28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
-I present the following petition from 567 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:
1 ) That Australian citizens place great value on their freedom to choose their own doctor in all aspects of medical care.
) That we believe in a doctor’s freedom to provide a personal service based on personal responsibility within a system based on quality rather than quantity, as opposed to an impersonal service in which doctor and patient lose their identity.
3 ) That proposals to change the existing health scheme are unacceptable to the people of Australia.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
A petition in identical terms was presented by Senator Laucke.
Petitions received and read.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. It refers to the projected annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association which is to begin in Auckland on Monday next. It refers also to reports that international air fares are certain to rise, probably by between 2 per cent and 3 per cent. Will the Minister assure the Senate that international air fares charged by Qantas Airways Ltd, which are already much higher than they ought to be because Qantas will not carry its share of the effect of revaluation, will not be forced even higher through International Air Transport Association pressure or resolution?
-No, I cannot give that assurance. The conference will be held. As honourable senators know, fares are fixed by international agreement. I do not know whether the fares charged by Qantas Airways Ltd are higher than other fares, but I will take up the question with the Minister for Transport to see whether I can obtain further information.
– I ask a question of the Attorney-General on the assumption, which I think he shares, that the provisions of the ACT Companies Ordinance dealing with takeovers are designed to prevent any acquisition or control of any listed company without all shareholders having an equal opportunity to dispose of their shares unless the acquisition or control occurs by means of purchase in the ordinary course of trading on the stock exchange. On that assumption I ask: Have the recent publicised dealings in the shares of Australian and Kandos Cement Holdings Ltd come to the AttorneyGeneral’s notice in view of the fact that it is a Canberra registered company? If so, does the Minister consider that the provisions of the Ordinance are operating effectively in the light of these publicised dealings? Has any investigation been made of these dealings?
– They have not come to my personal notice. It may be that something is being done about them by officers of my Department. I will inquire into the matter and let the honourable senator know.
-I ask the
Attorney-General: Does he propose shortly to introduce several Bills dealing with human rights? Should the Government’s concern, for the rights of the people come into question in the light of the experience of 2 Taiwanese fishing boat captains convicted on charges of illegal fishing off the north-west coast? Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that the captains when released from gaol accused the Australian Government of treating them unjustly? Was this accusation based on the fact that they were detained for 1 87 days, had their boats confiscated and had an offer by the Government of their fines being waived on condition that they dropped appeals against their convictions?
-It is right that at all times the actions of governments should be scrutinised in the light of our attitude to human rights. As to the particular instance the honourable senator raises, I am disturbed about the case in question and I am disturbed not for the reason that the honourable senator raises but for the reason that 2 men were in gaol and certainly at one stage the Government indicated that no opposition would be made to their release on bail on reasonable conditions. The matter has operated in such a way that no application was made by the fishing captains for bail although the Government was willing, as far as it could, to facilitate the matters and see to it that they were not in gaol. For reasons which I should like explored and am endeavouring to have explored an application was not made on their behalf. From the time the matter came to my notice and as far as I know to the notice of any member of the Government, the Government acted properly in relation to the 2 men.
There is one difficulty in relation to these cases. For technical reasons the forfeiture of boats is dependent upon the continuance of a case against the individuals. Obviously if there are intrusions into Australian waters which are a breach of Australian law, remedies and penalties should be available. One of the appropriate penalties is the forfeiture of the vessels involved. It would be much more appropriate if this were disconnected from the question of penalties and proceedings against individuals. There are proposals, and in fact they may be already in the mechanism, to separate the 2 matters, so that in future any questions of forfeiture of ships can be dealt with quite separately from the question of the proceedings against the persons. I assure the honourable senator that the Government is conscious of the problems that arose in this matter. If the honourable senator is looking for what went wrong I think he will need to look much further than the actions of the Government.
-I wish to ask a supplementary question. In view of the Attorney-General’s concern was an offer made by the Commonwealth of bail for these 2 men?
– Because the Commonwealth could not dispose of this matter on its own, the bail in this instance would have to be granted by the court. The Commonwealth indicated and suggested to the solicitor acting for the 2 men that application be made for bail. The Commonwealth indicated that it would not oppose the application for bail on the reasonable condition that the men would be available when the appeals were prosecuted.
– My question to the Leader, of the Government in the Senate is dictated by statements which have appeared widely in the Australian Press. Has the Government indicated to any Australian in an official position who has been invited to the wedding of Princess Anne that in its view he should not attend?
- Mr President -
- Senator Murphy, within the compass of Standing Orders you may answer the question.
– I do not know the answer to it. I understand what the honourable senator is referring to. I read it in the newspapers myself but I simply do not know the answer. I will find out for the honourable senator.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Customs and Excise by saying that newspaper reports over the weekend indicated that two customs officers were involved in the seizure of a large quantity of drugs in Sydney. Can the Minister advise whether those officers were members of the Department’s antinarcotics teams?
– Order! This involves a matter which is sub judice. Senator Murphy, in his capacity as Attorney-General and not in his capacity as Minister for Customs and Excise, will answer the question bearing this in mind.
-Yes. I inform the Senate that two customs officers have been charged in connection with drug seizures in Sydney over the weekend. These officers were not in any way associated with the anti-narcotics activities of the Department. I might, I think, safely inform the Senate conformably with your ruling, Mr President, that there have been 2 seizures of hashish and hashish oil imported in cargo, and that the total seizure represented the largest ever made of this type of drug in Australia. As honourable senators will realise, hashish and especially hashish oil, although produced from marihuana, are extremely more potent than is marihuana. I indicate also to the Senate that the Commonwealth Bureau of Narcotics of the Department of Customs and Excise is doing all it can and showing every vigilance in dealing with the importation of these extremely potent drugs.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. On 23 October I asked him the following question:
Is the Attorney-General aware that the Supreme Court of South Australia ruled that doctors’ fees in South Australia were subject to price control under the South Australian Prices Act? As it appears that fees and wages could be affected by this decision, will the Attorney-General prepare a statement on the matter for the Senate as soon as possible?
The Leader of the Government informed me that he would give consideration to this question and would inform the Senate accordingly. I now ask the Leader of the Government: When will he make this information available?
-I will try to do it tomorrow.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I understand that negotiations are currently talcing place over freight arrangements for shipments of apples and pears to the United Kingdom and Europe. In view of the critical effect which the level of freight rates has on the apple and pear industry, particularly in Tasmania, can the Minister indicate whether any conclusion has been reached in the negotiations?
-I am not sure whether negotiations have been completed but it is true that representatives of the Australian Apple and Pear Board have been negotiating with shipping interests this week in London. The information that I have indicates that the negotiations have been extremely difficult. It is apparent that if the shipping companies have not lost interest completely in shipping apples and pears from Australia, they must be very close to it. For the 1 974 crop they have offered a freight rate 1 6 per cent above the former rate, plus a 3 per cent increase because of increased prices for bunkers and the uncertainty of the Middle East situation. The Board representatives endeavoured to obtain space for 2.5 million bushels. I understand that has been reduced to 2 million bushels. This suggests a very critical situation for the fruit industry in Australia. The position in regard to Tasmania, which is the State mainly concerned, is that the Premier of Tasmania will be coming to Canberra in the next two or three weeks to have discussions with the Prime Minister to see what steps can be taken by the Government to alleviate the forthcoming situation.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. I refer to a document tabled in the Senate on the Thursday before last and which was entitled ‘Proposed Regional Boundaries Under the Grants Commission Act’. Firstly, does the Minister for Urban and Regional Development intend under that Act to approve boundaries as proposed in this document or are the boundaries as proposed therein the subject of negotiation between the local authorities concerned and the Minister? Secondly, is it a fact that applications for financial assistance for 1973-74 will be received from individual local authorities up to 3 1 December 1 973? If this is the case, will the Minister consider an extension of that date? Thirdly, what type of financial assistance may be sought by these individual local authorities? For instance, can they apply for grants for specific projects or only general grants of assistance?
– I cannot give a detailed answer to the honourable senator’s question. These boundaries were set out in a report which was made to the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. The Minister will finally make the decision as to what areas will be acquired. I shall take up with the Minister the questions raised by the honourable senator. In particular I shall ask whether he is prepared to extend the time within which applications for financial assistance should be lodged. I shall also ask for details of what financial assistance can be claimed and will be paid.
– I remind the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation that 2 weeks ago I asked him whether he would find out why Australian citizens were penalised to the extent of about 20 per cent in paying for exactly the same service from Sydney to London and return as do other nationals. I was wondering whether the Minister has the answer.
– The honourable senator raised this matter in an adjournment debate recently, and I thought that the answer was supplied then. It was certainly supplied in the other place by the responsible Minister, who said that there will be no alteration in the fares of Qantas Airways Ltd, which is subject to an agreement on fares, and that he did not accept that this was in fact robbery as the honourable senator suggested. If there is any further information on this matter I shall obtain it for the honourable senator, but I think that the information he seeks has been supplied.
– Can the Minister for Foreign Affairs indicate the latest developments in the creation of a United Nations peace keeping force in the Middle East? Has Australia been asked to provide a component of such a force?
-I think most people know that Australia voted last week in the United Nations for the proposition to send in a peace keeping force to the Middle East and said that we would sympathetically consider any request to send troops to this area. The SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations was then instructed to come back with requests for the type of force that he wanted. He plans a force of about 7,000. He is looking at such questions as geographical and ideological locations. Of course, the permanent members of the Security Council, which are most of the big powers, are excluded from providing members of the force. So far the composition of the force has not been determined. In the interim the United Nations has moved some troops across from Cyprus to carry out an immediate survey and to move into the area immediately. As I understand the situation there will be only 7,000 troops. Very obviously a lot of nations will not be required to send large numbers of troops. We are waiting for Mr Kurt Waldheim to make up his mind exactly where he wants these people to come from. I ask honourable senators to think about the position for a bit. He has an unenviable job trying to get all the pieces together.
– Is the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs aware of Press reports that the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee elections will be held on 24 November? If so, will the Minister table for the information of the Senate the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee electoral roll?
– I recall that I have answered a similar question by the honourable senator. The number is some 36,700. 1 have not seen the roll. I do not know whether it is in duplicated form for the purpose of publishing it. I somewhat doubt that it would be of interest to anyone other than Senator Bonner.
– It should be of some interest to the Minister’s Department to have a copy of the roll.
-My Department has a copy. As the honourable senator thinks that, I shall try to make provision to table the roll showing those who are enrolled.
-Has the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry been drawn to a Press statement by the Opposition spokesman for primary industry, Mr Street, claiming that the Government is selling large quantities of food products at cut-rate prices? Is it true that the Government has arranged sales at cheap rates? Would not recent agreements made with China, Japan, East Germany and other countries indicate that Australian primary producers are assured of long term sales at beneficial rates?
– Order! When honourable senators base their questions on newspaper reports the custom of the Senate is that they must vouch for the accuracy of those reports. Giving that warning signal to honourable senators I pass this question to the Minister for Primary Industry, Senator Wriedt, to answer.
– I did see the report referred to. I would say that there was an apparent contradiction in the statement inasmuch as Mr Street claimed that the Government was, in fact, negotiating contracts for primary products with other countries at cut-throat rates- I think that was the term which he used. But later on in that statement he said that nobody seemed to know precisely what those rates were. His second statement is actually correct because prices are negotiated by the statutory bodies- such as the Australian Wheat Board- and they are of a commercial nature. They are not in any way interfered with by the Government. I am quite sure that when those rates are negotiated they will be in the best interests of the various primary producers of Australia. It should also be mentioned that the Government’s intention is not to dictate the price at which these sales will be made but to secure the markets for our primary products over a longer term.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy. In view of the delicate position concerning the world ‘s oil supplies and the uneasy peace in the Middle East will the Minister make available to the Senate a statement showing the amount of liquid fuel reserves held in Australia, the length of time these reserves are expected to last in an emergency and how long it will take to introduce some plan to share the available fuel among essential services if an emergency arises?
-I ask that the question be placed on notice.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate noted the large scale petrol promotion campaign being waged by the Shell Co. of Australia Ltd to sell ‘New Generation Shell’? Can the Minister say, from his knowledge of the Department of Customs and Excise, whether there is any difference in the quality of various brands of petrol? Is he, in his capacity representing the Minister for Science, able to say whether the so-called additives mixed with petrol are beneficial to motorists or the community, or is the device merely an exercise in consumer deception? Has the Minister for Science had any opportunity to have analysed the additives mixed with petrol? Does this type of advertising come within the scope of consumer protection and the Trade Practices Bill 1973?
– I am aware that the various oil companies from time to time conduct their promotional campaigns based mostly on the supposed value of the various additives. It is true, and I think well known, that the companies do borrow petrol from one another. They draw from one another’s refineries under borrow and loan arrangements. This has been a longstanding custom. I understand that the additives are put in immediately before delivery. As to the value of these additives, I do not know whether any testing has been done for the Minister for Science. It is not known by me whether additives are a matter of value, a matter of faith or a matter of deception as the honourable senator suggests. I will ask the Minister for Science whether there is anything that can be added by way of providing information to what I have said. It might be that there is some kind of testing done by the Government to ascertain whether there is any difference in the various brands of petrol which are used by the Government, but I am not aware of that.
-! direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. As it seems quite apparent that the Government intends gradually to control more areas of finance in Australia, will the Minister say whether the Government has any plans to freeze funds of private superannuation funds, that is, effectively nationalising those funds, and using this money towards a compulsory national superannuation scheme? Has the Government any thoughts of a compulsory national superannuation scheme at this stage?
-I will refer the question to the Treasurer.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for the Media, refers to the Broadcasting and Television Act and to the specific provisions of the Act governing the projection of political matter, both paid and free.
Since the inception of television in Australia, have there been any occasions on which television stations have charged political parties to broadcast political speeches? If so, can the Minister give details, including the years and the political parties involved? Has the imposition of such charges been legal under the Act and specifically under section 116(5.) of the Act? Finally, has the Australian Broadcasting Control Board ever made any recommendation for the suspension or revocation of a television licence arising out of an action which has been legal under the Act?
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDSection 1 16 (5.) of the Broadcasting and Television Act provides that nothing contained in that section, which relates to the broadcasting or televising of political matter, requires a licensee to broadcast or televise any matter free of charge. Having said that, naturally I do not comment on the legal implications that are involved in the honourable senator’s question. However, I do know that so far as the Sydney metropolitan area is concerned, there have been at least a dozen or so instances when either one or two, or in one case three, commercial stations did make a charge for the televising of a political leader’s policy speech. I cannot give the honourable senator the exact details, but I know that in 1965 the three commercial stations did impose a charge. As to whether the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has ever made any recommendation for the suspension or revocation of a licence arising out of an action - (An incident occurring in the gallery).
– Order! Sir, you in the gallery. Who are you? You have no right to do that. You may not address senators over the balustrade. Leave the chamber at once.
-As 1 was saying in answer to portion of Senator Carrick ‘s question as to whether the Board had ever made any recommendation for the suspension or revocation of a licence arising out of what is considered to be a legal action, I would not know. I would hardly think that it is so but again I do not comment on that which is legal or not legal. It is not a matter for my interpretation.
– My question is addressed to you, Mr President. It relates to a television presentation scheduled for this evening and which, according to my information, is to include an actuality broadcast from the Aboriginal group in front of Parliament House. Without commenting on the subject of the telecast, I ask you for some information on the propriety of such a course. Is the permission of the President required? If so, has it been obtained? What is the situation regarding television interviews with groups within or adjacent to Parliament House? What is the role of Parliament in a situation like this?
– Matters relating to the precincts of Parliament House have been a vexed question with me since I have been placed in my position by the vote of honourable senators. The situation relating to the actual physical precincts of Parliament House is a legal one which seems to defy rational analysis at the present moment, as I have explained to honourable senators in the past. By custom in recent years the area across from the double roadway in front of Parliament House is acknowledged by the Presiding Officers to be an area which is under the administration of the Minister for Services and Property and, as I am reminded by the learned Clerk, of the Minister for the Capital Territory. The second matter that arises from this question- I take this opportunity to make this perfectly clear to honourable senators- is that there has been in existence since 1937 an Ordinance of the ACT forbidding groups of more than 20 protesters to assemble inside an area 100 yards from the physical walls of Parliament House. I shall be grateful if Ministers of State will observe that Ordinance which has never been repealed. As far as the Australian Broadcasting Commission is concerned, that is a matter for the Minister for the Capital Territory and the Minister for Services and Property.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade. Is it a fact that Australia’s much publicised $250m sugar agreement with the People ‘s Republic of China is considerably enhanced by the fact that it is a long term agreement enabling the Australian industry to plan well in advance? Is it also a fact that the Minister for Overseas Trade said recently that a new wheat agreement with China could be reviewed in the event of a change of government in the next 3 years? Will the Minister inform the Senate whether the same reservation applies to the new sugar agreement? As a change of government is most likely in view of widespread dissatisfaction with the present Government, does this mean that the new agreement, which is to operate for 5 years from 1 975, in fact may not have the long term effect being claimed?
– I am not aware of any statement that has been made about the sugar agreement along the lines indicated and attributed to Dr Cairns in respect of wheat some few weeks back. I would think that the important point so far as the long term planning of either the sugar industry or the wheat industry are concerned, is that producers in this country welcome the opportunity to look forward to those markets over an extended period. I would imagine that it is a matter of judgment for the primary producers whether they accept the greater security which they now have as a result of the initiatives taken by this Government. I will have to refer the specific question as to whether any comment about sugar was made to Dr Patterson who is, in fact, the Minister responsible for matters connected with sugar. I will obtain that information, if it is obtainable, and let the honourable senator know.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer the Minister to the recent unanimous resolution of this Senate dealing with the abrogation of human rights of Soviet dissidents. I refer also to the Minister’s written answer to my question last Thursday week, that pursuant to my request the Government had directed our Ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Laurence Mclntyre, to place the resolution before the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations. Can the Minister now inform the Senate what has transpired in respect of such direction to Sir Laurence? Has the resolution been examined by the United Nations?
-I regret that I am not able to inform the honourable senator of the position, but again I will endeavour to get an answer for him during the course of this day.
– Has the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs had an opportunity to study the reports on the economic, scientific and financial management aspects of the Aboriginal turtle farming projects being conducted on the Torres Strait Islands, which were prepared by Dr A. F. Carr of the Florida University, Professor Main of Western Australia and Mr L. Smart, a management consultant? If so, can the Minister indicate the conclusions and recommendations arrived at in these reports and when he proposes to table the reports in the Senate?
– The report has been prepared as a result of a request by the Special Minister of State. So far I have not seen the report. I understand that there was a report in the newspapers which would suggest that Senator Willesee has received the report. I am now having discussions with the 3 men who compiled the report. It is suggested that the report should be tabled after it is considered by the Government. As I say, I have not seen the report and whether it will be tabled is, I think, a question for the Special Minister of State to decide.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. On 30 October last reference was made on a widespread scale by the metropolitan Press to remarks that emanated from the new appointee to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the person of Professor Isaac. They were to the effect that sometimes regrettably strikes provide the only way to a solution and they should be allowed to run their course. The significance of that expression from a member of the Arbitration Commission did not escape the notice of all the Australian Press. I ask the Minister whether the person, Professor Isaac, has actually been appointed a member of the Commission, or whether there has been simply an announcement that it is intended to appoint him from February next year. I require the information for the purpose of considering the appropriate action to take in examining his fitness for the proposed appointment.
-I understand that Professor Isaac has been appointed, but I will check on that. The honourable senator is aware of the way in which these matters are handled; certain documents are signed. In this instance I signed the documents some little time ago. I imagine that that is the position, but I can check on it. As to the implication arising from the honourable senator’s question, I think it is fair to point out that the fitness of Professor Isaac was recognised by the former Administration when it appointed him, I think, to the Flight Crew Officers Industrial Tribunal, to act in the industrial sphere. He is an eminent and well-respected figure in the industrial sphere. If we are going to have a campain by the Opposition of attacking the appointments which are made to the Bench, perhaps the bases of these should be looked at.
The honourable senator speaks of remarks made about strikes. I do not know whether those remarks are taken out of context or whether they are not. But I think at least this much ought to be added to them: In the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, it has occurred in the past that members of that body have held that a strike was proper and ought not to be prevented by order of the Commission. I can well remember the time of the one man bus dispute in Melbourne when, after penalties had been imposed by the Industrial Court, the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, first by a commissioner and then by the Full Bench, took off the ban on strikes and limitations of work because it took the view that, in the circumstances, it was unjust that the unions should be penalised.
It is quite clear that in certain circumstances in the proper operation of the industrial laws some strikes are justifiable in the eyes of those who have been appointed and who have operated in this sphere over the years. When I say appointed’, I mean appointed by the previous Administration. Some suggestion that there is something wrong in what was said by the new appointee ought to be rejected out of hand. I would suggest with great respect that the imputations which fashionably are now being made by members of the Opposition about appointees or proposed appointees to the bench seem to be aimed at undermining public confidence in the judiciary and in those who hold quasi judicial positions.
– I ask for leave to reply to the debate -
Government Senators- No.
– It is a debate that you have permitted to go on.
– No. Order! I call Senator Wright to order. He is out of order.
– You do not refuse leave.
– Order! Senator Wright, please resume your seat. You are out of order.
- Mr President -
– Do you wish to ask a supplementary question?
– Why did you allow a debate in relation to the question -
– Order ! Please resume your seat, Senator Wright.
– . . . that is a completely outrageous attitude - -
- Senator Wright!
– … a debate in reply to my question -
– Order ! I name Senator Wright.
– I am entitled to reply.
– I asked a question and I am submerged by a debate of a partisan character.
– I call upon Senator Wright to make such explanation as he would see fit.
- Senator Murphy is running the chamber.
– I am acting in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– What is the procedure, Mr President?
– I have named you.
– You have named me. The explanation that I give to the Senate is this: There is a great constitutional principle involved in my question, that is, that appointees to judicial office become immediately independent of political affiliations and immediately are seised of the responsibilities of the office to which they are appointed. In this case, appointment to a position on the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission requires an unfailing fulfilment of a duty faithfully to observe the principles of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It is the jealous tradition and pride of this country that we initiated a policy of arbitration as long ago as 1904 in supersession of the primitive and outmoded and destructive processes of strikes which are the misery of the working man, inflicted on him by those who have political purposes to fulfil. I am seised of the importance of maintaining the independence of the judiciary. I asked a question designed to ascertain the true nature of the executive act that either had appointed a person to that responsibility or had announced merely that that person would be appointed. I stated most clearly in the course of my question -
– I rise to a point of order.
– Order! Senator Wright, will you resume your seat?
– Am I to sit down? I was asked to give an explanation.
-Will you please resume your seat?
- Mr President, you have named the honourable senator for his disobedience to your authority. In conformity with the Standing Orders I called upon him to make such explanation or apology as he thought fit in relation to his defiance of you, not in relation to the question and answer. I ask that he be directed to make his explanation of or his apology for his defiance of you.
– That is the subject matter, Senator Wright.
– We introduced into Australia this great principle of industrial arbitration which must be effectively operated and faithfully exerted by the present occupants of the Bench. If that principle had been firmly enforced by the outgoing President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission this country would have rejoiced in a system of industrial equity. Because I hold principles about the absolute duty of unqualified integrity on the part of people occupying the bench of the Arbitration Commission and about the absolute necessity of faithfulness to the policy of compulsory arbitration prescribed by Parliament, I drew the attention of the Senate, in most restrained language, not adopting the distortions of some of the Press but allowing for misinterpretation, to the matter and simply asked 2 questions. They were whether this person had actually been appointed so as to be today a member of the Commission whose duties were suspended or whether it was a Government announcement that in February he would be appointed. I indicated that my purpose in seeking the information was to consider the appropriate course and not necessarily to act upon it, in relation to the question of his fitness for appointment.
You, Mr President, in the course of such discretion as you brought to the matter, allowed Senator Murphy to debate the matter at large and to refer to principles which I have taken the opportunity, in what I have stated to date, to rebut. I asked for leave to reply to that debate and, you presumed to say: ‘Leave is not granted ‘. I made the remark that debate should never have been permitted. That is the basis of the impropriety for which you have named me. If the Senate wishes to inflict upon itself the indignity of its asking for me to be suspended, I will disembarrass the Senate of my presence and leave it to Ministers to debate answers on matters which senators did not ask them.
– Order! Senator Wright, I think you will recollect that I disallowed you the right to debate the question.
– I asked for leave. You should have put the question to the Senate.
– I asked you to resume your seat. You refused to resume your seat.
– Certainly not.
– I asked you a second time to resume your seat.
– Certainly not.
– I asked you a third time to resume your seat.
– Certainly not.
– You refused to do so. At that stage, in order that the dignity of the Senate should be maintained, I had recourse to the only avenue open to me, that is, to call upon the Senate to make a judgment on the matter. I suggest that it has been ventilated enough. You could make the appropriate gesture, and we could then get on with the business of the Senate.
– I certainly have made my explanation and I submitted it to the Senate.
- Mr President, the matter in issue is the defiance of the Chair by Senator Wright’s refusing to be seated when called upon. No explanation or apology having been made for that I move:
That Senator Wright be suspended from the sitting of the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-Black Rod, you will escort Senator Wright. Senator Wright, you are suspended from the remainder of the sitting of the Senate for this day. Please leave the chamber. (Senator Wright thereupon left the chamber.)
– I desire to ask a question of the Leader in the Government in the Senate. Has he noted the report in this morning’s newspapers that the Prime Minister decided that the Governor-General will not attend the wedding of Princess Anne? Is not the statement that this country would be inconvenienced greatly by a few days absence of the Governor-General a statement that has no real foundation? Is this a further move to reduce the stature and importance of the Queen in Australia and so make more progress towards making this country a republic with all the way with Chou En-lai’s friend, Mr Whitlam, as president?
– I know nothing more of the matter than I saw in the newspaper and my colleagues know nothing additional to that and what was heard on the radio. I have already indicated that I will check into the matter to see what substance there is in it but I regret that I am unable to help the honourable senator any further..
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General. Acknowledging certain apprehensions as to the conduct of persons in this country and especially in aircraft and at airport terminals, is the Minister not concerned nevertheless to observe that weapons are openly evident on the person of law officers at Canberra airport which I visited today? Is it absolutely necessary that firearms be so much in evidence? Cannot the same ends be achieved in a much less obvious way? Does not this practice appear to be following that to be seen in other countries where it appears that such a display of force tends to increase rather than diminish the incidence of crimes of violence? Will the Minister investigate this situation in the hope that some procedure can be adopted so as not to lessen the effectiveness of officers in certain situations but to be less suggestive of a display of force than is presently the case?
– The suggestions made by the honourable senator appeal to me and I shall investigate them. If the procedure he suggests can be adopted effectively, I shall set the machinery in train to have it implemented.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Has his attention been drawn to comments by a leader in the pastoral industry who stated that the present Government had made the greatest financial attack on primary industry of any government in our history? Without dismissing out of hand the criticism of a leader of primary industry -
– Who was he?
-Sir Norman Giles; the honourable senator would not know him. I ask the Minister: Does he agree that revaluation upwards of the Australian dollar, the Government’s decision to implement a greater increase in interest rates on borrowing for primary industry than for any other sector of the community, the withdrawal of taxation concessions which tended to encourage production and the withdrawal of taxation concessions which encouraged the renewal of production equipment and the storage of water and fodder are all positive actions by the Labor Government which could be construed as the greatest financial attack on primary industry in our history?
-I think the gentleman to whom Senator Webster refers is the chairman of directors of Elder Smith Goldsborough Mort Ltd. I think also that he reported a 75 per cent increase in the profit of Elder Smith in the last 12 months. In fact, his report was representative of the situation of most of the big pastoral companies, reflecting the type of prosperity which exists in the rural community at present. I have said before in this chamber, and I say it again, that despite the fact that we believe that this Government has taken major initiatives which have been of very real value to rural industry, the seasonal conditions which have obtained- this is a very important factor in the upturn in rural fortunesare something for which the Government cannot and does not attempt to take credit. We are glad, not just from the point of view that we happen to be in government but from the primary producer’s point of view, that he is able now to enjoy some of the benfits of primary production which he missed out on under a LiberalCountry Party Government for more reasons than one. It is easy, of course, to isolate things such as Budget concessions which allegedly have been taken away. No reference is made, of course, to the taxation concessions which have remained and which are of real benefit to the average Australian farmer. It is also easy to neglect the other things which the Government has done such as the 25 per cent cut in tariffs, something which primary producer organisations argued for years should be done. It took the Labor Party to come into power to do that. We have initiated other moves in marketing which have been referred to earlier in question time today. I would be on my feet for another half hour if I were to enumerate the positive things which have been done by this Government in the short time it has been in office. But if the honourable senator would like me to detail them for him in writing, I shall provide him with a full list of all the things this Government has done for the primary producer.
– I appreciate that. I accept the offer.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Is the Minister aware that building workers were arrested in Sydney this morning and charged with trespassing on a number of building sites? Were some of these building workers arrested on properties where Australian Government contractors have locked out employees? Will the Attorney-General examine the question of whether there has been a breach of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act by employers who are engaged on Australian Government contracts? If the sites were owned by the Commonwealth did the police act at the behest of the Commonwealth?
-Is this within the ministerial competence of the Attorney-General?
– I can say. Mr President, that I have been asked already by the Minister for Works to look into this matter because of the Australian Government’s interest in these affairs. I am not sure of the details of what has happened on the sites in question. Normally if the property is that of the Commonwealth this is covered by the Commonwealth Places (Application of Laws) Act which was enacted by this Parliament as a result of Worthing’s case, and although it is a law made by this Parliament the provisions of the Act are such that they can be enforced in a sense as if the law were a State law. So it may well be that some action has been taken there by the State police. I will look into the matter and advise the honourable senator accordingly.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. In view of widespread concern emanating from rural communities following announcements by the Postmaster-General ‘s Department that a large number of country post offices probably will either be closed or downgraded, and in the interests of decentralisation and of reasonable services being provided to country residents, will the Minister seek from the PostmasterGeneral an assurance that before final decisions are made respecting post offices involved, local government authorities be invited to make submissions to the Minister in support of the retention of these post offices with their current status?
-The honourable senator will recall that at a meeting of a Senate Estimates Committee at which I represented the Postmaster-General and at which the honourable senator was in attendance, the closure or downgrading of post offices generally was raised. I think from recollection that the officers of the Postmaster-General ‘s Department produced a list of about 1,100 post offices throughout Australia that were considered to be not economically viable propositions or the closure of which, because of a lack of patronage, should be considered. At the same time officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department pointed out that where manually operated telephone exchanges are involved such post offices would be kept open. I was under the impression that the Postmaster-General had given an undertaking that he would confer with local government organisations in areas that were involved. In case my impression is incorrect I will refer to my colleague the Postmaster-General the suggestion contained in the honourable senator’s question and see whether he will give it sympathetic consideration.
– I should like to give an answer to a question which was asked by Senator Wright and was mentioned before Estimates Committee A last night. I undertook to give it today. On 25 September this year Senator Wright asked without notice whether I would arrange for the tabling in the Senate of the papers constituting the transaction of the purchase of the painting Blue Poles’ by Jackson Pollock. The Prime Minister has provided the following information in reply to the honourable senator’s question:
While I would wish to respond as fully as I can to the honourable senator’s request for information about the purchase of this painting, there are problems in making public the papers relating to purchases of works of art.
First, there are the difficulties associated with any commercial transaction- that publication of details of negotiations can influence the market and the outcome of further dealings. This can readily be appreciated in relation to the purchase of works of art.
Secondly, decisions to purchase works of art for the National Gallery are made by the Gallery’s Acquisitions Committee. The Committee is an expert body who, with the exception of the Director of the Gallery, work part-time on this task. The Committee’s decisions are reached in an atmosphere of free and frank discussion, and publication of the details of its deliberations could only inhibit such open discussion and hinder effective operation.
Again purchases are often made from private collectors and estates and there can be personal family reasons for preserving a measure of confidentiality.
Nevertheless, there are clear procedures for the purchase of works of art for the National Gallery. Money for acquisitions for the national collection is appropriated by the Parliament. The Acquisitions Committee is appointed by the Prime Minister to make purchases within the approved budget and in accordance with the terms of a charter approved by the Prime Minister.
The members of the Committee are-
Mr James Gleeson, painter and art critic of Sydney (Chairman);
Mr Leonard French, painter of Melbourne;
Mr Clifford Last, sculptor of Melbourne;
Mr Frederick Williams, painter and graphic artist of Melbourne; and
Mr James Mollison, Director of the National Gallery.
Purchases of significance may be referred by the Committee to the Prime Minister and ‘Blue Poles’ was so referred and approved.
These arrangements, I might say, are of an interim nature pending the establishment of the National Gallery as a statutory authority. It is hoped that legislation for the purpose may be introduced in the Autumn session; one of its objects will be to establish a National Gallery Council to direct activities in relation to the Gallery and the national collection.
I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the Charter and rules of procedure of the Acquisitions Committee for the Australian National Gallery.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
ACQUISITIONS COMMITTEE FOR THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL GALLERY CHARTER AND RULES OF PROCEDURE
Until such time as there is established an interim council for the Australian National Gallery or the Australian National Gallery is established by statute there shall be an Acquisitions Committee for the Australian National Gallery.
The Committee shall consist of a Chairman, such other members as may from time to time be determined, and the Director of the Australian National Gallery.
A member shall be appointed by the Minister and shall hold office for such period as is specified in his instrument of appointment.
A member shall be paid sitting fees for attendance at meetings of the Committee and such allowances for travelling expenses as are normally prescribed.
A member who has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any proposal before the Committee, otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members, shall, as soon as possible after the facts have come to his knowledge disclose the nature of his interest at a meeting of the Committee.
Such a disclosure shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting of the Committee, and the member-
shall not take pan after the disclosure in any deliberation or decision of the Committee with respect to that proposal; and
shall be disregarded for the purpose of constituting a quorum of the Committee for any such deliberation or decision.
Meetings of the Committee shall be convened by the Director in consultation with the Chairman of if there is no Chairman by the Director.
The Chairman shall be elected from the number of members and shall preside at all meetings of the Committee at which he is present.
If the Chairman is not present at a meeting of the Committee, the Director shall preside at that meeting.
At a meeting of the Committee, any two members and the Director shall constitute a quorum.
Subject to what follows, questions arising at a meeting of the Committee shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members present.
At a meeting of the Committee, the person presiding has a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of votes, also has a casting vote.
The Committee may delegate to the Chairman and Director jointly all or any of its powers and when powers so delegated are exercised they shall be deemed to have been exercised by the Committee.
Such delegation shall not prevent the exercise of a power by the Committee.
Financial provision for the Committee’s activities shall be included in (he appropriation of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Moneys appropriated in this way shall be applied for the purpose of acquiring works of art for the National Collection, comprising the Australian National Gallery Exhibition Collection and the Australian Lending Collection and for other purposes as may relate to the acquisition of such works of art.
The Committee may seek special financial provision to take advantage of opportunities to acquire masterpieces or major works of art which become available at short notice and for which no provision could be made in the annual appropriation.
The function of the Committee is to acquire for the Australian National Gallery Exhibition Collection-
1 ) Australian fine and minor arts of all periods.
) Modern fine and minor arts world-wide.
3 ) Primitive art world-wide.
Fine and minor arts of Asia and the Far East.
5 ) Graphic arts and photography world-wide.
Theatre arts and fashions world-wide.
Masterpieces or outstanding works or art of any country or period that may have a place in the Australian National Gallery.
The Committee shall also acquire works of contemporary Australian artists and craftsmen for inclusion in the Australian Lending Collection.
The Committee may engage expert advisers to assist it in carrying out any or all of the activities mentioned in paragraph 8 and pay fees for such services as may be appropriate.
Acquisitions for the National Collection for inclusion in the Australian National Gallery Exhibition Collection shall be made on the recommendation of the Committee or the Chairman and Director jointly.
Acquisitions for the National Collection for inclusion in the Australian Lending Collection may be made by the Director and shall be ratified by the Committee and shall not exceed $400 per item unless agreed to by the Committee or its delegate.
Commitments may only be entered into by the Committee or its delegate, or the Director in the case of acquisitions for the Australian Lending Collection.
The Director should be informed of any work of an that a member considers should be reserved for consideration by the Committee, and the Director alone shall be responsible for action to have the work reserved and brought before the Committee.
Acquisitions approved in accordance with the provisions of this document shall be recorded in the minutes of meetings of the Committee, and accounts shall be kept by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and shall be subject to inspection and audit by the Auditor-General.
The Committee shall, as soon as practicable after the thirtieth day of June, prepare and furnish a report on its operations during the year ended at that date, together with financial statements in respect of that year.
– As a matter of additional information to the Senate, I mentioned last night at the Senate Estimates Committee A hearing that the purchase of this painting was discussed. That discussion will continue when the Committee resumes. I said last night that I would be giving this answer in the Senate today and would be tabling the charter and rules of procedure of the Acquisition Committee for the Australian National Gallery. Senator Wright made reference to some specific papers relating to the purchase. I said that I would have the matter examined to see whether, within the terms of the Prime Minister’s reply, these specific papers could be provided. The matter is being taken up with the Prime Minister and an answer will be given at the first opportunity.
– I seek leave of the Senate to give a contingent notice of motion.
-Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
– I give notice that contingent on the President proceeding to the placing of business on any day I will move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator McManus moving a motion relating to the order of business on the notice paper.
– I withdraw contingent notice of motion No. 6 standing in my name on the notice paper.
– For the information of honourable senators I table papers referred to in section 3 of the Minister for Education’s answer to Senate question No. 395, which already has been supplied.
Senator WILKINSON (Western Australia) I present the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade relating to prices.
Ordered that the report be printed.
-I ask leave to move a motion that the Senate take note of the report.
– Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
The reference to this Committee last year was made in March 1972 at a time when it was involved in other business. The Committee, since then, has reported to the Senate on 3 matters, namely, the proposed takeover of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd by Thomas Nationwide Transport Ltd; Australia-New Zealand Trade; and the supply of steel pipes for the MoombaSydney gas pipeline. In addition, the Committee has virtually completed an inquiry into access to raw materials by the leather footwear and allied industries and expects to report to the Senate in the present session.
Although preliminary work on the prices reference was carried out before the election of the new Government last December, the Committee decided to defer any further action in this field in order to see what would be done by the Government in terms of its declared policy. Events have now moved to the point where legislative and administrative measures have been instituted to require certain companies to submit to examination by the Prices Justification Tribunal whenever price rises are contemplated. While the current legislation governing the Tribunal does not reflect absolutely the requirements of the Senate, as stipulated in the Committee’s terms of reference, it is reasonable to expect that in time it will concern itself with the issues of interest to the Senate.
A Constitutional referendum to enable the Federal Government to control both prices and incomes will be held in December and, within the past 10 months, the Federal Government has sought to restrain inflationary pressures through currency revaluation and across the board tariff cuts on imported goods. In the light of these changes, the Committee has recommended that, subject to the decision of the Senate, it defer any further inquiry while the various initiatives undertaken by the Government are tested. We have mentioned our particular interest in the Prices Justification Tribunal and we would like to observe its operation over a period of time. The Joint Committee on Prices has already reported to the Parliament on a particular matter and, no doubt, will make further reports. We would wish to see what action is taken on these reports. Perhaps more importantly, the Committee considers that it should withhold further action on prices pending the outcome of the Constitutional referendum to be held later this year.
The Committee has taken this opportunity to incorporate in the report the results of a broad examination it made into existing and proposed legislation concerning price regulation in the Australian States and territories, the history of price control in Australia and the experience of certain other countries in this field. We have done this because there does not appear to be any composite form in which information of this kind relating to price control is readily available. I trust therefore that the Committee’s report will be of value to the Senate in this regard. I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I present the report and transcript of evidence from the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare relating to its inquiry on repatriation.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I seek leave to move a motion that the Senate take note of the report.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
I would like to point out that the Committee was charged with the responsibility to examine all aspects of repatriation. This was an enormous task for a Senate Standing Committee to undertake. It has set out in its report to make suggestions for the modernisation and improvement of the system. The Committee was fully charged at all times with the community’s responsibility to provide and care for disabled ex-service personnel to enable them to return to a fuller life as soon as possible, at the same time safeguarding the welfare of ex-servicemen and their families. The Committee set out to find ways of providing adequately, generously, simply and as easily as possible with the maximum reduction of undue red tape, time wasting administrative processes, humiliating examinations and inquiries. It is gratifying to find that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop) has already taken steps to correct some of the anomalies which were uncovered by the Committee during its investigation.
The Committee was unanimous in its belief that no deserving cases should go unassisted, if possible. Neither should the undeserving cases object to the suggestion made by the Committee to allocate all funds to the deserving and to eliminate, or at least reduce, those going to the undeserving. Undoubtedly, many pensions still being paid today were deserving when applications were made and entitlements granted. But with advances in medical science and technology, many such cases are now cured or are in a position to be greatly assisted by modern rehabilitation techniques rather than be left on the scrap heap, which is created or added to in some instances by financial compensation in lieu of rehabilitation which in itself leads the way to a full, useful and productive life.
It is interesting to find the various ways in which certain groups have set out to defame and discredit the work of the Committee and me, as its Chairman, before any report was presented. Perhaps this is because guilty consciences had every reason to fear the results of intense and extensive inquiry. The wrong assumptions that have been made and publicised, the insinuations as to my personal motives and the defamation of my character would be serious if they came from reputable sources. But since my suitability as Chairman has been questioned, I point out that both the former Liberal-Country Party Government and the more recently elected Labor Government unanimously appointed me on my own merits to this position. Perhaps also my reputation for honesty, integrity, courage and willingness to speak out on controversial subjects of vital interest to the community had some effect. Certainly, I do not fear political consequences to myself when I speak out on something which I believe is right.
The Committee under my chairmanship conducted its inquiry over 1 8 months. I would like to make particular reference to the great and generous co-operation which the Permanent Head of the Repatriation Department, Mr Kingsland, gave to the Committee at all times and also to Assistant Commissioner, Mr Conde, who sat in at almost every public hearing of the Committee. He was very ready to give his advice and help. I thank also the Department which gave detailed answers to some 150 questions which the Committee asked. We heard 73 witnesses in public and many more in camera. Over 40 doctors were heard. This showed the importance which the Committee placed on medical treatment and medical opinion. We took evidence from many organisations, particularly exservice organisations, and from various departments concerned with repatriation and health. We took evidence also from doctors inside and outside the system, and from individuals. We collected a vast amount of data and the public evidence is before the Senate in Hansard form. The Committee was unanimous in its desire and intention to revise and consolidate the Act, to clarify the intentions of the Act and to provide guidelines for its interpretation.
We recognised that changes were necessary in the system to keep up with the advances in medical techniques which have taken place over the 50 years since the Act was introduced. We were also aware of the need to provide optimum medical management to deserving cases, to maintain the high medical standards already achieved, and to place greater emphasis on rehabilitation as a matter of prime importance rather than on financial compensation, which has been the case until now. We recommended that there be a systematic review of existing pensions which, with the passage of time, may require upgrading or in some cases may be obsolete. Changes also are necessary in order to streamline and simplify administrative methods and determining processes.
The historical background is contained in the report, but very briefly I would like to say that the first Bill concerning repatriation benefits was introduced during the 19 14-1918 War to provide pensions only for those maimed or sick due to war. There was no medical care as the Army was providing this itself. It was in 1920 that the Repatriation Commission was formed and Army hospitals were taken over to provide continuing medical care for the disabled. There have been continuous additions and amendments dealing with rates of pension and allowances over the years as various conflicts have taken place. There never has been any overall appraisal of the Act or of the medical requirements. Nowadays the Act is a hotchpotch of combats, conflicts and conditions mainly aimed at financial compensation. Little attention was paid to returning the disabled ex-serviceman to a full and useful life through the total care of rehabilitation. No guidelines are supplied for the administration or interpretation of the ambiguous and outdated provisions of the Act.
In this report we have attempted to provide some solution to the current problems within the system. Some of these recommendations no doubt will displease those who have taken undue advantage of the system and the community’s desire to care for war veterans. Some who are disgruntled because they have not been able to take this advantage also will be displeased. But obviously there are many recommendations which are acceptable to the fair minded. There is a chapter dealing in very great detail with the Act and its anomalies and difficulties. At a time when the general community is crying out for more doctors in every field of medicine, many doctors within the repatriation system complain of the undue time and energy required of them in meeting the general demands of red tape and particularly the endless paperwork required. There is a lack of adequate guidelines for interpretation and administration. I give 3 clear examples- the benefit of the doubt, the onus of proof and the use of terms such as ‘occurrence’ in the entitlement situation. All doctors pointed out that there always is some medical doubt and therefore it would be more reasonable to talk about the benefit of reasonable doubt being given to an applicant. The term ‘occurrence’ has been interpreted by the Department to be manifestation, that is, something which occurred during war time has become apparent. It may even have been a congenital complaint which, because of the interpretation of the Department, entitles somebody to repatriation benefits when the cause has nothing to do with war.
The imprecision and the ambiguities due to changes and additions from year to year and conflict to conflict add to the difficulty of determining claims for entitlement and assessments of pensions. There has been considerable difficulty in interpreting cases of total and permanent incapacity pensions and just what is meant by a negligible percentage of a living wage. Another anomaly is that pulmonary tuberculosis today is curable and the provision for continuing pension for life still exists in the Act for this complaint. The Committee has recommended that there should be reviews of pensions undertaken regularly by the Commission. The subject of reviews seems to have caused some outcry amongst people who have been getting their views published in the newspapers but I would like to point out that the review system is designed to help those in need. It was found that there is a provision in the Act which would allow the Commission to carry out reviews but it has not been carrying them out as of necessity. In looking at the files, some pension cases will not need reexamination because the pensioner’s condition is known to be stabilised and receiving permanent care, but there are many who could benefit from a regular medical checkup following review of their files. The Committee was aware that many people who were receiving a pension had been assessed many years ago and never reassessed. With age and changing conditions many people would be entitled to increased assistance. In undertaking such reviews the Repatriation Commission could refer questionable cases either to a medical panel or to a convenient rehabilitation unit.
In the chapter on eligibility and entitlement it was pointed out that this depended on the fact that until recently service in the armed forces during war time was necessary. In speaking recently to the Repatriation Bill I deplored the fact that the Government was now offering repatriation benefits, I said as a bribe, to endeavour to get people to enlist. I would like to point out, because of accusations in the Press, that at no time did I suggest that people could be bribed. I deplored the fact that the Government was offering bribes. The chapter on the determination of claims relates to a most important part of the system. I would like to mention 3 items specifically under this heading. The first is the fact that many general taxpayers feel that they have no voice in the decisions of bodies which may impose substantial financial liabilities on them. For this reason the Committee thought that it was better to have a wider representation on determining authorities. Another point which seems to have created much public interest was evidence, mainly from doctors practising both inside and outside the Repatriation Department, pointing out the abuse of the repatriation system for the purpose of obtaining pensions, particularly total and permanent incapacity pensions. It was noted that at times the term ‘doing a TPI exercise’ was a valid criticism. Because of the vast amount of evidence to this effect the Committee decided to write to several hundred totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners requesting permission to inspect their files merely to find out if such a trend did exist. Many pensioners gave their permission and we particularly thank them for this generous co-operation. There was evidence that there had been abuse, particularly within the Department itself. The Department gave a satisfactory explanation and it is contained in the report. I would like to point out that the Department also stated that the system of recruitment of departmental officers, having now been changed, there was a less likely possibility of this abuse being continued. It was pointed out also that it had been impossible to set up a precedent in decision making because there had been no requirement for determining authorities to give reasons for their decisions. I again applaud the Government for now having introduced the need to give reasons but the Committee has recommended a few more things to follow this which would make it more possible to set up a precedent in this field. It has recommended that hearings should be in public, that records should be kept and that evidence should be given on oath. These are in addition to providing the reasons for decisions.
Turning now to the chapter on financial aspects, emphasis has always been on monetary compensation. It is interesting to note that 70 per cent of all repatriation expenditure is in the form of pensions and other financial allowances and that 56 per cent of all pensioners receive less than 40 per cent of the general rate. For this reason the Committee went into a great deal of detail to see whether it would be more expeditious and more efficient to offer lump sum payments. There are many points for and against this suggestion, and the Committee decided that the time and opportunity were not available to it to allow it to examine this matter and recommended further investigation into it.
In regard to medical aspects, the Committee recognised the right of patients to the best possible medical care and recommended that the high standards of care should be maintained. This chapter in the report involves a great deal of evidence from doctors on the use and non-use of medical opinion in the writing of reports for determining authorities. The chapter on treatment is divided into 2 parts. The first deals with outpatient treatment and contains 2 outstanding recommendations. The first is that more outpatient treatment should be provided by local doctors who have a continuing interest in the patients. The second is that there should be some restriction on the prescribing of drugs for repatriation patients. There is very little restriction at the present time.
In regard to hospital inpatient treatment it was pointed out that because of the segregated nature of repatriation hospitals there seemed to be created in the community a feeling that first class and second class types of citizens entered hospitals. For this and other reasons the Committee has recommended that repatriation hospitals should be integrated into a national hospital network. We believe that this will be for the benefit of repatriation patients themselves, although many of them do not believe this to be the case. However, doctors have pointed out that it is better to have these patients in a general hospital atmosphere with other patients than to have them segregated so that possibly they spend a great deal of their time either talking about their TPI exercises or how else they can obtain pensions.
Integration of repatriation hospitals also would be of advantage to the professional and trainee staff to have experience in general hospital treatment and to the relatives of the patients who may find it more convenient to attend the patients at a nearby hospital rather than at a centralised hospital. It would also be an advantage to the community because there would be a levelling out and the provision of more beds in suitable places. The Government already has taken steps in this direction. It has provided special facilities, such as renal units and artificial limb centres, which are of great benefit to the community. The Committee realises that a full integration of repatriation hospitals into a national hospital network will take many years to achieve, but it recommends that the process should continue.
A very important chapter in the report deals with rehabilitation which, of course, means the restoration to function of the individual to his or her highest potential; that is, return to an active and useful life. It has been pointed out that rehabilitation has proved most successful when it is carried out in a work orientated atmosphere, with men and women of all ages and with varying degrees of disability all working together under the supervision, guidance and encouragement of a well-balanced team of experts. We commend the Repatriation Department on the rehabilitation units that it has established, but they are of a special type and are directed more towards geriatric patients. Obviously repatriation units are of a limited type; that is, they provide medical and some vocational rehabilitation but very little social and educational rehabilitation. For this reason we believe again that, with the integration of hospitals, repatriation patients should be referred to rehabilitation units attached to all general hospitals.
The Repatriation Commission already has decided that all applicants for the TPI pension shall be passed through a rehabilitation unit before a decision is made on their application for special and intermediate rates of pension. We applaud this and hope that more use will be made of and more help obtained from rehabilitation units, rather than having this compensation neurosis which seems to be evident when people spend their time getting their financial position concluded before moving on to rehabilitation. The recommendations in the report are numerous. They include the creation of a new form of repatriation commission which will have, as its main task, the determining of eligibility for claims. We have recommended that the paying of pensions, after they have been determined by the Commission, should be made through the Department of Social Security. We have recommended that repatriation hospitals should be part of a national hospitals network. We have also recommended that there should be a new formula for the pension system, making the present special TPI pension a 100 per cent pension and all other pensions a percentage of that rate, rather than the present system whereby one goes to 100 per cent in the general rate and then starts again in the special rate.
I should like to mention one other factor before I conclude these remarks. There is a special chapter headed ‘Reservations’. It was regrettable that this chapter had to be written by me, as Chairman of the Committee, and by Senator Townley. With the change of Government it became evident that, although the Committee had been unanimous in its investigation and recommendations, there should be a cut-off point for pensions. There was a change of thinking after the change of Government. We were told that some 1 70,000 people, who had had no active service outside Australia and therefore were not in any way disadvantaged more than the ordinary citizen in the community, were still eligible for repatriation benefits.
In our special ‘Reservations’ chapter we recommended that there should be a cut-off point and that no new claims by people from the 1914 and 1939 Wars who did not leave Australia should be granted. As the Committee was equally divided on this question, the status quo was observed; that is, those people from the 1914 and 1939 Wars who did not leave Australia are still eligible for repatriation benefits. We still hope that the Government will look at this question and say that new claims from these people will not be accepted. That does not mean that increased pensions cannot be paid for the deterioration of disabilities already accepted. I think that with those remarks I have summarised what the Committee has endeavoured to do objectively and generously for the returned soldiers and for the community who pays the bill.
– Firstly, I should like to thank the members of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare for the help that they extended to me during our study of the repatriation system of this country. I had been in the Senate only a few months when I was asked whether I would like to participate in the deliberations of this Committee, and as I believe that properly used Senate committees can do a great deal of good, I willingly accepted that offer. Most of all, I thank Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield who helped me a great deal during the early months. Senator Douglas McClelland was always willing to give me the benefit of his previous experience, and it was unfortunate for the Committee that he was elevated to higher things. I am grateful to the other members of the Committee who are listed in the front of the report, but I do not intend to name them individually.
One of the prime aims that I had when looking at any aspect of the repatriation system was to ensure that no benefits already available were removed from our returned servicemen. Many of these people had their health severely damaged by their service to this country. We saw tragic evidence of this in all areas of Australia, and I for one do not want to see any advantages that these gentlemen have interfered with in any way. What I wanted to see happen was the system made easier and a lot of the red tape removed. We wanted to try to make appeals easier, to have the reasons for appeal rejections given and to have less travelling forced on repatriation patients- anything to make life a little better for these people, many of whom I claim as friends, particularly in Tasmania. I believe that our recommendations go a long way towards making life better for the genuinely disadvantaged repatriation recipient.
In the course of the investigation, a few accusations were made that all repatriation pensioners were bludgers. I would in no way agree with that statement. There may be one or two, but is that not typical of any section of our Australian community? Basically, my attitude is that people applying for repatriation pensions are completely genuine. In fact, I can think of several cases right now which are completely genuine where the applicants are having the devil ‘s own job of getting what I would call a ‘fair go’. I wish to be brief. On the next occasion when this discussion is before the Senate it may well be that I will speak a little longer on that aspect.
Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield has enumerated the reasons for the report and our reasons for the minority report. I repeat that in no way did we want to remove any benefit that was genuinely sought or any benefit for any condition that was genuinely attributable to war service. I wish to comment on the work of the returned servicemen ‘s organisations. They do a great amount of work to the benefit of ex-servicemen in presenting their claims. I hope that they will continue to provide this service because I am sure that many returned servicemen and exservicewomen would be completely lost without their aid. Also, the Legal Service Bureau in New South Wales should be commended. By way of a question in the Senate recently I asked that it be expanded.
Perhaps there will be some criticism of some aspects of our report. We cannot please everyone all the time. But I do know that we did a great deal of work in sorting out the evidence in the preparation of the report. I hope that the report is of some benefit and, even if its recommendations are not adopted entirely, it will form a blueprint for the improvement of conditions for our returned servicemen.
I make this final point: I look forward to the day when ordinary pensioners, as distinct from repatriation pensioners, receive the same quality of treatment as do our returned soldiers. Many of these people worked on the home front. They performed duties that were essential to the war effort. They are entitled to somewhat similar, if not identical, conditions and benefits to those received by ex-service personnel. As our country can gradually afford these benefits, I would ask that this aspect be kept in mind. Once again, I thank my fellow Committee members and those within the Repatriation Department for their assistance in our deliberations.
-In anticipation of an opportunity in the future for a fullscale debate on the report by the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare with respect to repatriation, I wish to make some brief remarks at this stage. I indicate at the outset that the presentation of the report by Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield was not necessarily an act of chivalry on my part, although I must confess that my actions could be categorised in that way. Rather was this a recognition of the work of Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield as chairman of this Committee. She was chairman at the time when this inquiry commenced. Eighteen months have elapsed between that time and the finalisation of the report. She saw the inquiry through that period.
One of the regrettable features of the report is to be found in paragraph 4 of the ‘Preface’. This shows, regrettably, a lack of continuity in the membership of this Committee. Notwithstanding that fact, I do not think that, in the final analysis, this has militated against the quality of the work by the Committee. But I do feel that it probably in some part did have an effect, particularly when the business ‘end of the inquiry began with the compilation of the Committee’s report and recommendations to the Senate.
The most important chapter of the report is the one dealing with the recommendations of the Committee. As I said earlier, I do not propose to go into detail at this stage. But if honourable senators take the opportunity to examine in some detail the Committee’s report as a whole, and particularly its recommendations, they will see that there is a genuine attempt to restructure the decision making apparatus of the existing repatriation system. This will require- the Government has acted in part on one of our recommendations in this respect- the decision making tribunal to give reasons for its decisions.
This, in my view, is an advance as it will give rise to a tribunal being required to set out in writing the reasons for its decisions, whether they be in favour of or against an applicant. In turn, consequent upon a decision, an applicant will be in the position of being able to ascertain precisely whether there is any worthwhile opportunity for him to lodge an appeal against that decision. We have recommended also that, in the case of an applicant wishing to go further than simply the next appeal tribunal or other tribunal, he should be given some help by way of assistance from a legal bureau.
I wish to make one other point. This is with respect to the Reservations in the report. It is a unique occasion for a former chairman of this Committee, namely Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield, to be afforded the opportunity to present a report on behalf of the Committee and at one and the same time to be a party to what is referred to as ‘Reservations’. This is, of course, a minority report. At least this does point up something of the ecumenical and democratic nature of the Committee as a whole. I am greatly concerned to read one part of the Reservations to which Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield made particular reference when presenting her remarks. I wish to quote briefly portion of the Reservations. The Reservations state:
Prior to the change of Government, the Committee had discussed objectively and agreed to recommend that a change be made from the presently existing rights to make new claims for war-caused injuries from ex-servicemen from the 1914 and 1939 Wars who, like their civilian counterparts, served only within Australia. It should be pointed out that the proposed recommendation was limited to new claims only and therefore did not exclude claims for deterioration for already entitled disability. Significantly some Government members have now changed their views.
One would have to be extremely charitable not to recognise that that statement implies that, prior to the change of government on 2 December last, members of the then Opposition who were members of this Committee had a particular view and that, because of the change in Government, those same members had altered their points of view. I take umbrage at that statement. I contest it. I repudiate it.
I do so for one reason in particular. I speak as Senator Bill Brown from Victoria. Through no fault of my own, I was absent from meetings of the Committee for approximately 8 months or 9 months. I cannot recall whether I was a party to an alleged general agreement such as is implied in the Reservations. Irrespective of whether I was or was not, I formed my opinion objectively. I want that to be clearly understood. I do not for one moment question the right of any senator as a member of a committee of the Senate Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees group to write a minority report. But I do take strong exception to what is implied in the part of the Reservations that I have quoted.
Finally, I simply say this: I could never bring myself to the point of agreeing to dispossess people of a right that they have enjoyed for years and that they continue to enjoy, people who obviously still have an entitlement to believe that they have a right to some benefits. The matter is as simple as that. I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
– Order! Is leave granted?
– I propose to speak to this report. Perhaps Senator Brown may wish to conclude his remarks in anticipation of my participation in the debate.
– In the special circumstances, I ask Senator Brown to withdraw his request. I now propose to call Senator Byrne.
– If Senator Brown wishes to speak again at a later stage he could do so by leave. I am sure that the Senate would agree to that.
-I intimate briefly that the object of my proposal was to seek leave to continue my remarks. I did not anticipate other senators wishing to speak now. I would have no objection to that. I intended to move that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting. That would have reserved my position.
-I congratulate the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare on its report which, whilst it is in a short compass, is very embracing in the matters which it canvasses and in the recommendations which it makes. My comments are directed to Chapter 3- The Repatriation Act, paragraph 4, which relates to the onus of proof. I am intrigued by the nature of the evidence given to the Committee in relation to this heading of investigation. This paragraph of the report of the Committee recites the opinion of the Repatriation Department in justifying the present method of approach to the operation of the onus of proof section of the Act. I have no doubt that the evidence given by the Department was an objective presentation of its assessment as to how the section operates.
In many of the cases which have come to my notice I have been concerned about whether in fact the spirit of the section was being complied with although the technicalities of the section appeared to be complied with. When a claim for a benefit is made evidence does not have to be submitted at that stage. Apparently the Department has available to it the records of the exserviceman or ex-servicewoman concerned, and on that the Department makes its decision. The applicant may be asked to give medical evidence in rebuttal of the decision or in support of the claim. Technically he or she is not asked in the initial stages to present medical evidence, but as a matter of fact and as a matter of practical operation he or she is carrying an onus which I feel, in the spirit of the section, he or she is not required to do. In many cases which have come to my notice I have felt that the spirit of the Act was being avoided. I know that this section is an extremely difficult one to operate. I know that it is the function of the Repatriation Commission and of the tribunals to consider objectively claims and to give benefits on the merits of the case and on the facts as they are presented and as they are assessed. Nevertheless, there is a tendency to require subconsciously an onus to be carried by the applicant. I have never been able to convince myself that the onus is not unduly imposed and is, to that extent, a circumvention of the spirit of the statute which quite clearly and without any qualification or equivocation places the onus elsewhere.
Therefore, I would have been happier if the report had recited in this chapter what it recited in another chapter. The Committee actually looked at a number of cases and physically inspected the files of a number of applicants so that it could establish, from an investigation of particular cases, whether a certain situation existed. The number of that chapter escapes my memory for the moment. I would like to have seen in chapter 3 a reference to a similiar type of investigation conducted along this line of inquiry as to whether, on the flow of a particular case, an onus was being subconsciously placed on the applicant which, in the spirit of the Act and in the technicalities of the drafting of the Act, he or she was not required to carry. Therefore I rise at this stage to give Senator Brown, who chaired so successfully the initial stages of the investigation and who was subsequently appointed as Chairman, an opportunity when the debate is resumed to inform the Senate further as to the type of investigation which the Committee conducted in this area and whether from any examination of case histories conducted this conclusion which, on the face of it, appears to me to be merely a recital of the section of the Act and the opinion of the Department as to how the section is being operated, was reached. To my mind, that is not conclusive and cannot satisfy me that the Act, in its spirit, is being observed as I think each honourable senator has so often indicated that he expects the section to be observed.
For those reasons I rise to alert members of the Committee of the fact that I would welcome their giving some attention to this factor so that when the debate is resumed they may be able to indicate the nature, extent and depth of their investigations in this area and reassure the Senate that the matter received their scrutiny and that on their assessment, not so much on the opinion of the Department, as is recited in the chapter by an extract from the submission of the Department, they are satisfied that the spirit of the Act is being observed.
– I ask for leave to make a very brief statement.
– Leave is not required.
– I hope there will be an opportunity for me to debate the matter when the debate is resumed.
– I will put the motion in such a way as to enable you to speak again when the debate is resumed.
– I very quickly scanned this report after it was presented to the Senate. One passage at page 4 1 drew my attention. It is in the reservations which have been expressed by Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield and Senator Townley. It seems to suggest that the passage has received some credibility in the minds of the 2 senators concerned. That is why I raise the matter now. I wish to make my position quite clear on this. I disagree completely with the sentiments expressed in the paragraph, which states:
Doctors pointed out that 30 years after the last ‘entitled ‘ war, no new claim for war caused disability can now be logically or medically sustained. Such disability, the doctors claim, would be entirely due to the ageing process.
To that I would simply say: ‘Rot, absolute nonsense’. That suggests that no person would be entitled to initiate a claim for repatriation benefit for anything which happened to him in 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942 and the best part of 1943.
– If he did not leave Australia.
-I accept that. The doctors say: ‘No claim can be sustained after 30 years’.
– They may be speaking medically.
– Wait a moment, Senator Little may speak in a moment if he wishes to. I merely wish to make this point clear because I think there will be people outside who, when they read this report, will be very disturbed if they think that its terms contain the suggestion that there should be no eligibility after 30 years.
– Does the report mean that they are precluded by the Act or by the operations of the Act?
– It reads:
Doctors pointed out that 30 years after the last ‘entitled ‘ war, no new claim for war caused disability can now be logically or medically sustained.
I know what that means because I have heard it so many times in the course of my work as an advocate before the Repatriation tribunals. They say: ‘You cannot sustain this 30 years after the war’. Let me give the Senate one simple instance with which I had to deal recently.
– That is a question of removal of the onus.
– That is right. Of course it is. I had somebody come to me who had been wounded at Tobruk by shellfire. He was seriously wounded in the knee. As a result of hospitalisation he subsequently recovered sufficiently to enable him to go back into civilian life and to continue in work there. As the years passed the disability reacted more and more against him, but he was one of those types of persons who said: ‘I will not ask this country to support me. I will support myself. He was an independent sort of person. There are many of them in the Australian community, even in this day and age. So this man continued on under his own resources, but with an increasing medical disability as the years passed.
– But he had this overseas service.
– Let me make my point.
– But you are giving an example of a person who has seen active service. The paragraph to which you referred relates to people who have not seen active service.
– A man could have suffered a back injury or a spinal injury during initial training stages at the base camp. He could have carried this injury for years. It could have resulted in spondylitis, arthritis or one of the other conditions that affect people in the later stages of their lives.
– All that the doctor is saying is that medically the applicant cannot sustain a claim after that period of time, and the doctor may be right.
– Can I make my speech? You can make yours later. I just point that out. In fact, it is a very dangerous thing -
– I was just trying to save time.
– If I can speak over the top of Senator Little, it is a very dangerous thing to indicate that. I dissociate myself from the sentiments expressed in that paragraph. I recognise the valuable work which was done by those 2 senators, but / think that this is one aspect of the matter which has not been adequately thought out. I know the attitude of a lot of doctors. They say: ‘Wipe them off’. Some doctor in South Australia made a fortune when he wrote the book called ‘Be In It, Mate’. I disagree completely with the sentiments expressed in that book.
I know the situation. Let us face it. Those of us who have had a close and deep association with people in the repatriation area can pick the ones who are genuine and the ones who are not. It is pretty simple to do that. We know the old wartime bludgers, as we called them. They would apply year after year for repatriation benefits and be knocked back consistently. But there are many cases of people who in the latter stages of their lives- urged on in many instances by their families who are also suffering disability because of the diminished earning capacity of the exservicemanare persuaded to seek some repatriation benefit as a consequence of their diminished physical capacity. As I say I very quickly scanned the report. There may be many other sections in it to which I would like to address myself. I thought that reference should be made, on the day of this debate being initiated, to the fact that some of us have serious apprehensions about this particular provision in the dissenting report.
Motion (by Senator Cavanagh) proposed:
That the debate be now adjourned.
– May I suggest, Senator Cavanagh, that you move a motion that Senator Brown be given leave to continue his remarks and the debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
Motion ( by Senator Cavanagh) agreed to:
That the debate be now adjourned and Senator Brown have leave to continue his remarks.
-I present the Seventh Report of the Publications Committee.
Report- by leave- adopted.
– I wish to make a statement relating to the visit to Japan and China by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). The statement I am about to make was delivered earlier today in the House of Representatives by the Prime Minister. Honourable senators will understand that when I speak in the first person I am referring to the Prime Minister.
The Ministerial delegation to Japan, for the second Australia-Japan Ministerial Committee, was the largest and the most senior ever to represent Australia abroad. My visit to Peking was the first by any Australian Prime Minister. Both visits were marked by great warmth on both sides; both visits were characterised by frankness and firmness from both sides; both visits notably advanced the interests of Australia and our friendship and understanding with these 2 great neighbours, Japan and China.
On the visit to Japan- from 26 October to 3 1 October- I was accompanied by the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns), the Treasurer (Mr Crean), the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) and the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor). On the visit to Chinafrom 31 October to 4 November- I was accompanied by the Treasurer and the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson). In both countries my colleagues and I were supported by senior officials. I firmly believe that the visit will prove to be of considerable importance and value to the whole of Australia. With Japan, we have both broadened and more clearly defined the Australian-Japanese relationship and formed a firm basis for its continuing and future development in the years ahead. In China I consider that my visit symbolised the successful ending of a generation of lost contact between Australia and the most populous nation on earth.
Japan is our major trading partner in the world and China is the only one of the world ‘s 5 major powers with which, until last December, we have not had any meaningful or regular official contact. In Japan, the talks with Prime Minister Tanaka and Foreign Minister Ohira, and the wide-ranging and very frank and substantial discussions at the Ministerial Committee Meeting, have broadened the AustralianJapanese understanding which is vital to both countries. I believe that any misunderstanding that existed in Japan about the nature of the
Government’s policies on minerals and energy and on overseas investment have now been cleared away. Likewise, any uncertainties the Japanese may have felt about the reliability of Australia as a long-term supplier of the raw materials which are essential to Japan has also been dispelled.
In Japan, too, I believe that valuable understandings have been reached about the longterm access for Australian primary products to the important and growing Japanese market. The exceptionally close and important relations between Japan and Australia are to be expressed in a broad bilateral treaty. Mr Tanaka readily accepted my suggestion, and himself announced that the Treaty be called the Treaty of Narabearing the title of Japan’s ancient capital, which I also visited. It will be identified as the Australia Relations Agreement- NARA. Australian and Japanese officials will very soon begin detailed discussion on the Agreement. I believe the Treaty of Nara will be seen as one of the historic treaties which Australia will have entered into.
Honourable senators will note that we have also agreed to enter into 2 further agreements with Japan- a Cultural Agreement and an agreement on the protection of migratory and other birds- as well as to conduct wide-ranging official discussions on a number of issues including access for agricultural products, tariffs, and minerals and energy matters, including uranium. We have also agreed to renew the Agreement on Commerce with Japan, which was last revised in 1963. There was a useful exchange of views on developments in Papua New Guinea in which that country’s Minister for Defence and Foreign Relations, Mr Maori Kiki, participated. I believe my visit to China was most valuable in restoring balance to our foreign policy and in diversifying our foreign relations. I had no less than 1 1 hours of formal talks with Premier Chou En-lai and over an hour with Chairman Mao Tse-tung. As honourable senators will appreciate, in the extensive time accorded to me by Premier Chou the discussions extended over a very wide range of international issues of interest to both countries.
I believe that we now have a much greater understanding of Chinese attitudes on these issues. I believe, too, that on the Chinese side, there is now a much clearer and first-hand understanding of our policies. While there were areas of agreement, there were also issues on which our policies differed and, in such cases, I did not hesitate to put our position fully and frankly to my Chinese hosts. For example, I reaffirmed at the highest level the Australian
Government’s determined opposition to nuclear testing in the atmosphere. Our differences on these and other matters were discussed on a basis of mutual respect. I believe that the warmth of the reception I and my party received in Peking demonstrates that China like Japan recognises, to a greater extent than some Australians may believe, the growing importance of Australia as a middle power, especially in the Asian and Pacific region.
As honourable senators will know, important and valuable arrangements were made for the sale to China of up to 300,000 tons of sugar per year for a three to five year period commencing in 1975. Arrangements were also made for the active promotion of closer consultations between Australian and Chinese officials and for a program of visits in both directions. The Australian and Chinese Foreign Ministers are to exchange visits at times to be determined in 1974. It was also agreed that we should develop a planned program of cultural, scientific, and technological exchanges between Australia and China, and that representative missions in these fields would be exchanged in 1974. Honourable senators will be pleased to know that an understanding in principle was reached between the 2 sides on travel from China to Australia by relatives of Australian citizens of Chinese descent and Chinese citizens residing in Australia. This should facilitate family reunions.
I believe that my visit will give new direction and increased momentum to our existing relationship with Japan and will lead to the development of a more meaningful relationship and a continuing dialogue with China which, for so long- for much too long- has been a closed book to this country. I would like to pay tribute in the Parliament to the tireless efforts of the Australian embassies in Tokyo and Peking during our visit. The ambassadors and their staffs performed, under considerable pressure, in a manner of which Australia should be proud. I would also like to record here my appreciation of the objective and constructive advice tendered to my Ministers and me by the senior officials who accompanied us from Australia. I table the Communique issued in Tokyo after my visit to Japan as Prime Minister, the Joint Communique adopted by the Australia-Japan Ministerial Committee, my statement to that Committee setting out the Government’s policy on foreign investment in Australia, and the Joint Press Communique issued in Peking on 4 November. I move:
– It is entirely proper that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) should table in the Parliament as soon as he can after his return a statement on the outcome of his visit to Japan and China and the talks which he held there. I think it is all the more significant that the statement should be made to the Parliament because on this occasion a very large Press entourage accompanied the Prime Minister and we have received from the commentators who were there a euphoric and fulsome account of what occurred. It is unfortunate that aspects of those accounts have differed so that it is difficult for the critical observer attempting to assess what really did occur on these trips to get a coherent and consistent statement. But the statement has been made and we are happy to have the opportunity to consider it. The Opposition welcomes, as it welcomed when it was the Government, the willingness of the Chinese Government to extend its associations and relationships with other countries. We welcomed when in Government those initiatives which President Nixon had taken, and we acknowledged also the welcome response of China and the ties which subsequently were created. We welcomed, of course, the opportunities for constructive bilateral contacts and understanding- that which commentators have described as detentewhich have been produced. It is in the same spirit that we acknowledge the association which Mr Whitlam, firstly as Leader of the Australian Labor Party, and secondly as Leader of the Australian Labor Party and Prime Minister of this country, has been able to build up in the contacts which he has with Chinese leaders.
I am quite sure that it gives some pride and satisfaction to all Australians that the Prime Minister of this country can meet with the leaders of other countries and hold his own, and therefore the nation’s own, in the discussions which take place. That is said without regard to whether or not the substance of the discussions or the attitudes which are adopted have the approval of the people on whose behalf he travels overseas. On that aspect I desire to say something before I conclude my remarks. The Opposition recognises that there are benefits from maintaining close associations, from seeking to have a frank statement from those countries with which we have the associations, as to their policies and attitudes on matters of common interest and world affairs. We recognise particularly with China that there are benefits in creating trade associations and that there is mutuality in the benefits which can be derived. We acknowledge that in what has been achieved by the Prime Minister on this visit there is a prospect of rationalising the situation of overseas Chinese in this country and of facilitating, what it has not been Australia’s part to deny in the past, such visits by Australians and Chinese as the persons travelling desire. These and other things, I believe, can be positive benefits from the visit to China.
The Opposition also acknowledges the potential value of the mission which the Prime Minister undertook with his Ministers to Japan. This was, in a way which cannot be said of the visit to China, a necessary visit. It was a visit of necessity because the relationships which had developed between Japan and Australia over the 10 months of this Government’s tenure of office had created a concern which had to be expressed and, if possible, the difficulties which had arisen from that concern resolved. The Prime Minister had a difficult task because we know how dependent we have been on Japan not only in terms of investment which has been provided for the development of Australian potential, but also in the provision of markets for so many of Australia’s commodities. The growth of Japan as a major trading partner has been associated with the welfare of Australia for many years, and the developments earlier this year cast doubt in so many minds upon whether that association of the past would continue. It was very highly desirable- ‘necessary’, I think, was the word I used earlier- that the Prime Minister should seek to clarify the problems which had arisen in relation to Japan. After all, the first trade agreement of post-war years between Australia and Japan had been negotiated by the previous Government in 1956. Since that date there had been long and fruitful associations, trade delegations passing to and from Australia, other contacts of a more particular nature, and of course there had been prior ministerial meetings between Japanese and Australian Ministers.
Whether the results of the visit to Japan have brought that clarification and that certainty into our relations for which we are looking, only time will tell. I think it is regrettable that the statement which has just been read by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) on behalf of the Prime Minister is one in respect of which it is difficult to be constructive. The statement itself says very little. In the manner of previous statements made by the Prime Minister after his overseas tours, we were given relatively full information of the persons he met, of the persons with whom he held short or long discussions and of the places he visited. There is little more in this statement on his visit to Japan and China. It may be said to be noteworthy for its generalities and lack of real information. Much of it is cast in such general expressions as to be singularly uninformative. I indicate by reference to a few pages the type of criticism which I am offering.
It is appropriate, and it is part of the journalese of diplomacy, that the Prime Minister should say that his visits ‘were marked by great warmth on both sides’; that the ‘visits were characterised by frankness and firmness from both sides’; that both visits notably advanced the interests of Australia and our friendship and understanding of those 2 great neighbours’. But those words do not reveal what was discussed or what decisions have emerged. Likewise, for the Prime Minister to express the judgment coming from himself that ‘the visit will prove to be of considerable importance and value to the whole of Australia’ and that our relationships with Japan were broadened and more clearly denned ‘, is likewise uninformative until we are told of the bases upon which it will be of value to Australia and we know in what ways we have broadened and more clearly defined our relationship. Similarly, to state, as the Prime Minister does state, that any misunderstanding that existed in Japan about the nature of the Government’s policies on minerals and energy and overseas investment has now been cleared away’ requires more than the Prime Minister’s assertion that it has been cleared away. Likewise, the statement that ‘any uncertainties about the readability of Australia as a long-term supplier of raw materials’ have been dispelled requires something more than the Prime Minister’s assertion.
I say this simply because one reads comments from the newspaper commentators who accompanied the Prime Minister and from their statements one learns that they did not find the position as the Prime Minister now states it to the Parliament. Similarly, when the Prime Minister states that the ‘close and important relations between Japan and Australia are to be expressed in a broad bilateral treaty’, one then gains the impression that the details of the treaty are to be worked out in the future. One doubts whether it is appropriate at this stage to say that we have anything more than a willingness to allow Ministers and officers of both countries to get together to see whether some agreement can be reached. If that be the position, how correct is it to say that we have reached a new understanding? The Prime Minister has said he believes his visit ‘will give new direction and increased momentum to our existing relationship with Japan and will lead to the development of a more meaningful relationship and a continuing dialogue with China’.
I say with respect that this is the language in which you cover up failure to get anything more specific or positive in terms of discussions. If in fact what the Prime Minister did achieve was a relationship with the leaders of Japan and China which enables him to contact them more readily and more easily, and to talk on a basis on which his views will be listened to and the views of others will be equally listened to by him so that they know where each other stands, then that is of value, and I do not question that it is of value. But let it be stated for what it is. I believe that the Parliament is entitled to something better, a great deal more in the way of information from the Prime Minister as to what actually happened on the visits to Japan and China, and what the prospects arising from those visits may be.
The questions, the doubts, the uncertainties which arise from a consideration of these trips, and particularly from the statement which has been made today following those trips, are far more numerous than the achievements to which the statement lays claim. I ask for example, in connection with Japan: What is the position with regard to Japanese investment in Australia? Will it be welcomed in Australia, and, if so, on what conditions? Is Japanese investment in Australia only to occur through the Australian Industry Development Corporation or may the Japanese buyers negotiate directly with prospective suppliers in Australia? These are matters, looking closely as one does at the communiques which have been issued in Japan, which are quite unanswered.
It is hard to believe that Japanese businessmen, who have a reputation world-wide of seeking to be precise and to know the details of negotiations, would be satisfied with generalities of the character which the Prime Minister gave in the statement on foreign investment which is one of the tabled documents. What, for example, is the position in regard to Japan and its reputed solid investment in the importation of iron ore from Brazil? What prospects does that offer for the Australian exporters in the future? Is there to be a drying up of the Australian market or is Australia to be placed in the position that it lives on an ad hoc basis from year to year as to its export requirements?
What is the position with regard to natural gas and uranium? May I simply take a few of the Press headlines which appeared in the Australian Press when the Prime Minister was in Japan. For example, on 27 October 3 headlines which appeared in 3 reputable papers indicated differing points of view. The Melboure ‘Age’ stated: ‘Gas, Uranium for Japan, says the PM indicating quite clearly, as the major text to the article under the headline indicates, that we have a market for our gas and uranium in Japan. The Melbourne ‘Sun’ of the same day says: ‘Japan says ‘yes’ to a New Mines Deal ‘. That deal is that minerals should be processed in Australia before being shipped to Japan. But these are not matters which appear in the communiques which have been issued by the Prime Minister. The ‘Australian’ of the same date states: ‘Japan in Resources Plan- PM’. The statement underneath that headline indicates that Japan will be allowed to take part in Australian resource projects. It also states that this contradicted assertions to the contrary made by the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Mr Connor. Other headlines at the same time indicate the difficulty of getting any precise evaluation of what was the result of the Prime Minister’s visit to Japan.
The ‘Canberra Times’ correspondent- one can say that here in Canberra we know that he always has a very fulsome appreciation of the Government in what he writes- wrote articles which carried the head lines: ‘New policies on investment. More substantial than hoped. Tokyo talks a triumph for Whitlam’. That indicates a subjective view point from the writer. But we have to contrast that against a headline which appeared in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of the same date which reads: ‘Confusion Still Simmers in Tokyo’. When we look at the ‘Age’ we find: ‘Whitlam clears the air in Japan’. I have used newspaper headlines to reveal what must be the impact in Australia of what occurred in Japan. That impact is one of uncertainty. What precisely have the arrangements been? Regrettably the statement which is offered to the Parliament is singularly silent in regard to any of those matters. I repeat that the Australian Parliament is entitled to something better from the Prime Minister than the generalities in which he has chosen to dress up the results of his visit to Japan. But, as I said, if there has been clarification, if there is certainty, even if on balance we would not think this is something that will work out to Australia’s benefit in the future, at least the Japanese know and will adjust their attitudes accordingly. We will be able to take our stand accordingly. Ultimately the choice, which is a choice for the Australian people, will become a choice made on better information than would otherwise be the case.
I refer specifically to the visit to China. In the House of Representatives Mr Andrew Peacock, as the Opposition spokesman on foreign affairs, has stressed the number of questions, the doubts and the uncertainties which are raised by the
Prime Minister’s statement today. For example, we have in the statement a reference to the fact that the Prime Minister raised or reaffirmed the Australian Government’s determined opposition to nuclear testing in the atmosphere. Again, reading the comments of commentators who associated with the Prime Minister on his trip, one can accept that the Prime Minister did not initiate the discussion on nuclear testing. He did not even discuss the matter in his negotiations with Chou En-lai. It was a matter raised by Chairman Mao Tse-tung. It was thus provided as an opportunity for the Prime Minister to express his views. What I would be interested to know is what the Prime Minister was told by the Chairman in response to the opposition which was expressed.
The Senate will recall that I was a member of a parliamentary delegation which visited China for a period of some 14 days this year. In the course of that visit we did not meet Premier Chow En-lai but we met the Vice-Premier, Li Hsien-nien. At that interview the question of nuclear testing was raised and the Australian Government’s view- and I state advisedly the Government’s view, because it was a view with which the Opposition was completely identified -was expressed to the Chinese Vice-Premier. Concern was expressed at what China was doing. We were given a reply by the Vice-Premier which was emphatic, clear and totally uncomprising. It was a view that China believed it had a right to have a nuclear capability, that China was to continue with its nuclear testing until it had that nuclear capability and that while America, Britain and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had a nuclear capability it was China’s right and entitlement to have the same capability. The sincerity of Australia was questioned because we were taking an attitude on this occasion which was different from the attitude which Australia had taken on earlier occasions with respect to Britain and America. I do not know and I think that the Prime Minister at least ought to say whether that was the attitude which China has since adopted, because if China has adopted that attitude it is to me surprising that the Prime Minister has adopted a different type of style and approach to that which he has adopted to France. We know that France has made quite clear in similarity uncomprising terms its intention to continue with nuclear testing in the atmosphere until it has perfected its nuclear capability. The Prime Minister has made clear throughout the world in quite blunt, and I would imagine to France quite offensive terms, Australia’s objection. If China has adopted the same attitude as France, and certainly in my experience it is the attitude of the Chinese Government, then one raises the question: Why is it that the Prime Minister is not prepared to speak in the same language to China as he is prepared to speak to France?
It is equally clear that it is not mentioned in the Prime Minister’s statement that the Prime Minister is prepared to meet with other countries in the Association of South East Asian Nations area and explain to them China’s policies. I think there is no question that this was an indication made at a Press conference according to reports which have come to me and which I believe requires the Prime Minister to make some explanation of what he proposes to say. It is not a matter which is taken up by his statement today. I certainly believe that it is not in Australia’s interest to be the spokesman for any other country unless there is a request to which Australia believes it can accede and in respect of which there can be no subordination of Australia’s interests.
I wonder what the Prime Minister will tell these ASEAN countries. Will he take up the question of those Chinese activities which are of real concern to the many countries of the region of which we are part? What will he say of the fears which these countries have of Chinese motivated, supported and financed insurgency because this is one of the vital questions which, as we all know, concerns the countries to our immediate north? As far as I can read, this matter was not referred to in any of the commentaries of the journalists who accompanied the Prime Minister. It is certainly not referred to in the Prime Minister’s statement. Yet it must be one of the most vital factors in the whole of the South-East Asian region. I have in my hand an article from the Canberra ‘Times’ of 7 July this year. It sets out in short form the insurgency movements in South-East Asian countries such as Thailand, Burma, Malaysia and the Phillipines. It sets out the position in Indonesia. The article proceeds to indicate the extent of China’s support for these insurgency movements. I refer specifically to an article in Newsweek’ of 17 September of this year by Loren Jenkins. I shall read part of the report to illustrate what writers other than those, apparently, who wrote for Australian newspapers are prepared to set down. He states: the Chinese have done little to reassure their SouthEast Asian neighbours. While pledging to desist from ‘interfering’ in their internal affairs, Peking has pointedly refused to dissociate itself publicly from any of the communist insurgencies in the area. In fact, intelligence sources argue that the Chinese are giving as much aid as ever to the guerillas in the hills of
Thailand and Malaysia. ‘I think we have to start realising that China can never turn its back on these insurgencies,’ a Malaysian Foreign Office official glumly conceded last week. We can ‘t really hope that simply by establishing friendly relations with China our problems will go away. ‘
I again refer to my experience in China with the parliamentary delegation this year. In the space of 14 days I travelled constantly with officers of the Chinese Foreign Affairs Department. Interpreters and other senior officials were engaged in conversations as we travelled on the long plane trips between the centres of population. Honourable senators can imagine that there would be plenty of time for discussion. We did have discussion. We were constantly told, as the Prime Minister was told, that China seeks to maintain friendly relations with all countries on the basis of the 5 principles of peaceful coexistence. These 5 principles of peaceful co-existence are principles of unexceptional acceptibility and integrity. Naturally we want to maintain the sovereignty of every other country and we want them to agree not to interfere with other countries. But in the course of these conversations to which I am referring one sought to find out how this squared with the Chinese Communist Party’s support of insurgency movements.
It was a very interesting period of discussion because at first it was simply acknowledged that the Chinese Communist Party would give moral support, that it would give printing support, that it would give radio support, and that it would enable broadcasts to be made from Chinese bases to the various countries in Asia in which these insurgencies were occurring. Then, as we developed further the arguments about the finance for these movements and about the arms which are found and which are made in China, the claims I made were conceded point by point. Ultimately, we received acknowledgment from the Chinese officials with whom we were travelling that we ought to understand that China’s support for insurgency movements or liberation movements was a complete exception to the principles of peaceful co-existence. To us it just seems incredible that this position can be maintained as the official stance of the Government; that in a public view through the Foreign Office, China can maintain friendly relations with other countries but through the international secretariat which is the foreign branch of the Chinese Communist Party it is seeking to undermine governments in these countries. Why should we be deaf to what the Chinese representatives themselves are saying? On 2 October of this year at the Twenty-eighth United Nations General Assembly the Chairman of the Chinese delegation, Chiao Kuan-hua, gave a speech in which he indicated quite clearly the policies to which China is committed. For example, he stated:
A small nation can defeat a big one and a weak nation can defeat a strong one, so long as they dare to struggle, are good at struggle and persevere in struggle. It is not the people who fear imperialism; it is imperialism which fears the people. Revolution is the main trend in the world today. Now that the war in Vietnam has ended, can it be assumed that the world will henceforth be tranquil? Obviously not.
Then further on in the same speech he stated, speaking for the Chinese Government:
Obviously the Chinese Government in its philosophy, in its statements and in the support which it gives to insurgency movements in Asia and right through the African countries is as committed to the concept of revolution as Marx and Lenin were in their original doctrines. It is no mischance that the Chinese supported Communist Parties throughout the world are called Marxist-Leninist because they still hold to the doctrine of Marx and Lenin. The quotation which I have read today is not from some ancient cold war period. It is the report of a speech delivered less than a month ago in the United Nations General Assembly. These are matters which ought to be recognised as some of the factors of which we must take account in our relationships with China. The Prime Minister in his speeches in China and in the statement which he has made to this Parliament has not adverted in any way to those matters. He has not indicated how he explains away these matters to countries in our neighbouring area who are concerned about them. I refer again to the article by Mr Jenkins to which I referred earlier. He stated: . . Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew declared recently . . . with unabashed concern … ‘A collapse in Indo-China will bring advanced threat of guerrilla insurgency to our doorsteps by way of Thailand and West Malaysia.’
It is a fact of life that we cannot blind our eyes to the situation simply by believing that because we have friendly relations with the People’s Republic of China these things can be discarded and forgotten. They will still remain. I remember that a gentleman with an umbrella went to Berchtesgaden in 1938 and came back with the cry: ‘Peace with honour. I have met the man, I believe him’. But the problems which he desired to solve were still there and they erupted within the space of 1 8 months. There are so many other matters which we could raise and which are unresolved in terms of what the Prime Minister has said. What is involved in this concept of a meaningful relationship? What is the position with regard to the Middle East? In the same speech to the United Nations in October the People ‘s Republic of China made it abundantly clear that it supported the Arab nations in what is called ‘their just struggle against Israeli Zionism’. While we have the situation which currently exists in the Middle East aided and abetted and to a degree fomented by the Chinese Communist Government, we can never be satisfied that all that is said about peace is in fact meaningful. But where does Australia stand in relation to these attitudes to China? In terms of what America, Singapore and the United Kingdom does, we have a Prime Minister who has not hesitated to say what he thinks. He says that as between friends you can be frank and open. But if he has the same sort of friendship with China, why did he adopt a different stance- if he does adopt a different stance with China. These are the uncertainties which are not answered by what the Prime Minister has said. I think that for all the satisfaction which Australian people can take from the way in which the Prime Minister personally conducts himself, they will have a very real apprehension as to these unanswered questions in our relationship.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I do not propose to detain the Senate for long. This question of Australia’s policy in regard to the East should be the subject of a full-scale debate. But in view of what we are to deal with later in the day I propose to confine myself to a few remarks upon one or two aspects of the overseas visit of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). The first matter I want to refer to concerns the statements which have been made in the Press and on the radio, and not denied, that Mr Whitlam had made a commitment to work for the cause of Peking or Communist China in South-East Asia with a view to inducing countries in that area to recognise Peking.
I asked a question relative to that matter in the Senate yesterday. I realise that the newly appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Willesee, had had a busy morning. He had just been appointed. Therefore, he might not have been so well prepared as he would be on other occasions to deal with this question. But I have to say that the answer which I received from the Minister was, in my view, vague and unsatisfactory. He made a suggestion, which I have not seen confirmed by any other source, that all the Prime Minister offered was that if one of these
South Eastern Asian countries asked him what he thought about things in China, he would make favourable comment on any proposal that they should recognise Peking or Communist China. In my view, this is not a matter on which the Australian Prime Minister should constitute himself as an agent for the foreign policy of another country. In recent years- particularly, I would say, in recent months- we appear to have adopted the role not of an adviser but of a lecturer to other countries on what their foreign policies ought to be. I believe that what we should do is make it clear what our foreign policy is and to comment as strongly as we like on world affairs, but I repeat that it is not our job to be the agent for the foreign policies of other countries.
We can recall that not so long ago the Prime Minister made a statement that the people of Thailand should get rid of the American troops inside their country. We recall that the reaction in a leading Thailand statement was that Australia should mind its own bloody business. I think that we asked for that. So far as the Prime Minister is concerned, let us make a statement of what is our foreign policy, but let us not go around telling other people what their foreign policy ought to be. We then had a statement made in the Press, and not denied, that the Prime Minister, contrary to the advice of his foreign office advisers, determined that he would visit Prince Sihanouk. Now the Prince is in the position of being located in a foreign country and is associated with guerrilla actions against the Government of his own country, a Government which we recognise as the Government of his country. We have heard highly virtuous claims over the past 2 years in regard to Yugoslavia. We have been told that it would be unthinkable that we should in any way connive or be associated with any attempt to overthrow the Government of Yugoslavia. At the very time that our Government is taking virtue unto itself, when it is endeavouring to do all it can to prevent any moves in this country to overturn the Government which we recognise in Yugoslavia, the Prime Minister of Australia gives public countenance to one who is doing the very kind of thing for which we attacked the Croats.
I was interested when I first read that our Prime Minister had gone to see the Prince concerned because it was said in the Press that it was a secret and a private interview, lt was so secret and so private that the Australian Press today pictures the two of them together, the Prince with a beaming smile on his face at this evidence of Australian governmental approbation.
– Who said it was secret?
– It was announced.
– By whom? By the Press?
– By the people who accompanied our Prime Minister.
– Then it is the people you attack.
– I attack the Prime Minister.
– Because we have recognised the Government of that country the same as we recognise Tito. We attack any guerrillas who attempt to enter Yugoslavia for the purpose of attacking that Government. But then our Prime Minister turns around and gives the accolade of Australian approval to one who is engaged with communist forces in subversive activities against his own country.
– But not from Australia.
– Do not quibble. The whole position is this: In what we have done we have aligned Australia with China- make no error about that. The other day we aligned ourselves with China when, although China had exploded and indicated that it would continue to explode atomic bombs, we announced that we had made a treaty with China under which China, in our eyes, would be the most favoured nation. Then the Prime Minister announced in his speech that Communist China was the one country- he emphasised the point, the one countrywith which Australia would be in tune from now on. I deny that statement. Communist China is not the one country with which our future aspirations are in tune. I ask all the people who complained about the statement ‘all the way with LBJ’: Are they going to make similar complaints about Mr Whitlam ‘s proposition ‘here and now with Mao and Chou’? What is the opinion of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in regard to this alignment? Does that make for good relations? What will be the opinion of the United States of America when it hears that Communist China is the one country above all with which we aspire to march along in the world of the future? What will be the opinion of Lee Kuan Yew, the socialist whom the Australian Labor Party has invited more than once to this country? What will be his opinion of the action which Australia has taken in this regard?
Let nobody make any error as to what this means. In the eyes of Eastern Asia Australia is now a Communist Chinese satellite. It has been said by a leading Asian diplomat that Australia now is the running dog of Chairman Mao. What have we done to give any other impression? We have indicated that we are prepared to put pressure on South East Asian nations to recognise Communist China. Mr Whitlam said on his return years ago from a trip to Asia that in his opinion it was inevitable that the world should be parcelled out in blocs dominated by the great nations. He said that South East Asia inevitably must be the bloc dominated by China. His policies since that time have tended in that direction. Is the average Australian convinced that it is to the advantage of our country that we should promote a state of affairs whereby South East Asia becomes a bloc under Communist Chinese domination? Everybody knows what is occurring in those countries. There are dangerous subversive movements financed and assisted from China. I was told not so long ago by a prominent South East Asian diplomat that one of the principal persons in the Government of his country visited China and saw Chairman Mao. The subject of recognition was raised and this man said to Chairman Mao that it would help for better relations if China did not interfere in his country. He referred to a communist guerrilla organisation and Chairman Mao said that his country did not interfere in that country. The South East Asian diplomat was happily surprised. In order to find out, the South East Asian diplomat said: ‘But what about the communist liberation movement that you are helping?’ Chairman Mao said that helping a communist liberation movement was not interference.
Australia is going to tell the South East Asian countries that they should recognise Communist China. If they do there will be established in each country a Chinese embassy, considerably staffed, containing a small number of diplomats and a large number of agitators. We have been told that here in Australia the Chinese have purchased a motel with 105 rooms. Imagine what the staff is going to be like. Are they all going to be diplomats? We know that they are not, any more than the people attached to the Russian Embassy are all diplomats. There will be a number of people there whose job will be to assist Ted Hill and the Australian Community Party Marxist-Leninist to advance their already considerable influence in the Australian trade union movement. They will assist him with influence and with money.
– That is the same remark as you made yesterday.
- Senator Milliner has been through the union mill. He might pretend to laugh about communist influence but he knows that it is there, and he knows that the communists will back Ted Hill with money and influence. I think that with their influence Hill will become the controller of that element in the trade union movement in the very near future. Countries in South East Asia do not want communists for the same reason as a lot of African countries got rid of the Chinese. They found out that their embassies were being used for purposes for which they were not intended. They found out that a large proportion of the so-called diplomatic staff consisted of people who were there as communist agitators and the countries had to kick them out. Indonesia was almost the subject of communist takeover. The Communist Party still exists underground and is a powerful party in that country. How can a country like Indonesia regard with equanimity the importation into it of a so-called embassy when a large part of those employed in the embassy are there for one purpose- to assist the Communist organisation inside Indonesia? What about Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore? Does the Government think that he is going to welcome this kind of thing? Does it think that other countries are going to welcome this kind of thing? A lot of people in Australia say that the Chinese will bring a big mob here and that we will just have to learn to live with it. But why wish this on countries where things have reached the stage today that there is active violence, communist sabotage and communist guerrilla organisations in full cry? Australia is suggesting to them that they ought to link up so that they can import into their countries a so-called diplomatic mission, 70 per cent of whose employees will be there for purposes that are not diplomatic.
I conclude by saying that I regret the alignment of Australia with the advance of communist Chinese influence throughout South East Asia. I think we owe something more to nations in that area than inflicting or attempting to inflict this upon them. I hope that we will have a full scale debate on this issue before long. I believe that there has been an attempt of late to keep the subject of foreign affairs out of the Senate. A number of things have disturbed me. Over the years we have had the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence which has devoted itself to hearing and collecting information about what is happening in a number of countries where foreign affairs are important. The Joint Committee did not meet for 7 months under the then new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Whitlam, and when it did meet, instead of proceeding to its normal and accustomed duty of gathering information in regard to foreign affairs, it received a reference from the Minister to examine the question of the Omega installations. Admittedly it was an important question, but it was not one for the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence.
We all know why we received the reference. The Government was in trouble in getting its own Caucus to approve of Omega, and some genius had the brilliant idea that the Goverment would send the question to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. Half the members of that Committee represented the Opposition side of the Parliament and I was an extra, and the Government was sure that four or five of those members would vote for Omega. So it was a way of using the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence to get through something which the Government was not able to get through its own Caucus. We spent weeks considering the question.
– Ha, ha.
-Who knows it better than Senator Milliner? He knows how these things are done. He has been round the course. He knows why the question was referred to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. Then in case the Committee should ever get on to the proper job of finding out what is happening in foreign affairs from Australian diplomats and visitors, we have received another reference. In order to keep us from hearing the views of anybody else, the Government has asked us to inquire into the question of dual nationality. Both of these questions- Omega and dual nationality- are jobs for small expert committees. I am pleased to say that at its last meeting the Chairman of the Committee was able to assure us that we would be hearing from visitors and diplomats and that we would be proceeding to what I regard- others may have a different opinion- as the No. 1 responsibility of our Committee. I look forward to our Committee being conducted in the way that I have wanted it to be conducted and hope that it will be conducted in the future.
I conclude by saying that I hope that foreign affairs issues will not be sidetracked. They are most important. I believe that they are the most important issues that we can discuss in this Parliament. I am glad that I have had even a short opportunity to say something on them.
Senator WILLESEE (Western AustraliaSpecial Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs)- Mr Acting Deputy President, I claim to have been misrepresented.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson)- I will call Senator Turnbull to speak, but Senator Willesee wishes to make a personal explanation.
-When I was in my room I turned on the amplifier system to listen to Senator McManus. I was not taking his speech very seriously, but he made one serious allegation. I do not think that he meant some of the things that he said this afternoon; I think that was fairly obvious. What he said was that yesterday he asked me a question regarding a statement made by Mr Whitlam and he said that my reply was vague. He said that I said that the Prime Minister was urging other countries to be friendly with and to recognise the People’s Republic of China. Towards the end of his speech Senator McManus repeated that, without attributing it to me, when he said that we were going around urging countries to link up so that they could import embassies into their countries, and he went on to criticise this idea. I think that I need do no more than to read from Hansard the relevant part of the answer to the question yesterday. In reply to Senator McManus I said:
The answer to the second part of the honourable senator’s question as to whether Mr Whitlam was going to explain Chinese policy to the rest of South East Asia is that Mr Whitlam was very clear that he was not going to be an advocate or an apologist for the People’s Republic of China but that if anybody was to discuss it with him he would make very clear what Australia’s attitude was towards recognition and how we are getting on with the People ‘s Republic of China.
Senator McManus interjected and said: ‘In other words, he is going to do it ‘? I replied:
There is no question of ‘in other words’; those were the words.
I hardly see how Senator McManus can claim that that is vague or that I said the very opposite of what I did say. Mr Whitlam very clearly said this. Somehow or other Senator McManus links that up by saying exactly the opposite. I suggest that very obviously it was a complete misrepresentation of what was said, and I suggest that the rest of his speech ought to be treated in the same manner.
Senator McMANUS (Victoria- Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party)- Mr Acting Deputy President, have I a right to comment?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Only if you claim that you have been misrepresented.
-I claim that I have been misrepresented. I point out that the answer which I received from Senator Willesee was vague, and I suggest that he misrepresents me when he attempts to suggest that it was not vague. The other matter is that Senator Willesee admitted that the Prime Minister of Australia ( Mr Whitlam) was going to discuss these matters -and he put in the provision ‘if they asked him’. I merely say this: Mr Whitlam will see that they ask him.
-I enter this debate because from listening to itand I have been here for most of the afternoonit appears to me that 2 things are coming out of debates not only in relation to foreign affairs but also in relation to nearly all other matters. The first is jealousy of a man who has shown that he is a great leader- whether one agrees with his policies or not- and that the whole world believes this. There is no doubt at all about that. Whether one believes in his policies or not, he has done something for Australia. The second thing is that so many people are scared of being defeated at the next election that the bed -
– Not on this side of the House.
– Yes there are. There are 3 members of the Australian DemocraticLabor Party who are scared of being defeated. Senator Webster is extremely scared about it.
– You are too scared to run.
-That is right, I am too scared to run.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Order! Senator Turnbull, you will address the Chair.
– Yes, Mr Acting Deputy President. These people who are scared of being defeated have realised that the only way they can make an allegation against the Government is to raise the old communist can, and so we hear it again. Let us get down to this question of what the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has done.
– When is the next trip coming off?
-At any time.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Order! There are too many interjections. I want to hear what Senator Turnbull has to say.
-Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. I am glad that there is one person who is prepared to listen to me. If the Prime Minister were here he could say that he has been misrepresented by the statements made by Senator Greenwood and Senator McManus because he has never said that we are going to be communists. Just because we support a country it does not mean that we are going to support that country’s philosophies. We are quite friendly with Russia and with a lot of communist countries. If the members of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence only stopped to think they would realise that there is only one country in this area of the world to which we will be looking for support, and that is China. Do not get carried away with the fact that the Chinese are communists. They will be one of the 3 great powers of the world- they are not quite there yet- along with Russia and America. If the Americans believe that the Chinese should be recognised, surely the Opposition would not deny us the right to recognise the Chinese because, after all, whatever the Americans do in regard to foreign affairs- not to Watergate- is what we should be doing. If they believe that they should recognise China I do not see why the Opposition is making all this fuss about our recognising China.
Let me give the reason why I say that we need China as a friend. This is what Mr Whitlam is trying to do, and I think it is an excellent idea. All the South East Asian countries, including Australia because we live in the area, should get together and form a conclave or achieve some form of friendly co-operation. I do not believe for one moment that we should worry about Mr Hill- whoever he is; I have never heard of himor any of these other communists in Australia. Australia will never become a communist country. We are a country that ‘have’; it is only the countries that ‘have not’ which will become communist. There is no reason why we should not achieve some form of co-operation in this area.
I again warn honourable senators, as I have warned them once before, that a country came down here. It was not communistic at all, but it was aggressive and it wanted the things that we had. That country was Japan. Japan is growing again. Do not make any mistake about this. There is all the talk that under the Japanese Constitution they cannot have an army and a navy. But when one goes to Japan one hears the Japanese talking. A few years ago the only thing that they would talk to me about was getting rid of the Americans so that they could have their own defence force.
– The Chinese have an Army too.
– Yes, they have. But the Chinese are not able to industrialise as quickly as the Japanese. If the Opposition wishes to fight another election in which it uses the ‘little red arrows’ technique, those arrows should come down not from China but from Japan, as that country will come down here again. This is what we must face up to. But honourable senators will not face up to this fact because Japan at the moment means money to Australia. So, we curry favour with Japan.
– What about China? The Chinese have a lot of money.
– I think that the Chinese have a lot of money too. I think that our country people will agree that the best things that have ever happened were the trips by the Prime Minister and his party to China. I refer to his first trip as Leader of the Opposition and his recent trip as Prime Minister.
The defence forces in Japan at present are peace keeping and are supposed to be for internal security. It takes a short while only to expand such forces. But, for heaven’s sake, look at the position in Australia. I wish the Labor Party would take a quick look at this aspect. Australia is practically defenceless. I give the Labor Party no credit for what it has done with regard to defence. We will need an ally very soon. I do not know how soon that will be. It could be 20 years. The war in the Middle East will not be a war between the Israelis and the Arabs; it will be a war for oil. That is what will happen. It will be a world war because some countries have no oil and they will need to acquire it.
The time will come when in this area Japan will want all our goodies which we are so willing to give away at present. The Japanese will ask: Why go to Australia and buy these goods when we can come down and take them?’ A country like Japan can industrialise itself and can expand its Army, Navy and Air Force in a short periodin one-tenth of the time that it would take us to arm ourselves to protect ourselves. I am all for a treaty of friendship with China because I believe that as it is not for humanity for nations to be friendly with people in their area, we need the help of the Chinese.
The other point that was raised concerned Sihanouk. It was suggested that he was fighting through and encouraging the activities of guerrillas. For heaven’s sake, let us not draw a comparison between him and the Croats and Yugoslavs. After all, Sihanouk was kicked out of his country and he is fighting to get back. I do not think that it matters whether we agree with his philosophy. He was removed from his country and he is trying to return to power. It appears that eventually, very shortly, he will be successful. Even the Chinese are not enamoured of him. We seem to forget that just as there are hatreds between Western country groups, so also are there internal hatreds amongst the Communist groups. We talk about the Vietnamese and Red China and how the Chinese have helped North Vietnam. But the North Vietnamese hate the Chinese. This sort of attitude can be found all the time. It does not really matter whether or not the Chinese talk to the North Vietnamese because the North Vietnamese will not have a bar of Chinese occupancy of their country.
Lee Kuan Yew is a great man. Before he changed his philosophy, he was a communist. Some people may say that he saw the light. All good credit is due to him because of what he has achieved. But his is scared of China. He dares not recognise China because 75 per cent or 80 per cent of the population of Singapore is Chinese. Let me assure the Senate that if China was recognised by Singapore it would not be long before Singapore was Chinese again. Chinese people remain Chinese. They are not Singaporeans.
The continual denigration of the Prime Minister because he has achieved something should stop. This seems to me an example of the petty jealousy that goes on all the time. When we find that the Prime Minister and his Party have at last managed to do something for our primary products, we hear nothing but sneers and suggestions that there is something wrong about this action. There is nothing wrong with what the Prime Minister has done. We trade with Communist countries as fast as we can. If there is a chance of expanding our trade, so much the better.
Opposition senators who have been to China know about the position taken by that country. I am surprised at the attitude adopted by Senator Greenwood who is trying to interject. He has been to China. If he says that the Chinese are a militant people, he is talking sheer and utter nonsense. The Chinese are not. They must adopt this pose on their northern border because they have other problems there. Here there are two large Communist blocs fighting each other and they must have a certain amount of military preparedness. When we consider that the Chinese have not the sophisticated military hardware that the Russians have, we must acknowledge that they need to make up for this deficiency with numbers, and the Chinese have plenty of people.
Let us have a full debate on foreign affairs so that we can all be prepared to raise these matters at some future time. I remember that, when Opposition Senator’s were in power, on two occasions I wished to speak on foreign affairs. Did we ever get a chance to do that? We were never allowed to do so. I think that we had one debate on foreign affairs under the last government. This is a little game that is played. We sit here on the cross benches and see each side rubbishing the other and denigrating the other. Keep at it. That is politics.
– I had not intended to intervene in this debate until I heard some of the latter remarks Senator McManus. The reason I did not intend to speak on this subject is that what we have heard this afternoon and this evening from Opposition speakers have been variations on the tired old unmelodious theme that we have been hearing down the years in this Senate. It is the theme that Dr Evatt was an agent of Molotov, that Dr Cairns was an agent of Ho Chi Minh and that now the Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, is the agent of Mao Tse-tung. I think the people of Australia have shown the Opposition parties what they think about those claims. They have treated this nonsense with contempt. I think that it is only from a very bankrupt opposition that we can find this same dreary drivel being served up to us again.
What I do wish to come to are some matters raised at the end of Senator McManus ‘s speech in which he made some reference to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, of which I am Chairman. Apparently Senator McManus wishes us to believe that in some way the Government has been involved in a conspiracy in order to clip the wings of the once powerful body- the Foreign Affairs Committeeand to hamper its activities under the new constraints under which he says it has been put. I wish to deal with some of the points which Senator McManus made. First, he told us that the Committee did not meet for 7 months. In fact, the Committee met immediately it was constituted -
– Yes, after 7 months.
-It met immediately it was constituted as a completely new committee which had no predecessor in this Parliament.
– You are not going too well.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson)- Order!
– If I am not going too well it is because the Acting Deputy President apparently is unable to hear some of the interjections. The Committee sat immediately it had been constituted. Senator McManus complains, apparently- I take it, Mr Acting Deputy President, that you at any rate can hear me above the interjections- that one of the incorrect actions taken by the Government has been to refer matters to the Committee. Those matters include the investigation of the foreign affairs and defence implications of an Omega station in Australia and the question of dual nationality. I am surprised that Senator McManus should object to the reference on dual nationality because the Committee that is humourously described as the Senate Select Committee on the Civil Rights of Migrant Australians was supposed to report on dual nationality, among all its other problems. One would have thought that it was rather late for the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party, Senator McManus, to be complaining about any parliamentary committee inquiring into dual nationality. Is it to be alleged that the question of an Omega station in Australia is not an important question? Of course it is an important question. It is a very important question.
– It is to Gough.
– That is why we got it.
– Yes, it is important to the Prime Minister. It is important to me. It is important to the Parliament. It is important to the people of Australia. That is why this matter is being considered. Senator McManus has said that somehow the work of the Committee has been stymied by dealing with these other matters. But he said that the Chairman was able to assure the Committee meeting that it would be able to hear witnesses on these various matters on which he wants to hear them. It is not a question of the Chairman -
– He has us on the rails.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson)-Order!
-Thank you. It is not a question of the Chairman being able to assure the Committee that anything was going to happen at all. The Committee resolved that this was what would be done. At no stage has the Chairman ever suggested any action which has not been the wish- I would say the unanimous wish- of the Committee. When the matter of the Omega station was referred to the Committee a time-table was set for the evidence which would be heard and the Chairman has carried out the wishes of the Committee. At no stage has the Chairman, the Government or anybody else tried to inflict any sort of time-table on the Committee. When it was suggested at the last meeting of the Committee that, as all the evidence on the Omega station had been heard, there should be a deferment of hearing the first evidence on the question of dual nationality so that some witnesses could be heard on matters of a more general nature, this suggestion was agreed to by the Chairman and by all the Labor Party members of the Committee who were present at that meeting. So all the decisions which have been taken by the Committee about the manner in which it would transact its business were decisions taken by the Committee. Despite the statements by Senator McManus about that Committee, I can recollect that at no stage did he object to any time-table which the Committee laid down. He waited until its deliberations were finished and his speech was being broadcast when there were little old ladies in white tennis shoes huddled around their radio sets wondering what was the latest good news from the DLP, before he told us about the terrible things that went on. But when he was at Committee meetings with his colleagues what did we hear from him on this matter? Not one word!
I wish to say something about this Committee. I find it rather extraordinary that an Opposition senator should be saying that somehow or other this once great Committee which used to function has now been sabotaged by this Government. I well recollect the previous Committee, which bore a similar name. I was a member of it. Occasionally I attended its meetings, lt was like a sort of secret Workers Education Association class at which people from the Department of Foreign Affairs or somewhere gave us information which sounded like a resume of last month’s Reader’s Digest’. It was all done in secrecy and behind closed doors. Not one word from this power house of secret information was to be given to the public. There we were with documents marked ‘Secret’ or with the name of the recipient on them and the words ‘Do not open unless and until you have turned the lights off’. This is what used to go on under the previous Government.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson)- Order! Senator Wheeldon, I know that you are replying to statements which were made by Senator McManus, but I remind you that the Senate is debating a ministerial statement on the visit of the Prime Minister to Japan and China. Therefore, I would be glad if you would return to the subject matter before the Senate.
-Mr Acting Deputy President, I appreciate your interest in the Standing Orders although, if I may say so, it is a little belated. I am replying to matters which were raised in relation to the statement. The allegation was made that the Prime Minister was trying in some way to sabotage discussion on foreign affairs because of actions which he has taken in relation to this Committee.- We have opened the proceedings of the Committee to the public, something which the previous Government was afraid to do. The Australian Labor Party has constituted a committee which hears public evidence. Evidence on a matter of public importance is heard in public. The deliberations and the questions are in public. The Government is proud of this.
I deal now with some of the other matters which have been raised. It was rather interesting that the allegation should be made that somehow Mr Whitlam is a front man for the Chinese. I am rather interested that when the Opposition deals with this matter it feels no urge to explain its change in position. I can remember- it must have been within the last few months- when the Government was not a front for the Chinese Communist Party but was a front for the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. I would have thought that Senator McManus, with his deep interest in these matters and with his theological background, would have been able to explain the matter to us because it is a very complex problem.
– You are getting dirty now.
– I appreciate a theological background. I have one.
– Keep it clean.
– It is very clean. The allegation has been made that on one occasion we were following the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. No one has ever corrected that allegation and said: ‘We would like to draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that the ALP followed the Communist Party of the Soviet Union but it does not do so any more’. We are being told, without any correction, that the same Party which follows the Communist Party of the Soviet Union also follows the Communist Party of China- a remarkable feat which even Houdini would have been incapable of performing.
I would not agree with Senator Turnbull ‘s statement that the North. Vietnamese people hate the Chinese people. I was recently in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. I was subjected to some criticism for going there. I think I was alleged on that occasion to be some sort of agent for the Vietnam Workers ‘ Party, a communist party. I did not find that they hated the Chinese Communist Party, China or the Chinese people. They certainly pursue an independent line. They do now kowtow to the Chinese. They do not accept directions from the Chinese Communist Party or the Chinese Government. They have closer relations, although by no means indissoluble bonds or overpowering bonds, with the Soviet Union. It would be interesting to learn from some of the Opposition speakers who have accused us of being agents of North Vietnamese communists and of being agents of Ho Chi Minh how it is that we are simultaneously his agents and the agents of his Party and the agents of China when the Vietnam Workers’ Party still belongs to the Communist and Workers International which the Chinese Communist Party has condemned as a revisionist organisation. They are matters which have been raised. Senator Greenwood spoke for long enough to explain them. I think he has not stopped talking for half the time that the Senate has been in session for the past couple of years. I should have been interested to hear him explain some of these matters to us, because they are very intricate and very complex. Perhaps he could shed some light on them for us.
The Australian Government has, for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, recognised what reality is. Despite what the previous Government said, China is not a little island off the coast. China is a huge country which has approximately one-third of the world’s population. It is a growing country. It is a country which, whether one agrees or disagrees with it, is a powerful and increasingly powerful country and a country with which it is in the essential interests of Australia to have close relations and to have trade relations. This Government has established those relations. I should like to see members of the Opposition go to the farmers and the manufacturers of this country and tell them that they are opposed to the trade agreement with China. Are members of the Opposition opposed to the trade agreement with China? Do they believe that we should not have this agreement with China? Do they believe that we should not have a trade agreement with the German Democratic Republic? Do they believe that we should not engage in substantial wheat sales, for the first time, to a country of 20 million people which the bankrupt Opposition, so recently thrown out of office, said did not exist?
They are the real issues. We have a government which acknowledges reality and which says: ‘China is there. There it is. We recognise it. We trade with it. We want to have friendly relations with it. There is the German Democratic Republic. There is North Vietnam. We want to work together with all these countries and try, with all the difficulties- we know there are difficulties- to bring about some peace in this war-torn world in which all of us have the mls.furtune to live’. We have done not only these things but we have done concrete things in the matter of trade. We have improved the standard of living of the Australian people by making it possible for Australia to enter into trade arrangements with these countries in a way in which the previous Government was completely incapable of doing. For those reasons, I welcome the statement by the Prime Minister.
– There used to be quite a favourite debating topic ‘It is better to travel than to arrive’. Nobody has demonstrated this more clearly than the Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam. So obsessed has he been to travel in his great expensive luxury and to drop his pearls of wisdom en route that once again, when he comes home, he treats this Parliament and his country with abject contempt by delivering a 4-page statement on Japan and China- a statement which says nothing. It says: ‘I travelled. I travelled briskly. By golly, wasn’t I good? I say so, anyhow’. It says nothing else.
– I say so, too.
– It is understandable that the Prime Minister would need cheer squads. I wish to make it clear that the subjects of Japan and China are of pre-eminent importance to the people of Australia. Therefore we are basically deserving of something more than what is not even a cheap travelogue. What indeed does this statement say? The Opposition is second to none in wanting good relations with both these countries. Japan is the third largest industrial power on earth and a country which, by way of balance industrially and indeed by its attitude to defence, its attitude to Asia and to the world, can play one of the great peace-keeping roles of the world. In terms of Japan, therefore, there are enormous things to discuss, and not only a trade shopping list, important as this may be.
I for one welcome everything that will bring Mainland China into the comity of nations, everything that will bring China around the board to discuss with the people of the world the common problems of the world in honesty and in frankness. We can read of the most expensive hiring of a Boeing 707 and the most expensive retinues of 50-odd people flying around the world, while we cannot afford $50,000 for this and that and while our pensions are in fact lower than the cost of living. With all this going on, the result is a piece of paper which says nothing. Let me examine it. What does it say? Did we find in this paper any mention of the talks with China that one would have expected from a nation living in Asia and facing the great problems of Asia? Where indeed is mention of the discussions about whether China will continue to play a role in feeding arms and equipment to the people of North Vietnam? Where indeed are the discussions on the role that China may play in the future in terms of the national liberation fronts? Where is the expression by our Prime Minister, as any Prime Minister who comes from Australia must do, of the atmosphere of fear and anxiety, rightly or wrongly, that runs throughout the whole of South East Asia? If he is an honest broker, not for China, as he is reported to have said, but for Australia he should have gone to China and said: ‘It is pre-eminently in the interests of the people of this region and the world that South East Asia should be stable; that countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Burma should have the right to separate sovereignty and separate existence and not have the fear that by subversion, by the inducing of liberation fronts, that they can be destroyed; that we as their good neighbours respect their right to co-exist. ‘ Government senators smile; they have never respected the right at all. They have always sympathised with the insurgent communist liberation fronts which have created the basic insecurity of South East Asia.
If we are to be the people who are looked on by Indonesia with respect as friends and neighours, we must look to the fact that Indonesia herself has been very worried, and rightly so, in the past about the problem of the PKI- Peking inspired communist insurgency which threatened the very stability of the country. Singapore must have taken the statement of our Prime Minister that he would be a broker for China in Asia as being one of the most remarkable white-anting statements that anybody could utter in Asia today. What of the people of Malaysia who are narrowly perched between a slight majority of Malays and an almost equality of Chinese and some Indians? What of them with their worries? There could be troubles of white-anting and insurgency there.
Where did we speak for our friends? Where did we say: ‘This is our worry; this is our anxiety. Yes, we welcome you to come to the United Nations. We hope indeed ‘-Senator Murphy should have echoed this hope- ‘that you will accept the International Court of Justice, if you are to be heard in public with your views. But what we ask you is this: If there is to be peace in Asia what guarantees will you give of your bona fides that there will be peace?’ There was none of this. We have in fact absolute silence. Was there a discussion anywhere on any of the great problems of the world, was there a discussion on the Middle East in which China has, behind the scene, taken a very important part and in which China has lent towards one partisan cause and in which an honest broker from Australia would have tried to talk and tried to get some balance of peace? What have we got except that we wined and dined and looked at the Great Wall and we had a very large aircraft with a very large crew? It is not good enough to come out with superlatives. A government which ridiculed a previous government when its then Prime Minister said ‘AH the way with LBJ’ finds nothing ridiculous in the superlatives with which today it expresses its aspirations at best symbolised with China. The highest aspirations which the Prime Minister expressed were not with the principles of democracy, not with the principles of a country espousing the British law, the rule of law, not finding it there at all, but its highest aspirations were symbolised with China.
I do not denigrate China at all. I have lived for many a year amongst the Chinese people and man for man and woman for woman I know no better individual people on God’s earth. I acknowledge the Chinese people for their great industry and for their great human understanding, person by person. I reject military regimes wherever they may occur, whether right wing, totalitarian or left wing. Indeed, I reject any kind of totalitarian militaryism.
-I am hoping that Indonesia, which has been mentioned, will move more and more towards democracy. I must put in perspective the country with which Mr Whitlam has seen our highest aspirations symbolised. It is a country of 800 million people that cannot be ignored, should not be ignored and should be understood. It is a country under the tightest military regime and rule in the world; a country which uses bloody murder and terror to control its people; a country in which its Deputy Premier Lin Piao, the favoured son of Mao Tse-tung and chosen to succeed him, could disappear and the leaders, the Politbureau of China, did not find it necessary to explain to the people of China or to the world what had happened to the second most important man in China.
– They never even wrote his obituary.
– As Senator Byrne said, they never even wrote his obituary. Indeed the terms and conditions of his death may even be too dusty to be published. Where indeed is Lin Piao? It is a country which has unhappily had the most violent militaryism. I have said in this Senate before and I repeat that I know of no more ghastly document- it is in the Library of this Parliament- than the report of the International Commission of Jurists on genocide in Tibet. That is a story of murder and brutality as bad in nature and in magnitude as the German genocide of the Jews. This unhappily enough, and not too many decades away, was caused by this regime- not the people, I do not blame the people- with which Mr Whitlam and his Labor Party now find their highest aspirations symbolised and for which Mr Whitlam is to be the common broker around Asia. Are we to be the common broker for military regimes, for totalitarianism, for the disappearance of leaders without trace or a kind of genocide that has left the world shocked? The Government has said ‘We recognise a country and do not necessarily approve its regime’. Yes, that is true. The previous Liberal-Country Party Government had taken steps towards recognition on that basis. But it is one thing to recognise; it is another thing to slaver and to slobber over people in terms of finding our highest aspirations symbolised with them. This is virtually all that has come out of China. The Australian people are entitled to know what kind of discussions ensued.
Why did Mr Whitlam talk to Prince Sihanouk, no doubt against the advice of his Department? Why did he talk to a deposed leader while this Government recognises the existing regime of his former country? Why did he do this? He should tell us what happened. What did he say? If he will not tell us, is this the kind of secrecy that disguises the nonsense of open government of which this Government has talked? What were the subjects of the talks? Like a little excited schoolboy the Prime Minister said: ‘Do you know what? I had a whole 1 1 hours of talks with the Chinese leaders. Was it not good of those great men to talk to me?’ It matters not one bit in terms of quantity how many hours were talked. What matters is the quality of the talks. What was the gutsy nature- if I may be pardoned a good Australianism- if any, of the Australian contribution? What did we say to show what we believed? It is true the statement says that Mr Whitlam expressed opposition to the continued explosions of atmospheric weapons by the Chinese in Lop Nor in Sinkiang Province. He waved his little finger again. But did he, in fact, talk about any kind of sanctions? Did he seek to do anything that might persuade the Chinese people to stop? Or must we have again the double standards that allow the kind of attacks we saw on France for whose tests weapons were smaller, had virtually no fallout and threatened almost nobody? Yet we see this waving of a little finger at the naughty Chinese. This is the kind of double standard that has become evident.
Let me illustrate this by reference to a country such as Japan. The Prime Minister was almost like a little schoolboy going along with a schoolbag full of tricks that he trots out. Let me explain this. The journey to Japan was launched with the great statement: ‘We are going to make a pact with Japan on the enrichment of uranium. We are going to see with Japan a negotiation whereby we can have in Australia a uranium enrichment plant. Sorry we did not mention it to you Australians that it will cost $ 1 ,000m ‘. Or is it $2,300m? Nobody knows. ‘Sorry we did not mention to you Australians where we are going to put it because it poses a lot of difficulties. Nobody knows, not even the Government. But we are going to have it’. What did we find when we got there? We found that the Japanese had no such thoughts at all. They were in no way prepared to talk. The Japanese are going to build their own uranium enrichment plant in the years ahead. The Japanese have just started testing one of the centrifuges, one of perhaps the half million that are necessary for a centrifuge system of diffusion enrichment of uranium, and in the next few years they will have about 180 of them running, not half a million. Does this Government know that Europe is to build a uranium enrichment plant? Does this Government know that America can supply the world until 1981 and is busy at this moment preparing to build other plants? The wicked multi-nationals are bending their minds to doing this. Has this Government thought that by the time we may have got around to this- not having done any homework at all and not having, I suspect, even consulted the Australian Atomic Energy Commission in Australia and certainly having no blueprint- and that by the time we had got another of these expensive situations like the natural gas pipeline but which will be twelve times as dear, the world supply probably will be in glut? In any case the need for producing atomic energy by fission will have passed and the fusion method will have been introduced. ‘But, never mind: It was a good headline and it made the news, did it not? We got there. Everybody knows we were going to talk about a uranium enrichment plant but of course nothing was done’.
The same thing occurs with great round phrases: ‘We talked about nature of the Government’s policies on minerals and energy’. This is the most heartening thing I know because if that happened then 2 people- Mr Tanaka and Mr Whitlam- now know. One thing is certain: 13,500,000 in Australia including the members of this Parliament have no idea what are the minerals and energy policies of this Government. But the Prime Minister said: ‘We had talks and we will tell people overseas but we will not tell the people in Australia’. The Prime Minister went on: ‘We are going to have a treaty of trade and friendship. We are not terribly sure about this’. Now the statement waters it down a bit and we are not sure that we are going to have a treaty of NARA. What is it to be? May I ask this: Why should we make a treaty of trade and friendship with one country and not another? Why a treaty with Japan and not with America? If we do this against the advice of many people and, I suspect, the departments, why do we not do it with the United States of America and others? 1 say this in no denigration of Japan. Japan is our greatest trading partner; she takes 28 per cent of our materials. These hollow phrases sound goodMy gosh, I had a good trip. Do you know we are going to put on paper a treaty of friendship to prove that we love each other?’
All I can say it that over 23 years of government by the Liberal-Country Party Coalition we never needed any pieces of paper to forumalise the fine working arrangements between Australia and Japan, arrangements which made the 2 countries inter-dependant and by which Australia’s trade was diversified throughout the world. This meant that we were in no way reliant heavily on Japan. We needed none of these things. The report of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on Japan, tabled in this Parliament many months ago, has set out all those things as background, but one must have something to say in a public relations journey and there it is. What is this historic treaty, this treaty of NARA that is to be produced? Nobody knows. Of course it is a good idea and I do not denigrate it; certainly not. We can expand trade with Japan and China. The job of Government is to expand trade. The previous Government made tremendous expansions of trade with both those countries and had very significant trade with China. Irrespective of the ideological outlook of a country we of course trade with that country. It is wrong to use sanctions of trade in terms of your own diplomacy, your own ideologies.
I want to put this situation into perspective. Many months ago I said that this country would suffer if the Prime Minister of Australia was also the Minister for Foreign Affairs, as well as clutching to himself such interesting tasks as authorising the purchase of the painting ‘Blue Poles’ for $1.3m because he wants to keep the arts to himself. I said that the job of a Foreign Minister was a full time job and not a job just of jaunting and junketing around the world, not a job of uttering round phrases. The test of diplomacy, of foreign policy, is not round phrases. The test is whether we have achieved in this world an atmosphere or an environment in which by our actions our own country is more secure and more free and we are living in an atmosphere in our region in which there is stability and freedom and we are respected for the views we hold and because we are willing to stand up for the other fellow and his right to be different. Australia has one great role in international affairs. Australia is a middle size power and we should not be measured in terms of population, in terms of industrial output, or in terms of rural output. We should be measured in terms of our capacity to be civilised, our capacity to develop ideals and to communicate and our capacity to be an Australian honest broker with our neighbours in particular and with the world in general.
Australia was respected throughout the length and breadth of South East Asia because as a middle size power and without any imperialist sense at all it did not seek greatness or domination. It sought to come to understand what other countries like Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma and Vietnam were thinking. It sought to have as its philosophy a communication to the great powers on this earth that they should not merely be so pre-occupied with their own great power- or thuggery in many ways- but that they should respect the right of the little people to live. But we have now decided that we are not going to hunt with that pack any more. We have decided that we are going to direct ourselves towards Mainland China. I repeat that our highest aspirations are symbolised with China. One would have thought that that expression, however extravagant, might in itself have caused the United States of America to wonder whether the ANZUS treaty, which is vital to this country and to which the Government pays lip service, is now tenable and viable. If our aspirations most lie with China, what do we expect the 200 million people of America, who have done more than any other people in the past 30 years to keep the peace in the world, to do and think about Australia and our treaties if we are looking elsewhere?
It is absolutely right for us to get to know these great countries and to talk to them. But talking is not enough. The only worth of a visit is if, despite our size, instead of kowtowing, instead of slavering, instead of uttering superlatives, we put up the honest issues and seek honest solutions. Nothing in this paper at all suggests that Australia’s approach to China was even directed on a foreign affairs level. Today there could be some immediacy of world conflict on 2 levels. I refer firstly to the Middle East which is accepted by the Government and by Senator Wriedt, who is at the table, as being a theatre that could accelerate into world conflict and, secondly, to the fact that on the Russian-Chinese border there are some 44 divisions of Russians and this is recognised or felt to be a major possibility of conflict between those powers. The fact that Russia and China are in conflict and that this could flare up into world conflict can be of no consolation to us.
If we are to have peace then there must be peace right throughout the world. Australia cannot escape and cannot be isolated. The greatest defect of thinking of this Government of ours is that not only are men an island but Australia is an island unto itself and that Australia somehow can be isolated against the world- a world in which an oil crisis in the Middle East is being engendered and which could create world war; a world in which some 2 years ago at the time of the Bangladesh outbreak it was feared with some justification that Russia might seek to knock out the nuclear establishments of China. It is in this sort of world that the Prime Minister went and came and has not mentioned anything except that the food was good and they played ‘Advance Australia Fair’ when he arrived. This to me is quite unbelievable. As I said in my opening remarks, it is a direct contempt, in my judgment, upon the Parliament and upon the people of Australia because the people of Australia are entitled to a thoroughly detailed knowledge and understanding of what is happening in the world. I recognise that as time goes on those measures of trade which materialised or not will be the measure of statements. I have no doubt that Senator Wriedt will have something to say on this. I hope he will tell us something about the sojourn in which he sought to sell apples and perhaps pears. I would like him to tell us at his convenience what he has done, if anything, about the quarantine laws in regard to Japan.
– You could not sell McMahon.
– I am referring to the Minister at the table and I am asking that in due course he tell us- I am sure he will if he is able to- what has happened and whether we can help the people of Tasmania who have been hit by the removal of the exemption from sales tax applicable to carbonated fruit juices, as have the orchardists in my own State. I hope that he can tell us what the Government has done to get into Japan as an expanding market for fruit. After all, the Japanese quarantine rules are among the most rigid of any in the world. I respect their right to have these rules. No doubt we will hear about these things step by step. We will no doubt here about whether the wheat agreement- I do not denigrate what has been done in this respect -is at least something on which we can plan in terms of stable and real prices, not for one year but for 3 years. We will no doubt hear, as it matures, whether the sugar agreement is in terms of world parity or below world parity.
The Prime Minister, who was also at the time Minister for Foreign Affairs, visited 2 countries which are of profound importance in the world. As I have said, one of those countries was Japan which is the third largest industrial country and a country which in terms of its balance of trade and prosperity can have enormous good will. The other country was China which, rising out of the depressions and pressures and militarisms of the past, has come into a new world. I believe that we are entitled to have from the Prime Minister statements in regard to foreign policy. As I said, it is obvious that Mr Whitlam holds the view that it is better to travel than arrive, because he has arrived with 4 pages of extreme platitudes.
– The Senate is discussing the visit of the Australian Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to Japan and China, which I believe was probably one of the most significant visits ever conducted by an Australian Prime Minister and parliamentary colleagues. I think it is significant also that within 24 hours of his arrival back in this country he took steps to report to the Australian Parliament about his visit and the success of that visit. But this move was thwarted because the Opposition shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs was not able to be present in the House of Representatives on the day the statement was to have been made as he had taken the opportunity to go to Melbourne to attend the Melbourne Cup. However, 3 days after the Prime Minister’s return we are discussing his visit. It is clear from what has been said by Opposition speakers that they are suffering from sour grapes. The Opposition is still living in the past. It is still on that slow boat to China which should have reached the shores of that country many years ago. It kept Australia in the political wilderness in relation to its association with that important country.
However, the event has taken place. The Australian Government has recognised the People’s Republic of China. The Australian Government supported the admission of that country to the United Nations. Members of the Australian Government have now visited that country and have established very important, new principles so far as Australia is concerned. What are those important principles? Firstly, it has been established that the Australian Government will pursue an independent foreign policy in relation to China, Japan and the whole of the Asian region. These are new departures. They are being applauded by the average Australian. They are departures from the previous inept policies followed by the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party. After all, they have based the whole of their foreign policy for the last 23 years on the basis of: ‘Have gun; will travel’. Our Government, the new Government which is concerning itself with relationships between all countries travels for the purpose of establishing relationships which are based on peaceful co-existence. We heard the statements made by Senator Greenwood who can best be described as the unofficial leader of the Opposition parties in this place. He gave another long-winded statement on the attitude of the Opposition to the important countries which have been visited by the Prime Minister in the last 10 days.
In 1949 the people’s liberation army succeeded in affecting a change in government in the land mass of China. Anybody who has had the opportunity to visit that country in the intervening 24 years cannot but be impressed with its growth, with the endeavours of the new Government to bring China into the 20th century and to eradicate the remains of feudalism which was characteristic of that country, to establish a uniform government and to try to establish a relationship based on co-existence with other countries. Unfortunately this country was living in an atmosphere of fear. Supporters of the previous Government who now form the Opposition parties- that is the Liberal Party, the Country Party and the Australian Democratic Labor Party- sought to isolate us from that very important evolution which was taking place in the largest country in Asia.
It is to the credit of the Prime Minister that in 1971 when he was Leader of the Opposition he took the important initiative of visiting China and of establishing some connections with this important country. Of course, as it turned out he took the initiative only a few short months before that taken by President Nixon. One would imagine when listening to Senator Greenwood and Senator Carrick that they have not heard of moves for a detente which have been initiated by the American President. Maybe the American President is now so discredited that even the Opposition parties in this country do not want to refer to the important steps which he took to break down the barriers which had been built up in the cold war years.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Cavanagh) agreed to:
All annual reports of Government departments and authorities, including statutory corporations laid on the Table of the Senate, shall stand referred, without any question being put, for consideration and, if necessary, for report thereon, to the Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees.
The President shall transmit a copy of each report so tabled to the Committee which he deems appropriate.
The Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees may, at their discretion, pursue or not pursue inquiries into reports so received; but any action necessary, arising from a report of a Committee, shall be taken in the Senate on morion after notice.
Motion (by Senator Wriedt) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to Fisheries in Certain Australian Waters.
Motion (by Senator Wriedt) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to the Living Natural Resources of the Continental Shelf.
– Perhaps I could explain this matter. This afternoon some consequential alterations were made to the schedule of this Bill. I spoke to the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) tonight and he said that he did not think some of the amendments made by the Senate would be acceptable to the House of Representatives. The Bill will have to be considered again by the House of Representatives and any alterations necessary in the schedule could be made in the House of Representatives. Therefore, I ask that this be treated as a formal motion. I move:
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- In accordance with standing order 2151 have to announce that I hold in my hand a certificate by the Chairman of Committees as follows:
I hereby certify that this fair print is in accordance with the Bill as agreed to with amendments in committee and reported.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had not made an amendment requested to this Bill by the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Wriedt) agreed to:
That the message be taken into consideration of the Committee of the whole forthwith.
– I move:
The House of Representatives has declined to accept the Senate’s request of 10 October that clause 6 of the Meat Export Charge Bill be amended so that the rate of charge on beef and veal is reduced from 1 .6c to lc per lb. At the time the Senate amended the Meat Export Charge Collection Bill to include provision for a trust account to be established into which all funds collected from the charge are to be paid. The Government has agreed to an amendment to provide for the establishment of a trust account and this matter will be discussed immediately after the discussion on the Charge Bill is completed.
The Opposition’s arguments for a reduction in the charge were based on calculations of their own which showed that the estimated revenue from the charge would exceed estimated costs. During the second reading debate, and again in Committee, it was clearly stated by the Government that the proposed charge had been based on the assumption that the estimated revenue from the charge would match estimated expenditure. Despite the Government’s assurance of this, the Opposition has not been prepared to accept it. Details of the estimates made to calculate the charge are as follows: Firstly, for beef and veal, the charge of 1.6c per lb was obtained by dividing the estimated cost to the Australian Government over the 3 years 1973-74 to 1975-76, of export meat inspection- that is $43m- plus the cost of the brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication campaign- $22m- by estimated beef and veal exports over the 33 months period 1 October 1973 to 30 June 1976, that is, 1.8 million tons shipped weight. Secondly, for other meats, the charge of 1.0c per lb was obtained by dividing the estimated inspection cost of $ 14m by the estimated volume of exports of 0.6m tons shipped weight.
The costs to the Government of compensation for tuberculin reactors are not being recouped and consequently these costs have not been included in the calculations. In addition, as I mentioned during the earlier debate on this legislation, overtime costs are also excluded. At present overtime costs for inspection are borne by the particular works which requests inspection staff for overtime work. In the previous debate, the Government went to some length to explain why the Opposition’s figures were incorrect. A statement setting out full details of how the rates of 1.6c per lb and 1.0c per lb were calculated has been prepared and I seek leave to incorporate it in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
-On the basis of these calculations, the expected revenue from the charge on exports will match the estimated cost over the 3 year period. In view of this, the Government has declined to accept the Senate ‘s request for an amendment to clause 6.
– I indicate to the Senate that the Liberal Party Opposition will not further resist this measure. I have to say, however, that I and members of the Opposition parties, would have appreciated it if the figures which have been produced today had been made available to us at the time of the debate on this Meat Export Charge Bill 1973. These figures were not available to us at the time of our opposition to the imposition of 1 .6c per lb on beef and veal to cover meat inspection and the brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication scheme. I also would have liked to have had a copy of this document. We have no desire to impede the passage of this legislation now but I would have appreciated it if the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) had made available to me earlier a copy of the statement which he has just made to the Committee. The Opposition desires to expedite the passage of the Government’s legislation wherever possible. We have no further reason to oppose this Bill, and I indicate now that we will not persist in our opposition to it.
– I thank the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) for giving us some factual figures. When Opposition senators raised this point during the earlier debate in the Senate the Minister kept reassuring us that the figures he was putting forward at that time were the figures that we should accept. Honourable senators on this side of the chamber did not think so. Now that we have had a look at another set of figures I and other members of the Country Party are willing to go along with what the Minister has said.
– I do not wish to delay the Senate because this matter was fully debated on the previous occasion. However I want to make 2 observations. I want to assure the Senate that the figures I have just submitted for incorporation in Hansard are identical to those presented previously in the debate and are identical to those supplied to Senator DrakeBrockman on that occasion. For Senator Laucke ‘s information, I indicate that copies of the statement I have just read to the Senate were provided to Senator Withers and Senator DrakeBrockman earlier today. I am sorry if there has been a misunderstanding.
– J now have a copy of it. That is why I acceded quickly to the proposal.
– I understood that the honourable senator had not received a copy. However, that matter is now clarified. I am glad that in the interests of the industry we have now agreed on this most important matter because unquestionably there was majority acceptance by the industry of the need for this program to proceed. During the course of the previous debate it was stated that there may have been some slight opposition from the industry to the levy but the overwhelming consensus is that the meat industry needs this program. I am very pleased that the Opposition has now seen fit to support us on this measure. I do not wish to suggest that the trust accounts, which we have accepted, are not of benefit. I am inclined to think that they will be of benefit. If the Opposition believes that that clarification is a necessary part of the legislation, then certainly we do not oppose it. I take this opportunity to indicate that at no time did the Government ever intend that any revenue collected under this legislation would be used for any other purpose than that provided for in the legislation. However, the amendment sought by the Opposition is acceptable to us and I think it clarifies the position beyond any doubt.
– I do not want to join issue with the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt). I agree in principle with what he said. I still think that there were . different figures. I will have to check that. However I am not saying that the Minister is wrong. There was opposition within the industry to the proposition put up by the Minister. He will recall that at the time of this debate he said that there was no opposition within the industry. I want to make clear that there was opposition within the industry. I think now that we have all agreed that this Bill will be of benefit to the industry. We have come to common ground and I am glad to see it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wriedt) read a third time.
Message received from House of Representatives intimating that it had disagreed to the amendments made to this Bill by the Senate and in place thereof had substituted other amendments.
Motion (by Senator Wriedt) agreed to:
That the message be taken into consideration by the Committee of the Whole forthwith.
Consideration of House of Representatives amendments.
House of Representatives amendments.
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears- “ authorized person “means-
House of Representatives Amendment No. 1 .
In clause 3, insert after the definition of” charge “ the following definition: - “ ‘ Charge Act ‘ means the Meat Export Charge Act 1973; “.
House of Representatives Amendment No. 2.
In clause 3, insert after the definition of” meat “ the following definition: - “ ‘ meat inspection services ‘ means services provided by Australia in connexion with the inspection of meat intended for export for human consumption; “.
House of Representatives Amendment No. 3.
After clause 7, insert the following clauses: - “7a. ( 1 ) There are hereby established-
– I move:
As stated earlier, the Government is prepared to accept an amendment to this Bill to provide for the establishment of a Trust Account. However, while accepting the establishment of the Trust Account for meat inspection, it has been necessary to redraft the amendment passed by the Senate on 10 October in order to rectify certain deficiencies in that amendment. Furthermore, as the Government has not accepted the request to amend clause 6 of the Meat Export Charge Bill, it has also been necessary to make provision for payment into the Trust Account of moneys related to eradication of burcellosis and tuberculosis. The amendment passed by the Senate has been redrafted in respect of sections 3, 4b (a) and 4c (2).
In respect of section 3, following advice from the draftsman, a new definition to cover meat inspection services and related expenses has been substituted for the definition of ‘export meat inspection costs’. The definition given in the Opposition’s amendment was not considered by the draftsman to be adequate. In respect of sections 4b (a) and 4 (c)(2) redrafting has been necessary for the following reasons:
The Government’s amendment has been drafted so that the part of the charge related to meat inspection will be paid into the Meat Export Charge Trust Account and that part of the charge that is related to the campaign- 0.6c per pound- - will be paid into the Eradication Trust Account.
During the debate in the House of Representatives on 6 November the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Sinclair) stated that the Opposition would be prepared to accept the charge of 0.6c per pound if the Government were prepared to establish a Trust Account to ensure that all monies are used for the purposes intended. It is assumed, therefore, that in the light of the information provided on the estimated revenue and costs, and the fact that the Government has agreed to the establishment of a separate Trust Account, the Opposition will agree to the passage of the Bills without further delay.
– I am indebted to the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) for making that information available, but unfortunately he did not make it available to us before this point of time so that we would have an opportunity to study it. When the Meat Export Charge Collection Bill was before the Senate recently, the Opposition parties- and I think I speak on behalf of the 3 of them, although the other parties will have an opportunity later to put their point of view- were concerned about the setting up of the Trust Account. Although we had available to us the talents of certain officers of the Senate, we did not have available to us the talents of the officers of the Department who could have told us how this amendment should have been worded
I think that the Minister recognises what was in the minds of Opposition senators when we moved the amendment. I believe that the amendment now presented by the Minister will adequately protect the purposes for which the money is being collected. At the same time, I also believe that it will enable the inspection services which are so necessary to be maintained, and the eradication program against brucellosis and tuberculosis to be extended in a manner in which all honourable senators believe it is necessary to extend it. Therefore, I and my Party accept the amendment now presented by the Minister.
-I wish to indicate acceptance by the Liberal Opposition of the amendment moved by the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt). It meets the situation as far as we are concerned, and we will not pursue this matter any further. We appreciate the Minister’s attitude in the whole affair.
-The Australian Democratic Labor Party adopts the same attitude in relation to the proposal now presented to the Committee by Senator Wriedt.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 16 October (vide page 1206), on motion by Senator Wriedt:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Bill with which we are now concerned is a Bill to create a Schools Commission. It is a matter which has engendered very considerable publicinterest, and I have no doubt that every member of this Parliament will be aware of the extent to which public interest has been created- if one can use that word. The extent of public interest has been so great that I have a huge bundle of telegrams which I have received over the past few weeks. It will not be possible to acknowledge some of them because the senders have not given sufficient address to enable them to be acknowledged, and I make that point here and now. However, I shall endeavour to acknowledge the others.
The Bill concerns a matter which has been the subject of very considerable debate in the past few years. I refer to the question of whether in Australia we should have a Schools Commission which should be a national or a nationwide body- a body created so that it is able to play,u part in the development and co-ordination Of education in Australia. We as an Opposition Party accept that last year that debate was concluded. It was one of the debates which took place in particular during the election campaign. This question was one of the very important and foremost matters put by the present Government during that election campaign. We accept that the Government has a mandate. We accept that in the view of the majority of Australians there is to be a Schools Commission. Although we had fears as to what might happen, because of some of the things that had been said by various spokesmen on behalf of the Australian Labor Party as to what they conceived a Schools Commission to be, the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) in his second reading speech in the House of Representatives made it quite clear that our fears are no longer well founded. The Minister has made it quite clear that the Government has no intention whatsoever of using the creation of the Schools Commission as a centralising body in the administration of education in Australia. The Opposition wishes to see the Schools Commission work. We wish to see it work successfully in the interests of school students in Australia.
I believe that the title of this body is somewhat unfortunate. I believe that it is unfortunate to call it a schools commission rather than perhaps an education commission or even a students commission. The question of emphasis upon schools as opposed to an emphasis upon students is one of the matters which will arise in the course of this debate and later in the Committee stage. The Opposition is firm in its view that a schools commission should have primary regard to the interests of students and not the interests of schools.
The questions that the Schools Commission will be concerned with are primary and secondary education and not pre-school education or any of the other numerous areas in which the Commonwealth is to a greater or a lesser extent involved. There are in Australia slightly fewer than 10,000 schools at which nearly 80 per cent of the students are those attending government operated schools while slightly more than 20 per cent of students are attending non-government schools.
One of the matters which have been of considerable concern to a large number of people in Australia has been the future of non-government or independent schools. We were pleased to see that, by amendment in the lower House, the Minister recognised that there was perhaps an omission in the Bill as drafted. He proposed an amendment, which was carried in the House of Representatives, making it quite clear that all sections of the Bill dealt with both government and non-government schools. He has expressed his personal view on behalf of his Party that the future of non-government schools is to be assured.
I emphasise that we are not concerned in this Bill with pre-school education which, again, is a matter of considerable public interest and a matter in which the Government has taken other action, as would we have taken action had we continued in government. Pre-school education is a matter that was referred to in both of the policy speeches before the last House of Representatives election.
The general position is that the principles with which we are concerned in the Schools Commission Bill were explained by the Minister for Education in his second reading speech. I wish to quote certain parts of that speech because these aspects are a recognition of the realities of the situation in relation to primary and secondary education in Australia. The Minister for Education said:
Our approach is to establish Commissions of expert advisers rather than a vast centralised administrative machine. Diversity and innovation in education at the school level are desirable. 1 think the reference should be to a commission rather than Commissions. Later, the Minister said:
The States will retain responsibility for administering their own educational programs but will have available to them greatly increased funds for the purpose.
A further quotation to which I wish to refer is his emphasis on the fact that:
The role of the Australian Government in schools conducted by State governments or by non-government authorities is not a primary role but it is a vital role. The States establish state schools and register non-government schools.
In those quotations we see a clear recognition by the Minister on behalf of the Government of the twofold role in education- the role of government schools and the role of the States in relation to the conduct of those schools. We see that the Government is recognising what was put to it very strongly and firmly by the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission, commonly known as the Karmel Committee, that there should not be a centralisation of the administration of education in Australia.
It is interesting to note that the Karmel Committee was quite firm in the recommendations which it made in that respect. The Karmel Committee made it quite clear that, so far as it was concerned, it regarded diversity, innovation and decentralisation as important. I wish to quote 2 parts from chapter 1 3 of the report of the Karmel Committee. The Committee states in paragraph 2 of that chapter:
The constitutional responsibility for the provision of public education rests primarily with the States, as at present does the major financial commitment. The Committee believes that the Commission’s influence should be of a general kind and that it should not intervene in or interfere with the management of schools or school systems.
Later, in the same paragraph, it states:
Moreover, the Committee’s attachment to diversity is an argument against a centralist approach to educational matters.
It states further, in the same paragraph:
In the light of these considerations, the Committee has formed the opinion that the Commission should concern itself more with providing incentives for the schools to move in one direction or another, than with delineating a particular mode! of. precise development.
These are all principles to which the Opposition not only has no objection but also gives wholehearted support.
It is unfortunate, 1 believe, that the Government has not to date given us an opportunity to debate the report of the Karmel Committee in the Senate and, in particular, has not given us an opportunity to debate heretofore chapter 13 of that report which is that part relating to the Schools Commission and the questions of administration and accountability generally. I believe that there would be considerable advantage to the Government, to those interested in education and to the final result which could be achieved in the interests of education in Australia had it been possible to have a debate in this chamber on that report before the legislation was introduced. I believe that the Government might have received considerable advantage from taking that course. I draw attention to the fact that it is the Government which is responsible for the Karmel Committee report not being debated in this chamber before this date. This is not a debate on the Karmel Committee report; it is a debate on the Schools Commission Bill. We are still awaiting the opportunity to debate that report in general terms.
The other point which I make at this stage is that the Government has not yet even announced its attitude in relation to the general matters referred to in chapter 13 of that report. It announced earlier that it accepted the remainder of the report with the exception of certain aspects of the phasing out of aid to categorised schools. It has accepted the remainder of the report but it has not announced its intentions with regard to chapter 1 3, unless we can take the presentation of the Schools Commission Bill as the announcement by the Government of at least one part of its attitude in that respect. I believe that it is of the utmost importance that the wide and divergent views of people greatly concerned with education, many of whom are expert in educational matters, should be able to be taken into account and considered by this Parliament before the legislation is passed. I refer again to the fact that the debate which can take place in this chamber is a matter upon which people can comment. It can give a feedback to members of Parliament and can provide information to members of Parliament which is likely to lead in the long run to better legislation and better education.
The Karmel Committee did expound a number of principles to which I wish to refer. One is that it endorsed federalism in relation to education. It would be hard not to do so because the constitutional realities in Australia, whether people like it or not, are that the States have been given the power by the Constitution in relation to education. The Commonwealth has not the power and it is only by the use or, as some people would claim, the misuse of section 96 that it is able to take action in relation to education outside the Territories.
The cost of education and the needs of education are sufficiently great to involve the Commonwealth Government of necessity. What has happened with the Schools Commission is a recognition that there is clearly a role to be played on a national basis but that the constitutional realities are that the day to day administration of education in the States is a State function carried out by the State departments of education, with the exception of the nongovernment sector which, again, is not a direct administrative responsibility of the Commonwealth. The Karmel Committee also endorsed its belief in non-government and government school systems and individual schools. That is an important matter to many people in Australia who were afraid that perhaps there was a move to limit in some way or to curtail the right of people to choose the type of education which was to be given to their children.
The Karmel Committee also emphasised the need for greater independence within the government school system. This is a matter which the Opposition would emphasise and emphasise again, as a fundamental belief, as being one of the important developments which is taking place in Australia and which must be encouraged to continue to take place in Australia. It is necessary that, far from centralising education, in the interests of diversity and in the interests of innovation we should be able to have a greater degree of independence within those education systems which exist. The Karmel Committee made it quite clear that it was opposed to a centralised bureaucracy. It made it quite clear that it recognised the need for diversity, for innovation and for local involvement and participation in education- all matters which have of late in a number of countries, in particular Australia, received the support of a large number of people who are concerned with and are active in questions related to education.
The Committee acknowledged research and the necessity for vastly increased research activity in relation to education.
I repeat that these are matters which the Opposition would emphasise. I take this opportunity to refer to a publication of last year entitled ‘Education in Australia: The Liberal Party’s Objectives and Achievements’. There are some who would claim that it has been the new Government which has done all these magnificent things in education which the former Government did not. I refute that suggestion. I suggest that some of the developments in education which have taken place this year were very largely in the pipeline under the former Government. I suggest further that a number of things would have been done by the former Government which have not been done by the present Government. But this is not the time to develop an argument in relation to this issue. So I simply refer to the booklet of which I made mention a moment ago.
– What booklet is that?
– ‘Education in Australia: The Liberal Party’s Objectives and Achievements’. It was published last year. I mention 2 overriding objectives which are referred to- encouraging a variety of educational institutions and encouraging local educational research programs to identify the major educational needs and problems and to ensure that Australian solutions are developed on soundly based analytical work. I have mentioned but two of the numerous objectives which are set out. The passage continues:
Our role is to provide the leadership necessary to develop programs directed towards these ends by:
Working in co-operation with the States and other authorities; encouraging greater local contribution and interest in the day to day running of the educational institutions and avoiding the centralised control.
The Liberal approach is aimed at releasing energies, removing obstacles and encouraging innovation.
The Karmel Committee must have used our publication as a basis for its report. It is surprising to find how things which it emphasised and the matters which it found so important were published last year in the document ‘Education in Australia: The Liberal Party’s Objectives and Achievements’. I take this opportunity to mention that fact because there are many people in Australia who tend to be snowed under by the weight of public relations work which has been poured out by this Government in relation to education- not all of it accurate, and some of it grossly misrepresenting the true situation.
I refer also to the speech made by the Minister for Education in the House of Representatives. He said:
I regard clause 13 sub-clause (3) (d) as vital. The Commission is to have regard to ‘the needs of disadvantaged schools and of students at disadvantaged schools, and of other students suffering disadvantages in relation to education for social, economic ethnic, geographic, cultural, lingual or similar reasons’. Here is a fruitful field of advice as to how the Australian Government may exercise its power to grant benefits to students. The Commission is likewise empowered to give similar advice in relation to the academically, scientifically, artistically or musically gifted students.
Those sentiments, those principles and those expressions of attitude have the total support of the Opposition.
I pass to another aspect of the Minister’s second reading speech which is important. It is important in relation to the debate on education which has taken place in Australia. I refer to what is often termed ‘the needs principle’ or adopting the needs principle’ in relation to education. I regard this issue as one of the most confused issues- and deliberately confused in some respects- that can be identified in education. It is unfortunate that there has been confusion, but the fact is that the previous Government had adopted a needs approach which was fulfilled in a variety of ways and which was described as being integral to the whole of its program in relation to education. All that has happened is that a new phrase has been coined by the present Government, which has said: ‘We have adopted a needs approach’. That statement makes the approach sound as though it was new and interesting. It is old hat. All that has happened is that there has been a variation of the approach, a further development of it, and some tremendous disadvantages in the way in which it is implemented.
There are different ways of approaching the question of needs. What is certain is that in education there needs to be, because of the cost involved and because of the long term involved in changing programs, in developing physical facilities, in training teachers and in all the rest of the matters which are involved, a degree of certainty and a degree of planning. We hope that we will be able to get this from the Schools Commission. We will not get it if we get the sort of nonsense that we have had in relation to the categorisation of non-government schools. I take the opportunity to mention but one aspect as a bad example of what can happen to planning as a result of what may be regarded as somewhat ill-considered developments. In relation to the categorisation of schools the most recent report from the Interim Committee, when it gave the result of the appeals, stated:
The Committee wishes to reaffirm that following the appeals categories are fixed for the years 1974 and 1975. It stresses that schools should not attempt to anticipate subsequent bases for assessment of need. The Committee wishes to emphasise that future financial assistance will be dependent upon maintenance of standards as reflected in resource usage and continuing reasonable effort on the part of non-government school authorities.
Interpreted, that means that if, as a result of a reduction in the grant which was formerly received by a school, it has to reduce the number of teachers and thereby increase the pupilteacher ratio or go broke, the school must go broke. I have not the slightest doubt that this is the sort of thing which the Committee did not intend.
I suggest to the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) that it is something which needs explanation, for the sake of the schools which are concerned, so that we do not get the confusion which is reigning in Australia at the moment. There has been considerable confusion in that area which is the major area which has been actually put into effect in relation to individual schools in Australia. If that is any indication of what will come in the future, we have created a monster. I trust that it is no indication of what will come in the future. I trust that it is a result only of work which was hurried because the Government insisted that it be hurried and because there was not time to think through fully and carefully the natural results of some of the things which were being recommended. I raise the matter as a warning. It is important in education in Australia that there be long term planning and that there be the opportunity for some co-ordination and co-operation between the various authorities in education and administration. Let us hope that we do not have any more examples of that sort of problem in relation to education where, rather than solving problems, they are being created.
I deal now with the general structure of the Schools Commission. We have the promise which was made by Mr Whitlam. I have already referred to the fact that the Opposition, in approaching this matter, whatever its attitudes may have been in the past, recognises that the Australian situation now is that people have indicated that they wish to have a Schools Commission approach. If they indicated that and if there is a mandate it is upon the basis of the promise that was made by the present Government when in Opposition. One of the important aspects of that promise is contained in what Mr Whitlam said. He said:
A Federal Labor Government will . . .
I will leave out some of the things which are promises that have been broken already. He went on:
That is a quote from a promise which was made and which constitutes, if one accepts the mandate theory, the mandate which the Government has to set up the Schools Commission. It is interesting that if one notes the aspect of the Labor Party’s policy which was settled at the Launceston Conference and which was unaltered at the Brisbane or Gold Coast Conference -
– Surfers Paradise.
– Thank you. Someone more expert than I in the affairs of the Labor Party is able to correct me and I thank him. The Surfers Paradise Conference -
– It was favoured by a former Prime Minister as a venue of his discussions.
– The bikini conference.
– I think we should return to the Bill.
– That gave me an opportunity to have a drink of water. I am grateful to those who provided the back-chat while I was having my glass of water. I return to the Bill. The policy determined at the Labor Party Conference referred in particular to students and not just schools. It is a point of considerable importance. I mentioned earlier that one of the matters to which we shall be drawing attention in the Committee stage is that there is a failure in the Bill as drafted to pay sufficient regard to the fact that we are dealing with the interests of students and not the interests of schools as such.
In the general structure of the Bill there is also consideration of the necessity for diversity of membership. This matter is referred to by the Karmel Committee at page 158 of its report which states:
The Committee suggests that a Commission comprising of a chairman and three or four full dme commissioners with say six pan-time commissioners would be an appropriate structure.
I emphasise the words ‘with say 6 part-time commissioners’. To those in the legal profession the expression ‘say’ is one which is quite well known in relation to the rounding off of bills, but here I think probably what the -
– It is usually a matter of taking off the cents.
– My colleague Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson said that it is usually a matter of taking off the cents. I am not sure how he spells the word. It is quite obvious that the Karmel Committee was not saying that it is essential, that it had considered this matter, debated it at length and come to a firm conclusion that the Commission must be a structure of twelve. What the Committee was saying is that that figure is in the order of what is necessary in its view. The Committee report continues:
The Comittee believes that the part time membership of the commission, its committees and regional boards should be drawn from as wide a cross section of the community as possible and should have regard both to age and sex. Provision should be made for a regular turnover of membership, a 3-year term of office renewable for one further term might be appropriate and arrangements should be made to ensure staggered terms.
I emphasise 3 points. One is that it was not a matter of its recommendation being firm and precise as to the number to comprise the Commission. Secondly, the Committee said that the membership of the Commission should be drawn from as wide a cross-section of the community as possible. Thirdly, it said that the term should be short enough to ensure turnover and replacement of commissioners so that there are not eventually a number of people who are just keeping seats warm. What the Committee was concerned with and what I suggest we are concerned with is to ensure that innovation, development and future change takes place in education on a continuing basis. This is part of the approach of the Opposition to this Bill. We wish to ensure that these principles- principles which have been enunciated by the Labor Party, principles accepted by us or enunciated by us in many cases, principles which have been enunciated by the Karmel Committee- are put into practice.
One defect of the Bill as it exists at the moment is that it does not practice what it preaches. The Minister has said one thing in his second reading speech but has not included it in the provisions of the Bill which he has put before the Parliament. So the Opposition will move a number of amendments. Basically they will be amendments which accord with the sort of attitudes, philosophies and reasons which I have generally outlined, so that we can ensure we have these things to which the Karmel Committee and in particular the Labor Party have paid attention in the past. There are other defects in the Bill to which we will refer at a later stage. There is of course inadequate reference to students. There is an almost total absence of reference to the quality of educationa matter which I have not the slightest doubt is inadvertence and not intention on the part of the Government. But maybe this Bill, like a number of others which have been introduced, has been subject to hurried preparation rather than real consideration.
We will seek to introduce into the Bill proper considerations so that the functions of the Commission will have regard to the development of the quality of education in Australia. We see as necessary and vital that the Bill should recognise the point which was recognised by the Karmel Committee and by the Minister himself. I refer to the continuation and preservation of freedom of choice in relation to the type of education which should be given to children in Australia. We see it as desirable to refer to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, something to which the Government itself has been often -
– You did not say that in regard to conscription, did you?
– Thank you for the interjection. I am making a speech about education. (Extension of time granted.) I thank the House. I shall be as quick as I can. In relation to freedom of choice we see it as desirable to make reference to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. We also see it as desirable that the Karmel Committee’s recommendation in relation to answerability to the Minister should be extended to answerability to the Parliament. This is a matter which has always been of considerable importance to the Senate. The Senate has been very careful to ensure that it did not create commissions and various other government authorities which were not fully answerable to the Commonwealth Parliament. We see it as being desirable that there should be an annual report to the Parliament- a matter which has not been referred to in the Bill. There are a number of other matters which we shall be referring to in the Committee stage. We shall be moving amendments at that stage.
I summarise in this way: In principle the Opposition supports the creation of a Schools Commission. I wish to refute entirely the scurrilous suggestions which have been maliciously made in the past few weeks that there was an intention on the part of the Opposition to sabotage this legislation. I refute it entirely. We intend trying to make the Commission work. We will move amendments that will make improvements which are in accordance with the statement of the Government itself in many instances. We are trying to make something which has a prospect of making a real contribution to the development of education in Australia. Before concluding I make the comment that we have had the opportunity of consultation with a wide cross-section of people interested in education. We have had regard to their suggestions. We have considered them. We have had numerous meetings of education committees of the Opposition to consider the suggestions. We thank the people concerned for their assistance. We hope that we have been able to produce something by way of proposed amendments which takes into account the assistance which came from the various sectors interested in education in Australia. It is the Senate’s right and its constitutional responsibility to review legislation. This is precisely what we are suggesting should be done. We commend to the Senate the suggestions for improving the Bill and making it more effective. It should not be just a matter of the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) acting petulantly, as he has, by saying in effect that he will take his bat and ball home if we do not pass his Bill unamended.
– He did not say that.
– What he said was that unless we pass the Bill without amendment he will not go on with it. We propose to put forward amendments which we believe will be in the best interests of education in Australia. We ask the Government to give them the proper and appropriate consideration which the parliamentary system requires. I remind the Senate that the proposals are basically this- will accord with the principles put forward in the election promise and in the Minister’s second reading speech. We shall support the motion for the second reading of the Bill and we shall move amendments in the Committee stage.
– I think that on the whole Senator Rae addressed himself to this subject in somewhat moderate terms apart perhaps from his peroration when he became a little agitated, and during one earlier stage in the debate when I detected a catch in his voice when he referred to the nefarious activities of the Karmel Committee in stealing some of the contents of that mysterious document- the brochure which the Liberal Party has published but which so far has not been seen by many of us. I think it is appropriate that there should be a rather academic discussion on the amendments which have been proposed.
– I was thinking of academic rather than ecumenical although I thank Senator McManus for his conciliatory suggestion. It is appropriate that there should be an academic discussion on this matter because the debate itself is largely academic since the question before the Senate, as Senator Rae is aware and to which he referred in his closing remarks, is whether the Bill will be passed or rejected. If the amendments- certainly the substantive amendments proposed by Senator Rae on behalf of the Opposition- are carried they will so alter the nature of the proposed Schools Commission, not to amend it or to improve it or make it work a little more easily, but to change totally its nature, and although it will have the same name it will bear no resemblance to the organisation proposed in this Bill. The Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) on behalf of the Government- the Government is united on this -will not accept the amendments. He will not take his bat and ball and go home but will continue on the same basis as we have proceeded throughout the months since Labor was elected in December last year, carrying out our policy which we undertook to carry out in our policy speech through the means of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission. Unsatisfactory though this may be- it is much more satisfactory to have a Schools Commission constituted by statute- it certainly would be much better to have a continuation of the existing Interim Committee than the distortion of the Schools Commission which is proposed in the amendments moved by Senator Rae.
I think I should perhaps deal with a couple of matters raised by Senator Rae before I go to the substance of the amendments, although even here I would think that detailed scrutiny of the amendments should be left to the Committee stage: However, I should like to refer to 2 matters. Senator Rae has complained that the previous Government was somehow caught short; that a number of things were in the pipeline. They had been put into the pipeline apparently about 23 years ago and were still proceeding along it. I can assure him that if and when our National Pipeline Authority is established, it will work with a great deal more efficiency than did the Liberal Party education pipeline because the things which the Liberal Party had in the pipeline seemed to have become clogged somewhere between where they were put in and where they are supposed to come out as they had not come out even though the Liberal Party had been in office for 23 years. I do not want to enter into any verbal gymnastics on this matter but I want to refer to some figures. I think they speak for themselves. If one has any doubt about the relative dedication to education by the Federal
Government of the Australian Labor Party and its conservative opponents, one has only to look at the sums which have been expended by the two Federal Governments during the past 2 years. In its last year, the previous conservative Federal Government allocated $404m for education. In the first year of our Government in office we have allocated $843m for education, an increase of 92 per cent.
– Your first figure is wrong.
– I heard Senator Rae in silence apart from assisting him on a geographical matter. I suggest to Senator Rae that he will be greeted in stony silence if he goes to those people throughout Australia who are concerned about education and talks to them about the length of the Liberal Party pipeline and how much was inside it when those people can refer to the fact that we have almost doubled the amount spent on education by the Commonwealth Government from 1972 to 1973.
The other matter raised by Senator Rae was the fact that an opportunity had not been given to the Senate to debate the Karmel Committee’s report. I do not want to labour this subject, but in case anybody feels that the Karmel report has not been ventilated before the Senate, they should be reminded that the Opposition parties which have effective control of this chamber, per medium of Senator Rae himself on 22 August last moved an urgency motion relating to education which contained some rather severe strictures against the Government’s education policy in general and the Karmel report in particular. There was an extensive debate in this Senate on 22 August last on the Karmel report and other problems of education.
I turn to the amendments which Senator Rae has proposed. The first thing that I believe has to be said- this has to be repeated- is that the policy which has been put forward in the Schools Commission Bill 1973 is Australian Labor Party policy which was well known and clearly presented to the Australian people before they voted in the election on 2 December 1972. There was no ambiguity; there was no doubt. It was contained in our policy speech given by our leader; it was in the printed policy speech; it was in all the material on education which was prepared by this Party; it was the advice given by this Party which now forms the Government to all those persons throughout Australia concerned with education. The policy provided for a specific type of Schools Commission. This type of Schools Commission was debated very extensively within the councils of the Labor Party. I would not say that there is no dispute, no discussion or no scope for a wide variety of opinions on how a schools commission should be constituted. (Opposition senators interjecting)
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Order! I suggest to honourable senators who are interjecting that they remember that the Senate proceedings are being broadcast and that the subject being discussed is of national importance. I trust they will remember that.
– If I may say so, Mr Deputy President, I am delighted that the proceedings are being broadcast so that those people who are listening to the broadcast can learn the quality of the Opposition and its contribution to these debates. The question of the constitution of the Schools Commission was freely debated. There were people within the Labor Party who believed that the Commission should be constituted on a representative basis and that various organisations and interest groups concerned about education should have representatives or delegates serving on the Schools Commission. These views were debated at the Labor Party conference. They were not debated in secret; they were debated in public. Everyone heard them. This was on television and on radio. We debated the matter most extensively. The Party decided what sort of schools commission it should be. It decided that it should not be a schools commission consisting of representatives of various organisations and interest groups but that it should be a body similar to the Universities Commission, for example, which does not consist of representatives of interest groups.
The Universities Commission, which performs a similar function to that which will be performed by the Schools Commission proposed by this Government and the Pre-schools Commission proposed by this Government, was constituted by the previous Government. The Universities Commission acts precisely on the same basis as is proposed in our Bill in regard to the Schools Commission. The Universities Commission established by the previous Government does not have delegate members. It has members nominated in general because of their knowledge of university education or the applicability of university education to the various fields of the national life. In taking this into account naturally one has to consider various interest groups. Clearly this is a factor which is taken into account, as we took it into account in regard to the appointment of members to the Interim Schools Committee. We have taken it into account in our proposals for the establishment of the Schools Commission. But that is not the same thing as saying that these people are to serve on the Commission as delegates.
The argument advanced against the proposition that the Schools Commission should be a type of delegate or representative body- I was one of those who sucessfully argued for the policy which was adopted at the Labor Party conferencewas that in having a schools commission which consisted of a certain number of delegates from private schools, a certain number from state schools and all the other possible permutations and combinations that one could think of, we would not have a quasi-judicial body looking over all the needs of education without somebody being responsible to someone else and being responsible for election or nomination to some organisation or interest group. The difficulty would be that, if we did have people representing interest groups in this way, we would have a son of multi-party miniature parliament with the leader of the State school group and the deputy leader of the private school group, and possibly a whip or two thrown in to count the numbers and work out who had instructed whom and who had made deals- all things which are not wrong in themselves but which I believe are a natural concomitant of having any organisation constituted in this manner.
The amendment which is proposed by Senator Rae would do precisely this. It would do precisely what we rejected when we were considering this matter. I do not believe that the position is in any way improved when he provides in his proposed clause 4b:
A member shall not be responsible to the body or organisation which recommended the member or submitted the member’s name in a panel of names.
I feel that for the record I should refer to the fact that Senator Rae has included what he presumably thinks is this safeguard amongst his proposed amendments. But I would suggest to you, Mr Deputy President, that this is clearly not satisfactory because for one thing I do not know- and I think it would be very difficult to explain precisely- what is meant by that part of the amendment which states that a member is not responsible to the organisation which has appointed him. It would seem to me to be fairly clear that, if a person has been appointed by an organisation, even though legally he is not responsible to that organisation if he does not carry out the sort of policy that the organisation wants he will not be nominated again.
One of the other problems which I believe is quite a serious problem- I do not want to labour it because I think it is a difficult legal problemconcerns a section of the Constitution which has not been tested to any extent before the High Court. This matter is contained in Senator Rae ‘s proposed clause 4(4). The amendment proposes that one member of the Schools Commission shall be appointed on the recommendation of the Education Executive of the Episcopal Conference of Australia. It may well be, and I think that many people would argue that it is, unconstitutional for such a proposition to be put forward. It is certainly not people who would have some sectarian bias against the Episcopal Conference or the Catholic Church who would make such a suggestion. In fact Archbishop Cahill, who is the secretary of the Episcopal Conference, has said that in his opinion it would be unconstitutional for the Education Executive of the Episcopal Conference to appoint a . delegate or representative to the Schools Commission. Why this is so, and I would suggest that even the most captious critic would say it possibly is so- is because of section 116 of the Constitution. This is the section which deals with the nonestablishment of religion in Australia. In particular it provides that no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth. In order to be a member of the Education Executive of the Episcopal Conference one has to be a member of the Catholic Church. Clearly this imposes, as I think many other people including Archbishop Cahill would submit this, a religious test on the appointment of a member of the Schools Commission.
Other matters were raised by Senator Rae. I think that one of them is one of fundamental importance. I refer to the amendment which he proposes to move to clause 13 ( 1 ) of the Bill. The clause as it stands states:
The needs of such schools in respect of buildings, equipment, staff and other facilities, and the respective priorities to be given to the satisfying of those various needs;
Senator Rae’s amendment seeks to delete those words and to replace them with the following words: “(b) The needs of primary and secondary school students in respect of buildings, equipment, teaching and other staff and other facilities and teaching aids and the respective priorities to be given to the satisfying of those various needs and to the improvement of the quality of education available for primary and secondary school students in Australia; “.
Insofar as this proposed amendment means anything- I am not trying to be insulting but insofar as I can understand it- it says that you should not look at the needs of schools; you should look at the needs of students. It seems to me it says that you should not inspect and ascertain the relative levels of poverty from one school to another but at the respective levels of need of one student and another. It seems to me that if you are to do that you should not be calling it a Schools Commission; you ought to be calling it a students commission. It may well be that there is a role for a students commission. It seems to me to be quite an appropriate sort of welfare body which could well fit in with an overall education theory. In itself 1 would not be opposed to this because I think that, in a society in which there is not equality- and there is not equality in this society- even though 2 students may be attending the same school and may use the same facilities inside the school they are still not equal because one may come from a home where there are no books, where it is difficult to study, and where there are diet deficiencies and all sorts of things like this and the other student may be in a better position. These are some of the things that ought to be examined. But they would seem to be much more appropriately part of a social welfare or social services program.
If the amendment to clause 1 3 ( 1 ) (b) which is to be proposed by Senator Rae is successful, it would mean that this Commission would no longer be examining the needs of schools at all. If one came from a reasonably well-off family and went to a poor school apparently on this basis one would be all right; but if one came from reasonably poor family and for some reason went to a better school one would need additional facilities. All these things may well be true. But they are not a way of assessing the needs of education. They are a way of assessing the needs of a number of citizens or residents who happen to be going to school, but they are not a problem of a school itself. For those reasons I believe this is quite an inappropriate amendment to this sub-clause. The consequence will be that it will no longer be a schools commission at all. This is not an amendment or an improvement as Senator Rae has said, however desirable it may be. It is certainly introducing something totally different from what has been proposed in the Bill which is something on which the Australian Labor Party was elected at the last election. In clause 13 (3) (a)-
- Mr Deputy President -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Order! Senator Rae, are you raising a point of order?
– Yes, I am. I tried to catch my colleague’s eye. I point out that the amendments have not been moved. As a matter of courtesy they have been circulated. I have not spoken to them other than in general terms. The point is that Senator Wheeldon is going on to deal with them in detail without my having been able to give any explanation of what is intended.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! It is customary in debate on the second reading to deal with the matter in general and not in detail. Senator Wheeldon has proceeded to anticipate the debate which will occur later at the Committee stage. Therefore to that extent I uphold the point which has been raised.
-Thank you, Mr Deputy President. Perhaps I could put it this way: The policy of the Australian Labor Party which was clearly expressed and which is brought to at least partial fulfilment in the Bill which is before us is to be found in clause 13 (3) (a) of the Bill which states:
Again this is a policy on which we were elected. The Australian Labor Party after a lot of debate and not without some disagreement, which is well known and which was conducted in public, decided that certain assistance ought to be given to non-government schools. But at the same time the Party resolved and told the electors- it did not mislead anybody on this matter- that although such aid would be given to nongovernment schools, nonetheless the principle remained that the first responsibility and commitment of the Government was to government schools. Any proposition which was put forward by way of amendment or any other way which suggested that this responsibility did not exist and that there was just a general responsibility to students would be contrary to the policy on which we were elected, contrary to the trust which the Australian people reposed in us and contrary to the interests of the Australian people who voted for this policy when they elected the Labor Government on 2 December 1972. 1 do not want to take up much more of the time of the Senate because there will be opportunity for debating some proposed amendments which, no doubt, will come before the Senate when the Bill goes into the Committee stage. But, Mr Deputy President, I repeat this to you: The matters which are contained within our Schools Commission Bill which is now before you are matters which are fundamental to the education policy of the Government.
We have already taken steps by announcing the proposed members of the Schools Commission, if this Bill is passed, to show to the Australian people and the Parliament- so that nobody is being misled- who are the people who will be serving on this Commission. I do not think anybody can deny that they represent a wide variety of interests, of schools, of backgrounds and of organisations concerned with education. I do not think anybody could criticise the proposed composition of the Commission. It may be that someone can criticise one member or another member but I believe the general tenor of the Commission is beyond criticism. We have said, and we mean it, that we do not propose to accept any of the substantial amendments of which notice has been given and which the Opposition attempted to have passed through the House of Representatives. We believe that this policy is something which the Australian people supported and which they are entitled to receive. If this Bill is not carried at least in substantially the same form in which it is now we shall not accept the amendments. We shall continue with an Interim Schools Committee and wait until such time in the near future that we also have a majority in this chamber in order to carry the Bill which is before the Senate tonight.
-Senator Rae, in opening his remarks ibr the Opposition spoke of the interest of parents, teachers and other people in education throughout Australia. He then went on to speak of the number of telegrams and communications which he had received from various sections of the community on this matter. He spoke of his inability by reply to all because of the lack of information which was given by some of these people in regard to the sender’s address, name, and so on I have also received a large number of communications. I have been unable to reply to many of them for the same reasons as Senator Rae gave. I ask these people to bear with me in my problem. Senator Wheeldon, who has just spoken for the Government, said that if the amendments proposed by the Opposition were carried they would so change the character of the Schools Commission Bill that the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) had every right not to go on with the Bill. I believe that that is a matter for those who are concerned with this measure because all of us have a view on the matter and it depends on which side of the Senate one is sitting. I do not believe that this is so. I believe that the Minister has to face up to political life and to the practicalities of politics in this matter. Senator Wheeldon also went on to talk about the allocation of funds by the previous Government compared with the allocation of funds by this Government. I say that $ 144.6m of the total amount to which Senator Wheeldon referred is really a pure shuffle from the State area into the Commonwealth area. It does not mean $ 1 more as far as education is concerned.
-That is out of $404m.
-My colleague interjects and says that that is out of $404m. Even in the most generous mood in which I can be, to me this is only an increase of 59 per cent in what the Government is doing. It is a little larger increase than that of the previous Government over the 2 previous years when it was about 40 per cent. Senator Wheeldon talked about increases of funds. I remind him further that the increased funds for universities and colleges of advanced education are very small amounts and that those increases were approved by the previous Government last year. In all they represent a very significant contribution to the total budget. So Senator Wheeldon in saying that the Labor Government is responsible for giving such a large amount to education is really working a big hoax. In regard to the Schools Commission the Australian Country Party does not oppose its establishment. But it does have reservations about the Bill as it is presented particularly those clauses which deal with the Commission’s structure.
The present Government, when its members occupied the opposition benches last year, gave notice of its intention, should it win the election, to bring down legislation for a permanent Schools Commission. We all know that soon after its election the Government appointed an Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission charged with the responsibility of identifying deficiencies in government and nongovernment schools and to suggest how these should be overcome. We know also that the Interim Committee has done that work and furnished a report. My party has no quarrel with that action and approves of the recommendations made. Elevation of education standards and facilities always has been given very high priority by the Country Party. We agree that a properly structured national commission of experts should be the means by which that elevation can be achieved.
Having said that, I want to comment on an advertisement in today’s Press which urges, in a manner which I consider verges on a breach of privilege, Opposition Parties in the Senate not to interfere with this Bill. The advertisement is sponsored by the Australian Teachers Federation, the Australian Council of State Schools Organisations, the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Union of Students. I do not believe that this reflects credit on those organisations. It is political pressure of an objectionable kind.
– The graziers never publish advertisements like that!
– I have never ever seen them. Do not interject too early. Let me say- I think all honourable senators will agree with me- that the Senate has a responsibility to review legislation. It is the duty of the Opposition to express its point of view on all legislation in the interests of” sound and balanced government for the people of Australia. This is a highly important piece of legislation touching on all elements of primary and secondary education and affecting every child and every parent in Australia. It therefore requires the closest examination by the Senate to ensure that we, as the national Parliament’s House of review, introduce a measure that will prove to be of most benefit to all concerned and have the widest approval. That is why my Party believes that the foreshadowed amendments are necessary.
The Commission, we are told, is being set up to advise the Government. But no one should be fooled into thinking, by reason of the fact that it is an advisory body only, that its influence will not be great. The Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) said in his second reading speech that the Government sought by the proposed legislation to establish an official impartial body to examine, identify and determine the needs of students in government and non-government schools at the primary and secondary level. Having done that, it will advise on the best means of meeting those needs and the resources required, including the establishment of buildings and equipment and the provision of teachers and other staff. The Minister told us also that the Commission will advise on financial assistance, including the amount, allocation and conditions upon which the assistance should be granted. These are indeed very wide powers, so wide that the structure of the Commission is of paramount importance if it is to have the chance it warrants to succeed and satisfy. Yet the Bill does not even hint at the composition of the Commission. It does not say which elements of education shall be represented.
We are told in clause 16 of the Bill that the Minister may, if he sees fit, establish advisory boards in the States and in the mainland territories as a means by which suggestions, proposals and information can be communicated to the Commission. This is altogether too vague and indecisive. It certainly does not satsify my desire that the Commission, in order to undertake a vital role in the controversial field, be represented by all elements. Like so many other proposals put forward by this Labor Government, this Bill leaves the way open to centralised control from Canberra. We say that this possibility should be removed. The Minister said in his second reading speech that the States would retain responsibility for administering their own education programs. I believe that the States would feel much happier about their own continuing role in the decision-making areas of education in which they have done so much in the past if the Federal Government were to give them a voice in the Commission itself. Maybe it is the Government’s intention to give them a voice. We do not know. The Bill certainly does not say. Therefore, whilst I commend the Minister and the Government for making more money available for education, including teaching, the Bill as presented suggests that the Government is prepared to give on one hand and to take on the other. I fear that there is a grave risk that the States will be told what to do and how to do it. The Opposition’s amendments seek to remedy the omission I have mentioned.
I might say that these amendments proposed by Senator Rae have been considered very deeply since the honourable member for Wannon in another place, Mr Malcolm Fraser, moved amendments in the House of Representatives. I think that the Senate will recall that at the time the honourable member moved those amendments he said that they were prepared in a hurry because the Minister for Education had introduced the Bill into the House of Representatives at very short notice.
– The Minister admitted this.
– I am told by way of interjection from Senator Davidson that the Minister admitted this. But the honourable member for Wannon indicated at that time to the House of Representatives that the amendments would be polished up considerably when the Bill came before the Senate. I can say that very deep and long consideration has been given to the amendments which Senator Rae has circulated to honourable senators. I believe that adoption of the amendments will ensure that the Commission is sufficiently representative of interests closest to education in Australia. In that event, it has a chance to succeed. For these reasons, the Country Party will support the second reading of this Bill and will support the amendments to be moved by Senator Rae.
– With complete sincerity I commend Senator Rae and Senator DrakeBrockman for the temperate tone that they brought to this very serious debate. I think it heralds a welcome return to civility in the discussion of serious matters in this chamber. Of course, we fully recognise the claim which Senator DrakeBrockman advanced for the Opposition parties to be able to criticise in this chamber, traditionally the House of review, propositions that come from the other place. I suggest, however, that it might be wise for both Senator Drake-Brockman and the members of the Liberal Party to await a full debate here before committing themselves irrevocably to the amendments that have been circulated. Both Senator Drake-Brockman and Senator Rae have acknowledged that it is indisputable that the Government has a mandate to introduce a Bill to establish an Australian Schools Commission. It was highlighted in the election speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and it was something about which the Labor Party, while in Opposition, talked for many years. There can be no suggestion that we ambushed the public and have sprung anything on them. That is fully acknowledged by both Senator Rae and Senator Drake-Brockman.
I am not going to anticipate the Committee debate by delving in too much particularity into the amendments that have been circulated, but it is clear from those amendments and from the tone of the temperate speeches of both honourable senators that both the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party are unreconciled to the philosophy of an Australian Schools Commission which has been so elaborately and fully ventilated by the Australian Labor Party, both in Opposition and in Government. I suggest that the real purpose of the amendments is to so change the structure and composition of the Commission as to turn it into a quite different body from that envisaged by the Government.
The type of Commission we envisage is set out briefly in clause 4 of the Bill which states that there will be a Commission consisting of a chairman and such other members, being not more than eleven, as are prescribed, and that they shall be appointed by the Governor-General. This means, as we all know, that they will be appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Government. The function of this Commission is best described in the words of the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) during the debate in the other place. He said:
We therefore seek in this legislation to set up an efficient, impartial body to examine, identify and determine needs of students in government and non-government schools at the primary and secondary levels in Australia.
The role of the Commission, as he stated it and as spelled out in the Bill, is as follows:
The Commission will advise the Government on the best means of meeting those needs and on the resources which will be required to achieve desired ends.
We make no apology for the fact that we see as the best means of achieving this end a small commission of 12 people, including the chairman, four of whom, including the chairman, shall be full time appointments, being appointed by the Minister. It would ill-behove the Opposition to suggest that there is no precedent for this sort of approach. After all, we acknowledge that one of the great trail blazing achievements of the Menzies era- some are so unkind as to say the only one- was the setting up of the Australian Universities Commission. It is well known that there was no hesitation about how it should be constituted. The Government of the day appointed the members of the Australian Universities Commission. In more recent memory, as recently as last year or maybe the year before when the Commission on Advanced Education was set up, once again the Liberal-Country Party Coalition Government did not hesitate to appoint the members of that Commission. We not only rely on that precedent, we think it is also a matter of elementary common sense that a body as important as this should be an appointed body.
Of course, when we do this we will not by any means exclude the representation of different schools of thought, different tendencies, different philosophies, different interests in the community in the matter of education. It is necessary only to look at the composition of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission, which I am assured by the Minister for Education will constitute the personnel of the Australian Schools Commission if this Bill is passed, to see that the Government has gone right across the spectrum in constituting its Committee. The Government has not bound itself to any flexible structure in the Bill, as is suggested by Senator Rae’s proposed amendments. That does not mean that the Government proposes to set up a monolithic body which will represent only one point of view, which will be biased towards the governmental structure and which will take no account of the interests of independent or religious schools. 1 draw attention to the fact that the Government has as chairman of the present Committee Dr Kenneth McKinnon. He was DirectorGeneral of Education in Papua New Guinea from 1966 to 1973, is 42 years of age and has a great past and a promising future in education. Other members are Dr Gregory Hancock, 31 years of age, who was Associate Chief of the New South Wales Education Department’s Division of Planning; Mr David Bennett, who was a lecturer in Education at Monash University; Mr Peter Moyes, Headmaster of Christchurch Grammar School in Western Australiaprobably the leading Anglican school in that State; Mr A. D. J. Wood, Principal of St Michael’s School for the Handicapped just outside Launceston; Mr McNamara, President of the Sydney Federation of Catholic Parents and Friends Associations; Father F. Martin, Director of Catholic Education in Victoria; Mrs J. Kirner, who was selected from a panel of names presented by the Australian Council of State School Organisations; Mr Ray Costello, President of the Queensland Teachers Union; Mr Albert Jones, Director of Education in South Australia; Dr Peter Tannock, a young man who is Dean of the Faculty of Education in the University of Western Australia; and Mrs J. Blackburn, who has been an outstanding member of teachers college staffs in South Australia.
Seriously I say to honourable senators opposite and to anybody who is interested- that must include most serious people in this countrythat surely the selections that the Government has made already for its Interim Committee, which will ultimately become the permanent Australian Schools Commission, show a most responsible, ecumenical and, I would say, scholarly interest in the subject disclosed by the Minister for Education. I suggest that he has sought far and wide to find not only in terms of qualification but also geographically a wide and representative selection of people to set in motion this new philosophy that we have about how education can be stimulated and set on a new road in this country. If one examines the amendments proposed by the Opposition- and I do not propose to examine them in detail because they will come up for examination at the Committee stage- it will be seen that what the Opposition is seeking to impose- and I am not questioning its sincerity- is an inflexible, schematic arrangement which would certainly not bring any improvement and which I suggest would bring a worsening in the functioning of this overriding supervising body that we have in mind. The Opposition has in mind a Chairman appointed on the recommendation of the Minister, and 5 other members of a 1 5 member body, as against our total of 12 members, appointed by the Minister.
– Four or eleven. ,
– If we include the Chairman there will be 15 members. As I read the amendments, the Opposition proposes to enlarge the body that we are suggesting by a total of 3 members.
– Fourteen other members.
-Fourteen other members apart from the Chairman.
– Which is different from what they proposed in the House of Representatives.
– I suppose that we can allow them the benefit of afterthought. In fact, it is encouraging to think that their minds move from the stage when a Bill is in another place to the stage when it reaches here. In any event, we must not get bogged down in this mathematical debate. I think it is common ground that the Opposition wants three more members on the Commission than we are suggesting. But apart from the appointment of the Chairman, which honourable senators opposite are prepared to concede to the Government, they are prepared to concede, on the recommendation of the Minister, the appointment of only 5 other members and of those two are to come from a panel submitted by the Australian Teachers Federation. So in reality the Opposition concedes to the Minister the unfettered right to appoint only the Chairman and 3 other members of the Commission. Six members are to come from the Australian Education Council, which is a sort of attempt by the Opposition to assert some suzerainty of the States because the Australian Educational Council is really a body which, as envisaged by the Opposition, is to be dominated by the State Education Ministers. So, in effect, these 6 nominees would be the nominees of the States.
Then there are to be 3 other members of whom one shall be appointed by the Episcopal Conference, which was adverted to by Senator Wheeldon and in respect of which there would be very grave constitutional doubt because, as he has pointed out, it has not been approved by Archbishop Cahill, I think it is, who is the man most qualified to speak in this area. Another member shall be appointed by the National Council of Independent Schools, and another by the Australian Parents Council. In other words, I submit that what is proposed by the Opposition in the place of the Commission that we envisage is an inflexible format guaranteeing, despite the pious words of the proposed amendment which refers to new clause 4B which says that the members are not to be accountable to the bodies which nominated them, that this body will be a warring body of representatives of pressure groups.
It would be totally unreal to suggest that in the sphere of education there are not pressure groups and that any government which was hoping to be realistic in this field could turn a deaf ear to pressure groups. But that is not suggested in our legislation. We take note of the need for pressure groups to be heard, and in this regard I commend the Opposition to the terms of clauses 16 and 17 of the Bill which provide for advisory boards and committees which would be the sounding boards for the pressure groups. I am not suggesting that ‘pressure group’ is an evil term or that independent schools, Catholic schools, Quaker schools and calithumpian schools should not have their voices heard by people who are seeking to provide the best educational service. What I am suggesting is that the governing advisory body, the Schools Commission, should not be composed of direct representatives of these pressure groups.
– You disagree with the Prime Minister’s policy speech?
Senator JAMES MCCLELLAND No, not at all. With respect, I suggest that Senator Rae is taking a very simplistic view of what the Prime Minister said. What we envisage in our Schools Commission is a body of independent experts objectively studying the needs of Australian schools, listening to the pressure groups, being sensitive to the pressure groups, weighing what they get from the pressure groups, but not being accountable to the pressure groups. I suggest, with respect to Senator Rae, that he has shown some sort of a suspicion that, despite what he is suggesting by way of amendment, the people who were appointed or elected to the Schools Commission, according to his program, would be in grave danger of being a warring body of representatives of pressure groups who would be constantly going back and feeling accountable to those pressure groups. I think that is acknowledged in what I call, without disrespect, this pious caveat on his amendments. I refer to the proposed amendment which seeks to insert proposed new clause 4B which states:
A member shall not be responsible to the body or organisation which recommended the member or submitted the member’s name in a panel of names.
I suggest with respect that the insertion of that caveat shows a fairly shrewd recognition by Senator Rae or the framers of these amendments that, in effect, that is what these people would be. I suggest that the danger of that is minimised under our scheme. It is not totally eliminated because in this field I do not think it would be possible to claim that anybody could come up with a perfect solution.
The other respect in which I believe the amendments proposed by the Opposition fall short of achievement what we set out to achieve is in regard to clause 13 (3) (a). Senator Wheeldon already has referred in general terms to the shortcomings revealed in the proposed amendment to clause 13 (l)(b), but I should like to advert briefly and without pre-empting the debate on the details at the Committee stage, to the proposed amendment to clause 13 (3) (a) which, I submit, is designed primarily to water down the needs concept which is at the heart of our philosophy in introducing this Bill. With the indulgence of the Senate, I should like to refer in some small detail to this amendment. The amendment foreshadowed by Senator Rae is to clause 13 (3). He seeks to omit clause 13 (3) (a) which provides:
In the exercise of its functions, the Commission shall have regard to such matters as are relevant, including the need for improving primary and secondary educational facilities in Australia and of providing increased and equal opportunities for education in government and non-government schools in Australia, and, in particular, shall have regard to-
the primary obligation, in relation to education, for governments to provide and maintain government school systems that are of the highest standard and are open, without fees or religious tests, to all children;
For that provision, Senator Rae proposes that we should substitute this proposition:
That may seem like a rather over-subtle difference of emphasis. But what is primary in our philosophy and in the philosophy of this Bill is the obligation of governments to provide educational facilities for all people. After that we believe comes the right of parents not to choose those schools but to send their children to other schools. This is not in our view any sort of discrimination based on religious or any other prejudices. We believe that a government has this primary obligation to provide for schools as set out in clause 13 (3) (a)of our Bill.
If honourable senators look at the moneys that we are distributing, they will see that it cannot be seriously maintained that we are short changing or discriminating against non-government schools. I point out that the interim body has recommended that the Government spend about $700m on schools in Australia in the 1974-75 period- $201 m for non-government schools and $495m for government schools. Anybody who analyses the distribution of the school population between government and non-government schools, I suggest in all sincerity, cannot complain that there is any discrimination implicit in those figures against non-government schools. Nonetheless, we insist that we have a mandate to allege and to support the primary obligation for governments to provide and to maintain government school systems that are of the highest standard and that are open without fees or religious tests to all children. I submit quite seriously that the amendment to clause 13 (3) (a) foreshadowed by the Opposition is an attempt to water down that obligation. As that provision is central to our philosophy, this is an amendment which we must resist.
That is as much as I wish to say at this stage. I reiterate in closing that I am very pleased at the civility with which the debate has been conducted up to now. I trust that, as this is a matter which is as important as any other matter to the Australian electorate, the debate will continue to be conducted in this spirit.
-A Bill of this nature is, in my view, one of the most important Bills that can come before the Australian Parliament. In the circumstances, it is unfortunate that it comes before us in the midst of a welter of other legislation which has afflicted this Parliament with the severest bout of legislative indigestion that I have ever known. We are being called upon to examine Bills of this nature- most important Bills demanding the most comprehensive inquiry- and at the same time we have placed before us a series of Bills which will completely revolutionise the economic system of Australia. We are told that before Christmas we must revolutionise divorce, civil rights, overseas investment, the tariff, trade practices, fringe banking and a host of other questions. The fact that in the middle of this program we have placed before us this most important Bill which, as I said, demands the closest and most comprehensive scrutiny illustrates the problem that we face in dealing with the legislative program.
The problem of trying to deal with this welter of legislation is a serious one in a Party such as mine where we have only 5 senators. We must divide our forces in the endeavour to conduct research into this wide span of legislation and to determine what should be done in the interests of the country. Despite that, we have endeavoured to give all the attention that we could to this Bill. We have endeavoured to obtain information, advice and research knowledge from the widest possible body of Australians. Personally, I have received 3 1 deputations. I have received a large number of telegrams and letters. I have endeavoured to deal with all of them because I concede the right of the people in the democracy to put their views and, as far as possible, to receive an answer.
As I said before, when we have the situation that, accompanying an important Bill such as this, there is a wide variety of other legislation, it can be understood that members reach a stage of almost complete exhaustion. I will merely refer to the fact that so much is being attempted and so much strain is being put on Ministers and members that 3 members of this Senate- 2 Ministers- and one member of the House of Representatives, who is the Minister who initiated this Bill in the other place, the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), have in recent weeks been overcome by illnesses resulting from straight out exhaustion and overwork. We are pleased that some of them are already back with us. We look forward to their health being good in the future. But I believe that, if this pattern continues and if the strain being put on Ministers and members continues with this plethora of legislation, all of which we are told we must deal with immediately and rush through, this program will have the gravest effect upon the health of members of this Parliament, as has already been seen by the illnesses of quite a number of members who have had very difficult, very time consuming and very exhausting tasks to carry out.
Behind much of the representation made to us has been the fear that there will be no commission. I believe that that fear is ungrounded. I believe that there will be a commission. As far as my party is concerned, we will make every endeavour to see that there is a commission and we will try to make it an effective commission. I have no fears that there will not be a commission. But, even if there were not, Senators on the Government side of the chamber have emphasised that they will be able to carry out the tasks expected of the proposed commission merely by resorting to a commission of the type which presented the interim report, known as the Karmel Report. Government members say straight out: ‘If we do not get the commission that we want, we will work the other way’. They are saying that they want the right to appoint a commission consisting solely of people whom they approve and if we do not give them the right to appoint each member of that commission they will set up a form of commission by which they can appoint whom they wish. When so many bodies put into education in this country a tremendous amount of voluntary service, I make no apology for saying that my belief is that those bodies are entitled to be named and represented and are entitled to appoint their representatives. As a result of the work that they have done, I believe that they can be trusted to appoint their representatives. I stand by that statement because I was a teacher for nineteen and a half years, and I was a good teacher unionist. In my day our battle was to have teachers and education organisations represented by their nominees and not by people whom any government thought would do a better job than the people whom we wanted.
We determined our attitude on one important question in relation to the Commission- that is, the representation of the States- only late today. We came to the conclusion that education being a State instrumentality and the Federal Government being in the situation that it must seek the co-operation of the States there is less likelihood of the stress and the strains to which Senator James McClelland quite fairly referred and there is more likelihood of co-operation if the State governments or the State education systems are represented on the Commission. We feel that they have something to contribute. We feel that it cannot be assumed that they will be uncooperative. They will not represent one school of thought because different parties are in power in the States. We have given a lot of consideration to whether the representation should go to the extent that it does, and we have come to the conclusion that we should stand by that representation in the ground that, in our view, it offers a prospect of proper co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth which the Karmal report said ought to be sought. The Karmel Report lays much emphasis upon the necessity for the system to be a federal one, and ‘federal’ envisages that there shall be co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States. We came to the conclusion, very late, after much inquiry and after sounding out a great number of people, that we should support the first amendment proposed by Senator Rae.
We do not agree with the first 2 parts of Senator Rae’s proposed amendment No. 4 which suggest that the Australian Teachers Federation and the Australian Council of State School Organisations should have to submit a panel and that the Government should select from that panel the people who will be on the Commission. As far as I am concerned- my Party agrees- I think that we ought to trust the Australian Teachers Federation and the Australian Council of State School Organisations to appoint their representatives. We are beholden to that attitude because the third part of that amendment seeks to give to the Education Executive of the Episcopal Conference of Australia, the National Council of Independent Schools and the Australian Parents Council, which are organisations of schools of different religions, the right to appoint their representatives straight out. We see no reason why the independent schools should have the right to appoint their representatives, yet the Australian Teachers Federation and the Australian Council of State School Organisations should not be permitted to appoint their representatives but should be informed that they will have to submit a panel for the consideration of the Minister. For that reason, at the Committee stage I shall move an amendment which I hope will get Opposition support. Naturally members of the Opposition will express their opinion later. I shall move amendments by which the Australian Teachers Federation and the Australian Council of State School Organisations will be given the same privilege as the independent schools organisations.
We will also support removal of the suggestion that a primary object of the Government should be to support or to give major support to schools of one character. I believe that the primary object of the Government should be to support all the children of Australia, no matter which school they attend. I would not like to see enshrined in legislation a suggestion that one group of children has prior rights compared with other children. I am sympathetic to suggestions that the emphasis in a Bill of this character should be on children rather than on schools. I have heard suggestions at different times that there would be a constitutional challenge to legislation of this character as it affected independent schools, and it would appear to me that one point which would be inquired into by people opposed to independent schools would be whether aid, if it is given to schools, might be challenged under the Constitution, whereas by giving aid to children it would not perhaps be so obviously open to challenge.
We owe a debt of gratitude to the members of the Karmel Committee. I think they performed a tremendous task. I am sorry that they were not given more time. I appreciate the anxiety of the Government to get things moving in this sphere as in so many other spheres, but I think that better legislation is nearly always obtained when people are allowed reasonable time and are not called on to act with undue haste. We note that the Government has not been prepared to accept all the Committee’s recommendations. The Government as yet has made no decision on section 1 3 of the report. I do not think it is any secret that one of the reasons for not yet making a decision is that in some quarters there have been contentions that implementation of that section might lead to an undue measure of control upon some schools. I was sorry, when a reasonably good job was done, that action was taken to deny a number of schools the aid which had already been promised. Before the election I heard the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) at the West Melbourne Stadium. On the platform he received tremendous cheering when he said: ‘No aid already being given will be withdrawn’. That statement can be heard on tape by anybody who, after reading about Watergate, wants to know whether the actual words can be heard. The Prime Minister made the statement that no aid already being given would be withdrawn. He was applauded by thousands of people. That statement was echoed by the shadow Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, on more than one occasion during the election campaign.
I think that it was unfortunate that a measure which promised so much for the future of Australian education was, as it were, harmed in the eyes of many people, though perhaps it should not have been, because people felt that a promise had been given and it had been broken. In my comments later I said that the honourable thing for the Government to do was to maintain the level of aid which had been given to all students prior to the election and then to implement in the future the needs provision for which the Australian Labor Party believed it had a mandate. Even at this late stage when there would be only 40 or SO schools still denied what was promised, I make a plea to the Government to say: ‘Well, we made a promise. We do not want to be regarded as people who make election promises and then flout them or break them. Therefore we will continue the present level of aid to all schools but so far as the future is concerned we will implement our policy ‘.
The Democratic Labor Party will vote for the second reading of this Bill and we intend to do all we can to ensure that a Commission is established. While there has been a Democratic Labor Party it has voted for every measure which offered progress for education. I have spoken on many measures and I have repeatedly urged the necessity of greater Commonwealth assistance for all the children of Australia. Some people say all forms of education’. I say assistance should be provided for all the children of Australia. I believe that the interest shown by quite a number of honourable senators in debates concerning the future of Australian education has had a very good effect. I believe that we are entitled not necessarily to accept the kind of Commission which the Government wants where it appoints the whole eleven or twelve members of the Commission. I believe that in a democracy interests which put in a great deal of voluntary and other work for education should have the right to present their own nominees. I notice that in legislation referring to rural industries persons associated with those rural industries are nominated for representation on any organisations which may be set up in that field.
I conclude by saying once again that we will vote for the second reading of this BDI. We believe that the Government should be reasonable and accept our point of view that interests are entitled to be represented by persons they choose themselves and not have people nominated by others to represent them.
– I believe it is appropriate that we should remember that the legislation seeks to establish a Schools Commission. With respect, many members of the Opposition have failed to take that into account tonight. They have gone into a wide excursion on matters other than the one under discussion. Senator McManus tonight said, I believe quite fairly, that other people should be on the Commission apart from those nominated by the Government. I hope I am not reporting him incorrectly but I think he said that there are many voluntary organisations involved in education which should be represented on the Commission and that they should appoint their own representatives. It is easy to say those things. But what about the number of voluntary organisations in the field of education? Who will nominate? Who will elect? Many organisations, such as parents and citizens associations and school committees, will be involved in the suggestion of Senator McManus. I suggest that in those circumstances some of the criticisms and in fact some of the serious suggestions offered for what the honourable senator believes to be the improvement of the legislation will fall by the wayside.
I now come to the most important matter. I believe it is most important because, of all the principal parties that contested the Federal election in 1972, the Australian Labor Party was the only party which gave sufficient attention to this matter to warrant the consideration of the people of Australia. I was most amazed tonight to hear members of the Australian Country Party enter into the debate. Senator Drake-Brockman, on behalf of the Country Party, spoke at some length on this matter. Let me read the policy of the Country Party at the 1972 election. 1 dearly hope that some honourable senator will ask me to table this document when I have concluded. I shall be most disappointed if I am not asked to do so. It is an amazing education policy. The Country Party policy states:
The Country Party gives, and believes the nation must give, a high priority to education.
We seek to achieve the greatest possible equality and balance in educational opportunity. We want to see the overall quality of education improved at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
The Country Party remains concerned at the special difficulties facing children and parents in country areas in gaining access to all levels of education. We see the Government’s decision to provide $400 a year to help the isolated child as a practical step towards reducing these inequalities. The Country Party will pursue its objective of giving country students greater equality of opportunity with their city counterparts.
That was the policy of the Country Party which was put to the people of Australia at the election of 1 972. Let me read one pan again. It states:
The Country Party remains concerned at the special difficulties facing children and parents in country areas in gaining access to all levels of education. We see the Government’s decision to provide $400 a year to help the isolated child as a practical step towards reducing these inequalities.
That is not a factual statement. The 5 governments prior to the present Labor Government refused all overtures to give any assistance whatsoever to children having education difficulties in isolated areas.
Honourable senators will know that the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts is investigating this issue at present and is going to Bourke on Friday to take evidence there. Not one member of the Country Party is on that Committee. How insincere can the Country Party be when it states policies of that nature. Let me refer again to the $400. The Country Party says the provision of that amount is a magnificent effort. One of the first things that the Australian Labor Party did when it gained office and before there were any pressures at all from any organisations was to give to the parents of children in isolated areas an amount of $1,004 a year towards the education of those children.
– It was the Democratic Labor Party which created the Committee.
– The Democratic Labor Party is not even represented on the Committee. What I have said will indicate to the Senate that that is the attitude of the Country Party to education in Australia. That is the policy that the Country Party put before the people of Australia at the 1972 Federal election. I hope that someone challenges me to table that document which, for the information of honourable senators, came from the research section of the Parliamentary Library. Now let me come to the Liberal Party policy. This is the magnificent policy which the Liberal Party put to the people of Australia in the 1972 Federal election. With the aid of an autocue Mr McMahon, the Prime Minister as he was then, said:
Turning to education- which touches the lives of all of us in a dozen different ways.
What an astounding statement. But listen to the next paragraph. Mr McMahon said:
We need better schools, more teachers and more facilities.
After 23 years in office the then Prime Minister on behalf of the Liberal Party said: ‘We need better schools, more teachers and more facilities’. The Teachers Federation had been telling that Government for many years that that was the problem in education. But it was not until the Government came to an election that it realised that that was the problem and consequently it said: ‘We need better schools’ and so on. Have honourable senators heard anything of a more hypocritical nature than that statement? Mr McMahon went on to say:
In the current financial year the Commonwealth is providing directly and indirectly -
Directly more than indirectly- more than half of the $ 1,900m being spent on education in Australia.
This was not coming out with any forthright statement of how much the Government was spending but relying on a vague statement which would defy any economic expert to determine what the whole thing meant. Then the Liberal Party Prime Minister went a little further to say:
The initiatives we have taken during the last 12 months have broadened and developed the Commonwealth’s involvement in the education of your children.
There are several new measures we now plan to introduce in particular areas of education.
These are the areas which after 23 years of government the Liberal Party found were new. Just listen to them:
We will provide $25m a year over the next 3 financial years for capital and recurring expenditure to assist the States in their efforts to expand pre-school education.
The Liberal Party had found at last that preschool education is important though its Ministers had been going overseas in the 23 years supposedly to be studying education. They had seen what pre-school facilities were given to children overseas, and had then come back and had never done a thing about it. But when they came before the electors they found that we were inadequately served by pre-school centres and said they were going to do something about them, and that in the concept of the Liberal Party is new. It is as old hat as lace-up boots. The policy speech went on:
We will expand our present commitment to technical education and continue it into the future, allocating not less than $2Om a year
The value of technical training for potential tradesmen had been pointed out to the Liberal Party time and time again. Now the Liberal Party was going to put in $20m a year for technical education. I will come in a moment to what I hope is a fair analysis of that Party’s expenditure.
– Come back to the Bill and stop playing politics.
– One of your colleagues was thrown out this morning and that might happen to you if you are not careful. The policy speech of this grand Liberal Party went on:
We will also double the number of technical scholarships to 5,000 from the beginning of 1974, with emphasis on . . . those students from low income families.
Who caused the low income families? I tell members of the Opposition that their former Government did so by restricting workers on every occasion that they sought to improve their financial position and their industrial conditions. Who fought the teachers of this country when they sought a better way of life and a better standard of pay for the way in which they had to teach the children of Australia? You were the people who did that. You were the people who forced on the community low income families. You were the people who forced so many people out of work that everybody was scared of what was going to happen next, yet you had the audacity to put a statement like that in your policy speech. The speech went on:
We will give an education allowance of $400 a year free of means test for children in isolated areas who must live away from home in order to attend school or who have to be taught at home.
I say to honourable senators opposite: Parents from isolated areas made representations continually to you over this subject and you continually refused to provide anything of this nature. But you came to an election and you said you were going to give $400 for each child. A very good idea, but it is less than half of what we gave without one request from those people.
– Your Party never thought of it. Your Party thought it was so good that you pinched it and implemented it. It was not one of your Party’s ideas.
– We never thought of it?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson)- Order! Senator Milliner, I take leave to remind you that the Bill is the Schools Commission Bill and that you have ranged a fair way over the area. I would be glad if you would return to the general area of the discussion.
– Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. I apologise for the interruption. The situation is that the policy of the Liberal Party went on in this way all through the speech. The Liberal Party said: ‘We reject Labor’s socalled needs test on independent schools’. It rejected the idea of finding out what is required by the people of Australia so that the school children of Australia might be better educated.
– You say ‘rubbish’. You will not be here much longer to say that, so I will not say anything more about you. Mr Acting Deputy President, I hope you will bear with me because I propose to read to you the policy of the Australian Labor Party. I associate it directly with the Bill, because we say this:
It is our basic proposition that the people are entitled to know. It is our basic belief that the people will respond to national needs once they know those needs. It is in educationthe needs of our schools- that we will give prime expression to that proposition and that belief.
Under the heading ‘Schools’ the following statement is made:
The most rapidly growing sector of public spending under a Labour Government will bc education. Education should be the great instrument for the promotion of equality. Under the Liberals it has become a weapon for perpetuating inequality and promoting privilege. For example, the pupils of State and Catholic schools have had less than half as good an opportunity as the pupils of non-Catholic independent schools to gain Commonwealth secondary scholarships, and very much less than half the opportunity of completing their secondary education.
The Labor Party is determined that every child who embarks on secondary eduction in 1973 shall, irrespective of school or location, have as good an opportunity as any other child of completing his secondary education and continuing his education further. The Labor Party believes that the Commonwealth should give most assistance to those schools, primary and secondary, whose pupils need most assistance.
Would any honourable senator argue that that is not a sound philosophy? The speech continued:
Education is the prime example of a community service which should involve the entire community- not just the Education Departments and the Catholic school authorities and the Headmaster’s Conference, not just parents and teachers, but the taxpayers as a whole. The quality of the community’s response to the needs of the education system will determine the quality of the system. But the community must first know and understand the needs. We reject the proposition that administrative convenience should over-ride the real needs of schools.
– But senator, you forget-
– Now, Senator Little, you will shortly be getting a spell for a few days and you will be able to get some of that pornographic literature from your newsagency in Melbourne.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson)- Order! Senator Milliner, you cannot go on like that.
– The speech continued:
The Australian Labor Party believes that the Commonwealth should adopt the same methods to assist schools as it has adopted to assist universities and colleges of advanced education- through a Commission.
This is the important section of the policy. The Labor Party has not put forward policies like the policies from the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party which I have read to the Senate. The policy speech continued:
We will establish an Australian Schools Commission to examine and determine the needs of students in Government and non-government primary, secondary and technical schools.
That is the policy of the Australian Labor Party put to the people of Australia and overwhelmingly supported by the people of Australia.
I have told honourable senators what we have done to assist the parents of children in isolated areas. I would now like to read what the Budget Speech had to say on education. It stated:
For this Government, education is a top priority -
This is what we promised the people of Australia
It constitutes the fastest growing component of the Budget. We will provide $843m for education in 1973-74, an increase of $404m or 92 per cent on last year. There will be a further substantial rise in 1974-75 as the programs commencing in 1974 come fully into effect
Members of the Opposition tried to deny the arguments that the Australian Labor Party has put forward although they contain policies which must be to the advantage of all sections of the community. I ask honourable senators to support the Bill, which is one of the most progressive pieces of legislation that has been introduced into this chamber for the past 25 years.
-The Senate is debating a Bill to establish an Australian Schools Commission. I regret very much that the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), who initiated this Bill is ill and is not available to be present. I respect his integrity and his industry and I wish him a speedy and full recovery. Having said that, I acknowledge also that the promise to establish an Australian Schools Commission was made by the Australian Labor Party last year both to a great extent in the pre-election campaign and in its policy speech. The Bill consists of 2 main sections, a section relating to the establishment or the structure of the Schools Commission and a section relating to the functions of the Schools Commission. Members of the Labor Party tonight have spent most of their time challenging the proposed amendments on the basis that we are wrong in seeking a representative structure and that they are right in seeking a Minister-nominated structure.
I would like to place on record what happened last year during the public debate on the Australian Labor Party’s foreshadowed policy to establish a schools commission. In so doing I want to refer to the submissions that were made by the parent bodies and the teacher bodies and the responses made by Labor members, including the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and Labor senators, to those suggestions. It is fundamental to the principle of the structure of the Commission that we understand what I now want to say. There was an overwhelming request from the various education bodies throughout Australia to the Labor Party that if it were to gain government and establish a schools commission that that be a specifically nominated commission. The Press and the media are full of such requests. My own filing system is full of such requests; in fact, I had many such delegations put the proposition to me both before and after the election.
I shared many platforms publicly with members of the Labor Party, including the then leader of the Federal Opposition who is now the Prime Minister. On all those platforms representatives of the Labor Party were asked by the education bodies: ‘If you establish this commission will you establish the principle that individual sections of the education system- the teachers, the parents, the handicapped and so on- will have direct nomination?’. I heard many times the clear and unqualified response of representatives of the Labor Party: ‘Yes, we will’. Therefore if members of the Labor Party stand here tonight and say: ‘We ask you to pass this Bill on the basis that we put to the people our policy that there should be a schools commission and therefore you should sanctify this promise by passing the legislation’, they must equally acknowledge that they gave from the platforms individually, from the Prime Minister down, an undertaking. Today inside King’s Hall various delegations of teachers’ and parents’ bodies spoke to me. They all acknowledged that they had been present at major public meetings at which 1 had shared the platforms and at which they had asked and got an assurance from the Labor Party that if a schools commission were established- I remind Senator Turnbull of these facts- the members of the Commission would be nominated in terms of specific education interests. If the Labor Party has a mandate for a schools commission- and I acknowledge it- and if it secured it that mandate by foreshadowing the establishment of the commission it also has a clear mandate and responsibility to ensure that the schools commission is structured as a nominated body. That is point number one.
I go further and say that if the Labor Government of the day rejects these amendments proposed by the Opposition it will be doing so not only in petulance but also in defiance of its pre-election indications. It will be nothing to do with some new invention by the Opposition. It will be an amendment understood to be adopted by the Opposition if elected to government. The essence of the amendments under this section of structure as put forward by the Opposition reflects the representations of the various education bodies to all of us in Opposition, both in writing and verbally, and to myself asking that the schools Commission should not be a Minister- appointed body but should be a specifically structured body nominated from various sections of the education spectrum.
– Similar representations were made to the Karmel Committee.
– That is true. Representations were made to the Karmel Committee so it must be understood that these amendments proposed by the Opposition now are not in any way a frustration of the election policies of the Government or of the requests of the education bodies but are in fact an earnest of their fulfilment. If the Government rejects them, it rejects its election policies and the representations by the various teacher bodies, parent bodies and special handicapped children’s organisations. That is quite clear. That is point number one with regard to the structure of this commission. But quite apart from the promises given and acknowledged by the various delegations which were in King’s Hall today there is a fundamental principle: Shall a government, and not just this Government but governments of the future, have the right to nominate the whole of a schools commission so that it can stack it if it wants to with yes-men and women of its own outlook?
– The honourable senator is insulting education bodies.
– I need no help from Senator O’Byrne. A government can stack the commission with puppets such as the honourable senator who will merely mouth the words of the Minister. Shall we have that? The delegations which came here today all said: ‘What we want is a piece of legislation which will bind not only this Government but also governments of the future to ensure that they act according to principle.’ They were saying that they must, in principle, reject the idea of all power being vested in the Minister to appoint a commission of his own choosing.
It is a strange situation that Senator James McClelland in defence of a Minister- appointed commission should read out the classifications and qualifications of a series of people as justification for their being there. In fact he argued that they ought to be there because they are in special categories. With only one exception these people were nominated for categories exactly as the amendment being put forward by the Opposition proposes. If the Government believes that its present Interim Schools Committee has virtue in terms of the qualifications of the members, happily it would have virtue as such. What nonsense this makes of a situation put forward by Senator James McClelland that such a structure would create warring bodies and friction. Do not those educational bodies which make direct representations to us such as the teachers federations the parents and citizens associations, infants organisations and so on, learn to live together and come together in a common cause?
Senator James McClelland made a statement which unwittingly underlined and supported our amendment exactly. But he went further. He said: ‘You know, the thing to do is to prove that the Menzies Government used this weapon’. To prove that we used this weapon he said: ‘Let us look at the Australian Universities Commission ‘. Surely he does not ask us to take the Universities Commission and its functions which are related to a handful of universities and compare it to a schools commission and 10,000 schools? I remind honourable senators on the Government side and specifically Senator James McClelland that every university is governed by an autonomous body such as a senate or council. In fact, it is full of ex-officio people who are nominated. There are so many from the professorial board, so many students and so many post-graduates.
The very educational bodies themselves are structured in this representation. All of them are autonomous. This is quite different from the fact that the Schools Commission is related to 10,000 schools which have no autonomy at all and which have no such structure. Senator James McClelland tried to compare the task of an Australian schools commission with the task of a universities commission. Of course, not only the dimension but also the very framework is utterly wrong. I repeat that our amendments relating to the structure of the Schools Commision foreshadow the promise given by the Labor Party before the election to have a specifically structured commission representing particular educational interests. The perpetual silence of the Labor Party acknowledges this and the libraries of Parliament and elsewhere can justify it. So when the Government rejects these amendments they will be breaking another promise just as Senator McManus showed that both the Prime Minister and Mr Beazley made cynical promises and broke them on another matter- that of State aid. If the Government rejects these proposed amendments it will be rejecting the specific recommendations made by the education bodies to the Opposition and to others in recent months. If it does reject them it will be saying that it wants a government and a Minister to thrust upon the people a handful of people who are government yes-men rather than representatives of a cross-section of the people.
I remind the Senate of the classical illustration given by Senator James McClelland which destroys his own argement. In the amendments put forward by the Opposition we are not only reflecting the election policies of the Labor Party and the pre-election and post-election requests of educational interests, but also we are reflecting the recommendations and decisions of the Karmel Committee because throughout its report these recommendations run like a uniform thread. So if the Government decides in its petulance that it will reject these things, these are the bases of rejection. Tonight I do not have time to relate to the second area of this Bill which is, of course, the functions of the Commission. This is a very vital area. For the past decade or longer all governments, both State and Federal, have been increasing the priority of education throughout Australia- and rightly so- trying to upgrade the quality of both government and non-government schools to a point where Australia today is rightly spending more on education than on any other function of government. It is something of the order of $2,000m a year.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment adjournment the Senate, I put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise again, for the second night in a row to raise the same question in the adjournment debate. Mr President, you will recall that yesterday I drew attention to what I considered to be a most regrettable situation- another honourable senator described it as a disgraceful situation- involving a number of unanswered questions. I was specifically concerned about questions directed to the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) which have remained on the notice paper for five or more months. Those questions related specifically to what was the outcome of the prosecutions which were launched following the police raids which took place on 3 1 March and 1 April of this year. We still do not know. Yet my information is that all these matters have been concluded before the courts. The AttorneyGeneral should have the information if he is alert to what is involved in this whole question. If he does not have the information he should readily get it and provide answers to the questions.
Five or six months is far too long a time for questions of this character to remain unanswered, particularly when the incidents involved occurred on the night of 1 April. But the AttorneyGeneral gave an answer which I think, if he looked at the facts, he might regard as misrepresenting the situation. He instanced, for example, how many questions he had answered and how much better was the performance in answering questions than what it had been in previous years. But I suggest that if he has a look at the record he will see that when the Senate resumed on 2 1 August after the first sitting this year there were 100 unanswered questions for the period 27 February to 6 June. In the intervening months that number of 100 questions has been reduced to 26 questions.
In short, when one examines the questions which have been answered, all Ministers except Senator Murphy have done their best and obviously have succeeded in clearing the backlog. Of the 100 questions on the notice paper as at 21 August, 30 were directed to Senator Murphy. The present position is that there are 26 unanswered questions of which 22 are directed to Senator Murphy. My researches- I cannot vouch completely for the accuracy of the result because it is to arduous a job- show that of all the questions on notice asked in relation to Croation affairs, which are his responsibility, only one has been answered in this sitting of the Parliament. I suggest that Senator Murphy look at the record and consider whether the answer he gave last night is a fair answer in the light of the unanswered questions which remain. The second response which Senator Murphy gave by way of defence was a most curious one for a Minister of the Crown, faced with questions by senators seeking information. He said, and I quote from Hansard:
Some questions seem to merit an answer. Some have been put from time to time-
I interjected and said:
All questions surely merit an answer.
Senator Murphy said:
Some merit an answer which would, I think, show-
Senator Wright interjected and indicated that they should be treated on their merits in the answers. Senator Murphy said:
Some have very little merit. In general, questions should be answered. Senators are entitled to information.
But then he went on to indicate that he would have a look at the questions. He said that he would decide which questions would be answered and if questions could be answered properly he would do what he could about it. This is an unsatisfactory situation. If I have to rise to speak in the adjournment debate every night on an ordinary right, which is something which can be asserted in the Senate and should be asserted, I shall do so. But we have waited too long for these questions relating to these matters to be answered. We have been given evasion after evasion in answer to questions without notice on this matter. When, in frustration, one puts the questions on the notice paper we are faced with a situation that apparently the AttorneyGeneral is disinclined to answer them. These are matters of public concern. They should be answered and the Attorney-General ought not to shelter behind an answer which on examination cannot be borne out and a further answer which ought not to have been given by any Minister of the Crown that he will decide which questions should be answered.
– I think it has come to the notice of members of Parliament that there has been increased strain amongst us and a few are falling by the wayside due to ill health. I should just like to give a free word of advice. What is happening, of course, is that the Senate and the House of Representatives have never worked so hard in that not only are we sitting here but also committees are continuing, whereas in my first years of Parliament there were no committees and one had free time when Parliament was not sitting. This means increased stress and strain on members and this is what is causing the casualties amongst members. May I suggest that honourable senators can survive this stress and strain if they are physically fit. I shall take this advice seriously myself because I shall start dieting tomorrow. Lunch should be abolished. All members should go for brisk, graduated exercise. If they cannot play squash or tennis in small doses, they should go for brisk walks at lunch time and then perhaps we will not have so many casualties.
I do not believe we can churn out the Bills we have been churning out in the time that we have because this does put a stress on people and it is stress that counts. We may have to sit longer. I do not think that in my 1 1 years here the House has sat for more than 30 to 40 weeks in any one year. We should take a look at this to see whether we should sit a greater number of days but for fewer hours in each day.
– If the Opposition consented to Bills without speaking, we could get through them.
– Yes, that is true but, the fact that we do speak causes some people a lot of increased stress. Stress is the thing that counts and my suggestion to members is that they get a little more exercise. We could have group 5BX exercises, Mr President, if you would be kind enough to lead us; or, as a gentleman of honour, you may be prepared to give way to the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare.
– A question was raised tonight by Senator Greenwood. He raised the same question last night on the adjournment at 7 o’clock. Following that adjournment debate there was a meeting of the Estimates Committee which dealt with a number of matters relating to the Prime Minister’s Department and I think it did not finish until about half past 10. I was present. Senator Greenwood, although a member of the Committee, I think was not there. No doubt he had other duties to perform. Today, I was in this Parliament House at about 9 a.m. and I have worked throughout the whole day. I have had an officer actually wanting me to deal with some questions, the answers to which had been drafted by the Department, and the officer is still waiting because he has not been able to get my attention to the questions as I have been engaged on other matters all day except for the one brisk walk that Senator Turnbull suggested; I have also adopted his other advice about diet.
I think we must be a bit sensible about these things. If Senator Greenwood wants to speak on the adjournment motion every night, then he is welcome to do so. I have said that as to certain questions it seemed to me a matter to be considered whether answers should be given while the Select Committee was investigating the subject. In relation to some of the matters in question, I know that evidence has been given before the Select Committee and the honourable senator has been attending the Committee by proxy or, I trust, by now he has access to some record of the evidence before the Committee. He could see what evidence has been given to the Committee about various questions- searches and so on- by the New South Wales police and by the Commonwealth police, and how these matters arose. Maybe it is appropriate that some of those questions not be answered. However, I said I would give some consideration to that matter.
As to other questions, I think that probably they could be answered and I will endeavour to answer them. The honourable senator must be aware that a great number of things are happening in regard to the legislative program. I have duties to attend to not only in the Department; I have to deal with my own affairs and also give advice to other Ministers on other questions which arise. It simply is not always possible to drop everything to attend immediately to what the honourable senator suggests.
– Five months is not a reasonable time to remain silent.
– I know that the honourable senator has referred to 5 months andI know that I said last night that I would do my best to attend to the questions, some of which I think could well be answered. He made a point of saying that the record was not very good, but in defence of what I said I should remind him that I referred to questions and said that all except a very small fraction of them had been answered. I was not speaking only of questions on notice but also of questions without notice, and I especially referred to the enormous number of questions which had been answered on the subject matter which the honourable senator is still pursuing. I will do my best, as I indicated last night. If I can get some answers to questions tomorrow, I shall do so. However I must inform the honourable senator that when I look at what I have to do tomorrow I am also horrified at the amount of time which has to be spent on other matters. I think the honourable senator would much better serve the dignity of the Senate if he were not to get up every night when the adjournment of the Senate is moved to complain about the subject matter. I have listened to what he has said. I see that there is a certain amount of force in it and will do my best. If he wants to speak on the motion for the adjournment every night, if he thinks that that is the way that he should conduct himself, that is a matter for him.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.13 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: ( 1 ), (2) and (4) No pan of these questions relates to matters coming within my portfolio.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
What is the average unserviceability rate of Centurion tanks, by month, over the past 6 months.
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
If a tank is evacuated from a unit to the Light Aid Detachment or Workshop for repair and the repair time is more than one day, it is classified as unserviceable. On this basis, the unserviceability rates of Centurion tanks on issue, for the six months ending August 1 973 were:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
How many officers and other ranks serve in infantry, artillery and armour units, excluding personnel on the staff of training schools.
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The following are the posted strength figures of Infantry, Artillery and Armour units, excluding personnel on the staff of training schools, as at 3 1 August 1 973.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The proportions of Army officers and other ranks of the total Army strength at 1 September 1973 were 16.1 per cent and 83.9 per cent respectively.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The proportions of Air Force officers and other ranks of the total Air Force strength at 1 September,1973 were 16.8 per cent and 83.2 per cent respectively.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Theproportions of Navy officers and other ranks of the total Navy strength at 1 September 1973 were 13.2 per cent and 86.8 per cent respectively.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
How many officers were serving in the Australian Regular Army, by rank, on 1 September, 1973.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
As at 1 September 1973 the volunteer strength, by rank, of officers in the Australian Regular Army were:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
In view of the Minister’s reply to Senate Question No. 380 on 18 September 1973, how is he able to reconcile the Government’s action in phasing out the duty differential on brandy with a letter dated 1 9 October 1 972 which the Premier of South Australia, the Honourable O. Dunstan, in his capacity of Chairman of the Australian Labor Party’s Federal Election Finance Committee, sent to wine and brandy makers in that State which stated, inter alia, that ‘The future of the wine industry has become an issue at the forthcoming Federal Elections. The Australian Labor Party believes, and its Federal Executive has stated, that the only solution that will guarantee continued prosperity for the wine industry and the many thousands of growers who supply it is complete abolition of the excise and its non-replacement by a sales tax or any other imposition. I seek your financial support for the ALP Campaign for the Federal Elections. You have already spent many tens of thousands of dollars on the wine tax and on collecting the information required by the Customs and Excise Department The election of a Federal Labor Government will save you these costs in the future’.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
An excise on wine was first introduced in 1970. That excise was removed by this Government within a week of its taking office in December 1972 in accordance with its pre-election pledge to the wine industry and the Australian people.
The excise on brandy is a different matter. Australian produced brandy has, together with all other Australian produced potable spirits been subject to excise duty since Federation.
I am aware that the Premier of South Australia, the Honourable D. Dunstan and members of the brandy making industry have made a number of representations to various members of the Government on the phasing out of the duty differential on brandy. I can assure honourable senators that any such representations from either State Governments or other interested parties will be examined and receive full consideration when determining future revenue arrangements.
Blue Poles’ Painting
-On 17 October 1973, Senator Marriott, Senator Cotton and Senator Laucke asked questions without notice concerning the purchase of the painting ‘Blue Poles’ by Jackson Pollock. The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senators’ questions:
The sum paid by the Australian Government in acquiring Blue Poles ‘ was Aust$ 1 ,346, 1 70 ( US$2m ).
Aust$1,278,860 (US$1.9m) was paid to Mr Ben Heller of New York, for all right, title and interest in the painting.
Aust$67,310 (US$100,000) was paid to Max Hutchinson New York Ltd, 127 Greene Street, New York, for brokerage and other services in connection with the purchase of the painting. Max Hutchinson New York Ltd, are New York art dealers who acted for the National Gallery in this transaction.
Max Hutchinson New York Ltd attested that the painting was in excellent condition before its acquisition was considered by the National Gallery’s Acquisitions Committee. The condition of the painting was confirmed by Mr Mollison, the Director of the National Gallery, by physical inspection prior to negotiations proceeding.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Science, upon notice:
Is it a fact that the Australian Academy of Science has made a recommendation for a national biological survey; if so, what steps are being taken to implement the recommendation.
– The Minister for Science has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question.
The Australian Academy of Science has made representations over a number of years in support of the establishment of a biological survey of Australia. The House of Representatives Select Committee on Wildlife Conservation also recommended that such a survey be established.
On 22 August 1973, details were announced of the Government’s decision to establish the Australian Biological Resources Study within which grants of up to $730,000 over the next three financial years will be made available to museums and herbaria. Australia stands alone among the developed nations in not having a comprehensive inventory of its flora and fauna. The last complete description of known Australian plants was carried out almost a century ago in 1 878. With more and more land being cleared or alienated in some way, it is most urgent and important to know the full range and diversity of animals and plants so that we can develop wisely national parks and manage forests. While much valuable work has already been done in the past by museums, herbaria, universities and CSIRO, there is an urgent need to up-grade the collection and description of Australian flora and fauna.
The study will be co-ordinated by an Interim Council and grants totalling up to $120,000 will be made available in this financial year.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Science, upon notice:
) What are the current radiation levels in:
By what percentages has the present radiation level been contributed to by past nuclear testing by:
– The Minister for Science has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In answering the honourable senator’s question I am assuming that he is referring to the level of radiation arising from fallout
I refer the honourable senator to the answer given by the Attorney-General in Question No. 270 in regard to sections 1, 3 and 4 of his question.
In respect of section 2 of his question, over the last five years, the annual dose-rates to the population from all fallout in Australia, including strontium 90 and caesium 137, have remained about 1 millirad per year to body tissues generally, and, depending on the person ‘s age, 2 to 5 millirads per year to bone tissues. The radiation dose to thyroid, however, has varied year-by-year up to total levels of IS millirads in a year for young children.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator ‘s question is as follows:
Information concerning advisers on Ministerial staffs has previously been provided by me (Hansard, 10 April 1973, page 992, Hansard 22 August 1973 pages 102-103, and Hansard 25 September 1973 pages 861-862) and I would direct the honourable senator’s attention to answers given by the Prime Minister to questions on the same subject (Hansard 13 March page 534, Hansard 22 May 1973 page 2471 and Hansard 23 August 1 973 pages 397-398).
The Prime Minister has indicated that details of the staff employed by each Minister and by office holders of the nonGovernment parries are expected to be provided soon by the Special Minister of State, who is responsible for these matters.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Will the Minister consider lifting the invalid pension to a higher level, so that young persons who are unlucky enough to be invalided will be better assisted in establishing a home and family.
– The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
As announced in the Prime Minister’s Policy Speech, the Government intends to increase the basic pension rate every Spring and every Autumn until it reaches 2 5 per cent of average weekly male earnings. On this point, I also refer to my second reading of the Social Services Bill No. 4 1973. I confirmed, in that Speech, the Australian Government’s determination to achieve its goal of a standard rate pension of 25 per cent of average weekly male earnings and indicated that, if it is necessary, the pension increase for the Autumn Session will be greater than $1.50 per week.
That same Bill provided for additional payments for children of pensioners to be increased by 50c per week to $S per week for each child.
An invalid pensioner and his wife therefore received an increase of $6 a fortnight in their joint pensions plus $1 a fortnight in additional pension for each child.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Is the Australian Post Office planning to reduce the radius of ordinary rate telephone calls from 30 to 12 miles; if so, will telephone calls over a greater distance than 12 miles become STD calls.
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question.
There is no such plan.
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Following the agreement reached by Ministers at the meeting of the Australian Aboriginal Affairs Council held in Adelaide in April of this year that the Australian Government and the State Governments should enter into negotiations for the possible transfer of responsibility for policy and planning in the field of Aboriginal Affairs to the Australian Government, there have been Ministerial and official discussions with all States and the position is as follows:
General agreement to a transfer of responsibilities has been reached but there remain a number of matters to be resolved.
At a meeting in Melbourne of 4 September the Australian and Victorian Ministers for Aboriginal Affairs reached general agreement as to respective responsibilities for Aboriginal Affairs in Victoria and arranged for further meetings between officials to pursue the matter.
At a meeting in Brisbane on 2 September between the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the Queensland Minister for Aboriginal and Island Affairs it was agreed to explore the possibility of transfer of functions. 4.SouthAustralia-
Although general agreement to a transfer of responsibilities has been reached there are again a number of matters unresolved.
The Premier of Western Australia has indicated general agreement to the integration of the Western Australian aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority with the Australian Department of Aboriginal Affairs.
There is no Ministry in Tasmania specifically concerned with Aboriginal Affairs so that the question of transfer of responsibility for policy planning and co-ordination does not arise. However, at a recent meeting with the Tasmanian Minister for Health and Social Welfare a basis for continued co-operation with the various State departments concerned was arrived at, and it is the Australian Government’s intention to open a small office of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Hobart
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
How many officers were serving in the Australian Regular Army, by rank, on 1 December 1972.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
As at 1 December, 1972 the volunteer strengths, by rank, of officers in the Australian Regular Army were:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Department of Aboriginal Affairs: Appointments
– On 11 September 1973, Senator Georges asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs the following question without notice:
I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I preface it by pointing out that advertisements have appeared in newspapers for staff as a result of upgrading the Office of Aboriginal Affairs to a Department.
1 ) Could the Minister advise me why the senior positions were not advertised?
Could he advise whether these senior positions have been filled and if they have been filled by whom and on whose authority have they been filled?
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation the following question without notice on 27 September, 1973:
Is the Minister able to say whether any representations have been made recently for improving the facilities at the Devonport Airport terminal? Is he aware that the facilities at this terminal are now quite inadequate to meet the reasonable needs of the travelling public and substantially below those to be expected in an airport serving a developing region such as this? Will he ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether he will indicate the prospects of having improvements carried out at the Devonport terminal in order to correct the existing situation so that the reasonable needs of the travelling public are met?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
While the airport terminal at Devonport is not a modem terminal it is considered to be reasonably adequate for all but the occasional very high peak traffic periods.
As announced in the 1973 Budget it is Government policy to recover 80 per cent of civil aviation maintenance, operating and capital servicing costs. As part of this aim the airlines will be expected to pay rental on the terminal as a whole, including public areas, after allowance is made for revenue from business concessions within the terminal. Against that background it would not be possible to economically justify a new terminal at
Finally could he advise mc what rights other public servants have in this situation?
The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The following promotions have now been confirmed:
Devonport as a 100 per cent contribution by the Australian Government The airlines would not be able to afford it.
On the other hand, if the airport could be transferred to local ownership, as is again being considered by the local municipal authorities, and the new terminal constructed on a 50/30 basis by the Australian Government and those authorities, then it is distinctly possible that a new terminal could be provided. Local Government recurring costs could be offset by a small passenger surcharge and this, in turn, could permit economically acceptable terminal rentals to be charged the airlines.
Some 80 per cent of the aerodromes in Australia are now owned and operated by private interests or local governments and it is quite usual for local governments to levy passenger surcharges of between 40c and $ I to offset their annual commitments in the interests of the local communities.
Victorian Traffic Laws
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport the following question without notice on 27 September 1 973:
Is the Minister aware that the traffic laws now operating in Victoria are causing chaos among motorists and other road users? Will the Minister request the Minister for Transport to convene a meeting of the appropriate State Ministers to endeavour to have instituted a complete uniform code of traffic laws for the whole of Australia?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Australian Transport Advisory Council, which comprises Australian and State Transport Ministers has endorsed a National Road Traffic Code as the basis for uniform traffic laws. Presumably the matter raised by the honourable senator is in respect of the change in the intent of the stop sign in Victoria to mean ‘slop and give way’ and the introduction of a priority intersection sign. Council has already agreed that the stop sign should mean ‘stop and give way’ and at its next meeting on
2 November will consider amendments to the wording of the National Code.
Since this question, the Australian Government has announced its intention to establish a National Authority on Road Safety and Standards. Part of the function of the Authority will be to formulate, in consultation with the relevant State Authorities, proposals for uniform traffic codes.
Uniformity of traffic laws is a most important objective and will continue to be actively pursued through the appropriate channels available to the Australian Government.
Housing: Interest Rates
-On 10 October 1973 Senator Little asked Senator Murphy a question without notice concerning the effect of increased interest rates on home buyers. The Treasurer has provided the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
A scheme for deductibility of mortgage interest payments for taxation purposes from 1 July 1974 is under study and will come forward for Government consideration in good time for any legislation to be brought down in the Autumn Parliamentary Session.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
1) At present a private company may retain, free of undistributed income tax, the following proportions of its taxable income less primary tax payable on that income-
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 November 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19731107_senate_28_s58/>.