28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to the widening of United Nations action against Rhodesia, which the Australian Government, along with the Communist and Third World Nations, is supporting consistently in the United Nations Security Council, and the encouragement which is thereby given to African terrorist groups to believe that Australia’s sympathetic words may be translated into action. I ask: Will the Government categorically state that if the 2 African terrorists to whom I referred yesterday - Mr Zvobgo and Mr Chi.tefo - request the Federal Government, as is reported they will request, for arms and other help for their terrorist organisations, the Australian Government will make it abundantly clear that it will not provide any such support for terrorism anywhere in the world?
– Firstly, I do not know on what basis Senator Greenwood can say that African terrorists or any other terrorists can take some solace from any action that we take in the United Nations and that in that way we encourage violence. I have some information about one of the gentlemen mentioned yesterday by the honourable senator. He asked a question about the passport of Mr Zvobgo. My information is that Mr Zvobgo is travelling on a British passport and is coming to Australia from the United States of America. There is absolutely nothing unusual about this. British people can come and go. As far as we know, Mr Zvobgo has not taken part in any violent action-
– He has been convicted.
– He has served some time in gaol. From my information, as far as we know he has not been engaged in violence. He has been very outspoken and has said some very hard things against the Smith regime. He makes no secret at all about his view of that situation. I have no information about the other gentleman mentioned in the question. If I receive some information, I will certainly let Senator Greenwood know.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Minister for Defence: Is it a fact that the Minister for Defence said in Sydney last night that he was alarmed that there had not been a Government inquiry in the past 23 years into Australia’s defence needs? If it is a fact, was the Minister talking off the top of his head or with the advice and backing of his Department? Did the Minister mean an inquiry by an independent outside authority? Was he saying that all past conferences, either at international or internal chiefs of staff levels, have ignored Australia’s defence needs and have in fact been a waste of time?
– At this stage, I have not seen the Press report of what Mr Barnard is supposed to have said. My first observation would be that we would need to check the script of his speech against what the Press has reported him as saying. But I am sure that the Minister for Defence would not be saying that there had not been any study within the defence forces. Rather, as he has said before and as the Government has stated, when the Labor Party came to power it undertook to make an in-depth study of the requirements of Australia’s defence forces. The honourable senator knows already from a number of statements that have been made that that study is continuing. It is probably one of the deepest studies that have been undertaken. It will be the most expert. It is a study which is related to what might be called Australia’s current defence needs. I stated in answer to a question, this week I think, that as the Minister for Defence is to make a statement in relation to these matters next week the honourable senator might well reserve whatever criticisms he has until a later stage. If Senator Drake-Brockman wants any particular inquiry made, I will get the information for him.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to an article in last Thursday’s ‘Australian’ by the former Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Sinclair? Does the Minister basically agree with Mr Sinclair’s views as stated in the article that agricultural policies should ensure that production relates to market- demand and does he agree with his advocacy of rural adjustment policies?
– I did see the article referred to. It appeared alongside one which I contributed to that publication. It is true that Mr Sinclair spelled out clearly that he does believe that production should be tailored to the marketing prospect. This was in complete contrast to a statement which I understand the Leader of the Australian Country Party made yesterday in the House of Representives in which he castigated me in no uncertain terms for even suggesting that this should be the policy of this Government. Obviously there is a major difference of opinion between Mr Anthony and Mr Sinclair on this matter. It is true that it is a bad thing to allow a chronic over-supply situation to develop and for that reason I agree with Mr Sinclair that the adjustment policies in rural industry should be strengthened. Naturally the Government will encourage the production of products for which there is strong world demand. We have already done this in the critically important area of wheat. For this year we gave wheat growers a monetary incentive to grow more wheat and we understand the response has been magnificent. All indications are that the wheat acreage this year will increase to 24 million acres compared with 18 million acres last year. On the indication of world prices the Australian wheat industry will benefit significantly from the Government’s decision which helped to bring about this increased acreage.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is it not a fact that earlier this year 12 Rhodesian girls of the Girls Brigade, a multi-racial religious organisation, who were en route to New Zealand were refused entry to Australia at Sydney Airport because they were Rhodesian? Is it also a fact that these young girls were refused an opportunity to meet members of the Australian Girls Brigade who had come to meet them? ls it also a fact that after spending approximately 2 weeks in New Zealand these girls were finally allowed to spend one night in Sydney on their way home because of the public outcry at the harsh treatment meted out to them by the Australian Government? Why then, if such extreme discrimination was used against these young girls, is the Aus tralian Government -now allowing easy entry and free movement to 2 recognised African Rhodesian extremists and radicals?
– I just do not recall the details of the travel requirements for the Rhodesian girls but I will find out and advise the honourable senator. I remember signing recently at least one application to allow Rhodesians to visit Australia on humanitarian grounds. If the honourable senator’s suggestion is that we are just being harsh on everybody, then that is completely wrong. I will get the details about the girls and let the honourable senator know what they are.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister and again it is so directed because I did not get an answer to a question that I asked. I ask: If the 2 persons whom I mentioned yesterday request the Australian Government, as it is reported that they will request the Australian Government, to provide arms and other help for their terrorist organisations in Africa, will this Government assert categorically that it will not provide assistance for terrorism anywhere in the world?
– Very obviously one does not answer hypothetical questions.
– Is the
Minister for Primary Industry aware of concern in sections of the wool industry over an announcement by the Australian Wool Corporation that it has sold wool directly to the People’s Republic of China? Is it not a fact that the Corporation, at its inception, undertook to sell stockpile wools only through Australian buyers? Can the Minister give the Senate full details of the sale and explain why the Corporation departed from this policy, if this is a fact?
– It is true that the Australian Wool Corporation has sold approximately 1,000 bales of wool to the People’s Republic of China. I feel certain that the Australian wool grower is glad that this new trade appears to be opening up because it will help to strengthen the market. It is already strong but we must penetrate new markets wherever we can. There were no unusual trading arrangements involved in this transaction and the prices were related to current market values. The Corporation offers wool acquired in the course of its reserve price activities through the auction system and direct to buyers representing overseas countries. I understand that the Chinese Government is interested in long term arrangements in this respect, and also in respect of wheat. I believe that the activities of the Corporation can be only of benefit to the wool growing industry generally.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. Will the Minister use his good offices with the Australian Medical Association to take up with that body the possibility of easing the means limit applying to eligibility for pensioner medical service benefits so that the wife of a totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner who, as well as his TPI pension is in receipt of a Service pension, may receive a pensioner medical card and so may receive medicines on a repatriation prescription?
– I understand that this matter has been the subject of discussion between my colleague, the Minister of Social Security whom I represent in the Senate, and our colleague, Senator Bishop, the Minister for Repatriation. Senator Bishop advises me in his capacity as Minister for Repatriation that the Australian Medical Association has been reluctant to do anything about this sort of matter.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation ascertain from his colleague whether he has studied the Senate committee reports on water and air pollution? Will he also ascertain from his colleague whether he accepts any of the recommendations of the committees concerned, and if so which ones? When are we to see some real action in relation to the protection of the environment?
– I can assure the honourable senator from discussions that I have had with the Minister that he has studied the reports. Representatives of departments concerned with the environment throughout Australia have met and tried to get Australia-wide agreement on proposals for controlling the environment. I believe that the Australian Environment Council, which again meets in July, has an extensive program for consideration. The program involves various proposals including a report on the pollution over Sydney yesterday. I will direct the question to the Minister to see whether I can obtain a reply as to what recommendations of the committees it is intended to put into operation. I think that it is a joint project to be undertaken between the States and the Commonwealth.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry, concerns dairying. Is he aware that the dairy industry has received no indication from the Labor Government as to its support or otherwise for the production arrangements proposed for the 1973-74 year? Will he hasten to advise the industry so that adequate time for forward planning may be available in deciding the use of the likely Government financial support and in planning production? As the dairy industry year basically starts in July will he recognise the importance of early advice to that industry?
– The honourable senator will be well aware that there is a long history of negotiation between the industry and the previous Administration on the question of butter production quotas and so on. I do not think it is reasonable to expect this Government, in the short time it has been in office, to sort out this problem. I think the honourable senator would agree that there is a measure of responsibility on the part of the industry in this situation. The previous Government gave certain undertakings regarding subsidies. The Labour Government has not revoked those subsidies and they will not be revoked unless there is very good justification for doing so. I think the honourable senator is also aware that the Australian Agricultural Council discussed this matter at its last meeting. The Council asked the industry to come up with specific proposals for the next meeting of the Council in August. It is my understanding from Press reports that very grave divisions still exist within the industry. The industry does not appear to be able to come up with any consensus on what its future, should be. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for me to suggest what course of action should be taken. The Government does not want to move without the industry giving it some clear lead on what course the industry feels should be adopted. I can only repeat what I said earlier when replying to similar questions asked by Senator Webster. The sooner the industry can come up with something concrete to give the Government a lead on the industry’s thinking, the sooner the Government will be able to take some specific action.
– Is the Minister for the Media aware that the Australian Broadcasting Commission for some years has planned a major $20m complex in the William and Forbes Streets area in Sydney? Is it not a fact that some 26 different offices scattered around Sydney are being used by the ABC? Without detracting from the desirability of housing all of the ABC’s activities in a single building, will the Minister acknowledge that the new Government’s policy in the Sydney business district is to restrict public development in the overall interest of decentralisation? Will the Minister discuss with the Minister for Urban and Regional Development and the Minister for Works the possibility of resiting this complex outside the Sydney business district?
– It is a fact that one of the difficulties confronting the Australian Broadcasting Commission in its administrative arrangements is the diversity of its office accommodation in Sydney. I am not sure that the exact number of offices is 26, as the honourable senator has suggested, but I know it is in that vicinity. There are a large number of premises in Sydney from which the ABC has to function because of the inadequacy or insufficiency of its own accommodation. It is true that for some time the ABC has been looking at a proposal for the development of a site in Forbes Street, Sydney, which, of course, adjoins the site which the ABC has in William Street. The proposal for the development of that site has been looked at by the Department of Works at the request of the ABC. I know that a set of plans for the development of the site has been drawn up. As I understand the situation the plans cater for the most extensive use of the sitethat is possible. The plans apparently include provision for possible future expansion for some years. Some cost estimates have been made. .This Government has adopted a policy which is aimed at regional development and the easing of pressures on city development in established centres.
The Minister for Urban and Regional Development, Mr Uren, wrote to me recently, as he wrote to all of his Cabinet colleagues, to draw our attention to this matter. I in turn drew the matter to the attention of the ABC and indeed of all statutory authorities which come within my ministerial responsibility. The ABC plan for the development of this site, as I understand it, was referred some time earlier this month to the interdepartmental committee which is examining all aspects of Government policy in this regard.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. What action does the Minister intend to take, if any, to assist the Victorian Aboriginal Advancement League which is seeking an injunction to restrain anthropologists from excavating a graveyard in Victoria containing more than 40 skeletons, a report of which appeared in the ‘Australian’ newspaper on Saturday, 19 May 1973? Are we again to see the desecration of Aboriginal sacred burial grounds?
-As the honourable senator knows, no one is more concerned about the desecration of sacred Aboriginal grounds than the present Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I know nothing of this project and I will refer the honourable senator’s question to the Minister to see what assistance the Commonwealth intends to give to the League in that regard.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry conferred with State primary industry Ministers and leaders of the meat industry on the subject of substitute meats? Is it a fact that some products being marketed in Australia as meat contain substitutes? Will the Minister agree that uncontrolled production and sale of substitutes will seriously affect the industry in this country, particularly if such products are not labelled as to their contents?
– I have not discussed this specific matter with any State Ministers.
My understanding is that until recently anyway the volume of meat substitutes on the market was only marginal in the overall demand. There are, of course, regulations laid down concerning the labelling of such products. I will have a look at the current position. I have not looked at it for 2 or 3 months, and if I can supply the honourable member with any additional information I shall do so.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry, refers to a previous question asked regarding the reported sale of wool to China. Was the Australian Wool Corporation in any way directed by or influenced by the Government into entering into this sale or was the sale entirely on the initiative of the Australian Wool Corporation?
– -The Australian Wool Corporation made the sale to the wool mission from the China National Textile Import and Export Corporation without any interference from this Government and in accordance with the customary commercial arrangements of traders in wool. I can assure the honourable senator that the sale was entirely a commercial transaction. As I said earlier, the initiative taken by the Corporation follows an initiative taken by this Government to open up what could well prove to be a very significant new market for Australian primary products.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade. Perhaps it should be directed to Senator Wriedt. Does the Minister recall his answering a question asked by me a few weeks back to the effect that when the new round of international trade and tariff talks begins in about September 1973 the question of the 25ic per lb duty on greasy wool entering the United States could possibly be taken up with that country? I now ask the Minister: As time is running on can he give a categorical assurance that this matter will in fact be raised with the United States at these talks in an attempt to lift or reduce this extremely heavy impost?
– I did have some discussions in Washington on this matter recently. It does not fall directly within my portfolio.
It is a matter for Dr Cairns as Minister for Overseas Trade. I cannot give the honourable senator a categorical assurance but it is my understanding that the matter will be raised with a view to Australia perhaps getting more favourable treatment from the United States in relation to this problem.
– I direct a question to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Minister will recall that there are 2 vacancies on the Senate Select Committee on Shipping Services Between King Island, Stanley and Melbourne to be nominated by the Leader nf the Government in the Senate. Does the Minister intend to nominate today 2 senators to fill those vacancies?
– We will nominate 2 honourable senators. 1 will see whether that can be done today. We have an unusual day because of the sittings of the Estimates Committees.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. I refer to the Government’s decision to boost the migrant intake by 20 per cent by the first quarter of the year. I ask whether the Minister can say from what source countries it is proposed to recruit this sudden and enlarged intake? In view of the Government’s plans to extend to migrants a wide range of services and education facilities from the date of their arrival, has the Government plans rapidly to increase all these services to the considerable extent required? If so, what will be the fate of these facilities and the people involved if and when the immigration program is suddenly switched off?
– The matters raised in the honourable senator’s questions are outside my immediate knowledge, They are matters for the administrative machinery of the Department of Immigration and for my colleague in another place. I therefore ask the honourable senator to place his question on the notice paper.
– I ask the Special Minister of State whether he is aware that
Professor Messel, now special adviser to the Attorney-General, was reported in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ of 16 October 1953 as saying of the then atomic explosions at Woomera:
The explosions will have no effect whatever on the people of Sydney. By the time what remains of the radioactive cloud reaches here lt will be so diluted that it could not possibly cause any damage.
A human being is quite able to absorb a small dose of radiation. The body repairs the damage almost instantly. It can withstand a large number of small doses.
– Order! Senator, you must ask your question. The Standing Orders are specific. You must not give information.
– J ask: Is the Minister aware of such a viewpoint and a similar viewpoint expressed at that time by Sir Marcus Oliphant? While recognising the possible advances in scientific knowledge is the Minister aware of any significant change in the viewpoint then held by Professor Messel or is it in parallel with his advice to the Government today?
– I apologise to Senator Carrick and to the Senate that I do not remember what Professor Messel said in 1953. As one gets older one’s memory slips. Whether his advice to the Government now is the same or whether it has changed I do not know. I mentioned the other day in this place - and Senator Carrick adverted to this today - that what we knew then about pollution, and particularly atomic pollution, is nothing when compared With what we know today. As I have said several times, we will hear the whole of the anti Australian case at the International Court of Justice from honourable Senators opposite if we sit here long enough. I have not heard one of them putting up an argument in favour of our case in spite of the fact that their leaders have said that they have protested to the French about the explosions which are to take place on Mururoa Atoll. Yet we have people in this chamber for ever trying to denigrate and pull down the case which we are putting before the International Court of Justice. The situation is, as I freely admitted the other day, that this is the sort of argument which will be used against us because we did acquiesce in atomic explosions some 20 years ago. We answer: Surely to change our minds on this vital question is merely saying that we are a little wiser today then we were yesterday.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and remind him that I asked a question recently about whether the Government would give favourable consideration to providing financial assistance to Flinders University to establish a solar energy institution for research and training in this scientific field. I now ask whether the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has been approached concerning the possiblity of establishing pilot solar energy plants to serve small Aboriginal groups. If so, will the Minister say whether the Government intends providing funds for this purpose?
– I do not know whether the Minister has been approached. 1 ask the honourable senator to put his question on notice.
– My question is directed to the Special Minister of State in his capacity as Minister Assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I ask: Is it not a fact that on 19 December last year in the United Nations General Assembly the Australian representative voted against, and was in a minority in voting against, a resolution designed to promote measures to prevent international terrorism which endangered human life? What was the reason for that vote? Is there any connection between that vote and his refusal to state categorically today that the Government will not refuse to give arms or military aid to terrorist organisations throughout the world? Why is the Government not prepared to say that it condemns terrorism anywhere in the world?
– I do not recall the details of the vote of December last year. I do not carry those things in my mind. Senator Greenwood asked me a hypothetical question today about some visitors to Australia. It is quite clear from the Standing Orders that hypothetical questions should not be asked.
– That is not this one.
– Just be quiet for a moment. Senator Greenwood has now twisted that around and said that we will not say that we condemn terrorism. Where is the connection in that? We have condemned terrorism not all over the world but in Australia, which Senator Greenwood refused to do.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister. My question refers to the proposal that an Australian ship be sent to an area in the vicinity of the French explosions. We have been told that this would be safe for the crew of that ship because it would be outside the fallout area. If persons on that ship are safe, how is it that we who are thousands of miles further away from the explosions are in danger?
– Senator McManus certainly credits me with having a lot of scientific knowledge which I do not possess. As I understand the situation it is a matter for the defence authorities as to whether one of our ships goes as a supply ship to a New Zealand ship. It is not envisaged that it will go directly into the area of the explosions. I understand that there will be an immediate fallout and that there will then be thrown into the atmosphere the dangers that will go on in varying quantities over many years. All I can say is that we certainly will not willingly be putting anybody into more danger than the normal French tests will bring about.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry and is in relation to the establishment of a margarine manufacturing concern in the Australian Capital Territory. I ask: Was the Minister correctly reported this morning when he was quoted as having said that either the previous Government or the present Government had invited applications from all margarine manufacturing companies to manufacture margarine in the Australian Capital Territory? If that is the case and it was the previous Government which invited applications, will the Minister endorse the truth or otherwise of that statement by bringing to the attention of the Senate the request that was made by the previous Government to the various manufacturing companies?
– My understanding is that the previous Government did issue invitations to manufacturers. I am not aware of there being any invitation by this Government. To the best of my knowledge any negotiations which have taken place have been carried out by the Minister for the Capital
Territory. That is the extent of my understanding of the position. I think it would be best if I were to get a detailed reply for Senator Webster so that he has the precise information on record.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Treasurer been drawn to statistics issued yesterday by the Reserve Bank of Australia which reveal that during the March quarter inward capital movements dropped $27 8m from the $550m level in the corresponding 3 months of last year? Is the Government perturbed at this significant decline insofar as it affects future prospects of national development?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is no, my attention has not been drawn to these statistics.
– Is the Minister assisting the Prime Minister aware that both France and China opposed a motion which was moved at the World Health Organisation by Australia and which condemned atomic tests in the atmosphere? As both France and China opposed this motion, will the Government send a formal letter of protest to China and France for not supporting such a resolution?
– No. I think it would be quite the wrong thing to do to chide people after they have cast a vote at any of the United Nations agencies. The debate takes place, a vote is taken and that is it. We may be disappointed at the way in which people voted. I think that it would be quite futile and outside normal diplomatic relations for us to take the matter up on a diplomatic level and write to the countries.
– My question is directed to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. In the ‘Bulletin’ of 26 May reference is made to the close association between Mr Crebbin of Marrickville Margarine Pty Ltd and Mr Mick Young during the previous election campaign. The article contains an allegation that during the election campaign the refrigerator in an Australian Labor Party campaigner’s Sydney flat was1 stocked with Marrickville products.
– Can you substantiate the article?
– The next point is more important. I ask the Acting Leader of the Government whether it is a fact. The article stated that the managing director of Marrickville Margarine was involved in helping with the financing of the expenses of at least one of the people who accompanied Mr Whitlam on his tour of China last year. Was any finance provided by Marrickville Margarine in relation to that trip?
– The first part of the question has nothing to do with any of the portfolios for which I am responsible. I do not know whether a flat had Marrickville margarine in it. It has nothing to do with the Government whether it did. I have heard the allegation previously. I do not think it comes under any shade of Government policy. As I understand it, it is not true.
– I redirect to the Minister representing the Treasurer the question which 1 asked earlier in respect to capital inflow into Australia. I ask the Minister the second part of the question which is the crux of it. Is the Government perturbed at the significant decline in capital inflow insofar as it affects future prospects of national development?
– Senator Laucke started his previous question by asking me whether a statement had been drawn to my attention. I told him that it had not.
– The second part of the question is the important part.
– The second part is the important part. The honourable senator asked me something. He took one economic factor in the whole of the economy and asked me whether the Government was worried about it. Quite frankly, it is one of the things which we take into account in the whole of our economic structure or the whole of our economic workings. I cannot answer whether this one thing is wiping out all the other economic measures. I just cannot answer that.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Media. I refer again to the proposed points system for television programs and the base quota of points that will be allocated. I again ask the Minister: Will this mean that a commission or some other body will be established to have some system of control over the operations and the programs of commercial television stations?
Australian Broadcasting Control Board has been established by Act of Parliament to oversee the operations and the programming arrangements of commercial broadcasting and television stations, and it will continue to be the supervising authority.
– I direct a question to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as the Minister representing the Treasurer. The last figure that I saw relating to capital outflow since this Government took office was $600m. Has the Minister any information of any other and, if so, what figure relating to capital outflow from this country since the Australian Labor Party took office?
– I do not know whether that figure is correct, and I have no other figures.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the nature of the questions being asked by Opposition senators relating to the recent sale of 1,000 bales of wool to China by the Australian Wool Corporation, has the Minister received any objections to this sale from wool growers or their organisations?
– The answer is no, and further, I do not expect to receive any objections.
Mr MICK YOUNG
– My question to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister. I ask: Was Mr Mick Young, who travelled on a VIP plane to Europe with the Prime Minister, a guest of the Australian people, or did he pay his fare? Will the Minister state the principles upon which the Government acts in making VIP trips abroad available to officials of the Australian Labor Party? Does the fact that Mr Young accompanied Mr Whitlam on a visit to the Pope mean that Mr Young is in line for appointment to the vacant position of Ambassador to the Vatican?
– As I understand the situation - and I am subject to correction - Mr Young accompanied Mr Whitlam on a part of the return trip, but I do not think that is important. Senator McManus is referring to the principle involved. 1 am informed that Mr Young paid his fare. He travelled on the same basis as journalists travel on VIP trips. It is a matter of convenience. Journalists are taken on VIP trips, but their fares are paid by their companies.
In regard to the question whether Mr Young ls being considered for the position at the Vatican, we have looked at that, but no, he is not being considered. Incidentally, I just heard an honourable senator mention Senator Gair. 1 regret to say that he is not being considered, either.
– Pursuant to section 11 of the Life Insurance Act 1945-1965, I present the twenty-seventh annual report of the Insurance Commissioner for the year ended 31 December 1972.
– Pursuant to statute I present the report of the Special Advisory Authority on industrial type plastic coated knitted gloves.
– On behalf of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts I present the 143rd report of the Committee. I have a statement concerning the report which I- seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
The 143rd report of the public accounts committee comprises 3 Treasury minutes relating to previous reports of the Committee. These reports were the 421st report on the Department of Shipping and Transport (now the Department of Transport); the 127th report on the Auditor-General’s Report for the financial year 1969-70 and the 134th report, which dealt with, under-expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund under the Appropriation Acts for 1970-71. The 121st report deals with a general inquiry into the financial administration of the Department of Shipping and Transport. In the conclusions to the report your Committee expressed concern, amongst other things, about the division of the Department’s central office between Melbourne and Canberra. It is pleasing to learn from the Treasury minute that the resumed program for transfer of departmental central offices to Canberra will result in that Department moving most of its central office to Canberra by the end of 1975. Also, in this Treasury minute we were informed that the Navigation Act, about which the Committee expressed some reservations, is being revised by a former First Assistant Secretary of that Department, working as a special consultant.
When we examined the Auditor-General’s Report of 1969-70 the Committee expressed some concern about responsibility for school buildings. It may be recalled that this issue arose as a consequence of a major fire which destroyed the Lyneham Primary School. We were pleased to be informed in the Treasury minute that the former Departments of the Interior (now Services and Property) and Education and Science (now Education), and the Department of the Treasury had agreed, firstly, that all school buildings in the Australian Capital Territory should be regarded as special purpose buildings, and secondly, that the responsibility for maintaining assets registers for those buildings should rest with the Department of Education. The Treasury minute also told us that installation of thermal fire protection services in existing Australian Capital Territory primary schools had commenced, and a priority order for the progressive installation in other schools was being arranged. In addition, we are able to report that a feasibility study has commenced to determine the most efficient and economical burglar alarm systems for use in existing and proposed educational buildings.
Another matter which the Committee examined was the fraudulent issue and negotiation of cheques at a regional office of the Deparment of Social Services (Now the Department of Social Security). Following this fraud, internal audit practice was strengthened by the use of statistical oriented sampling procedures for all regional office audits. In addition, the internal audit establishment was reorganised to provide officers with greater training and qualifications to be engaged in this work. The 134th report arose from the Committee’s annual examination of expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in 1970-71. The Committee found it necessary to refer to cases of unsatisfactory or inadequate administrative performances that resulted in shortfalls in expenditure and attention was drawn by the committee to these inadequacies where they arose. In this particular report, we also suggested that departments engaged in the administration of legislation ought to maintain a thorough knowledge of the provisions of the legislation concerned. We are pleased to note that the conclusions of the Committee were brought to the attention of the appropriate officers.
Before concluding, I would like to inform honourable senators of the procedures involved in this rather unique form of document. The practice of presenting treasury minutes is the result of an arrangement made between the Committee and tha
Treasurer before the presentation of the Committee’s first report on 10 March 1953. The arrangement is that the Committee will forward a copy of each report to the Treasurer for consideration immediately that report is tabled. His reply, to take the form of a Treasury minute on the report, is to be included by the Committee in a later report to the Parliament. This 143rd report is one of those later reports to Parliament. Before preparing its minute, the Treasury consults the departments concerned and obtains their views on the points raised by the Committee. Essen’ tially the Treasury minute system ensures that Committee recommendations are acted upon and informs members of the steps taken to meet their proposals.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I seek leave to make a statement which the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) delivered yesterday in another place.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Honourable senators will be pleased to know that the members of both Houses of the Tasmanian Parliament have unanimously agreed to the following resolutions:
That in the opinion of the Legislative Council and the House of Assembly the testing of nuclear devices in the atmosphere is to be deplored.
That the Parliament of the State of Tasmania records its support for moves by the Federal Government to prevent the planned nuclear tests by the French Government in the South Pacific area and to refer this important matter to the International Court of Justice at the Hague.
Perhaps I might take this opportunity of publicly acknowledging the debt that the Commonwealth Government owes to the initiative of the Attorney-General of Tasmania - of which both the previous and present Ministers for Foreign Affairs were aware at the time - in seeking advice from Professor O’Connell of the University of Adelaide, now the Chichele Professor of International Law at Oxford, on the prospects of this avenue before the World Court of restraining the French nuclear tests. It was Professor O’Connell’s advice, I believe, which was responsible for Australia, New Zealand and Fiji relying on the 1928 General Act for the pacific settlement of international disputes, in bringing their dispute in this matter to the International Court of Justice.
Motion (by Senator Willesee) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill foran Act to amend the Public Works Committee Act 1969-
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing orders suspended.
– I move:
This Bill proposes to amend section 18(8) of the Public Works Committee Act to increase the mandatory limit for works considered by the Public Works Committee from $750,000 to $2m. During 1972 the Committee, through the extensive efforts of its members,’ examined a total of 35 proposals, 17 more than in any previous year. This general increase in the number of references to the Committee is continuing with 54 possible proposals listed for 1973 on the current basis of reference.
On present planning the Committee would have to deal with an average of 6 projects a month. However, during the Parliamentary sessions an average of only one week , a month is available for inspections and hearings, and thus the Committee wouldneedto be occupied during the whole winter recess. It is obvious that the Committee could not possibly investigate such a large number of proposals as thoroughly and effectively as it has in the past. A possible solution would be to appoint a second Committee. However, the main danger in having 2 separate Public Works Committees acting concurrently would be the lack of a uniform approach to investigations. Such a lack of uniformity or liaison between 2 separate Committees would be confusing to anyone who might be regularly concerned with the Committees’ investigations.
A more practical alternative is to increase the mandatory limit of $750,000 which was set in 1969 and maintain a single Committee. The Committee has found that the cost level in real terms above which Commonwealth works proposals must be referred to the Committee has been diminished by inflation. As a result the Committee is now examining proposals which, in the past, would have been valued below the statutorylimit. Consequently, relatively minor projects are being delayed, and this increases the time and cost involved in presenting evidence before the Committee.
The figure of $2m is not an arbitrary amount, but has been set after due consideration to the number of works projects which the Government contemplates, and the relative amount of time available to the Committee to look at these projects. This figure should result in 36 projects to be investigated by the Committee, in other words a program similar to that of 1972. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cotton) adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the House of Representatives without amendment:
Crimes Bill 1973.
Crimes (Protection of Aircraft) Bill 1973.
Marriage Bill 1973.
– Order! Is it desired to postpone or rearrange the business of the Senate?
Motion (by Senator Willesee) agreed to:
That Government business take precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this day.
Motion (by Senator Willesee) agreed to:
That business of the Senate be postponed until the next day of sitting.
Motion (by Senator Willesee) agreed to:
That unless otherwise ordered the Senate at its rising adjourn until next Tuesday at 11 a.m.
Motion (by Senator Willesee) agreed to:
That the sitting of the Senate be suspended until8 p.m. to enable Senate Estimates Committees B, C and E to meet:
Sitting suspended from 11.30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Consideration resumed from 23 May (vide page 1900).
Proposed new Clause 1 3a.
– I support the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition by Senator Durack that any work exceeding $2m should not be undertaken by the Authority unless the work has been authorised by resolution of each House of the Parliament. The amendment proposes that work valued at more than $2m must be approved in future by the Parliament under the Public Works Committee Act. I understand that a Bill to this effect will be introduced into the Parliament at a later date. Senator Durack pointed out that we are not proposing at this time that the Public Works Committee should be brought into the ambit of the Bill but that the principle which the proposed legislation would outline should be adopted by the Committee of the whole. It may be argued that this figure is too low and that some other figure should be proposed. If it were, we would not oppose that figure. We on this side believe that there must be some supervision and control of the construction of the pipeline.
I know that last night Senator Cavanagh argued that the Opposition is putting up all sorts of arguments in Committee to oppose legislation. This is the duty of the Opposition. I recall that Senator Cavanagh would argue almost ad nauseam on any matter to oppose a Bill in the Committee stage, which was his right. I would say that he would argue at the drop of a hat on each occasion that he could. It was somewhat annoying at the time, but I believe that he had the absolute right to do so.
– That would be a novel experience, people arguing at drops of hats.
– I think it would be a custom rather than a novel experience. It is true that Senator Cavanagh did it, and he had an absolute right to do it. He had an absolute right to make and to argue his point. We have the same absolute right now that we are in Opposition, much as it might annoy or frustrate Senator Cavanagh. Where the Parliament is being asked to approve a huge sum, which might amount to $l,600m or $2,000m, I believe that in the national interest the Parliament has a right from time to time to take some control over the expenditure of this money. Although there are arguments put forward to oppose this suggestion, there is a clear responsibility on the Parliament to supervise and if necessary control public expenditure.
There are other factors involved. There are the environmental factors which are so dear to the hearts of many senators, particularly some senators opposite. If the environment is likely to be affected, we all know that governments, whatever political complexion they may be, have the idea of getting a job done, and they disregard or ride roughshod over the complaints, the views and the statements of people who are interested in the environment. It may well be that the Parliament should be aware of this and should exercise some supervision over it. I am not suggesting that the complaints or the arguments of those who have even an obsessed view in relation to the environment should be paramount. Of course they should not; but their views should be taken into account. I think the natural history of public authorities which have no responsibility to the people is to ignore or to ride roughshod over the views of those who seek to protect the environment, whereas Parliament, which is more subject to pressures and more subject to the views of the people, would be inclined to listen to these complaints. Therefore, I think there are some sound arguments why this amendment should be accepted.
There is no desire to interfere or to hold up in any way the construction of the pipeline. We on this side have accepted the concept that it should be done by a public authority. Having decided this, we feel that it is no argument that Parliament should not maintain at all stages some control over the operations of this Authority. We may not be wedded to $2m. Perhaps another figure could be suggested, but that figure must be realistic. I support the amendment moved by Senator Durack on behalf of the Opposition.
– I understand that certain machinery requirements have to be observed at present in order that the Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee) might present a statement. For that reason I suggest that progress be reported.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– When I use the word T it will be in the context of the Prime Minister. Upon taking office in December- the
Australian Government began a complete reassessment of Australia’s foreign policy. On 5 December, the day I was sworn in as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, I stated:
The change of Government provides a new opportunity for us to reassess the whole range of Australian foreign policies and attitudes. I shall be reassessing these policies with the general intention of developing more constructive, flexible and progressive approaches to a number of issues. Our thinking is towards a more independent Australian stance in international affairs and towards an Australia which will be less militarily oriented and ‘ not open to suggestions of racism; an Australia which will enjoy a growing standing as a distinctive,, tolerant, cooperative and well ‘ regarded nation ‘hot only in the Asian and Pacific region but in the world at large.
These are the very broad considerations which have guided our reassessment and which have inspired the specific policy decisions and actions already taken. In making the reassessment I have been vastly aided by the work of my Department. The advice available to me is the same which was available to the previous Government. The continuity of that advice provides a valuable element in the continuity of Australia’s “ foreign policy.
Our work in the last 5 months has lain not in forcing new directions upon Australia’s foreign policy but in making new definitions of the role of foreign policy. Australia’s international relations, as those ‘ of any other country, must always be directed to maintaining the nation’s security and ‘ integrity. An approach to foreign policy, however, which is solely an extension of defence policy, ,a foreign policy aimed only at securing the defence perimeters wherever they are set or however defined, will, in the long run, distort both foreign and defence policies. , .
We accept, for instance, the assessment of our predecessors that there is no foreseeable international conflict of major proportions directly involving Australia. Our predecessors made this assessment in terms of the next 10 years. We may rest on such assumptions but not relax upon them. The positive constructive role of foreign policy - and equally defence policy - is to strive to ensure that the assumption proves correct. We are not just passively to assume that there will be no conflict; it is our positive task to see that there is not, by helping remove the causes of tension and conflict. The Government’s foreign policy rests upon the belief that Australia, given her resources, her geographical position, her historical and cultural’ background and the character and aspirations of her people, is well placed to make a serious contribution to the preservation of peace and the promotion of the welfare of our neighbours, while at the same time and by the same path, promoting her own interests and security.
The change in the Australian Government came at a time of very great changes in international relations, particularly affecting our region. When in Opposition the Australian Labor Party worked for those changes in so far as it was in our slight power to do so. There was one man whose position gave him unique power to achieve these changes and I here gratefully acknowledge - as everybody with the welfare of the world at heart must - the pivotal role played by President Nixon in ushering in a new and saner phase in our relations with China; in clearing the way for more intensive commercial, scientific, technical and cultural exchanges between the United States and’ the Soviet Union, and thereby achieving a successful first round of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks and in ending foreign intervention in Vietnam. These were great achievements. None of these great objectives - sensible relations with China, the limitation of nuclear weapons and the end of foreign intervention in Indo-China - have yet been brought to ultimate fruition. The major decisions my Government has taken in foreign policy have all been directed towards their achievement.
This is the context in which some of the most notable of our decisions should be seen. Our immediate efforts to secure normal relations with China were part of an international endeavour. Our ending of the last vestiges of Australia’s military commitment in Vietnam and Cambodia signalled our determination to do all in our power to end foreign intervention in Indo-China.
Decisions like these have naturally attracted the most attention. It should not be overlooked, however, that equally important parts of our foreign’ policy have required not specific actions but continuing activity directed towards strengthening relations with Japan, India and the Association of South East Asian Nations, with the United States and Canada, with Britain and the other members of the European Economic Community.
The central aim of my Government’s foreign policy will be to do all we can as a medium- sized power to help all nations including the great powers and not least our great ally, to make the most of the new opportunities now presenting themselves. We are determined that nothing Australia does by action or inaction will contribute in 1973 to a further loss of opportunity for settlement and sanity, in the way that great opportunities were lost in 1954.
The day is long since past when governmental actions with implications for our overseas relations could be taken independently of the objectives we have been pursuing at the essentially political or diplomatic level. We must now view the conduct of external relations as a task which involves a total evaluation of our interests abroad and at home. The effective management of these various elements in our overseas relations will require a major effort of co-ordination at many levels within the Australian Government. Foreign policy must now be fully integrated with domestic policy. The two are inseparable.
Despite the relaxation of tension which I have mentioned, suspicion and conflict of interests between the nuclear weapons states persist. So does the existence of inequality, injustice and underdevelopment in many parts of the globe. Through the United Nations and other international machinery we have the opportunity to press for the removal of barriers and constraints against a less hostile and more fruitful development of relations between the major nuclear states. At the same time we should not spare our efforts to assist the developing countries of the world achieve material, and spiritual progress in keeping with the legitimate aspirations and dignity of mankind. We believe that in the Third World change is not only inevitable but desirable, and that no peoples can fulfil their ultimate destiny if they are not allowed to arrive at genuinely national solutions to their own internal problems. By this we mean that the movements towards political, economic and social betterment in these countries should proceed along their own course with as little outside interference or intervention as possible and in a climate of security.
In order to help prevent existing differences in political, ideological and social systems from disrupting peace and progress in the area of Asia and the Pacific, we have begun to deal with all the countries which satisfy the criteria of statehood. In this, we have broken with the policies of our predecessors.
The most glaring distortion in our pattern of overseas representation was China, which ignorance, prejudice and Cold War hostility had excluded for a generation from its rightful place as a member of the international community of nations. As soon as we took office, we initiated the process towards recognising the People’s Republic of China - in essence, towards removing our China Embassy from Taipei to Peking, the capital of China of which Taiwan is a province. On 22 December 1972 I was able to announce that the negotiations had been successfully concluded, that Australia had recognised the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, and that diplomatic relations would be established at an early date. By this act, we came to terms with one of the central and inescapable facts of the region and redressed a serious imbalance and distortion in Australia’s foreign policy. Australia’s Ambassador has already arrived in Peking to assume charge of pur Mission and on 17 May, China’s Ambassador to Australia, Mr Wang Kuo Ch’uan presented his credentials to the GovernorGeneral.
We plan to develop a substantial relationship with China, based on friendship, cooperation and mutual trust, comparable with that which we have, or seek, with other major powers. To this end, we have already begun actively to explore the practical means of giving substance to this recently established relationship. We aim at developing policies which will promote understanding, mutual benefit and a growing degree of co-operation between Australia and China. Personal visits, expansion of trade, and scientific, technical and cultural exchanges will help put our relationship on a solid footing. China’s policies, particularly in areas of direct interest for Australia, will be of great importance to us. But China will by no means be the central preoccupation of our foreign policy. Our relationship with China will not develop at the expense of our relations with other countries.
In the same spirit, the Government has decided to establish diplomatic relations with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the German Democratic Republic, Cyprus, Poland and the Vatican and to make informal contacts with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Similarly we have decided that on commercial trade with the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Cuba, North Korea, North
Vietnam and China, Australia will no longer maintain restraints different from those applied to any other country. These changes in our policy in no way affect the restrictions placed by Australia on the export of arms, warlike stores and atomic energy materials. The foundations have already been laid for an expansion of our commercial relations. In March this year we welcomed to Australia the Minister for Foreign Trade of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Mr Patolichev, and a highlevel Australian trade delegation led by the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) has just completed a successful visit to China. We expect a North Korean trade delegation to visit Australia in the middle of this year.
It is self-evident that the extension of Australia’s diplomatic representation overseas, the opening up of new trade opportunities and the development of our international relations on a more global and general basis are the very reverse of isolationist or inward-looking policies. They commit Australia more than ever before to playing, a significant and enlightened role in world affairs. Isolationism is not an option for Australia. It should also be clear from our actions that we have not forsaken established relationships in our efforts to break down old ideological’ barriers against understanding and co-operation. We shall, for example, be giving even more economic aid to South Vietnam in the coming year than the previous Government did in the last. Tn pursuit of our even handed policy towards all the states of the region, we invited the Foreign Minister of South Korea, Mr Yong Shik Kim, to visit Australia for discussions on political and commercial matters.
We shall maintain this policy in our’ future dealings with all countries, irrespective of their political or ideological systems’, and will not be deterred or diverted from this course by unthinking accusations that we are favouring one nation or group of nations over another. We are not moving into anybody’s orbit.
By the same token we do not seek membership of the non-aligned movement. There has been some misunderstanding on this point. We would be prepared to accept observer status at the next non-aligned meeting in Algiers if Australia were invited. There is nothing incompatible between our policy, of alignment and our attendance in an observer capacity at a non-aligned meeting. No one has suggested that Australia was seeking to become a
Latin American country because we welcomed he opportunity to attend the last meeting of the Organisation of American States in Washington as an observer.
It was therefore only logical that we should from an early stage have examined the possibilities of bringing into existence the kind of regional community which, as I said in my speech to the Summer School of the Australian Institute of Political Science on 26 January, would be ‘an organisation genuinely representative of the region, without ideological overtones, conceived as an initiative to help free the region of Great Power rivalries that have bedevilled its progress for decades and designed te insulate the region against ideological interference from the Great Powers’.
The only purely regional political organisation of which we are currently a member, the Asian and Pacific Council, quite obviously fails to meet our requirements, since its membership is both limited and selective and includes an entity which we and some other members no longer recognise.
Australia does not belong to the Association of South East Asian Nations, which brings together Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, nor do we Seek membership of it. ASEAN has demonstrated its strength and viability as a subregional grouping and it is not in our interests nor is it our intention willingly or unwittingly to disturb the unity, progress and harmony of that association.
It is clear that the new regional arrangements we have in mind will be a slow and delicate growth. We are content at present to let the concept take seed in the thinking of our neighbours in the belief that our approach holds the best long-term promise for bringing about a greater and more lasting measure of regional co-operation and understanding. We remain completely flexible on the timing, structure and membership of any future arrangements. Meanwhile, we shall devote our efforts towards strengthening bilateral relations and continuing careful discussion of future regional co-operation until such time as the countries of the area are ready to participate in a wider regional grouping. Ohe way in which we shall seek to develop these bilateral relations is through our association and consultation with out regional fellow members of the Security Council.
An important element of our co-operation with our neighbours is defence co-operation. The form that it takes, however, is vital for the furtherance of our purposes if it is not to serve contrary ends by aggravating the very tendencies and developments which it is designed to head off. Australia believes that the tactics of containment, forward defence and ideological confrontation are not only no longer relevant but counter-productive.
Australia is involved in regional defence arrangements, some of long standing, whose continued functioning and value were accepted without question by previous governments. We have not assumed and endorsed these commitments uncritically but are submitting them all to close scrutiny to determine their usefulness and appropriateness in an age which bears witness to growing ideological co-existence and strategic interdependence between the great and small powers alike. We believe for instance that the South East Asia Treaty Organisation - conceived as an instrument for the containment of China in the cold war era - must be modified if it is not to become completely moribund. Wa believe that our pledge to uphold the FivePower Arrangements does not require the stationing of forces abroad on permanent garrison duty for its redemption. We believe that there should be full co-operation between Australia and the other participants in the Five-Power Arrangements and that one way in which this co-operation can be effective is through the holding of joint military exercises. We propose initially to have these held on a bilateral basis before investigating the possibility of carrying them out multilaterally. We will also continue to make facilities available for training personnel in Australia.
Our program of defence co-operation with Indonesia is very much in accord with the Australian Labor Government’s philosophy and will serve as a model for future arrangements of this kind. Its guiding aim is to promote self-reliance and the capability to resist external threats. It does not favour the permanent stationing of Australian military forces abroad, but looks to the development of relations in the defence field through cooperation in such areas as technical aid, training assistance, joint exercises and continuing consultation. The Government will seek cooperation of this kind with our regional neighbours on an informal basis without the need for fixed and formal military pacts. It is on this basis that Australia and Indonesia have together worked out a program of defence co-operation which will continue to be further developed.
However, our civil aid - 2i times the value of our defence aid - is an even more important element in our relations with Indonesia. Our policy on civil aid to Indonesia should serve as an indicator of the approach we shall increasingly adopt in future to Australian activity of this kind overseas. The economic problems faced by Indonesia are common to most of the developing countries in the region. Their efforts are principally directed towards generating more rapid economic growth, creating wider employment activities, maintaining and accelerating expansion of the agricultural sector, achieving more balanced regional development and greater diversification of the economic structure, and providing improved social welfare. These are important goals for all our neighbours. Australia - will seek an expanding role in helping our neighbours reach those goals.
Our civil aid and defence policies will have a particular bearing on Australia’s future relationship with Papua New Guinea, whose independence will be achieved, I confidently expect, in the closest consultation with the Government and House of Assembly of Papua New Guinea by 1975. Though the constitutional link has not yet been severed, we shall increasingly consider our policies towards Papua New Guinea not in any nostalgic colonial sense, but as though we were already dealing with a fully independent state.
In the period before independence the Government will do everything possible to meet Australia’s obligations under the Trusteeship Agreement and to ensure the smooth and amicable transfers of power to the Government of a united Papua New Guinea. We very well know how important this period is for the foundation of Australia’s future relationship with the independent nation of Papua New Guinea. I look forward to this relationship developing fraternally and on a broad front that goes well beyond normal diplomatic ties. Papua New Guinea will occupy a special position on Australia’s network of relationships, but we do not seek an exclusive relationship with . Papua New Guinea which will want to find its own place in the international community; As Papua New Guinea’s foreign service develops and as its range of international interests grow, we shall be ready to help where we can and as we are asked.
Papua New Guinea will have the first call on our foreign aid program and we shall work closely with the Central Government of Papua New Guinea through a specific and guaranteed economic program. We shall, however, place no inhibitions whatsoever on the Government of Papua New Guinea in seeking aid or investment from any country she may choose to invite to take part in her development.
We are also anxious that outstanding questions relating to Papua New Guinea’s borders should be settled at an early date so that, when independence is attained, Papua New Guinea’s relations with its near neighbours will not be plagued by the kind of territorial disputes which in other parts of the world have done so much to hinder the development of fruitful and mutually beneficial 1 clarions between close neighbours. We welcome the successful delineation of the Papua New Guinea-Indonesia border and attach considerable importance to the early negotiation of administrative arrangements between AustraliaPapua New Guinea and Indonesia to avoid potential sources of friction on the Papua New Guinea-Indonesian border. I regret that despite my Government’s best endeavours early progress towards agreement on the border between Australia and Papua New Guinea seems unlikely and final agreement may have to await Papua New Guinea’s independence.
As well as the close personal, official and political links that have grown between Australia and Papua New Guinea, there are several strong common interests which we share. Perhaps the most important of these is our shared interest in further consolidating our friendly ties with our closest neighbour, Indonesia. Not only must our 3 countries cooperate in the interests of our own peoples and of the region in which we are situated, but we must in our mutual relations seek to set an example of harmonious regional cooperation. Similarly in the other area of close interest to both of us, the South Pacific, we should, in the future, seek with Papua New Guinea and our other friends in the Pacific to build on progress so far achieved in developing regional co-operation, friendship and partnership. The recent meeting of the Pacific
Forum attended by both Papua New Guinea and Australia was a useful step in this direction.
One of the forms which the quest for longer-term security measures has taken is in proposals relating to zones of peace and neutrality in South East Asia and the Indian Ocean. We consider that these proposals have essentially the same objectives as our conception of a new regional community, namely, to allow peaceful development and th» adjustment of relations among the countries to cur west and north, free, so far as is possible, from outside interference. On this understanding we have pledged our support for the ASEAN Declaration on South East Asia as a zone of peace, freedom and neutrality, and we shall work towards its eventual implementation; and, in a spirit of co-operation with other countries in the area, we have agreed to serve on a United Nations Committee to examine the implications of a Sri Lankan proposal to have the Indian Ocean declared a zone of peace.
The maintenance of our alliance with the United States under ANZUS remains most important for our security, since by its very nature it has created and guarantees in the Pacific a zone of peace in which the peoples of the region have for the last 20 years been free to pursue their political, economic and social goals without fear of hostile intervention or attack. The ANZUS Treaty reflects a natural relationship between these countries of the Pacific. Its continuation is not questioned by any of its partners.
The most disturbing matter presently troubling the South Pacific is the continuation of French nuclear testing. This is the more distressing as in all other respects we have the friendliest and most honourable associations with France. Australia is party to the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the NonProliferation Treaty and the Sea Bed Arms Control Treaty, and supports the conclusion of an effective and comprehensive nuclear weapons test ban treaty. We are opposed to all forms of nuclear weapons testing by whatever nation and our objective is the suspension of all such testing. There should be no doubts or misunderstandings about the strength of our resolve on this issue. We have registered with the Chinese Government Australia’s opposition to its nuclear weapons testing in the atmosphere and are pursuing with the utmost vigor an international legal and political campaign to induce France to abandon its testing program in the Pacific.
The World Health Assembly in Geneva has just adopted by a vote of 87 to 4, with 10 abstentions, a resolution deploring all nuclear testing which results in an increase in the level of ionizing radiation in the atmosphere and urging its immediate cessation.
Given the feelings of public outrage throughout the Pacific region and bipartisan parliamentary condemnation in Australia of French plans to proceed with its nuclear weapons tests, the Government has acted dispassionately and with considerable restraint, because of the great value it attaches to its wider relations with France, by exploring all possible avenues in seeking a solution to this disagreement. We have used the normal diplomatic channels as well as ministerial meetings and technical exchanges to find a way out of this major problem, but so far without success.
It is in the context of our attitudes to nuclear testing that the presence of 2 of the United States installations in Australia should be seen. The United States Air Force detachment at Amberley and the joint Geological and Geophysical Research Station at Alice Springs collectively possess technical facilities to monitor the testing of nuclear devices in the atmosphere, on the surface and underground. The Australian Government has access not only to the products of these 2 installations but also to the other wider assessments to which they contribute. It is therefore a positive asset to have established in Australia the means of contributing towards the achievement and monitoring of disarmament.
Prompt, reliable and comprehensive information is vital to the maintenance of global peace and security. We have previously informed the public that the Joint Defence Space Research Facility at Pine Gap near Alice Springs and the Joint Defence Space Communications at Nurrungar are related to satellites and that they analyse and test data. We have also stated that neither installation is part of a weapons system and neither can be used to attack any country, and we have been concerned that they contribute specifically to the improvement and development of Australia’s defence system. ,
The Government still has certain reservations about the United States Naval Communication Station at North West Cape and it is our intention to seek a renegotiation of the original terms of the agreement establishing this station in Australia.
I want to emphasise, however, that in our relations with the United States as with all other nations we should not allow any single aspect of our relations to dominate our whole approach. The importance of ANZUS has tended to overshadow the variety s*s strength of our relations in other fields, such as trade, finance, investment, technology, aviation and culture, which, no less than our defence links, have brought us substantial rewards and benefits. Similarly, under previous Governments, Australia has been remiss in devoting her principal efforts and attention to fostering commercial and economic collaboration with Japan without at the same time adequately exploring and exploiting the social and cultural resources which each has to offer the other. We shall seek to remedy these shortcomings. We intend to base our relations with Japan on our desire for wholehearted co-operation in promoting the common interests of our 2 countries and of the region in which we are two of the wealthiest powers.
Just as we plan to address ourselves in future to all the various possibilities of our relationships with other countries, so shall we take increasing account of the global extent of our interests. It is only natural that we should have concentrated our initial efforts on establishing the basis for understanding and co-operation in our own geographical region, but it has no way been our wish or intention to underestimate or neglect the importance of our ties with the rest of the world.
One of the crucial ways in which we must improve our global reputation is to apply our aspirations for equality at home to our relations with the peoples of the world as a whole. Just as we have embarked on a determined campaign to restore the Australian Aborigines to their rightful place in Australian society, so we have an obligation to remove methodically from Australia’s laws and practices all racially discriminatory provisions and from international activities any hint or suggestion that we favour policies, decrees or resolutions that seek to differentiate between peoples on the basis of the colour of their skins. As an island nation of predominantly European inhabitants situated on the edge of Asia, we cannot afford the stigma of racialism.
Since taking office, the Government has set about systematically fulfilling this policy goal. On 20 March, on the occasion of the international day for the elimination of racial discrimination, I reaffirmed our intention to ratify the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as soon as the necessary legislative and other measures could be completed. Our decision to deny racially selected sports teams the right to visit or transit Australia should also be seen in this light. We have demonstrated our active concern for the rights of peoples oppressed in Rhodesia and South Africa by voting in favour of the last 2 United Nations General Assembly resolutions on Rhodesia, which we had not previously supported, terminating al] trade to and from Rhodesia, and by seeking the closure of the Rhodesian Information Centre in Sydney.
Australia has also contributed for the first time to the United Nations funds established to assist the educational development and other aspirations of the people of Southern Africa. We were represented at an international conference of experts for the support of victims of colonialism and apartheid in Southern Africa held in Oslo in April this year. The purpose of this conference was to formulate a constructive program of peaceful action to facilitate and hasten the process of decolonisation and the elimination of apartheid.
Further, we have signed, as a first step towards ratification, the 1966 International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights. The Government has ratified 2 International Labor Organisation conventions dealing with freedom of association - -1948 - and protection of the right to organise and with the right to organise and bargain collectively - 1949. As the Minister for Labour stated in the House on Tuesday, we are ratifying a number of other ILO conventions as soon as possible, in particular those dealing with equal remuneration - 1951 - and with discrimination in the fields of employment and occupation - ‘1958. The, Government has made financial contributions to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
In formulating our foreign policies we are particularly conscious of the needs of the developing countries. Since 1945 Australia has spent more than $A1.8 billion on official economic aid. The Government intends not only to expand present programs in Asia, the Pacific and Africa, but will be working towards an official aid target of 0.7 per cent of the. gross national product by the end of the decade. Furthermore the Government has already taken steps to liberalise commercial access by developing countries to the Australian market through additional concessions under Australia’s preference scheme for developing countries. Consideration is also being given to further changes in Australia’s preferential trade with these countries.
Finally there is one area of importance, if not vital domestic concern, which has profound implications for our foreign policy in the future. It is an area in which each step we take within Australia will have repercussions overseas and in which demands overseas will affect each and every one of us in Australia. It is the area of natural resources. Under the policy of benign neglect tolerated by our predecessors, Australia’s national resources, their exploration, exploitation, processing and export fell increasingly into the hands of foreign concerns. This was an intolerable situation in itself. But it has a more significant international dimension. Australia possesses a wide range of mineral resources. We rank among the world’s 5 main producers of bauxite, iron ore, tin, nickel, silver, lead, zinc, manganese and uranium. In many cases, our importance in the world as a producer is increasing.
At the same time, the western industrialised world is becoming steadily less self-sufficient in mineral and energy resources. This is particularly true of the United States, which has in the space of 20 years become dependent on foreign sources for more than 20 important industrial minerals in which it was previously self-sufficient. Mineral and energy imports currently cost the United States some US$10 billion a year, and the trend towards growing dependence on imported supplies of oil was one of the key aspects of President Nixon’s recent statement on United States energy policies. Similar trends are evident in Western Europe, while Japan has long been a heavy importer as she lacks natural resources of her own.
In response to these trends, and as they become increasingly preoccupied with ensuring access to continuing supplies of the fuel and mineral resources on which their economies depend, these countries may be expected to evolve comprehensive resource policies like those already adopted by Japan. Because of our political and economic strength and stability, we are likely to become a significant element in the resource strategies of the importing countries. This will have a substantial effect on our bilateral and even multilateral relations, as we build up a mutually beneficial system of economic interdependence. In short, we are moving into a situation where our commercial and strategic importance to the Western world is giving us a growing political voice.
Now that the procurement of resources is becoming a vital national interest for industrialised countries increasingly short of mineral resources, any domestic resource legislation we make is bound to affect our. relations with these countries. It is becoming, apparent that we can no longer regard resources legislation in purely domestic terms, but that implications for our foreign relations . need increasingly to be taken into account in. the planning of government action.
We consider that the stage has now been reached where Australia needs to develop policies of its own that take account of the fact that we are becoming the object of others’ resource strategies. We must develop policies to ensure our continued access to those resources in which we are not selfsufficient, especially fuel. We have taken numerous steps with a view to securing greater Australian and government’ control and supervision of the use of our natural resources. Australia has asserted its sovereign rights to explore and exploit the natural resources of its continental shelf out to the outer shelf of the continental margin. At negotiations preceding the next . Law of the Sea Conference, Australia has advocated the exclusive jurisdiction of a coastal state over a broad resources zone extending well beyond the territorial sea. But there are wider issues involved than the reassertion of our sovereignty over the territory of Australia.
Current resource trends, and our importance as a producer, will oblige us to define our attitudes on a range of new developments of considerable importance in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. I am thinking of such matters as resource conferences, the question of resource producer and consumer cooperative cartels, regulations for the distribution of resource data acquired by satellite and technological collaboration. All this will require a considerably greater degree of foreign policy expertise than we have at present, and it is with this in mind that the Government has decided to appoint a scientific adviser to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Our possession of a wide range and extensive reserves of resources at a time of unprecedented global resource consumption introduces an element of new complexity into our foreign relations. It alters our strategic thinking, colours our bilateral relations, and presents us with a range of important policy options, il consider resource questions will become a very important aspect of our foreign policy, and to that end this Government aims to work towards a comprehensive, integrated resource .policy which takes our foreign as well as domestic interest into account.
In developing and implementing our international policies, visits abroad by Ministers and visits to Australia by representatives of foreign governments play a most important and constructive part. The visits I have made and planned for this year and later are primarily as Prime Minister of Australia. When he is overseas, the Prime Minister is necessarily Foreign Minister, whether he holds the portfolio er not. This year’s overseas missions to ‘ New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, the South Pacific Forum, Britain, the Vatican. Mauritius, India, Mexico, North America, Japan and China are part of my responsibilities as Prime Minister, even more than as Foreign Minister. Parallel to my own visits, are those of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Barnard) to Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, and those to be undertaken by the Special Minister of State to African nations in June. Our own increased activity abroad is matched by an increasing number of visitors to Australia - from every continent. I have already mentioned some of them. We have had a most valuable visit by the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Dr Ismail, and I am delighted to announce tonight that invitations to visit later this year have been accepted by the Foreign Minister of Singapore and the Philippines, General Romulo and of Singapore Mr Rajaratnam. There has been no time in our history when Australia has attracted so much interest abroad and, I emphasise, such friendly interest in all quarters. We are glad to wel come the Danish Foreign Minister, Mr Andersen, who is at present visiting Australia. Mr President, as our nation, our region and world civilisation move into a more complex, more challenging yet, I profoundly believe, more hopeful era our Government is determined to equip Australia with policies and attitudes to cope with that complexity, to rise to those challenges and to fulfil those hopes.
Our task in recent months has been largely one of clearing away the deadwood of the past. This was necessary to permit us to deal in a constructive, contemporary way with the new realities. In most cases we have made no radical departure but rather have ratified these realities.
We now stand ready to develop and carry through, in co-operation with our neighbours, policies and programs which will take Australia forward, as I told the people of Australia on 13 November 1972, to her rightful, proud, secure and independent place in the future of our region of the world. I move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator Greenwood) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Willesee) proposed:
That the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
– 1 rise to speak on this motion simply to ask the Acting Leader of the Government in tha Senate (Senator Willesee) whether he is aware of the very real interest which the Opposition has in debating the ramifications of this statement. This is a statement for which the Opposition has been waiting for many months. While we are pleased that the statement has been put down and the opportunity for debate has been provided, we are alarmed at what is not revealed by this statement. Therefore without entering into debate I ask the Acting Leader of the Government whether he proposes that the Senate will be afforded time in the Government’s program to debate this statement in this session before the Senate rises. We in the Opposition would be recalcitrant in what is our obligation not to have the opportunity provided for us to expose what has not been said and how inadequate the Government’s rationalisation of its many steps has been. Those are some of the matters which the Opposition wishes to discuss. I ask the
Acting Leader of the Government what his intention is concerning the provision of time for debate.
– I Would be delighted to give the Opposition parties an opportunity to talk about their own inadequacies because the more they talk about foreign policy the better it suits the Government. I cannot give any indication of where this matter will fit into the slot for debate. As I have discussed with Senator Withers on several occasions - he knows quite clearly and agrees - the notice paper each day has been constructed to bring on for debate those matters which we know will be controversial, matters on which the Opposition has fixed views and which it may wish to amend or, in some cases, to defeat and send back to the House of Representatives. That is the obvious course of action to be taken. If there is to be disagreement between the Houses, if the will of the Senate is to amend legislation, that legislation should be sent back to the House of Representatives as quickly as possible to see whether the House agrees or disagrees. If the House disagrees, the import of that will be known in 3 or 4 months. The Bills to which I have referred will be kept at the top of the notice paper until they are disposed, of.. I do not know when that will be. I do not know for how much longer the Senate will sit.
I would like to see a debate take place on foreign policy, but I cannot give Senator Greenwood a precise assurance. I cannot tell him where we will slot it in on the debating list. It is the first responsibility of the Senate to deal with the controversial Bills as are indicated to me by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) each morning. We discuss the matters that are likely to be on the notice paper for that day and indeed the next day. It is clear that there will be opposition to some of the Bills and amendments will be moved. Those Bills, for the time being, must have priority.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed (vide page 1914).
– I call Senator Wright.
– Mr Chairman, I rise to speak-
– I had leave to continue my remarks, Mr Chairman.
– In view of that explanation, I call Senator O’Byrne.
– Having observed the forms of the Committee and having secured the adjournment of the debate for the purpose of the introduction of a ministerial statement, I how indicate that I would like the Committee proceedings to continue.
Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania (8.57)- I rise to refer to the remarks that fell from Senator Cavanagh, the Minister for Works; last night. His remarks were the most garbled gobbledegook we have ever heard in the Senate, betraying a complete lack of understanding of the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act, and at one stage actively advancing the inference that the Public Works Committee Act might apply to pipeline works undertaken in accordance with this Bill. He later acknowledged that the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act did not apply,, as is the fact. Because this , is a statutory authority, they are regarded, by deliberate advice. given to the Department on record as not being works of the Commonwealth, and therefore excluded from the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act. 1 only hope that the Minister who expressed the view that he would like to see works of statutory Commonwealth instrumentalities subject to provisions such as the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act will fortify his view, with his support when the first opportunity arises. I do not wish to intervene in the debate further than to reply to remarks that particularly pertain to the portfolio of the Minister for Works of which I had some experience. I have lamented the lack of understanding that was indicated by the speech of the present Minister for Works.
– The clause which is at present being considered by the Committee is the one to which I moved an amendment to the effect that any pipeline work exceeding $2m should be brought to this Parliament for its approval. I gave reasons last night to support that proposition. I have heard nothing in the course of this debate to cause me to change my mind except, as I foreshadowed and am prepared to agree, that the figure of $2m may be too low. In view of the magnitude of such pipeline works, any one of which could cost more than $100m. some larger figure might be appropriate. Like Senator Wright, I was impressed by the apparent support in principle that Senator Cavanagh, the Minister for Works, gave to the idea of parliamentary scrutiny of major public works. I would have thought that in view of his support for that principle he may have been prepared to suggest in the course of this debate some amendment to change the terms of the new clause I proposed last night. Unfortunately, we have had no indication from him that he is prepared actually to give some force to the principles he supports by putting forward a proposal of that kind. I think that is a pretty fair example of what we must expect from the Labor Party or Labor governments. They are so controlled by Caucus decisions that they have absolutely no independence of thought whatever in this chamber.
– What rubbish.
– ls Senator McLaren suggesting that he is not bound by his Caucus decisions?
– You are. bound just as we are.
– What a welcome response from Senator McLaren and Senator Primmer, lt now seems they are not bound by their Caucus decisions.
– We are not denying it, but you are bound just as much as we are.
– The, honourable senator admits it. If Senator McLaren will contain himself we may be able to conduct a rational debate. ) point out to the Senate that there is at least one very important precedent which supports our proposed new clause, and that appears in the Commonwealth Railways Act. Section 61 of that Act provides that the construction of a railway shall not be authorised by the Parliament except in pursuance of an Act of the Parliament, the Bill for which was introduced into the House of Representatives by or on behalf of a Minister. I notice from the footnote to the Act that that principle has been applied as recently as 1970 when the Port Augusta to Whyalla Railway Act was introduced and in 1971 when the Northern Territory Railway Extension Act was introduced. These Acts provide a clear precedent in support of the principle which we are endeavouring to embody in this Bill. In the light of that, I hope that the Senate will take very serious note of such an important precedent in our Commonwealth legislation.
I inform the Senate also that since I moved for the insertion of the proposed new clause last night my attention has been drawn to the provisions of the Pipelines Act in Victoria, a State which I think probably has had more experience of the problems of building pipelines than any other State has, because of the number of pipelines that have had to be built to the Bass Strait oil and gas fields. I am informed that no fewer than 85 permits for pipeline construction have been issued by the. Minister in charge of that Act in Victoria. But the important thing for our attention is that the Victorian Pipelines Act requires that any proposed route which a pipeline will follow should be advertised so that opportunity is thereby given to the people affected to lodge objections in relation to the proposed route and to put forward relevant economic considerations. The Act also provides that when these objections are heard consideration can be given to the claims of private citizens or government instrumentalities, particularly those concerned with environmental factors. This precedent which has been set in Victoria, which has the most experienced government in Australia in the construction of pipelines, is, I believe, a very important one. It is a very modern precedent because this Act was passed only in 1967. But I believe it is one of which this Parliament should take very serious note. I believe that these 2 matters which 1 have mentioned to the Senate this evening should persuade the Senate to support the proposed new clause.
– I rose to speak in the debate at the Committee stage originally to express some views I had and to make an appeal to honourable senators to express their opinions, particularly legal opinion which is far beyond my capabilities. I hoped that those opinions would be forthcoming particularly in relation to the contradictions which there appeared to be in the proposed new clause. I was not sure whether this matter was covered by the Public Works Committee Act. I was satisfied with my contribution to the debate until this evening when the debate seems to have become a discussion of what I said. It is very obvious that Senator Durack was not in the chamber when I was speaking last evening.
– I was here the whole time and I read your speech in Hansard as well.
– If the honourable senator was here he must have been asleep.
– I was not asleep when I read it.
– If the honourable senator read my speech he must be a poor interpreter of the printed word because nothing I said would indicate that I would not support public scrutiny of these works, whether such scrutiny was by a statutory authority or by some Commonwealth body. At no time did I say I supported parliamentary scrutiny, although Senator Durack said tonight that I did. What I suggested was scrutiny by Joint Parliamentary Committee on Public Works, to which the ordinary people who would be affected by the project could submit their evidence, and the Committee could make a finding as to how the project would affect these people.
– If I withdraw this amendment, will you support one in favour a reference to the Public Works Committee?
– You would?
– Yes. The point I am making is that, like the honourable senator, I am of the opinion that the Public Works Committee has the power to examine these matters at the present time.
– Are you making that statement in a personal capacity or on behalf of the Government?
– No, I cannot speak here on behalf of the Government; I am speaking on the principles in which I believe. I do not know whether the Government would oppose such a proposition, but I am in support of public scrutiny. I am of the opinion that the Public Works Committee, which would open a project to public scrutiny, has the power at the present time to examine these matters. I stated earlier that I am not competent to give a legal opinion on this matter and I appealed to honourable senators in this chamber with a legal background to help me in this regard. The only response I got from the legal fraternity was when Senator Wright said: ‘We have an opinion’. He did not give me the benefit of his legal opinion, but an authoritative opinion has been expressed on this matter. Everyone knows that a legal opinion is what a learned judge would decide in relation to a particular word or words. If we accept a legal opinion from someone else, as Senator Wright has done, we have to accept that the buildings occupied by the Australian Broadcasting Commission are not Commonwealth buildings. I do not accept that proposition. The Commonwealth could close and demolish any one . of them tomorrow. If they are Commonwealth buildings they are subject to the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act. No one has challenged Senator Wright’s opinion because someone advised him in the past that they are not Commonwealth buildings. But Senator Wright did not offer as his opinion that these are not Commonwealth buildings. The author of this amendment thought that they were Commonwealth buildings or Commonwealth operations because clause 2 , of the amendment states:
The Public Works Committee Act 1969 shall not apply to any works- -
There we have it. This puts beyond doubt that the Public Works Committee Act is not to apply. The author must have had the belief that the Act did apply. He now exempts any proposed work and in clause 1 of the proposed amendment- it is to be taken from the public scrutiny and given to the scrutiny of the Parliament. But the - honourable senator did not answer the very important question which I brought up last evening. All he is submitting to the scrutiny of Parliament is the building of a pipeline exceeding in cost $2m. This does not include any ancillary work to the pipeline which may be built, such as an administrative block or homes for employees. This Authority can go on wasting money time after time but it is not subject to anyone’s scrutiny unless it is to be spent on a pipeline. That is what the proposed amendment offers to us. Can anyone say that it is just and reasonable that we should accept it? That is the reason why I spoke in relation to the proposal. I was pleased with Senator Little’s contribution last night when he said that no reasonable politician could accept this proposal.
– In view of the statement by the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh) that he, and presumably the Government, are prepared to accept an amendment that this matter be referred under the Public Works Committee Act I seek leave to withdraw proposed new clause 13a and to substitute in lieu thereof an amendment which I have just written out. It may not be as elegant as it should be but it reads as follows:
No pipeline work exceeding in cost $2m shall be undertaken or constructed by the Authority unless and until it has been referred to the Public Works Committee pursuant to the Public Works Committee Act 1969 and has been authorised in accordance with that Act.
– ls leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
– That is a rather surprising situation in view of the fact that a Minister has indicated that the Government will support that proposed amendment.
– He did not.
– He has indicated that he will support it and he is a Minister of the Government. What sort of Cabinet responsibility have we from this Government? In view of the extraordinary attitude of the Government in this matter I will allow the present amendment to go to a vote. Depending upon the outcome of that vote I will then move the foreshadowed amendment.
– Last night before the adjournment of the Senate we were discussing the same amendment moved by the Opposition as we are discussing tonight. 1 suggest that the same procedure is being adopted tonight as was adopted hast night. During the course of the debate on the second reading speech we heard speaker after speaker from the Opposition congratulate the Government because of what it was doing in this legislation. All we are witnessing now is one obstacle after another being placed in the path of this legislation simply to try in some way to defeat the Government’s intentions. That is the purpose of honourable senators opposite tonight. There was no intention by Senator Cavanagh to convey the impression which Senator Durack took from Senator Cavanagh’s remarks. That is why I was not prepared to grant leave.
The fact is, as was stated last night, that this amendment is not acceptable to the Government because it is only a device by which the work of this Authority would be impeded. That is the true’ intention of the amendment. The same remarks apply to the comments regarding the environmental matter which was referred to earlier. -The Government’s position on the environment and environmental aspects is quite clear. I suppose we have made our position more clear in these matters than did the previous Government. It is our intention to ensure that the environment in all these measures which are taken by the Government is properly protected. This proposed amendment is only dragging a red herring across the course of this debate in order to delay it. Reference was also made by Senator Durack to the Commonwealth Railways Act. The provision in that Act applies to the construction of railways., Long term planning is required for those ventures. Nobody suggests that they are decisions which are taken lightly. The same applies to this legislation. Naturally these matters will be given proper consideration. I indicate that the Government will oppose the amendment.
– I rise to follow very briefly a point made by Senator Durack about a development which has occurred in Victoria. In view of the fact that I have had some discussions with the Minister for Fuel and Power in Victoria I feel that this point should be adverted to in this debate. I know that ‘ the Minister has made approaches to the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) and also, through the Premier of Victoria, to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). Victoria’ is a State which has made significant advances in the development of legislation dealing with the environment, ecology, conservation, national parks, wildlife reserves and the requirements of the town planners. There is a scheme which, unquestionably, is a matter of some difficulty for persons concerned with public works but there is an obligation upon them to obtain the various permits from the bodies which must approve construction works in the light of all these considerations.. As Senator Durack indicated there is the necessity of notification of proposed works. In the case’ of the Pipeline Authority notification is required of the route of the proposed pipeline so that there . is an opportunity for people to object.
What the Bill does - it is. absent from part 3 of the Bill - is to give to the Authority an absolutely unrestricted power- to construct pipelines. We do not know where these pipelines are to go. Apparently there is some project to which i referred during the debate on the second reading which is not part of the Bill. We do not know whether the Authority will be bound by this project. But at some stage in the future one can imagine the Authority deciding .to construct a pipeline. Where will it go? Presumably the Authority will decide that for itself. It may decide to build it in a direct line from point A to point B irrespective of whose property it might pass through, what damage might be done to the property and what inconvenience generally could be caused to people because of the need for some possible destruction of their houses or some buildings which they have as a necessary part of their vocation on thenproperty through which the pipeline is to pass. They have absolutely no redress except that of compensation at some stage in the future. They ought to have the right to object and to suggest that the pipeline should go some other way. They should be able to demonstrate that economically it would go in that other direction much more readily. One would hope that the Authority would have regard to all those considerations. I anticipate that that will be the Minister’s answer. .
We know that in these matters when Government authorities have the power they are often very difficult to control. I believe that it is the responsibility of legislators at the time when legislation is being debated to have regard to these matters and, as far as is practical, to impose upon an authority certain requirements. What is proposed by this amendment are not stringent requirements by any means. All that is required is that the Authority shall present to a House of the Parliament what it is proposing. Of course, if anyone in the course of construction of what is proposed is likely to be affected he can make the point not only to the Parliament but also to his member and to the Authority which will be responsive because it knows that its proposals are put before Parliament. I would have thought that this point of view would have had some appeal to the Government. I am regretful that it has not appealed to a majority of the Commitee. But it is a point of view which I know has concerned the Victorian Minister. I believe that it is a defect in the Bill that a provision of this character has not been inserted. I notice that Senator Durack’s proposed amendment, if this amendment is lost, gives some opportunity for scrutiny. It would allow these matters to be kept under scrutiny. For that reason, perhaps all is not yet lost.
– I wish to reply very briefly to the comments made, by Senator Greenwood because they are pertinent. I think there is some basis for feeling that’ any statutory authority ought to exercise reasonable discretion in any action which it takes. If there were a history of unreasonable actions being taken by these authorities his concern, I believe, would have a basis. But that history does not exist. If we could find’ examples of unreasonable actions having been taken. I would invite the question: Why did not the previous Government write provisions into the Snowy Mountains Authority Act, for example? Why have not provisions been written into the Acts covering all statutory authorities? We have to be consistent in this respect. If this has not been the case in the past, presumably we have not a great deal, of fear for the future. Obviously discretion must be used. It has been used iri the past. I think it is fair to say that it will be used in “future.
Proposed new clause negatived..
Proposed new clause 13a.
– I move:
After clause 13 insert the following new clause:
No pipeline work exceeding in cost . $2m shall be undertaken or constructed by the Authority unless and until it has been referred to the Public Works Committee pursuant to the Public’ Works Committee Act 1969 and has been authorised .in accordance with that Act.
I do not propose to speak at length to the amendment. The debate on the previous amendment, which was defeated, covers this amendment. I think all that can be said both for and against the amendment has been said. I suggest that in order to proceed with the Committee’s deliberations the matter be put to a vote.
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia - Minister for Works). (9.23) - Senator Durack was prompted to move this amendment by an assurance which I gave him that 1 would support such a proposal. I am sincere in my support for such a’ proposal. I think that the operations of all statutory authorities should be investigated, preferably by a committee rather than by “the parliamentary processes.
Senator Durack’s amendment which sought parliamentary scrutiny has been defeated. He took some assurance from the fact that I had expressed certain views on the subject. This amendment raises the same matter to which I referred previously. The amendment seeks an investigation into pipeline activities only, not into all the work of the Authority. The amendment states, in effect, that no pipeline work can proceed unless and until it has been referred to the Public Works Committee pursuant to the Public Works Committee Act 1969 and has been authorised in accordance with that Act. The honourable senator comes up against this proposition: While I am still of the opinion that such work should be subject to scrutiny under the Public Works Committee Act, the honourable senator’s amendment seeks to insert in the Bill what is already provided in the Public Works Committee Act. This is contrary to some opinion which Senator Wright has received which, I will admit, is a legal one. But I do not go back on the opinion which I hold. I think the matter should be tested.
The honourable senator cannot justify the Pipeline Authority being the only statutory body which is subject to the Act. If he wants to test what I said, obviously the thing to do is to seek to amend the Public Works Committee Act so that the work of all statutory bodies has to come under scrutiny. The honourable senator seeks to include in the Bill the words ‘has been authorised in accordance with that Act’. The Act makes provision for an examination of public works. 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’. If Senator Wright’s opinion is a correct legal one, on no account can work of the Authority come within the ambit of the Public Works Committee Act.
– That is the SolicitorGeneral’s opinion as submitted to the Department, not my opinion.
– I know it was an opinion which you received. I am glad to hear that you may have doubts about that opinion. I suggest that learned judges would accept legal opinion as a reasonable meaning of words. The Solicitor-General has an opinion, which may be accepted, and Senator Wright may share it. But it is not his opinion. It is the Solicitor-General’s opinion. It may well be that Senator Wright’s legal opinion, which he is capable of giving, is in accordance with what I am saying. If the Solicitor-General is correct, obviously the work of the Authority would not come within the ambit of a public work as described by the Public Works Committee Act. I do not accept that opinion, and I invite other opinion. Section 18 (8) of the 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. .
On no account could the amendment be included in the Bill because it is contrary to the provisions of that Act. It has entirely different ramifications. Senator Durack, whose previous amendment was defeated, now seeks some support from the Australian Labor Party. He hopes to divide the Labor Party on this question by voting for an amendment that can have no effect. I suggest to him that if he is sincere in his attitude he should seek to amend the Public Works Committee Act. I have indicated by preparedness to support such an amendment and I” do not think I would be alone. It could well be that the Labor Party would support such a proposition because we are not happy with the present position. This afternoon at a meeting of one of the Senate Estimates Committees we were told that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has 26 buildings in the Sydney area. None of them has come under the scrutiny of the Public Works Committee. This is one matter about which I am concerned. On no account can I or any other member of the Labor Party support the amendment.
– It was very welcome to me, as. a senator, to hear Senator Cavanagh express his opinion of the definition of a public work within the meaning of the Public Works Committee Act. The Act states: public work’ means a work-
It was very welcome to me to hear that Senator Cavanagh takes the view that that definition, on its proper interpretation, does require works of Commonwealth statutory authorities to be submitted to the processes of the Act. I was referring to the official opinion that had been given by successive SolicitorsGeneral to the effect that a work by a statutory authority was not a work that was proposed to be carried out by or for the Commonwealth. That, in my modest view, was in error, and I am pleased that Senator Cavanagh takes the view that the Act, in its proper intention, comprehends not only departmental works but also works of statutory authorities. However, this is the Pipeline Authority Bill, and it involves a special statutory authority. As the Minister for Works has indicated that he holds the view that the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act should apply not only to this statutory authority but to statutory authorities in general, this is the occasion on which to make a start by supporting Senator Durack’s amendment.
This morning we had introduced into this chamber a Bill to amend the Public Works Committee Act, and already 1 have been working on this Bill with a view to suggesting to those who think about these matters - my colleagues and others - an amendment designed precisely for the purpose of making it plain that these works will come under the procedures set out in the Public Works Committee Act. If tonight we adopt Senator Durack’s amendment as a pilot measure for this unique statutory authority and then next week adopt another amendment to cover the whole field of public works, the Senate will be really acting constructively, in my view, and will reward the deliberation that the Committee has given to this question tonight. I hope that the Committee will support Senator Durack’s amendment.
– We have considered the amendment (hat has now been moved as we considered the other amendment. We have listened very carefully to the words of the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh) who, although he is not in charge of the Bill, has spoken on it quite authoritatively on many occasions. It would appear that there was a feeling within the Ministry itself that the accounts and the purchasing capacity of this Pipeline Authority were, under the legislation to be under some control of the Public Works Committee. I referred to this matter last night when I said that I thought we were being led up a side lane when the previous amendment was introduced. But what that amendment suggested now seems to have some substance.
Our attitude, to this measure has been to assist the Government to achieve the objective that it set out to achieve. We think that the present amendment is not unreasonable. Perhaps the amount of $2m is too restrictive for an authority of this size. But the Public Works Committee Act exempts from scrutiny by the Public Works Committee works costing less than $750,000, and the amount of $2m is far in excess of that provided under the Public Works Committee. Act. As the Government itself, even at this stage, has raised no objection to the amount mentioned in the amendment, it is not for us to suggest a different amount. To accept this amendment would accord with the spirit of co-operation to get this measure passed in the interests of the Government, which could then establish the authority. This amendment clarifies the argument that has taken place between the lawyers, on the one hand, and the Minister for Works on the other hand. Work for this Authority may or may not come under the, jurisdiction of the Public Works Committee. If it is desired that it should come under the Committee’s jurisdiction, then it is as well that that should be made plain in the Pipeline Authority Act. For that reason we support the amendment.
– 1 add another point to the confusion that has arisen. I give a laymen’s opinion on this matter, and I appeal for legal advice on it. I am pleased that Senator Wright, for whose legal opinion 1 have some admiration, agrees with my interpretation of the Public Works Committee Act. If we are both right, then work for the Pipeline Authority will come within the Act.
– It would not matter if it was repeated then.
– Put it in clear terms.
– Wait on. That is how you fall for things that put you outside the Act. There is some agreement that the work of all statutory authorities should be covered by the Public Works Committee Act. Senator Wright will seek to make this point clear by moving an amendment to the Public Works Committee Bill when it comes before the Senate. I take it that he will move an amendment to the definition of ‘public works’ to include work carried out by statutory authorities. Then it will be beyond doubt that the work of all statutory authorities will come under the scrutiny of the Public Works Committee. If Senator Wright is correct, and if he succeeds in his move - and I do not know that the Government will oppose it - the only statutory authority that will be exempted from the Public Works Committee Act will be the Pipeline Authority, and that will happen because of the amendment which the Opposition is seeking to carry tonight.
– Yes, it will. If we succeed in amending the Public Works Committee Act, the work of all statutory authorities, up to the amount specified in the Act, will have to receive the scrutiny of the Public Works Committee.
– Not at all.
– It is useless moving the amendment if that is not the case. I think Senator Wright would agree with that. I said that on no account would 1 support a proposal that the work of one statutory authority should be covered by the Public Works Committee Act and that the work of all the other statutory authorities should not be covered by the Act. That is clear. Now it is proposed that the work of one authority should be covered by the Act, because Senator Wright intends to put the question beyond doubt when the Public Works Committee Bill comes before the Senate by moving an amendment to provide that the work of all statutory authorities should be covered by the Act. If he succeeds in that amendment, the Public Works Committee Act will cover the work of all statutory authorities, except the statutory authority the legislation in respect of which contains an escape clause.
Now it is proposed that no pipeline work exceeding in cost $2m shall be undertaken or constructed by the Authority unless the work is referred to the Public Works Committee. By including that provision we are excluding the Public Works Committee from scrutinising pipeline work of the Authority which is not in excess of $2m. By inserting that escape clause in the Pipeline Authority Act, we are defeating the whole intention of Senator Wright’s move. If Senator Wright is not successful in his move, we will have the position where the work of only one authority will be covered by the Public Works Committee Act. Honourable senators opposite have confused the question. The thing to do is to leave the question until we see what happens to the Public Works Committee Bill: The work of one authority will be covered by the Public Works Committee Act or, if Senator Wright’s move is successful, the work of one authority will be exempted from the Act.
– It is interesting to listen to Senator Cavanagh who finds entering into debate at the Committee stage of a Bill irresistible because of the habit of many years of experience. I think that his intervention on this occasion will be to the eternal embarrassment of the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt), who is in charge of the Bill. I find the proposition that we are presently discussing quite attractive because we are: dealing with the expenditure of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money under the Pipeline Authority Bill. I believe that the power of inquiry of the. Public Works Committee ought to extend beyond its present limits. It ought to be within :the power of either House of this Parliament to put any proposal estimated to cost more than $2m before the Public Works Committee for con;sideration and examination. Such inquiries should extend into, for example, projects undertaken by the Commonwealth Railways which at present is contemplating the construction of a railway line to cost $54m.
These matters are most important to both Houses of this Parliament because large sums of revenue derived from taxpayers are involved. I am intrigued that the -Minister for Works should agree in principle with what we are proposing by way of amendment tonight. This Committee ought to deal with this matter without any further delay. I. suggest that, in doing so, a precedent for the future will be created, and the Minister will be afforded an opportunity to persuade the Government that this precedent ought to apply to other statutory authorities.
– I suggest to Senator Durack, the mover of the amendment, that to satisfy the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh) the words and/or associated equipment and structures pertaining thereto’ should be added to the amendment. The Minister for . Works mentioned that this clause relates to pipeline work only. Did Senator Durack hear what I said?
– Yes. It does not appeal to me.
– 1 indicate that the Government will oppose the amendment moved by Senator Durack. We will do so substantially for the same reasons as we opposed the previous amendment. The adoption of this proposal would become an inhibiting factor to the work of the Authority. I do not think that this is the time or the place to debate the merits or otherwise of Senator Wright’s proposal. What we are concerned about is this legislation. As I indicated earlier, there has been, I think, almost unanimous approval in the Committee of what the Government is intending to do by this legislation. For that reason, we will oppose the amendment.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clauses 14 to 16 - by leave-taken together.
– I seek some clarification of paragraph (1) of clause 16. Clause 16 deals with the particular powers of the Authority. Paragraph (1) states that the Authority has power: to subscribe for or otherwise acquire, and to dispose of, shares in a company.
I seek some clarification of the intent of this paragraph. It seems to me that, by reason of the paragraph, the Authority could enter into other activity quite distinct from constructing a pipeline and acting as a common carrier with ability to purchase and to sell petroleum, lt could take over a refinery. It could do all sorts of things which go far beyond the original intent, as I see it, of this Bill.
– With respect to the matter raised by Senator Laucke, there is a specific reason, as well as a general reason, for the inclusion of this paragraph. Let me deal first with the general reason. Similar powers are held by other statutory authorities. For example, the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act lays down a similar power for that Commission, as does the Australian National Airlines Commission Act in respect of that Commission. Those are 2 examples with which I am familiar to which certainly the power applies. I presume that such power applies with respect to other statutory authorities.
The specific reason concerns the takeover action which the Authority will be required to implement. The Government will be standing in the shoes of the pipeline company, that is, the Australian Gas Light Co. Limited. It will have to observe contractual commitments entered into by it, including the retention of the project manager already retained by the company. It will also have to reimburse expenditure already undertaken and committed on the project. Pursuant to this, the Authority will need to buy the pipeline company which has a paid up capital, I understand, of $5. In the case of reimbursement, substantial sums could be involved. That is the specific reason. 1 suppose that it would be an unusual situation into which the Authority will enter. But. because of the unusual nature, there is a specific reason why that provision is written into the Bill.
Clauses agreed to. !
Proposed new clause 16a.
After clause 16, insert the following new clause:
The Authority shall be deemed to be a common carrier and to have the obligations of a common carrier.
Without limiting the generality of sub-section (1), the Authority shall, subject to the capacity of its pipelines, be under obligation to accept petroleum at any point on its pipelines for delivery at any other point on its pipelines, and to charge for such service a fee which is not greater than:
a fee which is reasonable having regard to tha costs incurred by the Authority for such service and for the use of its facilities; or
the fee charged to any other customer for such service; or
the fee reasonably included or notionally included in its own accounts for comparable services performed on petroleum in its own ownership.’
This amendment is designed to ensure by a legal obligation that the Pipeline Authority acts as a common carrier. I have already advanced the reasons why the Liberal Party believes that this amendment should be made. Essentially, that argument is that the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) in introducing this Bill said that the Pipeline Authority is to be a common carrier and that that is the main function of the Authority. When one searches through the Bill, however, one finds that no provision is included in it which does invest the Authority with the legal character of the common carrier and impose on the Authority legal obligations of that kind. I have already indicated what those obligations are, and I do not propose to repeat them. They are spelled out in sub-clause (2) of proposed new clause 16a. I commend the amendment to the Committee.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party proposes to support this amendment. As I pointed out in speaking to another clause last night, this Authority is being clothed with wide and great powers. I think it should have them to be successful. But we believe also that it should accept the obligations that attach to its great responsibilities. I would not think that the possibility that the law relating to a common carrier would be invoked against the Authority was great or that circumstances giving cause for such action would ever arise. I would hope that they would not. But I believe that it is a reasonable precaution to insert this provision in the legislation. It should be there in case reasons or causes arise as to why some person or body should have the right to resort to the law as a person or body should have the right to resort to the law as a person or body may be forced to do. Wc must consider that right in the light of the fact that the Authority is to be clothed with wide powers to protect it and indeed to help it to enter into what could become a very commercial enterprise and one which, at some time, could even enter into very keen competition in other forms of activity of which we may not be aware at this stage of the development of technology. For those reasons, we support the amendment.
– The Government will oppose the amendment. I point out that clause 13 (1) (b) already provides:
– But not as a common carrier.
– Not as a common carrier. The reason for this is that the Government believes certain restrictions would be placed on the Authority if that were the case. We are not dealing with a normal carrier such as Trans Australia Airlines or the Australian National Line. This is a much more specific operation than they are engaged in. Therefore it is to the benefit of the Authority that no restrictions be placed on it so that it would have the flexibility with which to make certain judgments. If it becomes a common carrier it loses that . flexibility and discretion. For that reason we oppose the amendment.
– Senator Cavanagh interjected a note of bipartisanship into this debate which I listened to with keen interest. I have been directing my attention to the consideration of a common carrier’. This adverts to clause . 16 and the necessary assumptions to be made under it. The thing that impressed me in reading the second reading speech and the Act, as far as I have read the latter, is that this is to be a potentially huge authority, the capitalisation of which has been guessed at $ 1,000m to $ 1,200m. All of us who have had the experience of seeing government expenditure undertaken realise that it’ may go beyond that figure. It will be a huge undertaking; indeed, when set against other undertakings, it will be a mammoth. Therefore greater consideration should be given to the obligation to the public, not less. The powers should be spelled out more precisely,’ not less, and the obligations of being a public utility conducted in the broad sense ki the public good, when one has regard to the huge amount of capital involved, ought to be precisely spelled out. I do not want to take .up time in this debate but I have noticed When reading through this documentation a tendency not to have much regard in writing to the .,road public interest. I believe that would be better served if the common carrier obligations were incorporated within the Bill. . ,
Amendment agreed to. , . :.
A person who enters upon, land by virtue of sub-section (1):
– I move:
In paragraph (a) of sub-clause (2), after ‘land’ their appearing, insert ‘or, where such notification is impracticable, shall obtain a Magistrate’s warrant for the purpose’.
The proposed amendment relates to the power to enter upon land which is given by clause 17 (1). The Authority of course has to have power to enter upon land in order to determine whether it is suitable for building a pipeline upon it. The clause provides that the Authority may enter upon the land, make surveys, take levels, sink bores and so on and do the other things necessary for ascertaining the suitability of the land for the construction of a pipeline. Sub-clause (2) then purports to provide some protection for the rights of the owner of that land. It states that a person who enters upon land to do these things on behalf of the Authority:
We are concerned that this obligation upon the Authority to give notice is limited to ‘if it is practicable to do so’. This seems to us to give too wide a discretion altogether to the Authority as to what are the circumstances of practicability. We believe that if the Authority does conclude that it is impracticable to serve a notice lt should have the obligation of testing that view before a magistrate, and that if it can convince him that its view is correct and that it is impracticable it would then obtain a warrant from the magistrate. On the other hand, of course, if it cannot convince the magistrate that it is impracticable then presumably it will have to seek out the owner by better means and serve the notice upon him. This is the purpose of the amendment that we have moved.
– I wish to indicate that the Government will oppose this amendment.
– Not again?
– Yes. I draw to the honourable senator’s attention that the wording in this Act is the same as that in the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act and 1 suggest that Senator Durack should perhaps explain why, if his concern over this clause is so great, he did not suggest an amendment to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Aci when he came into this place. I would agree, and il think most people would agree, that the matter which the honourable senator raises as an argument is probably sound. But we come back to the point made earlier in this debate, that is, that if there had been overt actions by other statutory authorities there would be grounds upon which to include words of this nature in legislation. But this has not been the case in the past. When the previous Government, of which Senator Durack was a member, was in power it did not move, so far as I am aware, to insert in other legislation a clause of the nature which he now proposes to insert in this Act.
– There were very strong moves in this Senate spearheaded by the then Government members in this place for improvements to the Mapping Surveys Bill.
– That may be so; but I would ask why you were not able to achieve your objective. Your Party was in government and had the numbers in both places. I understand it was not done. I would think that this amendment is another device which really has no substance or basis which would justify its inclusion in the Act and therefore the Government opposes it.
– I shall not take more than 2 minutes of the Committee’s time but I would point out that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act was enacted as long ago as 1949. As Senator Durack said in his interjection, we gave careful attention to the proper conditions upon which the right to enter land should be given by statute in the Mapping Surveys Act; and all conditions that were then adopted were, in my recollection, supported by the Labor Party when it was in opposition. That is the first thing that I say in answer to the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt). The second thing that I say, which shows that there is not a complete parallel between the Snowy Mountains Authority and this Pipeline Authority in this respect, is that the Snowy Mountains Authority was an acquiring authority in very mountainous, undeveloped and uninhabited country. This Pipeline Authority will be extending its construction works through all sorts of country, developed and undeveloped, and in areas where development is intensive, lt is therefore much more important that the conditions should be laid down in a reasonable fashion, protecting the right of occupancy which we all, 1 think, would wish to protect by reasonable means. I rise to point out those 2 considerations to repel the statement of the Minister that this amendment is without substance.
– I rise to put straight what Senator Durack and Senator Wright have said. I was very annoyed last evening when I heard Senator Carrick making a big issue about people entering upon land without notification and starting to take down buildings and remove trees.
– That was a different clause.
– I know that it concerns a different clause. But that is what drew my attention to the matter. I had a recollection of mapping legislation that has been referred to by Senator Durack and Senator Wright tonight. It was a Bill for an Act relating to surveys required for the preparation of maps for Commonwealth purposes. It was introduced on 29 May 1969. Clause 5(1.) of the Bill provided:
The Minister, or a delegate of the Minister, may, by writing under his hand, appoint a person to be an authorised person for the purposes of this Act.
Clause 6 (1.) provided:
An authorised person may enter upon any land for the purpose of:
carrying out a mapping survey; or
maintaining, repairing, replacing, demolishing or removing a Commonwealth survey mark.
The clause goes on to state that such an authorised person may take upon the land such vehicles, equipment and other things as he considers necessary and do such things as he considers necessary. This is the procedure that the honourable senator opposite said the Opposition, when in government, perfected to see that these infringements of liberties which have been mentioned did not occur. Here is the Bill. It states that no notice had to be given. No one could prevent this happening. The owner did not have to be notified. There was such concern that we see in the debate on the Mapping Survey Bill on 21 August 1969 that Senator Webster took up the question. He said:
Am 1 correct in believing that a person authorised by the Minister or a person who accompanies an authorised officer - there may be any number of people - is able without notification to enter any property and commence activities? Is he in fact able to take on to the land vehicles, equipment and other things he considers necessary and there do such things as be believes to be required? I may be incor rect in imagining that there is no need for an authorised officer to notify the owner of the property ho wishes to enter.
The Minister in charge of the Bill, Senator Scott, replied to Senator Webster. He outlined how the Bill sought to persuade the owner. He then said:
On the very rare occasions when an occupier questions the right to enter it is found that further explanation, forbearance and tact can smooth out problems. However there are certain occasions when the owner of the property says: ‘You cannot come in to trim, lop or cut down any tree or bush’. In those circumstances the Commonwealth must have the authority to do so. This is why the Bill has been introduced, lt is designed to give authority to a person to enter property so that this work can be carried out.
The interesting point, contrary to what the 2 honourable senators opposite have said, is that the Government set out the right of an authorised person to enter a property without any notification to the owner.
– Not even 7 days.
– Not even 7 days; There is no provision for notification. On this question I raised a pertinent point - that I thought an authorised person had power to lop and cut down trees. Surprisingly, the Hansard record shows that Senator Gair somewhat supported me. He mentioned a fig tree somewhere in Queensland. The Bill stated that any tree could be cut down, not only a tree which interfered with the purpose of the survey and mapping. The Bill was never proceeded with and was withdrawn. Another Bill was introduced in 1970 which corrected the mistake I had mentioned but did not correct the mistake about which Senator Webster had complained. The former Government set the precedent of giving no notification and requiring no warrant. I do not enter into a debate on the issue of whether this is justified. But I have much concern when honourable senators opposite say that we are doing wrong, that the Opposition, when in government, took the right direction and that we are going to depart from the principles that it established. No government had a worse record in regard to the infringment of people’s liberties than the previous Government. At least this Bill gives some protection. It is clear in the authority outlined in the Bill. At least this Bill provides for some notification to be given to people that authorised persons from the authority are coming on to their land. If there were justification for entering upon the land a magistrate’s warrant would be obtained. This is only another attempt to delay the operation of the pipeline authority.
– 1 cannot understand, when we are discussing the clauses of this Bill in Committee, that we have to prove for the sake of somebody’s ego that he was right 5 or 10 years ago. I do not think that it is relevant to the Bill before the Committee. Most of the discussion seems to have been diverted to these factors. I am beginning to think that Senator Wriedt will never have the Bill passed if he gets too much help. The more assistance he receives, the further away this possibility seems to be. This is a very simple proposition. The clause sets out very clearly enormous powers for the Authority which are absolutely necessary when we consider the magnitude of the task with which it is faced. There is the vastness- of the terrain, the remoteness of some of the areas through which it will have to push to ascertain whether the soil and rock formations are suitable and whether everything else is suitable for this pipeline to be taken in a specific direction.
The Authority must have great powers. We must recognise that its position will be unlike that of any other authority, even the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority, in which case the area of activity was largely known when the Bill concerning that scheme was discussed. Here we are discussing matters which none of us, even in our wildest realms of imagination, can visualise at this moment. We do not know where, how and under what circumstances this authority will have to enter on to land. The ownership of the land may be uncertain. Lengthy searches of records may be needed to find out who owns the land and where the owner is. He may be 1,000 miles from the area through which the Authority proposes to go.
In the broad powers that are outlined in the Bill there may be an offence against civil rights. I do not believe that the insertion of the amended clause will offer any great obstruction to the Authority. I believe that at least it will . add some small safeguards. Authorised persons from the Authority will be able to go on to land not only to survey for the purpose of mapping but also to take levels, sink bores, dig pits and examine the soil. Such people practically will be able to walk on to a property and do anything they like. In some circumstances, I could imagine that they could walk in and dig up a person’s front lawn. If he were not home, they could do it without any recourse to anyone - just on the authority given to the employees of the pipeline authority. This could be done unless there is to be some safeguard. All that is proposed is that they should have to get a magistrate to approve this. I do not think that a magistrate would let them dig up a front lawn until he found out a little more about the matter. So I think it is a reasonable precaution. If it is that, what are we arguing about? The Australian Democratic Labor Party is for civil rights and we are in favour of this clause being amended.
– I am reminded of a moment of my earlier life. This pipeline will pass through a lot of uninhabited parts of Australia. In the first instance, it will pass out of the Cooper Basin and will come through uninhabited parts of New South Wales and Queensland. As I listened to the debate, I was thinking that there are areas there which are very remote. Not many people go to them. The properties there are protected by such things as what I call the ‘dog check fence’ which keeps dingoes out of a certain part of the cattle country of Queensland. Suppose someone comes along, puts down a pipeline, does not bother about the owner because he cannot find him - he might be 100 miles away - knocks the fence down, goes gaily on. How does the owner protect himself against those sorts of things? Sounds silly; sounds simple. I invite honourable senators to go and live there like I did once upon a time when I was much younger, as Senator Poyser might have been once upon a time.
– You are exaggerating beyond all common sense.
– No, I am not. I am talking about the problem of people in remote areas who may not be able to be found and who ought to be protected against the acts of people like Senator Poyser who do not care about them.
– I rise for only 2 minutes to put the record straight. Earlier I referred from memory to the mapping surveys legislation. Senator Cavanagh challenged the accuracy of my recollection so I obtained the statute. I now state the position. According to the Act, an authorised person may enter upon the land for the purpose of mapping; not for the purpose of interfering with the land but for mapping it. The Act goes on to state that when a person does enter upon land and it is necessary to cut down any tree or bush, he can do that only by giving notice to the owner or occupier. If he is not able to identify the owner or occupier after a reasonable inquiry, he is required to give 7 days public notice in newspapers of his intention so to do, that is, even to cut down a tree for the purpose of mapping a line.
This clause refers to the digging of a pipeline through a property or the demolition of structures that may be in the way of the pipeline. In substance my recollection was correct but applied to a much less significant interference with the land than is proposed with a pipeline.’ That reference reminds us all that after objection was taken to the original Bill the Government deferred the Bill and brought it back on the basis that was the product of the Senate deliberation at that time, lt only goes to confirm strongly the reasonable basis of Senator Durack’s amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
The Authority, or any person authorized in writing by the Authority so to do, may, for the purposes of this Act:
– The next amendment I intend to move concerns clause 18 which gives the Authority power to occupy land for certain purposes all of which, I think, can be summed up as ancillary to the dominant purpose of constructing a pipeline. The clause extends to land over which the pipeline might not necessarily be built, but it would be over the land in the vicinity of the pipeline where the Authority would want to have camps and machinery, and may be wanting to take products of the soil - stone, clay and so on - for its purposes. It may apply generally to the works in which the Authority is actively constructing a line. A considerable area of land would be affected by clause 18 in the construction work of the Authority.
This clause requires the Authority, before it occupies land for these very general pur poses, to give not less than 7 days notice ia writing to the occupier before it enters upon the land and occupies it. This clause is distinct from the previous clause which simply concerns entry on land to make surveys and so on. This clause actually deals with the occupation of land by the Authority for the purposes of its construction work. Obviously a major undertaking of this kind could cause major disruption to private owners of land. One only need look to the clause to see the sorts of things that the Authority may do. In particular the Authority may demolish, destroy or remove from land so occupied any plant, machinery, equipment, goods, workshop, shed, building or road. It is clear enough that the Authority, under the powers given in this clause, could demolish a dwelling house. Yet this Bill provides simply for 7 days notice to the owner of a dwelling house - the owner of his home - that the Authority is coming in to demolish it and he will be bundled but unceremoniously in 7 days from his own home.
This is an outrageous provision to appear in a Bill. It would be a disgrace to this Committee if the clause was allowed to stand. I think our proposal is being over-cautious in selecting only 30 days as the minimum time necessary for which the occupier must give notice of its intention to come in and occupy land and, as I have said, turn a person out of his own home. The 30-day period has a relationship to the provisions of the Lands Acquisition Act under which the Authority will be able to actually acquire land, the Lands Acquisition Act being the general Act under which the Commonwealth does compulsorily acquire land. Under that Act the Authority must give at least 28 days notice of the acquisition of land. The 30 days have been selected to bring the power into line with the power that the Authority would have under the Lands Acquisition Act. As I have said, in our opinion 30 days is an absolute minimum. Many people may say that a longer period is really desirable because of the great disruption which could occur to many people as a result of the power given here. We are prepared to be reasonable in the matter and that is why we have selected the period of 30 days. I move:
In paragraph (a) of sub-clause (1)., leave out seven’, insert ‘thirty’.
– Clause 18 took my attention in the early stages of debate on this Bill and I had some lack of knowledge in relation to what clause 18 actually meant. 1 agree with the amendment that in general 30 days notice should be given to an owner or tenant instead of 7 days. 1 draw attention to the words that this notice is to be given to an occupier of land including land owned or occupied by the Crown in right of a State. I ask the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) to explain to me whether that in fact means that if the Government of any State is the rightful owner or occupier of any land, the Commonwealth in this Bill is saying that with 7 days notice being given to that State it has a right to take over and do what it wishes with the land. The wording of sub-clause 2 appears to mean that the Authority will build a pipeline only on land in which the Authority has vested ownership. That means that all land under which there is to be a pipeline constructed must be purchased by the Authority before it proceeds with the work. I would like those 2 matters to be made clear to me.
– The period of 7 days, under some circumstances, could be considered to be reasonable. I am not concerned about States. I think States are powerful enough to look after themselves. If States receive notification to which they object, they are in a position to kick up sufficient noise so that at least everybody will know about it. My concern is for the ordinary average individual, many of whom will be concerned when this Authority begins to carry out its construction work. We have already mentioned the remote areas through which this pipeline may go. I can well see a situation in which notice in writing could very well be delivered towards the end of a week. If a person wished to consult his lawyer because he believed an injustice was being done to him a journey of thousands of miles might be involved before he could even obtain the legal advice he is seeking in relation to his rights in resisting the authority. When it comes to the ordinary people in our community who need protection more than the big and powerful companies, I believe that 7 days is not long enough. If the authority proposed to build a pipeline across the mining leases of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, I think that BHP could well look after itself within the 7 days time limit. But if the authority proposes to cross the property of Bill Smith who has been a battler in the outback all his life, I think he needs the consideration of being given reasonable notice.
I do not think the requirement for the authority to give 30 days notice would impose any hardship on it at all. The authority will know well in advance what it will be doing. It will have to know because of the magnitude of the project. It will have to plan months ahead whether it will pass through property A, B or C. To require it to give 30 days notice will impose no hardship or inconvenience on the authority at all and it will afford added protection to the thousands of ordinary people whose rights can be interfered with because of the magnitude of this venture. I appeal to the Government to be reasonable in its consideration of this amendment and to accept it. I feel that under the circumstances 7 days is far too little notice if it is intended to protect the ordinary people for whom the Government has sometimes expressed a very warm affection and, I hope, a deep interest.
– Clause 18 states:
I suggest that it should read: ‘the owner and the occupier of the land’. I put forward this suggestion because some people who are occupying houses I own would not give a tuppeny damn if someone came along and dug the places up. I think we have to provide for both the owner and the occupier to be notified so that both parties know the situation. Irrespective of what the Minister said on a few occasions tonight, I . wish to convey to him that I do not think the Opposition is trying to delay this measure. I think it is trying to treat it in the way in which we should treat a Bill, namely, with due regard to the fact that without any shadow of doubt the Authority will be interfering with the rights of people. We must protect the rights of people. I would ask the Minister to consider the proposition that in my opinion every suggestion that has been put up tonight by the Opposition has been fair and reasonable. I say that in relation to this part of the clause we must advise not only the occupier of the land, who mostly would not care two hoots about what- happened to the land, but also the owner of the land.
– 1 was amazed to hear Government senators interjecting tonight that the Opposition is trying to delay this legislation.
– Who said that?
– The interjections came from the Government side. As far as 1 am concerned, every amendment that has been put forward tonight has been in the national interest and with a view to protecting the individual. Our proposal to extend from 7 days to 30 days the period of notice which must be given is a clear example of our trying to protect the rights of the individual. Clause 18 gives the Authority a great amount of power. As Senator Durack said, under clause 1 8 it can construct, take all sorts of materials on to a property, make cuttings and excavations, deposit all sorts of materials, erect workshops, sheds and other buildings, and even make roads through a property. On top of this it will also have the power to ‘demolish, destroy or remove on or from land so occupied, any plant, machinery, equipment, goods, workshop, shed, building or road’.
Senator Webster has asked the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) for a definition or an interpretation of paragraph (2) of clause 18 which states:
The Authority shall construct a pipeline only on or under land’ owned by the Authority or in respect of which there is vested in the Authority the right to construct a pipeline.
So the Authority is given terrific powers under this legislation. Surely we can extend from one week to 30 days the period of notice. The pipeline will not be built in areas which are easily accessible and where one can get in touch with a person within 24 hours. It could take a week or more to get in touch with a person. It is essential that these people be given time to see what is proposed to be done to their property and to discuss the proposal with the Authority. I think that the Government should show respect to the people who will be affected by accepting the amendment moved by Senator Durack. If it does not, all I can say is that it has no respect for the civil rights of the people of this country.
– Senator Webster asked whether this Act will apply to the States. The answer is yes, of course it will apply to the States as well as to individuals.
His second query seemed to indicate that he did not read the paragraph to which it was directed in its entirety. Subclause (2) reads:
The Authority shall construct a pipeline only on or under land owned by the Authority or in respect of which there is vested in the Authority the right to construct a pipeline.
If the honourable senator reads the Bill further he will find more detailed technical matters concerning that clause. I thought the observation made by Senator Negus was a very interesting and a very good one. I think it ought to be considered as it applies to all statutory authorities under Acts of this nature. I cannot’ accept the statements made by some of the Opposition senators who know themselves that for 23 years when they were in power the same provisions applied in the Acts which they administered.
– Nothing like what the Authority can do under clause 18. lt is given terrific powers under clause 18.
– The same powers are provided under the Act to which I was referring earlier. I think perhaps the. honourable senator was not in the chamber but I could read from this Act what the honourable senator read from the Pipelines Act. I just put the proposition to the honourable senator with equal reasonableness: Why did not the previous Government provide for these things when it was in power? It did not do so for the reasons I stated earlier. It is all very well for Senator Wright to say that in this case we are meandering all over the country. I do not know whether the rights of any one Australian means less to him than the rights of thousands of Australians. I would presume the principle would be exactly the same. I am not doubting for one moment that there is validity in that point of view, but it seems to me to be hypocritical for people who have been in power for 23 years to raise this point now and criticise the Government for conditions that will apply in this Act.
I want to refer again to the point raised by Senator Negus. I can assure him that I will refer the matter to the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) and to the Government for further consideration. As the amendment stands at present, the Government will oppose it.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
-(Senator Lawrie) - Order! It being 10.30 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.
Australian Council for the Arts Estimates Committees
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I lay upon the table of the Senate a draft report to the Prime Minister from the Australian Council for the Arts, together with a statement by the Prime Minister relating to that report.
– I remind honourable senators that Estimates Committees A, D and F will meet tomorrow at 10 a.m.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.31 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
– I ask this ques tion for the same reason as I asked question So. 170. 1 ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE- The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
– I ask this ques tion because of the inadequacy of the answer that I am to receive. I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE- The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I also draw to his attention the following extracts from the same speech which immediately preceded and followed upon the extract to which he has referred.
Terror - the terror of the extreme Right, the terror of the extreme Left has no place in this nation . . .
To those of the Left or the Right who preach in Australia the doctrine of violence, I have only this to say: I shall use unremittingly and support without qualification my colleagues who join me in using the Constitutional and Institutional powers invested in my Government to end political violence in Australia.’
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
Senator McCLELLAND- The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Cessation of assisted migration from Europe has not been foreshadowed. Future immigration programs will, however, provide for:
the reunion of immediate family members;
other sponsored migrants; and
unsponsored migrants in numbers and categories sufficient, together with sponsored migration, to meet national needs.
– Again this ques tion is asked for the same reason as I stated earlier. I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE- The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I also reaffirm the Government’s intention to act against political violence or terrorism from whichever quarter it may come. For this purpose we shall ensure that adequate facilities are available to law enforcement agencies for investigation and detection of crimes involving violence or the threat of violence.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE-I am informed that the answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 May 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730524_senate_28_s56/>.