When 1 look at sub-marginal land from the air, I feel that I would like to see some of it planted with pine forests but they should bc expanded only if there is not the desolation which sometimes occurs when minor gum forests are destroyed for this purpose. Taking the situation further, in New South Wales we have had an endless battle about the mining of limestone from the Colong Caves. I believe that foresters as a whole are less rigid in their attitudes than are mining interests, but that does not alter the fact, particularly in relation to the Boyd Plateau, that it is a relatively low price to pay to grant clemency to this area.
On 20th August last year, the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Sinclair, stated that between 50,000 and 90,000 wool growers received less than $2,000 income on which to live after servicing debts. The Government is putting millions of dollars into the wool industry, and I do not object to the rehabilitation of any person, whether he be involved in primary industry or secondary industry, but I believe that we are reaching the cross road. If those people are being phased out of the industry, more attractive terms could be provided for additional pine plantations and, at the same time, areas such as the Boyd Plateau could be preserved. In many respects, some of the early post-war soil erosion services conducted by the Soil Conservation Service of New South Wales reached a certain stage of perfection up to the 1950s. Now. other difficulties have arisen. In many cases, the position gets back to over-stocking. I believe that overall we should receive a little more information about forestry controls than we have received in the past. On a previous occasion, I asked whether honourable senators could sit in at some of the conferences held by foresters, and Senator O’Byrne and I attended one such conference. Some extremely interesting discussion took place dealing with the technique of using aircraft and helicopters to control fires. I know that something has been done. It is true that because of the geography of Australia we cannot emulate entirely the methods adopted in Canada. 1 emphasise that we of the Opposition feel that overall there is too much compartmentisation of forestry matters. The Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) has all the say in this regard. The position is the same in regard to mining where again the Minister for National Development and his experts have the say. But when matters of conservation arise, whether they concern the New South Wales Minister for Conservation, Mr Beale, or his Commonwealth counterpart. Mr Howson, it seems that we are never consulted to any degree. These are a few of the matters about which the Opposition is so concerned. I shall conclude my remarks on another point in relation to the conservation angle. The trouble is that a pine forest is a monoculture and supports very few other forms of vegetation. I sincerely hope that when the Minister develops his argument he will be able to put at rest some of the fears which we of the Opposition hold. I believe that much can be said for the inter-mingling of the wool and timber industries and for some of the wool producing areas being replaced by timber plantations, but I emphasise again that there has not been enough clarity in regard to these unnecessary clashes with the foresters.
The Minister will know the history of what has happened in California over 50 years. The argument was advanced by the hardened businessmen that the redwood forests should all go to the block, as it were, and be sold but a very sane attitude was adopted by the Californian legislature. California was able to retain most of its famous redwood forests. I suppose that in the capitalist economy in which we live there has to be some contribution. I believe that the sudden obsession to raise the level of forestry plantations to a stage where we can control the influx of New
Guinea and New Zealand timber and at the same time build up our maximum, should not be allowed to operate at the expense of other types of timber. This is our fear. We feel that there has to be a much more clear cut understanding of the position otherwise there will be continuous heart burnings at a time when I think that Australia as a whole has to recognise that considerable changes must be made in its agricultural policy. It is for that reason that the Opposition has submitted the amendment which has been circulated.
– This Bill must have a considerable attraction for all honourable senators. Undoubtedly there was great wisdom behind the planning and development to meet Australia’s expected requirements for softwood timber for domestic and industrial purposes. I believe that this Bill is unique in that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton), who is in charge of the Bill in the Senate, would probably be one of the most experienced members of the Senate or House of Representatives in the matter of softwoods. His conduct of this Bill through the Senate will give confidence to honourable senators that it is a subject well understood by a Minister who is experienced in this matter. The present legislation has been developed from a series of years of assistance to the States for the planting of softwoods. The agreement contained in the Bill will be the second in a series of agreements. We are in the very early developmental stages of softwood forestry. The Minister stated in his second reading speech:
It is estimated that in the financial year 1970- 71 Australian consumption of forest products was in excess of $900m and domestic production was $650m.
I note in that comment that the Minister did not indicate that these figures applied necessarily to softwoods only. I imagine that other species were fairly dominant in that production. The Minister may care to have his officers make that situation clear. Nevertheless, his remark shows that Australia had a deficiency in production compared with consumption of S250m in the past year.
That this Bill will implement a second series of agreements is instanced also by the fact that originally the Australian Forestry Council viewed the situation for some 35 years ahead. For this reason I suggest that in succeeding years we will be most anxious to ensure that the arrangement envisaged in the Bril continues. I wish to make particular comments in relation to that, not only as it will affect the financing of Government instrumentalities, Commonwealth and State, but also in respect of what we should be doing to encourage private planting. In 1965-66 the Australian Forestry Council, which is composed of the 6 State Ministers for forestry, together with the Minister for Territories and the Minister for National Development, undertook a fairly urgent examination of Australia’s existing and future requirements of timber and our potential for meeting those requirements from our own resources. It appeared to me at that time that the Council dealt mainly with the problems of our softwoods requirements. Over the past 20 years there has been an enormous growth in the use of . cellulose material. Undoubtedly it will be in that sphere that the demand for forest products of a variety of types will be generated.
In past years there has been a straightout use of hardwoods for very many of our industrial operations, but the situation has changed somewhat from what it was 20 years ago. At that time we saw the use of Australian hardwoods supplemented by imported softwoods, but the situation today is that the greatest use in Australia is now of softwoods, which are used in many areas for which hardwoods originally were used. At its original meeting the Council estimated that Australia would require 3 million acres of softwood plantations by the year 2000. Consequently it recommended that the rate of establishment of softwood plantations be stepped up from the then level of 40,000 acres per annum to 75,000 acres per annum over the next 35 years. The Council estimated that private owners, some of whom own substantial areas of softwoods, and others would contribute to the programme an average of at least 10,000 acres of softwoods per annum. This would leave in the vicinity of 65,000 acres per annum to be planted by State government forestry services. The rate of planting at the time the recommendation was made was about 30,000 acres per annum.
The programme at that stage envisaged an enormous increase in plantings and it was at that stage, as 1 have mentioned, that it was proposed for the ensuing years that the rate of planting be increased by 35,000 acres per annum. It is my view that Australia will never be likely to produce sufficient softwood timbers locally or that we can obviate the need to import softwoods. I think it will be agreed that so far as we can envisage we will need to bring some of the heavy sections of softwoods into Australia for construction purposes. As a consequence of the Council’s recommendation the States increased the area of government-owned softwood plantations from about 528,000 acres in March 1966 to about 793,000 acres as at 31st March 1971. It is interesting to note that, in addition, areas of softwood plantation in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory increased from about 27,000 acres to about 36,000 acres in the same period, during which time privately owned softwood plantations increased from 163,000 acres to 213,000 acres. In the 5 years to 30th June 1971 the Commonwealth financed about 113,100 acres of the 256,800 acres planted in the 5-year programme. The total level of plantings by the States in the second 5-year period from 1st July 1971 to 30th June 1976 is expected to be 273,400 acres, of which the Commonealth will finance approximately 125,000 acres. By comparison with the last year of the first programme the annual rate of planting will be reduced from 58,500 acres to 54,680 acres.
It appears to me that if the $20m provided by the Commonwealth to the States during the first 5-year programme was insufficient to enable the States to meet their planting requirements, the Commonwealth should have stepped up its assistance in the second programme to a much more substantial amount than $21m. If the annual rate of planting achieved in the last year was 58,500 acres, obviously there had been a development of professional manpower resources and equipment and a greater land area available at the end of the 5-year term which enabled a planting at a much greater rate than had been achieved during the first 4 years of the programme. The Minister will agree with me that we appear to be suggesting now that there should be a slight outback in the rate of planting to achieve the programme which the Commonwealth has laid out. It would appear to me that the planting of softwood forests in our community is of such importance that the Commonwealth by no means should be restricting the amount of cash that is available for programmes such as are envisaged by this agreement.
The world situation in relation to softwoods has a direct relationship to the work that we are doing in Australia. The meetings of the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Advisory Committee on Pulp and Paper, the International Union of Forest Research Organisations and the International Academy of Wood Sciences have viewed this matter and assessed the future world supply situation. I note that the genera] conclusions of the conferences of those organisations were that ‘on a worldwide basis the production potential of forests is greatly in excess of present utilisation rates and in certain areas such as Japan and Europe the wood deficit is increasing steadily’. The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Advisory Committee on Pulp and Paper met in Rome in May 1971 and its secretariat presented its annual survey which reviews pulp and paper capacity, production and consumption and provides forecasts for the years ahead. The 1971 survey estimates that world consumption of paper and paper boards was 123 million metric tons in 1969. By 1985, consumption is forecast to rise to 285 million metric tons, providing production and prices do not impose significant limitations. Over that period, the consumption of printing and writing paper is expected to rise by 154 per cent, which is much more than the anticipated rise of 94 per cent in the use of newsprint. So we have a fairly significant situation in which Australia, looking at the worldwide supplies available to it at the present time and in past years, of necessity must make an investigation into the variety of species which could be grown in Australia. Perhaps Australia should concentrate a little more on this than it has on the planting of pinus radiata, which has been its practice in past years.
An examination of available literature about likely future supplies of forest products has been made by Mr W. G. Carter of the Economics Section of the Forestry and Timber Bureau. The results of his examination were published in the JulyDecember 1970 issue of the ‘Timber Supply Review’, put out by the Department of National Development, in an article entitled ‘World Supply of Forest Products in the Year 2000’. Mr Acting Deputy President, I think that I may seek leave to have the summary of his conclusions incorporated in Hansard.
– Read them to us.
– No, I do not think that I will do that. But I will seek to have incorporated a summary of his conclusions.
– Why - just to see whether we will grant leave?
– No. I will read the conclusions to the Senate. I know Senator Keeffe is following me and I know that he would be anxious that I put the full facts of this matter before him. The summary reads:
Total annual growth on commercial forest land in North America (Canada and U.S.A.) has been estimated in 1962 as twenty-seven and a half billion cubic feet. Total consumption in North America of domestic wood products and fuelwood might be expected to rise to twenty-three and a half billion cubic feet by the year 2000. Thus, consumption in North America by the year 2000 would still be some four billion cubic feet below the estimated total of annual growth in the United States, plus allowable cut in Canada in 1962. With the continuation of the present trends in forestry, this surplus over the projected total domestic consumption could readily rise to six billion cubic feet or more by 2000.
In view of the magnitude of the Soviet fo.est resources and the question of economic availability, it is not surprising that estimates of annual growth vary. One author estimates total mean annual increment in the Soviet forests as twentynine and a half billion cubic feet, and total removals at nineteen point eight billion cubic feet (196S). Another writer, in a more recent study, has indicated a much lower potential - an allowable cut of eighteen and a half billion cubic feet. He acknowledges, however, that by reducing waste through more efficient logging and milling, a considerable expansion in production could be achieved without a significant increase in the volume felled.
The only available information on future Soviet consumption of forest products suggests that, even if the norms of utilisation in mining construction, railroad transport, etc., are lowered by one and a half to two times, the national economy will need a yearly supply of more than thirty-five billion cubic feet, which exceeds the natural productivity of the forest’.
On the world supply side, it would appear that in the year 2000, North America may have an exportable surplus of six billion cubic feet. It is likely, at that time, that Russia would require all her production of forest industries for domestic consumption.
No literature is available on which to base an assessment of world demand for forest products in the year 2000. It is interesting to note, however, that the combined deficit of all classes of forest products in Europe and Japan in 1975 is estimated to be almost four billion cubic feet log equivalent. If United States’ projections are taken as a guideline, this four billion cubic feet deficit would increase to over six billion cubic feet by the year 2000. It must be realised that this expected requirement of over six billion cubic feet in these two regions does not represent the level of demand for coniferous forest products alone. It docs, however, indicate the magnitude of expected requirements for forest products.
It is to be expected that Australia will face severe competition towards the end of the century, in obtaining from North America that proportion of her requirements of forest products which cannot be produced locally. It is also likely that other countries with exportable surpluses of plantationgrown softwoods will find other very willing purchasers, which may provide more profitable markets than Australia. These considerations lead to the conclusion that countries in which natural softwood resources are deficient would do well to develop softwood plantations, as is being done in Australia.
What are the obvious facts relating to timber for those who are involved in the timber industry or associated with timber importation? Our imports in previous years have generated from the Scandinavian countries and in more recent years have come from Canada and America. The present increase in the volume of softwoods imported from islands to the north and the volume of timber that is now entering Australia from the Soviet Union together with the significant imports coming to Australia from New Zealand are interesting. These factors indicate that there is great wisdom not only in the campaign in which we are involving ourselves at the present time but also perhaps in a campaign that requires some expansion of thinking during the third 5-year cyclical period. The points made by the previous speaker on the preservation of our environment and related matters are significant when one comes to consider the types of forests to be planted. I acknowledge that many people including Senator Mulvihill have spoken on this subject, and my own colleague Senator Prowse has been vocal to me about the great problems relating to generation of flora and fauna where there are large plantings of pine forests.
This could lead one to suggest that since plantings have been made near cities as in both the small State of Victoria and the larger State of New South Wales, the Commonwealth should look further into the possibility of planting in other areas. Still, I believe the Commonwealth Government is to be congratulated on the work of this type it has carried out in the A.C.T. for obviously this will produce a great asset in the future from the thousands of acres that have been and will be planted in and around Canberra.
A paper on the subject which has interested me greatly is that produced by Mr J. P. Hauser, B.Sc. Forestry, Dip. Forestry for the 43rd Congress of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science in Brisbane from 24th to 28th May 1971. His paper speaks of the role of forest development in northern Australia. A main point that he made is shown at page 12 of the copy of his paper that I have. It reads:
Mr Hauser then speaks of the role of the forester in Northern Australia in the face of conflicting pressures and the general lack of resource evaluation or policies of conservation. He says:
The future markets for forest products must be examined to establish the extent and location of forest resources. The future developments of integrated industries is foreshadowed and economic areas for such industries established, and supplemented with productive plantations where necessary. The development of optimum financial yield from multiple resource management through timber production, grazing and tourist yields of the forest estate.
To advance the claims of environmental conservation, wildlife protection and recreational requirements for future needs of the community.
That summary by Mr Hauser appears to me to be most appropriate to the Northern Territory and to all other land under the control of the Commonwealth Government. I would urge the Minister to give consideration to the work which this gentleman has produced. If the Minister does so he may also take into account some of the quite astounding statements that were made by Mr Hauser during his address to the Congress. It is this area of what species should be planted to which we should give our attention. I do not doubt that the Minister will agree that our whole-hearted devotion to pinus radiata species has produced timber of great value. Nevertheless, we shall have to rind areas which are appropriate for the growth of other types of timber. Mr Hauser indicated that the major species planted in northern Australia are northern cypress pine, which covers 4,200 acres, hoop pine, 1,680 acres and pinus carbeaea 1,700 acres. These timbers have particular significance because of their utilisation value. Mr Hauser suggests that yield figures of 150 cubic feet per acre per annum from northern cypress pine are providing a favourable cost./ benefit ratio. Of pinus caribaea he says yields in excess of 300 cubic feet per acre are not uncommon, even in some of the older plots. I am not attempting to quote all that he has said on this subject, but 1 add that he says of African mahogany that it has been developing extremely well in the Northern Territory on a wide range of sites. He goes on:
Some rough provisional data is indicating growth rales in excess of 500 cubic feet per aor with diameter growth in excess of 1 inch per annum.
He goes on to say that survival after 6 to 10 years is still excellent - a survival rate which is important for our consideration. He speaks also of the species Anthocephalus cadamba
Some 2 years old plots of the species are already in excess of 20 feet in height and it appears that a thorough testing of this genera in relation to species, environment, provenance and phenotype is warranted. 1 am not familiar with some of the words in that paragraph, but I believe his point is well taken. If these facts can be proved by an investigation of forestry in northern Australia, then I believe the Commonwealth should be making a much greater effort to ensure that the numbers of untrained workers which surely must be available in the Northern Territory are utilised. We are all aware of the great problems attaching to labour both in the Northern Territory and in northern Queensland, and I would urge that this large work force be engaged on this simple method of establishing such a wonderful asset for Australia.
The final matter to which I wish to direct the attention of the Senate arises from a comment that I made earlier on government plantations and on the encouragement that is given to private plantings. The legislation under consideration is designed to encourage the States to make further plantings. But there is nothing of which I am aware which suggests the Commonwealth has given ready encouragement to private owners for the expansion of softwood plantings. In the years that I have been in the Senate I have raised this matter on a number of occasions with the present Minister. I have suggested that finance should be made available on reasonable terms to encourage private planters. Some of the companies deeply involved in planting appear to be substantial and to have no great financial problems. It would therefore be very difficult for the Commonwealth to make cash available on reasonable terms to such huge organisations. This is acknowledged, but the Commonwealth has indicated its great interest in this matter by providing $21m for the States over a period.
If the Commonwealth is convinced that it is in the national interest that softwood forests should be planted, surely it would be in our interest in the coming months to suggest that cash will be made available on a particular basis to private foresters. This could well be done. Undertakings of Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd and of Softwood Products Ltd in the Mount Gambier area of Victoria could probably be diversified and do much greater work if the companies had available to them bank finance at a reasonable rate. I believe that this suggestion has been put to the Department of National Development by one or two individuals. The suggestion was contained in a letter which went to the Department that assistance could be given in 3 areas. It was suggested that the money could be made available by loan on the achievement of particular standards of forestry and on the demonstration of a volume of acres to be planted each year. It was also suggested that there could be a basis of providing half the actual cost of the planting of a particular pine species.
There need not be assistance in the acquisition of land although this could be given in some instances. Once a private forester had planted his area and it appeared to the Commonwealth on investigation that the work was of a professional quality, perhaps the annual cost of planting of each acre - say $25 or more - could be made available to the private planter as a loan to be repaid when the first thinnings came off the plantation. That would mean that a loan could be made available each year until the plantation had been in existence for, say, 15 years. A supplemental amount could be paid each year to cover the costs of tending the forest, improvements and maintenance until a proportion of trees had reached a merchantable age. This appears to me to be quite possible and the Commonwealth would thereby do itself great justice.
The Commonwealth could demonstrate practically that its sees forestry planting throughout Australia as an important issue. It could even encourage private foresters to go into areas under the control of the
Commonwealth Government. It could encourage private planters to associate themselves with Aboriginal groups who at present control Aboriginal reserves. 1 could speak on this point at great length in order to indicate the futility of providing such Aboriginal reserves if they are not to be put to some use for the future benefit of Aborigines. The Minister may appreciate the possibility of expanded thought whereby the Commonwealth at the end of a 35-year period - or perhaps at the end of a 28-year period, looking to the year 2000 - could promote a situation in which in most areas of softwood supply for our domestic market we would be free of import requirements. It gives me particular pleasure to support this type of measure which will provide for the great national interest in years to come.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.40 to 8 p.m.
(8.0) - If I appear to be a little tardy in commencing my comments it is because protocol dictates that the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) should commence reading the Budget Speech before I do. Therefore, with your leave, Mr President. I may dawdle a moment.
– I hope the clocks in the 2 chambers are synchronised and the Treasurer is already speaking.
-I usually finish before he does. For the information of honourable senators I present the following papers:
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1972-73.
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending 30 June 1973.
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the year ending 30 June 1973.
Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30 June 1973.
Government Securities on Issue at 30 June 1972.
Commonwealth IncomeTax Statistics for Income Year 1969-70.
National Income and Expenditure, 1971-72. and move:
That the Senate take note of the papers.
Tonight the Treasurer is delivering in another place his Budget Speech for 1972- 73. It is my privilege to outline to the Senate the Budget proposals of the Government.
Our proposals ate geared to achieve social and economic goals of significance to all Australians and particularly families. The briefest portrayal of the Budget is as follows: taxes down; pensions up; and growth decisively strengthened.
Over the years the Australian economy has demonstrated a growth capacity of better than 5 per cent in real terms. In 1971-72 growth was 3 per cent. We aim to step up that rate, and the Budget is designed to do so.
Last year was a difficult one from both a domestic and an international viewpoint.
We did well to come out of it with a growth rate of 3 per cent. The ink was hardly dry on last year’s Budget before the international monetary crisis jolted world confidence severely. Its consequences for our major trading partners, particularly Japan, dampened expectations and led to capital expenditure cutbacks in the mining and other industries. These uncertainties were reinforced domestically by the continuing upsurge of wage pressures. Costs and prices rose rapidly and there was a marked set-back to business confidence. The employment outlook changed quite quickly and consumers became more cautious.
The impact of these developments on the economy was far from uniform. Public sector outlays grew strongly - up about 13 per cent in current prices. Exports also rose strongly - up 13 per cent. This rise has been reflected in, among other things, a welcome lift in farm incomes. Another strong growth area has been housing. Last year 146,000 new dwellings were commenced - up 6 per cent. The upward trend quickened in the second half of the year.
That is one side of the coin. The other is to be seen in the weakness in consumer spending and in business investment.
This slackness in consumer spending has been basic to the economy’s lack of punch. Our first objective in this Budget, therefore, is to create conditions conducive to stronger consumer spending.
Business investment, too, has been flagging. In manufacturing industry particularly, an important underlying cause has been slack demand. As consumer demand picks up, investment in those areas will pick up also.
We have, of course, already taken progressive action to steer the economy back to a proper course. Monetary conditions have been made easier and interest rates brought down. Public sector spending was boosted at the Premiers’ Conferences in February and June. In April the basic social services and repatriation pensions were increased and the ongoing rate of personal income tax levy was reduced from 5 per cent to 2½ per cent. All of these measures are playing their part. But the economy has proved hard to budge from its too-subdued growth path.
This lagging response is evident in the labour market. At the end of July, 2 per cent of the work-force, after seasonal adjustment, was registered for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service. This figure compares well with almost any other developed country today. But it is too high for us, and we are determined to reduce it.
The other great problem with which we have had to contend is the continuing upward pressure on costs and prices. Over the past 3 years the consumer price index rose at an annual average rate of 5 per cent, while earnings rose on average by 10 per cent annually. Wage and price rises during this time have been the highest since the Korean war boom. The resulting heightening of inflationary expectations has been only too evident. This process had to be stopped and reversed. 1 am glad to say that the heightening tendency has been stopped and there are even some signs that a reversal may be in train. The price indices themselves have slowed somewhat in their upward rush.
It remains to be seen whether this is merely a temporary departure from the earlier trend or a pointer to a new one. Pressures for more frequent and ever-larger increases in money wages remain. While they do, the evils of inflation will persist.
To summarise: the economy at present is moving in the right direction. A modest abatement of inflationary trends has been achieved. Demand, although patchy, is growing. Confidence generally has improved in recent months. There is, however, some slack in the economy and in the absence of further action it would be some time before it was fully taken up.
In looking at the year ahead the Government has had in mind a number of considerations.
First, although there is some slack in the economy, it would be irresponsible to provide such a strong budgetary stimulus that a renewed inflationary boom was created. We want to see the rate of growth stepped up considerably. But with liquidity already very high and certain to rise higher, and with prices still rising by around 5 per cent per annum, to go further would be foolhardy.
Secondly, for some time now public sector spending has run ahead very fast, with private sector spending lagging. There are important needs served by our public expenditures but there are also costs - whether from the viewpoint of the individual taxpayer, who finds taxation more and more a burden, or of the private sector as a whole, which finds its room for growth constrained.
It is central to our objectives that the needed stimulus to the economy should not be by way of an excessive growth of Commonwealth expenditures. We have sought as much scope as possible for reducing the burden of taxation. That has been our primary aim and I believe we have achieved it.
Thirdly, in framing our proposals we have selected measures which provide a boost to private sector spending, but also new initiatives with longer-term objectives.
Finally, we have also been determined to find room for measures having merit on broader grounds of social welfare and equity.
I come now to our expenditure proposals.
In total, expenditures are estimated to increase this year by $ 1,045m or 11.6 per cent to $ 10,078m. This is virtually the same rate of increase as occurred last year.
Payments to the States
Payments to the States constitute the largest single element in the Commonwealth’s expenditures. Including funds to finance State works and housing programmes, they are estimated to increase by $395m, to S3,449m.
Total general revenue assistance, including special grants recommended by the Grants Commission, is estimated at $ 1,692m. Adjusting for the transfer of pay-roll tax, the estimated increase is about $280m.
State works and housing programmes at $982m, including $248.5m in grants, are $90m greater. This will provide a significant boost to State capital expenditure.
Specific purpose payments for purposes such as roads, schools and universities are expected to increase by 24 per cent to $775m.
We will provide up to S2.5m over 4 years to South Australia for completion of the sealing of the Eyre Highway. This demonstrates our interest in seeing adequate progress in the development of highways which serve as major inter-state links.
We will develop in consultation with the States a suitable programme for further improvement of the national highway system, to be an integral part of the general arrangements for assistance to the States for roads beyond June 1974 when the present Commonwealth Aid Roads legislation expires. $250,000 is provided this year for investigations and planning to develop such a programme.
There is a requirement to develop defence forces with a greater independent capability so that we may be more self-reliant in protecting our own interests and in dealing with lesser military situations. There is also a requirement to intensify our defence understandings with our neighbours as a contribution to confidence and stability in the region. In addition, there is a need to maintain our understanding with the United States to provide a foundation of Australian security in the contingency of threats or actual attack going beyond Australian capacity to deal with alone.
Even after allowance for the reduction in National Service, the Defence Vote proposed is $l,323m - $106m more than expenditure last year. Additional Estimates may well be needed for Forces’ pay and allowances when the recommendations of the Woodward Committee of Inquiry are received.
Expenditure proposed for capital equipments is $200m compared with $140m last year. Major equipments to be delivered this year include the initial batch of 6 F111C aircraft and initial deliveries of medium-lift helicopters. Provision has been made for the refitting of HMAS Vendetta and for the RAN hydrographic ship which is due for completion in early 1973.
New capital equipments will be ordered this year. Chief among these are 3 destroyers, with ancillary helicopters, at a total estimated project cost, in 1972 prices, of $355m. The expenditure will be spread over a decade. Expenditure this year for strategic bases, service accommodation and other defence facilities is $57m. $l,065m is for non-capital expenditure - up $42m. The increase reflects price and wage increases.
Assistance under the export incentive scheme is expected to total $68m - up $9m.
There will be a substantial increase in assistance to the shipbuilding industry. The net amount provided is $33.7m, up $20.3m.
Payments to rural industries are estimated to total $233m compared with $297m last year, and $210m in 1970-71.
The decrease is due largely to the lower requirement expected for wool deficiency payments, now that wool prices have improved. As already announced, the Government has decided to extend the deficiency payments scheme for woolgrowers until 30th June 1973 on the same basis as in 1971-72.
Following the Government-sponsored 2- year programme of research and commercial trials on pre-sale objective measurement of wool, a further allocation of $700,000 is made for research, implementation and development. Also provided is S27m towards the cost of financing the joint industryGovernment wool research and promotion programmes. Other wool marketing assistance includes $4.2m towards the costs involved in handling wool included in the Price Averaging Plan.
Expenditure under the wheat industry stabilisation scheme in respect of exports from the 1971-72 crop is expected to be $47m. Last year expenditure was $58m and included payments for both the 1969-70 and 1970-71 crops.
A new 5-year stabilisation plan for the dairy industry commenced on 1st July 1972. Under the plan the level of government assistance is determined each year in the light of the needs and circumstances of the industry. The amount for bounty on butter and cheese in 1972-73 is.$28.5m.
The Nitrogenous Fertiliser Subsidy Act which is due to expire on 31st October 1972 will be continued until 31st December 1974. Expenditure .this year is estimated at $10m. $56m, the whole of the balance of the $100m originally intended for expenditure over 4 years, is provided in the estimates this year for the continuation of the rural reconstruction scheme. We have agreed to provide a further $15m to finance assistance approved in the latter part of 1972-73 but carried over for payment in 1973-74.
It is estimated that $4m will be paid to the States under the marginal dairy farms reconstruction scheme.
A fruit growing reconstruction scheme, supplementary to the main rural reconstruction scheme, will be introduced. $4. 6m will be provided to assist the removal of surplus trees by growers of canning peaches and pears, and fresh apples and pears, who are in financial difficulties. Expenditure of $2m is expected this year.
The new scheme will take time to come fully into effect. Meanwhile, the fresh apple and pear industry is facing a particularly unfavourable situation and we will provide special short-term assistance. The maximum quantity of apples and pears which may attract the maximum payment under the stabilisation scheme is to be raised by 500,000 bushels for 1972 exports only. The provision for payments by the Commonwealth in 1972-73 has been increased to $3,150,000.
Subject to the proviso that all mainland State Governments will implement production controls, we will provide a onceandforall grant of $750,000 to the egg industry to help sustain producer returns while the present large stocks of egg pulp are being cleared.
The campaign to eradicate bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis will be intensified. Subject to agreement with the mainland States to provide funds on a $ for $ basis, the Commonwealth will increase its contributions to 84m - up $1.6m on last year. Additional expenditures of $360,000 in the Commonwealth Territories will be provided if required this year.
After an intensive review of the longterm credit facilities available to farmers, the Government has come to the view that there are deficiences. The Budget provides a sum of $20m to be appropriated for purposes of facilitating the increased availability to farmers of long-term loans. The measures to be adopted have still to be finalised; the intention is to bring down legislation in this session of the Parliament.
Advances for capital purposes will increase by S29m to S522m.
There is a reduction in the advance to Qantas. Last year Qantas received $74.2m in overseas loans for aircraft acquisition - this year it is receiving $11.6m, plus $25m additional share capital.
The Australian National Airlines Commission is to be advanced $ 13.4m for aircraft purchases. The Commission is also being advanced $25m to assist it to introduce new accounting arrangements for superannuation. There is an offsetting receipt of $21m from the Commission.
The capital of the Australian Industry Development Corporation has been increased by a further Si 2. 5m to a total of $50m.
Capital of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation will be increased from $4m to S8m.
An advance of $288m is provided for the Post Office. After allowance for special factors this is an increase of over 11 per cent.
Expenditure on other capital works and services is estimated at $264m, slightly less than last year. A number of major new projects will be commenced this year, but expenditure on them in 1972-73 will be relatively small. The major items involved relate to community welfare and municipal service projects, principally in the mainland territories.
Following an agreement with the South Australian Government we will construct a railway from Tarcoola to Alice Springs. The total cost is estimated at §54m at current prices. Expenditure of $3.4m is expected this year.
The rapid increases in wage and salary payments in 1971-72 are reflected in the estimated increase of $62m or about 10 per cent in departmental running expenses. There was an additional public service payday in 1971-72 - the increase this year would otherwise have been larger.
Rapid increases in departmental running expenses cannot go on unfettered without effects on the resources available to pursue other government policies. Last year the Treasurer announced a review of existing functions and activities of departments. This review has not yet been completed.
The rates of compensation for Commonwealth employees have been increased. The lump sum payment for death will be $14,500 and the weekly incapacity rate will be $43 for a single man, $11 for a wife and $5 for each dependent child. The new rates will apply from the date of Royal Assent to the enabling legislation.
$5.7m will be provided for the Performing Arts - an increase of $1.5m. Assistance for Art, Literature, Film and Composition will be $1.7m. $950,000 will be paid to the Australian Film Development Corporation.
Assistance to the National Fitness movement in the triennium commencing 1st July 1972 will be increased. The yearly operational grant, now $350,000, becomes $500,000. The total capital grant, over the triennium, now $200,000 becomes $300,000.
The annual grant to the Australian Conservation Foundation will be increased from $50,000 to $150,000. A grant of $20,000 is being made to the Keep Australia Beautiful Council. The Australian Council of National Trusts will receive an additional $50,000 a year. The grants to the Surf Life Saving Association and the Royal Life Saving Society will be increased from $34,000 to $50,000 per annum in each case. An annual grant of $5,500 is to be made to the National Council of Women.
In addition to the annual grant to the States of $150,000 for road safety promotion, the Budget provides $575,000 for direct Commonwealth expenditure on road safety promotion and research, an increase of $175,000.
An approach has been made to the States seeking their agreement to a programme of development of tourist attractions - such as Australiana and pioneer settlements, the preservation of historic sites and buildings, fauna sanctuaries and the like - considered to have particular appeal to overseas visitors to this country. The Commonwealth will match expenditure by the States $ for $ up to a total Commonwealth expenditure of $lm annually. $250,000 may be needed in 1972-73.
Aggregate expenditure on Aboriginal advancement in 1972-73, including payments from the Aboriginal Advancement Trust Account, is expected to be $53.2m - up $21.9m or 70 per cent. Grants to the States for expenditure by them on housing, health, education and other programmes will increase by 58 per cent to $ 14.5m. An amount of $5m will be available in 1972-73 for the acquisition of properties off reserves, and $3. 7m is being provided for the Aboriginal Secondary and Study Grants schemes. The Northern Territory Administration expects to spend $24.6m on Aboriginal advancement in 1972-73, an increase of $9m or 58 per cent.
We intend to introduce a cash subsidy scheme to promote the training of apprentices.
Two new employment training schemes are proposed - one to extend training assistance to persons made redundant and the other to enable persons with a history of unemployment to acquire job skills which are in demand. We shall increase the level of subsidy to employers under the employment training scheme for Aborigines.
We also propose to further encourage the employment and training df training specialists.
The total estimated cost of these new initiatives for 1972-73 is $1.9m and, in a full year, $4.7m.
The Government has decided, that unemployed persons should not be inhibited in seeking employment by the cost of fares, and will be asking the States for’ their cooperation in developing a viable scheme.
The estimated cost in 1972-73 is $200,000.
The steady growth of Australia’s population continues to be a major goal of policy. Our economic development and growth as a nation for 25 years has owed very much to our success in attracting migrants. We must continue those active migration policies which have been serving us so well. Accordingly, the Government has decided, on the basis of the economy’s likely needs and the availability of suitable settlers, that the immigration programme for 1972-73 should be 140,000. Assisted passages will be provided for 90,000 at a cost of $29.6m.
Increasing emphasis is to be placed on migrant counselling and selection and on English language training and migrant welfare services. Additional expenditure this year is $3. 2m. external aid
In relative terms, Australia’s aid performance in respect of both volume and type of aid ranks us among the world leaders.
The estimates provide for a total of $220m to be spent on official economic aid to developing countries, including SI 45m for Papua New Guinea.
Nearly $14m will also be provided for defence aid to certain developing countries in South East Asia. In addition, we shall continue to assist in the development of Papua New Guinea’s defence force.
The Budget provides for significant advances in all areas of social welfare - education, housing, health and pensions.
The education of all Australians continues to be a particular concern of the Commonwealth. Direct expenditure by the Commonwealth, including payments to the States for education, is expected to reach $426m - up $72m.
In addition to general financial assistance, specific payments to the States for education are estimated to reach $250m, compared with $206m last year.
The larger grants, totalling Si 38m, are for universities and colleges of advanced education. Provision has been made for the new triennial programmes which commence in January 1973.
Other payments to the States including capital grants for school construction, secondary school science laboratories and libraries, technical colleges and teachers colleges and per capita grants for independent schools are expected to be $112m, an increase of $30m.
The grants to the Australian National University and the Canberra College of Advanced Education are S42m. Expenditure on schools and technical colleges in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory is estimated at S49m, compared with S39m last year.
From the beginning of 1973 there will be significant increases in the number of Commonwealth tertiary scholarships available, together with an increase in benefits. The number of Open Entrance University Scholarships will be increased by 1,000 to 9,500, the number of Later Year University Scholarships by 1,000 to 5,000 and the number of Advanced Education Scholarships by 2,000 to 6,000 awards. In addition, there will be increases in the living allowances and a substantial relaxation of the means test applicable to those living allowances. Commonwealth Postgraduate Scholars will receive an increase in their stipends from §2,600 to $2,900 per annum. In all, expenditure on tertiary scholarships this year is estimated at $47m - up $9m.
The Government has decided to change the arrangements for Commonwealth Secondary Scholarships. The new scholarships will be tenable during the last 2 years of secondary schooling, and will be awarded on the present competitive basis. There will be 25,000 new awards each year, compared with 10,000 under the existing scheme. There will be a change in the benefits. Each award will carry a basic allowance of $150 per annum and a further alowance of up to $250 per annum will he available subject to consideration of family income. Holders of the present Commonwealth Secondary Scholarships who are now in the first year of their awards will receive benefits for their final year in 1973 on the existing basis. During 1972-73 payments are estimated at $8.4m compared with $6.9m last year.
During the 1973-75 triennium, grants for research projects recommended by the Australian Research Grants Committee will be $20m, up 48 per cent on the present triennium. This year expenditure is estimated at $6m compared with $4.5m last year.
The Commonwealth wishes to join with the States in a programme to promote the study of Asian languages and cultures in Australian schools. The Commonwealth will contribute Si ,5m over a 5-year period. Expenditure this year is estimated at $100,000.
The Minister for Education and Science will make a detailed statement on education.
We propose changes in the Homes Savings Grant Act to keep it attuned to current conditions. The maximum value of a home which may attract a grant will be increased from S 17,500 to $22,500. We will also increase the maximum grant from $500 on savings of $1,500 to $750 on savings of $2,250, with an appropriate increase in the limit on annual qualifying savings. These increases will apply to homes bought or built, or whose construction commences on and after tomorrow. The requirements governing the eligibility of savings in credit unions will be substantially relaxed by requiring only one condition, namely, that not less than 20 per cent of its total annual lending is in housing loans. The cost of these proposals is estimated at $8.5m this year, and $9. 8m in a full year.
An amount of $70m - up $5m - has been provided for advances under the War Service Homes scheme.
The Government has reviewed the arrangements for assisting people requiring nursing home care. We propose to introduce new integrated measures to help not only chronically ill patients in nursing homes but also to assist aged infirm people who can be looked after in a home environment.
We shall introduce a nursing home insurance benefit for contributors to hospital insurance organisations. Pensioners who have Pensioner Medical Service entitlement cards will also receive this benefit as additional assistance without having to join a hospital fund.
When added to the existing Commonwealth benefits of $24.50 a week for ordinary care patients and $45.50 a week for intensive care patients, these new benefits will give nursing home patients greater financial protection against the cost of fees. The amount of the new benefit will vary as between the States. I shall give further details of these proposals later.
To reduce the demand for nursing home treatment a new domiciliary care benefit will be payable to a person who, in his own home, accepts responsibility for the provision, on a regular and continuing basis, of professional nursing care and supporting services required by an aged relative. The benefit will be available on the basis of medical need in accordance with requirements determined by the Department of Health and will be paid at the rate of $14 a week. As in the case of nursing home benefits, it will not be subject to a means test.
The National Health Act will be amended to authorise the introduction of the new nursing home benefits and associated arrangements on 1st January 1973. The domiciliary care benefit will commence from 1st March 1973.
To encourage the availability of professional nursing care in the home, it is proposed to increase, with effect from 1st September 1972, the existing Commonwealth subsidy to approved organisations providing home nursing services. For organisations established before September 1956, the annual Commonwealth payment for each nurse who attracts subsidy will be increased from $3,200 to $4,300. For organisations formed after that date, the subsidy for each nurse employed will be increased from $1,600 to $2,150 a year. As at present, the Commonwealth subsidy to any organisation will not exceed that paid to the organisation by a State.
Tomorrow I will be making a ministerial statement relating to the health issues referred to in this speech.
To encourage the provision of hostel accommodation for the aged we will, as a special arrangement limited to three years, grant organisations that are eligible under the Aged Persons Homes Act, special assistance. The Commonwealth will meet the cost of 2 hostel beds for every one unsubsidised bed operated by the organisation or one bed for 2 where the accommodation was previously subsidised on a $ for $ basis. A condition will be that the beds are allocated without donation and in accordance with need. These additional hostel beds will be provided up to a cost not exceeding $7,800 per single unit which is the amount presently allowable for maximum subsidy purposes. In addition, a grant of $250 per unit will be made towards the furnishing of these additional hostel units.
We will also double the present rate of subsidy to eligible organisations providing personal care services for the aged in hostel accommodation. The new rate will be $10 per week for each occupant aged 80 years or more.
The cost of these measures in the nursing home, home nursing and aged persons homes areas is estimated at $16. 9m in 1972-73 and S43.9m in a full year.
To benefit children from low income and other special need families, the Government proposes to introduce legislation as soon as possible to assist in the establishment and running of child care centres operating on a non-profit basis. It is envisaged that these centres will cater for the children of working parents, giving priority of admission to children in special need, such as those from single parent families, and to the children of sick or incapacitated parents.
We propose subsidies to enable these centres to offer reduced fees for low income families and others in special need. Unmatched capital grants will be made available direct to approved non-profit organisations for the provision and equipping of such centres and staff subsidies will be provided to encourage the employment of certain appropriately qualified staff. The estimated cost of the scheme this vear is $5m.
I will deal first with the position of the more needy.
AGE, INVALID, WIDOWS AND SERVICE PENSIONS
Last April the standard rate of pension was increased by SI. 00 a week and the rate for a married pensioner couple by $1.50. When introducing these measures the Treasurer said he was anticipating what would normally have been part of our budget measures.
The Government now proposes that the standard rate of age, invalid and repatriation service pension payable to single people and the pension payable to widows with children be increased to $20.00 a week - that is, by a further $1.75. This brings to $4.50, or 29 per cent, the increase in the standard rate pension since March 1971.
Widows without children will receive an increase of $1.25 a week to a new maximum weekly rate of $17.25. The combined age, invalid or service pension of a married couple who are both pensioners will be increased by $2.50, raising the maximum weekly payment to them to $34.50.
The Government has given particular attention to relieving hardship. We will extend eligibility for pension, at the married rate, to the wife of an age, invalid or service pensioner, now not qualified herself for pension. After taking account of the consequential reduction in the husband’s pension in such cases from the standard to the married rate, the present position of such married couples will improve by up to $8.25 a week where the wife is now eligible for wife’s allowance and up to $16.25 a week in other cases.
Further, the supplementary assistance to pensioners paying rent, which is payable subject to a separate means test, will be increased from the present maximum rate of $2.00 to $4.00 a week. We propose also to extend eligibility for supplementary assistance to married pensioner couples paying rent.
The rates of long-term sickness benefit will increase by $1.75 a week for adults and by $1.00 a week for unmarried minors. The maximum rate of supplementary allowance of $2.00 a week for long-term sickness beneficiaries will also be increased to $4.00 a week.
The increases in the rates of social service pensions and repatriation service pensions and in supplementary assistance and the extensions of eligibility will apply, as appropriate, to rehabilitation, sheltered employment and tuberculosis allowances.
EASING THE MEANS TEST
It has been an important and continuing part of the Government’s social welfare policy to relax the means test progressively. As a further step in this policy, and as a prelude to more sweeping proposals to which I shall come in a moment, the Government now proposes immediate large increases in the amount of ‘free’ means which pensioners may enjoy without reduction in pension.
Under present pension arrangements, where means-as-assessed exceed $10 a week in. the case of a single pensioner and $17 a week for married couples, the means test operates to taper off pension entitlements. The Government now proposes to increase the limits of free means test from $10 to $20 a week in the case of a single pensioner and from $17 to $34.50 a week in the case of a married pensioner couple - that is, to the same levels as the maximum rates of pension in each case. At the proposed rates of pension, therefore, full pension will be payable until combined pension and meansasassessed exceed double the pension - that is, $40 a week for the single pensioner and $69 a week for a married couple. Eligibility for part-pension will now not cease until means-as-assessed reach three times the pension - that is, $60 a week for single persons and $103.50 a week for married couples.
In addition to this substantial easing of the means test generally, we propose 2 other related measures . First, we shall increase from $4 to $6 a week the maximum deduction from income for means test purposes for each child of a pensioner. Secondly, the Government has decided to treat superannuation pensions and annuities more favourably for means test purposes than hitherto.
At present a superannuation pension or annuity is treated wholly as income under the means test although such receipts usually comprise substantial elements of capital or savings. We propose that a superannuation pension or annuity which is payable for life be converted into a property equivalent and the latter amount be taken into account in the means test with any other property. Such action would be to the pensioner’s advantage in the vast majority of cases. But if, in particular cases, this should not prove to be so, the changed treatment will not be applied.
Not only will many superannuation pensioners and annuitants receive increases in existing social service pensions, but other superannuants who are now ineligible for a means-test pension will also qualify for the first time. Further details will be announced when the legislation is introduced.
I should make it clear that the eligibility conditions for Commonwealth ancillary benefits, such as membership of the Pensioner Medical Service, which are presently available to more than one million pen sioners and their dependants, will not be relaxed as a result of the proposed direct easings of the means test for pension eligibility, including the proposed new treatment of superannuation pensions. Ancillary benefits will be available only to those present and future pensioners who qualify for them under the existing means test for ancillary benefits. The same means test will be used to determine eligibility for ancillary benefits for future pensioners.
Our social service proposals in total will add $145.2m to expenditures in 1972-73 and $197.1 m in a full year.
ABOLITION OF THE MEANS TEST
These are our immediate steps in the field of the means test.
We have decided to abolish the means test within the next 3 years for age pension eligibility for residentially qualified men and women aged 65 years and over.
The free of means test pension will be subject to income tax. Following past practice, provision will be made to exempt or partially relieve from taxation, persons in the lower income groups receiving the free of means test pension - up to certain specified limits to be determined.
We, have decided to subject the means test free pension to taxation because of cost and equity considerations. In particular, if everyone in receipt of free of means test’ pensions were to receive them free of tax, those with higher incomes would benefit disproportionately by comparison both with pensioners on lower incomes and people less than 65 not entitled to free of means test pensions.
The introduction of the proposed free of means test age pensions for persons of 65 or more years will not alter the position of people who are now eligible or may become eligible for pensions on a means tested basis, for example, women aged 60 to 64 years, and widows and invalids . who are residentially qualified for pension,: and exservicemen aged 60 to 64 and exservicewomen aged 55 to 64 who have served in a theatre of war.
Eligibility for supplementary assistance and for Commonwealth ancillary pensioner benefits, such as membership, of the Pensioner Medical Service will be conditional as now, on satisfaction of the relevant special means test.
The Government’s commitment to introduce free of means test pensions for people aged 65 or over is an historic decision and represents a major social advance. It is one that has, of course, considerable financial and social implications. Because of this, the Government proposes to appoint a Committee of Enquiry to examine and report on these matters and on how this proposal may be responsibly financed with particular reference to national superannuation.
The maximum general rate war pension will be increased by §2.00 to $14.00 a week.
The special rate pension, or its equivalent, will be increased by $3.50 to $48.00 a week.
The intermediate rate war pension will be increased by $2.75 to $34.00 a week.
War widows pensions will be increased by $1.75 to $20.00 a week and the domestic allowance will be increased by 50 cents to $8.50 a week. The allowance payable for each child of a war widow will be increased by 35 cents to $7.35 a week. The pension for a child who has lost both parents will be increased by 70 cents to $14.70 a week.
The cost of repatriation benefit proposals is estimated to be $14.8m in 1972-73 and $20m in a full year.
The proposals just outlined result hi expenditure in 1972-73 estimated at $ 10,078m.
At existing rates of taxation and charges, receipts in 1972-73 are estimated to total $9,882m. This would imply a deficit of some $196m. In terms of the balance of domestic receipts and expenditures it would mean a domestic surplus of $3 75m. The actual outcome in 1971-72 was a deficit of $187m and a domestic surplus of $387m.
I have said that the Government this year attaches high priority to reducing taxation. In framing our proposals we have ensured that the tax measures we wished to bring down could be fitted within an economically sound budget.
A domestic surplus of $375m would, under current economic circumstances, have an undesirably dampening effect upon the economy. Indeed in present economic circumstances what is called for is not a domestic surplus at all but a moderate domestic deficit. The degree of such deficit can only be a matter of broad judgment. What is clear is that our tax proposals are right in line with what is required on economic management grounds.
I deal first with some minor increases in taxes, charges and duties. light dues
To help meet the rising costs of providing marine navigation aids, it is proposed to increase light dues - that is, charges to shipping for the use of these facilities - from 22 cents to 25 cents per net registered ton per quarter from 1st October 1972 to yield $750,000 in 1972-73. air navigation charges
The Government is considering a report on the future basis of charging for airports and airway facilities. In the meantime we have decided to increase air navigation charges by an average of 5 per cent from 1st December 1972 to yield $800,000 in 1972-73. liquefied gas and products refined from oil shale
A tax on liquefied gas used in propelling road vehicles will be introduced at a rate of 3 cents a litre, which is about 20 per cent lower than the excise on motor spirit. Details will be given by the Minister for Customs and Excise. The tax will not be levied on liquefied gas used for purposes other than propelling road vehicles.
The exemption from excise of products refined from oil shale, introduced many years ago when Australia had no local supplies of crude oil, will be removed. a.c.t. stamp duty
Stamp duties were introduced into the Australian Capital Territory to stop the Territory being used as a tax haven, and to ensure broad comparability of burdens of taxation in the Territory and the States.
Last January the States increased their rates of duty on the sale and purchase of marketable securities. The Australian Capital Territory duty on such transactions will be increased to the same level. This means increasing from 20 cents to 30 cents per $100 the duty payable by both buyer and seller in transactions in marketable securities through brokers, and the same proportionate increase in the rate of duty payable by buyers in transactions not through brokers. The increased charges will take effect from 1st November 1972. The yield will be $200,000 in 1972-73.
I come now to our tax concessions.
The Government has decided to exempt works of art from sales tax regardless of origin or of nationality of the artist. The cost to revenue is expected to be $480,000 in 1972-73 and $600,000 in a full year.
We did consider whether some part of our major taxation reductions should be in the sales tax field. Such a course has been urged from some quarters as a means of bringing down prices and assisting to arrest inflation. But calculations show that a reduction of 2i per cent in the rate of sales tax on all goods in the 15 per cent and 27£ per cent rate classes would cost over $90m in a full year but would directly reduce the consumer price index by a once only 0.2 per cent even if the cut were passed on in full to the final consumer.
Our conclusion is that we should, with 2 exceptions, concentrate our reductions in the field of personal income tax. First, the 2 exceptions.
It is clear that estate duty is now falling too heavily on modest estates. Except for a change which was made in 1970 in respect of primary producers, the exemption limits have remained unchanged since 1963. With rising money values, an increasing number of quite modest estates are becoming dutiable. On other, but still not large estates, heavy amounts of duty are being levied.
The general statutory exemptions are presently $20,000 where the estate passes wholly to close relatives and $10,000 where it passes wholly to others. For primary producer estates the limits are higher, at $24,000 and $12,000, respectively.
It is proposed to double all statutory exemptions. Approximately one-half of all estates which would be dutiable under present law will be totally exempted from duty by these proposals.
The shading-in provisions will have the effect of reducing duty payable on estates with a value up to 5 times the exemption limit. Only 5 per cent of estates which would be dutiable under present law will not experience some reduction in duty.
The cost to revenue of this proposal, which will apply to the estates of persons whose deaths occur after today, is $3m in 1972-73 and $19m in a full year.
It is also proposed to increase the exemption level for gift duty. At present where the total value of all gifts made by the same donor within the period of 18 months before and 18 months after the time of making the gift does not exceed $4,000, no duty is payable. It is proposed to increase the exemption to $10,000 where a gift is made after today. The cost to revenue is expected to be $400,000 in 1972-73 and $750,000 in a full year.
We propose to allow a deduction for income tax purposes of up to $400 for expenditure by a taxpayer on his own education where the expenditure is related to his income-producing activities but is not allowable under the existing law. Details will be given when the legislation is introduced.
The cost to revenue is estimated to be $200,000 in 1972-73 and $4.5m in a full year.
THE PERSONAL INCOME TAX BURDEN
The Government views with concern the considerable increase in the relative burden of personal income taxation in recent years and the effects which that is having upon our economy and, indeed, our society. In particular, the single income family, the typical suburban family man, is being hit hard.
We strongly believe that personal income taxation is now too high and that, without action to cut it, the situation will become progressively worse with the passage of time. The interaction of rising moneys incomes with inflation and the progressive rate scale is imposing heavy and increasing burdens. This year provides an opportunity to reduce these burdens. Accordingly, we have decided to concentrate our tax concessions in the area of personal income tax. Our reasons are:
First, the personal income tax burden is becoming more and more severe. The tax bite is being determined, not in accordance with deliberate aims of policy, but by the impact of inflation on a scale basically designed for other level of incomes altogether.
Secondly, the family man in particular, with all of his other commitments, is finding income taxation looming ever-larger as a problem, and is coming to question the fairness of the burden he bears.
Thirdly, rising taxation is affecting incentives and encouraging tax avoidance.
Fourthly, rising taxation adds to pressure for excessive increases in money wages and salaries. We believe our measures will provide grounds for moderation.
Fifthly, a reduction in personal income tax will put more money directly into the hands of consumers. Their take-home pay and their capacity to spend will be enhanced. There will be a real lift to community and business psychology. That is just what is needed at this time.
We propose to raise the minimum taxable income for individuals from $417 to $1,041 per annum. The proposal will exempt from tax liability altogether about 600,000 taxpayers - among them part-time employees, including married women and students working in vacations. Although persons earning more than $20 in any week may be subjected to P.A.Y.E. deductions, any P.A.Y,E. deductions will be refunded if their annual taxable income is below the new minimum of $1,041. The cost to revenue is $14m in 1972-73 and $18m in a full year.
DEPENDANTS’ ALLOWANCES The second proposal is very much the product of what I have said earlier about the especially heavy burdens on the family man. We propose to increase all dependants’ allowances by $52. This increase in dependants’ allowances will cost $38m in 1972-73 and $63m in a full year.
Last and most importantly, we propose to reduce the rates of personal income tax payable by an average of 10 per cent. In April we reduced personal income lax by 2± per cent; the reduction now proposed is on top of that.
A flat rate cut based on removing the present 2i per cent levy and the granting of a 71 per cent rebate across the board was a possible course. However, we have decided to take what we regard as the more equitable course of re-structuring the tax scale so as to ensure diminishing percentage reductions as incomes rise. Taxable incomes below about $5,500 per annum - that is, the great bulk of taxpayers - will be subject to reductions in taxation larger than 10 per cent; taxable incomes above $5,500 to lower reductions. For example, persons with a taxable income of $2,000 per annum will receive a 14.2 per cent reduction in taxation; at $4,000 the reduction will be 12.4 per cent; at $6,000, 9.4 per cent; at $10,000, 8.0 per cent; and at $40,000, the new maximum marginal tax rate point, the reduction is down to 6.5 per cent.
Let me give one example to show what our income tax proposals, taken as a whole, will mean to taxpayers. A family man with a wife and two children to support who is earning $98.0 a week - roughly the current level of average weekly earnings - at present would pay annual income tax equivalent to $16 a week if he has no other concessional deductions. Under our proposals this will be cut by $2.75 a week or 17 per cent. If he has other concessional deductions, his present tax bill will be cut by a larger percentage than that.
The cost to revenue of re-structuring the income tax scale as proposed is estimated at $380m in 1972-73 and $480m in a full year.
Our income tax proposals will be reflected in revised P.A.Y.E. schedules that will be applied to wages and salaries paid from 1 September 1972.
In total, the income tax proposals I have outlined will cost $432m in 1972-73 and $565m in a full year. In conjunction with the sales tax, estate duty and gift duty concessions and the minor increases in certain taxes and charges already mentioned, the net cost of all our measures in the revenue field is put at $434m in 1972-73 and $583m in a full year.
On the basis of these figures and of the expenditure estimates mentioned earlier, we are therefore budgeting for an overall deficit of $630m.
I said earlier that, in terms of an overall outcome which would be consistent with criteria of sound economic management and a responsible fiscal approach, we should be aiming at not more than a moderate deficit in terms of our domestic receipts and outlays. The estimated domestic deficit is $60m. That seems to us appropriate in current economic circumstances.
In this budget we have provided for record increases in social welfare benefits; we have made a long-awaited move in the field of estate duty; and we have slashed personal income taxation. So far as its direct impact on the individual is concerned, I repeat, what the Budget means is - taxes down pensions up, and particular help to the family man. .
Overall, the Budget will be stimulatory. Our economy, over the years, has demonstrated a capacity for robust growth. The Budget will give the economy the real and psychological boost which is what it now needs to resume a strong growth path.
Of course, any budget can only be framed on the basis of the Government’s best judgment at the time. What the future holds can always be only dimly seen. We shall review economic trends as the year goes on to ensure that the economy moves properly towards its sustainable growth path.
The Government can lay the groundwork for a year of good growth and prosperity. But we shall have to continue to counter the forces adding to inflationary pressures. The Budget is designed to create demand conditions which can be matched by output. It will not bring about a resurgence of demand inflation in the year ahead. But the battle against inflation stemming from cost pressures will have to continue unabated. The emphasis we have laid upon increasing take-home pay through our tax cuts should assist in that battle by providing grounds for more moderation on the wagepush front, and we hope that will be forthcoming.
I think it right to inject this cautionary note, but I shall not dwell upon it further.
This Budget serves the nation’s larger purposes. There are, of course, challenges ahead as well as rewards. This is always so. But anyone who looks around this country - especially if he recalls it twenty years ago - will see why we have cause to read the future with confidence.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I am prompted to crave the indulgence of the Senate this evening by the situation that has developed at the Hotel Kurrajong. The Senate will recall that some 45 years ago, when the Federal Parliament was moved to Canberra, the Hotel Kurrajong was sited and planned to provide accommodation for parliamentarians and their secretarial staff. One hundred rooms were set aside to provide accommodation for parliamentarians and their secretarial staff and 60 rooms were set aside for other public servants. The hotel was situated on probably the most choice piece of land, in terms of real estate in Canberra, with the exception of the site on which the present Parliament House stands. The site was surrounded by beautiful gardens, was within walking distance of Parliament House and had all the prerequisites to make it the ideal site on which to erect an accommodation house.
What is the position today? More than half of the members of the Parliament have left the Hotel Kurrajong and have sought accommodation elsewhere. Many members of their secretarial staff have followed the same course. So serious has the financial position of the Hotel Kurrajong become that in the months of June and July a survey of the financial position was made by the management of the hotel. As a result of that investigation, some stringent reviews of tariff procedures and accommodation arrangements were made.
Firstly, on 14th June, people accommodated at the Hotel Kurrajong were told that the hotel premises would be closed temporarily, during the parliamentary recess from 24th June 1972 to 13th August 1972. This action was brought about, it was said, because of a decrease in demand for short term accommodation in the Australian Capital Territory during this period, which would result in a loss that could not be justified in the circumstances. Coming swiftly on top of this circular was another circular that was issued on 26th July which said that the decision had now been taken to place the Hotel Kurrajong on a bed and breakfast basis after the Budget session. People who wished to stay at the Hotel Kurrajong could do so on a bed and breakfast accommodation basis from Monday to Friday but if they wished to stay in Canberra over the weekend they had the choice of going to alternative accommodation controlled by Commonwealth Hostels Ltd at Brassey House. It was said also that it had been found necessary to increase the tariff at the Hotel Kurrajong and that new tariffs would apply from 13th August 1972. The new rate for a single room with private shower and toilet would be $9 a day.
– You can live more cheaply at motels.
– True, and I intend to speak of motel rates and draw a comparison with accommodation rates at the playground of Australia - the Gold Coast, an area I know something about. Single rate rooms are available at $8.05 and double rate rooms with individual showers and toilets at $7.25. There has been no change in that sphere. But I would ask honourable senators to remember that the single rate on a bed and breakfast basis is $9 a day.
A circular was attached to the letter giving a brief history of the establishment of the Kurrajong Hotel, the reason it was established and the reasons advanced by management for introducing these econo mies. The circular states among other things that when Parliament is in session, honourable members and honourable senators make use of the Kurrajong Hotel for only 3 days of the week, and that Parliament sits for only 3 weeks out of 4 and for only 8 months out of the 12. That in itself seems to be reasonable, but what has it to do with the overall management? Surely to God for the other 4 months and for week-ends when members of Parliament do not require accommodation at the Kurrajong Hotel, the management could be in competition with every other accommodation house in this area, seeking to attract the tourist trade which is so important to the A.C.T. The circular went on to explain that many new hotels and motels which provide twin and family suites have been opened in Canberra in the last 5 years. These modern hotels and motels feature licensed restaurants and compete stongly for the casual and tourist trade in Canberra. The 100 rooms at the Kurrajong Hotel which are reserved for members during Parliamentary sessions may only be used by public servants as transient accommodation when Parliament is in recess. Because the Kurrajong Hotel has provided full accommodation with meal service for some guests, its staffing, including weekend staff who are paid penalty” rates, has created a high cost factor. In fact, the Hotel Kurrajong’s staffing arrangements have been less flexible and more costly than those of the independently operated motels at which, in general, breakfast is served only in bedrooms.
The Kurrajong Hotel was designed and built about 45 years ago; it is labourexpensive in its service and cleaning operations, in maintenance - notably painting and. carpet replacement - and in grounds maintenance. What an admission from management. Having been built .45 years ago it is unable to compete with modern hotel and motel accommodation that has been established in Canberra in the last 5 years. This is the point I want to develop. I have not risen in my place -to denigrate the management of the Kurrajong Hotei or to make a personal attack on anybody. But I am interested in the Hotel Kurrajong. I had the pleasure of staying there for the first time in 1949 when I visited Canberra as campaign director for the late George
Lawson, who became the member for Brisbane. I must say that at that time the accommodation was first class and the surroundings had an atmosphere in which it was pleasant to stay. However, the Hotel Kurrajong has deteriorated over the list 25 years because no-one has moved with the times. True, there is more new hotel accommodation in Canberra, and true there is now new motel accommodation, and true those new motels include licensed restaurants. But why has the Kurrajong Hotel stood still while others have marched forward? The reason is lack of management. If T had a legal problem, I would consult a lawyer to represent me, not a painter or a plumber. If I were ill, I would consult a physician. Therefore, if I wanted a first class accommodation house befitting the capital of Australia in the plush and choice surroundings in which it is situated, I would consult someone experienced in hotel management. I believe that all the shortcomings of the Hotel Kurrajong can be corrected. There is no point in adopting the attitude of a prophet of gloom and saying: We cannot compete with the other places, for they have upgraded accommodation and facilities, they have licensed restaurants with carpeted floors and self-contained rooms’. We must move with the times. We have shown by the buildings that we have constructed in the A.C.T., replete with the aesthetic beauty and surroundings, including the approaches to Parliament House, that we have the know-how to achieve these improvements - and surely we have the money.
I recall that when I became a member of Parliament I remarked to the President on the magnificence of Canberra and the wonder of its surroundings. Indeed, I believed he thought I was going to talk at length about the beauties of Canberra, a subject which he, because of his position, would have heard many times before. The President’s reply to me was: ‘Senator, the nearer the bakehouse the better the bread’. That is how it should be for the Kurrajong Hotel. There should be no lack of money. It is a choice piece of real estate in close proximity to Parliament House. I repeat that that site is as good as the site on which Parliament House is situated. Why has the Kurrajong Hotel become a kind of institute rather than a hotel?
– It is a mausoleum.
– It is a mausoleum. It is like Lloyds of London; the floors creak and it is cold and lacks animation. In fact, it lacks management.
– Perhaps that is due to those who live there.
– I do not live there, and I am not speaking about those who do. I am speaking about the management and what is before us at the Kurrajong Hotel.
– It will be a mausoleum after the election.
– It will be- and you will be buried there. This is the attitude that is taken to the Kurrajong, and surely something must be done about it. I was about to say when I was interrupted that if the Hotel Kurrajong was located in any part of Australia other than the A.C.T., any State licensing commission would have come down heavily on it years ago with a requisition that improvements be made. This hotel would not be tolerated by the licensing commission of any State of the Commonwealth, so why should it be tolerated in the A.C.T.? It is all right for a member to stand up and criticize it or to attack its management, which is obviously inefficient, for It is controlled by people who lack expertise in this field. But there is no point in simply talking, therefore I offer this suggestion sincerely, and I hope, helpfully to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch), from one who has had 12 years accommodation experience in the hotel industry on the Gold Coast of Queensland.
– Where was that?
– The Kirrabelle Hotel at Coolangatta.
– A third rate pub.
– It is run by first rate people. The charges at the Kurrajong Hotel are high enough, so you cannot blame them for the serious losses that are being incurred. In fact, the bed and breakfast rate at the Kurrajong is S9 a day. One can get bed and breakfast accommodation for $9 a day at Surfers Paradise in a high rise unit building of international standard built within the last 12 months - and those running those establishments are making a financial success of the accommodation industry on the Gold Coast. If such accommodation can be offered at the Gold Coast and in every other State of the Commonwealth by people in the hotel industry, surely it can be done at the Kurrajong Hotel.
I suggest to the Minister that he give very serious consideration to calling in immediately a firm of consultants experienced in the hotel industry to suggest management methods and procedures which ought to be introduced at the Kurrajong Hotel; and if necessary that the Hotel be refurnished, indeed that the whole layout be redesigned and upgraded to modern standards. It is no good our sitting here and saying that the present management or certain officers of the Department of the Interior or officers of the Department of Labour and National Service are experts. They may be experts in their own fields, but hotel accommodation is today a specialised field and a highly competitive one, and if the Hotel Kurrajong’s management does not move with the times and continually review the accommodation and facilities offered at the Hotel, they will be left behind. I remember when new ideas for hotels such as the carpeting of the public bar areas were introduced. Everybody said how ridiculous it was when it was decided to introduce decor and to refurnish the hotels. I invite honourable senators to compare the conditions in hotels today with those that obtained 10 years ago. The encouraging thing about it all is that the result has been increased financial returns.
– In the bar.
– And also on the accommodation side. I suggest that Senator Gair stick to the subject of his overseas tours and leave the subject of hotel management to me. If he listens, I may be able to teach him something. At one time he sought my opinion on correct hotel management. I do not know what I have done to him recently because he does not want my opinion now. At one time he used to seek my advice. However, I will not hold it against him. I will continue to help him because I am a helper. I will be able to tell the honourable senator anything he wants to know about hotels, except about drinking the products.
– You did more than your share of that.
– It is not what you did that matters; it is what you do now. I suggest that Senator Gair should keep calm. What I am suggesting is simple enough. It calls only for the application of knowhow that the hotel industry has today. I suggest that without delay the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who is now at the table, seek to persuade the Minister for Labour and National Service to act on the Hotel Kurrajong. It is a landmark in this city and it should not be allowed to deteriorate and to go backwards. If that happens it will go on to the open market to be bought by someone with uncanny anticipation in buying run down accommodation places and building them up into flourishing high rise developments. People like Reg Ansett might want to buy it. Do not let this happen. The Hotel Kurrajong is a valuable piece of real estate. It is nicely positioned. I suggest in my humble and modest way that if consultants who are experts on the hotel industry are engaged to advise on the management and on whatever should be done with the Hotel Kurrajong, in 5 years’ time we will be able to look back with pride because a run down institution will have been transformed into a flourishing accommodation house in this capital city.
– I should like to take the opportunity immediately to refute quite a few things that the honourable senator has just submitted. However, the result would be to leave a fragmentary impression and I I want to leave with the Senate tonight an impression of appreciation because the honourable senator has raised an immediate practical problem that concerns not only him but also several other senators, not excluding myself. I am indebted to him for what he has said. I think his suggestion as to management consultancy is of some value having regard to practices that obtained in this industry when I was Minister in charge of Tourist Activities. I want now simply to acknowledge the honourable senator’s remarks and to say that I shall request the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch), whom I represent in the Senate, to submit the honourable senator’s suggestion to an early examination so that he may enable me to offer a practical reply in this place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 August 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1972/19720815_senate_27_s53/>.