28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 11.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 10 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain citizens of New South Wales respectfully sheweth:
That Australian citizens place great value on the sanctity of human life and the physical, mental and social welfare of mothers and children.
That we are deeply concerned to preserve throughout Australia the law’s protection of human life from the moment of conception.
That proposals to change the law to allow abortion on demand and the termination of pregnancy for non-medical reasons are unacceptable to the people of Australia.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable House will not extend the laws governing abortion and will uphold the right to life of the unborn child.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will, ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I give notice on behalf of one senator that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Aci to amend the Public Works Committee Act 1969-72.
– 1 ask the Minister assisting the Prime Minister: Is the Government aware that a Mr Eddison Zvobgo and a Mr Herbert Chitefo are scheduled to arrive in Australia in the near future? I think Mr Zvobgo is due to arrive tomorrow. Have visas to enter Australia been granted to these people? In view of the fact that each of these persons in an advocate of terrorism and is a leading member of an African terrorist organisation engaged currently in guerrilla activities against the people of Rhodesia and in view of the fact that these people will be in
Australia to promote support for African terrorist organisations, how does the Goverment’s policy of opposition to terrorism permit endorsement to be given to these people’s policies by allowing them to enter Australia?
– I am not aware of the details contained in the honourable senator’s question. I do not know whether these people are arriving or whether the allegations which the honourable senator makes about them are true.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Health say whether the Government’s proposed health scheme is based largely on the Canadian health scheme? Is it a fact that in Canada national health costs have risen at a rate of 13 per cent per annum since Medicare was introduced in 1968 and that this is higher than the Canadian gross national product growth rate of 9 per cent? Is it also a fact that the cost of the Canadian health scheme could reach $7 billion by the middle of the decade? Is the Minister aware that the present health scheme in Canada has been described as a Frankenstein creation by the Minister for Health in Ontario and, according to a Canadian newspaper report, that the politicians have. been, warned in time that it is up to thiem to reform the monster before it bankrupts the economy?
– Representing in this chamber as I do the Minister for Health I cannot say that the Government’s health scheme is based on the Canadian health scheme as the honourable senator suggests. It is based firstly on the Nimmo Committee report which was presented to the previous Government by the committee of inquiry established by that Government. The Nimmo Committee recommended to the previous Government the establishment of a national health commission. Dr Forbes, a former Minister for Health, said that that recommendation would be implemented by the previous Government - 1 think in February 1970. Since this Government has come into office it has established a Health Insurance Planning Committee. Its report has been presented to the Government and tabled in Parliament. It has received wide circulation. I add to an answer which I gave to Senator Carrick yesterday that I understand that it is now the Government’s intention to circulate that report to everymedical practitioner in Australia calling for submissions as to the manner in which the Government should implement its policy to establish one national health insurance commission.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer: In view of the serious economic disability suffered by Tasmania, largely as a consequence of the problems of size, transport and communication which add substantially to the cost of goods and services in that State, will the Minister ask his colleague the Treasurer seriously to consider placing the whole of Tasmania under a special tax concession zone arrangement with an allowance appropriate to the calculated financial disability suffered by the residents of Tasmania, such special provision to be additional to the current taxation concession zone for the west coast of that State.
– Yes, I shall ask him.
– Is the Minister for Works aware that construction of the Adelaide mail’ exchange is being held up by a demarcation dispute between 2 unions? If so, what steps has he taken to assist in the settlement of the dispute so that the work can be recommenced?
– I am well aware that work on the Adelaide mail exchange building has been held up for several months as a result of a demarcation dispute between 2 unions. The matter was submitted to an industrial commissioner and a conference was held. No finality could be reached at the conference. As a result of certain remarks made by a union representative at that conference I was asked whether I would consider taking certain action. I attended a conference and advised that as the matter was a demarcation dispute between 2 unions it should be settled either between the 2 unions within the trade union movement or presented to arbitration. Subsequently no settlement was reached. My Department is very much concerned about the question. As no one seemed to be moving on the question, I instructed the Department to make further approaches to the Arbitration Commission to see whether a settlement could be reached. I was advised that the matter was coming before the Commission some time this week. I believe it came on yesterday. I do not know the decision.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. Has the Government any plans for an immediate lift in pensions, before the end of this parliamentary session, to help compensate for the recent large increase in the cost of living? Is the Minister able to say whether pensioners are now effectively better off than they were’ prior to the election of this Government?
– The honourable senator will be aware that earlier this session I, as Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, put through the Senate a social services Bill which gave substantial increases in pensions to age and invalid pensioners and substantial increases to people on unemployment benefits. The Government has said that itwill pursue a policy of bringing pensions to a standard’ of 25 per cent of the average weekly earningsof the average male employee. In thenext Budget session we are committed to increase, the pension for old age and invalid pensioners: by the same rate as that by whichit was increased during this session in order “gradually to uplift the emoluments to which, they’ve entitled.
– Has the attention of the Minister assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs been drawn to reports that Trans- Australia Airlines has been carrying Portuguese troops from Darwin to Timor on civil aircraft? Could the Minister inform the Senate whether this statement is correct? As the matter could affect our relations with Indonesia, will the Minister have the matter examined with a view to asking the Portuguese authorities to use military aircraft for the purpose of carrying troops to Timor?
– I anticipated this question. At the latest session., of the General Assembly of the UnitedNations Australia supported resolution 2918 which reaffirms the right of the Portuguese territories to self determination and independence. The operative paragraphs of the resolution are, however, specifically directed to the situation in Portuguese African territories.’ Portuguese Timor is not named in the resolution. The resolution calls generally on all states to put an end to activities which help to exploit Portuguese territories and calls generally on all states to discourage their nationals from transactions which contribute to Portugal’s domination over the territories. At present there are no mandatory sanctions imposed on Portugal by the United Nations Security Council. Trans-Australia Airlines advises that it has not knowingly carried groups of military personnel or military equipment on its services to or from Timor. It has occasionally carried military personnel travelling as individual members of the public and out of uniform.
– My question, which is directed to the Special Minister of State, refers to a previous question asked by me seeking possible dates and locations of the next series of Chinese nuclear tests and the Minister’s written reply, for which I am grateful, specifically the following portion of it which reads:
All Chinese testa to date have been conducted at the Lop Nor test site in the Sin-kiang province in north-west China. It may be assumed that any further Chinese tests would also be conducted at Lop Nor. It has hitherto not been the practice of the Chinese Government to release details of its tests in advance. Announcements have normally been made by the Chinese Government after tests have taken place. However we will continue to take an active interest m this question.
Since it is imperative that the world should have forwarning of such tests which, on the Minister’s answer, could take place tomorrow without the Australian Government’s knowledge, what steps has the Government taken to ascertain the likely future program of Chinese nuclear testing?
– As Senator Carrick knows - my letter to him described the situation - we have protested to the Chinese about nuclear tests in the atmosphere in accordance with our consistant attitude in relation to any tests in the atmosphere. I do not think that the protests have gone past that point. I am not certain, but I do not think that we have asked specifically whether the Chinese have fixed any dates. As I understand the last records of conversation that I read on this matter, there was no indication that at this time they were thinking of carrying out tests in the immediate future.
– I direct my question to the Minister assisting the Prime Minister. With Senator Murphy presenting a case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague on French nuclear tests and the rights and protection of humanity, can the Minister say whether the AttorneyGeneral will be returning home via Yugoslavia in order to have discussions with the heads of Government in that country on the rights and protection of Australian citizens in Yugoslavia and, further, to ascertain whether any Australians are being held in custody there? If the Attorney-General does not intend to do this, will the Government instruct him to do so as this is also an important matter of human rights?
– So far, most of the questions about Senator Murphy’s absence have been concerned with the time of his return to Australia. Now honourable senators seem to want to delay his return, so I am a little confused on this issue. As far as I know, there is no intention of his visiting Yugoslavia. The situation, as I have explained several times, is that this whole question concerning Yugoslavia is being pursued by our Ambassador in Yugoslavia, under instructions from this Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to the uncertainty in the business community concerning the Government’s policy on foreign investment in agriculture and real estate in Australia. Can the Minister provide any information as to the outcome of the study being undertaken on this matter, which was announced by the Treasurer in March? If not, can he indicate when the study will be completed?
– No, I do not know what stage the inquiry has reached. 1 will ascertain whether there is any useful information as to when the inquiry will be completed and let Senator Sim know.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the approval given by Mr Enderby to Marrickville Margarine Pty Ltd to manufacture margarine in the Australian Capital Territory. Does the Minister support Mr Enderby’s action in apparently giving approval to one company to manufacture a nationally quota-ed product? Was Mr Enderby’s announcement, and was his action, completely contemptuous of the Australian Agricultural Council which was meeting on the day following the announcement? Has the Minister for Primary Industry convinced himself of the correctness of the reasons for Mr Enderby giving a quota of 300 tons to one company to manufacture this product? Can it be viewed otherwise than as a Labor Government favour to a company which continually has broken the law? In order to make it clear that no favour is involved, will the Minister advise the Senate as to the truth or otherwise of the publicity which suggests that Marrickville Margarine was a substantial contributor to the Labor Party?
– I do not know in what way this question differs in substance from the ones I answered yesterday, I thought in some detail. I took the trouble to spell out the sequence of events which led to Mr Enderby’s decision. If it is necessary for me to recite that again, I shall do so. The Australian Agricultural Council discussed the matter last February, and it was my clear understanding that there was no objection by the Council to a 300-ton quota being granted to the Australian Capital Territory, at Mr Enderby’s request. Mr Enderby approached me some time after that meeting and indicated that he wished to proceed with what he understood and what I understood was acceptance of that quota by the Council, and he did so. I did not inquire into, nor was I concerned with, the procedures he was taking; that was his business, not mine. Subsequently the matter was raised when the Council met again last week. I indicated yesterday that there was a difference of opinion as to what the Council’s decision had been but that there was no great concern. The Council accepted that the Australian Capital Territory was entitled to a quota of 300 tons and the national quota has been increased accordingly. As for all the other comments about certain companies making payments into Australian Labor Party funds, I do not think that is a subject for discussion in this place. If we entered into that area I am sure we would spend far more- time talking about contributions made by other organisations: to Liberal and Country Party funds. , i
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy. Is it a fact that recruiting advertisements for the’ Royal Australian Navy imply that training’ received in the Navy will equip a man to take, up specialised work ashore in line with the training received? Is the Minister aware that naval personnel trained in radiography who have had professional experience at sea and ashore are not receiving recognition as fully trained radiographers? Why are personnel trained as radiographers by the Navy described on their discharge, certificates- as nursing aids? .
– It is true that in some classifications the training does not match what might be called the equivalent classification in outside industry. Recently this was drawn to the attention of. the Minister for Defence and myself, to see whether it was possible so to align the training as to achieve an equivalent acceptance of standards with outside industry! I can only assure the honourable senator that the matter is being studied. I shall look into the question of whether the advertisements in part do misinterpret the situation, but I understand that every recruit is told exactly what the position is and what qualifications he would possess at the end of his training. I think it would be better if I were to make inquiries about the particular classification that .the honourable, senator has raised. I shall give him the information when I receive, it.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Urban and Regional Development aware that oil companies have decided on a policy of rationalisation of service stations? Does the Minister recognise that as a result of this long overdue decision, hundreds of sites will become surplus to oil company requirements as retail outlets? Is the Minister aware that many of these surplus sites are on highways and in areas generally regarded as congested urban areas? In view of the Government’s decision to establish a national estate body to extend and protect open space, will the Minister suggest to the oil companies that the sites be made available to the public as park or open space areas at a nominal cost?
– All I can do is refer the question to the Minister. He would have to make the approach to the oil companies. I think this is a good suggestion but what I do not know is what the reaction of the oil companies would be. I shall refer the question to the Minister concerned.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has a decision yet been made by the Government in respect of the provision of long term finance for rural producers? If so, what are the details?
– I was hoping that today a decision could be reached, but I do not think I would be giving away any secrets by saying that a lot of business is going through Cabinet and we just have not reached that stage. I am quite sure, as I indicated yesterday, that there will be a decision on this matter and that it will be announced.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. I refer to the Government’s announcement of an emergency drive in the immigration program to recruit an additional 14,500 migrants by the end of June. Does this proposal point to a change in the Government’s policy which was directed towards assisted passages for relatives of families already resident in Australia? Will the Minister concede that long term planning in the immigration program for migrants with required skills for Australia’s employment needs is a desirable objective?
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDTrue it is that the Government has decided, because of a demand on the part of employers for more labour in the country, to embark upon expanding the migration scheme in order to bring an additional 14,500 migrants to Australia by the end of June. I cannot say that this represents a change in Government policy. This action is taken merely on the basis of the economic situation, to keep pace with the demand for labour and to meet the request made. I personally agree, as I am sure the Minister for Immigration agrees, that long term planning of the migration program is an essential. I understand that the Minister for Immigration is working on this matter at present. It is, of course, the Labor Government’s policy to plan its affairs on a long term basis, because we intend to be in office for a long, long time.
– My question is addressed to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate as Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is the Minister aware that I was officially informed yesterday that no decision has yet been made as to the fees payable to members of the committee of inquiry into Lake Pedder, which has been operating for some weeks? Will the Minister provide to the Senate a statement settingout details of any official advisers and/ or committees appointed by this Australian Government for whom fees and allowances have not yet been decided?
– In answer to the first part of the question, no, I was unaware that the honourable senator had received that information. In reply to the remainder of the question, yes, I will have a look at the situation. I think that the honourable senator’s idea is to have this matter speeded up. I will see what I can do.
– I wonder whether the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral could expedite a reply from the PostmasterGeneral, mindful of our joint concern about the use of post office box 42 at the Paddington post office and about certain documents that I tabled in the Senate.
– I remember that the honourable senator raised this matter some 2 months ago. I referred it to my colleague the Postmaster-General, in another place, and asked him to provide the honourable senator directly with a reply. I will check with the Postmaster-General to find out what the situation is and obtain a reply for the honourable senator as early as possible.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the
Treasurer. Is the Minister aware that shareholders in Australian banks with British domiciles at present are adversely affected as to approximately 30 per cent of their dividends by current British legislation aimed at inflation? Will the Minister investigate this position and, if what I say is so, will he take appropriate action to speed up the renegotiation of the long standing double taxation agreement between Australia and Great Britain?
– I will pass the question on to the Treasurer for reply.
– My question is based upon the question I asked Senator Willesee earlier about the 2 persons who are members of an African terrorist organisation and who are reported to be about to arrive in Australia. I noted that the Minister stated that he had no knowledge of this matter, but I assure him that in the newspapers, amongst other places, he can find reports on what these people are proposing to do. My question is based upon the fact that when answering my question he did not proffer the usual courtesy that, notwithstanding his lack of knowledge, he would make inquiries. I ask: Was that deliberate, or will he make inquiries?
– No, it was not deliberate. I intend to make inquiries. I am sorry that I did not tell the honourable senator so.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. As the Minister for the Environment and Conservation has officially advised me that no decision has yet been made as to the fees to be paid to the members of the committee of inquiry into Lake Pedder, whose report is expected to be available at the end of July, can the Minister advise me on what principles this open-ended contract for services will be decided? Will fees be based on the length, quality or political philosophy of the report, or on the academic or professional standing of the members of the committee?
– I shall take this matter up with the Minister for the Environ ment and Conservation. I would think that fees would be paid at the normal or standard rate and not on results.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Media. It concerns the proposed points system for television program evaluation and the Minister’s recent indication that minimum observance will be taken into account in considering licence renewals. I ask: In view- of the Minister’s earlier answers that the nature of the proposed points system was in discharge of Labor Party policy, and his more recent assertions that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is wholly responsible and autonomous in programming matters, what is the true position? Is the proposed system devised in terms of Labor party policy? Alternatively, has the proposal been generated entirely by the Control Board without influence by the .Government? iia it not an infringement of the Broadcasting” and Television Act for the Government tei: seek to intervene its political policies on programming upon a function for which the Act gives the Control Board complete, independence? .-
– The honourable senator will be aware that about a month ago I had a conference witu, the licensees of all capital city commercial’ television stations in Australia at which they’ agreed that for the time being there would continue to exist in Australia 3 commercial networks. At that conference they agreed also , that there should be an immediate review of Australian content requirements so that .they would know where they were iri future so far as their budgeting program arrangements were concerned. At that conference the capital city commercial station licensees agreed- that they would give the Government their utmost cooperation in getting more Australian content on television and I can say iri complete fairness to them that I believe that this Government te date is receiving that co-operation from all capital city commercial -station licensees. As a result of that agreement having been reached I then approached - the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, and the Chairman told me that the Board had been for some time reviewing the existing Australian content proposals. I asked the Chairman whether it was at all possible that the Board could expedite its deliberations on the matter having regard to the discussions which I had had with the licensees, and that, as far as I know, is being done.
I can assure the honourable senator that when I came to office I issued to my Department and to all statutory authorities within my Department a copy of the platform of the Labor Party. But it is completely within the hands of the Control Board what programming arrangements it might lay down for the commercial stations to follow; it is purely and clearly a matter for the Control Board under section 16(1) and section 99 of the Broadcasting and Television Act.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry and refers again to the margarine matter. Is it a fact that at the February meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council the matter of a quota for margarine production for the Australian Capital Territory was deferred for decision at the regular July meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council? Is it a fact that no State Minister for Agriculture at Friday’s meeting agreed with Senator Wriedt’s or Mr Enderby’s recollection of the decision on this matter? Is it a fact that an allocation was made to one firm when the Minister knows quite well that other Australian companies which hold quotas in the production of margarine were not consulted in any way about this matter? Will the Minister ascertain when lt was that Marrickville Margarine Pty Ltd was told that it could proceed on the basis that approval would be given for margarine production in the ACT?
– If Senator Webster requires an answer to the last part of his question and seeks information, I will endeavour to obtain it for him. I reject in the strongest terms any suggestion of improper conduct by myself or Mr Enderby. That is just not true, and I will not accept questions along those lines. I have explained in detail what happened in February. I have accepted the fact and J have so stated, as I did here yesterday, that I did misunderstand the decision pf that Council. So I would assume that the honourable senator could accept that answer which I gave to him yesterday. I want to make the point that there was no improper conduct or suggestion either by Mr Enderby or myself. 1 imagine that Senator Webster’s time would be better spent in asking intelligent questions about rural industry than tha sort of rubbish that he is dishing up now.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. It concerns margarine. What is the date of the Ordinance which regulates the production of margarine in the Australian Capital Territory? Was any amendment made to that Ordinance before the issue of a licence to Marrickville Margarine Pty Ltd? Were applications called for from other companies? If not, were other companies considered?
– I shall refer the question to the appropriate Minister.
– My question, which is directed to the Special Minister of State representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, is related to Australia’s relationships with the Government of Yugoslavia. Has the Australian Government yet received information from the Yugoslav Government about the fate and whereabouts of the 9 Australian citizens missing in Yugoslavia since about the middle of last year? I know what the Minister has said, namely, that the Australian Ambassador is making inquiries, but that is the answer we have received for weeks. In view of the fact that the Ambassador has been making these inquiries for such a long time and apparently getting nowhere, how long will the Government allow this situation to last without initiating some different or more positive action?
– I have a statement in reply to Senator Greenwood’s questions on this matter and it is to be read later. It does not fully answer this question but deals with some of the questions he has raised. He asks us to put a time limit on negotiations between the 2 countries. I do not think that would be wise when we have these negotiations going on. We have received an answer to the protest note and we have carried on negotiations since then. I think it would be very bad for negotiations on a situation with any country to fix a time limit and threaten the country concerned with some other action. I suggest to Senator Greenwood that he ought to accept that the Government is doing all that it possibly can in the situation as it sees it at the present time. If this fails, the policy of the Government will have to be looked at in that light.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Repatriation. Is it a fact that the First Assistant Commissioner, Appeals, of the Repatriation Commission has been visiting the various States and lecturing doctors on the composition of their section 48 opinions with a view to reducing the number of accepted claims? Is it a fact that the First Assistant Commissioner, Appeals, has had discussions with repatriation boards in the various States on the question of boards accepting claims against medical opinion? Is it a fact that the First Assistant Commissioner, Appeals, is oversighting decisions given in good faith by 3 members of the various repatriation boards concerning only those cases which have been accepted by the boards against medical opinion?
– It appears to me that Senator Townley’s question amounts almost to a charge against an officer of the Repatriation Commission. I think it is quite unlikely that the First Assistant Commissioner’s examinations and visits have been for the reasons that the honourable senator has put forward. They may be related to what the Government has been trying to do in relation to general policy. I think that in view of the content of the question I should ask the honourable senator to put it on notice. I will certainly get as much information as I can as quickly as possible.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to reports that some insurance companies are refusing to insure certain popular makes of new motor cars in the Australian Capital Territory? I point out that this applies also to some of the States. Does the Government condone this discrimination? Will the Government have a full investigation made to see whether certain makes of cars are more accident prone than others and, if that is the case, endeavour to find the cause? Will the Government treat this matter as urgent in view of the mounting road toll?
– ‘I will pass the question on to the Minister for the Capital Territory.
– Earlier today I addressed a question to the Minister assisting the Prime Minister and referred to the possibility of Senator Murphy coming home via Yugoslavia so° that he could look into various aspects of the human right1: of Australian citizens in that country. The Minister passed the question off in rather a light manner.
– Order! The honourable senator must ask his question.
– Again, 1 ask the Minister: Will he request or ask the Government to request Senator Murphy to come home via Yugoslavia so that he can look into the rights and protection of Australian citizens in that country?
– No, I will not ask Senator Murphy to do that.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I ask him to refer to the assessment of Tasmania’s interstate transport problems made by the Bureau of Transport Economics in March 1973. Doubtless, the Minister will have noticed the comparison of road-rail costs with sea-rail costs over a specified route. The report stated that for a cargo of 140 cubic feet the disadvantage to sea-rail transport was as high as a rate of $25 a ton. The next paragraph of the report dealt with the difference between sea and rail transport and pointed out that there was a disadvantage of as much as $38 a ton to sea transport. That is an enormous differential; it shows the adversity of sea carriage. I ask the Minister whether he can explain why sea carriage is so much more costly than road and rail in one case and rail in the other? Is it because the cost of crews and waterfront labour has got so out of line with other costs as to be inordinately expensive?
– Labour is only one of the costs involved in transport. I would have thought that the cost of waterfront labour would not be a great deal higher, if any higher, than the cost of transport workers. It is a known fact that when Mr Meeske gave evidence before the select committee on the container method of handling cargoes, which was considering the cost of transport of containers, he said that for goods carried up to 133 miles road transport was the cheapest, for goods carried between 135 and 700 miles rail transport was the cheapest and for goods carried more than 700 miles sea transport was the cheapest. Those statistics were accepted as applying to transport costs anywhere. It is a fact that sea transport is dearer than other forms of transport, especially over shorter distances as those statistics suggest. I would not put the cause of this down to any single factor.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Services and Property. Having regard to recent Press statements by Mr Whitlam on the Victorian Liberal landslide, I ask-
Government senators - Ha, ha!
– Does anyone want to challenge that?
– Order! The honourable senator must ask his question.
– Is it not a fact that with a massive overall swing of 2.7 per cent the Australian Labor Party received 49.6 per cent of the votes at the last Federal election? Is it not a fact that with this percentage the ALP received 53 per cent of the seats in the House of Representatives? Does this not exemplify the meticulous fairness and justice of redistributions carried out under LiberalCountry Party administrations?
– To borrow the verbiage of Senator Hannan, no, it is not a fact.
– Yesterday, I asked the Minister assisting the Prime Minister whether he had seen reports of Australians being stranded overseas because of the Australian Council of Trade Unions ban on French goods and services, including Australians overseas on package tours with UTA, the French airline? The Minister replied that he had not seen those reports. I now ask the Minister whether he has made inquiries since that question was raised by me yesterday. If so, what steps is the Government now taking to give assistance to those people who . are stranded overseas?
– I did make inquiries into this matter after Senator Young raised it yesterday. I made inquiries in regard to Noumea. Did the honourable senator specifically mention Noumea yesterday?
– The cable we have received indicates that some inquiries have been made at the Consulate. In replying to questions raised the cable states that the Consulate had received very few inquiries; nobody had applied for financial help; some people had asked about the latest developments in the boycott; and one visitor had asked to make a phone call to Australia. The Consulate pointed out that communication services were operating normally. The Consul thought that there might be a few people who would have to stay in New Caledonia longer than expected while they waited for bookings with Qantas and Pan Am whose planes were, he understood, fully booked, till the end of the month. Qantas has told us that its normal complement was fully booked but it had increased the number of economy class seats and yesterday’s flight had left with 10 seats empty. Pan Am said that its plane was fully booked only for a week ahead and it had seats to spare on its flight on 4 June.
– I ask a question of the Minister Assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In what way does the Ministry for Foreign Affairs supervise proposed votes by the Australian delegation to the United Nations? My question refers to publicity given to the fact that the Australian delegation voted for a resolution calling for action to give independence to the Cocos Islands and that the Prime Minister, who is also Minister for Foreign Affairs, subsequently stated that Australia had no present intention to give independence to the Cocos Islands.
– I will make inquiries and let Senator McManus know.
– Pursuant to section 18 of the Wheat Research Act 1957, I present the fifteenth annual report on activities under the Act for the year ended 31 December 1972.
– Pursuant to section 23 of the Egg Export Control Act 1947-1966, I present the twenty-fifth annual report of the Australian Egg Board on the operation of the Act for the year ended 30 June 1972, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements. An interim report of the Board was presented to the Senate on 13 September 1972.
Notice of Motion
– I ask for leave to withdraw notice of motion No. 6 standing in the name of Senator Murphy which relates to the siting of the new and permanent parliament house.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Senator Willesee) agreed to:
That Business of the Senate, notice of motion No. 6, be withdrawn.
– I wish to inform the Senate that on Thursday, after questions and formal business, I propose to move that the sitting of the Senate be suspended until 8 p.m. to enable Estimates Committees B, C and E to meet from approximately 12 noon until 6 p.m. If this is agreed to, Estimates Committee B will sit in the Senate chamber, C in Senate Committee Room No. 1 and E in Senate Committee Room No. 3. I propose further that the Senate adjourn on Thursday night until Tuesday 29 May, at 11 a.m., and that on Friday, at 10 a.m., Estimates Committees A, D and F meet until they complete their deliberations or until 4.30 p.m., whichever is the earlier: Committee A to sit in the Senate Chamber, D in Senate Committee Room No. 1 and F in Senate Committee Room No. 3.
– I make one observation from the chair. The use of the Senate as a chamber for committee proceedings is normally a matter that is first placed before the
President and is not put from the floor of the Senate without notice. The President has a responsibility in relation to the use of the chamber. I make the observation and I would be grateful if that procedure is observed in future.
Motion (by Senator Willesee) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the questions with regard to tha several stages for the passage through the Senate of the Papua New Guinea Bill and the Papua New Guinea (Starling Assistance) Bill being put in one motion, at each stage, and the consideration of both Bills together in Committee of the Whole, and as would prevent the reading of the short titles only on every order for the reading of the Bills.
Bills received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bills (on motion by Senator Willesee) together read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
The purpose of this legislation is to give effect to a series of decisions reached jointly with the Government of Papua New Guinea. These are to transfer responsibility for the Public Service and for auditing the accounts of Papua New Guinea to local executive authority, to implement the recommendations of a report on the future of overseas officers in the Public Service and to make minor amendments to the description of Papua New Guinea in conformity with the terms of the border agreement between Australia and Indonesia signed in February 1973.
There are 2 Bills involved. One is to amend the Papua New Guinea Act. The amendments proposed have 4 objectives. Firstly, they will remove the power of the Minister for External Territories under section 30 to appoint officers and engage persons on contract for the Public Service, thus enabling Papua New Guinea to legislate to develop its own national public service - an essential authority for a country approaching full selfgovernment and independence. Secondly, they will repeal section 30a which guarantees the payment of certain benefits for overseas officers. This section will be superfluous with the passage of the Papua New Guinea (Staffing Assistance) Bill, to which I will refer later. Thirdly, the amendments provide for the cessation of Australian responsibility for auditing the accounts of Papua New Guinea. In this regard it will be noted that the transfer of responsibility is to apply to accounts in respect of transactions occurring after a date to be fixed by proclamation. This will retain authority for the Australian Auditor-General to complete his final audit, and enable the Papua New Guinea Auditor to commence his responsibilities at the beginning of an appropriate financial period. Fourthly, the amendments will give effect to certain provisions of the border agreement between Australia and Indonesia signed earlier this year. The agreement provides for the recognition of the 14 border markers erected by a joint IndonesianAustralian border survey, team in 1966-67.
The amendments to the descriptions of the Territories of Papua and of New Guinea are in accordance with the Agreement, concluded with the concurrence of the Papua New Guinea Administrator’s Executive Council and signed on behalf of Australia by the Chief Minister of Papua New Guinea. It provides that the boundary is to lie along the geodetic lines linking the border markers except where the border follows the course of the Fly River.
I now turn to the Bill entitled the Papua New Guinea (Staffing Assistance) Bill. This Bill is complementary to the proposed amendments to the Papua New Guinea Act and is designed, to come into operation on the date on which responsibility for the Public Service is transferred to the Papua New Guinea Government. At the present time there are some 5,000 permanent and contract overseas officers of the Papua New Guinea Public Service and the Police Force who were appointed as permanent officers or engaged on contract by the Minister for External Territories. The Papua New Guinea Government has indicated that it wants to retain the services of many of these officers and that it sees a continuing need for staff from Australia for some years beyond independence. The Aus tralian Government has given an undertaking to Papua New Guinea that the help of Australians will be available for as long as that help is needed and desired. The Papua New Guinea (Staffing Assistance) Bill provides the framework under which this may be accomplished and gives effect to the recommendations of a report on the future employment security of overseas officers in the Public Service.
The report on employment security arrangements sprang from an independent inquiry into the employment security of overseas officers and- the provision of future staff by Australia. The .inquiry was set up by the previous Government in August last year and was carried out by Mr A. M. Simpson, C.M.G., a leading Adelaide businessman. His report was accepted in principle by both the Australian, and Papua New Guinea Governments and was published. Copies are available from the Parliamentary Library. . The. Papua New Guinea (Staffing Assistance). Bill, in giving effect to the Simpson recommendations, reflects a decision taken jointly by Papua New Guinea and the former Australian Government and endorsed by the present .Government. Its provisions will result in major changes to the: existing framework under which the Australian Government provides staff for Papua New Guinea.
Under the Bill permanent and contract overseas officers and temporary overseas employee superannuation fund contributors in the Public Service and the Police Force, and staff of the Electricity Commission of Papua New Guinea who are superannuation contributors, will be separated from their respective Papua New Guinea services and will become part of an Australian staffing assistance group. The persons in this group will not be members of the national Public Service of Papua New Guinea and they will not compete with local officers for promotion within that Service. They will however be made available to occupy and carry out the duties of established positions in the Papua New Guinea national public service and in other areas of public employment until there are Papua New Guineans available to fill these positions and their services are no longer required. Their employment under the Australian staffing assistance legislation will then cease and they will eventually rejoin the Australian work force.
The Commonwealth Teaching Service will shortly be recruiting teachers for service in
Papua New Guinea and for the period of that service they will form part of the Australian staffing assistance group. Similarly, staff seconded from other areas of Australian public employment will also serve in the group in line with Australia’s undertaking to provide continued staffing assistance to Papua New Guinea. The Bill provides for the prescribing by regulation of the terms and conditions of service and the superannuation, retirement and employment security benefits of the overseas officers who will make up the staffing assistance group. Removal of these matters from Papua New Guinea legislation and their prescription under Australian legislation will meet the assurances given to these officers by the Australian Government that their terms and conditions of service would not be altered without the consent of the Australian Government. The Australian Government will, therefore, as part of its aid program be accepting full and direct responsibility for the cost and payment of the remuneration and other benefits of employees in the staffing assistance group.
Other changes recommended by Mr Simpson relate to employment security arrangements for employees in the staffing assistance group. Modifications will be made to the employment security scheme for permanent overseas officers to update its benefits in line with rising costs since 1966 and to provide officers with certain options as to pensions, compensation or alternative employment on premature termination of their careers. A scheme of compensation for premature termination of contracts of employment made by the Minister under the Papua New Guinea Act will also be introduced. These matters will be prescribed by regulation. The Bill itself is designed to provide the basic framework under which the Simpson recommendations may be given effect. Pending the introduction of regulations prescribing terms and conditions of employment it provides for the continuation of the relevant provisions of appropriate Papua New Guinea ordinances and the regulations and determinations made thereunder. Insofar as superannuation, retirement and employment security benefits are concerned the Bill continues certain provisions in the existing Papua New Guinea law and preserves the continuity of pensions and the rights of contributors. The regulations to be made by the Governor-General will provide the detailed mechanism necessary for the effective administration of the Act, and will set out the terms and conditions of employment and other benefits available to persons to be absorbed into the Australian staffing assistance group. It is essential that the provisions of the Papua New Guinea (Staffing Assistance) Bill and the necessary regulations to be made thereunder become operative on the date on which responsibility for the Public Service is transferred to the Papua New Guinea Government. This is scheduled for 1st August 1973. The Papua New Guinea Government is proceeding with complementary Papua New Guinea legislation to establish a national public service and the object is that both the Australian and Papua New Guinea legislation will commence concurrently. I commend the Bills to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Greenwood) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 17 May (vide page 1740), on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not propose to oppose this Bill although some of us would like to say something about it because we regard it as a matter of consequence and importance. Australia has an extremely large continental shelf. Australia is one of the mainland states of the world and the shelf surrounding it is of quite some significance to the Australian people, as I think honourable senators well know. No one is yet perfectly sure what resources the continental shelfs of the world contain. They certainly are substantial in some parts of the world in petroleum hydrocarbon resources and they appear to have considerable resources of minerals, as yet not ascertained. They constitute a new resource in a world sense over which there has been great argument in the United Nations and in many countries - indeed, in Australia itself. There has been discussion on how those arguments should be resolved as between adult people and adult nations. As far as I can remember, the Australian continental shelf is one of the largest in the world. I think it is something like between one-fifth and one-quarter the size of the Australian continental land mass. Therefore, one could describe these resources In this style: Lying under the sea adjacent to Australia is the equivalent of another Australian State in the form of land and resources which attach to the Australian people.
In this matter we are working with our neighbours in Indonesia, in Papua New Guinea and, to a lesser extent, in Portuguese Timor. The work with the latter country is of a minor nature. The delineation of these areas of influence, responsibility and benefit is the principal purpose of this legislation which, I understand, is accompanied by a map setting out the Australian-Indonesian boundaries, although I am not aware whether copies of that map have been circulated to honourable senators. I sought the production of a copy of that map this morning and it has been pro.duced to me. I suggest that, if copies of it are available, the Senate attendants should circulate them to honourable senators. I acknowledge that that is now being done.
The purpose of this legislation is to give legislative status to the new conditions existing after the signing of 3 seabed agreements with Indonesia. The new boundaries are set out in detail on this map. These agreements follow a sequence of years,, having been signed in 1971, 1972 and 1973. The last agreement was the result of discussions between Australian Prime Minister Whitlam and the Indonesian Government in February 1973. The boundaries are set out on the map provided to honourable senators. One, at least, of my colleagues will seek to deal with, and direct his attention in detail to, some of the specific matters that this map illuminates, with particular reference to Australian-New Guinean relations in the division of these areas. I shall leave that matter to him. It is proposed that formal ratification of the agreement negotiated in February 1973 should not take place before the agreement is expressed by the House of Assembly of Papua New Guinea.
In the other place, in dealing with this matter the Opposition spokesman expressed the support that we express here for the aims of the legislation. He noted that one consequence of the renegotiation of the boundaries was that some parts of the original Australian grid provided under the original Act had to be cut out, but that this was done only after consultation with the parties concerned, especially the Western Australian State Govern ment and the companies involved. He sought from the Minister for Minerals, and Energy (Mr Connor) in the other place an assurance that consultations had taken place with the State governments concerned and that they had concurred prior to the introduction of the legislation. After the introduction of the original Act in October 1967, a great amount of discussion and ‘ consultation took place between the States and the Commonwealth before mirror legislation was produced. In the other place, the Minister declined to answer that question specifically. But he left the impression, which may be able to be overcome here by his representative, the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt), that there had been no consultation between himself, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, and the States concerned because of a change in attitude. I ask Senator Wriedt whether he will advert in his reply to this fact: Had there been consultations with the State of Western Australia in the style that I have mentioned? Had there been consultations also with the emerging nation of Papua New Guinea?
The agreement of February 1973 was signed for the Australian Government by Mr Somare. We had taken particular trouble to put him in what I would call the top position to do that because we, had been at great pains to ensure that the representatives of Papua New Guinea were kept closely involved in this matter at all stages. It is obviously important that this should remain the case. I imagine that Senator Wriedt will be able to assure us that the practice of putting Papua New Guinea, for its own interests, in the responsible position of doing the signing will remain in the future if we are so involved at any later stage.
I suppose that the principal point which emerges from the overall view that we have of this legislation, following its passage without opposition in the other place, is to ensure that contact with Papua New Guinea is kept at a high level and that the authorities of Papua New Guinea are not ignored. I mention in passing that in recent matters, particularly in the area of civil aviation with which I was involved, I had the impression that the authorities in Papua New Guinea had been ignored and that they were being pressured. I do not believe that that is a sensible way to act with a neighbouring nation with which we have had such tremendous and close association through the years. Equally, we need to maintain a high degree of consultation with the States to ensure that their rights are not to be set at one side and ignored but that they arc consulted. One does not find from the speeches made in the other place that this is taking place. Over and above all that is a matter of great importance, namely, our relationship with Indonesia. This appears to be one of the most satisfactory features of the negotiations which have taken place and which have led to this result. It would appear to be a happy solution to what had appeared to be differences of opinion. It appears to be satisfactory to both governments. We have been told nothing in the second reading speech of the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) to indicate that our Government is unhappy about the result and we heard nothing from Indonesia after the matter had been concluded that Indonesia was unhappy about it.
It is hoped that there may be a substantial province of hydrocarbons on the north-west shelf extending between Australia and Indonesia. It is of great importance and consequence to our total relationship that this matter should be resolved amicably and sensibly, as it appears to have been resolved. One would feel that in this area of foreign affairs unlike other areas of foreign affairs with which we have dealt since the Labor Government took office we have achieved a better and more sensible and rational approach to our neighbours and others with whom we deal. I do not think that I can add a great deal more except to advert once more to the map, copies of which I understand have now been circulated. I shall leave to others to refer to particular areas of interest in regard to Queensland and Papua New Guinea should they feel disposed to do so.
– 1 want to speak to this Bill for a couple of reasons but I shall be brief. Firstly, I want to draw the Senate’s attention to the fact that the Bill is a ratification of 3 different agreements which were made in 1971, 1972 and 1973. Of course, the previous 2 agreements were made during the term of the government of which my Party was a partner and the present Government is only carrying on the survey which has been spelled out and drawn on the sea bed in an imaginary form and which extends our continental shelf a considerable distance from the north-west coast of Western Australia to take in the Ashmore and Cartier reefs where we believed at one stage there was oil - I do not know whether any oil has been found in that area - and to lay out a very definite boundary along the sea bed. There is apparently agreement between Indonesia and Australia on this proposal and also between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
The 1973 agreement, however, was made between the Australian Government and Mr Michael Somare, the Chief Minister of the Territory of Papua New Guinea, lt is a new agreement and, unfortunately, honourable senators have not been provided with maps of the proposed areas. The Bill contains a very complicated description of the bearings, lines and other things. However, before I agree to the demarcation line between Australia - principally Queensland - and the Territory of Papua New Guinea I should like to see those maps. I understand that the Minister in charge of the Bill is endeavouring to secure copies of the maps. I think it is a bit unfair to us on this side of the House to be asked to agree before we see the actual line of demarcation. I tried to check it on an atlas in the Library but was not able to do so in the time available. I appeal to the Minister to try to get that map. Before I could go along with any suggestion of a demarcation line on the seabed between Queensland and Papua New Guinea I would want to be assured that all the Torres Strait islands are included in the Australian section. This is not quite clear from the description that we can read and trace out on an atlas. Admittedly, 3 of the islands are very close to Papua, as has been pointed out many times. They are Saibai Island, Dauan Island and Boigu Island.
In view of the other things that are looming, the fact that there is another Bill on this subject presently before the Senate and a Bill dealing with the control of the seabed and the continental shelf, one being more or less tied up with the other, I would not like to think that what we agree on in this Bill will prejudice our idea of preserving the rights of Torres Strait islanders in regard to their territory, fishing and the land adjacent around the coast. Perhaps we could have an assurance from the Minister that if the Senate were to adjourn now we could have these maps to look at after lunch.
– Does the honourable senator want to adjourn the debate?
– I would like it to be adjourned now and to continue my remarks later.
– I indicate that I have sent a message across to the Department of External Territories in an endeavour to get the information that Senator Lawrie requires. If Senator O’Byrne wishes to speak in the debate, naturally he will be able do so. But unless he wants to speak, the Senate could adjourn for lunch now and I will endeavour to have this information later.
– I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 12.52 to 2.15 p.m.
– I understand that prior to the suspension of the sitting the Senate had come to some agreement on certain matters. I would be grateful if the Minister for Primary Industry would advise me of his proposals for the continuation of the debate on this Bill.
– The debate was adjourned until a later hour of the day with the intention that Senator Lawrie would then resume the debate.
– When I was speaking ‘ prior to the suspension of the sitting I mentioned, that the only map available to honourable senators was one of the proposed continental shelf boundary between Australia and the Indonesian territory. Apparently no maps were printed in respect of the new agreement which was signed by Mr Somare in 1973. I asked the Minister whether we could adjourn the debate over the luncheon suspension so that maps might be made available to honourable senators. The Minister informs me now that no maps are available. I have been assured by the Minister and a member of his staff that the boundary has not been changed.
– Do all honourable senators have copies of these maps on their desks? If not, will copies be distributed?
– I would like to make it clear that no maps are available of the boundary between Australia and the Territory of Papua New Guinea. Maps are available of the boundary between Australia and Indonesia.
– I was inquiring whether the maps were available to honourable senators.
– I think those maps are available. In view of the Minister’s assurance that there has been no change whatever in the continental shelf seabed boundary between Australia and the Territory of Papua New Guinea - I ask him to confirm that when he replies at the close of this debate - I am happy to go along with the Bill on the basis of his assurance that all the Torres Strait Islands and their, surrounding, areas will remain as part of Australia under the agreement that is now being ratified between Australia and Mr Somare, on behalf of the Territory of Papua New. Guinea, and the Indonesian authorities. I hope that the delineation of our agreed boundaries on the seabed, will be of lasting benefit to Australia, to our neighbour Indonesia and to the future independent country of Papua New Guinea.I, hope that we can now go ahead with prospecting for and trying to win any riches ; and resources that that seabed may contain. I hope that this will be of lasting benefit to the 2 existing nations and to the future independent country of Papua New Guinea. I thank the Minister for his help. I hope to receive his assurance, when he replies at the close of this debate, that there has been no change in the boundary and that no Torres Strait islands are being given away.
– The legislation before the Senate at the present time seeks to amend the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act. In essence, the Bill will enable the Government of Australia to ratify agreements that have been signed already with our near and friendly neighbour Indonesia. It is one of those very important diplomatic steps that have to be taken in view of not only the dramatic improvement in the technique of drilling off-shore in waters which previously were unavailable to man but also the settling once and for all of an area which could have led to tension between 2 neighbouring countries. The ratification of these agreements means that the respective countries - Australia and Indonesia-can go ahead with certainty and allocate areas for exploration and exploitation. Now that these agreements have been ratified, any possibility of disputes arising has been eradicated. There is a series of agreements. The first was signed on 18 May 1971; it established certain seabed boundaries. Another was signed at Djakarta on 9 October 1972; it established the boundaries in the area of the Timor and Arafura Seas. The final agreement was signed on 12 February this year; it concerned certain boundaries between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
After the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) made his second reading speech, maps were made available to honourable senators which show that the boundary extends from the area north of Papua New Guinea through the Arafura and Timor Seas to a point at which the boundary is incomplete. That point is in the area near Portuguese Timor. I understand that some delicate negotiations are taking place at present, but I feel that the spirit of co-operation that has been shown by the present Australian Government with our neighbours in the underdeveloped or newly developing countries will be maintained when negotiations take place with the Portuguese in Portuguese Timor. It is expected that some conclusions could be reached in this area later this year.
This is a ratification of agreements. It can only be to our advantage to have this matter settled amicably. We have the very good fortune to possess a defined area that is potentially rich. It has been stated that this area could become the richest hydrocarbon empire in the world. If contains gas and oil in quantities that could match even the fabulous riches of the Middle East. The future of Australia, at a time when a fuel crisis is developing in the United States of America and when the traditional source of supply of hydrocarbons is the subject of very delicate arrangements, with certain traditional practices being changed and the prices being under barter, is bright. We are extremely fortunate that at this time we are emerging into an era of selfsufficiency or near self-sufficiency in the supply of hydrocarbons. All Australia - our generation and those to follow - will benefit from this very good fortune.
It is my belief that with proper husbandry, proper conservation and proper utilisation we not only can supply all our own needs, with the exception of the very heavy products that come in lower gravity oils from other parts of the world, but also can expect to become a judicious exporter of some of the products of this magnificent new discovery in the north west of Australia. I. also see the possibility of settlement in the interior of Australia in areas that can benefit from the reticulation of these’ great resources throughout Australia. That Will place Australia in the position where, with the riches that can come from these dis- coven es of oil arid gas, the standard of living can be lifted and we can widen the expectation of expanding welfare in the community. I certainly believe that Australia is heading towards becoming a great and independent nation in the Pacific area and, in the geographical sense, the Asian area of the world, whereas previously we were dependent upon overseas sources of supply for our fuel. I can understand the concern of Senator, Lawrie about the boundary lines between Queensland and Papua New Guinea, but I hope that the same goodwill, the same tolerance and the same width of vision that have been shown in this piece of legislation will be extended into that area and that everyone will benefit and no one will lose by any future arrangements that are made concerning the boundaries of our territorial rights and the sea bed generally. I wish to support this measure strongly and to congratulate the Government on bringing it to’ the Parliament for ratification so quickly after the sighing of the agreement. I feel certain that we will all benefit from it.
– The. Australian Democratic Labor Party supports the measure and notes the tremendous significance of the ratification of these 3 agreements with our nextdoor neighbour Indonesia, which is the only nation in the world with whom we have a land frontier. The relations between this country and Indonesia are of prime importance both to that country and to Australia. That the relationship should be commenced amicably and should continue in that way should be to the mutual advantage of both great nations. Honourable senators who come from Queensland are, of course, always concerned about the boundaries of the State of Queensland. This question came up recently, and Senator Lawrie also adverted to it, in relation to the fate of the Torres Strait Islanders.
New considerations are merging, particularly for an island continent such as Australia. The law has generally been concluded and defined, with definitive promulgation in relation to the exploitation of land resources of all kinds wherever they may occur. But with the development of technology, with the demand for new materials and the discovery of vast natural resources on the sea. bed, there is now an exploration and an exploitation of the marine resources. To a nation such as Australia which is an island continent with a very vast coastline, surrounded by seas and oceans and various jurisdictions some distance out from the low water mark, apart from the free water regions, this is of increasing importance. Therefore we can expect to find that there will be a continuing necessity for Australia to be adverting from time to time to its boundary relations and its sovereignty over areas adjacent to the vast Australian coastline, as other nations wish to exploit the natural resources of a marine character.
Quite apart from the exploitation of the sea bed. the exploration and the exploitation of the resources of the sea itself have not altogether attracted the attention of this country as they might well have done. I remember that several years ago there was an honourable senator in this place - I refer to Senator Kendall whom Senator O’Byrne would remember well - who was always concerned at the poor effort being made to develop and expand the Australian fishing industry. He always thought that that industry was denied technological assistance, that it was denied financial assistance, and that very often, therefore, the marine resources were denied exploitation by Australia and other nations came in and took them because we were not sufficiently interested. Of course, that is another aspect of the control of the territorial seas as well as control of the sea bed that lies beneath those waters.
Indonesia is a country of extraordinarily friendly people. It is a country which is conscious of its role in this part of the world. It is a country that is conscious of its relationship to Australia, as I trust that we are conscious of our relationship with Indonesia. Since the time of its independence, there has been a great display of goodwill. There has been the mutual exchange of people between that country and Australia - army officers who have come down here for training, students who have gone to our universities. Financial assistance has been given, and I think generously given, by a succession of Australian governments. That is as it should be. I am sure that those gestures are not made purely for the purpose of the security of Australia or for any selfish or self-motivated reason. They are a genuine demonstration of bur concern for very likable people living, in a lovely country whose independence we assisted to achieve in our own time and in our own way. That assistance has brought the reward of gratitude of the Indonesian people. That that relationship is being continued, is persisting and is being further advanced by legislation such as this must be of tremendous interest and value to Indonesia, as it is to Australia.
I do not think it is necessary to expatiate at any great length upon the significance of this Bill. We welcome the measure. We do welcome the speed with which these conventions have been ratified. As I say, we can imagine that in the future there will be a still greater demand on this. Parliament to consider matters of this nature concerning those areas which lie actually beyond the continental mainland of Australia. As those positions emerge I hope that Australia will, always be. conscious not only of its own interests but also of its participation in world welfare, in the welfare of other nations, and that the vast resources of the world, within reason, should be made available, so far as is possible, particularly for the’ assistance of countries which up to the present have been denied the opportunity to explore and exploit’ their own resources as the Western nations have done. We welcome this legislation and we give it our support.
– in . reply - On behalf of the Government may I say that we are pleased that the -Opposition - is supporting this legislation. The only matter of real concern is that raised by Senator Lawrie. I assure the honourable senator that he is correct in the way in which he now understands the position, namely, that there is nothing in this legislation to alter the position concerning the Torres Strait Islands. The position remains unchanged. 1 would add on behalf of the Government that the comments that were made, particularly by Senator O’Byrne and Senator Byrne, as to the need to clarify the position between ourselves and Indonesia, are very important. We do wish to see the best of relations with that country and I am sure that this legislation will, assist in achieving that end.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title and citation.)
– I wish to refer to the sea bed boundary between Portuguese Timor and Australia. I ask the Minister whether he can state how much of the off-shore area between Australia and Portuguese Timor is still undecided. Further, were any attempts made to have discussions with the Portuguese Government at the time discussions were held with the Indonesian Government with the aim of trying to get clarification of all this off-shore line of demarcation at the same time? As the Minister says that it is hoped to have discussions later this year, can he give any indication as to when those discussions are likely to take place?
– It appears that clause1 is the only clause under which I can make the comments I made earlier. As Senator Young, has said, the Minister has given us no information at all about the future of consultation on this matter, not only between Australia and Papua New Guinea but also between the Commonwealth and the Australian State governments which have a vital interest in this matter. Perhaps the Minister may care to do so now.
– Firstly, in reply to the point raised by Senator Cotton, the Australian Government has the right to enter into negotiations with a foreign power, and one would assume that the States could act as they determined to be in their interests, if they so desired. Obviously the Commonwealth has a right to enter into these negotiations. In relation to the matter raised by Senator Young, I understand that there have been initial discussions on the area to which he refers. So far as Portuguese Timor is concerned an area of approximately 200 miles remains subject to negotiation with the Portuguese Government. As to a specific time when some clarification of this matter can be determined, I understand that approaches were made by the Australian Government in 1972 with a view to clarifying the position and obtaining determination. I anticipate that these efforts will continue and that there ought to be some confirmation during 1973.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) whether these discussions will be held directly with the Portuguese Government? If Australia is unable to reach any finality is it the intention of the Government to take the matter to the international area in order to obtain some clarification?
– I understand that it is the intention of the Government to deal directly with the Portuguese Government in the hope that we can arrive at some definitive position as a result of those discussions.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 2 to 4 - by leave- taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 5 (Amendment of Second Schedule).
– I refer to clause 5 (c) which deals with areas adjacent to the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands. It was stated in the second reading speech that , some 6 exploration permits’ in the Ashmore and Cartier Islands or adjacent areas will be greatly reduced. Firstly, I ask: By how much have these permit, areas been reduced? Secondly, can the Minister say which companies held the permits in those areas?
–I understand that the 6 permits referred to vary quite considerably in the area lost to Indonesia. If the honourable senator likes I shall enumerate them. The first was Arco Australia Ltd, with a loss of . 2 per cent in the permit area. Second was BOC of Australia Ltd. Does the honourable senator want the permit number? .
– No. I would like an idea of the areas and companies involved.
– Perhaps I should give the honourable senator the permit numbers. The first one to which I referred is NTP2, a loss of . 2 per cent. The others are: NTP4, a loss of . 02 per cent; NTP7, a loss of 24.4 per cent; NTP8, a loss of . 4 per cent; NTP9, a loss of 52.8 per cent; and NTP13, a loss of 2.7 per cent. In terms of area, the only really significant loss was NTP9 which was 1,176 square miles. Although the percentage of NTP7 appears to be very large, it is a loss of only 103 square miles. That is the only information I have on these reductions.
– MayI ask one more question? Were these permits originally issued by the Western Australian Government, the Commonwealth Government of the time, or the territories?
– I understand that all permits were issued by the Commonwealth Government.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 (Further Amendment of Second Schedule).
– I shall deal with clauses 6 (a) and 6 (d). I refer to the map which accompanies this Bill and which was circulated to us. It is not easy to ask these questions without having a conference around the table. 1 am interested in the 2 north-south lines on the map of the main continent of Papua New Guinea and West Irian. To me there is slight confusion because the line which is the east line has ‘1973 Agreement’ written along it, but as it reaches the top it has ‘1971 Agreement’ written across it. I would like to know from the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) whether the line with the words ‘1973 Agreement’ written along it indicates the existing agreed land border between West Irian and Papua New Guinea? Do I construe correctly that the line which delineates the common border for the purposes of this Bill is the line which is dotted and which proceeds out of the western, previous line and not the eastern, existing line? I think that reference to the map will make clear what I mean. There seems to have been a change in the land border. If that is the case I would like to hear about it. What interests me is that the existing change in the land border does not seem to proceed in extension to the offshore area.
– This is a rather complicated matter. It is my understanding that the line which appears to the west of the line referred to by Senator Cotton in fact remains the border line. The line marked 1973 Agreement’ is in fact a reference line only - I should have indicated that earlier - to the line which appears to the west and which is the actual border. It does not constitute an actual line in the Territory. It is only a reference to the line which appears to the left of it on the map.
– That does not tell me which is the border line between West Irian and Papua New Guinea on the map which has been given to us.
– The land border is shown by the line which lies to the west of that line. Perhaps if I had put it in those direct terms in the beginning it would all have been clear. It is the line to the west.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wriedt) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17 May (vide page 1741), on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– In the other place the responsible Minister, the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor), when introducing this Bill stated that it seeks to establish a Pipeline Authority for the transmission of petroleum, natural gas and other hydrocarbons, by interstate ring main pipeline systems. That is reported in Hansard of 10 May, page 2011. The Opposition wishes to engage in a discussion on this matter in the second reading debate and also in serious examination of the Bill at the Committee stage. Accordingly, we have a number of people who are prepared to look at the matter in that detail when that point of time arrives. I will restrain myself and not speak at great length on the matter. In general, there is merit in trying to have uniformity in what I call a carrier system that is on a pipeline base. All Australians have suffered from the defects of earlier years through not having uniformity in the Australian rail transport system. It obviously would have been better, in the origins of Federation, to have had uniformity established from then on and, as far as possible, to have had uniformity throughout Australia. That would have been better for the carriage of articles in this country by rail. I suppose I could say that there is a desirability for greater uniformity of road standards, and this has been sought to be established by the Commonwealth through the Bureau of Roads. In air transport there has been a regulated system that sought to establish standards throughout the Australian continent with regard to the demand and population factors.
Here we have a new method of carrying goods. In its essential factor, it is carrying petroleum, natural gas and other hydrocarbons. Those who are familiar with the pipeline world - I am not one of them, but I know a little bit about it - realise that pipelines are likely to become greater carriers of goods over broad distances than had hitherto been thought. There are a few examples in Australia of pipelines carrying articles other than petroleum, natural gas and water. Iron ore slurry is able to be carried in Tasmania by a pipeline system. I think that the carriage of articles by pipeline is likely to increase. I understand that in the development of the -phosphate deposits in Queensland there is quite a logical examination taking place. Perhaps the best way to transport from the field to the port will be by a pipeline system. These things will be within the States. Nonetheless, the expansion of this system could go beyond the carriage of petroleum and natural gas. Broadly speaking, there is wisdom and common sense in having uniformity of standard in a system throughout Australia. This is what the Bill seeks to establish in particular areas.
We have some substantial worry, concern and objection to a lot of the provisions contained in the Bill. One could say briefly that what the Government is trying to do is to have 3 particular conditions - a carrier system such as this which also allows a buyer to have use of it and a seller to have use of it but not for the system itself to contain everything within its own ambit. In the House of Representatives the Opposition did not oppose the Bill. What we seek to do here is to move a number of amendments which the Opposition would have moved in the other place if it had been able to do so. The arguments arise substantially on the confusion arising out of the uncertainty of the position of the Australian Gas Light Co. in New South Wales which, if I may say so, is a very old company constructed on the style that a gas undertaking was a public utility and should be operated in the manner of a public utility. Australian gas undertakings which are constructed in that style have shareholders who are, very largely, trustees and holders of that kind - -peoplewho represent a great body of small investorsand estates which represent . small investors. So the undertakings tend to contain the savings of a broad spread of the Australian community. The. Australian Gas Light Co. is a public utility concept. It has to apply to the Gas Examiner before it can increase prices. It operates under regulation. To that extent’ the Government is looking at what might be called a capitalist monopoly but what is a public utility constructed in a style which was developed in this country in much earlier days.
There is concern at the ability of the Authority to buy oil overseas and to sell it through any pump if it wishes to do so. There is concern at this monopoly power over the sale of natural gas. There is concern that the 6,000 miles of pipeline could cost $l,000mor $ 1,200m. No one quite knows. No one has spelt out the sum.. No one has allocated the time that it will take to spend this money. From a reading of the Bill and the second reading speech, it seems, that no one has attempted to measure the economic benefit of this in a cost benefit analysis. Discounted cash flow has not been . looked at. In effect, what we are asking is this: What sum is really involved? Over what period will it be spent? Has anybody done an economic sum on the merit of spending money in that style as against spending it in some other style and for some other purpose? Once resources of this magnitude are allocated they arenot available for other needs, and that has to be thought about quite objectively by the Senate. There are monopoly powers over the purchase of all forms of hydrocarbons, including coal.
One of the things which really worries us, as well as the others which I will mention, is the authoritarian provisions amounting to the right to expropriate and take over lands, including Crown lands held under a right, at 7 days notice. In effect, somebody could walk in and say: ‘We are taking over your land. We are giving you 7 days notice. If your house, building, farm or tractor is lying in the path of the pipeline in 7 days, theoretically you have to leave’. There is not much fun in that. There is a lack of mention of how the price charged for transportation is to be determined. That is an important factor if we get this thing in concept. It is being developed as a carrier. As a carrier, it will be established at a huge capital outlay. Firstly, does the capital outlay become justified in economic measure against the need for money in other places? Secondly, will the carrier, if established, be a viable economic unit in its own right? Will it operate at a loss? Will it operate at a profit? Will it be in a balanced position? Will it have interest charged on its funds? How will this be calculated? In general, will it be economic to operate when it is established, if it is established?
There is lack of a mention of how the price charged, in general, is to be determined. How will this be determined? Will it be by volume for various users? Will people be singled out and given special treatment? Will there be some measure of assistance for decentralisation? Will it be applied for subsidising uneconomic lines as part of the system for the general good? These things are not known. There is the selectivity in the Bill that the Authority is not obliged to accept and transport all hydrocarbons. So it could accept for transport some people’s materials and not others. There is the power given to the Authority to subscribe for or otherwise acquire shares in a public company, which seems to us to give it power to take over such companies and, in effect, effectively to nationalise the natural gas industry and to make it a total captive. I think that is implicit in the Bill. We would have tremendous objections to that, not only because we do not believe in that sort of thing but because we believe that it is a bad use of resources in a country that has a lot of things to do with its money and time. There is the exemption of the Authority from Commonwealth tax and from State taxes. There is the other factor about which we are concerned, that is, the sense that we have that it has not picked up all its obligations as a common carrier, which is what it would be. I realise that there are complications of law in this and developments in thought on the functions and structures of common carriers, but the matter needs to be examined in a little more detail in the Committee stage.
From reading the second reading speech and the debate in the other House and from comments which have been made in public and to us as well, it seems that there has been a real lack of consultation with the States in this matter. The impression which we have is that they have been ridden over. Naturally we do not care a bit for that. We do not think it is a proper way to behave or a sensible way to behave. It is not the way for an Australian family to behave. All of us have common problems. The Australian people are all the same. A person who lives in New South Wales is the same as a person who lives in another State. They pay State and Federal taxes. All of us are Australians in the first instance. One would like to feel that consultation between the members of the Australian States and the Commonwealth would be a real and effective course as it was, if I may say so, under our Government.
Then we have, the point, which lawyers can take up much better than I can, as to whether the Bill is subject to constitutional challenge and whether it might not be set aside under some particular Acts that might be dredged up. It has been suggested by people outside the Parliament who have commented on this Bill that the same effect could have been achieved by establishing a regulatory authority modelled on the Canadian Energy Board. That argument can be developed by my colleagues at a later stage of the second reading debate or at the Committee stage. It seems to us that here we are looking quite clearly at what I might call a nationalisation, socialist measure, taken in the full flow of a socialist philosophy, which I do not believe is wise. I believe that it is essentially sensible to look at a common carrier position and at uniformity in order to try to make the thing as economic as possible.
In the end, the Australian people’s resources will be put to use. Will they be wisely used in a capital sense and will the Authority, if established, use its money wisely in an operating sense? Is it not possible to do the same thing without dredging up this large amount of public money for this specific use and putting the thing in the hands of people who might be better occupied in doing other things? There are people in the community - in business places and in the market economy - who have skills and talents in this direction, and I rather feel that it would be wiser to use them than, in effect, to duplicate and replace them. It rather looks to us as if there will be a considerable delay in the scheme in providing natural gas and energy to
Sydney and to places in New South Wales, in particular, adjacent to the areas to be served by the pipeline.
The only other point that I should like to make before leaving it to my colleagues to continue the debate is to refer to the fact that the Senate Select Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources, on which many of us served, raised as an important point the need for the fullest co-operation between the Commonwealth, the States and private industry. We believe that the general tenor of this legislation has been to set that approach to one side, to bring down an arbitrary measure., to insist that it be supported, and to take, if I may say so, fairly strong actions to make the people involved in this do what they are told. We do not care for that type of approach.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, I am happy to yield to any honourable senator on the Government side who wants to speak. It is rather surprising that oh a matter of such importance as a Bill to create a national pipeline and to put into operation one of the proposals which the Government has made a major feature of its. policy and its legislative program, no speaker from the Government benches should follow Senator Cotton who led for the Opposition on this matter. However, it gives me an earlier opportunity to make some comments of my own regarding this measure.
Senator Cotton, speaking on behalf of the Liberal Party, has indicated the stand that we propose to take in this matter. I point out that it is quite consistent with the attitude which was adopted by the Liberal Party in the other place when the Bill was before that chamber. There are several matters of concern in this Bill, and it is - and will be at the Committee stage of the debate on this Bill - our intention to introduce a number of amendments to give effect to the matters about which we are concerned. However, firstly, I should like briefly to consider the nature of the measure and the concept of the national pipeline.
It is important to note that defined in broad terms, this is a pipeline for the conveyance of petroleum. Of course, in common parlance it refers to oil and gas. But it is defined in wide terms, and it would be possible even to include coal, although I am sure that it was never the Government’s intention, by this legislation, to cut across in any way the coal policies of the Government and the institutions which are already set up by the. Commonwealth and State governments to deal with the question of coal. There can be no doubt that there is a growing necessity for a national policy in relation to the conveyance of these great natural resources of Australia which are being found now in greater abundance both on-shore and off-shore. The recent discoveries of natural gas in various parts of Australia indicate the prospect of larger discoveries of such an important source of energy. Of course, it is vital that this source of energy, which is found in very remote parts of Australia, should be readily available for use by the centres and concentrations of population which in many cases are greatly distant from the. natural gas or oil fields.
I think it is of importance to stress that the location of these natural gas and oil fields, which have .been, found and, which we have every reason to believe will, be found in greater abundance, presents ;this nation with a remarkable opportunity for .decentralisation. It is all very well to say ;that .these natural resources should be ? conveyed; to the existing concentrations and centres of; population in Sydney or Melbourne or- in several other cities. But it seems to me that it should not and must not be forgotten that as a- result of these discoveries we have a most remarkable opportunity opening up . before us to create new, great and wealthy regional areas for this nation in what has hitherto been regarded as our remote or outback areas. As a Western Australian, naturally I think firstly of the prospects that the discoveries, of natural gas off the north-west shelf of Australia present for the development of the Pilbara region of Western Australia, a region ‘already famous for the richness of its mineral deposits, particularly iron ore. The happy conjunction of such great sources of energy in broadly the same areas of Australia as the location of iron ore and other major mineral deposits indicates the tremendous potential for regional development in that area df Australia alone. I give that only by way of an example. Of course there are many other regions that I could mention, but I do not wish to detain the Senate by referring, on .this Bill, to that fascinating subject.
The Government’s object in creating this Pipeline Authority is ostensibly to provide a cheap, convenient and efficient means of conveying the natural resources of petroleum from one part of Australia to another. That is very sound in theory and, of course, it is necessary in practice, provided that the Authority acts in an economic and efficient manner. The Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) in his second reading speech gave some information about the grid system which it is intended that the Authority should implement in Australia. As I have said, some quite exciting prospects are involved, but one cannot help pausing to consider how economic they will be, certainly at this point of time. This Parliament must be concerned to ensure that theory does not take over and that for the sake of the glorious concept of a grid system we will have pipelines in all directions around Australia, many of which may be of doubtful economic value either now or at any future time.
I mention as an example the suggestion that there is to be a pipeline from Dampier on the north-west coast of Western Australia, through central Australia and ultimately to the eastern seaboard. That concept is not a pipeline; at this moment it is a pipe dream. What would be the point of a link of that kind when already there are perfectly adequate sources of natural gas for the eastern seaboard in areas such as Moonie, Gidgealpa and Bass Strait? This is one of the dangers I have flagged already in relation to this concept. It would be wrong, at this stage certainly, to be draining the natural gas sources off the north-west shelf for consumption in Sydney when those resources present a golden opportunity for regional development in the area in which they exist, such as in the region of Pilbara. That, I believe, is an example of the dangers that will have to be considered in relation to this magnificent theory advanced by the Minister.
The other matter which astounded me in connection with the Minister’s speech was the absence of any indication of what Government expenditure is proposed in relation to this grid system. I noticed that estimates were given in the debate in the other place that it may cost over $ 1,000m or $ 1,200m, but I wonder whether they are not pretty conservative estimates. I would have thought that a
Government proposing a scheme such as this and presenting maps showing pipelines running in all directions around Australia at least would have given the Parliament some indication of what national expenditure was proposed for the implementation of the scheme. I am pleased to note that the appropriation of this money for the benefit of the Authority will be made by Parliament. No doubt that will be its major source of finance and from time to time in this Parliament we will have the opportunity of considering the proposals of the Government for funding the Authority. However, I think that it would have been only proper for the Government to indicate just what sort of public expenditure it had in mind for setting up the Authority.
I note also that there is no control by Parliament other than through the appropriation of funds. No doubt the money would be appropriated in the Budget context, but there is no other control by Parliament of the works to be undertaken by this Authority. I sincerely hope that the Government will appoint competent people as members of the Authority. By and large we have to trust its judgment in these matters. However, we on the Opposition side believe that some parliamentary control should be exercised not only over the appropriation of the money but also over the nature of the works to be undertaken. I remind the Senate of the provisions requiring that all Commonwealth public works costing more than a certain amount have to be referred to the Public Works Committee, which is the statutory committee set up by this Parliament to consider these matters. We believe that the same principle ought to apply to the works to be undertaken by this Pipeline Authority, not only in order to control the appropriation of money for it but also to ensure that pipelines will be built where it is sensible and economic to build them. We should not build them just to satisfy the pipe dreams of the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor).
Another important consideration in this day and age relates to environmental factors. I well imagine that there could be, or should be, serious objections from some members of the public to a pipeline being built in their area, or through a particular place of natural beauty, or where some local interest would be destroyed. There would be local objections.
That is the very type of thing that the Public Works Committee deals with and I think that such a concept should be introduced into this legislation.
I want to refer to some of the other objections which the Opposition has to this Bill. Senator Cotton, who preceded me. in this debate, covered many of these matters in his speech. The Government has decided that this statutory authority should be set up to construct the pipelines, to own them and to convey the petroleum through them from the source to the consumer. The concept of a public authority to do this is one which we in the Liberal Party accept, although I think I am bound to say that other alternatives for handling the matter would have been considered if we had been in Government. I think we would have adopted the idea of a national authority for the purposes of planning, licensing and so on. But personally - I think most of my colleagues would agree with me - I think in terms of the use of private enterprise and the risking of private capital for the construction and running of these pipelines. However, the Government has taken the decision to make this a public authority. I hasten to point out that it will not necessarily be a Government monopoly. There still will be room for privately owned or perhaps even State owned pipelines to operate between sources and consumers in various parts of Australia. The major network undoubtedly will be provided by this public authority. But pipelines exist already in various parts of Australia. They will continue. No doubt good reasons will exist and opportunities will be available for pipelines to be. constructed by private enterprise and for private capital to be risked. The major network undoubtedly will be a governmental responsibility. As I have said, we in the Liberal Party are prepared to go along with that concept and that decision. Our major concern is that this scheme should work in a proper, efficient, economic and fair manner.
In his second reading speech, the Minister said that the Pipeline Authority is to have the role of a common carrier. But, when we look at the Bill, we find that nowhere is it spelt out in clear terms that the Authority is to act as a common carrier. The Authority is given the power to build the pipeline and to convey petroleum through it. But it also is given the power to buy and sell petroleum in Australia or elsewhere. Let me deal with the matter in 2 parts - firstly, the conveyance of petroleum by the Authority and, secondly, the position of the Authority as a buyer and seller of petroleum. With regard to the role of the Authority as a conveyor of petroleum, we believe that the Bill should spell out clearly that the Authority is to act as a common carrier. I emphasise the meaning of the term common carrier’ in law. The requirement at law is that a common carrier has to act as carrier for anybody who wishes to make use of the service provided. In other words, a common carrier cannot pick and choose between those whose goods will be conveyed and those who will be refused carriage of their goods. That requirement is always subject to the common carrier having the actual physical capacity to convey goods offered for carriage. We believe that the principle must be established that this Authority has the obligation to carry or to convey petroleum for anybody, whether producer or consumer, who wishes to make use of the pipeline.
The other important principle with respect to a common carrier is price. It is all very well to say: ‘We have a pipeline and we are prepared to convey petroleum for any producer, consumer or distributor*. It would be within the power of such a public authority to discriminate in regard to price and effectively to put one person out of business and another person into business. So, the other important hallmark of the common carrier is that he must carry for everybody at a fair and reasonable price. We believe that the price in this case should be one which has regard to the costs of the Authority in establishing and running its service - in other words, a cost price and not a price which has in view a profit or any element of discrimination as between one customer and another.
The second matter with which the Liberal Party certainly is concerned is the power given to the Authority to buy and sell petroleum in Australia or elsewhere. We see here a very great danger of this Authority being expanded in such a way as to become the major economic unit in the petroleum industry. This is a matter of great national importance and various views may be held as to what, if any, public participation there should be in the petroleum industry, as such, from exploration for oil at one end of the process to the distribution of petrol at the other end of the process. That is not a question which is at issue in our consideration of this Bill, lt is not claimed by the Minister or the Government to be an ostensible purpose of this Authority. Nevertheless, we find provision made in the .Bill for this power to buy and sell petroleum.
This is a most potent power, or it could be a most potent power indeed, for all sorts of ulterior purposes with which a government may at some stage wish to clothe this Authority. I do not hesitate to say that such a power could bc used virtually to close down a major gas or oil field or a major producer by means of the price which the Authority offered that producer or by buying petroleum overseas in competition with the producer. At the other end of the scale, such a closedown could be achieved by the terms on which such an authority sold petroleum.
However, we are conscious of the fact that, from a practical point of view, it may be necessary for the Authority to have a power of this kind. There are all sorts of practical reasons why, in the day to day running of such an authority, the power to buy and sell petroleum would be required. For instance, a day may come when a number of small producers cannot and do not wish to enter into arrangements for the sale or distribution of their gas to a large distribution body. There may be good reasons, relating to the rationalisation of the distribution of gas to bodies which are to sell it to the consumer, for the Authority to be able to act as a buyer and a seller in a limited fashion. I emphasise that we on this side of the Senate are prepared to accept this concept for use in a limited fashion only and as ancillary to the major purpose of the Authority, which is to be a constructor of pipelines and a common carrier of petroleum through its pipelines.
We are concerned about some other aspects of this Bill. I shall bring them under the general heading of ‘protection of private rights of citizens which are bound to be affected in some way by an authority of this kind constructing a pipeline’. Naturally it is necessary in many cases to construct a pipeline over private lands or land in which private citizens have some right or interest. A pipeline even throughout central Australia could well affect homesteads, fencing, bores or other rights which even in those remote areas private citizens may have. But a pipeline in the more heavily populated areas can of course be a most important factor as far as private citizens and their rights are concerned, particularly the rights of owners of property. I have already mentioned the environmental factors which could give concern and to which people would wish to express opposition, say, a particular route or a particular form of construction. But I am speaking now of the actual right to go into private property which is of course necessary. We do not hesitate to concede that; obviously pipelines will have to be built through private property. But we would hope that when dealing with owners of property common sense and fairness would be exhibited to them at all times by such an authority and that it would not act in a dictatorial manner as, I regret to say, a number of statutory authorities in Australia are prone to do. I am not necessarily speaking of Commonwealth authorities. I have in mind State authorities which are acting as public utilities. There is always a tendency in these matters for some of them to march in and start acting as though they had authority over private property greater than the owners’.
– Can you name any specific authorities?
– I would be here for 2 hours if I were to catalogue the number of cases of dictatorial actions by governmental authorities in such matters.
– What about private mining companies? They are renowned for doing so.
– I could not agree more that private mining companies have sometimes abused the powers that they have under the mining Acts. I am happy to say that the mining Acts in my own State have been amended very drastically to preserve the rights of private owners of property as well. We are simply to take these interjections as alerting the Senate to the fears that owners of private property would have that a governmental authority or a private company, if it has authority given to it by Parliament, may abuse that authority.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– May I say at the outset that the amendments so far as I can ascertain appear to be just another mischievous piece of drafting by the Opposition in an endeavour to divert the business of this chamber. I should like to deal with some of the criticism made by Senator Durack. Firstly, he said - I do not necessarily put these matters in order of importance - that the Government’s legislation was designed to close down producers, if necessary, and would probably have this effect. I think that this is very wide of the mark.
– I said that there was a danger of this.
– If you are going to draw inferences then I think you ought to come out and make accusations and not leave them lying all over the Senate chamber in that fashion. There is no danger at all under these circumstances of a public authority doing this and very much less danger of a public authority, by comparison with a private enterprise organisation which is constructing a pipeline, charging exorbitant rates for the passage of oil or gas to the destination. I think that that particular argument by the honourable senator is nothing more than a lot of gas. The honourable senator next referred to the environment and to the damage that was likely to be caused to it by a public authority such as the one suggested in the legislation when constructing pipelines from point A to point B. I would invite the honourable senator to visit Queensland at any time he likes to see what has happened there under private enterprise so far as damage to the environment is concerned. Stradbroke Island is one of the tragedies of this country. It is not only a tragedy for Queensland; the damage that has been caused in that area by sand miners is a national tragedy.
One can go a little further up the north coast and see the same type of operators similarly damaging the environment. One can go to Weipa, in the famous Comalco country, to see what has happened to the country after its exploitation for the return of bauxite. In only a few instances has regeneration been carried out. Now we are battling against a woodchip industry that is sought to be established inland from the northern port of Cairns. I quote these few instances merely as examples. I repeat that the possibility of damage being caused to the environment by a public authority is much less than it would be if the same project was undertaken by private enterprise. The honourable senator might care to look at the pipeline which runs from the
Roma fields to Brisbane. This has burst on several occasions and caused great damage to surrounding country. The honourable senator’s final criticism was that too many public authorities become dictatorial. When challenged by Senator O’Byrne to name one, he was not able to do so except by having a snide shot at the Public Service.
– I will name them.
– You said it would take you 2 hours to name them yet you could not spend 2 seconds to name one particular public authority which has adopted a dictatorial attitude. But you took a side swipe at the Public Service in the process. The actions of the Government are quite clear to the public at large and I think that the public at large desires to see this sort of participation by Government. We are fortified in our approach by the report of the Senate Select Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources which was published some time ago. It is significant that the previous government, apart from recording the fact that a report had been presented, never at any stage took any notice of it. I shall quote paragraphs 6 and 7 from page 709 of the minority report of that Committee:
When we compiled this minority report we deliberately included in paragraph 7 of page 709 the suggestion that the legislation may require the co-operation of the States. Frankly, I think that the States look forward to seeing such a policy being implemented. As the passage I have just quoted states, we members of the Committee felt when the report was being compiled that it would probably be only a matter of months before it was put into operation or at least the ground work laid for it.
This Government has been in office for about 160 days and this Bill is one of the first pieces of major legislation it has introduced in this very short period. The attempt now by members of the Opposition to frustrate and delay the legislation is symbolic of everything they have done since this Parliament met late in February of this year. The Senate Select Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources envisaged at that time - so did plenty of people in industry - the Government constructing this pipeline rather than it being done by private enterprise. In fact, there are plenty of people in industry who would be happy to see this take place.
There has been a suggestion by the Opposition that delays in the current pipeline being built to supply Sydney will result in an extra cost of $15m. I point out that Sydney has needed natural gas for many years. The possibility of obtaining it from the Bass Strait area was explored. But the city has been prohibited from obtaining a cheap supply of energy because of costs which have been prohibitive for the producers and for the people who wanted to put in the pipeline between Victoria and Sydney. At long last this legislation has given an opportunity to the residents of Sydney and the areas between Sydney and Victoria to get gas at a price which is economical.
– The proposed pipeline was to have been built between Gidgealpa and Moomba-
– The honourable senator will have plenty of time for his hot gas later, so I think I will ignore that interjection. The point I am making is that had there been proper negotiation at a government level many years ago the people of Sydney today certainly would have cheaper energy and would not be involved in all this forward planning that had to be undertaken. Today, through the co-operation of the Commonwealth Government with the New South Wales Government and the South Australian Government, we know that the pipeline ultimately will be planned and built. So the suggestion made by the previous speaker in particular that it should be constructed only by private enterprise does not really have any great substance.
– I did not say that at all.
– The honourable senator said that the policy of his Government was to do these things by private enterprise. I listened to him say it. They may not be precisely the words he used, but he said that the policy of his Party, when in Government, was for private enterprise to do the job, and that if it had to be done by the Government he supposed that they could put up with it. The honourable senator said something like that. It is not much use him saying something and then denying it afterwards by way of interjection because the debate happens to be broadcast. I suggest that the honourable senator should face up to the responsibility of what he says. The submission I am making is that the amendments are mischievous. They are designed to hold up the legislation and create further problems for the Government, which the majority of the people of this country put into office to introduce its legislative program.
– The Bill before the Senate is designed to establish a pipeline authority. I believe that the Bill has particular importance in the national scene and is one which should have the close attention of the Senate. The Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland). . played down the importance of this Bill when . he said in his second reading speech at page 1741 of Hansard of 17 May 1973: .
The Bill is not a complex one. It is simple and has the clear and definite purpose to set up an authority’ with adequate powers to construct and operate a major public utility having the responsibility of making one of our greatest natural resources available to the Australian people. ; ‘
That statement concisely puts into one’s mind the idea that the Bill is aimed purely at providing an authority to cope with a national pipeline grid throughout Australia. Senator Keeffe, who spoke before me, has had experience in the problems that were brought before the Senate Select Committee on Offshore Petroleum Resources. That Committee, in a very lengthy investigation of the problems of the utilisation of this major source of energy for the Australian community, looked at matters which included the problem of the distribution and interstate transport of fuel by a pipeline authority. That Committee’s report was particularly substantial. After 3½ years of discussion the Committee brought to the Parliament documentation which will be of historical interest not only in regard to this measure but also certainly in regard to the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill. In relation to interstate trade, the body of the Committee recommended on page 33 of the report:
That, if a need for a network of interstate pipelines is established the Government consider the reestablishment of the Inter-State Commission empowered to regulate the interstate transportation of oil and gas.
That paragraph refers to paragraphs 8.94 and 8.104 which add extra reading to that. On the following page the Committee goes on to recommend:
That the advisory authority recommended to be established in Chapter VII, System of Administration, be also empowered to recommend the appropriate methods of transportation for petroleum and be empowered to arbitrate in disputes over the transmission interstate of petroleum products.
That is very much of direct interest in this matter. I refer also to paragraph 8.73 on page 290 of the report which states:
The Committee believes that some form of federal control of a resource as important to Australia as petroleum, both economically and for defence purposes, is desirable.
As one who was involved in the preparation of that report, I must say, from that stance, that there is encouragement for honourable senators to believe that this very important matter should have some federal intervention. I believe that the Committee was stating in that original report that there should be some Federal Government control, that a commission should be established to control the size of pipelines, the quality of pipelines to be used, the areas in which they should be established, the various centres at which the power should be delivered, the routes which the pipelines should take and probably the various sizes of pipes that should be utilised and developed. These matters are of national interest and should not be developed piecemeal by private companies.
Certainly, as the previous speaker said, this Government, within its first 160 days of office has moved to establish what it proposes in this Bill, namely, a pipeline authority. This is not in actual fact in line with the proposals of the Senate Select Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources. The Committee suggested an authority to control the development. The proposed Authority is being established with very wide powers. It purports to be a pipeline authority, but if developed it could represent an enormous implementation of socialist ideologies in the community. I believe that there is good reason for those within the Government at the present time, perhaps hiding under the comment that the Minister made in his second reading speech, to believe that this is a simple Bill. It is far from being a simple Bill. It is a major source of socialisation of many areas by the Federal Government. One needs only to look at the powers of the Authority as they are. laid out in this Bill. I refer to clause 16 of the Bill, which deals with particular powers of the Authority; clause 17, which deals with the power to enter land and take levels; and clause 18, which deals with the power to enter and occupy land. The Authority, under the direction of a socialist Minister, will have the right not only to deal with the supposedly minor matter of the building of a pipeline to convey materials but also eventually to introduce the socialisation of the original resource. I believe that socialisation will occur and that there will be development in the field of the distribution of gas. If the present Government stays in office, its objective will be the socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange. I do not think anyone will be dismayed if I say that that is the. policy of the Australian Labor Party. This Bill purports to provide for the centra] gap in dealing with a resource. It is quite within Labor Party philosphy that it will take over not only the original resource but also the distribution of fuel.
– That is on private land.
– I was referring to the development of the distribution of the product to the citizen. I see this as the beginning of action to take over the Bass Strait fields eventually and to distribute fuel through service stations, perhaps in competition with private enterprise for some time. Another proposal of the Government is that the people’s money be expended on the search for oil, gas and minerals. That is very speculative. The Australian Labor Party sees the opportunity to take over resources, and it will have the power to do so once it controls the gas pipelines. The resource is useless unless there is an ability to distribute it.
I do not think there would be any argument that that is a basic philosophy of the ALP. I believe that the Government at present views the introduction of this Bill as being in the interests cf the public. That philosophy may be correct, but it is not correct in the view of the Country Party.
– That is rubbish.
– I am very pleased to hear Senator O’Byrne saying that it is rubbish and that I am suggesting something that will never come about. I doubt very much that the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) will allow his intentions to be confined. To add support to my argument,I refer to the powers of the proposed Authority. Clause 15 deals with the general powers of the Authority. It states:
The Authority has power to do, in Australia or elsewhere, all things necessary or convenient to be done for or in connexion with, or as incidental to, the performance of Us functions under this Act.
I would like to read out the functions of the Authority.
– The Authority has no power outside Australia.
– The Bill gives that power to the proposed Authority. The Bill specifically states that the Authority can operate in Australia and elsewhere. That means that the Authority can move into fields beyond Australia. The actual functions of the Authority are dealt with in Part III, clause 13, which states:
Subject to sub-section (2), the functions of the Authority are -
The Authority may perform its functions to the extent that they are not in excess of the functions that may be conferred on the Authority by virtue of any of the legislative powers of the Commonwealth, including the power of the Parliament to make laws with respect to trading corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth and, in particular, may perform its functions -
Paragraph (b) deals with the States. Then the clause continues:
The Bill then goes on to set out the duties of the Authority, which are not limited in any way with respect to the development of the powers conferred upon it. The particular powers of the Authority are set out in clause 16, which states:
to enter into other agreements for the construction of pipelines or the performance of other work of the Authority;
Time could be taken to demonstrate that the Authority has enormous power. I doubt that the Minister for Minerals and Energy, who introduced this Bill into the House of Representatives, feels that it will confine the work of the Authority purely to the installation and development of pipelines throughout Australia.
The Senate debated some aspects of this matter at length when the problems associated with the Australian Gas Light Co. of New South Wales were being considered. The Senate then confined itself to the great importance of the development in Australia of manufacturing capacity to produce polythenelined - or whatever material it may be - metal gas pipes. Such pipes had been produced in Australia in the past. There were some peculiarities about the actions of the Australian Gas Light Co., which is a major company in Australia, one that commands very high respect in the financial world and one that is capable of considering the expenditure of $150m on the purchase of gas pipelines and then probably being involved in a further expenditure of $150m on the installation of the pipes and the distribution of the products thereby provided.
The Senate did not look into the basis of the reserves that were held in any of the areas from which the pipes were to be laid. The Senate did not look into the size of the pipe which was to be used. In this instance it was a 34-inch pipe - a most uncommon pipe size so far as world trends are concerned. The Senate did not look into the route the pipeline was to take from the Gidgealpa fields to Sydney. The Senate did not look into the reasons why such expenditure was to be undertaken when it appeared obvious that gas supplies were available to the New South Wales market from a much closer source and at a less expensive capital outlay than that involved in the area from which Sir William Pettingell wanted to construct the pipeline. However, it appears that under the provisions of this Bill the whole of the problems with which the Australian Gas Light Co. was faced will be deferred by the Commonwealth moving into this field. The point that interested me greatly concerned the negotiating ability of the Australian Gas Light Co. when it protested vehemently at the fact that the Commonwealth intended to take over in its particular field. One would have thought that that company would have been delighted to be relieved of the enormous expenditure and borrowings that it had to undertake. But in his second-reading speech the Minister - I think this is important - stated:
I should mention that the construction and operation by East Australian Pipeline Corporation Ltd of the Gidgealpa to Sydney pipeline would have preempted the Government’s concept of, and decision For, a national pipeline system. In taking over responsibility for that pipeline and to obviate unecessary delays, the Government has undertaken that it will stand in the shoes of the pipeline company; observe contractual commitments entered into by it, including the retention of the project managers . . . and reimburse expenditure already undertaken and committed on the project.
Those comments are very binding on the Commonwealth, and it interests me greatly that the Commonwealth is capable of making them at the same time as saying that it intends to build what the Australian Gas Light Co. thought was in its own interests. It would appear to me that what was proposed originally by the Australian Gas Light Co. in order to serve its own interests as well as those of the New South Wales consumers was not necessarily in the interests of or identical with the interests of the Federal Government when considering the size of pipe and the direction which a particular gas pipeline should follow. Indeed, I think I can say quite certainly and positively that the direction that the Gidgealpa to Sydney gas pipeline will take is not necessarily in the interests of the consumers of the Commonwealth of Australia in general. A certain situation has come about and I take it that the Authority, as it is now constituted, realises that it is placed in a situation from which it cannot back down. The line followed by the pipe is not necessarily the right line, and the pipe used in that section of the line is not necessarily the right sort of pipe to be used in this project.
The project will be of great benefit to a number of people throughout Australia. I think that it will encourage some industries to develop outside the great metropolitan areas and, if it can be proved that reserves exist, confine their activities to the course followed by a pipeline. I repeat that to me this is a particularly important matter. The Australian energy reserves surely must be the most important point considered by a Federal government before it decides to pipe the fuel to various parts of Australia at enormous expense. The expense will be so great that in the end we will find that the Commonwealth Government is subsidising the cost of the fuel consumed in New South Wales. There is little doubt about the fact that in the end the Commonwealth will be contributing to the price paid by the major consuming population in New South Wales. I think the Minister’s second-reading speech indicates that it is hoped that unnecessary delay will be overcome by the Government taking over this project. The Federal Government already has created a 5-months’ delay in assuming that it can bring gas to the Sydney public. That interference in the business carried on by the Australian Gas Light Co. already has created a 5-months’ delay which, in my view, eventually will extend to at least a year.
It has been estimated already that an additional $20m to $25m will be involved in the construction of the Gidgealpa to Sydney pipeline. Is it in the national interest, as the Minister said in one statement, that the first 680 miles of pipeline will be Japanese manufactured pipe? I think this is a disgrace. It must be something of which the Australian Labor Party is ashamed because I believe it would have a genuine interest in attempting to utilise the Australian product. Of course, originally the Australian producer was limited in the volume of pipe he was to supply to the Australian Gas Light Co. because it had a deadline which it would not have been possible to meet if these unique steel pipes had to be produced and delivered by the Australian manufacturer. At that time the Australian producer was able to provide only some 80 miles of pipe. Of course, because of the delay of 5 months, or even 12 months, the Australian producer would be able to provide far in excess of the quantity originally suggested by AGL. However, 1 feel confident that if the Commonwealth implements some form of control in building a pipeline network throughout Australia, which is a pretty crazy sort of idea as we see it at the moment, it will give great encouragement to the development of gas pipeline production by Australian manufacturers. I believe that that section of industry will be well looked after.
While we are dealing with the subject of piping our wasting energy resources in Australia, I would plead with the Government that at the present time, through its Department of Minerals and Energy, it should conduct a very close investigation into the possibility of using solar energy. We should be developing very quickly our ability to produce atomic or nuclear energy, and certainly in this regard we should be looking to those far : outlying areas of Australia where it will be enormously expensive to take fuel energy by means of a national grid pipeline. We should be looking to the construction of tidal power units. If we do all these things we will not be overlooking the possibility of using all energy sources.
Throughout the world today there is enormous activity in the building of pipelines. It is very interesting to note that in 1973 approximately $2.14 billion will be spent throughout the world on the production of some 18,320 lineal miles of gas and petroleum pipelines. This figure is enormous. There is growing expertise in overseas countries in the development of this important industry. I plead with the Government that we do not enter into this scheme unadvisedly or decide lightly that we will dig a trench across Australia into which we will put gas pipelines and hope that we are able to convey this important fuel all over Australia. It seems pretty ridiculous that we are building a pipeline from Gidgealpa to Sydney when there are gas supplies so close to New South Wales, as has been mentioned previously.
The extension of the grid into Melbourne is not necessary. Melbourne has adequate fuel supplies. It is not necessary to extend the grid into Adelaide because Adelaide already has its supplies. It seems to me a fairly ridiculous proposition that we are considering following a line - a line that it would take us half a day to follow in a fast aeroplane - which runs from the middle of the continent up to the north of Western Australia, with a loop up to the Northern Territory, and then down through Western Australia. Undoubtedly reserves will be discovered in Western Australia, which will suit that State very nicely. As I understand it, there is at the present time a very sound possibility of the greatest gas reserves in Australia being found on the north-west shelf. These reserves will be far closer to the developed areas of Western Australia than are the reserves in the middle of Australia.
– They are expected to be greater than the North Sea reserves; never mind saying ‘the greatest gas reserves in Australia’.
– I think that .’ Senator O’Byrne has the. same thought as myself. Although the concept is grand, I wonder whether there is basic. wisdom in what we are doing’ under .this Bill. I believe that the Bill will . be passed. The Government desires to enter into this field. But after 160 days in office and before it draws a lot of lines on a map I think it should look very closely at the proper development of this resource. As I mentioned at the outset; the Bill gives the opportunity to the Federal Government to develop its socialist policy. No member of the Australian Labor Party would argue with me that socialism, complete in all details, is not the aim of the Labor Party. This Bill forms a link with the Australian’ National Airlines Bill which is heading towards nationalisation of the airline industry.
I believe that yesterday the Minister tor Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) changed his tune. Whether that tune was changed by the results of the Victorian election I do not know, but to me it seems ridiculous to believe that a Minister can give conscious decision on a Bill and then readily agree to 18 amendments lock, stock and barrel which were moved by the Opposition in order to confine the advancement of government enterprise. But apparently that is the thinking of the Minister who handled that Bill. We see the situation in the Prices Justification Bill. We see it in the position which the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) is taking at the moment over the development of 34 square miles of land outside Darwin. There is great experimentation with the control of private industry under the Prices Justification Bill which we are likely to have before us. As we can see, there is to be complete Commonwealth control under the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill which is before the Senate at the present time. I see this pipeline authority Bill as another spoke in the wheel of the present class of government which in all areas is turning to socialise the business community in Australia.
I do not believe that we will necessarily have the efficiency which is required of private industry in order to maintain its role where there is a monopolistic enterprise such as the Federal Government will have in this pipeline authority. It is a means of transportation. Honourable senators will not necessarily find that there is the greatest efficiency or control over men and materials or rigid competition so that the consumer will pay the cheapest delivery price of a product. I have mentioned the great powers which this pipeline authority is given. There is only one matter upon which I congratulate the Government and that is that in the setting up of the various methods of control and of the establishment, of the authority- . .
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The introduction of the Pipeline Authority Bill 1973 can be assessed as one of the most important milestones in the history of transport in Australia. I tie up this pipeline with transport because it is just as essential to have a pipeline transporting liquid hydrocarbons as it is to have rail, road and air transport. This Bill closes the gap which exists in this country for a properly organised and co-ordinated transport system. One can only be nauseated by the bilious making bilge which has been pushed out by Senator Webster. He was a member of the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources which examined this problem. I shall quote from the majority report - of which he was a member - which, at page 290, paragraph 8.73, states:
The Committee believes that some form of federal control of a resource as important to Australia as petroleum, both economically and for defence purposes, is desirable.
Senator Webster has recommended:
The evidence would suggest that regulatory and advisory responsibilities of an authority .in the field of interstate trade could include: (1.) To authorise the construction, ownership, operation and location of interstate oil and gas pipelines; (2.) To make orders with respect to all matters relating to traffic, tariffs and prices; and (3.) To study, review and from time to time report to the Parliament on such policies and measures as it considers necessary or advisable in the public interest for the control of transportation of oil and gas.
The whole proposition which Senator Webster put before the Senate has painted a false picture.
– From which page did the honourable senator quote?
– I quoted from page 290, paragraph 8.73. If we had copies of speeches which have been made in the past by parties and honourable senators from the Opposition side on measures similar to this measure we would find a common strain running through them all. When we introduced the - Bill to establish the Snowy Mountains - Authority it was suggested that the creeping hand of socialism was going to take over the country.’ We have heard the same sort of line taken about the setting up of instrumentalities such as Qantas Airways Ltd, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd, Commonwealth Railways, and the Australian National Line. I could name hosts of these instrumentalities which have the respect of people throughout this nation. They are part of the fabric of our economy. Honourable senators who stand up in this place and condemn those authorities and the people working for them are doing themselves a disservice and also doing a grave injustice to those very loyal people associated with these Commonwealth instrumentalities.
If honourable senators would have a look at what we are really doing they would see that we are trying to overcome the same difficulties which reflect the hidebound mentality of people who were responsible for the railway gauges suddenly changing from 3 ft 6 in to 4 ft Si in and to 5 ft 3 in at State boundaries. It took 70 years and longer for the Australian people to obtain some sort of uniformity in railway gauges. It took an enormous cost to overcome this parochial attitude which people have where things are confined to the one State. We are a nation, a federation. The resources of the country are for our people and our children in the future. So the responsibility is ours to see that the best use is made of our resources. Sir John McEwen, the erstwhile leader of the Australian Country Party to which Senator Webster belongs, drew attention to the trend in Australia of selling out part of the farm. What we are trying to do is not only stop the selling of the farms but also to hold and cultivate them properly. By that I mean that the farms could be farming natural resources of all descriptions such as gas, oil, minerals or any other resources with which our country seems to be so richly endowed. 1 put it to the Senate that we are not trying to introduce something which is novel in the activities of the oil industry. The United States, Canada, Italy, or any country with any sort of economy of scale is looking to the future. They have co-ordinated, welldirected and, in many cases, governmentowned and controlled pipeline systems. They are all running efficiently.
We would be recreant to our trust if we did not nip in the bud this trend by which every little entrepreneur wants to get in on some little bargain to build a one gauge pipeline to Gidgealpa. The Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd wanted to build little pipelines around Victoria. It had great visions of sending a pipeline into New South Wales. Of course all of us know (he story about that. The international monopolies who share our great Bass Strait resources had their fingers in the pie. They wanted to extort an unduly high price from the people of Sydney and New South Wales. The New South Wales Gas Corporation decided that this was not on, and it was able to make alternative arrangements and get its gas supplies from Gidgealpa. But revenge came in then. Rather than use Australian steel produced by Australian workmen in an Australian owned factory the international monopolies got their revenge on the Australian people by placing the pipeline order in Japan and we are saddled with this. This is the mentality of the people who criticise us today for trying to co-ordinate at ground level this tremendous industry which is in its infancy in Australia.
– Mr Dunstan in South Australia ordered a lot of pipes overseas for the Gidgealpa-Adelaide pipeline. 13366/73 - im
– There was no revenge about that. It was a matter of supply and demand. I will admit that. The matter to which 1 was referring was not a matter of supply and demand. Our factories were not given the opportunity to tool-up so that they could supply this pipeline. There was an element of revenge in it. The international monopolies said: ‘Right. You tried to put it over us with regard to the supply of gas from the Bass Strait field. Now we will get our revenge on you by not giving you the order for the pipeline.’ We are saddled with that. We will see that that type of thing does not happen in future. We will also see that our natural resources - our iron ore deposits, our steel making processes and the long line that goes from the raw metal to the completed pipeline - will be, as far as possible, utilised by Australians for Australia. This is the theme of the Bill.
The Bill is an exciting one, when one looks at it. The concept of a grid spreading throughout Australia is an exciting one. The object is to maximise Australia’s ownership and control of the use and development of Australia’s resources. The people were given this vision splendid last year when we appealed to them to elect us. On 2 December they gave us, in no uncertain terms, a mandate to govern and to go ahead with an ‘Advance Australia for Australians’ policy, lt has been said that not only are matters of defence, decentralisation, population growth and national development involved but also matters of inter-connected supplies are involved. In the short history of the oil industry in Australia there have been 2 fields. One was at Moonie in Queensland. This reached its peak. There has been a diminution in supply. Resources from other areas will have to be used to compensate for the loss from that area. Those sources are presently being developed. The other field was an off-shore field which was developed by West Australian Petroleum Pty Ltd. It reached a peak. The production per day has fallen there now. With a pipeline grid, when one area starts to decline, the areas which are being supplied by that source can be reinforced by supplies from other areas. We have a tremendous responsibility to plan ahead so that there will be a constant and continuing supply of this very important fuel and energy to all parts of the country, which will enable not only population growth but also national development and decentralisation to continue.
Earlier in the course of my remarks I mentioned the setting up of the Snowy Mountains Authority and all the carping criticism which we had to withstand at that time. Representatives of the same parties as the parties to which honourable senators opposite belong were so parsimonious in their outlook and attitude that they went to the extent of putting a black ban on attendance at the opening of the Snowy Mountains scheme. I remember it very well.
– Mr Menzies was one of them.
– Yes, he was. One senator the late General George Rankin, a man of great courage and integrity, did not take any notice of this carping attitude of his colleagues. He attended. He was the only one who did. That indicates the consistency of their attitude. They are knockers. They have this idea that they can frighten people by referring to socialism, and they speak as if we did not have to make use of our resources in a national way. The private entrepreneur has one purpose for being in business, that is, to exploit anything at all for profit. The responsibility of a government is to see that resources are developed for the well being and the betterment of the people to whom it is responsible and who are constituent members of society. There is a big difference between the 2 outlooks. If private enterprise finds something more profitable in which to invest its money, it will leave. Often it is the responsibility of a government to step in and clean up what is left behind.
I do not think Opposition members convince anyone when they try to frighten people by talking about socialism in respect of these progressive, well organised and well designed instrumentalities which have the cream of the brains of the country behind them. For 10 or 12 years or more I was a member of the Public Works Committee. I had close contact with many of the top people in the Public Service. I found that they left for dead most of these little job jockeys as far as width of outlook and level of intellect were concerned. Some of the great people ‘in the Public Service of Australia administer public instrumentalities. I believe that a pipeline grid will equal or excel the mangificent performance of the Snowy Mountains Authority and the great, lasting and continuing benefit that that scheme has brought to us. People who visit the Snowy Mountains scheme stare in wonderment. They wonder who could have been the architect of such a great concept. Every day the waters which were rushing wasted into the sea are being conserved, put through generators to make electricity which is being fed into grids. The pipeline grid concept . is the same. In addition the hitherto parched inland of Australia is getting the benefit of that large volume of water.
The grid system will link by a continental pipeline the city of Sydney with Gidgealpa in the Cooper Basin of South Australia. An extension will go through Wagga to AlburyWodonga. There will be later extensions to Melbourne. How dramatic a concept this is. From Gidgealpa the pipeline will be linked to the Palm Valley field in the Amadeus Basin of the Northern Territory. That will bring in Alice Springs and areas west of there. The construction of the pipeline will result in the building of roads, the creation of employment opportunities and the arousing of more interest in the areas concerned. The pipeline will go into an area which up to now has been unprofitable. There is no saying what will develop from spur lines in that area. There are known mineral resources in the central areas of Australia, but because of lack of power and water they have not been exploited. But the availability of energy - the great friend of man - could be the trigger for this development.
Then the line will continue to the Dampier area on the north-west coast of Australia where the vast resources of the north-west shelf will be available. These resources have been discussed not only during the previous debate but also during this debate. I think that the story is only seeping through now. The - Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) is a. capable and able Minister, and he is ensuring that people who have the privilege and the good fortune to have leases in these areas get on with the job instead of playing ducks and drakes and working out who they can farm in and farm out and how they can get round the provisions of the present Act regarding relinquishments. When we are dealing with these people we are dealing with the big leaguers. We are just novices, babes in the wood in the oil industry.
– The buccaneers.
– That is right, we are dealing with the buccaneers.
– Senator, is that a similar situation to the deal just done by Mr Enderby with Marrickville Margarine? Is that the type of thing you are thinking of?
– I think that Senator Webster has a love-hate thing with Mrs Jones and Marrickville Margarine. I know people who prefer margarine to butter. Doctors ask some people to eat margarine instead of butter. I think that Senator Webster mixes up poly-unsaturated and Mrs Jones when he refers to margarine. There is room for the manufacture of margarine in Australia. There will be more room than anyone realises for the expansion of the beef cattle industry and the dairying industry because the shackles have been lifted off Australia now. We will find growing markets and a greater demand for our products. Senator Webster has been able to generate pessimism in this regard, but we have a new look now. Australia is on the march again; it is on the way. There is relative prosperity in most areas. We will try to alter the position of people like apple growers and other orchardists in Tasmania who have had some slugs on their backs - agents who have been misguiding them for so long. The wool grower is quite prosperous today. I do not think that the wheat grower knows where to start to tackle the problem posed by the demand that he will have for his wheat from the present markets and the future markets. So on all the way through. Anyway, I will return to the subject matter of the Bill.
– Mr Deputy President, I was just going to ask you to request Senator O’Byrne to restrict his comments to the Pipeline Authority Bill.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - 1 have been listening to them. I realise that he was diverted from the Bill by an irrelevant interjection.
- Mr Deputy President, you were so impressed with what I was saying that you forgot to pull me up. You knew that the words of wisdom were correct.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - I was quite aware of it, Senator, but I allowed for the fact that an irrelevant, interjection had interrupted your comments on the Bill.
– Before I was rudely diverted from what I was saying, I was refer ring to the great vision that is embodied in this legislation. Planned supplies of natural gas will be made available to Sydney. There have been some cries from the wilderness that these supplies will be, I think, 5 months late. But possibly they are already 5 years late because of the ramifications of people who have been playing round with how much they will get per therm and whether they will get the gas from Victoria or Gidgealpa. Then there is the matter of the pipeline link between Palm Valley in the centre of Australia and the Kalgoorlie mineral province and Perth. What a wonderful concept it is to think that we can take resources from the centre of Australia and link them up with the great mineral resources of Western Australia.
The Western Australian Government has agreed to .this concept. It knows the advantages in the scheme. A private entrepreneur would have to be prodded along to think of a scheme as great as this one within the next 50 years. It would be left to those who own nearly all the shares in the companies that are operating off-shore and in the oil industry. There has been a steady erosion of Australian ownership in these areas. That was revealed by the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. One sees the manipulation of our stock exchanges and all the other things that are going on. A great opening has been made for the, international monopolies and investors to come into these resources where the going is good. This pipeline could be used for defence purposes. This legislation is the key to properly husbanding our resources. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, said:
The total concept will provide a completely interconnected grid system, ensuring back-up supplies in case of interruption by, natural calamities or exhaustion of supply from an individual source.
He also said that the Government will enter into a contract with the Australian Gas Light Co. and that in relation to the East Australian Pipeline Corporation Ltd it will observe all the contractual commitments, including the retention of the project managers already retained by the company. So those companies have nothing about which to complain.
The final point 1 make ls that the hotchpotch amendments that have been foreshadowed are to be moved only for the purpose of delaying this measure. Honourable senators said that no one on the Government side wanted to speak on the Bill. The Minister in his second-reading speech gave honourable senators the case. We do not want tediously to reiterate the case that is so clear cut. But we can see that honourable senators opposite want to delay this measure. It will fit quite easily on to the list of measures that they will fail to pass in this session. The simple purpose of this measure is to set up an authority with adequate powers to construct and operate a major public utility having the responsibility of making one of our greatest natural resources available to the Australian people. These resources will not be exported willynilly to wherever an overseas entrepreneur wishes to take his pound of flesh. This Bill is designed to make the resources available to the Austraiian people. 1 support the measure. As I said when 1 commenced my speech, it is an historic day for Australia that this concept of a pipeline grid is to get off the ground, lt is to be installed as quickly as is humanly possible, taking into account the background of this matter and the materials that will be required. It will cause greater demands in every field of employment and greater demands for materials throughout the whole complex of our economy. Not only will it bring foreseeable benefits to our country but also those who come after us will be thankful to this Government and to this Senate for passing a measure such as this which will avoid so many of the inadequacies of the private enterprise system in the past which I have mentioned. 1 referred to the various railway gauges and the disorganised intrastate and interstate arguments that have held the country back. I am sure that the people who understand the significance of this measure will give it their wholehearted support.
– The Democratic Labor Party has examined this Bill and there are a considerable number of amendments to be moved during the Committee stage of the debate. They will have to be considered at the appropriate time. When one considers the Bill one finds that it embraces very deep principles and some rather fine complexities. I would like to compliment the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) for making such a brief and adequate speech when moving the second reading of the Bill. It covered the general principles behind the establishment of a pipeline author ity to tackle a task of this magnitude. I propose to follow the very sensible pattern that the Minister established and also be as brief as possible. Having dealt with the fundamental principles of the need for the establishment of such an authority it is redundant to talk of lots. of other things that may be related to past history and future hopes. In establishing an authority such as this we can hardly appreciate at this time the ultimate magnitude of the project because we do not know precisely the resources that we have to tap in this country. We have no conception of what our resources are likely to be and for that reason we cannot foresee the magnitude of the task that may ultimately confront the Authority.
The principle of setting up the Authority to tackle this task is a sound one. Obviously it would be beyond the capacity of individual companies to meet such a national need. Individual companies may adequately meet their own requirements for a specific project, but at the moment we cannot foresee how many of the projects involved may be complementary to each other, although there may be no business relationship between the companies, the firms and the mining interests that may be affected ultimately. Therefore it seems sensible, particularly in view of the defence aspect, that there should be a national authority having the backing of the Commonwealth Parliament which in extreme circumstances can override the rights of individuals and of the States in the interests of the whole of Australia.
Written into the Bill are some clauses which will give certain guarantees to and securities for individual rights and which will afford protection if they are interfered with. Fundamental to the application of legislation such as this in this country is something we have not yet established but which to my mind is one of the best safeguards of all. I refer to the establishment of an overriding authority such as an ombudsman to whom people can appeal if they believe that they have been aggrieved or their personal rights have been interfered with by the ultimate decision of authority. They could appeal to an ombudsman, a body which is not of the Government but of the people, who could act in judgment between their rights and those of even the Parliament. We do not have such an overriding authority as yet although the Democratic Labor Party has counselled it for a long time. Indeed, as long as 15 years ago I remember putting forward such a policy when I was the leader of our parliamentary party in State politics. During the State election campaign, I put forward that policy for the establishment of such an authority to whom the people could appeal. With the appointment of an ombudsman ‘I think that the safeguards in this legislation would be quite adequate. I believe that we will have some type of ombudsman in the future because political party after political party is beginning to follow the initiative of the Democratic Labor Party in suggesting such an authority. Now it seems to be the policy of almost every political party in Australia. There should be such an authority to whom people can appeal and I think that ultimately it will be part of Commonwealth law.
Although some clauses of the Bill seem to give extreme powers to the Pipeline Authority, one can visualise that in many circumstances it should be clothed with such powers so long as they are not applied dictatorially. Therefore we have to rest upon the good sense of the Authority, when established, and rely on the appointment in the future of an ombudsman so that there will be some body to whom an aggrieved person can appeal.
Certain clauses of the Bill relate to the establishment and financing of the Pipeline Authority. Referring to one of the amendments to be proposed, the establishment of the Authority’s capacity to raise the enormous amounts of finance that will be necessary to carry this project to a successful conclusion seems to be soundly based in terms of our present financial setup. The Authority must have power to borrow the money that is necessary. This seems to be adequately catered for in the Bill. There is to be some restraint and some reference will have to be made to Parliament about the areas in which the Authority may exercise its capacity to raise funds. The Bill also contains clauses aimed at endeavouring to ensure that this project will be commercially successful and will operate within its own capacity to earn sufficient income to pay for its operations and perhaps contribute to the national wealth as a result of any profit that its makes. However, this being a national project, I agree that profit should be ancillary to other things, although it should be attainable. It should be possible for the Authority to make a profit. The industry is now established and the requirement for its products throughout the world is so great that there is no reason why anything associated with it should be run at a cost to the public, lit should be able to carry on under its own weight.
Some alarming and very educating facts face us in the world today. This is ‘ an enormous industry. Whole nations can become dependent on the power resources of the world. In the economic field, in the past several years people have been puzzled by the recourse of the United States of America to a revaluation of its currency. This was forced on it by the increasing shortage of its own currency. It became very difficult for the United States to trade internationally as she previously had been doing. One of the major contributory reasons for this has been the requirement that has developed in the United States for the expenditure of huge sums of her own capital to import the necessary fuel and power to maintain, in particular, her transport industry and to allow use of all the private motor vehicles that are on the roads in that country. 1 refer to the contractual arrangements and agreements that the United States has with the oil nations of Arabia. Saudi Arabia and other countries in that area are supplying much of the fuel and power required by the United States today. Enormous amounts of money have to be paid to and are being accumulated by the authorities in those countries. Some of them are sheiks. Some of them do very well by their people from this activity; some do not. But that is their business. I am speaking purely of the effect that this has had on the economy of the United States and on the capacity of the currency of that nation to stand in the world in the same manner in which it previously was able to stand.
It has become possible for the oil millionaires of the Arabian states to hold on to the enormous incomes that they have accumulated in American dollars and then to flood that currency on to the world market, so manipulating that market and the value of that currency. In this way they earn still further profits on the income that they have received from the United States. This situation is forced upon the United States by the necessity for it to purchase oil and fuel. The activities of some of the oil millionaires of the Arabian states on international monetary markets have led to international monetary crises as a result of which the economy of the
United States has come under the enormous pressures to which it has been subjected in recent years. I cite this example only to illustrate the magnitude of the activity on which this country now embarks as it becomes an oil producer.
Australia has great requirements for its own fuel. Australia had at least internal requirement for the use of the huge oil resources that were discovered in this nation. The Arabian States of the world were not in a similar position, but this natural resource had to be exported. This resource was discovered mainly through the use of American technology. The Americans negotiated contracts for this purpose in the early days of exploration quite easily. But, as money and new techniques became available and knowledge was gained of the enormous voluntary power that was generated from the new wealth being received from the areas in which such resources were discovered, the Arab States were able to manipulate the situation and to exploit it in their own right. I criticise nobody in this respect; I am only stating the facts. I do not wish to get into any controversy as to who were the ‘goodies’ and who were the baddies’, because these people were not doing what anybody else would not do if he were in the same situation. I merely remind the Senate that this is what has happened and that this is the magnitude of the industry and the activity into which Australia has ventured as it has become the oil producing nation that it is now.
Whilst Australia is capable of producing a great deal of its fuel requirements now, the day may not be too far away when it will become a fuel exporting country. Into that prediction must be written an atmosphere of caution. Australia does not want to reach the stage where, if the requirement for this type of fuel continues as the technologies of future generations develop, it will be reduced to the poverty state to which the United States has reduced itself by the lavish use of its own fuel resources to the extent that it has become so dependent on fuel imports from wherever those imports may be obtained in the world. America’s requirements have developed to exceed any concepts of its need in this area that might have been proposed even a quarter of a century ago. With this thought in mind, one begins to realise the magnitude of the proposition and the need for a national pipeline authority which will be one of the parts - a most vital and important part - but by no means the whole of the proposition to be considered in relation to this industry, which is in its infancy in Australia today. 1 notice that in the Bill certain provisions are made with respect to the proposed Authority and its power to construct pipelines. I wish to make special reference to these provisions because what is proposed here is not the first pipeline to be constructed in Australia. Victoria has a pipeline. Its length is short compared with the distance to be covered by the proposed pipeline to be established by this Authority. The Victorian pipeline extends from Gippsland to Melbourne. A great deal of difficulty has been associated with that pipeline. Experts have been engaged; authorities have been set up. People have said that a pipeline could go under the waters of Port Phillip Bay. A difference of opinion has arisen as to whether such action would be a threat to the environment. I do not wish to enter into the controversy on that matter.
But, relating that situation to the provisions of this Bill, I point out that this Bill imposes stringent requirements on people who may seek to interfere. with the right of the Authority to construct a pipeline. The Authority will be answerable to the Parliament. The Authority must prove its case in support of any proposed pipeline to the extent that technological knowledge is available to it to help it to prove that case to the Parliament which gives authority for any such proposition to proceed. The Bill contains most stringent provisions as to offences that may be declared and as to fines that shall be exercised against people who frustrate, interfere with or cause damage in any way to the work of the Authority once that Authority has been given the necessary permission from Parliament to proceed with a project.
I think that reasonable people will agree that these provisions in the Bill are most wise. I am pleased that the Government has included them. The need for us to watch the environment of this country is great. There is a greater awareness than ever before in our history of this need. The Senate has shown its interest through the select committees which it has established at different times to investigate this matter. We can operate only within the knowledge that we have. Areas , of disputation as to who is right and who is wrong will always exist. Once all knowledge on a proposal has been examined, a determination must be made on whether to proceed with the project and whether to cross the fine line beyond which that project may become a threat to the environment.
The authority to make that decision must only and always be vested in the Parliament which will determine, on the facts supplied, what should or should not be attempted. Once that decision is made by the Parliament, there should never be freedom within an organised community which has elected the members of that Parliament to defy the decision of the Parliament or to interfere with and destroy the work that is to be performed by a body such as the proposed Authority. That should be the case whether those who wish to interfere with a project are private individuals, people who have banded together to form a society to protect the environment or people who have banded together to protect the wages and influence of those who work in a specific industry - and I refer there to a trade union. Such people may obtain information from another source that the Parliament has not examined a proposition and that a project still is a threat to the environment. I think that any group is entitled to do that.
I think that, from that point, it is entitled to go to members of Parliament and to do what some people object to, that is, to put pressure on members of Parliament. I agree with pressure being put on members of Parliament. I have been a member of several parliaments. I agree that pressure is one of the good methods by which parliamentarians are kept thinking and working. I do not object at all to pressure being applied to parliamentarians. But, if such a group fails to have its view accepted by the Parliament through this democratic means. I agree that provisions such as those contained in this Bill should apply with respect to the carrying out of an approved project.
My only concern is that perhaps these provisions do not go far enough in imposing penalties that will be sufficiently restrictive to stop people wrongly interfering with that which flows from a decision which has been properly made by the Parliament in the interests of the whole of the community but in respect of which those people may hold a different point of view. They are entitled to that point of view and they are entitled to express it. They are entitled, within all the limits of our democracy, to seek to change the view of the legislature in which the powers are vested by the people to make decisions on behalf of all the people. But those people should never be empowered to break the laws of this country, whether they act as individuals or are associated with any well meaning society that may exist for any well meaning purpose whatsoever. When that happens, it is anarchy and that, in the final analysis, never pays off.
As I said, a pipeline has been constructed in Victoria, lt was built in accordance with the authorities that existed to enable it to be constructed. But that project is not identical with what is proposed here. In my view, those responsible for constructing that pipeline in Victoria should have been subject to similar supervision to that which will be imposed on the Authority proposed by this Bill. To my knowledge, they were subject to similar supervision. That supervision should include where a pipeline should be constructed, how it should be constructed, why it should be constructed and, in the interests of the whole community, what is the most economic cost proposal to construct a pipeline between one point and another. It should be under supervision to ensure the protection of the environment to the fullest possible extent. When those criteria are met, the constructing body should have the authority to go ahead and to do the job without interference from people who think that they know better than those in authority. Indeed, they could even be right. But, until those people can prove their case to the relevant authorities, they have no right to impose their beliefs. They should be subject to the stringent provisions of this Bill which restrict their capacity to upset, to destroy and to prevent the successful conclusion of any work that the proposed Authority may set out to do.
Reverting to the finance, one amendment, which I select only to illustrate what I think is the magnitude of the problem, seeks to have authorised by the Parliament expenditure in excess of $2m which the Authority may be contemplating. We shall listen to all the arguments about the amendments before we make up our minds about them, but in considering the magnitude of this project and the funding of the Authority as set out in the Bill, realising that the funding is subject completely to the ordinary audit which is made of all accounts of the Commonwealth, we cannot see why $2m should be an arbitrary figure of expenditure to be referred back to the Parliament. Because of the magnitude of the operations in which this Authority may be engaged, the Parliament could spend too much of its time dealing with what could be the petty cash of an Authority of this magnitude. I do not believe that even the biggest companies such as the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd could afford to have safeguard clauses to this extent which would practically require referring to the whole of its shareholders any expenditure it proposed to disburse for the expansion of its business before that expenditure could be approved. I do not think that the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd would be a major company had it faced such a requirement. The trammelling effect of the examinations and perhaps the frustrations that could he felt would be severe. Any reference back to the Parliament, I suppose, could always include political considerations. However, until we hear very good argument in favour of them we are not disposed to lean very heavily towards amendments of the character of that one. 1 cite it at this stage only to suggest to the House that we will consider these amendments, that we shall hear the arguments about them and the reasons and ideas for their inclusion in the Bill. We support the second reading of the Bill and we compliment the Minister in charge of the Bill on the terms in which he introduced it and the simple explanation he has given.
– The only point in issue about this legislation is, I think, that age-old battle between the merits of private and public utilities. Senator Little referred to experiences in other countries. When one speaks about the preservation of natural resources one could even recall the turn of the century and the schism that split the Republican Party in the United States when there was a changeover from President Theodore Roosevelt to Howard Taft. Even in those days - and I say this with deference to Senator Webster - it was not a case of socialists being in the wings and deciding what should be done with natural resources. Today in 1973, in the era of multinational corporations, we know only too well that many boardroom czars operating in the capital cities of the world can virtually circumvent a government which wants to adopt an equitable policy. I think that has been demonstrated. 1 suppose I would be the last person to go in to bat for the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd yet when it comes to a choice between this great Australian capitalist enterprise and a multi-national corporation one must lean on the side of BHP.
When I listened to the chieftain of the Australian Gas Light Co., Sir William Pettingell, I thought it remarkable that that gentleman did not care 2 hoots about job opportunities for the work force of BHP. He simply brushed them aside. This problem arises when the main man in a vast private enterprise complex can regard himself as what might be called a de facto Prime Minister. That is why I direct my initial criticisms to the chief of the Australian Gas Light Co. because I think in all of his television interviews and all of his Press utterances he has shown that he does not give a damn for anything but a big dividend for the Australian Gas Light Co. I say that because [ know that the people of New South Wales irrespective of party labels have been concerned about pipelines and their effect on the environment. There was no doubt so far as the Australian Gas Light Co. was concerned. It was like the big establishments in the United States: As soon as they got their way they could not care less. There was some government mediation to a very minor degree before the election; and what Mr Connor has done since has put this in bold relief. One would have to go back again to early history for a parallel. One saw this with the private enterprise railroad giants in the United States - the Union Pacific and the other lines - which did not care 2 hoots what the people wanted so long as their own small stockholders benefited.
The way we must evaluate these problems, whether in the short term or the long term, is: Is it good for Australia as a whole? I have a particular reason for saying that because at the present time in the United States the Government is extracting from the natural gas industry and the oil industry a pretty sizable rake-off which is going into the celebrated Land Water Act which set up a repository of feed-back money to the States, be it for such a mundane subject as better sewerage treatment works, for conservation or the acquisition of vast tracts of forest land. This is the vision splendid that I can see appearing if we achieve a meshing of all the hopes and aspirations of Mr Connor aided and abetted by Dr Moss Cass, the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. I sincerely believe that whether it be a State enterprise or a private business enterprise a levy must be imposed to protect not so much natural resources as the natural environment so that people can at least experience the good aspects of the Australian continent and sec that they are protected. This is why I am so happy about the legislation,
I have exchanged a good deal of correspondence with Senator Jackson who might be deemed a middle of the road Democrat from the State of Washington. He has indicated quite clearly to me in letters that the policy of the United States Senate towards more and more demands for conservation is that instead of the taxpayer having to pay for them, it will dig more deeply into the pockets of the big exploiters of resources, d have no doubt that under this Bill we will be able to keep a very effective hand on the tiller so far as the income from our natural resources is concerned.
There are 2 other important aspects. Later in this session we shall talk about industrial relations and the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Industrial unrest has resulted from the diminishing work force in the gas industry in New South Wales. I do not think it is quite so bad in the other States. I believe that with the creation of this pipeline authority when we get into the realm of retraining people in industry we will be able to ensure that there is a reasonable amount of job protection.
The second reading speech is aimed largely at the managerial strata, but page 3 of the document has a reference to the retention of project managers by the company. I think that is a very laudible condition because, after all whether these specialists happen to be working for a private firm or for the Commonwealth Government one does not want to see a virtual brain drain of those at the top of their profession. People have to be given the added incentive to do something in their own country.
I think that all the advantages of and precedents for (his Pipeline Authority were more than borne out by the references made to it by my Tasmanian colleague, Senator O’Byrne. He used as an analogy the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. 1 propose to relate this to some of the references made by Senator Durack: If we. make a comparison of the minimum damage done to the environment in a project of the magnitude of that undertaken by the Snowy Mountains Authority and consider also the sick and sorry record of some of the beach mining undertaken in Queensland and New South Wales, we can see that, with some notable exceptions, unfettered private enterprise operations are a pretty poor show. We talk about the invasion of private rights. It is true that in recent times some of these operators have become more conscious of their image, but that is the only reason why they have improved their operations.
I refer to honourable senators a very effective journal called the ‘Lamp’ which I think is published by the Shell Co. of Australia Ltd. That journal goes to great lengths to tell us that in the Gulf of Mexico levies are imposed on production by oil rigs and that the levies are used to buy more wet lands for- the bird life of United States of America. This is very laudable. But I have yet to see the generous Shell Oil Co., making grants either to private conservation foundations or even to the broad bi-partisan Australian Conservation Foundation. Only by having a Government authority such as the Pipeline Authority will we find that big establishments, such as the oil companies or the Australian Gaslight Co., which create inroads into the environment will look to their laurels. They will do so ro protect their equity. 1, together with the Prime Minister. Mr Whitlam, and my Senate leader, Senator Murphy, have repeatedly dealt with this subject from rostrums during the last 2 years. We successfully pricked the Australian conscience on this matter. I think that in doing so we did not have to do more than repeat the forebodings of a previous senior Minister in a former Government, Sir John McEwen. He was acutely conscious of this selling off of portion of the farm. There is no question about that. I have endeavoured to convey to the Senate that I believe a milestone has been attained. We see a remarkable thing when we again look at this parallel between Australian and United States history. After the Theodore Roosevelt era virtually very little was done about conservation in the United States for more than 20 years until Franklin Delano Roosevelt came to office. After his term there was a sag of interest until John Fitzgerald Kennedy became President of the United States. 1 think that anybody who read the book produced by his illustrious Secretary of the
Interior, Stewart Udall, will know what he said about the. quiet crisis and the fact that time was not on our side. He was talking about the resources of the United States of America. What he wrote is more than exemplified in our situation in Australia. Also, we have the fact that the Clutha Development Pty Ltd people have had to look at their position a second time. A man who 1 think could hardly be called a socialist in the person of Sir Robert Askin had to concede privately, in his own inimical style, that they wanted the bloody lot. Of course, that is Sir Robert Askin talking; it is not Senator Mulvihill. I do not believe in using that sort of phrase. That is the sort of Premier we have in New South Wales. The Government is sponsoring the proposal in this Bill with the muted support of the Opposition. I think that this legislation represents another milestone to Australia which is well and truly protecting its natural resources. To ensure that this legislation receives a speedy passage I deliberately compress my remarks.
– The Senate is debating legislation entitled the Pipeline Authority Bill 1973. At a casual glance the legislation appears to be quite unobjectionable. On the face of it, it appears to be setting up regulatory authority to establish throughout Australia an interstate ring main pipeline for the carriage and distribution of petroleum and natural gas products. No-one could argue against the necessity of that or the need for a regulatory authority to ensure that such a pipeline serves the best interests of all Australians, that it is properly maintained and operated equitably for those who may seek to use it, and that the charges put upon it should be such as to be fair to the people of Australia. To that extent the Opposition accepts the need for a pipeline authority. But there the agreement ends because this Bill goes much further. It is part of a series of legislative acts that the Government contemplates in terms of its nationalisation or socialisation program. In particular, it proposes to establish a socialist monopoly in the field of distribution of petroleum products.
It is, therefore, on the level of the Government’s entry into the socialist monopoly that I want to examine the Pipeline Authority. I examine it against the background in which the world faces a growing shortage of fossil fuels and is now seeking alternatives in nuclear energy, solar energy and other alternatives. I examine it in the exciting knowledge that in Australia in very recent times due to the energy, the risk capital and the initiative of people - and of this accursed free enterprise that is attacked by the Government minute by minute - there has been the exciting opening of the Gidgealpa field, the northwest shelf, the Cooper basins and the real prospect that Palm Valley in the Amadeus basin will offer very real yields.
We have the real prospect that we can bring these fuels - they are clean fuels with very little pollution content - to both the domestic and industrial areas and give real benefit to every person in Australia. In the domestic area there is the real possibility that natural gas will reduce domestic fuel bills by anything from 20 per cent to 35 per cent and in the industrial area by 30 per cent to double that percentage. So natural gas presents a very important new resource to the people of Australia. It can confer great benefits so it must be conserved and used wisely. Therefore, the Federal Government must look towards our energy sources and make a nice judgment of how much we shall export, how much we shall use ourselves and how much we shall conserve. Of course, we must not sell the faim.
What has to be asked by the Australian people is whether it is necessary for governments to do all the things that this Bill now foreshadows. This Bill does not set up merely a regulatory authority to have others, using other people’s capital, to do these things. The Government sets out to do all these things itself as a government. By so doing, it will incur massive public expenditure and thereby diverts public expenditure from other directions. We should ask ourselves: Should the Government, in the functions of a pipeline authority, be a constructing authority? Should it go about constructing if others can, by their own capital and their own skills, construct a pipeline according to the specifications of government and according to the whole of the planning of government? If others can do this and save government capital, where is the virtue in government being the constructing authority? Does the Government, with its past experience of day labour and its past experience in the early stages of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority under a Labor regime, believe that it can construct these pipelines as well as free enterprise can? Certainly the early days of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, until the advent of Sir William Spooner, proved the reverse. Does the Government believe that it ought to construct the pipelines now and that it ought to be the authority which maintains and operates the pipelines? If other enterprises, without government expenditure, can maintain and operate pipelines according to the regulatory authority of this body why does the Government spend public money? Again, why should the Government construct the pipelines? Why should it be a socialist enterprise that conveys through the pipes operated by the authority ‘petroleum belonging to the Authority or other persons’, if another agency can carry out the work?
Why does the Government seek the much wider powers, such as ‘to buy and sell petroleum whether in Australia or elsewhere’, that are outlined in the Bill? I point out that the definition of ‘petroleum’ in this legislation is extraordinarily wide. It covers hydrocarbons, mixtures of hydrocarbons and mixtures of hydrocarbons with other chemicals, thus including coal which is the solids of the hydrocarbons. The Bill also covers a wide range of petro-chemicals. The Government will be giving the Authority power to operate the reticulation of the alcohols and cane sugar and its derivatives. That definition shows that the Authority does not deal just with pipelines; it is not just an Authority which deals with oil and natural gas. The Government is giving the Authority much wider powers.
I ask: Why does the Government take upon itself this massive expenditure when other enterprises can carry out the work according to the Government’s specifications? Once the Government embarks on this course it will not be able to use the alibi that there is a shortage of capital funds. I will demonstrate that in this way: The Government has stopped the Australian Gas Light Co. from building the Gidgealpa-Moomba to Sydney link - a project which the company undertook to finance to the extent of, say, $300m. Not a penny of that amount would have been outlaid by the Government. It has become the popular habit of the Labor Government to attack the Australian Gas Light Co. What a strange thing it is that the Government should attack this body. What the Government fails to understand is that the Australian Gas Light
Co. is no private commercial enterprise, lt is a company which was established by royal charter, I think, in 1836. By special Act of Parliament the company was established for the public good, as a public utility, and the price of its products is fixed by Act of Parliament.
One would have thought that the Australian Gas Light Co. would have been the last utility which the Government would have criticised. The company, in fact, has been commended by Labor and Liberal State governments over more than a century of operaion. As Senator Cotton pointed out, the company has as it’s main shareholders trustee shareholders with a superannuation and insurance background. The company is a public utility. At the time the Government stepped in and stopped the company from constructing the pipline the company had obtained permits from 3 State governments, it had established contracts for the supply of fuel from the producers, it had established contracts with the suppliers of pipe from Japan and from Australia and it had established shipping contracts. Then the Government stepped in and said: ‘No, you are not to do it’. The company was not proposing to do anything different from what the Government needed. In fact, the pipeline which was to be constructed by the company could have fitted admirably into the national grid. As I say, the Australian Gas Light Co. is a public utility and is now by Act of Parliament, a distributor of fuel. It is the natural institution to do this and money would have been saved if it had constructed the pipeline. One must ask why the Government stepped in.
Let me put this matter to the people of Australia in the hardest possible terms. A new Federal Budget is soon to be introduced. I know that in another place Labor Party speakers have said: ‘Don’t talk too much about the fact that the pipeline will cost $l,200m or more’. They have said that all the money will not be outlaid in one year; that it will be staggered over a few years. It will cost something like $300m of Federal Government money, taxpayers’ money, between now and mid-1975 to establish the Gidgealpa-Sydney link. If that amount of money were provided for schools and hospitals, 50 brand new high schools could be built throughout Australia and a major 600-bed teaching hospital could be built in every capital city of Australia. (Government senators interjecting) -
– The natives are lively now because the crunch is here. Australia is a country which on the public level is capital hungry, lt is a country which needs schools and hospitals which could be obtained by the saving of the $300m over the next 2 years.
– What about the money you spent in Vietnam?
– This is hurting now. Would the honourable senator spend this $300m on this pipeline which could have been built precisely as the Government wanted it in the grid without one penny of taxpayers’ money being expended by a public utility which is established by law and whose price for fuel is controlled? Would he spend the $300m out of precious loan funds? We are debating the shortage of loan funds. If he would., the people of Australia would be denied the equivalent of 50 new high schools and six 600-bed teaching hospitals just for the sake of the construction of the Sydney link. We can multiply that by four. lt is now public knowledge that the very intervention of the Federal Government has caused serious delays in the construction of this link. The delays will cost the people of Australia $30m out of their own pockets in paying for fuel. That is the test of this legislation, ft is not a test of whether the Government is a regulatory authority; of course it should be. It is not a test of whether the Government should conserve fuel; of course it should, it is not a test at all of whether the Government should intervene to ensure that there is equity in the carriage or that there is a common carrier who discharges his duties in the public interest, lt is none of those things. lt is a test of whether the Government decides to be the builder, the maintainer, the operator and the payer-out of precious public funds and then denies others money.
Honourable senators should bear in mind that if the Government expends this money now it is denying others the use of Budget funds. 1 repeat that the Government, by committing itself to the unnecessary expenditure of $ 1, 200m or more of capital funds, can never again use the alibi that it cannot build a school, a hospital or a bridge or do anything else because it is short of funds. It is no question at all of foreign ownership or foreign capital. This is a fine, royal charter
Australian company which intended to build this pipeline with Australian funds, but we will not let it do so. That is precisely the situation. It has been said in another place, and I think here, that what we ought to do is set up a type of Snowy Mountains Authority. If the terms of construction and operation were according to the blueprint laid down by a Liberal Party Government it might have an appeal. If these things were to be carried out according to the blueprint first set down by a Labor government, it would be disastrous.
For those who say that the public would get a cheaper deal if a Snowy Mountains type authority did this work rather than, shall we say, a gas company, let me remind them that the 1972 price of electricity supplied by the Snowy Mountains Authority to the State Electricity Commission of New South Wales was three times as high as the price of thermal electricity supplied to the Commission. So that when an enterprise combines a whole host of other things the result is not reduced costs. I do not denigrate the Snowy Mountains Authority in any way. lt was an excellent experiment in thinking big and in doing brave things. It was an excellent experiment in storing water, although in fact the size and shape of the project have been greatly exaggerated. Nevertheless, the simple fact is that the report of the State Electricity Commission for 1972 states that the price of electricity from the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme cost 0.95c per kilowatt hour and thermal electricity cost 0.324c per kilowatt hour - one-third of the cost.
How is it intended to build this pipeline? Will we build it with day labour? If we do, will we have the situation which occurred during the construction of the original Eucumbene Dam when day labour was such that the delays would have been immense, lt is terribly important that in an energy hungry world we should seek to find our resources, to locate what we have and, in the knowledge of what we have, conserve and use sparingly and wisely what we have. I do not argue with the idea that the Government should intervene to see that these things are done. One should keep in mind, however, that the experience of the American Federal Power Commission has not been an enviable one. I think Senator Little talked about the difficulties of America in facing a shortage of fossil fuels. I wonder whether honourable senators know that when the Federal Power Commission in America
Started to put a squeeze on prices in relation to the supply of fuel in America, as it did, the first thing that fell off was oil exploration. In fact, the pattern in America at the moment is not that it is short of fuel but that it is not keeping up a sufficiency of search to know whether it has the fuel stored below. In other words, the essential condition of seeking fuel energy was partially destroyed simply because a squeeze was put on.
The important thing in this country is that we should seek as hard as we can to find what energy sources we have. 1 heard in second-reading speeches delivered the other day pretty phrases tripping off the tongues of Government Ministers about the wonderful initiative and energy of those who used risk capital in looking for minerals and fuels. Of course, this Bill would destroy this sort of thing. Why would the Government want to be the monopolist? Why would the Government, at the receiving end of the pipeline, want to be able to say: ‘We will say, as a monopolist, whether we will take your commodity or not’? Why would it want to say: We will take it at our price or not at all’? In other words, the Government is creating a socialist monopoly that has the power to withhold and the power to discriminate. Of course, that is exactly in line with the Chifley Government’s banking legislation. It is part of the show.
It is interesting that the Government says repeatedly each day: ‘We are doing it because we have a mandate’. I hope that subsequent Government speakers will read out of the Prime Minister’s policy speech the specific words that tell us that the Labor Party intended to take over the construction of the pipeline originally to be built by the Australian Gas Light Co., and that it intended to be the constructors, the maintainers and the operators of the pipeline. In my small way I have sought in vain to find this in the policy speech. I went one further because I know that the second line of defence is to say: ‘If it is not there you must look in the Labor Party platform’. I sought in vain to find in the Labor Party platform anything about the socialist construction of a national pipeline. Let us get this clear. This mouthing of the idea that the Government has a mandate is worn out. Of course, all parties have a mandate from the Australian people to conserve and to regu late the precious energy sources of this country. The thing that is in argument in this matter is the methodology, the method that is adopted to do that.
When we come to the end of the matter we ask ourselves: For what reason does a government want to have power to buy and sell petroleum, whether in Australia or elsewhere and not to pipe it down the pipeline? The pipeline is dealt with in a separate paragraph; it is distinct from the buying and selling of petroleum. ‘Petroleum’ by definition includes coal, petroliferous materials, and indeed, alcohols and sugars, if you like. Why does the Government need to do this? Why does it need to go overseas? Does it intend to discriminate? Instead of having refineries here, is it going overseas to buy a shipload of refined fuel at a windfall price, as some do at the moment, bring it here and undersell other people because it does not have to meet the capital cost of establishing refineries and maintaining them that others have? Is not this the first step towards driving the ordinary entrepreneurs out of business? What it is doing is a weapon which can be used to this end. We hear today that typical outcry of the doctrinaire socialist - the hatred that comes out when free enterprise is mentioned. This Government has answered nothing either in the Minister’s second-reading speech or in subsequent speeches made by honourable senators opposite. How can it live with its mouthing about human liberty? Indeed, I think Senator Murphy in Paris, where he is arguing for human liberty and the protection of human rights, must be listening somewhat anxiously at this moment to this kind of fallout.
Clause 18 of the Pipeline Authority Bill will give the Authority certain powers. If the Government passes this clause it must stand in support of it. Clause 18 states that the Authority shall have the following power:
Does anybody here say that this represents human liberty and human freedom? Hie Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) and the members of his Party talk about protection of human rights. But then they write into a Bill this most tyrannical clause. Does anyone believe that either this Parliament or any parliament should give to any authority the right to go to a person in his home and say: Sorry, a pipeline is going through your property and you have 7 days to get out’. We are giving that right to this Authority under this legislation, and the Senate is asked to pass a clause giving the Authority power to demolish, destroy or remove any building at all. Is (his open government? Is this human liberty? Is this giving the individual his freedom and rights?
– lt is normal socialism.
– Of course it is normal socialism, as Senator Hannan says. It is typical discrimination, because the one thing that a socialist government hates is the little person, the individual and individual rights. Just as the Government set out to reduce home ownership to a minimum, just as in the Croat affair it set out to invade homes without a warrant, it is going to invade and destroy homes with a minimum of 7 days notice.
– Senator, that is not-
– Does anybody deny clause 18 of the Bill? Would the honourable senator like me to read it again? There it stands. Does anyone deny that this monopoly takes unto itself special prvileges which give it immunity from State taxes and Commonwealth income tax and complete protection so that it can operate unfairly against others? Not only does it have a monopoly of carriage but also its costs, as such, are artificially low when compared with anyone else who carries. 1 draw the threads together. The Opposition would not in any way oppose the idea of a pipeline authority in a regulatory sense which is set up to see that throughout Australia there is a network of pipelines carrying in an equitable fashion petroleum and natural gas to the people of Australia. The Opposition would welcome the idea because of the resources which would be conserved. Such an authority would see that the price was a fair price and that the common carrier was a true common carrier. But the Opposition in its heart is opposed to a government wilfully establishing this function as a socialist monopoly and spending thousands of millions of dollars of scarce taxpayers’ money on this project. This is not necessary at all at this time because the Government could have let a public utility controlled by an Act of Parliament do this job under an identical blueprint and, in fact, it could have supervised the project. So the Government has answered nothing. Why does it want to do this? Why does it want to enter into the whole of the petroleum trade? Why does it want to buy and trade overseas? There can be only one answer, and that is that this is the first step of what has been foreshadowed. I think that the Minister for Fuel and Energy (Mr Connor) does not deny that there is a socialist blueprint for the control of fuel and energy in this country. Of course this blueprint is set out in the Labor Party platform but that platform and the Labor Party policy speech are silent on the particularities of this Bill.
Having supported in principle the idea of a regulatory authority I must say that I am thoroughly opposed to the socialist methods and the accretion of power which are contained in this Bill. I am opposed to the inherent threat to the Australian people of a socialist takeover which demonstrates, in everything that is does, that it costs the people a darned sight more than if the ordinary interplay of the market were to take place. 1 ask honourable senators not to forget that. I am not saying this in defence of big business. After all, the Australian Gas Light Co. is a public utility. In fact, this is a defence on my part of the little people of Australia who, every time a Labor Government has entered into a socialist enterprise, have paid heavily through their pockets. I conclude by asking: What would the Senate and the people of Australia want on the first leg of the expenditure of $300m between now and the middle of 1975? Would they want to have it spent by a public utility free of the public purse and costing nothing? In doing that the $300m would be available for schools and hospitals. Do we really want 50 new high schools? Do we really want some new teaching hospitals? That is the question.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– It seems to have become the habit of Senator Carrick, whenever he speaks in debate in opposition to government legislation, deliberately to manufacture a case built on misrepresentations and semi-truths. It is not necessary for him to go to the lengths to which he has gone to confuse the issue by using scare tactics which he so commonly uses in debate after debate. This Bill simply proposes to set up a utility to serve the people of Australia. lt is being set up properly to conserve a very important source of fuel and to distribute it properly and economically. Surely the honourable senator who just sat down does not want us to go back to the early days before federalism when the transport systems were established in a variety of ways with a variety of gauges, using a variety of rolling stock. Surely he does not expect us to go back to that stage. Yet this is exactly what he is proposing at this moment. He is proposing that the pipelines which are and which need to be established shall be established by a variety of States and by a variety of companies within those States. He wants to set up the same confusion and inefficiency which existed in the rail transport system for many years until a federal government took steps to unify the railway gauges and to present a reasonable, efficient and uniform transport utility for the benefit of the nation.
The honourable senator speaks of a socialist enterprise and of this Government endeavouring to foist upon the people some socialist plan. But he fails to appreciate that the very roads on which he travels in his car are a socialist enterprise for his benefit and for the benefit of all the people. We have an Australian National Transport Advisory Council which supplies the necessary money to the States to build the main roads from Western Australia right through to Cairns, and now even to Darwin. In effect, this is a comparison with what the Pipeline Authority Sill 1973 intends to do as far as fuel distribution in Australia is concerned. This Bill endeavours properly to plan the distribution of gas and petroleum. It does not do the honourable senator any good to misreport or, should I say, distort the case which has been presented by the Government at this time. In the short term it will cost money to set up the Authority. In 5 years it will cost $l,200m to establish and build the Authority. But let us have our comparisons in correct perspective. Surely it is unfair of the honourable senator to say that with the $ 1,200m we can build so many schools and hospitals. That is so. But if be is going to carry out that comparison perhaps he. should look elsewhere to see how we can economise with sums of this sort. Perhaps he should look at the Sydney Opera House and imagine how many hospitals and schools could be built with the money which has gone into that concern. Many New South Welshmen consider that to be an acceptable expenditure. Perhaps he should look at the tremendous amount of money we have spent on defence over the last 10 years.
– I thought the honourable senator would not forget that.
– No, I am not forgetting that because-
– The honourable senator does not want any defence policy. There is nothing in his Party’s policy which calls for defence.
– The honourable senator does not understand. This Authority, this pipeline and the efficient method by which it is going to be constructed and organised are an essential part of defence. If it is worth while to spend $ 1,000m a year in defence, then part of that money can be and should be allocated to this project. But we are not suggesting that. We are merely suggesting that over a period of 5 years $300m shall be raised from the people by way of loan for the establishment of this pipeline and that the project should not be left to the speculative enterprise of those people whom the Opposition represents - the stockbrokers, the manipulators and the company directors who, over the past 5 years, to my knowledge and from my experience as a result of a certain investigation, have manipulated the moneys of many people to their own advantage and to the disadvantage of the enterprises for which the companies were set up.
Honourable senators opposite have the audacity to say that the best way to establish the pipeline is to leave it to the same speculators who are not concerned with the building of the pipeline or with the conservation of our natural energy resources but are concerned merely with making a kill upon the stock exchange by promoting and by selling shares in a company which will build such a pipeline, to the disadvantage - it has been proven to be the disadvantage - of many thousands of young and small investors and of many investors who will place more than a small amount in such companies. . These people have seized upon the need of the nation for oil. They would seize upon the need of the nation for the pipeline and they would promote a company to suck out from people large sums on speculation, they would misuse such large sums and they would build not just one properly co-ordinated pipeline but a series of pipelines, one in competition with another, depending upon their ability to promote and speculate. This is the type of confused action and planning that the Opposition wants, but the type of planning that the Government wants is correct planning, pi an ni ug for the whole of the nation and co-ordinated planning. lt is in the interests of the nation to have the pipeline for the distribution not only of gas but also of other petroleum products. lt will be necessary for this country to conserve the available sources of its energy - oil and gas. At times it will be necessary for the nation, as a whole, to seek out cheaper sources of fuel overseas in order to conserve its resources at home. This is what Japan is doing at present with its basic minerals, particularly coal. This is exactly what the United States finds that it has to do now. Tt has to conserve its resources and seek abroad cheaper resources for the time being. It is for this reason that we, as a nation, in a controlled and a significant way, should be approaching the problem. This Bill is welcomed for the very reason that it is the first indication that the Federal Government is prepared to plan its approach to the use of its fuel resources and to plan for the future use of energy resources in this country even if it is necessary, for the time being, to seek fuel from other places in order to conserve supplies in Australia. I cannot understand how this proposition can be objected to. 1 cannot understand how this proposition can be undermined in the way in which Senator Carrick undermined it.
The electricity authorities in the various States have, over a period, reorganised themselves into a single authority with a single grid to supply to a variety of users a commodity - in this case, electricity. Similar things have been done with our roads, our rail transport and our air transport. Why the objection here? Of course it is a social enterprise. One could call it a socialist enterprise. It is organised by the people. It will be financed by the people, through the Government, lt is the most effective and most efficient way to do it. Why should we have a conglomerate of companies and a conglomerate of individuals endeavouring, in competition one with the other, to set up such a service? It is not cheap. Do not let any Opposition member say that competition today is cheap. Competition today does not exist. Competition in the fuel industry does not exist. There is no such thing as free competition - allowing the price of a commodity to reach its own natural level. By arrangement, the prices are maintained. By arrangement, the price of fuel in this country, particularly petrol, has been maintained for years.
The Authority will break this control by major companies which, by arrangement, sell to the public at a high rate based on their very high cost. They have a duplication of services. They have station competing against station, refinery competing against refinery and tanker competing against tanker - a most inefficient and costly system. The cost is passed on to the consumer. When we suggest that this should be rationalised, there is objection. When we suggest that the nation should be able to purchase fuel overseas and transmit it through a pipeline so that the nation may free itself from the great international giants which control our fuel resources at present, we are ridiculed. If this is socialism, we have been socialisists for many years. The Opposition, when in government, was responsible for many socialist enterprises of this sort. And why not? In this case, because it is in Opposition, it. objects strongly to what the Government proposes. It can see that the efficiency of the system will affect the financial position of some of its friends.
The Bill seeks to establish the Authority for the transmission of petroleum. And why not? Why should not petroleum be brought to this country if there is a need to conserve our supplies? Although our supplies are increasing in availability they ought to be conserved for the long term because there is a fuel crisis developing in the world. It may be necessary for us in the short term to conserve our supplies by taking advantage of the availability of supplies from Indonesia to the north and even from, the U.S.S/R. When the pipeline is extended to the Pacific Ocean we should take advantage of cheap fuel from that direction - not to the disadvantage of our suppliers but in order to protect the long term position of our suppliers. The Authority is set up for the transmission of natural gas. It has been shown by previous speakers, by surveys and by exploration that there are vast areas and vast resources of natural gas available. The pipeline, built to the Government’s plan, will quickly transmit gas to the major cities. If the pipeline can reduce pollution that would be reason enough for the quick, effective and efficient establishment of the pipeline. If the supply of gas to Sydney in great quantities can reduce by 20 per cent the pollution which affects that city, the Government’s action is justified. If the transmission of gas in quantities from these great fields to Sydney, Brisbane, the other capital cities and the provincial cities which the pipeline passes provides cheaper fuel, it reduces cost and enables us to be more effective in production in competition with some of our neighbours and some of our trading partners.
I cannot see why the Opposition should suddenly endeavour to slow up the passage of this Bill by moving a series of niggling amendments. 1 cannot for the life of me accept some of the criticism that has been levelled at the Australian Labor Party in Government for endeavouring to carry out its policy which is supported by the people, of introducing an increasing amount of public enterprise in a more direct and effective way. Senator Carrick says that capital raised through a private company is capital that is free to the Government, but that is not so. It is the same people who invest. But it is reasonable to expect people to be able to invest with surety in a public authority rather than to invest wilh speculation in some of the companies which have been established in the past and will be established in the future.
U is a great pity that the report of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange has not reached this Parliament. When it does, there will be considerable rethinking on the part of many honourable senators as to the method by which we form our capital in this country. There will be great support for the raising of capital in the manner in which the capital for this Authority will be raised, and for the view that the Government should give the direction and raise money through the normal loan channels, paying reasonable interest rates for a reasonable and ordered return, instead of allowing speculation that flows and ebbs, reaching a high peak and suddenly falling into an extremely low position which endangers the operation of the enterprise which the capital is supposed to support.
The Australian fuel industry has been too long in the hands of speculators. It has cost the Australian people many millions of dollars to find oil in Australia. It has cost the public - the ordinary people of Australia - many millions of dollars to find gas in Australia. It was not found free by companies. The ordinary people invested, sometimes unwisely, and the money invested was many times not wisely used. It was the ordinary finance, the savings of ordinary people who support these oil and gas exploration concerns. It is far better that this should be done in an orderly fashion than in the most inefficient way in which it has been done up to the present. Too often money which has been raised to be used in the search for fuel sources in Australia has flowed backwards and forwards between companies and between directors without any actual result in the field, with very little oil produced and with very little gas found.
As a Government supporter I strongly support the Bill. But I support it not only because I am part of the Government; I support it because for so long there has been too little of this sort of enterprise on the part of governments. The sooner that we accept the proposition that governments must not be just regulatory concerns but must also be planners, constructors, developers and traders, the better it will be for all of us and for the nation, and the greater chance we will hays to survive if it comes to a matter of defence, which is what is concerning Senator Hannan. IE these industries are developed effectively, our defensive position is much stronger. If we conserve our energy and distribute it efficiently, our ability to survive economically - and that is a consideration - is much greater. For this reason I have pleasure in supporting the Bill.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– The Senate tonight is continuing the debate upon the Government’s Bill to establish an Australian Pipeline Authority. The substance of the Bill, as I see it, appears in clause 13 which states that the functions of the Authority are: to construct pipelines for the conveyance of petroleum recovered from Australian petroleum pools to centres of population and points of export with a view to the establishment of a national integrated system of such pipelines, and to maintain and operate those pipelines.
Further functions of the Authority are:
The Authority that the Bill establishes to operate those functions is a statutory body of 5 persons appointed by the Government. The other important provision showing the ambit of the Bill is clause 4 which declares:
The operation of this Act extends to the outer “limits of the Australian continental shelf and the continental shelf of the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, and applies to all persons, including foreigners.
That clause expresses the conception of the Bill to establish an integrated national authority to construct and operate pipelines for the carriage of petroleum. The Authority is to be established on an Australian basis, i think it appropriate to recall that it was the Gorton Government which gave emphasis to the development of Australia on a national basis under the guidance of the national Parliament. In my view that conception should be supported and neither disintegrated nor destroyed. I think it appropriate that at this stage of our national development Parliament is accepting this proposal, as I understand it, for a national Pipeline Authority in connection with this Australian industry. How different is that approach from the century-old approach when railways were being constructed on a purely local and ultra-local and regional basis. I only hope that the conception of this Bill can be brought to bear in an effective and up to date way in regard to a national roads system. As the Minister for Works in the previous Government my authority was not policy but construction, but I lamented deeply the absence of national roads from Adelaide to Darwin and from the east coast to the west coast along both the south coast and in the north of Australia. I am speaking about one of the most rudimentary transport forms that we operate.
I notice that the gap has been bridged when we reflect upon our attitude to airways. When aviation came into our ken no government, whether Labor or Liberal, baulked at the proposition to establish aerodromes and all the facilities to enable transport by the modern means of aviation. Although at the outset there was a difference of opinion about whether government instrumentalities should participate even in the operation of those services, that has been accepted as Liberal philosophy since 1949. A- proper share in the operation was given to ‘the established private enterprise operator. So in airways the Government provided aerodromes and facilities, at enormous cost, to enable the. airways to be operated, i might add that they have operated at a safety standard of which I think we are justifiably proud.
– That is not a very good example, though, is it? You may find that in America every aerodrome is government owned but you certainly find that the development of a pipeline authority is different.
– I am not prepared to take America as a very good sample of the ultra degree to which the dollar can be developed as a government criterion.
– What country would you like to take?
– I am just considering Australia, in our stage of development and with our problems. I have referred to road, rail and aviation. Now, due to the energies and the initiative of the Liberal-Country Party Government that was in office for 23 years, we have encouraged capital, both domestic and overseas, to find petroleum. We achieved a miracle in the last decade. Petroleum has been discovered in such quantities as to be the substantial supplier of Australia’s present needs. I think that 60 per cent to 70 per cent of our present needs is being supplied from Australian oil wells. That is an achievement of which any government could be proud. Australia was thought for a long time to be barren of oil, but now we have achieved self-sufficiency to the extent of 60 per cent or 70 per cent.
This Parliament debated the oil industry in 1967. I reflect, without deep dissatisfaction, that I took the view about the off-shore petroleum legislation that it should be based upon federal jurisdiction and that it was a mistake to disintegrate it into State divisions and sections of States. I say that only in passing because it was under the government of the day in 1967 that the Senate appointed a select committee to consider the whole of that legislation. I have heard too little reference to the report of the Senate Select Committee on Offshore Petroleum Resources. Many of our colleagues in this chamber served on that Select Committee. Although I was the. initiator of it I served on it for about 2 or 3 weeks only because I was appointed to the Ministry of Works. However, my colleagues of outstanding ability went on with the job and it is satisfactory to find in the report that they prepared that they not only considered the appropriateness of the off-shore oil legislation but also the method by which petroleum, both liquid and gas, should be transported from the wellhead to the places of consumption. We find reference in that report to overseas experience in Europe, Britain, the United States of America and Canada. Referring to the United States of America, the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources states at page 276 of its report:
The transportation of oil by pipelines did not have an easy beginning.
The report then gives the history of that development.
George S. Wolbert, in his book ‘American Pipe Lines - Their Industrial Structure, Economic Status and Legal Implications’ slates:
Shortly after pipelines were introduced in 1865 they demonstrated their superior efficiency and economy as a means of transporting crude oil to the refinery.
The Committee next refers to a report of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It states:
In 1969, the OECD Report on Pipelines in the United States and Europe reported that: . . Seventy-seven thousand miles of pipe are in crude gathering systems in the oil fields. These are generally from 2 to 6 inches in diameter. Another 70,000 miles of pipe are in crude oil trunk pipelines. These range in size from 6 to 20 inches. Fifty-three thousand miles are petroleum products pipelines which extend from refineries to distribution terminals serving most cities in the United Stales.
The Committee deals next with the Canadian experience and the British experience. Having assessed the then known quantities of gas and oil in Australia, the Committee again refers to the OEOD report to which it had alluded earlier. The OECD report stated:
Pipelines are a unique form of transportation. First, they are underground and thus have little effect on surface use of land and on aesthetic values. Also they are a very secure and dependable form of transportation since they operate continuously, do not require the return of empty containers to the starting point, are not affected by surface conditions such as storms, ice, fog or accidents. They are also safer than other means of transport, with small product losses and lower injury and death records.
Coming nearer to home, the Committee notes that some pipelines for the transmission of gas and petroleum have been already constructed on a piecemeal basis in Australia. The Committee quotes next no less an authority than Mr H. Hume, the General Manager of the Brisbane Gas Co., in these terms:
Whether yon look at the United Kingdom where the Gas Industry is nationalised, or whether you look at the United States of America or Canada where the Industry is under private enterprise, in all cases you will find a Federal or central authority of reference and decision which we in Australia seem to be lacking at this stage.
The Committee turns next to a statement by Mr W. W. Pettingell,now Sir William Pettingell who, I understand, is Chairman of the Australian Natural Gas Development Association. The Committee states at page 286 of its report that Mr Pettingell, as he was then, informed it:
If the separate States impose diverging principles of control, the development of interstate transmission lines will be greatly inhibited - that has in mind America and Canada where there was bedlam.
The Committee mentions next a name which I hope will strike the attention of the whole of this Senate - the late Sir Harold Raggatt. He is quoted in the report as saying:
If in Australia we allow a hotch-potch interstate pipeline system to develop we will inevitably deny supplies of gas to some communities and we will load industry with unnecessary costs. Canada had this experience and legislated to set up the National Energy Board in 1959. We should do it now before the hotch-potch develops.
This Senate Select Committee then considered theappropriate method by which that system, if adopted, would be regulated. It came down with the view that the provision in the Constitution should be restored to make the Interstate Commission a viable, operative organisation to control rates that would be charged for the transportation of fuel. That view was identical with the recommendation that was put forward by the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review as far back as 1959.
– We had regard to your work in the course of our deliberations.
– I am obliged to Senator Cotton for the compliment. The Senate Select Committee then goes on to say that it doubted whether our oil reserves had reached a stage of discovery when it was appropriate yet to set up a Federal authority, but it did say, as was quoted this afternoon, that the operation of it should be under Federal control. The Committee states in its recommendations: . . the Committee believes that some form of Federal control of a resource as important to Australia as petroleum, both economically and for defence purposes,is desirable.
The Committee states further:
The Committee considers that, if a need for a network of interstate pipelines is established, the Government should consider the re-establishment of the Interstate Commission empowered to regulate the interstate transportation of oil and gas. The Committee so recommends.
Those references to that extensive study by a committee of this Senate should silence all those who think that debate upon this subject is a matter of surplusage. It is an insult to the Country and to this Parliament to say that a Bill of this importance, introduced at the stage at which this industry is, should not receive the most studious analysis and debate so that we can put the Bill into the most appropriate form for the benefit of that industry.
I believe that a review of the Committee’s considerations and the references to those authorities, overseas and Australlian, experienced and expert, drives one to the conclusion that a public utility for the co-ordinated transportation of oil products in Australia, at this stage of the industry’s development, is the appropriate proposition for the service of the industry. I think that unqualified support for this Bill, properly amended, is timely so that this Authority can plan, construct and then operate the national integrated system of pipelines for the transportation of petroleum.
Frequently, reference has been made to the Snowy Mountians scheme as a precedent from which the present proposition can be copied. I wish that those ardent supports of the Snowy Mountains scheme would compare the history of this bare and exiguous Bill with the deeply studied, fully documented proposals that came before the Parliament when it passed legislation for the establishment of the Snowy Mountains scheme. There is a passage in the work that Lionel Wigmore wrote, entitled ‘Struggle for the Snowy’, which makes a much more fitting summary of this matter than I could make. I take the opportunity to quote it because other people’s thoughts are often very much better than mine. At page 151 of this work, the author says: the task referred to the Officers Committee had given a selection of Australia’s senior public servants a chance to show what they could do with some of the biggest problems of engineering linked with economics which have faced men anywhere at any time.
I wish to emphasise the next passage which is in tribute to the Department with which I had the honour to be associated for nearly 5 years. Lionel Wigmore continues:
The passage begins:
The broad-based solution they reached, largely due to Loder’s skilful leadership with the assistance of Lewis as Executive Officer . . ,
Mr Loder was the Director General of the Department of Works at the time and Mr Lewis was then a senior officer. . . was the more remarkable because of the diverse and often conflicting interests and personalities concerned.
The solution also came at a particularly opportune time. The power needs of the Commonwealth and the two States had developed to the appropriate stage. So too had irrigation requirements. The evolution of technical resources, methods of construction (particularly tunnelling), plant design, transmission and control had made it possible to undertake works which at some of the earlier periods of discussion had been either economically impracticable, technically inadvisable, or physically impossible. The outcome was a victory for constructive planning and, both al the professional and the political levels, for eventual co-operation in the common interest.
The author is there summarising the culmination of engineering discussions that had extended back for nearly a century but particularly the planning with the Department of Works officers in consultation with the State engineering officers of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia who had cooperated to plan over the preceding 10 years. There had been a terrific political struggle between the States and the Commonwealth Government of that day and . it reached a culmination because it was a victory for constructive planning at both professional and political levels for eventual cooperation in the common interest.
But this Bill is far from being supported by what one would expect to find - an economic assessment of the petroleum to be transported, the supplies available, the possibility of marketing it, then a proper survey at least in general terms, and then that degree of preliminary construction planning which would provide a reliable base for costing the project. If those steps had been taken then one would have been able to say that this Bill was a triumph for engineering, economic and political planning. But this Bill is as bare of those essential requirements as a fowl in the moulting season is bare of feathers. There is no documentation upon which I would ask a preparatory class to invest $10 in this project at the moment. That is why the amendment that has been circulated, which 1 hope will have the acceptance of the Senate, requires that before this construction authority proceeds to business it will take the responsibility of putting before us an economic assessment of the construction and operation of the pipeline, and an engineering assessment that will have to be at the foundation of that, so that this country will have in its focus a reliable assessment of its ultimate commitment and an assessment of the economic return, so as to consider whether or not the investment of the public money proposed is warranted by the probable returns of this pipeline authority to industry at both its production end and its marketing end.
In saying that, I am not here to make any assessment of my own but I want to warn anybody who is listening to me that I am not by these remarks discouraging the project. All that 1 know of the resources and the market would indicate that the prospects are quite supportable. But practical caution is an essential condition, in my view, of the Parliament’s committing what some people have said will be $ 1,200m. Who knows but that on a proper survey and engineering report the cost will be $2,000m. Caution is necessary before the Parliament gives the Government unconditional authority for an- undertaking of that dimension.
We now, I think, would prudently pass a Bill to set up the Authority, make it responsible for the plans, engineering and economic and feasibility cost assessment; and then, if it takes the responsibility of recommending the project to the Parliament, the Parliament should have sufficient interest in it to say: Yes, go ahead’; or The dimensions of the whole cost are altogether unacceptable at the present time’. 1 hope that we will have the pleasure of a propitious report from the Authority and that we can all join with enthusiasm in enabling an authority of this description on a national basis, which the Senate Commitee itself reviewed and so thoughtfully commented upon, which has been the subject of consideration and which Parliament, I hope, will tonight pass into law.
– 1 do not accept the proposition put by the Government this afternoon that we should virtually rush this Bill through the chamber, because the Bill is of such magnitude that it is necessary for us to spend some time deliberating the various issues within it. As one who served on the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources for quite some time I was heartened to hear Senator Wright’s reference to the Committee’s report, particularly to the in-depth inquiry and study which the Committee made regarding the transmission of hydrocarbons in the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada and the United
States of America. History has undoubtedly shown, particularly in the United States and Canada, that great problems occurred as a result of the lack of uniformity of approach, the varying gauges of pipelines and the criss-crossing of pipelines throughout the United States and Canada, and it was necessary for those countries to establish both authorities and commissions to deal with the transmission of hydrocarbons.
The Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources produced a report which recommended that a commission be set up when a situation of interstate transmission arose in Australia. This afternoon a Government senator referred to part of the Committee’s report and Senator Wright this evening quoted the report. 1 wish for several reasons to refer to the report and I shall quote part of it. It states:
For these reasons -
They were expressed earlier by Senator Wright- the Committee believes that an advisory authority - 1 emphasise the word ‘advisory’ - should be established with Commonwealth and State representation which would be empowered to make a comprehensive continuing survey of Australia’s fuel and energy needs and tender advice to Commonwealth and Stale governments on all matters relevant to the use and production of fuel and energy.
That finally came out as a recommendation. Again, I want to underline the word ‘advisory’. There is a terrific difference between an advisory’ capacity and one of complete ownership and control. I wish to go on to page 296 of the Committee’s report where it made the further recommendation:
The Committee considers that, if a need for a network of interstate pipelines is established, the Government should consider the re-establishment of the Inter-Stale Commission empowered to regulate the interstate transportation of oil and gas. The Committee so recommends.
The reason why I have quoted those 2 recommendations of the Committee is that it spent considerable time during its inquiries to delve very deeply into the need for some type of authority or commission for the tranportation of hydrocarbons within the continent of Australia. Finally, it came out with the recommendation for the revival of the old InterState Commission. So I do not accept the proposition that the Government has put before us, namely, that we finish up virtually with a government-owned and controlled transmission network throughout Australia. At the present time, we have a situation in which cities such as Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, and Brisbane already are connected to natural gas with pipelines supplying them from the various gas fields. We read in the second reading speech of the Minister, Mr Connor, that there will be a connection of all these areas to various gas fields in order to have a continental hook-up or grid. The Minister states:
From Gidgealpa the pipeline will be linked to the Palm Valley field in the Amadeus Basin of the Northern Territory. From there it will continue to Dampier on the north-west coast of Australia where the resources of the north-west shelf will be available. The proposed pipeline route will also traverse and serve the Pilbara region of Western Australia. There will also be a spurline to serve the Northern Territory.
We can see here a great ring of pipeline connection of the known gas fields in Australia at the present time. We do not object to this being done and it is not expected that it will be done immediately. But we can see the clear intention of the Government regarding this matter at the present time. I pose: What will be the position of the intrastate pipelines already in existence? I refer to those pipelines that already are supplying the capital cities that I have mentioned from their various gas fields. I just pose this question about what the situation will be when finally they come into a national hook-up. Then, we will have the situation of varying ownership. No doubt, eventually the Government, if it is still the Government, will by one means or another endeavour to get complete control of those existing intrastate pipelines.
I say again as I did when I was on the Senate Select Committee for Off-shore Oil, there is need for some form of commission to get uniformity and to make sure that we finish up with a well planned system of pipelines for transmission of our hydrocarbons throughout Australia. I hope that we will never see the situation develop that we have had in regard to our railways. I refer to the lack of uniformity in our railways throughout the continent. It is a problem which today has become very expensive to overcome and which is still in the process of being overcome. One of the things that concern me is that already, to my knowledge, contracts have been let for the pipeline to go from the GidgealpaMoomba gas fields to Sydney. Contracts have been let to both Australian and Japanese manufacturers to supply the pipes. Suddenly, there has been this delay. The Gov ernment said that it intended to introduce this legislation. It said that it was one of the things it would do. But it has taken so long from the announcement of that intention to bring in legislation to cover this, particularly to get things underway. Today we hear reports that a delay of over 5 months has cost something like an extra $20m above what it would have cost if the scheme had been commenced when it was initially announced. I appreciate that this is only a report of an extra $20m, but I understand that it is a report of a statement from Sir William Pettingell who is a very responsible man. He was quoted tonight by Senator Wright who gave full support to some system to control and organise the construction of transmission lines throughout Australia. 1 mention that the amount cited of $20m may not be the only problem.
I pose the question: Who is to construct this pipeline? Will it be done by a government authority under a public works system or some other system?
– I hope so. Senator YOUNG - A Government senator says that this is quite right.
– No, I said: ‘I hope so’.
– The honourable senator says that he hopes so. I just wonder how much more it will cost if it is left to be done on this basis instead of sub-contracting or letting out the work by tender. In my State of South Australia the Government was wise enough when it connected Adelaide to the Gidgealpa South Australian gas field to make sure that the work was done by tender. That tender was let to an overseas company which very efficiently and effectively laid that pipe. The Government that did that was a Labor Government. It could see the necessity of getting on with the job and having it done as expeditiously as possible, at the same time having.it done as cheaply as possible because time costs money in many of these things. One has only to refer to the situation in the case of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. This matter was referred to this afternoon. We were told how eventually when there was a change of government the Liberal-Country Party coalition took over and let many of the contracts in that area to private companies, as a result of which much of the work was finished well ahead of schedule. Previously, until that Government came into power, much of that work was far behind.schedule.
I now turn to the actual Authority itself. Great responsibility will be placed upon it because it will be asked to do many things. I refer to clause 13 (1) (a) of the Bill where the functions, duties and powers of the Authority are stated. The clause states: . . the functions of the Authority are - (a) to construct pipelines for the conveyance of petroleum recovered from Australian petroleum pools to centres of population and points of export with a view to the establishment of a national integrated system of such pipelines, and to maintain and operate those pipelines: The authority will have great responsibility with such vast mileages of pipelines to be laid in determining which direction the pipeline will take. I would only hope that in the exercise of that responsibility discretion will be shown and that members of this proposed Authority will work in co-operation with the States, get opinions from the States and otherwise co-operate with them in such a way that it will be in the best interests of the States to link its cities and towns to the. transmission. Also, I hope that the Authority will not be under the influence of some local member of Parliament to do things to help him in his local needs. This also is most important. I note that the complement of the committee is five’. There is a chairman, the secretary of the Department of Minerals and Energy, a full-time executive member and 2 other members will be a members of a trade Minister’s second reading speech, one of these other members will be a member of a trade union.
– What is wrong with that?
– T. am not saying there is anything wrong with that. I am just hoping that all including the other member will be ones with a great interest in and knowledge of the commercial world to make sure that all aspects in relation to the needs and operations of this Authority will be in the best interests of the country. The reason 1 express concern regarding the cost of construction is that the only person who really pays for it is the consumer. The longer it takes to construct the pipeline, the longer people, will be without the benefit of a cheaper form of power both in homes . and in industry. If, through inefficiency, the cost of the pipeline increases, to enable that cost to be amortised the cost of transmission will have to increase, and the consumer will have to pay the penalty.
As I said earlier, it is essential that these pipelines be constructed as efficiently and as cheaply as possible. I emphasise again that great responsibility will be placed on the Authority which will be in charge of the construction of these various pipelines. Another very important factor is that this Pipeline Authority must be a common carrier. We could express concern that the Authority may not be a common carrier in the true sense of the term. I say that because the Bill allows the Authority to buy and sell hydrocarbons - liquids and natural gas. I refer to Part III of the Bill, which concerns the functions, duties and powers of the Authority. Clause 13 states that the functions include:
Firstly, I presume that the Authority will set the price for transmission and also will set the price that it is prepared to pay for the natural gas at the well-head. The fact of the Authority being a buyer and seller of gas and having complete control of the transmission of the gas as a carrier will place the Authority in a position of complete monopoly. The situation could occur that the Authority would be the only carrier and, as I said, it will have complete control of the transmission. Secondly, the Authority could charge excessive prices for the transmission of natural gas, particularly to competitors. One appreciates that if the Authority owns the pipeline it will not charge itself. Also, the Authority will not pay any taxation. One can see straight away the advantages to this Authority in that, even though it will be a common carrier and a public utility, at the same time to some extent it will be in the field of commerce and standing on its own feet.
Also, with the Authority having the power to buy and sell the product and having control of the outlet from the wellhead to the consumer, or the gate of ditribution at the consumer end, it could force all of its competitors who also had potential markets into a situation where they would finish up being in a buyer’s market and not a seller’s market because the Authority would be able to call the tune completely. The ability of the Authority to buy and sell and to have control of the transmission concerns me very greatly, particularly when I read that the Authority will be able to operate overseas. There could also be an inflow of hydrocarbons, both liquid and gas, which would place the Authority in an extremely strong commercial position - a position of monopoly against its competitors. 1 think that we as a nation have to be particularly careful in this area. If advantage were taken of the monopolistic situation, competitorscould virtually be forced out of the market. That- could be done because the Authority has control of all aspects. At present there is a 25- per cent freeze on all overseas funds. So, the situation could develop - I hope it does not - where producers would be virtually forced into an uneconomic position. As a consequence of this freeze and the high cost of getting funds into Australia for exploration, a complete killing of the incentive for further exploration of our natural resources could occur. That is one thing we do not want.
The development that has taken place in this country in the last few years has been of great advantage to us and a great surprise to a very many people. Today it is a fact of life. This development has occurred because of the outside assistance which has been made available in the fields of expertise and finance. If we as a nation think that at the present time we can carry out this exercise completely a’one, I can see us reaching a stage where we will feel very sorry for ourselves because exploration work in this country will dry up. At the present time there is a killing of incentive. The fact must not be overlooked tl’.at Australia is not the only country with potential. I grant that we have some of the greatest potential in the world because of the great area of continental shelf that we have right around our shores. But other countries have great potential and are finding hydrocarbons in places where a few years ago they thought it hardly worth looking. Hydrocarbons are being found under the snow and out in the North Sea, and the latest we hear is that potential fields of hydrocarbons have been discovered in South East Asia. Discovery goes on. With the advanced technology available today, exploration is being made at far greater depths in the off-shore areas. It was not long ago that drilling could take place only in shallow depths. Today exploration is going further afield.
I emphasise that it is necessary that we encourage incentive for exploration in this country. Therefore, we must make sure that this Authority gives the opportunity to anybody who wishes to transmit his hydrocarbons through this network of pipes. The situation must not develop where the Authority has complete control of natural gas in this country. I emphasise that we must make sure that this Authority operates in the national interest and does not operate in the interests of social philosophies. I hope that that is not the intent of this Bill, but the Bill contains so many provisions that could lead to this type of thing that it is necessary for my Party, as a responsible Opposition, to move many amendments to this Bill tonight in the interests of this country. I hope that when this Authority develops its pipelines throughout this country it will be in the interests of the country and not for certain sectional political reasons.
I give my support to the basic concepts of. this Bill. But I certainly will be supporting amendments when they are introduced later, it is necessary that we deal with many aspects of this Bill which is so full of anomalies. I could deal with many other aspects of the Bill, but I appreciate that further time will be available to discuss many of those points in the Committee stage. As I said, I give my support to the concepts of this Pipeline Authority, but I reserve my right to speak in the Committee stage when I will be supporting certain amendments which will be moved.
– The Senate is concluding its secondreading debate on a Bill to establish a pipeline authority. I rise to indicate our support for the principles of the Bill. It has been a long debate, and the debate itself has highlighted the obligation with which an Opposition seeking to discharge its functions responsibly is faced. As has been indicated by many Opposition speakers who have addressed themselves to this Bill, there are features of the Bill which have attracted criticism and, in some instances, complete opposition. On the other hand, there is a concept in the Bill for which the Opposition gives full credit to the Government for the initiative it has taken, lt is in those circumstances that an opposition has an obligation to perform its functions.
Because there are many features of the Bill which’ are anathema to an opposition which believes in the development of this country through providing opportunities for individuals and companies to take advantage of what they see as an enterprise which can produce rewards to them, should an opposition oppose the Bill to enable that concept to be developed? Equally, should it agree to the spending of countless hundreds of millions of dollars in this country for pipelines to be constructed when, as Senator Carrick indicated earlier this afternoon, there are private companies which are prepared to spend private funds to provide the identical type of service? If these private facilities were to be used it would enable the money which is to be applied by the Commonwealth for the construction of the pipelines to be used for others desirable social objectives. These are parts of the problem with which the Opposition has been confronted.
We recognise that there are certain benefits which must be forthcoming from the establishment of an authority with the functions and obligations which the Act ascribes to it. It will ensure that there is a means whereby Australian petroleum resources can be utilised in Australia for the benefit of Australians. There is the benefit that this authority will facilitate an objective that the total requirements of an Australian domestic market can be met. With that assurance there can be the regularity of demand and the opportunity for export of surplus requirement and the certainty which that situation gives to producers. It is equally clear that if there is a means of transportation of the fuel throughout Australia areas of exploitation can be made viable and economic which, without that regularity of transportation, might not otherwise be exploited; and of course it can provide a most valuable means of promoting the type of regional development to which all Australians give lip service but find great difficulty in giving practical expression. 1 have no doubt that these objectives can be greatly facilitated by this concept of a pipeline authority constructing pipelines throughout Australia and thereby bringing resources which are to be found in the remote parts of north-western Australia to the eastern parts of Australia, if need be, where there may be some demand.
Having said that and putting, as I see it, a case which would justify the construction of pipelines in particular cases and certainly the establishment of a pipeline authority, I go on to add that there are nevertheless features of this measure which must be put on the debit side. As I said, we are supporting this measure notwithstanding that we do not believe that much about the way in which the Bill has been devised will provide benefits which are claimed for it. We do not accept the alleged reasons which the Labor Party Government has given for this measure, and we see in many of the provisions of this Bill the means whereby a government bent on securing ideological objectives could. by the squeeze and by the purchase overseas of quantities of petroleum, exercise such an influence, such a control over the Australian market that those individuals and companies in private business could be completely frustrated and pushed out of business altogether. These possibilities are present. Having regard to the fact that this is not one of the expressed policy or platform objectives of the Labor Party but one of its hidden objectives, we must recognise that this possibility is not altogether remote.
The overall approach which the Opposition has decided to follow is to support the motion for the second reading of this Bill and seek to amend those provisions of the Bill to which exception is taken. At the Committee stage the amendments will be moved, the reasons for the amendments will be given and the opportunity will be provided for the Senate to pass judgment on whether or not the proposals are worthwhile. It is interesting that this is an area in which the Senate has always performed, I think, with great credit to itself. We heard from Senator Little, of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, earlier today that his Party is awaiting the reasons for the amendments which the Opposition will move, and until it hears those reasons it has not committed itself to the course it will follow. So the Senate does become a place where argument and debate can be influential in determining the course of legislation. 1 feel that this is one instance in which that point ought to be emphasised.
I turn now to what the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) said in introducing the Bill on behalf of the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor). I refer to what he had to say because of the lack of clarity and meaning in much of what was adduced as reasons for this Bill. For example, he stated:
The Governor-General’s Speech foreshadowed (hat, in pursuit of its policy for maximising Australian ownership, control, use and development of Australian resources, the Government would introduce legislation to establish a Pipeline Authority.
What is meant by that? What is the Government’s policy of maximising Australian ownership, control, use and development of Australian resources? What is sought to be established here is a pipeline authority. It is a pipeline authority created by the Government and it will have a Government guarantee backing its borrowings of funds. Doubtless it can be supplied by the Parliament through Appropriation Bills with the necessary moneys to carry out its activities, so really it is a Government instrumentality. As to its control, use and development of Australian resources, of course, it is simply a means of providing transportation, together with whatever be the ambit of the powers of purchase and sale which is to be conferred at some future time as the Authority requires or determines itself.
What in fact the statement which the Minister read really must be understood as meaning is that this is a means whereby the Government will promote its policy of government ownership, government control and government use and development of Australian resources. Whilst there can always be an argument as to whether in a particular field there should be government development in preference to private or individual development or whether in a particular field there should be complementary activity with both government and private development, nevertheless the unwillingness of the Government to come out and state plainly and clearly what it is seeking to achieve renders suspect much of what is otherwise regarded as capable of being a reasonable policy which will not affect those who are already in the field representing private interests. Equally one finds that there is no precise meaning to be attached to the supposed justification for this measure. The next sentence in the Minister’s second reading speech is a somewhat curious one because whilst it adverts to considerations it does not say in what way they are relevant or what motivation they provided for the Government’s action. The Minister stated:
This concept of a national pipeline system also takes account of wide issues-
What do the words ‘takes account of wide issues’ mean? The Minister went on: of defence, of decentralisation, of population growth, of national development, of the importance of interconnected supplies to meet increasing long term demands, emergency situations and the exhaustion of particular regional energy sources, and the possible export of liquefied natural gas.
Every one of those considerations is relevant. But in what way is this relevant to the decision which the Government has made? In what way, for what purpose and with what weight has the Government taken account of these matters? Another point which arises is that the Bill establishes an authority, lt seems fairly clear from a reading of the clauses of the Bill that the Authority is to have certain functions - to construct pipelines, to convey petroleum through the pipelines which it constructs and operates and to buy and sell petroleum, whether in Australia or elsewhere. The whole scheme seems to be something which is vested in the Authority. That is a fair way of doing things. But the second reading speech suggests that that is not the way in which the Authority will operate. We find that the greater part of the speech is taken up with an explanation of something which is called a project. We find that the project is set out. It provides for the linking by a continental pipeline of various places throughout Australia. I have seen maps which newspapers have published and which suggest that the project will be a criss-crossing of Australia with pipelines.
Whose scheme is this? ls the Authority to be given the independence to decide for itself whether a pipeline shall be built on its assessment of what the needs for a particular area are and what is the likelihood of supplies in a particular area? ls the Authority in some hidden way - it is undisclosed - to be subject to direction by the Government, by the Minister or by some other body in order to give expression to some project which has been explained in the course of the second reading speech? These are matters which I feel ought to be explained. Is the Authority to have independence of judgment to decide where it shall construct pipelines or is it to be simply the means by which a plan, which has already been worked out and about which we know relatively little, is to be implemented? These are parts of the general problem which we see in the legislation.
There are other factors which I feel raise questions as to the feasibility of this scheme in the way in which it is presented to us. In the first place I have already said that this project was not part of the Labor Party’s policy speech, lt is not to be found in its platform. It is something of which we first heard when the Governor-General’s Speech was presented to Parliament at the commencement of this session. To that extent it has all the appearance of being a grandiose scheme which must, in the long run, cost thousands of millions of dollars. It has been devised relatively shortly and suddenly and without the proper research which ought to be the criterion of adoption of any scheme so ambitious. When one looks at the Labor Party platform - I do this only for the purpose of illustrating the argument - one finds that the Labor Party told the people of Australia what it proposed to do. Mr Whitlam said in his policy speech that it was proposed to create a fuel and energy commission. The purpose of the commission was to examine the resources of fuel and energy in Australia and on the basis of that information, then to make the necessary recommendations.
The difference between the policy of the Labor Party in its espousal of that idea and of the previous Government is that the previous Government did not establish or want to establish a commission. We had established commissions. For example, there was the Snowy Mountains scheme for hydro electricity, the Australian Atomic Energy Commission for atomic energy and we had the various resources of the Department of National Development in which information which was required was collated. The view of the previous Government was that it was far better that the control of these matters should be in the hands of a department under a Minister responsible to the Parliament rather than being in the hands of a commission in which the chain of control and the responsibility to Parliament were not so clear cut. The fact is that the platforms of both the previous Government and of the Labor Party acknowledged need in the areas of fuel, energy and power which Australia needs now and will need in the future. This is a matter for constant surveillance and collation of facts so that appropriate policies can be devised in the light of the information available. But when from this current Government we have an ignoring of the Commission, a split-up and a breakdown of the Department of National Development and the emergence, without any research background, of a pipeline authority one wonders what is happening to the proposal for the development of nuclear power.
Maybe in 20 years time nuclear power will meet the greater part of our energy needs and the immense cost which has been faced in establishing a pipeline authority will be seen as so much money wasted. I pose that suggestion only as a hypothesis because it is a matter which depends upon the likely needs of power in Australia and the availability of various resources to meet those power requirements. In terms of cost and benefit we will have to ask what types of energy are best suited and the most viable to provide at the cheapest cost to the Australian people power which is needed by those who require it for their various operations. This is something which has not been explained. It is not part of the background to this Bill. I permit myself the comment that the Labor Party before the election set out so strongly and forcefully to have everything planned and knew what it was going to do, but this Pipeline Authority Bill, because of the way in which it has been developed, makes a mockery of all those assertions. We have not had the basic work which we assumed,. and which I think the Australian people were led to believe, was behind so much of the grandiose policy schemes which were brought forward.
Tonight there’ has been frequent reference - to the work of the Senate Select Committee on off-shore Petroleum Resources. It is a volume of some 800 pages which represents that Committee’s work and it is a mine of information in its general area. I know that a number of honourable senators have referred to various passages. I shall refer- to other passsages which have not been referred to already. For example, I notice that the report states:
Recent years have seen the development by the Commonwealth Government of conscious policy to promote oil search and, as the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) legislation indicates, an attempt to facilitate and control the exploration ot Australia’s off-shore petroleum resources. Also, proposals, have been advanced for the creation of an atomic energy power station. There does not appear to be any public awareness of the complementary roles’ the various power facilities are designed to fulfil or of the impact of new energy sources on the viability of traditional energy fields.
Later the report indicates:
Almost entirely,- the administration and control of power supplies and fuel and energy resources have been in the province of the States. Public instrumentalities and private companies acting under a legislative umbrella have been the vehicles of State control; and as between States there has been little evidence, except in two or three instances, of coordination of the various States’ needs.
It is quite obvious that there is a great need for recognition of the interconnection and complementary roles of the various power facilities and of the needs and the demands which may be made on the energy resources. It is equally important to have co-ordination between those authorities which are responsible for development. There is a need not only for co-ordination between those areas which are in non-governmental hands and governments which have an overall responsibility but also for co-ordination between Commonwealth and State governments. I think it is a pity that the Bill does no more than provide in homilies and in the permissive ‘may’ for the need for any consultation between the Commonwealth and State governments. I refer now to that part of the Committee’s report which deals with the recommendation for a joint advisory body to which Senator Young referred. The report states:
A central Authority in the field, given the requisite powers, could be assured of having all relevant up to date information, because it could act as a central bruin for the storage and evaluating of all the data emanating from these public and private areas. Government .polity decisions would then be taken in the light of researched, co-ordinated and evaluated infor.mation
I think that is one of the crying needs before there can really be effective implementation of the purpose of the Pipeline Authority.
What are the real questions which have to be looked at and answered in terms of whether pipelines are to be constructed? In the first place surely one has to ask: What are the needs of particular areas for power? One has to ask that question in terms of present needs and of future needs looking ahead for a period of 25 or 50 years or whatever target point the inquirer sets himself. When one has determined the needs. I believe it is a matter of finding out the likely means, the available means and the prospective means of meeting those needs. Australia is relatively fortunate because it has a variety of possible means of meeting those needs. It has always had the traditional coal. It has had hydro-electricity. It has had, of course, the discovery of petroleum and natural gas. I do not know the extent of the development, but an interest is being generated in the possible use of solar energy. Much has been said about the advantages which Australia would possess if solar energy were capable of being used. But what is the relevance of all these possible means of meeting the power needs unless some body has done the research? Nevertheless, that is the next question which one has to ask.
I believe, it is then a matter of examining the extent of the resources with regard to each of these possible means of meeting the needs so that there can be some costing of what would be involved in utilising these resources to meet the needs. So we have that which is traditionally called the cost benefit analysis. It is a matter of research and as a result of that research we can determine whether expenditure is warranted. What Australia may need in future is the construction of a network of pipelines to transport petrol, oil or natural gas in its liquefied form or in whatever form it may be from various places where it has been discovered in and off Australia to points where it is needed for distribution on the Australian mainland. We may need the pipelines. We do not know at present that they will be the most economic way of meeting that need in future. But the Government is proceeding on the basis that there will be a vast expenditure. 1 do not think anyone has ‘been able to estimate the cost of construction of the pipelines in accordance with the project which is referred to in the second reading speech. There have been various estimates, as I have read them, ranging from $600m, which would seem to be the lowest and a quite unreasonable figure, to figures getting close to $l,600m or $2,000m. Of course, they are in current money terms.
Is this money to be expended properly simply by giving to an Authority now the power to be able at any time in the future to construct pipelines in accordance with some scheme or some project which has been devisd and which is not of the Authority’s own making? That is why there is merit in one of the proposed amendments which has been outlined by Senator Wright. He is suggesting that the Authority should be established, as the Bill proposes, and that the Authority should have all the powers necessary to make the researchers, to examine the feasibility of various pipeline constructions and then to present to the Parliament a comprehensive report indicating the benefits and the cost of the proposal. When that project has been put forward the Parliament has the opportunity of approving or rejecting the contemplated expenditure. Parliament has the opportunity of approving or rejecting the work which is outlined. We believe that this overcomes one of the defects in the Bill as it is devised and presented to us. Of course other aspects of the Bill have aroused criticism. Other speakers have indicated the Opposition’s viewpoint on them.
I conclude by indicating that this is a debate in which Opposition members have indicated a real interest. That is shown by the number of Opposition members who have spoken in the debate. I do not say that there is no real interest on the Government side in the Bill. Possibly the reason why there has been such a succession of Opposition speakers is the fact that nothing more was able to be said by those who otherwise would have supported it from the Government side. The Opposition supports the concept. We support the second reading of the Bill. We will be moving amendments during the Committee stage.
– As an Independent, I wish to say a few things about this Bill. The previous speaker, Senator Greenwood, has covered quite a few of the points which I had in mind, and I thank him for that. It saves me from mentioning them. I request the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) and the Government to look very carefully at the situation before they commit themselves too heavily. People in Western Australia, particularly in Perth, have natural gas. It took over from coal gas. The coal gas was so much more efficient than the natural gas that it is unbelievable. I am speaking from personal experience. People in the metropolitan area have complained that they are not getting sufficient heat from their heaters or from their gas stoves. I realise that this matter could be something for the future. There is nothing to say that the people of Sydney will willingly accept natural gas when it gets there. They will take it because it is given to them and because there is no way that they can get out of it. But they may have the same opinion as many people in Western Australia have, and that is that the coal gas was far better than the natural gas. Please be careful.
I suggest to the Government that it tread carefully in relation to the future route of pipelines across Australia. Do not run pipelines aross thousands of miles of desert in the hope that the gas will be used in future. Run them from the nearest field to the major source of usage and see how that works out before you commit yourself at very great expense to 2,000 or 3,000 miles of pipeline that may just lie there. Honourable senators could be called idiots for ever if they passed a Bill which provided for the expenditure of so much of the country’s money on something that may just lie there and nOt bc used. I suggest that in the construction of the pipeline from the field in the centre of South Australia to Sydney the Government should have in mind the installation of valves which will be ready to connect to future distribution points but it should not do any connecting until it determines whether the gas is accepted. It must be realised and taken- into consideration that the consumers at present are working successfully and efficiently in their factories and homes on present fuel supplies. The Government will be involving the country in the expenditure of millions more dollars in order to convert the present systems to natural gas. The Government cannot just plug the system in and say that it will work. It will have to change gas jets and heater burners to suit the new fuel as Western Australia did.
In his second reading speech the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) referred to the fact that the Authority will be required to submit a report with appropriate financial statements annually to the Minister for presentation to the Parliament, but that does not cover the situation carefully enough. I think that those reports should be submitted more frequently so that the Minister can examine them and make his own decisions. I believe it is most important that the layout of the pipeline should be drawn on a map of a Australia, with the idea of reserving country which at the present time is not taken up, so that in the future the Government will not interfere with an individual’s personal rights and property.
I am quite concerned about clause 18 (1) (a) of the Bill which provides that the Authority may enter upon and occupy land after giving not less than 7 days notice in writing to the occupier of the land’. That is not sufficient notice to give to a person who might have been on a block of land for many years. A person ‘could find that all of a sudden he is given 7 days notice and then workmen move in with bulldozer, trench diggers and so forth and occupies the property. That is something which we should consider very seriously. I know that the Authority will have the right to buy or lease land from a person, who might not want to sell or lease that land, if the pipeline is to be put through that person’s property. I believe that the person should be told that the Gov- eminent will take over that portion of land 6ply while the pipeline runs through it and that he will have first opportunity to acquire that land back in the future when and if it is no longer required for the pipeline. do not think we should forget that in constructing ‘this pipeline- even from South Australia to Sydney - we will tread on a lot of people’s toes. We have to be extremely careful in this regard. The pipeline will not necessarily run alongside railways or major roads, lt might run across people’s properties. We must remember that we might have to dig up existing pipelines or culverts. We will interfere with existing services. We will create all the unimaginable things that we do not realise at this stage. Because of this pipeline we will have to cut down trees and people will thoroughly object to this, 1 believe that this question should be considered very carefully. The Government should draw on a map of Australia where it intends the pipeline to go and it should advise the various municipalities and the people in those municipalities what will happen, so that people will have prior warning that this pipeline will run through their properties. It might run through the centre of Jack Smith’s block and his ‘house might be in the way and have to be demolished. If I had a property and the Government wanted to run a pipeline through my house, I would kick up hell.
As 1 say, 1 believe that this is something which we have to consider very carefully. 1 do not think that enough consideration has been given to forward planning. The Government is placing authority in someone before it has seen and agreed to the total plan. 1 believe that it is most important that the Government should keep its finger right on the centre of things and understand exactly what is to be done before it allows anyone to have that complete authority. I am only saying what I believe to be the case at the present time. We should tread carefully and not commit ourselves for too much money yet. We should try the system out in sections to see what the reaction is. We should see what happens when natural gas is connected to a city and whether the factories will use it willingly or whether they will complain that they are not getting the same value as previously. If this was a hydro-electric scheme like the schemes being introduced in New Zealand, J would agree with it wholeheartedly because we would be doing something which would give light to the people. But the gas from this pipeline will be used only for power; it cannot be used for light.
I ask the Government to consider what I have said. Before giving the Pipeline Authority too much power it should find out exactly what they intend to do. I am asking the Senate to remember that we will be committing the country for millions of dollars. One honourable senator said that the pipeline could cost $l,200m. That is a lot of money to put into something which might not work out as we think it will. Let us tread carefully and try a small section at a time. I support the Bill.
– This has been a very long debate. I think we commenced it about 2.30 this afternoon. Practically every argument that could possibly be advanced for and against the Bill has been advanced. It is impossible for me, without taking up a great deal of the Senate’s time, to encompass all of the points that have been made. Therefore, it will be necessary for me to confine my remarks to what I consider to be the major points.
I think that the most important aspect of this debate has centred on the question of whether we believe that the Government, with this legislation, is doing something in the national interest. That is the central point. I accept the fact that it appears that all honourable senators opposite acknowledge, in varying degrees, that the principle of what the, Government is doing is right. I am pleased to that extent. But there seems to be considerable doubt as to the Government’s intentions. There seems to be an idea that there is some cloak and dagger operation whereby we did not declare ourselves as to our intentions prior to the election. This is an important point on which I intend to spend 2 or 3 minutes.
I think that during the course of his contribution this afternoon Senator Durack acknowledged the fact that this proposed Pipeline Authority has been a plank in the platform of the Australian Labor Party for some time. I think 1 am correct in saying that Senator Durack said that we were quite clear in our intention and at least implied that we had a mandate in this regard. So I think that there might be a bit of difference on this question amongst the Opposition. Senator Durack was quite correct in what he said, as I will indicate in a few minutes. - There were also the normal cries about the Labor Party socialising something. During the course of the debate, or even prior to it, I do not recall anybody saying that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, which has been mentioned on many occasions during the course of this debate, was a misappropriation of national resources. Of course, there was criticism about this great scheme when the Labor Party introduced it many years ago. In fact, Senator Carrick referred to the fact that the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority was an excellent exercise in thinking big. That was the ‘thinking big’ of the Labor Party in the post-war years, exactly as this legislation is today. It was the same thinking big and the same initiative of the Labor Party that many years ago formed Trans-Australia Airlines, the Australian National Line and the Commonwealth Bank. I doubt whether there is anybody in this Senate or any Australian today who would say that those projects were a misappropriation of our national resources. All those statutory bodies have been of tremendous benefit to the Australian people. I am quite sure that the concept that we are considering tonight will prove in the long run to be of great benefit to the Australian people, as did the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and the other bodies to which I have referred.
I thought that Senator Carrick used a quite curious argument when he was referring to expenditure. He said that if the Australian Government now can find $200m for a national pipeline authority, it means that from here on it should be able to find plenty of money for more schools, hospitals and so on and should not have any more excuses about being unable to find that money.
– What rot!
– This is what he said. The implication of his remark was interesting because it was an admission that after 23 years of Liberal government we need these extra schools and hospitals. One can take his argument to the logical conclusion and relate it to expenditure on aircraft that are costing us $340m. I refer to the Fill aircraft which were ordered 10 years ago but which we have not seen yet. By the same argument, the previous Government had sufficient money to spend on that exercise, and I am sure that nobody in this Senate, even on the Opposition side, would for one moment suggest that that expenditure on the Fill will be of as much value to the Australian people as is the national pipeline concept contained in the Bill. These are the sort of things which arise from the fact that not sufficient thought has been given to this matter by the various members on the Opposition side who contributed to the debate.
I thought that the contribution by Senator Little was a very careful and reasonable one, but I must say that his suggestion that any amount in excess of $2m should be referred back to the Parliament would be a most inhibiting factor. If such a restriction were placed on the operations of the Pipeline Authority it would not be in its interest in its normal operations. I thought Senator Wright made a curious contribution. He spent half his time quoting from the report of a committee - I think it was the report of the Committee on Constitutional Review - about the need to integrate and co-ordinate transport in Australia. I could not agree more, of course, because that is written quite clearly into the platform of the Australian Labor Party. I presume that he is aware of that fact. He built up to the stage at which I was beginning to wonder what was the purpose of his speech. He must be aware that the Labor Party has enunciated this principle for some years. I relate what I say to .some of the comments, made later on by Senator Greenwood. I cannot go through everything that was said; otherwise we would be here all night. However I want to clarify the point that this legislation in no way represents a departure by the Labor Government from its own Party policies. I want to state the policy of the Labor Party in respect of transport because it is directly related to this Bill. Both Senator Wright and, I think, Senator Young made reference to the need for a regulatory body, an interstate commission, as it is called, in the Labor Party platform. Our platform states: 1 (a) Establish the Inter-State Commission to coordinate all types of interstate transport in Australia, including rail, road, air, water and pipelines, and to regulate conditions of carriage.
As I think the Senate knows, this Government has taken most specific steps in that area already. Our platform continues by stating:
Further on it deals with the question whether the Commonwealth has any right to be involved in these exercises because it states:
How could anybody suggest that the Labor Party has not spelt out clearly its intention in relation to these matters, as Senator Durack was prepared to concede? Turning to the question of fuel and energy. This is written into our platform and Senator Greenwood certainly referred to it. All our intentions in regard to these matters which have been called into question are set out. In our economic planning section we refer to the establishment or the extension of public enterprise, particularly in the fields of banking, consumer finance, insurance, marketing, housing, stevedoring and transport. Nothing could be clearer than that and there is no subterfuge. No ideological objectives are involved, as Senator Greenwood implied. Senator Young referred to it as some social philosophy but only after he accepted the fact that coordination of transport in Australia is so essential.
These points came through clearly and we have had them in our platform for at least 2 years and probably longer. Members and supporters of the previous Government are prepared to admit, I concede, that perhaps the previous Government was a little late in recognising the need for these new policies. Senator Wright referred also to the fact that there ought to be a proper assessment of this venture. He said, for example, that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme had been properly thought through and that there had been a proper cost benefit analysis and so on. I understand that there was an engineering assessment of the Moomba-Sydney pipeline undertaken by the Australian Gas Light Co. before the Commmonwealth took over. That assessment currently is being reviewed by engineers of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. Reference was made in the second reading speech of the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland to the fact that the Commonwealth at present is consulting with the State of Westen Australia for the purpose of looking at the feasibility of the Palm Valley-Kalgoorlie-Perth line. Senator Young referred to the Commonwealth’s intentions regarding takeovers of smaller intrastate pipelines such as, for example, those from Sale to Melbourne or Dongara to Perth. The Pipeline Authority will be concerned primarily with interstate routes. We hope - 1 think that Senator Young also would hope this - that eventually all these lines can be integrated because without that integration the very principles which Senator Wright was supporting so strongly cannot be brought to fruition.
– I do not object to having a national hookup of a pipeline grid. The query I raised was: What is the position of the intrastate pipeline already in operation?
– I think the honourable senator would accept that we cannot make any immediate decisions. At the moment we are mainly concerned about establishing the concept of the Authority and the machinery whereby it will operate. The honourable senator’s point is quite valid. These are matters which will need attention and perhaps later, in the Committee stage of the debate, we can come back to them. I thought that the remarks made by Senator Negus were most interesting - they were very human - but I assure him that there are provisions in the Bill which will ensure that the Authority will not have a completely free hand. It will not be able to spend millions of dollars from the public purse without providing a proper accounting to the Parliament. I think the honourable senator will find that that is contained in clause 25 of the Bill.
– Our proposed amendments would make it a lot better, though, would they not?
Sentaor WRIEDT- We will decide on that during the Committee stage. I will not delay any longer with my right of reply. I think that sufficient comment has been made in the course of the debate to indicate that what the Government is doing is unquestionably in the national interest. There may be some differences of opinion as to detail, but what we are doing is bringing about the formation of a national pipeline grid which will have a tremendous impact on the development of this country in the years ahead. We are taking this step now because it is necessary for it to be taken now. I hope that the Senate will see fit to pass this Bill in its present form without amendment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - petroleum’ means -
– Copies of the amendments which I propose to move, on behalf of the Liberal Party, in the course of the Committee debate have been circulated to honourable senators. I direct attention, firstly, to the definition of petroleum’ in clause 3 of the Bill. This definition is very extended. I do not propose to read in full that definition. Broadly, petroleum’ means:
I am reliably informed - in fact, I suppose that I should say that I am expertly informed - that coal is a hydrocarbon existing in a solid state. I do not think that any issue arises in regard to that statement. The Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) can tell me, in reply, whether he challenges it.
On the assumption that my expert advice is correct, the Opposition believes that a problem arises if the definition of ‘petroleum’ includes coal. As I have explained already in the course of my speech in the second reading debate, the reason why the problem arises is that Australia already has some very well established policies on the part of the Commonwealth Government and State governments in regard to the regulation of the coal industry. There is legislation, Commonwealth and State, with respect to the coal industry and there are co-operative arrangements with respect to it. I do not pretend to be an expert on those arrangements. But it appears to the Opposition that the fact that we have such statutory arrangements and policies in relation to coal in existence means that coal should be excluded from the powers of the proposed Authority. The powers that may be exercised or may possibly be exercised by that Authority in relation to coal could well cut across existing statutory provisions. We believe that any intended change in the provisions in relation to the coal industry should be the subject of separate consideration and debate by this Parliament. For that reason, I move:
In paragraph (e) the definition of ‘petroleum’, after ‘substances,’ insert ‘, provided that petroleum does not include coal’.
– -This afternoon I looked with interest at the amendments to be moved by the Opposition. Whilst it is nice to be able to move amendments to a Government Bill, I wonder whether the Opposition knows what are the implications of the amendments that it moves. Dealing with the amendment now before the Committee, I will accept that, as Senator Durack said, ‘hydrocarbons’ includes coal. I do not know whether it does. I take it that it does. I will not argue the matter on that basis. This definition, in common with the other definitions, has no purpose other than to tell us what we are talking about when the various words that are defined appear elsewhere in the legislation.
We are dealing with petroleum. Based on what Senator Durack has just said, the definition of ‘petroleum’ includes coal according to its present terms. But the proposed Authority has power to build pipelines only. With respect to the definition of ‘pipeline’, we read in the Bill: pipeline’ means a pipe or connected pipes for conveying petroleum, together with any associated equipment and structures.
– One of the functions of the Authority is to buy and sell petroleum.
– Let us see. Let us look at the functions of the Authority. I would question that statement. The functions of the Authority-
– Do not question it; look at clause 13(l)(c).
– I am coming to clause 13 now. That clause provides, under the heading ‘Part 111 - Functions, Duties and Powers of the Authority’:
The conveyance of the gaseous product derived from coal has been carried out by private enterprise and gas companies in various Australian States. But, immediately natural gas has become available to those gas companies, they have converted their services to natural gas, Therefore, very little gas derived from coal is used in areas to which a natural gas supply is available. Natural gas is a cheaper and more efficient product, I believe. As a result, the gasification of coal is dying out in Australia at a time when the coal industry most needs a continuation of the use of coal. A fillip could well be provided to the coal industry if a national authority were established which could take over the conveyance of gas derived from coal to householders and industry. This would relieve industries which now perform this task with obsolete conveying channels of that responsibility. On a national gas pipeline grid it would be possible to convey coal in gaseous form from one State to another. Possibly by this process the coal industry could be rejuvenated.
– But only coal gas, not coal as such.
– I mean coal gas. Coal is utilised for that purpose. At a time when coal is being used in diminishing quantities for the purposes of providing gas, the possibility exists that, if the Commonwealth became interested in the conveyance of gas derived from coal, - a declining Australian industry could be rejuvenated. If the present Commonwealth venture is successful, a new system of conveying gas will be introduced which will be cheaper than the present system of conveying gas and which will be to the further detriment of the coal gas industry. As the legislation stands, gas produced can be conveyed by the Authority, which can build a grid for that purpose. The Opposition now seeks to exclude the Authority from operating in that area which well may need the assist ance of the Commonwealth. Even if it were found that by Commonwealth action this industry could be rejuvenated and the gaseous coal product could be. conveyed by pipelines constructed by the proposed Authority, the Opposition seeks by its amendment to exclude coal from such an operation. I know who holds the numbers in the Senate. But I ask the Opposition to consider the fact that, by passing this amendment, it could well be doing a disservice to the coal industry to which this legislation might be of benefit.
– I think that it should be pointed out, as I think Senator Durack by interjection pointed out, that in considering this amendment, which seeks to exclude coal from the definition of petroleum’, attention must be paid to that part of clause 13 which Senator Cavanagh did not read. That part of the clause reads: . . the functions of the Authority are-
In relation to that function, the fact that the definition of ‘petroleum’ includes coal does not mean that it necessarily includes coal in a gaseous form only. It might entitle the Pipeline Authority to go into the business of buying and selling coal whether in Australia or elsewhere, even though not in a gaseous form. That proposition ought to be before the Committee so that it may understand clearly the basis of the amendment, as I see it.
– I oppose the amendment. Firstly, I do not think that the amendment to add the words ‘, provided that petroleum does not include coal’, seeks to add those words at the right place in the Bill. The definition of ‘petroleum’ states:
It excludes coal. What is being overlooked, I think, is that coal can be converted into petroleum. Indeed, in this country it would be very wise, particularly in the State I happen to represent - Victoria - if more attention were given to this form of production of petroleum or mixture of hydrocarbons than is given to it today. The Latrobe Valley has enormous reserves of brown coal that could be converted into petroleum. If a pipeline grid were set up it is within imagination that at some time a national authority may take, over the pipelines that already exist for the transportation to Melbourne of natural gas which has been discovered adjacent to the brown coal fields in Victoria. Circumstances could arise whereby it would be very necessary for a national authority to control the pipelines that already exist or others that may lead off into another direction from those particular deposits. Coal converted into petroleum should be one of the products envisaged for transportation by a national pipe line grid. This country should not be wasteful in the use of the whole of its resources. Because we are seeing discoveries of reserves of fuel in the form of oil in Bass Strait, in particular, from which most of Australia’s present supplies are coming, we should not overlook the other natural resources which are largely falling into abeyance as a result of the easier usage of natural gas. The United States would dearly love to have our brown coal reserves, to convert them in the manner I have described into other fuels and to transport those fuels through some of the pipelines that exist in that country. I believe that the reasons advanced for the deliberate exclusion of coal from this legislation are much less cogent than the need for having coal included. I believe that the description given in the Bill does include coal. The Bill in its present form is quite unacceptable and we are not prepared to support the amendment on the arguments that have been advanced.
– I want to follow up what I said previously. Firstly, as to the stage at which coal is included and whether, as Senator Little said, it is on the final mixture of hydrocarbons, I do not know. I said that it may be beneficial to the industry to have coal conveyed by a national Authority. This was not questioned by the only speaker who opposed the amendment, but he pointed out that I had failed to reply to the interjection that came across the chamber while I was speaking. The words in question are: The Authority has power to buy or sell petroleum’, and under the definition, whether it be real or artificial, coal is petroleum. I take this to be so from what Senator Durack said. Another honourable senator said that the Authority would also have power to buy and sell petroleum, which would include coal. This is seen as an undesirable power for the National Authority to have. I do not know why it is so seen. The Authority would not have a monopoly on the buying or selling of coal but would be in competition with others. I think the coal fields managements would very much welcome the appearance of an extra buyer of coal. Anyone interested in coal production would not support the amendment.
– The Government will oppose the amendment for the reasons which have been stated by Senator Cavanagh and Senator Little. We feel that it would be an inhibiting factor for the Authority and therefore we oppose it.
– I rise again to point out that when this amendment was moved during the debate in the other place the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) said quite clearly that coal had never been contemplated in relation to this Pipeline Authority. If it was never the intention of the Government that coal should be included in this Authority’s jurisdiction it ought to be clearly spelled out. That is one reason why we want to have clarified whether the inclusion of cOal is or is not contemplated. The Government’s policy was that it would not be included. We raturally agreed with it. Now we come here and hear advanced by Ministers arguments which are contrary to the Government’s proposition. All I can do is to reiterate that we believe - and it is borne out by what I have said - that there has never been any contemplation whatsoever that this policy was to apply to the coal industry. Obviously if it were to apply to the coal industry, it should be contemplated and considered as such. There are many other people who ought to be alerted to it and whose opinions and representations should be heard. There is a great deal of other matter which has never been in the mind of anybody in this chamber nor in the mind of the Minister for Minerals and Energy who Waa responsible for introducing this Bill in the first place. For all these reasons we believe that this should be clarified and that coal should be excluded.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 12 - by leave - taken together.
– I rise only to draw the attention of the Committee to clause 4. It seems to me to involve some issues that have not been resolved and for which another measure was produced to the chamber to bring the issue more directly into the area of decision. Clause 4 reads:
The operation of this Act extends to the outer limits of the Australian continental shelf and the continental shelf of the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, and applies to all persons, including foreigners.
I am very interested in the last few words: . . and applies to all persons including foreigners. It could never have occurred to me that the Bill would not apply to all persons within the area to which it tends to apply and to all operations that come within its proper description. I have never seen before in the time that I have been in this chamber - since 1949 - in any legislation a specific inclusion of the class of people that are comprehended by the expression ‘foreigners’. I would just like to know what is intended by that expression. My chief purpose in rising, however, is not to let go by inadvertence the proposition that clause 4 expresses that ‘the operation of this Act extends to the outer limits of the continental shelf.
– While the matter that Senator Wright has raised is receiving attention I would direct my query to clause 7 which states that the executive member and the part-time member shall be paid such allowances as are prescribed.
That apparently is a figure to be prescribed until 1 January 1974 when the Parliament will fix the rate. I ask the Minister so that the honourable senators will have the knowledge: What are the prescribed amounts to be paid and where were they prescribed? I am of the view that employment has been created within this Authority already. I wish to know what are the allowances being paid at this moment. The other point to which I wish to direct attention is particularly important. I refer to clause 9. (4) which relates to the interest that a person may have in any project that the Authority is undertaking. It reads:
A part-time member who is directly or indirectly interested in a contract made or proposed to be made by the Authority, otherwise than as a member, and in common with other members, of an incorporated company consisting of not less than twenty-five persons, shall, as soon as possible after the relevant facts have come to his knowledge, disclose the nature of his interest . . .
– That is a common form.
– I am told that that is a common form. I take it that the wording, if it is common, indicates that a person, if he happens to be involved in a company which is incorporated and which is composed of less than 25 persons, will find it not necessary to disclose his interest. I ask that that be made clear.
– I address myself to the clause under consideration by the Committee. Clause 7. (1) states:
The Executive Member shall be paid remuneration at such rate, and an annual allowance at such rate (if any), as the Parliament fixes, but, until 1 January 1974, the rate of that remuneration, and the rate (if any) of that allowance, shall be as prescribed.
So initially the rate of allowance to the executive member is prescribed and thereafter it shall be set by statute as determined by the. Parliament. I ask the Minister to compare that with clause 22 which states:
Subject to section 7, the Authority may pay any allowances, and pay or provide any other benefits (whether of a pecuniary nature or otherwise, including benefits by way of financial or other assistance in connexion with housing, transport, insurance or superannuation) for the Executive Member, or for an officer or employee of the Authority, that in the opinion of the Authority are necessary or desirable to assist the Executive Member, officer or employee in, or place him in a position that will facilitate, the performance of his duties or reimburse faim for any loss of expenditure . . .
I ask him to consider how those 2 clauses are to be read together. Considerable discussion has taken place in the Senate on such matters over the years. Senator Cavanagh has been particularly articulate in this matter of the right and responsibility of Parliament to fix, determine and scrutinise allowances.
– But he has changed.
– Undoubtedly, clause 7 would conform in the most minute particulars with the most stringent of Senator Cavanagh’s requirements, allowing for the interim period when the allowance shall be determined by regulation and thereafter by statute as from a certain date. But it would seem that if clause 22 of the Bill came under the scrutiny of the honourable senator it would also be the subject of severe criticism from him. It states that allowances may be paid to the executive member, subject to section 7, and to other people without prescription by regulation, without statute and without parliamentary scrutiny. They shall be such allowances as the Authority itself shall determine in relation to the executive member. I do not want to extrapolate on this matter unduly but I think that it is an important principle to which members of the present Government, when in opposition, gave constant attention, scrutiny and severe criticism. Therefore, I should like the Minister to indicate how the 2 sections are to be read together and why, in view of the general disposition of members of the Government when in opposition, that allowance should be subject to prescription and therefore disallowance by the Parliament, preferably by statute, when this wide provision enables the payment of allowances to the executive member and others to be free from scrutiny, prescription or statutory regulation?
– 1 would not like it to be thought from Senator Gair’s interjection that my opinion has changed on this matter. I ask Senator Byrne to cast back his mind to the many discussions we have had on this. I think it was either Senator Murphy or some member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee who thought that it was wrong that the salary of highly paid officers could be prescribed by regulation. It was decided that it was the duty of the Parliament to determine these salaries. We then decided that until such time as the position could be sorted out and a decision made as to classifications under the Public Service Act to which they should be likened, we should fix the allowance by prescription until such time as the Parliament decided the issue.
– That is clause 7 to which the honourable senator is addressing himself.
– Yes. On that occasion, a Bill was introduced providing that until the following January or some future date the rates of all statutory officers could be fixed by prescription. Then a Bill was introduced in regard to their salaries being fixed by the Parliament. Clause 7 seeks to maintain that situation. We have no disagreement there. As we do not know actually with what classification they should be aligned, we permit the prescribing of their salary until 1 January 1974. Sometime before then Parliament will have to decide what salary they should receive, other than in regard to the part-time member who receives an amount as prescribed. Senator Byrne thinks there is a contradiction.
– There appears to be.
– I cannot see it that way. We pay someone a remuneration which we take as being his salary. Under clause 22 we pay him an allowance.
– But if you look at clause 7, you will see that it says that an executive member shall be paid at such a rate and he shall receive an annual allowance. The term is used also in clause 7. It is not a salary; it is an allowance.
– That is so, and an annual allowance as the Parliament fixes.
– Not a salary; it is an allowance.
– Wait a moment. The process is that we fix the salary, and the allowance, if such is payable, is that which we pay the heads of departments - approximately $1,000. We recognise that it is a tax free allowance which they receive by virtue of their office. But clause 22 deals with something entirely different. It deals with an allowance for any cost incurred in the carrying out of the duties. That cannot be fixed by Parliament because we do not know what it will be or what the ruling rate will be. What should an executive member be paid if he is away from his home State for one day while carrying out his duties? One cannot bring all these matters before the Parliament.
– That may be right.
– The ruling rate of $22 would be paid for a member who is away from home. We prescribe that under certain conditions these employees shall receive that allowance in addition to their wages. There is no confusion in my mind about that. There is no inconsistency with my previous advocacy because the principle I advocated previously is provided for in clause 7. I would only say to Senator Wright that I have never before heard the expression ‘foreigners’ used in legislation. I do not know why it is in this Bill.
– There is no necessity for me to dwell on the matter raised by Senator Byrne because my colleague, Senator Cavanagh, has dealt with that in a most competent form. Senator Webster made reference to clause 9. (4). I understand that that is a standard clause. There is no departure from the normal clauses that are inserted in any similar bill of this nature.
– There has been no reference to the point raised by Senator Wright in regard to clause 4. It has not been explained or elaborated upon. I heard Senator Wright ask the question. It is not my function to pretend that I have legal knowledge, but I was interested in the expression mat the Bill takes the total responsibility to the edge of the continental shelf. I asked myself under what particular constitutional head of power this was being done. I imagined that it might be being done under the foreign affairs power. I thought that the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) in his reply would answer Senator Wright’s query and say that it was being done under the foreign affairs power. The Minister has not said anything about it. Perhaps he would care to inform the Senate.
– I was interested in the point when Senator Wright raised it. I am not purporting to speak on behalf of the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) in any shape or form. However, I hazard the suggestion that that provision is made because of the purported extra-territorial operation of the Bill. The continental shelf extends out beyond the ordinary territorial limits. It may extend up to ISO or 200 miles out into the ocean into an area in which foreigners could operate lawfully and could affect the operations of the Authority.
Clauses agreed to.
Subject to sub-section (2), the functions of the Authority are -
– My second amendment applies to paragraph (c) of sub-clause (1). The Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh) has already quoted the first 2 paragraphs, (a) and (b). His attention has been drawn to paragraph (c) which states that one of the functions of the Authority is:
To buy and sell petroleum, whether in Australia or elsewhere.
The sub-clause states: and the Authority shall carry on business for the purposes of performing those functions.
One of the functions and one of the forms of business of the Authority, as stated in that paragraph, is to buy and sell petroleum, whether in Australia or elsewhere. I dealt with this matter at some length in my speech during the second reading debate. I gave the reasons why my Party is moving this amendment. To briefly recapitulate those reasons, we are rather concerned about the power to buy and sell petroleum being included in the functions of the Authority at all. As my Party understands and as the Minister for Primary Industry has indicated, the Authority is to act as a common carrier and is not to be a trader, as such, in petroleum. However, for reasons which seem to us to be reasonable, we are prepared to agree to the Authority having the power to buy and sell petroleum in Australia as an ancillary power to its power to convey petroleum, provided, as we have said, that this function is purely ancillary to the Authority’s function as a common carrier and is used in special cases.
If the Authority has the power in such broad terms as to buy and sell petroleum outside of Australia - in other words, to be able to buy petroleum from overseas and to bring it into Australia, or to buy it in Australia and sell it overseas - it seems to me that subclause (1) paragraph (c) obviously is giving this Authority the power to be a trader on a big scale and a significant competitor in the petroleum industry.
– Why should it not be?
– Senator McLaren says Why should it not be?’ That is another argument altogether. This Authority has not been presented by the Government or brought into this Parliament in that shape or form at all.
– Is it a carrier.
– It has been brought in as a carrier. If the legislation was intended to include that power, we would not have a bar of it. We have gone along with the legislation because the Authority has been presented to this Parliament as a carrier. If the Government desires this legislation to go through this House of Parliament, it has to abide by the basis on which it has introduced the legislation. We do not want to nave any holeinthecorner method of the Government evading the clear expression of policy which was given in relation to this legislation. So, I move:
In paragraph (c) of sub-clause (1) leave out whether’ and ‘or elsewhere’.
– see the wisdom in the amendment moved by Senator Durack, who has just resumed his seat. In my speech in the second reading debate on this Bill I indicated that we had before us a definite proposition for the socialisation of this industry. That was not, in my opinion, any reason to oppose the legislation if that was the aim of the Government. The Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) in his second reading speech said:
The Bill is not a complex one. It is simple and has the clear and definite purpose to set up an Authority with adequate powers to construct and operate a major public utility having the responsibility of making one of our greatest natural resources available to the Australian people.
I believe that the wording of that statement was a little shrouded. On reading the Bill, there is no doubt that it is proposed that this Authority can do anything in relation to the socialisation of the petroleum industry. Senator Durack referred to Part III, clause 13, sub-clause (1) (c), which states: to buy and sell petroleum, whether in Australia or elsewhere.
I do not think that the activities of the Authority would be curtailed in any way by deleting the words ‘whether’ and ‘or elsewhere’. It seems quite possible that if this Government, through the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor), who some people say is a powerful Minister, intends to purchase overseas petrol it will purchase it within Australian waters when it is delivered. I do not think Senator Durack would make any headway whatsoever with the amendment which he has proposed. Perhaps the Minister for Primary Industry, who is at the table, could confirm to the Senate that the Bill is what it purports to be; that is, a socialisation measure of the Labor Government and one by which the Authority will be able to control the production, distribution and eventually the method of carriage of any particular product related to petroleum. That covers petroleum whether it is imported from overseas and bought on the Australian seaboard or bought otherwise.
– The Democratic Labor Party does not see any great danger in this paragraph. As Senator Webster said, it can be used one way or the other. 1 think there was some wisdom in writing the paragraph into the legislation. The Authority will handle petroleum that is produced by differing companies, many with overseas interests. Some oil companies, even at the moment, are embarrassed at times with industrial and labour troubles. Recently, the whole of the aircraft industry of this country was held up. At times no transport is available. One can readily see the situation that may occur when the whole of this enormous grid is developed as a result of this Authority. lt may lie idle because the companies that own the petrol resources either will not supply or, perhaps through circumstances beyond their control such as industrial trouble, are unable to supply. 1 think it is very good that the Authority should have the power to buy. lt is beyond the point of this argument whether the Authority is under the control of the present Government or some future government. 1 can well see that it might be a very wise precaution for the Bill to provide that the Authority can purchase anywhere. With a grid such as this it would be foolish not to have such a provision so that the Authority conveniently could distribute to many areas of Australia products from the nearest port of entry in Australia to the point of purchase. We cannot foresee the future of the industry, and it may be that the resources which are available to Adelaide from Perth at the present time may begin to fade or cut out although there may be great reliance on that source of supply in Adelaide. In such a case it may be very convenient for the Authority to purchase petrol or oil, or in whatever form it can be put through the grid, in some Eastern country, bring it to the nearest port of entry such as Perth and flow it through the grid to whatever centre may need it.
I admit that perhaps one could read into this clause all sorts of sinister implications in accordance with one’s political point of view. But there is no certainty that even before the Authority is firmly established and operating there will not be a change of government in this country, and completely different necessities may result as the course of the political life of Australia develops. We cannot consider all legislation with the idea that the Government which introduced a particular piece of legislation will not always be in a position to administer it. I think the proposed amendment is quite a reasonable precaution to have in the Bill. The project will be enormously expensive. The Pipeline Authority must have supplies available to it at all times. I well recall that when the honourable Vincent Gair was the Premier of Queensland he was forced, because of certain price increases, to take on the oil companies and to try to get shipments ot oil from other parts of the world. Indeed, he went a long way along the course of achieving this end in the interests of the citizens of the State of which he happened to be the principal authority at the time.
I think that this Pipeline Authority should be able to operate in the interests of the enormous organisation that it will have under its control. Even if it has pressures placed upon it from any side, whether because of industrial troubles or whether because of companies producing oil in this country that might be foreign controlled, the Authority should be able to bargain on the market and to utilise the facilities that it will create. We do not propose to support this amendment.
I think I can relate these remarks to a foreshadowed amendment which I think is very important. I say to the Government that once this Authority is established it is very necessary to have another precaution which is provided for in the terms of a proposed amendment which we intend to support. However, I will speak to that amendment when it is moved. The amendment provides that the Pipeline Authority shall be a common carrier. If we give the Authority the capacity to buy these commodities anywhere in the world, in order to meet its requirements we must be very sure that, at the whim of the Authority, it is not able to deny the rights of the producers in this country, whoever they may be, and exclude their products from the common carriage to the necessary markets in the various States. Once the pipeline has been constructed it will be the only economic means of access to the markets in other cities. It will become completely impossible economically to compete with the Authority in the transportation of these products from one part of Australia to another. Whilst I agree with the Government that the proposed amendment is necessary to protect it in certain circumstances which could arise, it is also necessary to provide for the protection of everybody else. In saying that I may be indicating what we are likely to do in relation to the other amendment, because I do believe that the protections they afford are dependent to some extent one upon the other. I think the same philosophy applies to both of them.
Clause agreed to.
Proposed new clause 13 A.
– I move:
This amendment was foreshadowed by speakers on this side of the Committee and by me during the course of the secondreading debate. Clause 13 sets out the functions of the Authority. The proposed new clause goes on to provide that when the Authority proposes any major work of construction it should provide the details of the proposal to the Minister for Minerals and Energy and, through him, to the Parliament, and that a resolution of the Parliament is required in favour of the proposed work. The figure of $2m, which is the point at which the provisions of this clause would come into operation, has been chosen because we understand that it is proposed that works costing more than this amount must be approved by the Parliament under the Public Works Committee Act. This is not so at the moment but I believe that legislation providing that the minimum figure should be $2m will be introduced into the Parliament.
We are not proposing here that the Public Works Committee should be brought into the ambit of this Bill. In other words, we are not suggesting that any such work should be referred to the Public Works Committee. We are conscious of the fact that that Committee has its own franchise under the Public Works Committee Act. Its terms of reference do not extend into some of the affairs of statutory authorities, but we believe that in this particular case there are special reasons why any major work should be approved by Parliament. As I said, we have chosen the figure of $2m. It may be thought that this figure is too low, that it would be inhibiting to the Authority to have to come to the Parliament to have approved every work which will cost $2m or more, and that some larger sum perhaps should be proposed. We are not absolutely fixed on the figure of $2m but we have chosen that figure, as I understand it, because it is similar to the figure which is proposed in relation to work which must be approved by the Public Works Committee.
Where the Parliament is being requested to fund huge operations of this character - figures as high as $2,000m have been mentioned as the public investment in national pipelines - we believe that it should have the opportunity to consider fully the policy behind the construction of the line, and to consider perhaps the environmental factors and also the economic factors. In our opinion it is not good enough that it should simply be left to the decision of the Authority itself, competent and all as it may be. The employees of such an Authority do not carry the responsibility to the taxpayers of this country for the expenditure of these vast sums of money. That responsibility rests wholly and solely on the shoulders of the Parliament. When the Parliament is asked to advance such sums of money we believe that it is necessary for us to have proper details in relation to the expenditure of that money. That is what the proposed new clause provides for.
It is not suggested that the matter necessarily has to go to a committee. Many proposals can be considered without being referred to a committee. As we all know, the Minister in charge of the Authority would bring the proposal to Parliament unless any members of Parliament had particular objections to it. No doubt in many cases the proposals would be given quite a speedy passage by Parliament. On the other hand there may be works of such a character which excite great public concern or interest. For example, let us assume that the Authority wishes to build in an area where there is great concern for the environmental factors or for the preservation of the natural beauty or fauna of an area. Let us assume that a situation develops in relation to the work of this Authority as has occurred at Lake Pedder. It has occurred to us that it is obvious, desirable and necessary that when these factors occur they will be more and more before our minds as parliamentarians. We should have responsibility for making a proper decision of this kind. That is the reason why I have moved the amendment. I commend it to the Senate.
– The Government will oppose this amendment. The main reason, as I indicated when I spoke earlier, is that essentially the Authority will be a commercial undertaking. It seems a strange set of circumstances that the Authority may have to wait for money for periods of some considerable length during parliamentary recesses. During these periods it may be necessary for the Authority to expend in excess of $2m. I do not think it is reasonable to expect an authority of this type to have that restriction placed on its normal commercial operations. For that reason we oppose the amendment.
-I think the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) is treating this Committee in a very cavalier manner. I consider his contribution entirely inadequate. It betrays no consiousness on his part that he has even a glimmer of an assessment of the parliamentary principles which underlie this amendment or of the enormity of the financial commitment which he wishes Parliament tonight to give this Authority and to which he wishes us to commit ourselves. He has not given us a plan, a chart or an engineering report as to the feasibility of 2 miles of this pipeline, much less the many thousands of miles it will carry fuel if it is to be a national enterprise. The proposed amendment is: 13A (1) No pipeline work exceeding in cost $2m shall be undertaken or constructed by the Authority unless and until at has been authorised by resolution of each House of Parliament.
I read these proposals because 1 believe it is an affront to the intelligence of honourable senators to argue that these matters should not be fully informed to Parliament before a major pipeline development is committed upon the expenditure of either borrowings from the public funds or taxation ‘from the public funds. The proposed amendment goes on:
This is an authority of a continuing nature. It is of a nationwide ambit, extending even to the utmost limit of the continental shelf. The figure of $ 1,200m has been mentioned as a possible commitment, but I venture to assert with a good deal of confidence that no such planning, engineering or economic assessments of the possibilities of this system have taken place to make it a matter of reliable exercise for anybody to state a figure. Tonight if we pass this Bill we hereby authorise the Authority to assemble itself to make plans and then what? With the authority of one Minister it can proceed to commit us to what? Maybe a section of the pipeline will involve a cost of $800m. In regard to the proposed pipeline from South Australia to Sydney we have heard the figure of $300m mentioned. Suppose that on an engineering assessment that works out at $500m. Then we multiply that increment all around. This would cause any responsible Parliament to take into consideration the prudence of commencing that work. This Parliament presides over a system of public works. If the Department of Public Works or any other department were proposing a work costing in excess of $750,000 the law of this country is that that work shall not commence until the Joint Committee on Public Works has investigated it. The law requires that all these matters be submitted in substance to the Committee. If the Committee reports in favour of the project the Department cannot proceed with that work until the House of Representatives has resolved that it should do so. That is the method by which Parliament retains control over the ordinary works which makes up the ordinary civil construction program. It defies my understanding for a Minister to stand here and in about 14 words to say: ‘I brush this proposition aside as not worth 2 minutes discussion.’
– That is instant government.
– That is what the Minister said. It will also defy my understanding if we cannot persuade majority support for the amendment. I remind Senator Mulvihill that when the Brown Mountain project came before the Public Works Committee, only because it was excluded from the National Capital Development Commission program-
– It is Black Mountain, not Brown Mountain.
– Yes, Black Mountain. Because there was such criticism of the Lake Pedder project it had to go through this sort of procedure and be resolved by each House of Parliament. In the course of approving of the construction of the scheme no fewer than 2 select committees were formed before there was satisfaction with the economic and environmental aspects of the project. The Government which rejects this amendment has the impertinence, at the suggestion of an escapee from the flooding of the lake - Dr Cass - to send a federal committee of inquiry to look into that proposition, but it denies acceptance of this amendment which will safeguard major developments in pipelines construction. Such a pipeline should not proceed uneconomically except with the approval of each House of Parliament.
– It was very unfortunate that Senator Wright, in a debate which was proceeding harmoniously, with each senator trying to explain points and to correct points which he thought were wrong, attacked the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) by suggesting that the Minister dealt with the amendment in a cavalier fashion and contrary to all parliamentary principles. Let me examine the situation up to the stage at which the Minister replied. Senator Durack had stated his reasons why the amendment should be carried. The Minister replied that the Government would not accept the amendment because it would be a cumbersome and time-wasting thing to have to refer all proposals for a pipeline work to Parliament. I do not know what more could have been said. That was a definite indication of the Government’s policy. It was in very brief terms. The Minister stated why the Government could not accept the amendment. I thought it was a complete, a courteous and a proper reply to the remarks which had been made to that time.
Senator Wright has now added a lot more reasons why we should support the amendment. The amendment envisages that work undertaken by the Pipeline Authority, if the amendment is not carried, would be subjectto the scrutiny of the Public Works Committee because paragraph (2) of the amendment states:
The Public Works Committee Act 1969 shall not apply to any works of the Authority.
Honourable senators opposite accept that an exemption clause is required so that any works of the Authority will not be subject to the scrutiny of the Public Works Committee. If the draf ters of the amendment are correct in that belief, the question which we have to consider is whether the Public Works Committee would be a better body than the Parliament to examine the question. I am not prepared to say that the drafters of the amendment are wrong. I leave it to our legal friends in the chamber to give some legal interpretation of clause 13 (2) of the Pipeline Authority Bill.
– Senator Murphy could do that.
– la the absence of the senior legal officer, I call upon lesser luminaries to give me some elucidation. Clause 13 (2) of the Bill States:
The Authority may perform its functions to the extent that they are not in excess of the functions that may be conferred on the Authority by virtue of any of the legislative powers of the Commonwealth, including the power of the Parliament to make laws.
That would suggest that if the law -is binding the Authority cannot exceed that law. If the Public Works Committee Act is binding on the Authority, proposed new clause 13 A (2) contradicts clause 13 (2) of the Bill, and the proposed new clause cannot possibly be put into operation. Senator Wright says that the construction of buildings for a statutory authority does not come under the scrutiny of the Public Works Committee. I agree .that it never has done. Is this the law or does that remain the position only because no one has ever challenged it?
– It might be a good idea to have it changed.
– If it is ambiguous, it would be a good idea to have a change. I do not think statutory authorities should be able to construct a building without scrutiny by the Committee when the Commonwealth cannot. Section 18 (8) of the Public Works Committee Act states:
A public work the estimated cost of which exceeds $750,000 shall not be commenced unless -
the work has been referred to the Committee in accordance with this section.
The definition of a public work is a work that is proposed to be carried out by or for the Commonwealth within the Commonwealth or within a Territory not forming part of the Commonwealth’. I do not accept that the building which was constructed for the Australian Broadcasting Commission was not constructed on behalf of the Commonwealth. Therefore I think there is justification for a change. If Senator Wright is correct in his assertion that the work of a statutory authority does not come within the ambit of the Public Works Committee, we get the anomalous position under the amendment ‘that no pipeline work - ‘pipeline* is defined - exceeding $2m in cost shall be undertaken or constructed by the Authority unless and until it has been authorised by resolution of each House of Parliament. The Public Works Committee Act does not apply and there is no inquiry into or no control over any work which the Authority might underake and which is not pipeline work. The elaborate administrative building which it may erect does not have to be scrutinised by Parliament. There is some question as to whether it has to be scrutinised by the Public Works Committee. The amendment seeks to make the functional operation of the pipeline subject to parliamentary scrutiny. It has to run the gamut of 2 Houses of Parliament, not just one House, before approval can be obtained. Paragraph (1) of the amendment refers to each House of Parliament’.
– The compromise is one.
– Which one?
– Take your pick.
– At least we are getting somewhere. Let us see whether we can get any further. If there needs to be any inquiry into the operation and if the Public Works Committee Act does not apply, it might be a good idea to have a change, as suggested by Senator Jessop. It would be fitting to have a clause in this Bill stating that the Public Works Committee Act applied. Other than that, what is proposed? The proposal is to have 2 Houses of Parliament inquiring into pipelines, but no one inquiring into other activities of the Authority.
I come to another point. Over the years the Federal Government has set up a number of statutory authorities which are, in effect, commercial undertakings. Although I do not accept that the situation is correct, the fact is that buildings constructed by those authorities do not come under the scrutiny of the Public Works Committee. Trans-Australia Airlines, Qantas Airways Ltd, the Australian National Line and the ABC can spend what they like on buildings. The National Capital Development Commission recently constructed a nearby building which did not come under the scrutiny of the Public Works Committee. I have mentioned only those statutory authorities which come to mind. The Opposition wants part of the operations of the Authority to be under the scrutiny of the Parliament.
– You always argued against ministerial discretion.
– It is not ministerial discretion, it is a discretion of a statutory authority.
– It could be that the Authority is not building out of Consolidated Revenue but out of borrowings under clause 25 of the Bill.
– Senator Cavanagh is the greatest contradiction I have known in 40 years of politics.
– I am sorry that Senator Gair does not understand what I am saying; his colleagues do. The money for the Australian Broadcasting Commission may come out of loan funds, but honourable senators opposite do not ask for an inquiry into that statutory authority. Now they want an inquiry into this proposed Pipeline Authority because it will be established by the Labor Party. They want to attach special provisions in order to make it more difficult for the Authority to function. Can someone tell me why the special provisions should apply to this Authority and why they do not apply to every other authority? I am not happy that statutory authorities should do more or less as they like subject to submitting their annual reports to Parliament. But this is not a proposal to bring all statutory authorities under surveillance; it is only this Authority. Surely honourable senators opposite must give an explanation for that.
– It rather goes to the nature of the independent statutory corporation. That is why it is given an area of independence from scrutiny.
– Is there any difference between an authority that is conveying goods from point A to point B across land and the Australian National Line carrying goods from point A to point B across water? What is the difference? They are both channelling from the point of production to the consumers. The whole question is: Why do we pick out this Authority for the purpose of imposing these restrictions? Why do we want the 2 Houses of Parliament to authorise all work in excess of $2m? Why do we want to consider only part of the operation - the pipeline? Is it not an attempt to curtail the very activities for which this Authority is to be set up? I say that there is protection. Clause 13 (2) of the Bill gives the Parliament power at any time to impose on the Authority any restrictions that the Parliament thinks fit to impose. So there is sufficient power in the Bill which the Parliament can use if the Authority acts in a way that might not be acceptable to the Parliament. As there is that power under clause 13 (2), why do we want this amendment?
– I was beginning to wonder whether we were not getting pipelined off the main track on to a discussion of what are or are not the functions of the Public Works Committee because it happens to be mentioned in part of the amendment. Whilst it might appear that this section of the amendment is valid from one point of view, I think we must accept the fact that this Pipeline Authority will be under Government jurisdiction. No expenditure in excess of $500,000 can be incurred without the authority of the Minister. As a member of this Parliament, I do not want to accept authority at some subsequent stage for the actions of a Government which has got a project into a particular position and then comes to the Parliament because expenditure on a certain item of the pipeline operation happens to be in excess of $2m. This could involve the Parliament perhaps in helping to overcome a mistake that may have been made and shifting responsibility on to the Parliament for something that the Government had done. At this stage I do not think that it would be possible for members of this Parliament to be so well informed that they would know precisely the financial responsibility connected with the expenditure of the money or for both Houses of the Parliament to be informed as to the business and economic proposition involving the investment of a further $2m of capital.
One could imagine all sorts of things happening in the Authority itself to inhibit its work once this sort of a provision was tacked on to a body such as this. Firstly, the Parliament could be sensible enough to authorise the digging of holes into which to put the pipes. Over the area that is envisaged, small sections of the pipeline could cost $2m. Having dug the holes, one of the Houses of Parliament might get into the cranky mood that Houses of Parliament sometimes get into - and I am not suggesting in any circumstances that it would be this House - and it might decide not to allow the purchase of the pipes to put in the holes that have already been dug.
– Do not be childish.
– If Senator Georges is not following my argument, he has not followed the history of his own Party which often has made decisions for a political reason that are far more stupid than what Senator Georges seems to think I am suggesting.
– Because of you we have not had a chance for 23 years.
– That is right. We did not give you a chance because you were not worthy of it, and 1 think that the people have made a mistake now.
– You are on our side.
– Do not lose the support that you are getting before you are sure ‘that you have got it. I believe that this is a project of enormous character which the Government is implementing and that the Government has to take the responsibility for the success or failure of the project. If the people remove this Government from office, another government can make a choice as to whether it accepts the responsibility for the success or failure of the project, or whether somebody else accepts that responsibility. We, as members of Parliament, are accepting the responsibility and are saying - we said this by agreeing to the second reading of the Bill - that the project, as envisaged, should be implemented and that a responsible authority should be set up. Clearly under the terms of the Bill, this responsible Authority is under the supervision of the Government, and 1 am prepared to leave it at that until this Government does what I think it will do in many areas, that is, shows that it is incompetent to carry on. Then the people will deal with the Government and we will get a new government.
I do not believe that we can set up an authority such as this Pipeline Authority and provide that every expenditure in excess of $2m must be authorised by the Parliament. If the Minister has to approve of all sorts of projects up to $500,000, where do we start to draw the line? itf projects are undertaken in bites of $500,000 or $lm, they do not involve expenditure in excess of $2m and they do not have come to Parliament. All you are doing is saying to the Authority: ‘If Parliament is in recess or something, you can go along with a certain project up to $1 short of $2m, but if you go to $2,000,001, you have to come and get the authority of Parliament.’ So the project is cut up into the slices that are necessary to meet the limitation of $2m, and the Authority goes right ahead. If we want supervision of the expenditure on the whole project brought to the Parliament, then every contract that the Authority might enter into will have to be brought here. But is that feasible or possible? (Because of the enormity of this project, the Authority will have to deal with many people. It will have to purchase pipes not from one company, but probably from 3, 4 or 6 companies, and not all of them will be in Australia if we believe all that has been said about this matter. The Australian industry is reported to have said that it cannot supply all the pipes, that it wants to supply those sections of the pipes that it can. So the Authority will be dealing with companies supplying pipes not only here in Australia but also in other parts of the world. Every time that the Authority enters into a contract to spend $2ra, $Sm, $6m or $8m on pipes, it will have to come here and have the expenditure authorised by the 2 Houses of the Parliament. The Authority may have the holes dug and waiting for the pipes to be put in, but it will not be able to get the contracts because the Parliament is not sitting. The Authority will be able to get from the Minister authority to spend $500,000 so it will be able to give an order for $500,000 worth of pipes. But a busy Japanese company is likely to say: Look, make it a decent order or we will not accept it’. An order for $500,000 worth of pipes in some instances would be a small contract - indeed, a very small contract. I believe that there are practical arguments without going into the question of what are the func tions of the Public Works Committee. The argument as to whether the Committee will not, does not or may not have any supervisory functions under this Bill is redundant and a waste of time. We believe that this amendment will not give any great supervisory powers to the Parliament. In fact, the suggested powers may be an embarrassment to the Parliament. We believe that the authority vested in the Government should be carried out by the Government. At this stage we hope that the Government will carry out this authority in a practical and efficient manner.
– Order! It being VI p.m., in accordance with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I put the question:
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the Chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The Temporary Chairman having reported accordingly.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! In accordance with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Senate adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
(Question No. 154) Senator LAWRIE asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Will the Minister inform the Senate as to what progress has been made in plans and designs for new works at Brisbane Airport.
Has agreement been reached with the Brisbane City Council on road access facilities.
-When is work likely to be started on the new runway complex and associated terminal buildings.
Has any tentative date been set for completion of the works.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice:
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLAND- The
Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government’s intentions in regard to tertiary education are as announced in the Minister’s statement of 29 March 1973, in which he said that the Australian Government has proposed to the Premiers an early Federal assumption of full responsibility for financing tertiary education. The Minister reminds the honourable senator that this matter is still subject to discussion with the States. Universities and colleges of advanced education have been established under State legislation and clearly the States will have a continuing concern with decisions about the role of these institutions. The Australian Government will need to develop over a period of time, through consultation with the States, an agreed pattern of responsibilities in the planning of tertiary education under the new financial arrangements. It should be remembered that the Australian Universities Commission and the Australian Commission on Advanced Education have already been involved, over a considerable period of time, in planning the development of tertiary institutions and in the process they have consultations with State authorities and with individual institutions. Inasmuch as a planning function is inherent in the making of financial decisions, obviously the Australian Government will be involved in planning to the extent that it will be involved in providing finance for tertiary education.
– The Minister for Labour has been provided with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The honourable senator will be aware that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in a decision handed down on 8 May 1973 increased the minimum wage by $9. The Department of Labour has estimated -that the total annual cost of this will be approximately S42m, which represents an increase of 0.2 per cent in the national wages bill.
(Question No. 247) Senator WEBSTER asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
Senator WRIEDT - The answer to Senator Webster’s question is as follows:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
On taking office this Government continued the action already being taken on behalf of the Australians who it had been alleged were being detained in Yugoslavia.
Most of these cases date back to August/September 1972 with the action commencing in some instances as a result of representations in this Parliament. This Government has pursued these inquiries but its efforts have been complicated by the dual nationality aspects of each of the cases involved.
A specific example of these continuing representations occurred on 5 January when our Ambassador in Belgrade during discussions with the Yugoslav Ministry of Foreign Affairs, again drew attention to the fact that replies to our inquiries regarding those persons were still outstanding.
(Question No. 272) Senator GREENWOOD asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs upon notice:
Why did the Government not act, before it received Information about the execution of 3 Australians in Yugoslavia, to find out about the 9 other Australians alleged to be still imprisoned or to have died in Yugoslavia.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 May 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730523_senate_28_s56/>.