28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 1 1.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 3 1 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.
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.
Petition received and read.
Petitions in identical terms were presented by Senator Jessop and Senator Davidson.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That there be referred for inquiry and report to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations the following:
1 ) The operation, control and conduct of the following companies: Applied Ecology Pty Ltd, Aboriginal and Islander Products Pty Ltd, and Aboriginal and Island Marketing Pty Ltd, companies incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory and having their registered offices at Woden Towers, Woden, Australian Capital Territory;
The degree of ministerial control over and ministerial responsibility for expenditure from the Aboriginal Advancement Trust Account, the Aborigines Benefit Trust Fund and the Capital Fund for Aboriginal Enterprises;
(a) Whether departmental programs and projects, or particular projects for which financial assistance is or has been sought, and for which funds have been or would be made available from the Capital Fund for Aboriginal Enterprises, have been adequately investigated by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and by the Department of the Treasury; and
Whether expenditure on and the execution of approved programs and requests have been adequately controlled and supervised by the appropriate departments and in compliance with Treasury procedures and departmental requirements; and
The circumstances surrounding the purchase of land, buildings and equipment for or by Aboriginal communities with money provided from the Capital Fund for Aboriginal Enterprises and, in particular, whether such purchases were made at prices in excess of Treasury valuation.
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That there be referred for inquiry and report to the Senate Standing Committee for Social Environment:
Whether adequate consideration is being given to the environment and ecological factors in Aboriginal advancement programs financed from the Aboriginal Advancement Trust Account and the Capital Fund for Aboriginal Enterprises.
Whether the above Committee should report on the social and environmental aspects of all future Aboriginal enterprises financed by the Australian Government.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Will he state what the Prime Minister meant when the Prime Minister yesterday stated: I would imagine that the pilots will be going back to their duty and that they will observe safety standards without complaint from now on’? Have the pilots gone back to duty or are they about to go back? If not, what did the Prime Minister mean?
– I am not here to interpret the Prime Minister’s words, but I think it may be fair to say that in this instance the Prime Minister was voicing the viewpoint that would be shared by most of the Australian people, that is, that the pilots would be expected to exercise common sense, that where a safety issue was raised it would be dealt with in the normal and proper way under the procedures which are laid down by law, and that the pilots would resume and carry on their duties. I think everyone in Australia is concerned that the safety standards which have been established by law should be maintained. It is unthinkable that any government, and I hope any association of persons, would do anything to undermine the strength of those safety standards.
-Does the Minister for Primary Industry recall answering a question in August about whether Cabinet had decided to renew the licence for the Cheynes Beach Whaling Co. at Albany? Is it a fact that the Prime Minister has told the Premier of Western Australia that whaling will continue at this centre? If so, does this mean that Cabinet has made a decision about the renewal of the licence after 3 1 December? Is there to be any variation from the existing licence when a new licence is issued?
-I am not aware of the fact that the Prime Minister has advised the Premier of Western Australia in the terms indicated by Senator Drake-Brockman. I understand that the licence will be reviewed, but I cannot give a definitive answer on that. I will have to refer the question, find out the exact position and inform the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Special Minister of State within whose responsibility I understand this matter comes. Is the Minister aware of the considerable benefits in recording the extent and location of the library resources of Sweden by the use of a highly sophisticated data recording system? Does the Minister consider that such a system would have considerable relevance in Australia and would be of inestimable value in extending the benefits of library services to every section of the Australian community, as is the case in Sweden? Is the Australian Government interested in such a project?
– Yes, we are aware of the data recording processes of Sweden. As a matter of fact, last year or earlier this year- Mr President, you may be able to prompt me on this.
– It is Dr Tell of the Royal Swedish Library.
-Dr Tell-I suppose that is a good name for a librarian- came out and has advised the National Library on the whole process. Also, there is the STISEC report which envisages the introduction of this system in the electronic age. I have not personally seen the system operating in Sweden, but I am told that it is very impressive. Dr Tell ‘s visit here was certainly well worth while.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I ask the Minister whether he believes that Mr T. C.
Winter was the most competent constitutional and economic authority available to report to the Government on power over prices and incomes. It will be recalled that he brought forth the extraordinary conclusion that all incomes should be vetted. Is it not correct to say that some of the overseas experiences in the operation of these powers quoted by Mr Winter certainly do not support the idea that they are necessary to combat inflation? Will or can an opportunity be given for a debate on this report during this session?
-Mr Winter is well known as an industrial authority in Australia. He served for a long time with the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and before and after that time in the industrial world. I think that he has been recognised as a man with a vast understanding of the industrial complexities of our country and the movements of prices and wages. The Government is indebted to him for the assistance which he has given in a practical way in suggesting what action may be taken. As the honourable senator would know, the experience of countries overseas has been varied. I do not know whether such a power is necessary in other countries. I do know that most of them have such a power and we do not. I know also that it is generally recognised that the Australian Government does not have the legislative powers which would enable it properly to manage the economy of the country. I think that there would be very few people- I trust that the honourable senator is not amongst them- who would think that the Commonwealth Government ought not to be given the powers per medium of the Australian Parliament to take the administrative action pursuant to laws made by this Parliament which would enable us to curb inflation and to manage the economy properly.
– As there is fairly constant criticism of the amounts of advertising on television, can the Minister for the Media inform me how many minutes are permitted for advertising in any hour under the regulations? Can anything be done to overcome the clutter of advertisements which appear to be a major viewer irritant?
– I think that the honourable senator will see in the last annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board that reference was made to the Board’s concern about the amount of nonprogram material, including the stations’ own program promotion and advertising, being televised. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board has advised me that as from Decembernext month- it intends limiting the number of program promotions that a station can put to air. In a recent circular, the Board has advised station managements that except in certain circumstances no more than 13 minutes of non-program material may be televised in each hour between 6 o’clock and 10 o’clock in the evening. The Board’s advertising time standards allow for television stations 1 1 minutes of advertising an hour in prime viewing time between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. and 13 minutes at other times. On Sundays, stations are restricted to 9 minutes of advertising in each hour. But, as I have said, as from next month the stations will have to include in the advertising time their own program promotions.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. How much is the free community health centre at Melba in the Australian Capital Territory at present costing in salaries and other allied costs? How much is it estimated that this centre will cost a year taking into account salaries, sick leave, holidays, maternity leave, car expenses and other allied costs?
– I am unaware of these details and I ask the honourable senator to place his question on the notice paper.
-Is the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security aware that current statistics show that the standard pension as a percentage of average weekly earnings has now fallen below that level of return to pensioners which was paid by the former Government in the year prior to Labor gaining office? Is the Minister aware that in December 1972 the basic pension was 20.7 per cent of average weekly earnings and that it has now fallen to 19.5 per cent of average weekly earnings? If the Minister doubts or challenges these figures will he bring to the Senate the Government’s evaluation of this situation? If the Government’s inflationary management of the economy continues, in what year is Labor’s promise to lift basic pensions to 25 per cent of average weekly earning to be achieved?
– I seem to be answering in parrot like fashion questions of this nature addressed to me in my capacity as
Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. This is about the third or fourth occasion in recent weeks that a question along these lines has been directed to me. On each occasion I have said that the Government’s policy is to increase the rate of pension until such time as it is equal to 25 per cent of the average weekly male earnings. It is rather interesting to me to hear members of the Opposition, who were in government for a period of 23 years, now urging the present Government to make these adjustments which for 23 years they constantly refused to make. We have said that in each session of the Parliament there will be an increase of at least $ 1.50 a week in the pension rate. We have carried out this policy in the 2 sessions since this Government took office. Only last week the Minister for Social Security said that if it were necessary that the $ 1 . 50 instalment be further increased having regard to cost of living adjustments it would be increased. Additionally, of course, we have set out to abolish the means test and we certainly will do so in the lifetime of this Parliament. Pensioners of this country certainly are receiving more social justice under this Government than they ever received under past governments.
- Mr President, could I ask a supplementary question on the basis that my question was not answered?
– Order! Whether a supplementary question is allowed resides with the Chair. You asked a very complicated question and you got a complicated answer which covered it adequately.
– Following the answer given by the Minister for Foreign Affairs last week on Australia’s attitude to political refugees from Chile, can he say whether anything further has happened in regard to the several special applications which were the subject of further inquiries?
-No. I said the other day that I would send a special message to Chile to see that no undue barriers were put in the way of people wanting to come to Australia. At that stage there were some refugees who wanted to come here. I will check the matter out and let the honourable senator know the outcome.
-Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that Mr
Whitlam ‘s breaking of his promise to the Premier of South Australia ‘that the wine tax would be repealed and not replaced with another impost’ has placed the South Australian Premier, to use his own words, in an intolerably embarrassing position? Does the Leader accept the fact that Mr Dunstan has been placed in an intolerably embarrassing position by the Federal Government’s actions in taxing the wine and brandy industry?
-This matter has been aired in this place and outside. Everyone is aware of what has been said by the distinguished Premier of South Australia, Mr Dunstan. The honourable senator has heard what has been said on the matter by the Prime Minister of Australia. I have nothing to add to it.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Minister aware that the Premier of Queensland has refused to indicate to the Queensland Parliament the source of funds being utilised by the Queensland National Liberal Party Government in its ‘No’ campaign on the current referendum? Will the Minister institute inquiries to ascertain whether any Commonwealth funds are being used in the campaign by the Queensland Government?
– The last part of that question lies within the ministerial scope of the Leader of the Government.
-I will look into the matter. If the honourable senator can assist me with any matter which might indicate that Commonwealth funds are being used by the Liberal Party in the referendum I shall certainly pursue it.
– I wish to direct a question to you, Mr President. If I should ask for leave to play the proposed new anthem written by a Royal Air Force Wing Commander and if such leave were granted by the Senate, would you add your voice to that of other persons who believe that this anthem should not be excluded from the Prime Minister’s ballot simply because the author is an Englishman? I inform you, Mr President, that the recording is of only one minute ‘s duration. Although last week you and Senator Murphy quite rightly had reservations about my singing it, I can assure you that you will find the recorded Welsh choir very impressive.
– I do not know whether my voice, added to your supplications to the Prime Minister, would carry any more weight than yours. On the second matter, as to whether you should be given leave to have it played in the Senate, I have no objection to that provided the Senate gives you leave to do so. You may at a later stage, when the placing of business is being dealt with, seek that leave from honourable senators. If you are sufficiently persuasive they might allow it.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I understand that the Minister has announced the result of the merino ram export referendum in which growers overwhelmingly opposed the export of any merino rams. Can the Minister indicate whether it is true that the questions posed at the referendum were deliberately designed to achieve a ‘no’ vote? Is it also true to assume, as has been done by the Leader of the Country Party, that the result of the referendum cannot be regarded as indicative of the feelings of growers as only 47 per cent of those enrolled actually voted?
-The result of the referendum shows that a little less than half of the wool growers eligible to vote availed themselves of the opportunity to vote, but of those who voted it was quite clear that a clear majority- 58 per cent- were opposed to the export of any merino rams. I think it is a quite clear decision. I am surprised that the Leader of the Country Party should argue the particular line that this referendum does not reflect the decision of the wool growing industry. In fact, if my memory serves me correctly, I think the Country Party governs in Queensland with 1 7 or 1 8 per cent of the vote, which I assume Mr Anthony would argue is an indication of the rights of Queenslanders to have a Country Party Government. The fact is that the decision on the export of merino rams is a clear one, and it is one by which the Government will abide.
– I direct a question without notice to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. It is in regard to the pilots dispute with Trans-Australia Airlines. I was wondering whether, not now but in the near future, the Minister could make a statement on the facts of the case because there are a lot of rumours going around and it is only fair to the public and the pilot concerned that these should be dispelled. One of the rumours is that the pilot concerned has been reprimanded before. If this is so we should know about it, and if it is not so rumours of this kind should cease.
– I would be quite happy to make a statement and I think the Minister for Transport will be making a statement. I think we will be able to comply with the invitation at some later date. This is a very delicate area. There is a dispute and if there is hope of a settlement it would be unwise to make a statement while negotiations are proceeding.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. In a statement to the Senate on 23 October concerning the turtle farming projects being conducted in the Torres Strait Islands, the Minister indicated that he was inclined to favour a system of referral of applications for loans, advances and grants for Aboriginal enterprises to an all-Party parliamentary standing committee for assessment by the Committee. Does he intend to pursue this course?
– All applications for loans out of the capital fund for Aboriginal enterprises are investigated at the present time by a committee which includes a representative of the Commonwealth Bank, I think Dr Coombs, and another member, and which makes recommendations. In conference with my Department I am now looking into the question as to whether in the next session of Parliament we should bring down some suggestion that applications for money of over a certain value be subject to investigation by an all-Party parliamentary committee. That proposal will be submitted for Government approval when it is ready.
I do not think, in view of the notice of motion that was given this morning, that I should go past that or say that this plan may be changed if the matter is referred to one of our standing committees and as a result of its investigations there is any recommendation. There is no desire on my part to hold the hand of, say, who gets the money. There is no desire on my part to hide whoever is funded money. I want as much as possible to see that the money that is available is used for the greatest good for the greatest number. If anyone can assist me in achieving that, whether it is by way of recommendation from a standing committee or some other committee, I would appreciate it.
– I preface by question, which is directed to the Minister for the Media, by referring to the fact that last week the Minister tabled in the Senate a report from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board on overcommercialisation. Does this report disclose that the extent of over-commercialisation in radio and television has been considerably reduced in the last 12 months? Will the Minister indicate whether any further action is contemplated by the Government to stamp out this practice?
– When this Government took office there was a considerable amount of over-commercialisation by one or two commercial television stations in particular, that is, of advertising beyond the time allowed. I have already answered by colleague, Senator Poyser, on this question. As a result, I asked the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to police its regulations quite rigidly and I think it will be seen from the documents I have tabled from time to time in the Senate that the extent of over-commercialisation by radio and commercial television stations has been reduced very considerably indeed, to the extent where in one or two months there have been no breaches at all.
Additionally, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has recently sought from the Public Service Board approval for an increase of its monitoring staff from the order of 13 to bring the total number of monitors throughout Australia to 3 1. These positions have now been advertised and there have been 600 applications for them. The Board is in the process of culling the applications with a view to appointing the additional people. When the additions are made to the staff we hope to be able to monitor fairly regularly every station in Australia.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether he said at a Press conference in London last week that wool had regained popularity because of dissatisfaction with man-made fibres. Did he also say that he was concerned at suggestions in Britain and Europe that wool would become a luxury item because of price uncertainty? Does the Minister agree that while the production of wool is the world remains constant, the demand for apparel fibres is increasing at a considerable rate and that the inability to meet the demand is the main reason for wool becoming a luxury product, with price rises an obvious result? When the Minister says that he wants to avoid wool becoming a luxury item because of price, does he mean that the wool clip should be controlled by a compulsory acquisition scheme and sold direct to manufacturers at a fixed price? While overseas did the Minister discuss with the wool trade the possibility of such a scheme?
– While overseas I did say that I was concerned at the opinions expressed to me that the market for wool would continue to decline and wool would become virtually a luxury item. Overseas there seems to be a wide acceptance of this belief. I do not believe that if this occurred it would be in the best interests of the wool industry. It is true that, in the main, the supply of wool is fairly constant but it is also true that the percentage of the fibre market for wool is declining. If we allow the present situation to continue then we must expect that decline to continue. As I have indicated on many occasions previously. I do not commit myself on the position as to whether a system of acquisition will be an alternative to the present system. Buyers overseas are not greatly concerned as to the system we adopt in Australia for the marketing or wool. What most of them are concerned about is a proper access to wool so that if they require more they will not be prejudiced by any advantages which may accrue to other countries or other buyers.
I assure honourable senators that, if any alterations do take place in the system as a result of the marketing report coming forward, free access will be made available to as wide a field as possible. If the demand does expand in the years ahead to a point where the supply is inadequate, it is possible that we may have to look at a system whereby the needs of those people, countries and buyers who show the greatest interest in the development and expansion of the wool trade will be given the most sympathetic consideration. It is my hope that if we can stabilise wool prices and if we can ensure the proper promotion and development of wool the supply position will be overcome by increasing production.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing and the Minister for Works. By way of preface I say that in reply to a question I asked yesterday regarding an increase of over 40 per cent in the cost of houses by A. V. Jennings Industries (Aust.) Ltd it was said that that company implied that the figures were incorrect and that the increase was 14 per cent. I now ask the Minister: Is it a fact that the price published by A. V. Jennings Industries in July 1972 of an Amberley type 3-bedroom brick home was $ 1 1,076 and of a similar Barwon style home was $ 10,249? Is it also a fact that the present prices of an Amberley and Barwon style home are now approximately $15,800 and $14,900 respectively, being increases of 42.6 per cent and 45 per cent which are much greater that the 14 per cent increase claimed by A. V. Jennings Industries and given in the Minister’s reply to me yesterday?
– I think the honourable senator has made his point but he will recall my reply was that, I think, in the last 12 months the price of a home built to the same plans and specifications increased by 14 per cent. I do not think that this is necessarily a contradiction in relation to the type of home which A. V. Jennings Industries is building today compared with what it built 12 months ago. Whether it is the same home built according to the same plans or whether there are inbuilt additions in the present-day home I do not know but the figures I gave to the honourable senator yesterday were supplied by Jennings. It is that company’s claim. I cannot add anything. If there is doubt about those figures all I can say is that they are the company ‘s figures.
-I refer the Minister for Primary Industry to the subject of synthetic meat, or mock meat, and the alarm expressed at a recent meat industry seminar held in Adelaide. Has the Government conducted any recent research into the extent of production and use of mock meat in Australia? If so, has he any late information on the subject? As complaints have been made by a housewives’ association relating to the clear labelling of this product can he indicate what steps the Government is taking on this matter? Does the Minister know, from international organisations such as the Food and Agricultural Organisation and others, of any details of studies of this subject at international level and its relationship to world food supplies?
– I have no up to date figures on synthetic meat production in Australia. The only figures I recall are those from earlier this year when the production and importation of synthetic meat in Australia were a small amount of 100 or 200 tons. Projections have been made, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States of America of greatly expanded production of synthetic meats. One projection I recall was that within 20 years 30 per cent of the meat consumed in the United Kingdom would be of a synthetic nature. I do not know whether any further information was made available at the recent FAO Conference in Rome. I did not hear of any whilst I was there but I shall find out the latest position and advise the honourable senator.
– My question, addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, relates to resources diplomacy and to the Minister’s answer yesterday to a question I asked in which he said:
There is no question of politics in our resources policy.
Does the Government condemn the use of oil boycotts and restrictions by oil producing nations to achieve their political ends? Does the Government recognise the peril to world peace and economic stability inherent in the prolongation of such boycotts? What overt action has the Government taken within the United Nations or otherwise on the international level on this vital matter? Will the Government support or initiate action internationally to outlaw these perilous actions?
-For quite a long time there have been these dangers in regard to oil supplies throughout the world. The position is that a small group of countries have oil and they are located in a highly explosive area. The world has been expecting the present situation in one form or another for a very long time. Yes, I understand that pressures are going to be brought and I understand the dangers that may arise if these boycotts extend for a long period of time. The reduction of oil supplies, as I see it, is not related solely to the Middle East war. Some countries in the Middle East are withholding supplies for conservation purposes. All these things are adding up to a very difficult position. The energy crisis has been forecast now for many years. It has been known that we can run out of a lot of the things that supply us with energy today. I saw something of this situation in New York only a few months ago before the crisis started and before the embargoes were put on. There was to be a reduction of oil to the west coast of America merely because of pollution. So the whole situation is a devil’s brew. It is a worrying situation and one on which we have to keep an eye every minute of the day.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Do Australian driving rules lay down that all new cars must be fitted with an effective demister? If so, will the Minister investigate reports that many GMH Toranas are on the road with ineffective demisters because of a badly designed control cable, the inner of which breaks, thus making the demister inoperative?
– I will have the matter investigated. I do not know the actual position in relation to which cars of which year of manufacture have ineffective demisters. I will have the matter inquired into to assertain whether one company is putting onto the road cars with ineffective demisters.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, relates to the pessimistic statement which was made last week by the Minister for Minerals and Energy about the possible limitation of our sources of energy supplies within, I think, 8 years. An eminent Australian scientist, when referring to this matter, stated this week that Australia was the most suitable country in the world for the development of solar energy because Australia has large desert and unpopulated areas which would be most suitable for this purpose. I ask: Is Australia doing anything to develop this type of energy? If so, what?
– I saw the reference to the matter raised by Senator McManus. From the only information which I have on it I understand that an enormous capital investment is involved in the development of solar energy. As the question is of a technical nature, I think that it should be answered by the Minister for Minerals and Energy. I will obtain an answer for the honourable senator.
– My question really impinges on the portfolios of several Ministerspossibly the Minister for Trade, the Minister for Tourism and Recreation and the AttorneyGeneral. Therefore, I ask the Attorney-General this question: Is he aware that the International Air Transport Association agency committee, which is the organisation representing the international airlines, which are mostly government owned and which include Qantas Airways Ltd, our Government airline, makes an unusual requirement of travel agents who seek IATA agency accreditation? Is he aware that such applicant travel agents are required to make airline reservations, without payment of commissions, for such international airlines, including our Government airline, Qantas? Is he aware that applicant travel agents must perform this work, possibly for several years, without payment until such time as the agent reaches a certain annual productivity of business, when IATA may condescend to appoint that agent as an IATA agent? Does he agree that IATA, like other business organisations, should, by inspection and investigation, make its own assessment of the capacity of a prospective agent? Does he not agree that no Australian should be asked to work for no payment for such international airlines? Is he aware that IATA continually holds a threat over accredited agents that they may lose their agency if production is not up to the figure which IATA has in its mind? Is he aware that, as now publicised, international airlines intend to increase considerably the quota of business demanded from accredited agents? Does he not agree that the imposition of quotas of business required is using undue pressure tactics on agents?
– I am aware of the accuracy of some of the statements made by the honourable senator. I will inquire as to the others. I remind the honourable senator that various restrictive and undesirable practices operate in the areas of trade and commerce. Increasing efforts are being made by all countries, including Australia, to cope legislatively and administratively with those practices. As the honourable senator is aware, in Australia legislation has been introduced in certain areas to deal with that matter. The Trade Practices Bill is before the Senate. There are various other ways in which such activities might be scrutinised. The honourable senator may recall that it was announced some time ago that Federal legislation would be introduced to cover travel agencies. I know that some legislation has been introduced and is operative in some of the States, but it is considered by this Government that there should be Federal legislation because of the implications in trade and commerce with other countries and among the States. For various other reasons there is a fount of constitutional power. That legislation is under preparation. I do not think that it will be introduced during this present sitting, but it is certainly expected that it will be introduced early next year. The Minister for Tourism and Recreation will be in charge of that legislation.
– Is the Minister for Foreign Affairs aware that representatives from 31 countries are demanding that the United Nations restore to the Royal Government of the National Union of Cambodia, headed by Prince
Sihanouk, its lawful rights and recognition as the legitimate government of that country? Is it a fact that the Royal Government exercises control of 90 per cent of Cambodian national territory and 80 per cent of the peoples of that country? Is the Minister able to say whether the moves have the support of all the nations that attended the Fourth Conference of the Heads of State or Government of non-aligned countries held in Algiers in September 1 973? Can the Minister say also whether Australia is considering supporting the resolution currently before the United Nations?
-I am not sure of the exact distribution of voting at the meeting of non-aligned countries at Algiers to which the honourable senator has referred. Our attitude in relation to Cambodia has been that the Cambodians are the people who should decide their own fate. Because of that attitude we have not taken sides in any way. In relation to the voting in the United Nations on procedural motions, we have voted with the Government with which we have contact, namely, the Lon Nol Government. As the honourable senator knows the military situation has been deadlocked for a period of time now because of the wet weather. It is quite a perennial situation that at about this time of the year as the wet weather moves away military activity commences. But everyone is hopeful that this year the situation in Vietnam where there is some sort of peace will flow over to Cambodia and that meaningful negotiation might take place. There is already one in Laos which has a coalition government. At least the fighting has stopped and hopes are being held out that that situation will obtain in Cambodia.
– It is true that Mr Winter was asked to prepare a report, and he has done so. I do not know whether any fee was paid for the preparation of the report, but I can imagine that there was. The details of that matter would, I think, come within the responsibility of the Special Minister of State. As to the industrial aspects of the matter, I have not studied the report. There may be some recommendations in the report which do coincide with the views put from the other side of the chamber. No one pretends that we on this side have all wisdom and that there is all foolishness on the other side. Now and then some sensible things have been said by the other side of the chamber. I might say that since the shock of last December the Opposition has started to realise that it did not have all the wisdom and it is starting to attend more carefully to its affairs. I am pleased to know that the Opposition is studying carefully what Mr Winter has said. That shows the wisdom of the Government’s action in commissioning this outstanding industrial authority to advise the Government. If there is anything further to add, particularly if the honourable senator wishes to pursue the question of the fee paid to Mr Winter, I will look into the matter.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry in his capacity as the Minister representing the Minister for Secondary Industry. Is the Government aware that during recent months many items in every day use have become very difficult to purchase and are apparently in short supply? I refer particularly to household goods, paper products, wearing apparel, building materials, steel products such as nails, motor car parts, agricultural machinery parts, fencing wire, and many other things. What action is the Government taking to overcome these shortages?
– I remember having a similar question asked of me recently, and I referred that question to the Minister for Secondary Industry. I think that the main reason why certain shortages have crept into certain areas of manufactured goods is that the economy is booming along in a manner which we have not seen for a long time. The question as to whether any specific action is to be taken by the Government is, I think, a matter that I should refer to the appropriate Minister.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the AustralianChinese joint Press communique which stated on page 2 that relations should develop on the basis of the 5 principles which include noninterference in each other’s internal affairs, with which I agree. In view of the long record of the Chinese Government in providing moral and material support, including the use of its territory for broadcasting facilities in support of armed subversion in South East Asia and elsewhere in disregard of these principles, did the Prime Minister seek and receive an assurance from the Chinese Government that this form of interference in the internal affairs of other countries would cease? If not, are we to regard the communique or this part of it, as expressing pious platitudes?
-No, I do not think it is expressing pious platitudes.
-Will the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy inform me what percentage of petrol used in Australia is derived from local crudes? As mineral exploration has suffered severe setbacks as a result of disincentives created by the Government’s policies, what does the Government intend to do to encourage a stepping up of oil exploration so that Australia can become independent of overseas sources?
-I ask the honourable senator to place the question on the notice paper, and I shall obtain an answer from the appropriate Minister.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy agree that it is vital that Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle industries should have an alternative industrial fuel to the Middle East crude, and that the central Australian natural gas would provide this alternative? If so, does he not now agree that the Government should abandon its insistence on building the Gidgealpa to Sydney gas pipeline itself and let the Australian Gas Light Company get on with this urgent job?
-Again I ask the honourable senator to place the question on the notice paper and I shall obtain a reply from the Minister for Minerals and Energy.
-My question, which is directed to the Attorney-General, refers to my question of Wednesday last with respect to directions given to Deputy Crown Solicitors regarding the briefing of only those counsel who are members of the Australian Labor Party. Since my question and the Attorney-General’s statement that he was personally unaware of any such directions having been given, did he nevertheless seek information in Melbourne as to the matters alleged in my question? Will he now confirm that directions have been given? Will he say why such directions were given, how they came to be given without his knowledge, and whether he has countermanded them?
– I have not made any inquiry in Melbourne. I have stated in the Senate what I understand the position to be and I have raised the matter with the Department. I understand the position to be exactly as I have stated it, namely, that persons are being briefed who certainly are not members of the Australian Labor Party. In fact, if I had to hazard a guess I would say that there is probably an extreme disproportion in the briefing of members of political parties in that I think that probably the members of the honourable senator’s party are briefed more than members of the Australian Labor Party. That may be a reflection of the fact that probably more barristers would be members of the Liberal Party than members of the Australian Labor Party. I have said in the Senate that this is not a factor which ought to come into account, nor should it come into account, in the appointment of persons to the bench unless the position was such that there had been some disproportion in numbers. Then, that position ought to be corrected.
Evidently, the honourable senator is endeavouring to stir up some trouble about this matter. I told him that I could reel off right now if I had to the names of a number of persons who have been briefed since the time that I became Attorney-General who are members, and wellknown members, of the Liberal Party of Australia. The Government has indicated that the former Commonwealth Solicitor-General who is standing for pre-selection as a Liberal candidate would be briefed by the Government. I think that the Government has briefed a former AttorneyGeneral, Mr Hughes. The Government has briefed a number of persons who are candidates for Liberal Party pre-selection. I think that it is time the honourable senator ceased to pursue various persons who happen to be briefed by the Australian Government. Is he going to search out every person who happens to be a member of the Labor Party and cause some strife? I have never seen such conduct -
- Mr President, I rise to take a point of order.
Senator MURPHY … in what I have observed from the honourable senator.
- Mr President, I rise to take a point of order. I asked a question. I think that it is fair that the Attorney-General should reply generally. He has given me the answer to the question that he- I understand that he means himself personally- did not make any of the inquiries about which I am asking. But for him then to proceed in a tirade to make all sorts of unjust accusations falls within the prohibition in the Standing Orders and your ruling that these matters ought not to be debated during question time.
– Order! Senator Greenwood, I did not hear the Attorney-General make any reflection on you. To me, he merely seemed to answer the question that briefs have been awarded where they should properly fall. So I do not think that there is any substance in the point of order.
– Does the Minister for Foreign Affairs agree that the resettlement of refugees is one of the most urgent tasks facing the South Vietnamese Government? Is it a fact that many governments are contributing towards this urgent and humanitarian task? Does Australia intend to make a contribution to assist these unfortunate people?
– Yes. As I am sure Senator Sim knows, we are contributing quite substantially to South Vietnam. What that country does with that money is its business.
– I understand that it is a separate fund.
– I am not sure of that. But generally we allow the South Vietnamese to do what they think fit with the money. We try not to interfere in what they do with it. If this involves a separate fund, I can check on the matter to see how we weld it into the aid program.
-On 6 November I asked the Minister for Primary Industry whether it was correct that Dr Cairns had signed an agreement with the People ‘s Republic of China regarding proposed wheat sales and whether it was also correct that the Australian Wheat Board had signed a contract with the Chinese on the wheat sales themselves. Further, why was it that the Prime Minister himself signed another agreement with the Chinese regarding wheat sales? If so, was this correct?
-As I understand the question, it is that Senator Young is reminding me that he asked me those questions some time earlier.
– I have not had an answer from you.
-I am sorry. If the honourable senator has not obtained an answer I will expedite it.
-Is the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security aware that in December 1972 the basic pension was 20.7 per cent of average weekly earnings and that it has now fallen to 19.5 per cent of average weekly earnings?
– I am not aware of the figures, although I assume what the honourable senator says is correct. Nonetheless, I reiterate that he belonged to a government which was in office for 23 years and which did not at any time give an undertaking that pensions would be based on a certain percentage of average weekly male earnings. This Government has done so. This Government is already carrying out that policy and has made 2 adjustments. It will make another adjustment in the autumn session of Parliament of next year.
-No, a new SolicitorGeneral has not been appointed. The matter has not been dealt with by the Governor-General. It has not been dealt with by the Cabinet. It has been drawn to my attention that there are suggestions that a certain person has been appointed. Lest there be any suggestions about that person, so far as I am aware he is not a member of the Australian Labor Party. I do not know whether he belongs to any party. I would like to clarify some other matters. The appointments which have been made in the legal field by the Australian Government have been appointments made on the basis of merit. I think that everyone here would concede that the persons appointed in various spheres have been outstanding in their qualifications. I do not understand anyone to have suggested that there could be any objection taken to any appointment that has been made by this Government in those areas. When an appointment is made to the office of Solicitor-General the Senate will be informed as rapidly as possible.
-Will the Attorney-General answer the second part of my question?
– There is no suggestion that there would be any departure from the salary which had been paid to the previous incumbent of the office. The salary is covered by legislation. There is no suggestion that the legislation will be altered, unless it is in the context of general alterations of the legislation. Let me say that in any event there is no present intention of making an alteration to that legislation. I would like to add, if I have not already said this, that the briefing of counsel by the Government and through the Department and the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor is done, as would be expected, on the basis of the merit, qualifications and capacity of persons who are briefed.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy by referring to the current world fuel shortage. Has any work been done by the Commonwealth in conjunction with the Victorian authorities in respect of the production of liquid fuels and lubricants from brown coal in Victoria by the Victorian Lurgi plant at Yallourn-Morwell? If so, can the Minister say what is the general production capacity of this plant?
-I cannot say. I will have the question answered by the appropriate Minister.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. The Treasurer indicated in his Budget speech that tax concessions in respect of land development costs would not be allowed in the future unless a contract for work was entered into before 2 1 August.
As land development is a continuing process from scrub clearing to pasture establishment and in many cases is carried out without written contracts and quotations, will those landholders who can clearly show that given developmental projects were partly completed as at 2 1 August qualify for tax concessions to the finalisation of those immediate projects?
-I recall the provision referred to by the honourable senator. The proposition that he puts appears to be a reasonable one. I do not know what specific attitude the Treasurer has taken in respect of this matter but I will take it up with him. I think, in the manner in which it has been suggested, it is a reasonable proposition and that the allowance should be made in those circumstances.
(Question No. 553)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
-The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Mr McVEIGH Will the Minister for Social Security table in the House all the information contained in the documents and calculations on which he bases his assertion that health insurance under his proposals will be cheaper for three out of four families and seven out often single persons?
Mr HAYDEN Basically the information used for the purposes of that exercise comes from the Bureau of Census and Statistics publication ‘Income Distribution 1968-1969’ which was published quite recently. It is a simple exercise to update those calculations. When I was in Opposition I received no help from the Government and did the hard work myself. I suggest that members of the Opposition ought to start doing a bit of work too.
– Could I ask the Minister whether he intends to answer question 1 as well as question 2.
– Order! Question time is over.
– But that is not an answer to the first part of the question.
– Order ! There was so much noise in the chamber that I could not hear you, Senator Little. What is it you wish?
– My point is that the answer does not answer at all question 1, which was on notice, and that is whether the amount of 1.35 per cent was to be tax deductible.
– Order! That is not a point of order. You can take such action as is open to you as a senator to deal with this at a later stage of the day.
– I have given some thought to the matter raised earlier by Senator Hannan, namely, whether he should seek leave to play a proposed anthem inside the Senate chamber, and I think this would be improper. However, in order to allow the honourable senator the maximum capacity to publicise something which he obviously wishes to bring to the notice of honourable senators, and since he asked me the question earlier this morning, I have sent a message to the Parliamentary Librarian. As is usual on Wednesday night and Thursday night there will be a screening of films in committee rooms 1 and 2 and I have arranged if Senator Hannan will provide the tape, that it be played as a prelude to the films this evening at 7 o clock.
Formal Motion for the Adjournment
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from Senator Durack, which reads as follows:
November 28, 1973.
Dear Mr President,
In accordance with Standing Order 64, 1 intend to move on Wednesday November 28, 1973:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 10.14 a.m. on Thursday November 29, for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgency, viz
The rapidly growing concentration of excessive and arbitrary power in Canberra by the Federal Labor Government’
Yours sincerely, (Peter D. Durack)
Senator for Western Australia.
Is the motion supported? (More than the number of Senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places).
– I move:
I do so for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely:
The rapidly growing concentration of excessive and arbitrary power in Canberra by the Federal Labor Government.
I have moved this motion to enable discussion on this matter in the Senate today because I believe it raises the most fundamental problem that is facing the Australian people. Certainly it is one which is immediately and daily facing the Australian Parliament and this Senate. The problem as I see it is epitomised in the wording of the matter of urgency I have submitted which I shall read again:
The rapidly growing concentration of excessive and arbitrary power in Can berra by the Federal Labor Government.
I have chosen these words with, I hope, some care and certainly each one of them in my view has a great deal of substance. The concentration of power in Canberra is rapidly growing and has greatly increased since this Labor Government came into office nearly 12 months ago. We are familiar with the fact that probably over the last 30 or 40 years there has been a tendency for more power to be held by the Federal Government in Canberra. Of course the uniform taxation decisions are one of the notable features of that development. But whatever may have been the slow development which had been occurring over many years there cannot be any doubt at all that since this Labor Government- this socialist Government- came into power there has been a rapidly growing concentration of that power. That power is excessive because it is causing a fundamental change in the structure of federalism- the federal system- under which we have lived in this nation for 73 years. Indeed, it is the only system of government under which we have lived as an Australian nation.
That system has been rapidly eroded and torn down by this excessive concentration of power. It is excessive also in some of the extraordinary features that it has had. Again I instance what I spoke of yesterday in relation to the Seas and Submerged Land Bill which was then before the Senate. This Government seeks to apply a new province of control and power over the off-shore areas of Australia. To these areas it applies the laws of the Australian Capital Territory. As I said yesterday, is it thought that Western Australians or Queenslanders will accept for one minute that notion of absolute and excessive power? As I have indicated in my motion, the power which has been concentrated is, in my view, arbitrary power in many ways. It is ironical that the Australian Labor Party, which professed to want to see a return to Parliamentary Government, has been in Government accelerating the arbitrary nature of the powers which are held by the Federal Government and seeking to increase them. I mention in particular the Labor Party’s whole mining policy and the activities of the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) who has acted as far as he possibly can in a completely arbitrary manner. I know that there has been some legislation as well in this field but a great deal of the activities of the Minister has been of a totally arbitrary and arrogant nature. I will deal with that in more detail later if I have time.
I mention also some of the activities of this Government in setting up councils, committees or commissions without any parliamentary discussion and without any parliamentary authority. Such activity involves the spending of money, presumably under Treasury Advances. There are two most notable examples of such arbitrary power, as I see it. The first concerns the present activities of the Council for the Arts which is proceeding to make grants to set up a whole new bureaucracy in this field. I think there are about 7 boards operating under the Council. They are proceeding to advertise for and to appoint staff. But there is no legislative authority as yet for a great many of these appointments. If one looks at the advertisements for these positions one sees it stated that persons are being appointed only temporarily until Parliament actually sets up the bodies. But everybody thinks that a parliamentary body has been established for this purpose. I mention just briefly another example of the arbitrary nature of this Government. This relates to the setting up of what has become known as the Aboriginal Parliament or the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee. Again this is a most vital step to take, but the proposal has never been brought into the Houses of Parliament for debate. No legislative authority has been established by the national parliament for that body. It has been set up by ministerial discretion.
I moved this urgency motion, as I have said already, because of this rapid acceleration of the process of concentrating power in Canberra. This process is gaining momentum. As we approach the first birthday of the establishment of this Labor Government I think it important that we in this chamber should pause and dwell for a few hours today upon this rapid concentration of power and consider it as an urgent and fundamental problem facing not only us but also the Australian electorate, lt is not really surprising that we should have witnessed this process of concentrating power in Canberra under a Labor Government because fundamentally this is the aim of the Australian Labor Party. I was not surprised but I was very disturbed a few months ago when I listened to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) welcome a delegation from the New Zealand Parliament in Kings Hall. In welcoming them he said that he was delighted to greet the representatives of a Parliament and of a nation which to him represented the ideal form of constitutional government- the ideal being that it was a nation with one Parliament and with one House of Parliament. He stressed that that country had only one Parliament and only one House of Parliament governing it. That, of course, is what the Prime Minister wants to achieve in Australia, and by one means or another he is rapidly propelling Australia to that form of constitution. The Labor Party platform, with which I suppose we are all familiar, states quite explicitly that its policy is that the Commonwealth Parliament should have such plenary power as is necessary to carry out Labor’s socialist objectives. It does not contain any words saying that those powers are to be carried out in conformity with a federal system. That system is accepted at the moment by the Labor Party only because it is the system of government under which it has to operate. It is quite clear that the Labor Party’s policy is to obtain plenary power for the Commonwealth Government and ultimately to destroy State governments and State parliaments. At the Labor Party’s recent conference at Surfers Paradise it sought to achieve that end by requiring that it be an obligation of any Labor member of a State Parliament to assist in the reference to this Commonwealth Parliament of such powers as may be necessary to carry out those policies.
I would like to quote further the views of the Prime Minister on the role of Labor members in State parliaments. When delivering the Chifley memorial lecture as long ago as 1957 the Prime Minister said:
Much can be achieved by Labor members of the State Parliaments in effectuating Labor’s aim of more effective powers for the national Parliament. . . . Their role is to bring about their own dissolution.
So this clearly being the philosophy and policy of the Prime Minister, the Labor Party and Labor members in the Senate and in the other place, it is not surprising at all that this should have been the keynote and dominant feature portrayed by this Labor Government in its first 12 months of office. There has been a rapid acceleration of plenary power, which I think is Senator Murphy’s favourite phrase, to Canberra and the creation in Canberra of new bureaucracies one after another. One should also recall the way in which this has been done. I think we should always emphasise and certainly never forget the spectacle of the 2-man Government which ruled this nation for 2 weeks after 2 December. This country was governed by 2 men- the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Barnard). The 2-man Government acted in an arbitrary manner.
– It did a lot of things.
– It certainly did a lot of things, but it did them in a quite arbitrary manner. My complaint is that it did a lot of things in this arbitrary and arrogant manner. Then a constitutional government was established. The first thing which it did was to create 10 new departments of State. It increased the number from 27 to 37. It created 10 new bureaucratic structures, 10 new heads of departments and all the panoply that goes with them. Over this period the socialist Government has established no fewer than 77 new commissions, committees, inquiries, task forces or whatever one likes to call them. The details are worth reading. They can be seen in the House of Representatives Hansard of 1 5 October last in an answer given by the Prime Minister to a question by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden). No fewer than 77 commissions, committees or inquiries of one form or another have been established in Canberra. This is the pattern. There has been this rapidly growing concentration of power in bureaucracies of one sort or another, many of them without any legislative authority behind them. The finance for them is obtained, in the first place, from the Advance to the Treasurer and is then presented as part of the Budget. The Senate is put in the invidious position of having to reject the whole Budget if it wishes to refuse the money for the committees to carry on.
– Have you any idea of the cost of all this?
– We had some idea of the cost of these in the additional Appropriation Bills. It was between $6m and $10m immediately in the last financial year. The cost of all this can be seen quite clearly in the present Budget under which public expenditure has increased by 20 per cent. The Budget this year is 20 per cent higher than the Budget last year. It is $ 12,000m instead of $ 10,000m. It is 20 per cent higher. I believe that the vote for the Public Service is up 24 per cent. It is 24 per cent higher than it was the previous financial year.
These are some of the facts and figures which clearly establish the way in which this Government is rapidly increasing the concentration of power and the inflation of bureaucracy and bureaucratic forms in Canberra. One of the most vital and important aspects about this whole process in the fact that they are all being established in Canberra to exercise vast control over the lives of each and every Australian, many of whom live 2,000 or more miles away. That sort of bureaucracy was epitomised in the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill, which applied the law of the Australian Capital Territory to areas 2,000 miles away. This is arrogance and ignorance of the type of nation that Australia is, its size, the diversities which it has and the interests which can be understood only by the areas closest to the people- the State parliaments and the local authorities.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting for lunch I had established the rapidity with which and the extent to which this socialist Government has been concentrating powers on the old bureaucracy in Canberra and conferring new powers on a whole range of new bureaucratic structures that are being created by it in Canberra. No State of the Commonwealth has been more adversely or more seriously affected by this process than my own State of Western Australia. Although Western Australia covers one-third of the Australian continent it was not until the 1960s that its natural resources were developed to the extent that one would have expected. But in the 1960s Australia captured the imagination of the world by the extent of its mineral discoveries and mineral development in Western Australia. The mining export income which Western Australia, together with the State of Queensland, earned for Australia really saved the Australian nation from a serious economic crisis which would have occurred during the period of the rural recession. But because of the export income that was generated by the mining discoveries and mining developments largely in the States of Queensland and Western Australia, there is no doubt that such a serious crisis was averted. This has been one of the greatest achievements throughout the history of the Australian nation.
These mining discoveries and developments occurred in Western Australia during the 1960s, but since that time this flourishing and vital Australian industry has been virtually dealt a death blow. It has received a series of body blows but it has now been pretty well killed outright by the policies of the socialist Government and the concentration of power in the hands of a few Ministers and bureaucrats in Canberra. The policies that have been so damaging to the mining industry are the types of policies which I strongly criticise in the terms of this motion. These are the sorts of policies that the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Mr Connor, has implemented. One such policy is the requirement that Australian companies deposit thirty-three and one-third per cent of any, foreign borrowings. Together with the Minister’s policy of banning farm-in arrangements, this has been successful if that is the right expression, in dealing this death blow to the mining industry. This blow was dealt in such a manner as to bring the industry to a standstill. Virtually no exploration is being undertaken, because what is the good of it? Why would people be bothered to risk capital, to risk time and to risk energy when they cannot enjoy in any way the fruits of this work, this enterprise and this initiative? They cannot get the capital to carry on mineral development. Apparently it is the policy of the Government to prevent them from doing so. I am not speaking now of the Government’s energy policy or oil policy; I am speaking of minerals generally.
The Government’s minerals policy apparently is inimical to any development, except where local capital is used. The Labor Premier of Western Australia, Mr Tonkin, said the other day that if Western Australia had had to wait until local capital was available for mineral development in Western Australia, that State would still be waiting. Mr Tonkin made some very interesting comments in expressing opposition to the policies being pursued by the Minister for Minerals and Energy. He indicated that it was vital that Western Australia have foreign capital to assist in its development.
However, the Government’s policy on minerals is not the only factor that has been so damaging to the interests of Western Australia. The Budget announced the Government’s policy of taking away concessions from the gold mining industry just at a time when that industry was starting to be revived and when world prices for gold had gone up to a level at which it became economical once again to search for gold and develop gold mining. Yet in one blow the Budget took away all concessions from the gold mining industry, and consequently any encouragement also was taken away. A week or two ago Caucus made a last desperate bid to prevent the electorate of Kalgoorlie from being lost by the Labor Party in the next election. In this desperate eleventh hour bid Caucus changed that decision to some extent by restoring the concessions to mining companies. But the concessions now applying are of only a partial nature. They are a hoax and they hoodwink as far as giving any real encouragement to the development of mining companies is concerned, because they do not give any encouragement to the small investor to risk his capital in gold exploration or development. This move will help only the larger mining companies to keep going for a while, but they probably will not be able to do so without further encouragement and they are not likely to get that encouragement from this Government.
In these circumstances, it is not surprising that there should be talk once again of secession in Western Australia. I hasten to say that I do not agree for one minute with those who express that opinion. I do not want it to be taken that I am advocating that in anything I am saying. But it is important that the Australian Parliament and even this socialist Government should realise the effects that these policies are having on the remoter parts of Australia, particularly the outlying areas of Western Australia and Queensland. As I have said, there is talk again of secession in Western Australia. This is something of which this Government really has to take notice because this talk is a direct result of the arbitrary and arrogant policies- this concentration of power in Canberra- being pursued by this socialist Government.
In addition to the acceleration of power concentration in Canberra, which I have been denouncing, to cap it all this socialist Government is asking the Australian electorate on 8 December to give it more powers- to give it the widest possible powers to legislate in relation to prices and incomes. The Government is saying that it wants these powers in order to deal with inflation. But how honest is the Government in that claim? It has many powers by which it can deal with inflation. It can do something about inflation by curbing its own extravagant expenditures. That is one of the major things that it could do to cope with inflation. The Government has been offered by the State governments a temporary referral of powers to cope with inflation. It already has many powers under the Constitution which it can use. The Prices Justification Tribunal was set up under powers that the Government already possessed. So, in my opinion, it is quite clear that the purpose of this referendum which is seeking more powers for this socialist Government in Canberra has nothing to do with any desire on the part of the Government to fight inflation. Actually it has been largely responsible for increasing inflation at the vast rate at which, it has been increasing and the Government could have done something about this long ago.
The reason it wants these powers is to allow it to implement its centralist, unificationist policies, and I have already quoted the Prime Minister and the Labor Party platform in that regard. The Government wants this referendum carried on 8 December so that it will have more powers to act arbitrarily and arrogantly. It wants plenary powers, as the Government calls them, to put into effect its socialist policies of having a unitary system of government and of abolishing State parliaments and State governments. It wants these powers because they are part and parcel of the ultimate socialist objective of destroying the federal system and establishing a unitary system. Not only does the Government want more powers in Canberra, but also it wants all these powers to be concentated in one House of Parliament in Canberra, because it is notoriously well known that the Government wishes to abolish this Senate which is probably the last real bastion of defence that the people and the States have for this federal system as we know it.
I strongly commend to the Senate the matter of urgency which I have raised, which states that the Senate should treat and discuss as a matter of urgency the rapidly growing concentration of arbitrary power by this socialist Government in Canberra.
– I do not think that anything that has been said so far is likely to inflame the passions of the Senate or anybody outside the Senate either one way or the other. The matter of urgency, which is before the Senate and which was raised by Senator Durack, is delightful in its generality but probably not in any other respect. We have heard today a rather tedious recitation of general grievances which the Liberal Party has about a Labor government. In fact, at the end of Senator Durack ‘s speech he digressed miles away from this question of the growing concentration of excessive power into a discussion of the rights and the wrongs of the goldmining industry. Senator Durack could not even restrain himself from reflecting on the honesty of the Australian Democratic Labor Party in proposing that a referendum should be held to give power over incomes to the Commonwealth Parliament. I take it that Senator McManus will later take up this matter and endeavour to refute the allegations which have been made against him and his Party by Senator Durack. I will leave that to Senator McManus who on behalf of his Party, I am sure, will not wish silently to accept the allegations and innuendoes which have been cast against him by Senator Durack on behalf of the Liberal Party.
What have we heard today? We have heard a tale of woe. I do not think Senator Durack was really very interested in this matter; he certainly did not sound very interested. I suppose that the legislation that is being considered by the Senate is becoming distressing to members of the Opposition. They found they had to debate concrete and substantial matters, so they decided to get back to some waffle in order to repair their breaths for when the substantial legislation which the Government is introducing comes back before the Senate.
What instances did Senator Durack cite for the shocking things which he says are going on- this rapidly growing concentration of excessive and arbitrary power in Canberra by the Federal Labor Government? One of the rather curious instances that he cited referred to the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill, which he seemed to regard as a cornerstone of the socialist policies of the Labor Government. I must say that I find that a rather curious argument. Senator Durack seems to me to be fulfilling a rather new role not only in his peroration when he denounced the DLP because of its incomes policy, but also in the body of his speech when he denounced the majority of his colleagues who voted for all the substantial provisions of the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill when it was passed by the Senate yesterday. Senator Durack reflected very seriously not only on the DLP but also on Mr Gorton and many honourable senators from the Liberal Party who voted for the Government’s proposal.
I do not wish to debate the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill again. I am sure that those Liberal senators and those Liberal members in another place whose integrity and strangely hitherto concealed socialist tendencies have been attacked by Senator Durack will be capable later of defending themselves as, I am sure, Senator McManus will be capable of defending himself from the slurs which have been cast on his Party’s good name by Senator Durack in what he has said today.
– I will not have to defend myself; you are doing it for me.
– I thought that I would give the honourable senator some assistance. I thought that he could use a good advocate. Another instance of the growing and excessive power of this socialist Government, which was quoted by Senator Durack and which I found a little difficult to follow, was the Government’s decision to establish the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee. For the first time in the history of Australia, the Aboriginal people of this country are to be consulted, through a committee elected by them, on what should be done in matters relating to Aborigines so that they, directly through this Committee, can advise the Australian Government and the Australian Parliament on what they, as the people best able to judge, believe to be the interests of the Aboriginal people. Senator Durack says that there is a growing concentration of arbitrary and excessive power in Canberra. But, as I have said, for the first time in the history of Australia, the Government is going to the Aboriginal people in order to seek their advice and to confer with them. We are giving them the right to elect their members to serve on this Committee. I do not follow the point made by Senator Durack but, apparently having raised the matter of urgency, he decided to include all those things which he does not like. I think that Senator Durack would have done much better if, instead of including all these rather tired phrases in the wording of this matter of urgency, had just said: ‘The Senate does not like the Labor Government’, or words to that effect. That is really all Senator Durack had to say. That would have been much more satisfactory than to weigh us down with this cumbersome matter of urgency that we have before us at present.
Senator Durack says that there is a growing concentration of arbitrary and excessive power because various councils have been established to advise the Government on the arts- the visual arts, the graphic arts, music, theatre, films and so on. I do not set myself up as an authority on the manner in which these councils have been formed. I know that there has been some argument as to whether some people have too much influence on the councils and whether some people, who do not have influence, ought to have influence on the councils, but the fact is that again, for the first time in the history of Australia, bodies have been set up, which represent those people who actively practise the arts, to advise the Government on what ought to be done regarding its arts policy. Instead of just saying that a Minister or a permanent head of a department or a bureaucrat in some office shall determine what shall be done about literature, music and films and their development in Australia, we have actually established councils which comprise representatives of those people who practise these arts. It is a democratic process, a broadening of consultation in an important field. Senator Durack, again for mysterious reasons, says that the establishment of these consultative councils is a concentration of excessive and arbitrary powers.
Senator Durack during his remarks repeatedly said that this Government is a socialist Government. I for one do not feel in any way insulted by being described as a socialist. I regard socialism as an admirable goal, but I take it that that is not what Senator Durack believes. I detected a rather unhappy note in his voice, a certain catching of the breath, when he used the word ‘socialist’. I took it to mean that he was not approving of the Government being a socialist Government. Senator Durack had quite a long time in which to speak. He was able to talk about the goldmining industry, the incomes policy and various other things. One would have thought that if he wanted to say that the Government was a socialist Government he would have pointed to some instance of socialism- not of something that might happen in the future, but of socialism, of some proposed nationalisation or transfer to social ownership of some industry at present in private hands.
I listened with great attention, and I did not hear Senator Durack mention one instance of socialism. I heard words rolling out in a monotonous way about the socialist Government, but not one tiny little bit of evidence as to what it was that constituted socialism within this Government. I must confess that had Senator Durack been able to point to some such instance of socialism I personally would have welcomed it; I would not have deplored it. He has told us that many commissions have been set up. I think he said there are 77 of them. Again, in the case of the arts there is not a concentration of arbitrary power in the hands of ministers or permanent heads of departments, but an effort to bring broad sections of the Australian people from the fields in which they are interested and active into consultation with the Government. Is this a concentration of arbitrary power? I say that it is a spreading of power and consultation. It is a spreading throughout the community to those people who are involved in these activities of power to confer with the Government and to assist the Government in making its determinations.
I would have thought that as the honourable senator was moving the motion he could have been a little more precise. He said that it is very expensive to establish all these commissions, that it will cost between $6m to $ 10m. It seems to me to be a very wide and broad spectrum of price range to refer to something costing between $6m to $10m. I would have thought that to be really effective the honourable senator should have been able to work out the figure a little more closely. I must confess that when I am given such a wide range of figures- from $6m to $10m- I for one am inclined to discredit the figures altogether.
Now that I am dealing with the subject of arbitrary power, let me mention some of the changes that have been made to the uses of excessive and arbitrary power by this Government since it was elected. What could have been a more arbitrary and excessive use of power than the conscription of young men to go to Vietnam to be killed and to kill other people? What could be more arbitrary and excessive than that? Which government stopped doing that? It was the Australian Labor Party Government. Go to those people who would have been conscripted to fight in a war in which Australia had no business to be involved and say to them that there was not arbitrary and excessive power in the hands of the Government that wanted to send them to Vietnam and see what they say. Let honourable senators opposite tell them that they are labouring under a government whose power is so excessive and arbitrary that it will no longer send them to Vietnam because it has abolished the National Service Act. This Government has refused to conscript young men to serve in the armed forces. At the same time, it has improved the conditions of service in the armed forces so that we may attract men who will be prepared to volunteer for our armed Services, so that we will have a loyal and dedicated defence force within this country made up of people who joined it because they wished to join it, not because they were compelled to do so.
Is it arbitrary and excessive power when a Government says that for the first time public servants will be able to speak publicly on matters relating to their departments, something which they could not do under the previous Government? Is that arbitrary or excessive power? Of course that is not arbitrary or excessive power. That is an extension of democracy. Is it the action of a dictatorship to say to the employees of the Government- the civil servants- that they are allowed to speak in public without being reprimanded or disciplined for doing so? Is it arbitrary or excessive power to amend the Crimes Act and the Immigration Act so that no longer naturalised Australian citizens will be eligible for deportation from this country? That is another one of the many things which this Government has done in the very short time that it has been in office. Could honourable senators opposite go to a new Australian who has been naturalised and say to him: ‘Is not it a terrible, arbitrary and excessive power being exercised by this Government which has now passed a law which says that you can no longer be deported?’ Of course, it is not arbitrary or excessive power.
Is it an arbitrary or excessive power to introduce legislation such as the Trade Practices Bill in order to break down the power of economic monopolies and oligopolies which rule the economic life of the Australian people; to see that the people can participate in a private enterprise economy, which we still have, on a basis of some equality, or to remove a situation in which there is not government regulation but regulation by private monopolies about which the previous Government said it was going to do something but about which it did nothing? That is a limitation of the arbitrary and excessive power of those economic monopolies. Is it arbitrary and excessive power to introduce a Bill to outlaw racial discrimination in this country? Is that the action of a dictatorship? That is what this Government is doing. It will be interesting to see what the Opposition does about this. I assume that it would oppose any such Bill.
Is it arbitrary and excessive power to introduce a Bill to provide for a charter of human rights for the Australian people? Of course that is not arbitrary or excessive power. It is not the action of a government which wants to exercise arbitrary or excessive power. Whatever criticisms there may be of individual provisions within that Bill, could anyone honestly say that a government which is dedicated to extending arbitrary and excessive power in its own hands would introduce such a Bill which guarantees the rights of the ordinary citizen within Australia? I certainly do not want to go on with this point. I believe that sufficient has been said to snow that Senator Durack has merely given us a repetition of what appeared in last month’s leading articles in the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. Those of us who have the misfortune to rely on that newspaper have already read those articles.
I do not believe that the time of the Senate should be wasted unduly on this matter. I think that the Australian Labor Party needs no debate and needs no argument because it has shown by its actions that it is extending power throughout all of the Australian community and is abolishing arbitrary and excessive power. It is not that Senator Durack and his friends are interested in opposing uses of arbitrary and excessive power; what they wish to do is to preserve the arbitrary and excessive power which, until now, has been in the hands of those people who control the economic wealth of this country. There has been no objection by them to the arbitrary and excessive power of the General Motors Corporation through its wholly owned subsidiary in Australia in increasing prices of automobiles. There has been no objection -
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– For nearly 20 years of my career I was a teacher of Latin. I was very impressed with one line by the Roman poet Virgil which goes: ‘Timeo danaos et dona ferentes’- ‘I fear the Greeks when they come bearing gifts’. When I listened to my friend Senator Wheeldon upholding the right of the Australian Democratic Labor Party not to be criticised and when I tried to recall to mind 95 per cent of the speeches which Senator Wheeldon makes in which he trenchantly criticises the DLP, I wondered, when he was defending the DLP, what was the catch. I have not been able to work it out. I want to refer to only 2 of the considerations which he brought forward and which he said indicated that it was untrue to suggest that his Party was seeking in an undesirable way to concentrate power in Canberra.
I listened to his eloquent defence of the Australian Council for the Arts. I appreciate the wonderful effort which the Australian Labor Party made before the last election to conciliate people interested in the arts. The effort was so successful that when Mr Whitlam held a meeting he had footballers, cricketers, tennis players, dancers and actors attending the meetings. As a matter of fact, I was told that they would have had Piping Lane, the winner of the Melbourne Cup, on stage except that he was not old enough to vote. I only want to say this: As active and energetic as people associated with the arts were in the interests of electing a Labor government, they are just as active and energetic today in telling people that they have been betrayed by the Labor Government and that the organisation that has been set up is the type of organisation that Senator Wheeldon denied it would be. It is an organisation in which bureaucrats in Canberra offices are denying to the people associated with the arts those things which the Labor Government said it would do for them. I quoted only the other day, people from Sir Robert Helpman to Clifton Pugh, a member of the Arts Council itself, who have said that the Arts Council today is an organisation which operates in the interest of a bureaucratic few, an organisation in which there is uncontrolled waste and misuse of government facilities. I would excuse Senator Wheeldon because possibly he is not aware of these facts. If anyone here doubts that the Council for the Arts is not an example of the misuse of power, as exercised by bureaucrats, and of the right to direct money intended for the arts to their own personal aggrandisement, they should go and ask the top people associated with the arts in Australia today.
Everyone knows who runs the arts today. Most people would have said that the arts should have been associated with the Media portfolio. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has taken it to himself. The instruction is that any proposal, any correspondence and anything of a vital nature affecting the arts should not go to a Minister but to Dr Coombs, who appears to be making as big a success of his supervision over the Council for the Arts as he is making of his supervision over Aboriginal affairs. I recall from my reading of history that in 1780 the British Parliament carried a motion which said that ‘the power of the Crown has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished ‘. I believe that the motion before us today could well have been worded to state that the power of the Cabinet, the Executive, and the bureaucracy has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished. If it were so worded, I believe that I would get a sympathetic reaction from some members of the Australian Labor Party who have taken recently in their own Caucus the type of action that I would have expected Labor parliamentarians to take against what they obviously believe is misuse of power by the Cabinet and the bureaucracy in this city.
I believe that the centralised power of the Government is being increased and extended. I believe that today it is more necessary than ever that Parliament should take action to exert its power and deny this excessive increase of power by the Cabinet and the bureaucracy. I agree with Senator Durack that this increase in power probably began when the Government took office. For a period of time Australia was governed by 2 men.
– Very well, too.
- Senator Devitt says that the country was governed very well. I would like to take a referendum in his Party as to whether Labor Party members agree that 2 men should have constituted the Government. I would like to look over the shoulders of some men who are now Ministers. I would like to look over the shoulders of the 5 Ministers who are in this place, including the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy), and get their impression as to whether 2 men should have governed Australia. I asked one Labor man why the Prime Minister had chosen a Cabinet of two. He explained the reason to me. He said that Mr Whitlam wanted a Cabinet of all the members of his Party whom he trusted. (Government senators interjecting)-
– If this uproar continues, Mr Acting Deputy President, I will have to ask Senator Wheeldon to defend me again. Immediately these 2 men took over as the Government of this country we had the remarkable situation that there was a spate of government by executive act and by regulation. All kinds of things were done by executive act and regulation. The Parliament was bypassed and was not consulted. There was an obvious intention that power should be taken out of the hands of the Parliament and innumerable things were done on which Parliament was not allowed to adjudicate. We have since had a flood of legislation through which there is one consistent thread. Trotsky raised the cry years ago: ‘All power to the Soviets’. The present Government is raising the cry: ‘All power to Cabinet’. What we have today is a definite and deliberate decision by the Australian Labor Party to arrogate to Canberra and the bureaucrats, mainly through the exercise of the power of the purse, all power over housing, all power over education, all power over health, all power over minerals, all power over conservation, all power over finance, all power over the control of off-shore minerals, all power over the control of Aborigines and all power over the control of arts and a host of other things.
This attempt by Canberra to arrogate to itself all power reached such an appalling stage that we had the most unusual spectacle of 6 State Premiers- the Premiers of every State in the Commonwealth of whom half were Labor premiers- going to London for the purpose of protesting against what they regarded as being unconstitutional and wrongful attempts by the Commonwealth Government to take power to itself. Why did Mr Dunstan protest in London, why did Mr Eric Reece protest in London and why did Mr Tonkin protest in London if this Commonwealth is not arrogating to itself power which it should not have? We have had the spectacle of Mr Eric Reece protesting at the interference by the Commonwealth in the matter of Lake Pedder. This is only one instance of the fact that while the Prime Minister as the Foreign Minister interfered in the affairs of almost every country in the world, as Prime Minister he interferes in the affairs of every State in the Commonwealth.
We have found as Federal parliamentarians that the amount of work, the amount of legislation, that we are called upon to cover is almost impossible to deal with. Yet, at the very time when the Government places before this Parliament an amount of legislation which is almost impossible to deal with it is greedily grabbing in all directions for other matters over which it intends to take control. I believe that one reason for the failure of the present Government to take advantage of the opportunity which we have given it for a double dissolution is this: The Government knows that the Australian people are appalled at the power hungry character of the Government in Canberra and it is not game to go to the people to get their verdict. What is happening in the field of education is a prime example of this. Before the last election the Prime Minister spoke at a meeting in the Melbourne Festival Hall at which I was present. He received an ovation because he said that no school would have any aid at present being given to it taken from it. The present Minister for Education, Mr Kim Beazley, went to every State and repeated the Prime Minister ‘s words.
We have indicated our intention to support a proposal that the Prime Minister’s promise be kept by his Government. That is all we have said. We have said that we will help the Prime Minister; we will vote so that his promise and the promise of Mr Beazley can be kept. What do we find? The Postmaster-General in another place (Mr Lionel Bowen), who is Acting Minister for Education, says that this is deliberate obstruction, and that if the DLP tries to help the Prime Minister and Mr Beazley to keep their promise, the Government will refuse to give $600m to the schools. He says that the Government will call a double dissolution if the DLP tries to get the Prime Minister and Mr Beazley to keep their promise. I do not know that I have ever heard of a government more bankrupt of principle than a government which says that if people try to get its leaders to keep a promise, it will deprive the children of Australia of $600m in educational aid. If that is not an example of an exercise of power in an arrogant way -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marriott)- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The learned classical scholar who has just sat down has warned the
Senate to beware of Greeks bearing gifts. I suppose this phrase occurred to him because of the revulsion we all know he would feel at the recent acts of the Greek colonels and generals in bearing the gifts of suppression to their people. However, we on this side have learned to beware of conservatives who, under the guise of anti-centralism, lament any disturbance of the status quo. That, of course, is the essence of this tired old cliche of a motion that we have heard today. I do not know whether it is any coincidence that this tired old cliche of a motion should surface just at the time that we have in our midst probably one of the world’s leading exponents of the philosophy behind it. I refer, of course, to that second rate cowboy actor and third rate regional politician, Ronald Reagan, who, addressing the Institute of Directors yesterday, delivered himself of this dictum:
Government is not as efficient as business and government should be a referee and not a player in this game.
One might as well say that what was good for the age of Adam Smith is good for the age of multinational corporations, nuclear weapons and a world wide crisis of the system itself, based on the profligate misuse of resources. This is the philosophy behind this motion. It is a nostalgic regret that life is no longer simple and that government is therefore complex. Senator Durack lamented the fact that the Labor Government had seen fit to introduce 10 new departments of State. What a horror. This of course if merely an acknowledgement of the fact that there are at least 10 new problems to which the Liberal-Country Party coalition failed to advert during its long period of mis-government.
Most of the argument- if one could call it such- that was used in defence of this general proposition that masquerades as an urgency motion consisted of tired, waffling rhetoric, but once or twice Senator Durack did attempt to get down to chapter and verse. Unfortunately, this debate seems to have deteriorated into a misunderstanding and a Bowdlerisation of the Government’s arts policy. I can understand that the Opposition resents the fact that we have an arts policy. One can recall that under the previous Government arts got a casual mention in a Ministry of bits and pieces under the egregious Mr Howson. Let us have a look at what Senator Durack said. He gave the Australian Council for the Arts as an illustration of his proposition that the power being exercised by this Government was being exercised in an arbitrary manner. The point that he was attempting to make in quoting the Council for the Arts- this was evidently not adopted by Senator McManus- was that we were operating in many fields, and particularly in this one, without legislative authority. That was the point that Senator Durack sought to make out of his use of the example of the Council for the Arts.
I do not know what we have to do to satisfy this Opposition. If we introduce legislation allegedly without any preparation, without any reports and without any time for debate, we are reproached. There was a recent wail from the Democratic Labor Party that we were introducing legislation at such a rate that its members did not have an opportunity to do it justice. In the case of the Council for the Arts, I remind the Senate that several weeks ago the Government introduced in the Parliament an interim report of the Australian Council for the Arts setting out in detail what we proposed. We proposed to set up a council- a statutory body- to administer the arts. This report was put down precisely in order to give the Parliament an opportunity of studying what we proposed. But Senator Durack takes this as an example of the exercise of arbitrary power. I ask again: What do we have to do to satisfy this Opposition? What is perfectly obvious is that the Opposition’s lament is not that we are exercising power in an arbitrary, capricious or centralist way. Its lament is, as Senator Wheeldon pointed out, merely that we are in government. If we are to look for any chapter and verse explanation of the purpose of this motion before us today, it really comes down to that.
Senator Durack did concede that over the last 30 years or so there had been a gradual erosion of absolute State power starting with the introduction of uniform taxation. I suggest to Senator Durack and to all senators on the Opposition benches that the real logic of the argument if it can be dignified as such- that they put before the Senate today involves a return to the days before uniform taxation. This is as far as their nostalgia takes them. If they really wish to assist the States by exercising the power which will act as a brake on the wicked centralist socialist government, they will have to go the whole hog and suggest what I make bold to claim they would not dare to suggest, that is, give the taxation power back to the States. Otherwise they have to face the inexorable march of political progress in this country which leads to greater” centralism in governments, no matter which Party is in office. The process of centralising government in this country was proceeding apace under the Liberal-Country Party coalition. To suggest that it received a vast acceleration when we came to office is to misread history.
What honourable senators opposite are complaining about is that the Australian people since 2 December have had an activist government which wishes to make available to the Australian people all the fruits of the opportunities which nature has given them- a government which wishes to make them available to the people of this country untrammelled by sellouts to overseas companies which was par for the course during the previous Government’s day. What they are objecting to is that there is now a government which wants to do something; not merely a government which wants to preside over what is happening, which is what we had for 23 years.
If, in order to carry out our activist program, we have to appoint more commissions, such as the 77 new commissions which Senator Durack referred to with such horror, it merely highlights the fact that when we came to office we were confronted with the task of clearing out the Augean stables which had been bequeathed to us after 23 years of mis-government and nongovernment. Of course, this is a mess which cannot be swept away without some manpower. We have availed ourselves of the skills and expertise in the community to sweep away a mess which was left to us by previous governments. We make no apology for the fact that we are doing this and suggest that the real gravamen of this motion today is not a complaint about arbitrary government or centralist government; it is merely a wail from the Opposition because it is not in government and we are.
– I wholeheartedly support this urgency motion. I make it clear that the Australian Country Party which I represent in this Parliament wholeheartedly believes in the federal system of government in the free enterprise system that has operated in this country since Federation, lt believes also that people in remote areas should have reasonable say in the government of the country. The contrary position put by members and supporters of the Government is that all the say should be concentrated in Canberra and that Sydney and Melbourne should have the power to control. Let us look at the Australian Labor Party’s platform and policy. I know that it believes in centralism because this has been part of its platform and policy for years. It believes in the abolition of the States. In fact it believes in the abolition of the House of this Parliament which represents the States.
– Where is that written in the policy?
-Senator McLaren knows very well where it is written into his Party’s policy. The Labor Party’s socialisation platform seeks to socialise the means of production, distribution and exchange. These are its policies and in order to implement them it must have a centralist system. It cannot have autonomous State bodies or local authorities operating independently; it must have a centralist system. In order to implement its policy of socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange, we have had since 2 December a whole host of legislation pushed into this House aimed at doing just that.
-To implement the Government’s policy. Do honourable senators opposite want me to repeat it? Their policy is for socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange. The Government has introduced into this Parliament legislation to control fuel resources, mineral resources, health, education and Aborigines in this country. Name it, and the Government has done it. Of course, in respect of the people my Party has represented over the years- the primary producers of this country- the Government is doing everything in its power to bring them to heel and under control. The Budget introduced by this Government is the worst in the history of the national Parliament for the primary industries of Australia. Unfortunately, because the primary producers of this country are individual owners of their properties- free thinkers-this Government wants nothing to do with them. The Government knows that these people will never support its socialisation platform and the centralist powers that it wants to achieve. We have seen the legislation that has come before this House. In the next 10 days or so the Government will try to fool the people of Australia with a referendum seeking price control powers. If this is not an example of trying to get centralist control I do not know what is. The Government knows that if it put its true polices before the people of Australia they would be rejected out of hand.
– They did not reject them at the last election.
-But Senator McLaren’s Party does not put its true policies at election time. That is the interesting pan. It brings them in only through the back door, as it is seeking to do by way of the prices and incomes referendum to be held on Saturday week in the hope that the people will be fooled into giving powers to this centralist Government under the guise that these powers will control inflation. Of course, the powers will be used in all sorts of directions. I invite honourable senators to consider some of the legislation that has come before this Parliament- legislation designed to control industry and the people of this country. I suppose the prime example is the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, whereby the Government aimed to bring industry to its knees by not only waiving penalties but also by giving to trade union leaders and their stooges exemption from civil action and by making union amalgamations easier. Once it is able by these means to place industry in a situation of difficulty the Government has only to use the powers of taxation and tariffs to put industry into further difficulties.
If the people of this nation are prepared to give the Government price control powers, the Government will have the final weapon it needs to bring industry right down. The Government has brought into this Parliament new and reformed legislation relating to the Australian Industry Development Corporation to enable the AIDC to be used as an instrument to take over when industry fails. This is the great socialisation platform being put into effect. I compliment the State of Queensland and its Premier in particularhe has always been denigrated in this Parliament- for the stand he has made for the people of Queensland. I instance the stand he made in London when this Government tried to take away the right of appeal to the Privy Council, and the stand he is making now in trying to pass through the Queensland Parliament legislation in an endeavour to safeguard Queensland and its people from this control which the Government seeks to obtain through the prices referendum. Of course, that action has been rubbished by members on the other side of the House. Senator Wheeldon tried to fob it off. I do not know whether Senator Wheeldon believes in the socialist platform and the socialisation of the members of production, distribution and exchange, though I understand that the does believe in it, but he speaks about the United Nations and of the legislation the Government has brought in which conforms to the United Nations charter.
Senator James McClelland had to pick on somebody or attach a tag to somebody and it was Ronald Reagan. What the devil has Ronald Reagan got to do with the centralising of government in Australia? This nation has to realise that it is being fooled by this Government and by a lot of legislation being introduced which may not appear on the surface to be very dangerous. In fact, in some cases it appears to be acceptable.
But when we take all this legislation into consideration we find that the Labor Party platform for the socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange is starting to fall into line. By throwing out legislation in this chamber we have challenged the government to go to the people and say honestly that this is what it believes in. It believes in centralised government. It believes in the complete socialisation of industry in this country. I say to the Government: ‘Go to the people and say that. See what your answer will be. ‘ But, no, it is not prepared to go to the people until it has to. It is implementing its policies through the back door. I heard two previous speakers from this side of the chamber mention the 2-man Government. I say ‘2-man Government’ because there is little doubt that if the Labor Party gets into Government again it will be a one-man government, not for a few weeks but for a few months and even longer. I wonder how the Caucus of the Labor Party will react to that.
– What rubbish!
-The honourable senator has not been very vocal on the matter. I notice that certain messages come out every now and again showing not only that Caucus resists a 2-man government to this country but also that it resists even Cabinet control of this country.
– Where do the messages come from?
– The messages go around and they seem to come back here shortly afterwards in the form of legislation or amendments to legislation. Obviously this has emanated from Caucus. I hope that while honourable senators opposite sit here and are prepared to have a socialisation program of bureaucratic control put before them, in Caucus they will exercise the rights of the people whom they represent.
-Of course Senator Devitt would know all about it. He comes from a farming community in Tasmania. He knows exactly what goes on. I say that honourable senators on the back benches of the Labor Party sincerely want to represent the people of their States in this chamber. I refer particularly to Queensland. The Seas and Submerged Lands Bill passed through this chamber yesterday. There are 10 honourable senators here from Queensland. Six of us resisted the proposed takeover of the Great Barrier Reef by the Federal Government. Four honourable senators on the other side wriggled in their seats knowing full well what the people of Queensland believe in relation to whether Sydney or Melbourne should control the Barrier Reef. Of course the people of Queensland who love their Barrier Reef and who know it should be the ones who control it.
– That is why the honourable senator wants to allow drilling for oil there.
-Senator McAuliffe can talk about drilling for oil. I ask him to prove that any of the leases which were granted will endanger the Reef. He should go into the facts. He should read the report of the royal commission. Then he would know. But this centralist Government down here has no knowledge whatsoever of Queensland. It wants to dictate what we in Queensland should do. I support the motion.
– We have just heard an impassioned speech from an honourable senator who, most of the time, would not even know whether he was in Canberra. He talked about the Australian Labor Party seeking a referendum on price control. How can the honourable senator stand in this place and say that there has not been price control in Australia over the last 25 or 30 years? Of course there has been price control. But it has not been a control in the interests of the people; it has been control in the interests of monopolies and international cartels. It has been in their interest that price control has been imposed. I do not want to spend much time on this matter. The honourable senator talked about Caucus. If he knows anything about the Parliament he knows what Caucus is. But he was reared in the era of dictatorship. Who wrote the Menzies book about dictators, the belief in Cabinet government and the belief that back benchers should not have any say in government? That is the role which this honourable senator comes to Canberra to perform. He wants to sit in his seat and take no part in government. That is the role that he wants to perform. The motion before the Senate for discussion states:
The rapidly growing concentration of excessive and arbitrary power in Canberra by the Federal Labor Government.
The Constitution was written by the fathers of this Federation back in the 1890s. It is the Constitution which governs this Parliament, the Senate and the House of Representatives. If anyone talks about excessive and arbitrary powers let him stand up and say where this Constitution has been contravened. It has not been contravened at all; if it was, these people who talk about concentration of power and arbitrary power would have an action in the High Court within 5 minutes. Everything which the Labor Party Government has done- and it has done it for the benefit of Australia- has been within this Constitution and under the powers given, in the main, 70 years ago. There have been some slight alterations to the Constitution by the people and not by anyone else. Yet the Opposition says that we are using excessive and arbitrary powers. These are the powers, old as they are, which we are exercising and under which we are governing. So it is complete and utter rot for members of Parliament to say that we are using excessive and arbitrary powers. We are using the powers which were given to us and we will continue to use those powers and to extend them as far as the Constitution will allow in order that the Australian people may have good and active governmentnot a government of the kind they have had over the past 23 years.
– What a lot of rubbish.
– You are always talking about rubbish, senator. The only good thing about you is that on 30 June you will be rubbish. You will be out of this place. Your history in this place will be written forever. Senator Durack talked about a one-third deposit on foreign money coming into this country.
– Foreign borrowings.
– Yes, foreign money coming into this country. The honourable senator knows as well as anyone else that the open door policies of McMahon, Gorton, Holt and Menzies were the reasons why these monetary policies had to be adopted- there had to be a brake on the ownership of Australia. I can remember sitting in this place on many occasions and listening to the Opposition. If someone outside said something about the Australian Labor Party it asked: ‘Who governs Australia?’ But none of the honourable senators ever thought about who owned Australia. Today they still do not think about who owns Australia. When Senator Durack stood up to move this motion he was nothing more than the mouthpiece of Sir Charles Court, the great development man built up in Western Australia. He is the great man who took advantage of the lifting of the embargo on the export of iron ore. He did not have one thing- not one thing- to do with the development of Western Australia. It was the lifting of the embargo on the export of iron ore and nothing else which gave Western Australia its boost in development.
I was rather surprised that Senator Durack did not attack the oil industry. But he did go so far as to attack the Labor Party for its refusal to allow farm-ins in exploration permit areas in Western Australia. He said that it was this action by the
Labor Party- although Mr Connor got the credit for it- which was stopping the exploration development of oil in Australia. Let us understand a couple of things about this matter. If the honourable senator does not understand then I propose to tell him. Of the off-shore areas in Western Australia West Australian Petroleum Pty Ltd has 63,000 square miles to explore. Woodside-Burmah has 104,000 square miles to explore in Western Australia and 36,000 square miles in the adjacent Northern Territory area. Esso-BHP has 63,000 square miles to explore in the Bass Strait. Because of a royal commission into what damage may be done to the Great Barrier Reef, no permits have been let in the adjacent area of Queensland although some drilling did take place previously. All I ask Senator Durack to tell me is this: Where do you put a hole and how do you explore if you do not have acreage to explore? This is the whole point. In the period way back to 1951 the States gave these great areas to the oil monopolies of the world and there is nowhere for anyone else to explore until probably the end of next year when these companies have to start relinquishing half of their permit areas. Then we will see some exploration because there will be acreages for people to explore. At the present time all the prospective areas of Australia are held by the oil monopolists of the world.
– Why did Labor do it? Can you explain that?
– In Western Australia it was done by the McLarty- Watts Government. The honourable senator would not understand what I am saying because he does not travel far enough. In Victoria it was done by conservative governments. There has been nothing done in New South Wales. In Queensland it was done by Country Party governments. There is nothing much in South Australia and there is nothing much in Tasmania, as the honourable senator well knows. These areas were given away by conservative governments- the people that pandy to the international cartels who put funds into the Parties of the conservatives. I know that in 1949 one hundred thousand pounds was sent to the Liberal Party in Australia from the Conservative Party in England. This was the sort of foreign investment that the British Conservative Party believed in. They still believe in foreign investment. The Opposition still believes in that form of foreign investment.
– Can you substantiate that charge?
-I do not have to substantiate anything to you, Senator. I have said it in the world councils where I did not have privilege.
– Tell us what Ken Myer gave the Labor Party and what Marrickville Margarine gave the Labor Party.
-The only thing that is wrong about Ken Myer is that he advocated a change of government and the honourable senator has not yet come to realise that his Party is not in government. That is what this motion is all about. Honourable senators opposite cannot accept the fact that they are not still in government. Senator Durack was most surprised that the Labor Party would not continue with a proposition to put a tax on the gold mining companies. Why was he surprised about this? He was surprised because he would not be able to use it as a weapon against the Labor Party in the coming Senate election. He is not the least bit concerned about the gold mining industry. If he did not have a map he would not know where it was located. He is not the least bit concerned about it; he was concerned at the loss of the propaganda value of that proposition. To move this sort of motion which talks about concentrated excessive and arbitrary powers of government in Canberra and not be able to point to one instance where the Government has exceeded the powers given to it is complete and utter hypocrisy.
– In a few days time the Australian Labor Party will be celebrating its first birthday as the Government of this country. No doubt the Federal Labor Party will be celebrating its birthday but I doubt very much whether this nation will go along with the celebrations. More importantly, I am certain that none of the State governments will be invited to the birthday party because of the complete disregard which this Government has shown for the State governments and the States themselves.
– Bob Hawke will be lucky if he gets an invitation.
– I heard that comment about Bob Hawke not coming. I do not know whether he will be here because I have not seen the invitation list. What we have seen in this first year of office has been the concentration in Canberra of this great monolith of centralism which has emanated from the policies of the Australian Labor Party. I might emphasise that they are the work of the Federal Labor Party. Senator Cant mentioned earlier that he would not agree that there are excessive powers operating from Canberra. I know that he referred to the Constitution and said that everything that had been done came within the Constitution. The State governments have been extremely concerned about the increased and excessive power, the obsession for total power, emanating from Canberra. This was borne out by the fact that representatives of the State governments, irrespective of their politicsthey included Labor governments- made a trip to London to the Privy Council. They went there because of their fears and concern about the direction in which the Federal policies of the Labor Party were heading.
It is not unexpected that we find this big buildup of centralism in Canberra; nor is it unexpected that at the same time we should find a determined effort on the part of this Government to erode State governments and the powers of State governments with the ultimate aim of the eventual abolition or destruction of State governments throughout the Commonwealth as we know them today. I might be old fashioned but I still use the word ‘Commonwealth’. I will comment again on that point later. It is not surprising that we find this obsession for the destruction of the States because Mr Whitlam, the Prime Minister, has stated this on many occasions. I refer honourable senators to a seminar held in Canberra at the Australian National University as recently as November 1971 at which the subject was ‘Intergovernmental Relations’. In dealing with structures Mr Whitlam said things which I wish to quote verbatim in order to make sure that nobody can accuse me of taking his words out of context or of omitting a word which should not be omitted. He said:
The State boundaries arranged at Whitehall in the middle of the last century and the local government boundaries devised in the State capitals early this century have little relevance to today’s needs. Ideally, our continent should have neither so few State governments nor so many local government units.
I want to emphasise the following words:
We should not have a federal system of overlapping parliaments and a delegated but supervised system of local government. We should have a House of Representatives for international matters and nationwide national matters, an assembly for the affairs of each of our dozen largest cities and regional assemblies for the few score areas of rural production and resource development outside those cities.
Two very significant points come from that statement by Mr Whitlam. The first is that he stated that he would abolish the federal system as we now know it and do away with State parliaments. The second is his reference to Canberra and the Federal sphere. He said that we should have a House of Representatives. He made no mention of the Senate. If there is one thing that this Government would like to do it is to abolish the Senate. I pose the question: Why? It is not purely to get away from a bicameral or 2 -house system; it is to get away from the 2 Houses of Federal Parliament and to have a single House or unitary system in Canberra. If the Government were able to do this, it would place itself in the glorious position of being able to dictate completely to the rest of Australia its policies and its desires.
The one safeguard which this nation has at present and which stands between the Federal Government and its radical policies by which it wishes to get full power and control unto itself in Canberra- the ohe bastion which stands between those desires and which protects the interests of the people- is the Senate. I can understand why the Labor Party wishes to abolish the Senate. When I say that it is the Labor Party’s desire to abolish the Senate I am not using light words, because the abolition of the Senate is Labor Party policy. This policy was declared at the Launceston Conference. I heard no report, nor can I find any report, from the recent conference at Surfer’s Paradise regarding this matter. I question the reason. I can assume only that it was not discussed for the simple reason that the previous policy in favour of the abolition of the Senate would have been carried, and this would have made headlines in the Press. As I understand the policy of the ALP today, it is still for the abolition of the Senate.
Senator Cant said that the Government had worked within the Constitution in all that it had done. Nobody on the Government side has denied the Government’s centralist policies or centralist desire to have all power unto itself. It was stated that the Government had not abused the Constitution in any way at all and that anything it had done in relation to excessive power had been done constitutionally. I will not argue with that statement, but I say that the Government has abused the operation of section 96 of the Australian Constitution. The fathers of Federation, in their wisdom, included section 96 in the Constitution to give assistance to the smaller and less affluent States- to give grants for specific purposes. Section 96 states: the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.
In other words, section 96 enables a government to make a grant to a State for a specific purpose, but in the process of making that grant it can also say how that money is to be spent. Earlier I said that I doubted whether the Premiers, whether they are Labor or non-Labor Premiers, would be in Canberra for the birthday party later this week. I also fear that the Premiers will not be coming back to Canberra under the old system of a Premiers Conference chaired by the Prime Minister. No doubt they will not be invited, for the prime reason that this Government will in future make available to the States as much money as it possibly can by way of section 96 grants which will be on such terms and conditions as this Government thinks fit.
If this is not centralism being carried out to the maximum, I do not know what is. This is a complete power and direction from Canberra to the State Parliaments, and it affects each citizen of this country. Extreme centralism in itself is a frightening thing because it creates a situation in which bureaucracy can run rife and it finishes up with a situation in which government gets too far away from the people. We have seen the result in other countries when government has got too far away from the people. The people in the country suffer. I remind the Government that what government should be all about is government for the people. The most important thing in any country is the individual. He makes up his country. It is not the physical environment which makes a country great; it is the people within that environment who make it great. Unfortunately, the Government tends to go too far in the direction of its policies which, at times, can have a very adverse effect on the individual, his rights and personal freedoms.
I refer to the Government’s complete disregard for the States. I refer particularly to what has happened in my home State of South Australia. In recent times there have been 2 examples of how this Government has seen fit to ride completely roughshod over the desires, needs, responsibilities and commitments of the State Government. It is not a case of the State Government being of a different political colour, because the South Australian State Government is also a Labor Government. Recently, in the last few weeks, concern has been expressed about the brandy tax. Last year during the Federal election campaign the Premier of South Australia campaigned for the Federal Labor Party to win office in Canberra. Not only Mr Dunstan but ALP senators and members of the House of Representatives, including one who is a Minister today, Mr Grassby, went to the irrigation areas and the wine areas. Mr Dunstan stamped up and down the vineyards and other places saying: This is what we will do. This is what we guarantee’. The Prime Minister authorised Mr Dunstan to say that Labor would abolish the wine tax. What has happened now? That promise has been completely dishonoured. In place of the wine tax the Labor Party has imposed a further tax upon the wine and brandy industry. Do not take my word for this. I quote very briefly reported comments of the Premier of South Australia who was so concerned about this matter that he went to Press very heavily on it last weekend. He said:
I have been placed in a position no politican should be placed in by his colleagues. I resent that position.
A political promise made by a Party going into office should be kept.
It was Mr Whitlam who authorised the statement I made to the wine industry.
I would have thought that in any regard for me personally, apart from anyone else, he would have honoured the promise I made on his behalf and at his behest.
I emphasise those words ‘at his behest’.
The other issue to which I refer is the issue of Dartmouth. The 5 South Australian LiberalCountry Party senators one evening heard about a letter which had been sent by the Prime Minister to the Premier of South Australia and which requested that the construction of Dartmouth be deferred and spoke on it on the adjournment. It was a request to defer a dam which is urgently needed in South Australia. One of the great problems which is preventing the expansion of South Australia is the shortage of water. A lot of time had been lost already with regard to the construction of the dam. Yet the Prime Minister, with all the millions that the Government is spending in so many ways, requested that the States defer further construction for the time being. It would have saved the Federal Government something in the vicinity of a paltry $ 1 . 1 m. At the same time this Government had representatives in the United States of America negotiating the purchase of a painting which has committed the Government to an expenditure of $ 1.3m, plus commission of $100,000, plus the cost of insurance, transport and everything else. No doubt by the time the painting reaches this country the cost will probably be around $2m. This Government was more concerned with a bit of dried paint on canvas than it was with the needs and welfare of the people of South Australia. It is a clear example of the way in which a centralist government has its priorities completely mixed up. It overlooks what should be the No. 1 priority of any government, namely, the people in the community.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marriott)- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– One never ceases to be amazed at the attitude of honourable senators opposite. The truth of the story is that they have not realised even yet that an election was held on 2
December last and that the voice of the people was such that there was a change of government. The simple story behind this urgency motion, as is evidenced by many of the contributions made by Opposition senators in this chamber, is that Opposition senators have not resigned themselves to the fact that they are in opposition and that a new Government is in office. As my colleague Senator Cant said in his address, this urgency motion regarding excessive and arbitrary powers in Canberra is a phoney. The real reason behind this motion being moved today, particularly when the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast, is to give the Opposition an opportunity to attack the Government and to express its spleen because it is no longer the government.
Opposition senators have convenient memories, because 2 December when the people were asked to vote at an election was not so long ago. It will be recalled that prior to the election the Australian newspapers, which traditionally have been anti-Labor for a long period of years, were advocating on their pages a change in government. Big business which also has been traditionally anti-Labor and which has financed the election campaigns of Liberal-Country Party governments for a long period of years was also advocating that it was time for a change. We do not need to be reminded of the position of the economy on the eve of the election. We know that there was no planning in relation to the economy. People had lost confidence in the economy. They had lost confidence in the Government. Everyone knows that unemployment was at a high level. The record of the previous Government which was in office between 1969 and 1972 shows that in 1969 unemployment stood at 49,000 and that in 1972, when that Government was defeated, unemployment stood at more than 100,000, which indicates a proud record of an increase of more than 100 per cent in the unemployment rate in this country over that period. The only boast that the previous Government can make is that unemployment ran wild, the economy lacked planning, and the electorate generally had lost confidence in the government. By a resounding and overwhelming victory at the polls Labor became the Government.
Let us analyse what has happened since the Labor Party came into office and the Twentyeighth Parliament started to legislate on 27 February. During its first 100 days in office, when the Opposition was ridiculing the 2-man ministry or criticising the Government in relation to other matters, this Government- the facts are recorded in Hansard for anybody to readachieved more than the previous governments had achieved in the 23 years that they were in power. The record speaks for itself. Since the Twenty-eight Parliament assembled on 27 February this year a record total of 232 Bills has been introduced into the Parliament-this was the figure as at 22 November of this year- and the session is still unfinished. Never before in all our history has such a wide-ranging, reforming program come before the Parliament.
The next best to this record in the history of the Australian Parliament occurred in 1968 when 169 Bills were introduced into the Parliament and 157 were passed. It might be of interest to honourable senators in the chamber to know that of the 232 Bills so far introduced- there are more to come because the year is not out yet- 1 5 7 have already been passed, despite the fact that the Government does not have a majority in the Senate. In relation to the previous record of 157 Bills passed by the non-Labor Government in 1968, it might be well to bear in mind that that government which passed 157 of its 169 Bills commanded a majority in the Senate on almost every issue. It can be safely forecast that the record of this Government will comfortably exceed that of the Government in office in 1968. Surely this is not the action of a government which is drunk with power or which wants centralist control; it is the action of a government which has come into office, sprung into action and been prepared to legislate and do something.
Let us have a look at the measures which have emanated from a government which, it is alleged, is self interested in gaining additional powers at the expense of the Australian public. The structural transformations carried out by the Australian Labor Government’s legislative record include matters dealing with the Grants Commission, the Cities Commission, the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, and the Australian National Airlines Commission. Legislation has been introduced in relation to the Australian Industries Development Corporation and the Trade Practices Commission. Legislation which has been approved and which is waiting to come forward is concerned with the Exports Payments Insurance Corporation. Certain structural innovations have been carried out by this Government also. These have not been to the detriment of the Australian people and they are not the result of the actions of so-called power drunk bureaucrats here in Canberra. Legislation has been passed in this regard in relation to the Pipeline Authority, the Prices Justification Tribunal, the Australian Electoral Office, the Film and Television School, the Insurance Commission and the Commonwealth Teaching Service. Legislation has been introduced to establish the National Investment Fund, the Social Welfare Commission, the Industries Assistance Commission and the Schools Commission. Legislation which has been approved and which is yet to be introduced is concerned with the establishment of the Petroleum and Minerals Authority, the Export Bank and the National Parks and Wildlife Commission.
No one with any common sense or any decency at all could say that any of those legislative measures have been to the detriment of any section of the Australian community. They are the hallmark of a Government that has shown initiative and sincerity in purpose, a Government that has shown a keen desire to honour the pledges that it gave when it was campaigning for the 1972 election. I heard Senator Maunsell from Queensland criticising this Government for implementing its election promises. No doubt ringing in his ears clearly still must be the promise made by a former Prime Minister and member of a former Liberal government- Sir Robert Menzies- who in 1949 promised to put value back into the pound. The Liberal-Country Party coalition was in office for 23 years, and that promise was not fulfilled. What Labor promises it will do, Labor will carry out. That is the record of the Australian Labor Party. Surely no one on the Opposition side will challenge what the Labor Party proposes to do in the field of education.
– It has broken a promise on education.
– It is said that we have ‘ broken a promise. I will answer that interjection in a moment. In the financial year 1973-74 this Government will spend $843m on education, an increase of $404m or 92 per cent on that spent last year during the term of the previous Government. For the 2-year period 1971 and 1972 the McMahon Government spent $40. 5m on government schools. This Government will spend 12 times that amount- $495m. How often have we heard it said in this chamber that this Government is opposed to non-government schools? Is it the action of a government opposed to non-government schools to increase the grant of the McMahon Government of $71. 5m to $192m? Let us look at the area of Aboriginal affairs. Honourable senators opposite can examine any piece of legislation and they will find that the performance of this Government compares more than favourably with that of any other government in the history of this nation. The
Labor Government will spend $1 17m on Aboriginal affairs in 1973-74. This is double the amount which was spent in 1972-73. The significant improvements will be made in the fields of housing, health and education and in providing employment training facilities. Are these the actions of a Government that is seeking excessive powers and centralist control, or of a dictatorial Government that has a disregard for the welfare of its people?
Let us have a look at how this amount of $1 17m will be spent on Aboriginal affairs. It will be spent as follows: $32.4m on housing, $2 1.3m on education, $ 12.9m on health, $9.Sm on missions and settlements, $ 10.8m on community activities, $2m on legal aid and $28. 3m on advanced programs. Surely this is the action of a humanitarian Government that has a regard for the wellbeing and welfare of the Aboriginal people who were disregarded by previous governments for so long. So much for education and Aboriginal welfare.
Let us quickly analyse the activities of the socalled bureaucrats, the obsessed-with-power Government that we have in Canberra today. Let us have a look at the social welfare field. Under the Snedden Budget of 1972 the age and invalid pension was fixed at $20 a week. Already it has been increased to $23 a week in the Crean Budget. Under the Snedden Budget the combined married rate pension was fixed at $34.50 a week. In the Crean Budget it was increased to $40.50 a week. I could also refer to widows’ pensions, to unemployment, short-term sickness and special benefits, to long-term sickness benefits, to supporting mothers’ benefits and to the other humanitarian and social welfare legislation in order to indicate what this Government has achieved in 12 months. I repeat: Surely this is not the action of a Government that is rapidly concentrating excessive and arbitrary power in Canberra. Let us ask the Australian people whether all these things which I have enumerated regarding social welfare, education and so on have been achieved as a result of the rapid concentration of excessive and arbitrary powers in Canberra. They will give their answer at the first opportunity when this Government goes to the polls and asks the people for a mandate to continue the policies. Of course they are good policies.
It was said earlier, by interjection, that the Australian Labor Party and the Prime Minister did not keep an election pledge regarding education. I presume that the honourable senator who interjected was referring to the lack of financial assistance to schools that fall within category
We take the attitude that in the coming school year of 1973 this Bill must therefore be allowed to proceed. But we give a fair warning that if we are in power, while there will be an expenditure on non-government schools of no less than the sum total that will be appropriated in this Bill, the appropriation will be reapportioned- it will be reapportioned on the basis of need.
That is the promise that the Labor Party made in this Parliament on 26 September 1 972, and in no way whatsoever has the Labor Party repudiated that promise.
During this debate reference has been made to inflation. One would think that inflation is something new; that it has come to light only since December 1972; that it was manufactured by this Government. Let me take the minds of honourable senators back to 1949 when the Liberal-Country Party coalition Government first came to power at the commencement of its 23-year term of office. At that time inflation was running at a rate of 8.4 per cent, but after the first Fadden Budget was brought down in 1 950, the rate of inflation rose to 12.2 per cent. After the second Fadden Budget in 1951, the rate was 22.5 per cent.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson)- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– It is quite obvious that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), Mr Clyde Cameron and Cassius Clay have a competitor. The saying now is not ‘I am the greatest’, but ‘We are the greatest’. It is significant that Senator McAuliffe did not address himself at any stage of his speech to the subject before us. He chided us for not realising that there had been a change of government. One section of the community realises that there has been a change of government, and that is the State Premiers, Labor and non-Labor alike, as I will show in a moment. No matter is more relevant to be debated in the Senate than this one. Constitutionally, the Senate is a House of the States and it exists, to some extent, to protect the rights of the States in our Federal system. The Prime Minister, by his own words and his own action, continually has shown a contempt for State governments of all political complexions, their views and their responsibilities. The States are a part, an essential part, of our Federal system of government. The Prime Minister’s objective- and he has made it clear- is to destroy the States and to centralise all power in Canberra, hopefully, of course, in his hands.
The Prime Minister is on record as having said- and Senator Durack quoted him- that the State Labor governments should work towards their own disillusion. So what we see is an objective to gain absolute power. We are already witnessing the truth of a saying by Lord Acton many years ago, that all power corrupts and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. We are already seeing at work the result of the corruption of power. We see an arrogant and reckless abuse of power. It is interesting that this abuse of power was condemned by the Australian Public Service Federation which met, I think in Sydney recently. That Federation cannot be accused of political bias. A report of that meeting was published in the ‘Australian’ on Friday, 23 November 1973. It states:
It carried a resolution calling for all necessary action to be taken to protect the rights and responsibilities or the State public services.
There was blatant dictatorship of centralist government and bureaucratic directive which are quickly destroying the constitutional fabric of the States’ sovereignty. Mr O. 0’Carroll of Victoria, said.
That is a condemnation. The report continues:
Public servants who went to Canberra, cap in hand, on behalf of their governments, had found the minister submerged in his think tank, surrounded by all his imported intellectual whiz kids or task forces.
Invariably, his permanent department head was well hidden and silenced in the background, Mr 0’Carroll said.
You will be told by these theory merchants, who have little or no experience in practical application, how they, with the weird and wonderful ideas, will solve all your problems if you act like a good little boy and do exactly as they say.
That is the view of a public servant- again, he cannot be accused of political bias- based on his experience in coming to Canberra on behalf of his State government. Surely if there is a condemnation of the actions of this Government, it is here.
I wish to speak this afternoon of the quite irrational and arrogant threats made last week to interests in my State of Western Australia by the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor), because no State is suffering more from the ideological hangups and dictatorial and arbitrary decisions of this Minister than is Western
Australia. Despite what Senator Cant had to say, no State has made greater progress in mineral development than has Western Australia under Liberal governments, supported by the present State Labor Government. Of course, we relied to a great extent upon overseas capital. Without it, Western Australia’s minerals would never have been developed. But last week’s ill-humoured and rather vulgar attack made by the Minister upon, in some cases, unnamed people in Western Australia–
– Which Minister made the attack?
– The Minister for Minerals and Energy made the attack. I have already mentioned that.
– He was only retaliating for what Sir Charles Court said.
– It is unfortunate that the honourable senator mentioned Sir Charles Court because the Minister made a statement, which was completely untrue, concerning what Sir Charles Court is alleged to have said. Sir Charles Court, in his reply,, has given the lie direct to the Minister’s statement. Let Mr Connor dwell on that.
– It would be handy if you looked at the transcript of the television interview.
– The Minister misquoted the transcript of the television interview.
– I have got it.
– The honourable senator should look at it again to see where Mr Connor misquoted it. A report of last week carries the headline: ‘Mr Connor Accuses Disloyal Junta in Western Australia’. He went on in an irrational manner and he accused members of this unnamed junta of wanting to sell Australia’s natural resources to foreign interests for their own benefit. I hope that honourable senators, and particularly Senator Cant, will note what Mr Connor said, because I wish to quote what was said by the Premier of Western Australia in a moment. The newspaper article states:
Mr Connor said that the extent of foreign control of West Australian mineral resources went back to the Liberal administration.
He excluded Mount Newman from that statement, the negotiations for which were conducted by Sir Charles Court. He did not acknowledge that. He went on to say:
You will find at the bottom of it this same junta with loyalties to their pockets and not to Australia.
He also referred to some Rhodesian interests or some ideological home within Rhodesia, whoever these people may be. Mr Tonkin, the Labor Premier of Western Australia, whom I have no doubt the Government would regard as a distinguished Premier, was asked about Mr Connor’s statement. This indicates the extent to which this Government, through this Minister and other Ministers, is damaging the interests of Western Australia because of their arbitrary, irrational and reckless decisions. Mr Tonkin started off by saying, as reported:
WA still needs foreign capital badly to develop its mineral resources and processing capacity-
The article goes on to state:
He said yesterday that the minerals would still be undeveloped if the State had waited for local capital to become available instead of accepting money from overseas.
– That was a criticism against the previous Federal Government for not helping to develop the State.
– Goodness me! Talking of illogical and irrational comments, that one must take the bun. The honourable senator must talk to Mr Connor. The honourable senator has been listening to him. Mr Tonkin went on to defend the role of foreign capital and the conduct of foreign companies in regard to the State ‘s mineral development. He said that Western Australia still relied heavily on foreign funds for its development. What is happening here is that Mr Connor and this Government, by arbitrary decisions, are denying Western Australia the foreign capital that Mr Tonkin says it so urgently requires. I ask honourable senators to listen to this quote from the newspaper article.
Mr Tonkin . . . denied any knowledge of a junta said by the Federal Minister for Minerals and Energy, Mr Connor, to have loyalties to their own pockets and not to Australian sovereignty.
It is reported that Mr Tonkin also said:
He said that all his Government’s negotiations with foreign companies involved in or seeking to become involved in WA’s resources had been ‘quite amicable and free from any kind of coercion’.
The article goes on to say:
He did not think that any multi-national company had tried to tell the Government how to run its affairs-an allegation often made against the multi-nationals.
The article continues:
Asked if he thought that the time had come when WA’s mining and mineral processing could progress without heavy reliance on foreign capital he said: ‘No. ‘
Surely honourable senators opposite will not accuse Mr Tonkin of not being a good Labor
Premier and a good Labor supporter. But this is what Mr Tonkin has to say about the actions and attitudes of this Federal Government.
Therefore, what this Federal Government has to learn is that it cannot ride roughshod over the interests of the States in those areas in which the States have responsibility towards their own development. It should not be a case of confrontation or of arrogant and arbitrary decisionmaking such as was illustrated in the case of the Woodside-Burmah-Kanamatsu-Goshu deal for a refinery which the Western Australian Government wanted and negotiated for but in relation to which Mr Connor just said ‘No’ without offering any reasons. It was an enterprise which would have been of great benefit to Western Australia, and which would have earned export income for Australia and would have further developed the northern part of our continent. On every count Mr Connor and this Government deserve to be disowned. It is quite clear that Mr Tonkin clearly believes, if he has not said it outright, that the actions of the Federal Government in relation to the development of Western Australia in these arbitrary, arrogant and irrational decisions are against the interests of Western Australia. It is quite false to claim that the previous State Government in Western Australia sold Western Australia to foreign interests. The previous Government in Western Australia, with great difficulty, found money from overseas people who were prepared to take risks in areas where no one else was prepared to do so. Today the result is that Western Australia is one of the great export earners for Australia.
We hear talk about overseas control and ownership and all this tommy-rot. I ask honourable senators to look at the export earnings of Western Australia and what they have meant to this country. I think that my colleague, Senator Durack, pointed out that without those earnings during the rural recession we could have faced the gravest economic conditions in this country. This would have been the case if it were not for the foresight of non-Labor governments of the past- the Liberal-Country Party Government in Western Australia supported by the Liberal-Country Party Government federally.
– Like the quotas you put on the wheat growers and sent them to the wall.
– We remember what happened in 1947 when the Labor Government sold wheat to New Zealand at below world prices to bolster up a sagging New Zealand Labor Government.
So the honourable senator should not talk about wheat. The actions of this Government in relation to the development of States are based upon either ignorance or sheer distortion of the facts. It is dangerous for the Minister to make the allegations that he has made. If he wants to name juntas, let him name the people concerned so that they can reply to these baseless allegations. Of course, Mr Tonkin has shown this to be a complete and utter untruth.
Finally, I would like to say this: On every count this Government is showing that it wants all control. When I hear Ministers talk about plenary powers I am reminded of another gentleman who always spoke of obtaining plenary powers. His name was Adolf Hitler. Perhaps the Ministers of this Government might remember that when they start speaking about wishing to obtain plenary powers. The plain fact is that in every field of endeavour we are finding day by day this Government seeking to gain control over every facet of Australian life at the expense of State governments. Piece of legislation after piece of legislation is designed to concentrate power in the Federal Government and in Canberra. There is no more damning indictment of this Government than the words of the resolution passed and the statements made by the Australian Public Service Federation which met last Thursday in Sydney. The Federation referred to the dangerous practice of centralisation and of bureaucratic control. The Senate should pass this motion.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson)- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– Speaking on behalf of the Government, I want to take up the challenge that has been made particularly by honourable senators from Western Australia. The only thing that I can say about the speech made by Senator Sim is that on this occasion he indicated the Government as Nazis whereas on previous occasions he has regarded the Government as unrepentant Marxists. At least there was a bit of variety in his contribution today. If I had a text with which to preface my speech I would say that men who suffer injustice and have the power to remove it deserve not compassion but contempt. I direct that remark to the Western Australian mining industry. I would equally indict Sir Charles Court and the present Western Australian Minister for Mines, Don May. I do not make these remarks on the Western Australian mining industry unbriefed. I have discussed this matter with Senator Cant who as honourable senators are aware, would know more about the Western Australian mining community than anyone else in this place. I am prepared to accept the existence of a racket in the Western Australian mining industry if Senator Cant says there is one.
I indict various Western Australian governments for refusing to give wage justice to people who are employed by the VC Mining Co. Within the last hour I have spoken to the Secretary of the Australian Workers Union in Western Australia about a paltry claim made by 6 migrants who worked at Dampier for 8 weeks well over 12 months ago. Honourable senators opposite talk about bureaucratic centralism. All I can say is that if a State government cannot settle a wage claim in 18 months there is something wrong with it. As a matter of fact, this kind of thing is not new. The Federal Government of the United States of America, when President Kennedy was in office, had to send Federal deputies into the southern States to make sure that justice was done and that coloured people were placed on the electoral rolls. I would equate what happened in America with what is going on in the Western Australian mining community. I repeat that I indict pretty boy Don May- and I use that term in the most venomous way that I can- who is the Western Australian Minister for Mines. People like him are not prepared to do anything. People ask: ‘Why should there be centralisation of government in Canberra?’ I will tell them why I believe that this should happen. The Western Australian Government has blandly said: ‘Look, the Federal Labor Government has brought migrants to this country and it should look after them’. I do not mind, and I know that the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) does not mind, if we have to pick up the tab to ensure that the wage claims of these people are met.
I say more in sorrow than in anger- and I do not want to tangle with legal luminaries like Senator Durack- that it is a pity if State laws are such that we cannot deal with peculiar people in the mining industry. I indicted VC Mining Co. One of its directors rang me up after the last occasion I spoke on this matter in the Senate and said: ‘Senator, you were very offensive in the Senate’. He told me how he had lost money. I said to him: ‘Well, are you going to go back and work with a jackhammer or are you going to your nice home at Cottesloe’? He said: ‘Senator, you are being offensive’. Well, plenty of people have worked on jackhammers and they are probably better than some of these crook company directors. I have no desire, nor has Senator Cant or anyone else here, to meddle with the
State law. But I indict successive State governments, of Western Australia for their failure to provide trade union protection.
The Western Australian Secretary of the Australian Workers Union pointed out to me that his union could be involved in extensive litigation in order to have satisfied the paltry wage claim of the 6 migrant members of his union to whom I referred. I point out to Senator Hannan that the Western Australian Government suggested that perhaps the union could confer with the Yugoslav Consul General. It is a pretty poor state of affairs when Australia has virtually to bludge on a foreign country to get wage justice. This is the sort of thing that I am sick and tired of. I have spoken about the Western Australian Government. However, I also wish to indict the Queensland Government because it is equally culpable in many of these matters. I would like to point out to those listening to the proceedings the reasons why we are sick and tired of the dilatoriness of State governments whatever side of politics they may come from. I have asked Senator Murphy repeatedly why the Commonwealth cannot have a uniform gun code so that stupid people under the influence of liquor or drugs will not be able to gain access to shotguns and so that we can thereby avoid the tragedies that occur from time to time. He has told me that Mr Willis, the Chief Secretary of the State of New South Wales, has refused to agree, as have other States, to this proposal. The result is that these injustices are perpetuated. We have heard the wonderful heart-rending remarks about the weekend carnage on our roads and how a uniform road code would lessen these tragedies. But we cannot get agreement between the State Ministers for Transport about the implementation of a uniform road code or about requiring the motor industry to build motor vehicles with more effective bumper bars which would reduce damage done in minor prangs.
What I have been saying brings me back to the situation in the United States where the Federal Government in Washington had to send deputies into the southern States to make sure that the Negroes got on the roll. I am talking about centralism in this context because half of the State Ministers do not care and therefore we do not get agreement between States. I do not know with whom some of the Opposition Senators mingle. But I have found that if you address a high school audience or a university campus audience the people listening to you are not interested in whether you are a Victorian or a New South Welshman. They see the futility of these stupid attitudes. I wish to pay a tribute to a man who is no longer a Minister. I refer to Mr W. C. Wentworth who, during the time the Liberal-Country Party was the Government, tried to get a system of uniform rail gauges. Surely all honourable senators opposite realise that, because of stupid interstate jealousies before and after federation, we have not been able to agree on a rail standardisation policy.
When the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) campaigned in Federal elections between 1969 and 1972 the whole theme of his argument was that we should try to pitch a policy into the Constitution that was akin to the United States of America and Canada. In other words, he was in favour of the Roosevelt dogma of establishing Federal agencies that would harness the effectiveness of the States. This is what the present Government is doing. This is what we seek. If one looks at the personnel who make up the Federal authorities one can see that we have tried to tap the best brains in the various States. As a matter of fact, it is regrettable that Senator Davidson is not here at present because he was a member of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution which recommended that we should harness the resources of the various States. Nowhere is this no-man’s land of lost opportunity more exemplified than it is in the field of water pollution. We have had various abortive conferences between State Ministers which have got nowhere. Indeed, the report of the Committee suggested that in my own State of New South Wales there could be a minor improvement in the quality of water in the Parramatta River and the Georges River. I think it is time that honourable senators opposite realised that we should not be concerned with questions of dignity or of protocol, that it is results that count. Style is incidental to the results that one gets. It does not matter whether we get these results by a frontal approach or by a devious approach. We need to have immediate action. I imagine that most honourable senators who look at television when time permits them to do so will notice that all the commercials are based on instant action. It is a pity that instant action is not the lode-stone for our own legislature.
Some months ago I was cynical of the outcome of the constitutional convention. At that convention people had the opportunity to be big Australians. Instead of that the insidious Premier of Queensland said when he went back to his State that he had scored points over the Prime Minister. But this is the same man who would grovel on his belly if there were a threat to the north tomorrow and ask the Federal Government for patrol boats or something else to protect him.
The only consolation in this whole matter is that the average young Australian does not have the silly, stupid, suburban shibboleths that are held by some other people. What took place in this country 20 or 30 years ago is not good enough today. I have heard Senator McManus pay a tribute to successive Ministers of the Curtin Government. In particular he mentioned the late John Dedman. He knows in his heart that at that time there were a few people, not in the lower Houses of the various parliaments but in Upper Houses- I refer particularly to those people who masquerade as democrats in the Upper House of Tasmania- who did not realise in a time of emergency that Tasmania had to get instant government. These are the sorts of things that we are talking about. These are the reasons why we try to get some unanimity. In deference to Senator Durack I make no apology for this Government being a pace setter. If we float an idea, get the States together and they say that they will go 80 per cent of the way with us, I regard that as an achievement. What I and all my colleagues on this side resent is the way in which the Opposition flatly vetoes a proposal. It does not matter whether it is a proposal touching on the drug menace, the failure to get uniform legislation concerning the roadworthiness of motor cars, or even marine legislation, every time a matter is referred to a committee of State Ministers it goes into the limbo of forgotten things.
What I resented most of all was the nasty way in which Opposition senators talked about the Canberra bureaucracy. I think I can anticipate the views of most Commonwealth public servants, who come from the 6 States of” the Commonwealth. They are Australians. They may have blue eyes, brown eyes or other features, but they are still Australians. Most of the Commonwealth public servants about which the Opposition has talked were born in Melbourne, Sydney or Adelaide, or in the other States. They are still Australians. The Opposition is selling Australia cheap when it talks as it did. There can be no argument about this. As a matter of fact when I deal with the North American precedent, I concede that Canada, with its age-old ethnic conflict between people of British origin and others of French origin, is in a dilemma. Fortunately, we have not that situation. In the absence of such a dilemma, there is no reason why we should have this incessant bickering. By all means let the Opposition sink something if it can find errors in the judgment of the Public Service, but it should not view the Public Service with suspicion.
Opposition members have used the term Canberra centralism. I accept the fact that a lot of
Commonwealth Ministries have to be based on a State. Yesterday the Senate debated the problems of submerged lands and the general attitude to territorial rights over waters, and that sort of thing. I made the point- it is relevant againthat in the event of a marine catastrophe, whatever State is involved it is very pleased to get in touch with the Commonwealth Minister for Transport, who has within his administration the Department of Shipping. Opposition senators know in their hearts that there must be co- ordination in such matters. No one wants to see another oil spillage disaster, but if one happens there must be co-ordination between the Commonwealth shipping authorities and State maritime authorities, such as that in Queensland, the Maritime Services Board in New South Wales and its equivalent in Victoria. After all, I can say with some degree of credibility, having sat on a Senate committee and listened to experts from all those bodies, that I do not question for one minute the dedication of State public servants. Australia is a massive land mass, and for this reason there must be co-ordination if we are to get results. If there were a major oil spillage tomorrow the State concerned would probably have to utilise the services of the Department of Shipping and in an extreme case seek assistance from the various defence forces.
If we as the Australian Government sound the tocsin, it is merely because of our appreciation of the need for reforms having seen what has happened so often in the United States of America and in Canada. I leave the Senate with this plea: We are not trying to score points off the Opposition. After all, I suppose one of the classic illustrations of our vision is the occasion when my illustrious colleague, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) and the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) sat down with the Victorian Liberal Premier (Mr Hamer) to create the Wodonga-Albury complex, in which there are no political dividends for the Labor Party. We did this in an attempt to arrest the drift of population to the cities, on which Senator McManus and the ‘News Weekly’ have been harping for years What happened when we put up this proposal? The Victorian Premier, to his credit, agreed with it. I had hoped that Democratic Labor Party senators would agree with it also, but this hope has been in vain. If honourable senators look at the speeches that Senator Little made when he was seeking election, they will see that he hammered this idea of recognition of the deployment of people away from the big cities, including Melbourne. Now a Labor government has proposed such action. It is a tribute to the vision of the Prime Minister, Edward Gough Whitlam. This is the answer I give to all the carping criticism. On the one hand the Western Australian mining industry has been typical of this new frontier complex in which migrants have been exploited and State authorities cannot or will not give wage justice. There is no other word for it. I do not know what the situation is, but my defence rests on that telling rejoinder to what Senator Durack put up.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marriott)- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
-The Senate is very much indebted to Senator Durack for initiating this debate, which provides the occasion to draw attention to its subject matter, namely, the concentration in Canberra of excessive arbitrary power. It is particularly important that we take note of the stage that has been reached today because we are on the brink of a referendum at which the present Government is seeking power over 2 comprehensive subjectswideranging subjects practically without limit insofar as the significance of legislative power is concerned- prices and incomes. I think the subject of the debate can be discussed without displaying the venom that Senator Mulvihill exhibited, without the acrimony that Senator Young cited when he spoke of Premier Dunstan ‘s criticism of the Prime Minister and without reference to the acute and continuing differences between Mr Hawke and the Prime Minister. Instead, I propose to refer quite quietly to the concern expressed by the Premier of my own State, Tasmania. I should think that he is one of the most stable Labor Premiers who has held office in the last decade.
– Did you vote for him?
-Certainly not; but I recognise that there is some good in anybody, even in Senator Mulvihill on a few occasions. The Premier of Tasmania, Eric Reece, said in his Budget Speech that Tasmania has passed through the stage where it is dependent upon general reimbursement grants. Conditional special grants are now the means whereby the present Commonwealth Government is increasingly financing the States. When it is realised that the State is dependent upon federal grants and federal taxes to the extent of 72 per cent of its total Budget, one can understand that there is some anxiety as to the future competence of the State governments. Mr Reece went on to say that the establishment of priorities in expenditure policies has been to some extent taken out of the State’s control. He said that the State will get a little more money, but that the price it must pay for having more money to spend is some loss of autonomy in the area of decision making. He went on to say that in those areas decisions are the direct decisions not of the State Government but of the Commonwealth Government, and that they are decisions which the State Government has been instigated by the Commonwealth Government to put into effect. He added that a future State government will always be in doubt as to the extent to which this encroaching Commonwealth power, particularly in Federal-State financial relations, will permit a State Treasurer to have any degree of independence. He pointed out that the State Treasurer is, in effect, directly spending the Commonwealth ‘s money at the dictation of the Commonwealth. He said that although in respect to some of those matters of Commonwealth money there is some benefit, they are accompanied by an equal reduction in the general grant. He instances tertiary education where this Government with one hand relieves the universities of direct financing and takes it over itself but, with the other, puts an entry in the other side of the ledger offsetting that by a reduction of the money available to the States.
Going from Mr Reece ‘s description of the matter, next take the States grants system which now operates so directly to the disadvantage of the 3 claimant States, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania. The first thing to note with regard to the States grants is that the enormous avalanche that has taken place in increased Commonwealth expenditure this year, a $2,000m increase from $ 10,000m to $ 12,000m, dwarfs the actual amount of money that is returned to the States. Secondly, the restrictive attitude of the Commonwealth Grants Commission is getting intolerable. At its behest we are asked now to compare the revenue from betting and lottery taxation with that received by New South Wales. If we do not keep pace with it our grant will be reduced. At its behest the chief arterial product of power in Tasmania, hydro-electricity, was submitted to a tax of 5 per cent a couple of years ago. This was at the direct behest of the Grants Commission. In the meetings of the Commission in Hobart in the last few days Sir Leslie Melville has been peering about the dust in the few corners looking for savings while Professor Matthews is on record as saying that Tasmania is in a preferential position. These are the things that make us continuously disappointed with the trends in the Commonwealth grant. Now that it is taking aboard responsibility for the direct financing of local government it is taking responsibility for selecting the fields in which local government should advance. That is becoming increasingly a matter of resentment by the small municipalities and the energetic local councillors who know much better than the Commonwealth where money should be spent upon local projects.
I come directly to these two current proposals. We know that it is merely an accident- a fortuitous accident- that somebody suggested to Mr Whitlam that he go for a constitutional referendum on prices and incomes. He had expressed his view that that was not a solvent of inflation, but the Caucus overbore him. We now have this bid by the Commonwealth Government for a comprehensive prices power. The Parliament and Government that can control the price of beef, control the price of motor cars, fix the price of boot leather and fix the price of calico can enforce its sovereignty in every field of man’s activities. The incomes power is a little more intriguing. It is quite obvious, of course, that if one has power to say that parliamentary salaries shall be $2,000 a year one will have a considerable impact upon parliamentarians, and every other section of the community will understand that so directly when it is applied to them that they will know pretty well, whether a person is a wage earner, a doctor, a plumber, an electrical tradesman or engaged in any other field of life, that if the bureaucrat under the control of Mr Whitiam and his Government has the right to fix their incomes it will be a pretty severe and rigid system under which we are living whereby Canberra instead of local and State governments operate to effect people ‘s livelihoods.
We had a revealing disclosure the other day by Senator Murphy when introducing the Bill on incomes control. He said that the Government was not going to use it in a purely negative fashion but that it would enable this Parliament to guarantee basic standards that had not been within the competence of the Parliament hitherto. Yesterday in answer to a question which I put on notice he illustrated and affirmatively said that all these matters would be within the authority of the Canberra Parliament if the people could be pursuaded to vote ‘yes’ on the incomes referendum. Matters such as the basic wage, cost of living adjustments, equal pay, annual leave, the requirements for wages to be paid in money, protection of wages from garnishee, are used as bait to invite people to give the Government this power. Mr Whitlam was put on record yesterday in a report which showed how comprehensive the power was and drawing attention to the fact that it would not be unaccompanied by cost. Senator James McClelland said these processes are inexorable. Senator McAuliffe, whose remarks were not relevant to the Bill, showed how inevitable it is to have these increases in lavish expenditure to support these ever-growing policies of control and restriction by the Commonwealth Parliament. As Senator Durack pointed out, Mr Whitlam has been well publicised for his statement ‘I am the greatest’, but he has been comparatively without publicity on his claim to be the saviour, the one and only Prime Minister who wants all State parliaments abolished and only one House in this Parliament. That is the danger signal. That is why in a debate upon the constitutional concentration of power in this country it is appropriate to call attention to it today. It should be a warning against any wrong decision at the referendum on 8 December. So that the Senate may vote upon the subject, I move:
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 10.14 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, 29 November.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the report on the Department of Science for the period 20 December 1972 to 30 June 1973. 1 present also separate reports, for the year ending 30 June 1973, for each of the operational divisions and branches which were transferred to the Department of Science. The units concerned are the Bureau of Meteorology, Patent Office, Antarctic Division, Ionospheric Prediction Service and Analytical Services Branch.
– For the information of honourable senators I table a copy of a letter from McKinsey and Company Inc. to the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission dated 25 June 1973. I seek leave to make a short statement relating to the tabling of this paper.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-Mr President, this letter takes the form of an outline of proposed areas of study for a diagnostic survey of the ABC and its organisation. Honourable senators may be aware of the fact that the Australian Broadcasting Commission engaged the firm of McKinsey and Company, who are management consultants, on or about the middle of 1972 to conduct a diagnostic survey of the Commission’s management methods and organisation. That study is not yet complete. Reports to the Press have indicated that a preliminary report was forwarded to the Commission last year. I am advised that the Commission and senior management personnel were given, in the latter part of last year, a visual presentation relating to McKinsey’s initial work, which involved discussions with ABC officers at various levels. I am further advised that it is normal in projects of this nature for statements to be produced from time to time for discussion purposes but none of these have been retained by the ABC.
The document I have tabled indicates the lines of investigation which McKinsey and Company propose to pursue in their survey. It does not indicate firm decisions or proposed solutions on any of the questions which arise. It may however be useful for honourable senators and interested members of the public to see the sort of lines of inquiry that have been laid down for the inquiry and, of course, it is the Government’s policy to allow for, and encourage, a greater flow of information of this kind.
– Pursuant to section 37 of the Australian Industry Development Corporation Act 1970 I present the third annual report of the Australian Industry Development Corporation for the period 1 July 1972 to 30 June 1973.
-As Chairman, I present the One Hundred and Forty-seventh Report of the Public Accounts Committee.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I seek leave to make a short statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Committee has, for many years, conducted combined inquiries relating to expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer and expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund but has tabled separate reports on both aspects of these inquiries. The One Hundred and Forty-seventh Report relates specifically to evidence taken by the Committee in connection with expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer in 1972-73. As honourable senators are aware, after the close of each financial year, the Treasurer submits to the Parliament for its consideration and approval a statement of expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer showing allocations to heads of expenditure made by him from the Advance under section 36a of the Audit Act. The Committee carries out the parliamentary scrutiny of this past expenditure by obtaining explanations from departments for each item of expenditure charged to the Advance and selecting the more notable of these for public inquiry.
In Chapter 1 of the Report the Committee has stated that, in examining expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer, it has sought to ascertain whether or not expenditure from the Advance has been confined to urgent and unforeseeable requirements for which provision could not have been made in the original and additional Estimates. The Committee has also sought to ascertain whether or not the departments concerned in the inquiry have maintained efficient administration in the expenditure of funds under the items selected for public inquiry. As the report shows, there were cases where expenditure from the Advance to the ‘Treasurer was confined to urgent and unforeseeable requirements for which provision could not have been made in the Appropriation Acts. In other cases, however, there was evidence of clerical errors, inefficient estimating procedures, and delays which caused expenditure to be charged to the Advance when provision should properly have been made in the Additional Estimates. Attention has been drawn to these inadequacies where they have been discovered.
As in several previous inquiries relating to expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer, the Committee has found evidence of amounts being charged to the Advance without warrant authority, in contravention of Treasury Regulation 90 ( 1 ). All of these overcharges arose from clerical errors. The Committee had cause to comment adversely on the briefness of some departmental explanations and the fact that some witnesses appearing before the Committee were inadequately briefed. I commend the Report to honourable senators.
– by leave- I move:
I propose, at an early opportunity, perhaps tomorrow morning, to put that matter to the Senate for its endorsement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message intimating that it had agreed to an amendment and had disagreed to 14 other amendments made by the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That consideration of the message in the Committee of the Whole be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
Debate resumed from 27 November (vide page 2 1 7 1 ), on motion by Senator Wriedt:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill are being dealt with, by decision of the Senate, in a cognate debate. I was addressing myself to them when the Senate adjourned yesterday evening. The purport and objective of the Bills is fairly well known but it might be worth recapitulating for the benefit of those who want to put the matter in complete context. The Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill is designed to extend the charter of the Australian Industry Development Corporation to enable it to take on activities which up to this time have been denied to it under the existing charter. The extended charter would enable the Corporation to initiate support for industries irrespective of whether any industry of its own initiative came to the Corporation. Possibly the National Investment Fund Bill is the more important of these 2 Bills because it is as a result of the provisions of this proposed statute that the funding of the Australian Industry Development Corporation will be established and made possible. Therefore, it is quite appropriate that the National Investment Fund Bill be considered at the same time as the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill is considered.
The proposal for the AIDC is that it should have an extended charter. It is also proposed, under the complex of Bills, that revenue be directly available to the AIDC to support proposals and enterprises which the Government considers warrant financial support which may not otherwise be available. The National Investment Fund Bill is a means of agglomerating investment capital in Australia, particularly from indigenous sources, for funding the AIDC to buy into and support existing enterprises and to fund the operation and extension of new enterprises. The means by which this is to be done is by the AIDC selling bonds related to particular divisions of the Fund which would sponsor particular enterprises. These funds could come from a number of sources. They could come from the coercive diversion of funds from life insurance offices and similar bodies and from the sale of bonds to people who would receive a 10 per cent return on their investment- $100 subscribed immediately becomes $110. From the accumulation of such funds the AIDC would have a working capital which it may use to support Australian industry in the ways which I have suggested.
The principle behind these Bills is a reflection of the national concern about the divestment from the Australian nation of many of its resources. Due to the shortage of investment and speculative risk capital in Australia it has been found necessary to attract capital from overseas, and that capital comes in either by way of loan or by way of equity investment to purchase beneficial ownership or part of beneficial ownership in Australian enterprises, with the resultant passage of ownership and control from Australian hands to foreign hands. The concern for that process is commonly shared by all Parties in this Parliament. Perhaps no Party has shown a greater concern about this type of operation than has the Democratic Labor Party. The DLP moved to have established a committee of this chamber to investigate the whole matter of foreign ownership and control. That is why we are especially interested in the provisions of this Bill. While there is a national concern about this divestment of Australian ownership and control and while a formula must be discovered to try to halt this process, the question is whether these cognate Bills accomplish this in a way which is commercially, financially and socially practicable and acceptable. It would be possible to do this in many ways- ways which those who have experience in this field might find totally unacceptable and ways which might prejudice the ordinary ebb and flow of business. On the other hand, those ways might embody social principles and philosophies which would be alien to the views of the Australian people.
I present this proposition on behalf of the Democratic Labor Party: There is this national concern. The Government has introduced these Bills which purport to present a formula by which the process can be halted and by which there can be a buy back of the Australian interest and an accumulation and diversion of Australian capital into Australian enterprises, particularly those which are exploiting our national resources. We have to be careful of the actual implications of these Bills. We think that they are of vast consequence and wide ranging in their implications. The considerations which Senator Cotton put in the course of his scholarly address on this matter yesterday indicate that there is a widespread concern in many fields that however well-intentioned the proposition may be the Bills may have implications which range far beyond the implications projected by the progenitors of the Bills. They contain wide ranging implications which are causing grave concern in the commercial community and which, therefore, must attract the attention of this Parliament.
To allow these Bills, with these vast implications, to go through without adequate scrutiny would be, I think, a derogation of the duty of this chamber and would show a complete lack of responsibility. It is not sufficient that honourable senators be advised of the nature and content of these Bills, of the far reaching implications to be drawn from them or of the commercial repercussions; more than that is required. The Bills are of such complexity and of such commercial and financial profundity that few senators, without expert advice, would be able to arrive at a definitive decision and conclusion as to whether the Bills would be acceptable to the Australian Parliament. In the time that has been available since the Bills were introduced, I would not consider myself equipped to handle them in the way in which they should be handled. I think I would be prepared to deny that any senator is adequately equipped to give them the consideration and the in-depth examination which Bills of this nature warrant. For these reasons, the Democratic Labor Party having considered the matter very seriously, will propose an amendment to each Bill. In relation to the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill the motion is:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
In relation to the National Investment Fund Bill I foreshadow that at the appropriate time in relation to the motion that the Bill be read a second time I shall move:
Leave out all words after ‘That’, insert ‘the Bill be referred for inquiry and report, as soon as possible, to the Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control, which is hereby authorised to consider the Bill’.
The Democratic Labor Party was in the forefront of the activity to have the whole question of foreign ownership and control of Australian assets considered by this Parliament. This matter does not lie purely within the responsibility of the Government. This matter is so important, it is so critical for Australia at this period of its development and it is so critical for Australia, when new techniques are now available for the development of resources, that the Parliament should be adequately informed on this matter. The Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control was established on 10 December 1971. It had a number of terms of reference. I shall read out two, which are most relevant to the Bill. The Committee was asked to consider: the best method of mobilising Australian capital resources and attracting their commitment to national development; the best method of reconciling the inflow of overseas capital for Australian development with the retention of Australian ownership and control.
The personnel of that Committee was drawn from all parties. In the initial stages of the Committee ‘s inquiry the personnel was: Senator Withers, Western Australia, who is at present Leader of the Opposition and who was Chairman; Senator Murphy who is at present AttorneyGeneral and who was then Leader of the Opposition; Senator Cant, Western Australia; Senator Guilfoyle, Victoria; Senator Maunsell, Queensland, and myself. That Committee met on a number of occasions and decided that it would take the inquiry in segments and that the first segment to be taken would be the segment in relation to finance. We thought that the basic situation to be considered in Australia was a monopoly of Australian financial resources and the mobilisation of those resources to effect the purposes which it was the desire of this chamber, of the Committee and the whole of Australia to achieve. Having considered and taken extensive evidence in that area the Committee brought in an interim report in October of last year, I think it was.
I think I should read what is referred to in that report and what was recommended virtually unanimously by the Committee, subject to a general qualification which was inserted by some of the Committee members. On page 12 of the Committee’s report paragraph 10.5 states:
The Committee is of the opinion that the Australian Resources Development Bank and the Australian Industry Development Corporation are both performing important tasks. However, at this stage of their development, due to causes beyond their control, their role is far too insignificant to be considered a major force in the capital market. The Committee recommends that the activities of both these two bodies be either expanded further, or other special purpose organisations be established which should be free of direct government intervention and possess flexibility in their operations.
The recommendation was carried by the whole Committee, although a reservation was expressed by Senator Cant and Senator Murphy. The relevant part of that reservation is as follows:
We do not agree with so much of the interim report as is based on the assumption that the philosophy and policies of the present Government will continue to operate in Australia.
I mention that in fairness to the honourable senators, although it is not particularly relevant to what I am saying here.
The point I am making is that that Committee saw the need for the Australian Industry Development Corporation, and also saw the necessity for the expansion of its activities and the range of its interest and participation. That was an all-Party Committee. Having read the second reading speeches delivered in another place when these Bills were presented, it would appear that no reference was made, unless I have not seen such a reference, to the deliberations of the Committee or to that recommendation. However, I could stand corrected on that matter. If what I say is the case, it is to be regretted because, after all, if this chamber sets up a committee which investigates a matter and which takes very wide ranging evidence, it would only be appropriate, if a government is then bringing in legislation either in terms of any of its recommendations or in the face of them or contrary to them, that reference should be made to the report of such a committee.
However, the committee visualised that there should be an extension of the activities of the AIDC or that some independent organisation should be set up. The Government may have introduced this legislation in terms of such a recommendation. Our concern, which is expressed in one of the terms of the Committee’s inquiry, is that a proper formula should be discovered to find out how Australian participation can be increased, extended and developed. We are concerned at the response in the commercial community that has now come to the Bills which we are discussing. Very grave concern has been expressed as to the commercial implications of the measure. Very grave concern has been expressed at another level as to the social implications of the measure. Those who very strictly adhere to the policy of completely uninhibited free enterprise would see in these Bills some major danger to the operation and existence of that system. Others do not see it in the same light and with the same degree of emphasis, but within the business community genuine fears are expressed -
– And some apprehension, too.
– Yes there are genuine fears and, as Senator Cotton reminds me, apprehension as to what could be the ultimate commercial and financial consequences within the present structure of a commercial and financial society. I shall, if I have time to do so, read out a few of the suggestions which the Committee made. Perhaps that is not necessary. But there has been a general concern. Matters have been mentioned as being likely to have very grave repercussions. I refer to such matters, for example, as the effect of the operations of these Bills if they are given the scope which the drafting permits on a reasonable interpretation. It could result, for example, in a very grave interruption of the normal and normally accepted processes of the capital market in Australia. We in Australia so far are rather unsophisticated in the operation of the capital market. Merchant banks and things of this nature are of only recent origin in this country; they are not very sophisticated. The area is still sensitive and we are subject to all sorts of international financial pressures to which our sensitive market will respond. Men in commerce and industry are very deeply concerned that the full operation of the AIDC and the National Investment Fund in this field might very well disturb the capital market.
Then very deep concern is expressed by insurance companies and other bodies similarly situated which will be required to pay a certain proportion of their moneys on a percentage basis into the National Investment Fund. They say that will have very severe repercussions within their own industry, that it will have very severe repercussions in those areas which traditionally have received the financial support of moneys held in those hands and received from those sources. Comments such as those I have outlined, of course, cannot be lightly disregarded. These people are skilled and accomplished in that field. If they see a danger and a possible disturbance in this area of their participation- I am not speaking of their selfish participation; I am speaking of the role they play by the nature of their organisation and the functioning of their societies and their companies- then it is a matter for serious consideration by this chamber.
There is another body of opinion which is extremely concerned that on a reasonable and acceptable interpretation of some of the powers which are laid down in one of the other Bills there could be by various means a substantial transfer of public ownership. These may well be matters that are not within the contemplation of those who framed the legislation but which in their hands or in the hands of others may well be used to effect purposes completely beyond the present contemplation of the Bills which are before the Senate. These are matters of very great concern to the country, to business, and to the economic stability of Australia. It may well be that other methods, other formulae, which do not have these overtones and cause apprehension and concern, may be discovered which would substantially giver effect to what is the commonly held desire of the Australian people, namely, that as far as possible we should maximise Australian control and ownership of our resources and at the same time not deter the investment of foreign capital in Australia. There may be another formula which could give effect to both of these aspirations and desires without the necessity for Bills in this form which create these dangers, fears and genuine apprehensions.
It is for that reason that the Democratic Labor Party feels that the Bills should be considered at leisure and that the most expert advice that is available should be available to the Senate so that the Bills can be examined, firstly, against the propositions which were presented to the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control. They could then be examined as to whether, in an acceptable form, they carry into operation something like the recommendations brought forward or whether some acceptable alternative should be discovered. The Senate committee had before it the expert evidence of Sir Alan Westerman who presented an extremely well prepared and, as one would expect, an extraordinarily competent paper. Sir Alan was interrogated on this matter, as were other witnesses. He obviously had in mind the need- this view is commonly shared- for the extension of the activities of the AIDC.
I do not know- perhaps nobody knows- what other advice the Government has had in the
E reparation of this legislation. We do not k now- I do not know- the extent to which it consulted business in relation to the extent to which the implications that I suggest may be implicit in the operation of the legislation may actually occur. I do not know whether the Government has gone to the business community and taken its advice in the areas in which it is likely to be affected. If it did not seek this advice, this would mean that a series of Bills which can effect a fundamental change in the commercial and financial structure of Australia- let us have no doubt about that- are sought to be passed through this chamber, this chamber being denied that expert body of advice, evidence and counsel to which I think it is entitled and, as a matter of fact, which it has an obligation to receive in the circumstances.
If these Bills are referred to the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Controlas the amendment which I have moved and as the amendment which I have foreshadowed to another Bill suggest should be done- that Committee can do now, in relation to the Bills, what it has done in relation to the general propositions. It can call expert evidence. It can invite various representatives of all elements of the business community and others to come forward and give their views as to what would be the implications of this legislation in an interpretation by governments of today or in future. The Committee can again call Sir Alan Westerman before it. He again can give the Committee the benefit of his advice and counsel as to how he sees the operation of these Bills, what he visualises will be the way in which effect will be given to them, the purposes to be achieved and, more particularly, the dangers that may be implicit in them if the ends apparently set out to be achieved are either departed from or used in some other way. Therefore it seems appropriate that the Senate, in particular, should assume responsibility in this matter and should approach the whole question with the very greatest seriousness.
I have had occasion in the last fortnight to refer to the mass of heavy and important legislation which has come before this chamber. I did that in another context. When we consider the weight, seriousness and the sheer number of the Bills which the Senate is being asked to considerBills that affect the constitutional position in Australia, Bills that affect the social order in Australia, Bills that affect domestic relations in Australia, Bills that affect the national health scheme and things like that- and matters, such as the Trade Practices Bill, that concern the commercial life and the trade union life of Australia, it must be realised that these things are of such moment that to try to deal with them ad hoc in the quick rush towards the end of a session would be unthinkable and indefensible. That proposition particularly applies to these Bills.
In moving this amendment I assure those to whom I am addressing my remarks that we of the DLP do not approach this Bill in any atmosphere of implacable opposition. After all, I, as a member of the DLP, was a party to the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control, as were Opposition senators who sit on my right and Government senators, and it was felt that there was some need for a body such as the AIDC to be set up- even in an extended form and perhaps with a stronger financial structure- to achieve a purpose. Our attitude in moving this amendment and in foreshadowing another amendment is that we must examine the Bills in depth and in time. One thing can be achieved. It is useless to try to bring in this legislation and to impose it on the community unless it is done in an atmosphere of total commercial confidence. I do not mean that commerce and industry will necessarily accept the propositions at all. What I mean is that at least they want a reassurance that while the proposition is not acceptable in a particular sense, in the general sense they are not likely to be faced with vast and wide interpretations of it that ultimately will create a situation which they cannot contemplate and which, if they did, they would fear.
Therefore, if we have this examination- and we will invite industry representatives to come forward and present their propositions- we can create a national confidence that this is a body which is desirable in a different form or with a different charter or with certain limitations or circumscriptions. If that is so, I think perhaps a real contribution will have been made to what we want to achieve, that is, to try to preserve the maximum ownership of Australian resources in Australian hands and to mobilise Australian capital for that purpose, but all within the framework of the protection of those who today conduct the commercial and industrial life of Australia. In that way those engaged in commercial and industrial life shall not, by the operation of a piece of legislative machinery, be put in the position where they have virtually to be eased out and destroyed in their commercial or industrial enterprises. If that were to be the end result of this, it would be a disaster, and my Party certainly would not accept any legislation which was capable of such an interpretation or which in its operation might have such effect.
I addressed myself to this matter yesterday, and therefore, I do not wish to speak any longer on it. I have presented one amendment to the
Senate and outlined another, and I commend them to the Senate. I merely wish to say one thing. In the House of Representatives today a question was directed to the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) by Mr Hurford, an honourable member for a South Australian seat. I will read a part of Dr Cairns’ answer. He said:
Because of the level of funds available to the Corporation it must have first regard to basic developmental projects. I would not say that the wine industry is a basic developmental project in fact or in terms of the AIDC’s very limited powers to act according to the present law, which is of course affected by what the Senate is doing. The Senate is proposing to refer the AIDC Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill to the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control for inquiry and report. I believe the Democratic Labor Party senators are genuine in their attitude. I think they wish to have the Bills very closely examined by that Committee and given that view I am quite prepared to see that examination made.
There is then a reference to the members of the Opposition which is not completely relevant.
– That is a strange reversal of form in the Minister.
– Yes. Of course, the Minister is anxious to get the Bill passed, but I am sure that he sees the wisdom of the procedure which we have suggested. We announced yesterday, through the Press, the amendments which we were to propose. One has been moved and the other has been foreshadowed. I have little doubt that in response to that, Dr Cairns is seeing the wisdom of this type of procedure, because I am sure he would sense, as we sense and know, the concern now felt in the commercial community.
If the legislation is to have any real effect within the community, it has to be legislation that is reasonably acceptable. Therefore, in view of Dr Cairns’ statement, I hope that our amendments, which I understand will be supported by the members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party, will now find acceptance from members of the Government. If that is to be the position, it is not necessary for me to plead the cause any further. I commend to honourable senators the amendment which I have moved and the one which I have foreshadowed and will move at the appropriate time, and trust that the amendments will find a quick and successful passage.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marriott)- Order! Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment Senator MAUNSELL (Queensland) (5.17)- The Australian Country Party, of course, has a great deal of interest in this legislation. The Australian Industry Development Corporation, as we all know, was set up by the previous
Government. One of the persons instrumental in setting it up was our former Leader, Sir John McEwan. It was set up for the purpose of mobilising Australian finance in order to obtain as much Australian equity as possible in Australian enterprises. This refers particularly to the development of our mining resources and our resources generally. We all know that the development of these resources requires a great deal of finance, and in the past Australians have not shown a great deal of interest in what we might call long-term developments- in other words, where a return cannot be expected for some years.
There has been a need in this country to have some instrument to mobilise this finance and also to obtain loan funds from overseas. It is interesting to note that even when the overseas companies come to Australia to develop our resources, a great deal of the finance which is found comes from the loan market and not from subscribers. Consequently, it was necessary for us, if we were to assist our industries in acquiring equity in these developments, to have an instrument that was capable of borrowing overseas and assisting in maintaining Australian equity. We also believe, as does the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control to which Senator Byrne referred, that the AIDC should be broadened, particularly in the direction of obtaining more finance and also of being able to obtain it locally in the Australian market.
We find from the evidence presented to this Senate Committee that many of these overseas companies that were bringing funds into Australia to develop our resources were raising much of their money on the local market whereas the Australian Industry Development Corporation was able to raise only a certain amount in Australia. When we see the contents of the Bills presently before the Senate we realise that there are great dangers in what may be the purpose of this Corporation in the future. It is interesting to note that when the former Government set up the AIDC there was an expert board of directors to operate the Corporation and to give expert advice. These people included Mr Bunning, a business man from Western Australia, Mr Leonard, who is well known as the Manager of Ampol Petroleum Ltd, Sir George Fisher, who for many years was the Managing Director and Chairman of Directors of Mount Isa Mines Ltd, a most successful mining operation, Sir Colin Syme, formerly of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, Sir Charles McGrath of the Repco Company and chairman of some 20 other companies, and Sir John Dunlop of the Bank of New South Wales.
The expertise that these people were able to bring to this Corporation must have been very valuable. Of course, they were able to decide which enterprises were really risk enterprises and those enterprises that may be too risky to become involved in. Up to date I doubt whether the AIDC has had any real failures in any companies in which it has invested or for which it has been a vehicle in assisting Australian industry to mobilise equity. I certainly would not be so opposed to this Bill if I felt that the expertise that this kind of people can present was allowed to continue because certainly none of these men would be in favour of public or government control of industry. But I am afraid that the way in which the Australian Industry Development Corporation is now proposed to be set up, it could become an instrument of the Government to gain control of industries throughout this country. I believe that in those circumstances we must have a very good look at it.
I am very interested to know how the Corporation will obtain its finance. I am under the impression that perhaps some of our finance companies, the merchant banks and the life assurance offices will be forced to put some of their money into the AIDC and that it, having advantages in taxation in other ways, will be able to operate most advantageously in competition with these companies. I do not think that that is good for the financial structure of this country because where we have a number of companies at the moment operating in competition we could reach a situation in which we have one great government monopoly. I have talked to members of the Liberal Party. We all agree that the sensible thing to do is to follow the lead of the Australian Democratic Labor Party in the amendment that it proposes to move and to let the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control have a really good look at this matter. It can bring in expert advice and it can allow people with an interest in this field to come before the Committee and explain to it the areas in which they have fears or to express the thoughts they wish to advance. So the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party will support the amendment. As I am a member of the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control, I feel that I have said enough at this time. When the matter comes before the Senate again I will then be in a position to know how my Party will act and how the Opposition will act.
-Mr Acting Deputy President, I seek leave to make a slight alteration to the amendment which I proposed.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marriott)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– It is only a small amendment and I will not speak to it. The present form of the amendment states:
The Bill be referred for inquiry and report, as soon as possible, to the Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control, which is hereby authorised to consider the Bill.
The alteration I desire to make is to insert certain words so that the amendment would read:
The Bill be referred for inquiry, and report as soon as possible but not later than the twelfth day of March 1 974, to the Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control, which is hereby authorised to consider the Bill.
I ask for leave to make that alteration. At the appropriate time when I ask for leave, to move my foreshadowed amendment, it will be in identical form.
– Should you not say: ‘And report to the Senate ‘?
– I suppose that the words and report to the Senate’ should be added. I took that for granted. Mr Acting Deputy President, I ask for leave also to insert the words ‘to the Senate’ after the word ‘report’. So the proposed amendment now reads:
The Bill be referred for inquiry, and report to the Senate as soon as possible but not later than the twelfth day of March 1 974, to the Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control, which is hereby authorised to consider the Bill.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Does the seconder of the amendment agree to the alterations?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Does the Senate agree to accept the amended form of the amendment? There being no objection, leave is granted to amend the amendment which has been moved.
– I rise as a South Australian senator to make some comment on the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill. The passing of this measure is very vital to the Redcliffs project in South Australia. I am a little at a loss to know why some of the Opposition senators from South Australia have not put the case on behalf of the project at Redcliffs in this instance. They have accused this Government of being at loggerheads with the South Australian State Government and have heaped great praise on the South Australian Premier in recent days for what he has done in regard to other matters. Yet here is another State project that possibly could be put in jeopardy because of the referral of this
Bill to the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control. It has been the policy of the Liberal Country League in South Australia ever since the Redcliffs project was mentioned to pour cold water on it.
I want to quote some extracts from newspaper articles that go as far back as March of this year when just prior to the State elections in South Australia both Dr Eastick, the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia and Mr Hall, the Leader of the Liberal Movement- who will probably be a member of the Senate next yearaccused the South Australian Premier of using the Redcliffs project as a red herring and as a device to mislead the electors. I want to quote from the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ of 6 March 1973. It states:
In Adelaide yesterday Dr Eastick said the petrochemical project had been advanced purely for electoral gain and it was now possible it might be lost to South Australia.
Mr Hall is on record as saying the very same thing day after day trying to hoodwink the people of South Australia into believing that the South Australian Government was trying to fool them into voting it back into office by using the petrochemical industry up north of Port Pirie as a bait. The people of South Australia did not fall for that bait. They re-elected the Dunstan Government to office with a very good majority. This petrochemical industry now depends largely on the funds being made available by the Australian Industry Development Corporation to help establish this project. One of the matters we debated in the Senate earlier today was centralism. We were accused of fostering centralism in Canberra. We are now trying to overcome that and to fund this project with Australian money. We should see whether we can fund it with our own money. Why should the South Australian Government or even the Federal Government have to go cap in hand to other sources for money to fund this development of the Redcliffs project when we can do it, if the Bill is passed in the Senate without any of the skulduggery and humbug which we have heard today. The people of South Australia are so disturbed by this action that a resolution was passed in the South Australian Parliament yesterday, the terms of which I know have been sent to all Liberal Party senators by urgent telegram which asked them to give their full support to the measure now before the Senate.
– Was it unanimous, as the other one was against Mr Connor?
– I am not saying that it was unanimous. But this resolution was passed by the South Australian Parliament. I want to quote the telegram in its proper context for the benefit of those people who are concerned that Australia should be able to develop its own project without having to seek foreign capital to achieve this end. The telegram was sent by Mr Des Corcoran, the Acting Premier of South Australia. It states:
I advise that the South Australian House of Assembly on 27 November 1973 passed the following resolution: ‘That this House is of the opinion that in seeking to amend the Australian Industry Development Corporation Act 1 970 and to pass the National Investment Fund Bill 1973 the Australian Government is acting to ensure a proper level of Australian equity and the maintenance of a high proportion of Australian participation in major Australian industrial development without resort by the Australian IDC to oversea borrowing; that the successful passing of these Bills is essential for the proper development of the Redcliffs project in this State and that this House desires that this State’s representatives in the Australian Senate should be speedily informed of this opinion ‘.
This resolution was carried in the South Australian Parliament yesterday. This message has been transmitted to South Australian senators seeking their support to ensure that these Bills go through this House because of their vital importance to the development of South Australia and in particular the petro-chemical industry of South Australia. Many speeches have been made and questions asked in this House over recent weeks on the decision taken by Mr Connor who in his wisdom saw fit to stand up even against the South Australian Premier to see that the Redcliffs project was developed by Australians with as much Australian capital as possible.
Senator Byrne has moved an amendment which seeks to defer the legislation now before us and to refer it to the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control. The honourable senator altered his amendment to ensure that the Committee reports back to the Senate some time in March.
– No, not later than March.
– That is a terrific postponement. The South Australian Government has negotiated with the companies involved on the basis that the construction of this project should start 6 months hence. I am speaking as a South Australian senator now. Honourable senators opposite always accuse Government senators of being led by the nose. Senator Byrne’s amendment envisages that this legislation will be deferred to not later than 12 March. But I remind honourable senators that we have had the experience of another committee, which has as its chairman an independent senator, and which was supposed to report back to the Senate by a certain time. The chairman of that committee came to the Senate and sought an extension of time. This is the sort of device that could be used to indefinitely defer this legislation. If the legislation is not passed now this industry could be lost to South Australia. If it is lost, the South Australian Labor senators will not be to blame; the blame will rest with Opposition senators.
– Firstly, I would like to remind Senator McLaren that I rose to my feet before he did and I decided to defer to him to allow him to speak first. The honourable senator did so in typical fashion. His speech was an attempt to denigrate senators from South Australia on this side of the House. He tried to delude the people of Australia into believing that the Redcliffs project will be placed in jeopardy if this Bill is not passed in its present form. That is a lot of absolute nonsense because anyone who has any common sense will realise very quickly the truth of what Senator Cotton said yesterday- that the Government can introduce a Bill to this place requesting money for the Australian Industry Development Corporation to expand on its present base. I think it is quite irresponsible for Senator McLaren to suggest that the Opposition, without giving any proper consideration, should support a Bill that has been rushed in here. As far as I am concerned I will not be a party to such a suggestion.
I think it is fair to suggest that not many people really understand the AIDC as such. Senator Maunsell reminded us earlier in this debate that the Corporation was conceived by a previous Liberal-Country Party government under the ministerial guidance of Sir John McEwan to provide assistance to companies which wished to expand their activities, which were unable to raise sufficient finance or, in fact, in some instances required expertise. The whole concept of this Corporation was to enable such companies to approach the Corporation for help in this regard. It is fair to emphasise that this help would not be forthcoming unless the company made an approach to the AIDC for assistance. I think that this partnership between government and private industry is an ideal arrangement which has contributed a great deal to the mutual development of Australian industry.
But the proposal that we have before us at the moment is quite clear. The Government wants to effect radical changes to this concept by extending the functions of the Corporation. The Bill sets out that the functions of the Corporation will include securing ‘to the greatest extent that is practicable, participation by Australian residents in the ownership and control of companies engaging in any such industries or activities’. The Bill will enable the AIDC to initiate projects by intruding into industry without being asked and it will be able to retain shares it acquires in such companies. This is a far-reaching change in the concept of this Corporation. It is not surprising to me that a Labor government would want to use this body as an instrument for socialism and no one can convince me that the proposed expansion of the AIDC is not a blatant attempt to socialise industry in Australia. Under the present charter the Corporation cannot be used to nationalise industry.
– It is a conscription Bill; it is conscription of capital.
– The honourable senator is quite right. The constitutional implications of this legislation- I will deal with this in more detail later in my speech- are far-reaching. The charter as we know it at the moment, provides that industry cannot be nationalised. The Corporation is not subject to government direction at the moment. According to the charter the Corporation has to avoid becoming or remaining in a position in which it is able to control or manage the affairs of a company to which it provides assistance. It can maintain only minority holdings in firms in which it invests and it is obliged to be rid of its equity holdings in a company as soon as practicable. This is a sure safeguard against a government take-over.
The Bill removes all these obstacles. I recall what was said by Mr Wiltshire, the President of the Australian Industries Development Association, on this matter. He said that should this new Act be passed it will:
Mr Wiltshire also said:
There are to be no limits to the AIDC acquiring ownership and control of industries. The AIDC will therefore be able to divert all or part of what it raises into government ownership or control of industry, in what will be in essence an under-cover operation.
There will be no requirement that the details of its activities be made known publicly or to the Parliament apart from certain information related to the National Investment Fund. This could lead in simple terms to undercover nationalisation and socialisation of industry.
This Bill must be the dream of every socialist sitting on the Government benches. It provides that the Board of Directors appointed, as I understand, by the Minister will include the Secretary of the Department of Secondary Industry and the Secretary of the Department of Minerals and
Energy. The Government therefore will have direct access to the Board of Directors and in addition it will be in a position to influence the Board decisions. In addition, a resolution signed by 5 members of the Board will constitute a resolution of the Board, provided that three of these are part time directors. This means that decisions of the Board may be taken without the knowledge of the executive chairman or the Government representative.
Under the existing charter the Corporation operates on a limited scale in the general field of merchant banking in fair competition with private enterprise. However, the new proposition will extend its range of activities considerably to bring it into direct competition not only with merchant and investment banks but also with life insurance offices, unit trusts and superannuation funds for the general public, savings banks and building societies, none of which has the special privileges that will be heaped upon the Corporation under the proposals before the Senate.
There are 4 areas of special advantage provided in this Bill. First of all there is the proposed capital subsidy of 10 per cent on subscriptions to the development bond divisions of the National Investment Fund. This will compete directly with unit trusts. Secondly, there is the intended exemption of the Corporation from Federal and State stamp duties on its lending and borrowing documents and probably on its bills of exchange, promissory notes and market operations. This new measure would bring the AIDC into direct competition with a wider range of institutions, all of which are required to pay various Federal and State government duties.
Thirdly, this proposal aims at changing the 30/20 rule of the Income Tax Act governing the investment of assets of life insurance offices and superannuation funds, thereby providing a captive source of income for this Corporation. Apparently it is intended that funds invested in the proposed superannuation and retirement fund and in savings divisions of the National Investment Fund will not be subjected to the various restrictions applied to other organisations relating to investment and taxation. These 4 advantages would place the AIDC well ahead of existing private organisations working in this field and performing similar functions. Therefore, it is unfair. I find these proposals offensive as they will place this government instrumentality in a position of privilege. In point of fact they provide for acquisition of control over various industries without the approval of Parliament. In addition, the AIDC is provided with an open ended commitment to subsidise earnings and underwrite losses of a sector of the community in the form of subscribers to development bonds without regard to needs or means, and finally because of their inevitably damaging impact on the instrumentalities which pioneered the fields in which the Corporation is now to intervene.
It is important to stress to the Senate that this Corporation is not accountable to Parliament. I raise the question of the constitutional implications of this Bill. In section 5 1 ( 1 ) of the Constitution rests the power on which the Commonwealth has the authority to legislate the Act and the amending Bill. This section states:
The Parliament shall, subject to the Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to ( 1 )
This is the paragraph I am concerned about.
Trade and commerce with other countries and other among the States.
This seems to me to introduce some dangerous implications. It suggests to me that the Government could quite properly become involved in intra-State matters. For a proper appreciation of the political implications of the proposals for amendment in this Bill it is important to remember the wide scope of interpretation which has already been given to this section by the High Court. I think Senator Byrne would agree. Was it the case of the Airlines Bill in 1946 where this was evidenced?
– And there was the new corporation power, which is now being used.
– There is evidence that this has been widened to include the matters to which I have referred. It is particularly important to remember that a law within a Commonwealth incidental power is not required to have the same subject matter as that contained in the main grant of power as enunciated in that section to which I have referred.
One of the dangerous implications of this Bill is that this Commonwealth power could conceivably extend to intra-State matters. I think it is quite conceivable that with the wide scope of this section of the Constitution and the incidental powers, the Commonwealth could control nontrade, non-commerce and also non-interstate matters provided it could be shown that the regulated matter assisted the exercise of or was an appropriate means to the grant under section 5 1 ( 1 ). I wonder whether this could lead to the Corporation conscripting people to some of its enterprises. For example, it might want to establish a solar energy plant in the middle of Australia. It might find it difficult to attract people up there to work. So far as I know there is nothing in the Constitution that says it would not be able to conscript people civilly. The only section I can see which refers to that is section 51 (23a), referring to the provision of maternity allowance, etc., where in brackets after dental services it says:
But Dot so as to authorise any form of civil conscription.
I know that is a far reaching sort of matter, but it occurred to me that that would not be beyond the realms of possibility. There are other constitutional implications associated with the Bill that are extremely dangerous, and it seems appropriate that a more detailed examination of them should be made. I think the Democratic Labor Party has proposed a very sensible amendment. While referring to the constitutional implications of the Bill, I refer to the appointment of Professor Colin Howard as a legal counsel to the AttorneyGeneral recently. I shall quote from an article in the ‘Age’ of 16 November 1973. It is interesting to observe this comment.
As Constitutional adviser to Senator Murphy, Professor Howard can be expected to take a strong line on the need for the Government to fully exploit the Constitution when legislating. He does not say it in so many words, but he will be exhorting his masters to have a go.
I think that in this particular Bill the masters are certainly trying to have a go. I notice that in common with Senator McLaren, Dr Cairns has become over-emotional about the passage of this Bill, although Senator Byrne read the answer to a question in which he had no objection to this being referred to the appropriate senate committee. For him to suggest that the Redcliffs petro-chemical project in South Australia would be threatened is a lot of absolute hogwash.
– He would not know, Senator. He was just playing politics. But he was very quiet about the brandy tax.
- Senator Young is perfectly right in pointing to the blatant political exercise that is being carried on in an attempt to create an over-emotional reaction in South Australia and pointing also to the blatant attempt to blackmail honourable senators on this side of the House into voting for the Bill in its present form. I noted very carefully the telegram that was sent to us today. I also noted that in South Australia the Liberal movement voted with the Government. This is very significant because either it has some socialistic leaning- it seems to me to be supporting the Labor Party against the Liberal-Country League in South Australia so often that it makes me believe that it ought to join the Labor Party -or it has not the sense or the intelligence to read the Bill thoroughly and recognise it as a blatant piece of socialistic legislation.
I support the motion, so thoughtfully drafted by Senator Byrne, to refer this Bill to the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control for a detailed examination of the implications of widening the scope of this Corporation. Although this will necessitate a delay in the passing of this legislation it will provide, very importantly, the people of Australia and honourable senators with a much needed critical examination and with evidence from all sectors. In this way we will be able to make an informed and properly considered judgment of the matter.
- Senator Jessop, who has just resumed his seat, engaged in the normal sort of emotional thinking and expression of attitude towards the whole concept of this legislation which is representative of the attitude of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party. I take this opportunity to point out that it is in direct contrast to the attitude adopted by the Australian Democratic Labor Party. It is true that there have been some misunderstandings about the intention of the Government in enlarging the activities of the Australian Industry Development Corporation but at least the Democratic Labor Party has been prepared to discuss rationally with the Minister for Secondary Industry, Dr J. F. Cairns, the whole question of what we intend to do. However, the colleagues of Senator Jessop adopted an attitude of dogmatismthat no matter what the Government was trying to do they did not want to understand it because it must be wrong and has terrible socialist overtones.
I cannot see what is wrong with the principle of trying to ensure maximum Australian equity in Australian industry. Surely it is evident, in the light of the report of the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control, that there was a need for some action to be taken. This is what this Government is endeavouring to do by expanding the activities of the AIDC. The principle of the AIDC was accepted by our predecessors. I find the present attitude of the Opposition so difficult to understand now. Foreign domination of the ownership and control of Australian resources and industries has been a national issue for quite some time. The Committee, which provided some very interesting information, found that many of the major growth industries were predominantly in the hands of foreign multi-national companies.
During the course of the election campaign the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) made it quite clear that we would take action in this area if we were elected to government. He said:
A Labor Government will enable Australia and ordinary Australians to take part in the ownership, development and use of Australian industries and resources.
We will expand the activities of the Australian Industry Development Corporation to enable it to join with Australian and foreign companies in the exploration, development and processing of Australian resources.
Australian capital will be effectively mobilised through the issue of national development bonds, and by encouraging Australian insurance companies to invest in approved development projects.
We will issue national development bonds through an expanded AIDC- not just because we are determined to reverse the trend towards foreign control of Australian resources, but because we want ordinary Australians to play their part in buying Australia back.
Is this an objective to which one should object in principle? Is it not in the national interest to ensure that these activities are under the control of Australians? Is this not the basic intention in expanding AIDC and was it not the basic intention of the AIDC in the first place?
These are important Bills. They are important for diverting into basic development some of the money that now goes into bricks and mortar in a plethora of city office blocks, and the like. They are important for putting together significant Australian shareholdings in major resource development and industrial expansion. They are important in enabling ordinary Australians to share in the income and capital gains of Australia’s growth. They are important for taking up opportunities to buy back some of Australia. They are important as a complement to the machinery for examining foreign takeover bids, and important for helping to finance efficient structuring of Australian industries.
The Government has no intention of swerving from the nationally endorsed policies contained in these Bills but it is prepared to do everything practicable to allay needless apprehensions, not just by offering explanations but by accepting, and indeed proposing, constructive amendments to put beyond doubt that the intentions and effect of the Bills do not run to the kind of rape of Australian private enterprise about which, genuinely or otherwise, fears have been expressed. We also wish to ensure that honourable senators are not misled by foreign-connected elements of the financial community who have managed to find a malicious intent in virtually every clause of the Bills.
– Some of the wholly owned Australian banks find it reprehensible too.
– If Senator Cotton can wait patiently I will deal later on with what he had to say.
– I do not think that I can stand the strain.
-The honourable senator will have to, I am afraid. We would therefore welcome an opportunity for senators to undertake a factual and balanced examination of the Bills. For that reason we on this side of the House accept the amendment which has been moved by the Democratic Labor Party. We believe that the in depth analysis suggested by Senator Byrne’s amendment will result in the Committee endorsing the principles set out in the Bill.
In agreeing to this action the Government remains mindful of the urgency of this legislation. Without it the AIDC will have neither the charter nor the financial capacity to act on many of the dramatic opportunities now offering. We have watched the alienation of Australian resources through the mining boom of the 1 960s. Now, in the 1970s, when the emphasis is more on processing of minerals and on mineral-based manufacturing, we will see it all happen again unless we have the means- the finance and the institutions- to bring together the strong Australian participation which we want to see in these ventures. This is not just a vague generalisation. I am informed that the AIDC is already involved in negotiations with Australian and foreign firms in connection with several large scale industrial developments of undoubted national significance. By bringing together interested Australian companies, and with some participation by the AIDC itself, there is every likelihood that these major projects can be structured under predominant Australian ownership and control. Every single such case would be a major achievement.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting for dinner I was referring to the need for this legislation to move forward to enable the Australian Industry Development Corporation to participate in the structuring of the ventures that are taking place in Australia at the present time. The planning of these ventures will not wait indefinitely. But to participate the AIDC must have the charter and the sources of funds which these Bills will give it. Without them it must withdraw. In view of this urgency and to minimise the loss of opportunities which may result from further delay the Government believes that the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control should complete its considerations of the Bills as quickly as possible consistent with its proper discharge of its responsibilities. Therefore we would like to see the Committee report by the end of February. But the Government accepts the amendment which requires the Committee to report by 12 March 1974. We would then hope that the Senate would be in a position to complete its consideration of the Bills by about the end of March or perhaps early April.
There remains the immediate problem posed by certain provisions of the existing Act that are severely hampering the continuing operations of AIDC. These matters are, firstly, that the Corporation lacks the function of securing Australian ownership and control of Australian industries and, secondly, that it is required to seek to borrow principally from outside Australia. The Bills we are now debating include amendments to remove these limitations. It is apparent from the amendments moved by the Opposition in the other place that the Opposition does not oppose the removal of these limitations. Therefore we propose to act immediately to remove them by interim legislation pending passage of full legislation after receipt of the report from the Select Committee. For this purpose I propose at the earliest opportunity to introduce a short Bill to amend sections 6 and 7 of the current Act. This interim Bill contains no provisions to which honourable senators have expressed opposition. If they are genuine in their professed concern about the great national problem of foreign ownership and control of Australian industries I am sure that they will help to ensure the speedy passage of that Bill when it comes forward.
Senator Cotton led for the Opposition in this debate. There are 2 or 3 points which he made during the course of his speech to which I wish to make fairly brief reference. The points he raised are important points if they are indeed valid. The first point with which I want to deal concerns his assertion that not sufficient is known of the AIDC and its activities and that there is not sufficient parliamentary control over that Corporation. Today we saw tabled in the Senate the annual report of the Australian Industry Development Corporation. I think that any reasonable person would say that it was a fairly detailed document. Most statutory organisations are required to present to the Parliament a proper and reasonable accounting of their activities over the previous 12 months, but there is a limit to which any statutory organisation ought to be expected to go in divulging detailed information of its activities. There is a certain confidentiality between an organisation such as the AIDC and its clients because, in effect, it is acting as a bank or merchant bank. The Australian National Airlines Commission, the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission or the Commonwealth Banking Corporation are all required to present reports. But they are not required to go beyond what would be the normal propriety of any commercial undertaking. I trunk that if Senator Cotton were to reflect on that point he would agree that the details that are now given by the Corporation to the Parliament are, in fact, a reasonable accounting of its activities. It should not be placed at a disadvantage any more than any other statutory organisation which is acting in a commercial capacity should be placed at a disadvantage in relation to its competitors.
Senator Cotton also made reference to the attitude of the life offices to the AIDC. It seems to me that the only matter in these Bills which could bring about some conflict with the life offices is the reference to the authorisation of the Corporation, through the National Investment Fund, to operate savings schemes and retirement schemes. Of course, these schemes in fact would mean competition with the private life offices or the life offices generally. But these offices have already indicated that they do not oppose the introduction or the implementation of such schemes by the Corporation even though they know that it means added competition for them. But they would object- and I think legitimately so- if the Corporation were given any special taxation privileges which did not apply to the life offices. The Government does not intend to do this. I think it is fair to say that the Corporation will be required to act in the same way as the life offices will be and that, therefore, there is no special advantage obtaining to the Corporation in these activities.
The third and last point to which Senator Cotton referred and on which I wish to make a brief comment was broadly the statement that a bigger AIDC is not needed. He said that the existing Corporation in conjunction with the Australian Resources Development Bank in fact should be sufficient to do the things which the Government would like to see done under this proposed legislation. But surely the record over the past 25 years suggests that these organisations have not, in fact, been able to do this through lack of will, through lack of resources or through lack of machinery. Over those 25 years we have seen very great inroads by overseas interests in Australian enterprises. The Australian Resources Development Bank is not a body which one could claim has as one of the main objectives in its function the protection of Australian equity. So we need to equip the AIDC and to give it the resources and the power to be able to resist the inroads of the big multi-national companies in Australia and to ensure that Australian participation can not only be maintained in new development but also can be expanded in current Australian industries.
I believe it is unfortunate that this legislation has to be deferred for what will probably be 3 or 4 months. It would have been desirable for these Bills to have been passed by the Senate and to allow the provisions that apply in this legislation to get under way as quickly as possible. However, the Government accepts the amendment moved by the Australian Democratic Labor Party. If there are some doubts in the Senate as to certain points and objectives in this legislation, the Select Committee should be in a position to make a proper analysis of them. I feel quite confident that when the report comes back to the Senate after such an analysis it will be a vindication of the Government’s intentions and the manner in which this legislation has been drawn up. Not only will it assist in the future development of Australia but also- and equally important- it will protect the interests of Australians in that development.
Amendment agreed to.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 23 October (vide page 1353), on motion by Senator Wriedt:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I shall be as brief as possible. I thank the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) for his remarks. They allow me to make one or two brief observations. He said that the annual report of the Australian Industry Development Corporation was tabled today. One would want to read it and look at it a little more carefully. The amendment proposed by Senator Byrne for an examination of this whole matter by the Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control is one that meets with my approval, and has from the very beginning of this operation because I have been anxious to see the matter examined in depth. The many questions I would normally raise in debate on this matter I can raise in that Committee when it goes to work. The Government has my assurance that the Opposition will facilitate the work of the Committee and its examination of this whole proposal.
-As I indicated earlier, the Senate has been having a cognate debate on 2 Bills, the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill. I moved an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and I am indebted to the Senate, to both the Government and the Opposition, for favourable consideration of that amendment. I can only hope that the deliberations of the Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control, after its examination, will prove fruitful. If there are improvements to be effected or if there are reassurances to be given I hope that that Committee will be able to come up with solutions and draw attention to things that might well be eliminated if it is considered wise and proper to do so. I think that Senator Cotton has expressed views that I would also express. Senator Cotton is a member of that Committee, as am I and Senator McAuliffe and other honourable senators in the chamber. I can assure the Senate that the investigations of that Committee will proceed as rapidly as possible, allowing for the intervention of the short Christmas period. The deadline set for the presentation of the report of the Committee is 12 March 1974 and we certainly hope that its report will be available at that time.
I now wish to speak to the particular Bill before us, the National Investment Fund Bill. I will now move the appropriate amendment in regard to it. It is identical with the amendment I moved in relation to the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill. To the motion ‘That the Bill be now read a second time’ I now move:
Leave out all words after ‘That’, insert ‘the Bill be referred for inquiry and report to the Senate, as soon as possible, but not later than 12 March 1974, to the Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control, which is hereby authorized to consider the Bill’.
-Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment. Amendment agreed to.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Debate resumed from 24 October (vide page 1409), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr President, reference to the Notice Paper will show that the Industries Assistance
Commission Bill 1973 is item No. 3 and the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1973 is item No. 4. These Bills are associated measures. The principal Bill and the Bill of importance is the Industries Assistance Commission Bill. The Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1973 is dependent on it. With the concurrence of the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt), for the purpose of debate I propose to deal with them together.
– Order! Senator Cotton has suggested that these Bills be debated together. Mr Minister, are you agreeable?
– With the concurrence of the Senate we will debate the Bills together and vote on them separately. Is the Senate agreeable to that course being followed? There being no objection, it is so ordered.
-The Liberal Party supports this Bill in the Senate, as it did in the House of Representatives. It is a logical and sensible outcome from the useful and comprehensive report prepared by Sir John Crawford entitled ‘A Commission to Advise on Assistance to Industries’. If one adverts to that report one finds that that Commission was set up on the basis of a letter, dated 1 March 1973, from the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to Sir John Crawford. In that letter the Prime Minister outlined the following proposals:
Dear Sir John,
The Government has decided to establish a Commission, to replace the present Tarin” Board, which will be responsible Tor advising the Government on assistance for primary as well as secondary industries.
The purpose in establishing the Commission is to extend the system of receiving advice publicly from an independent authority, which is at present the basis of Government policy decisions on assistance to and development of secondary industry, to the rural sector of the economy.
Sir John was asked if he would accept the task of advising on how the Commission should function, what its membership should be and what its procedures should be. He also was given a timetable. The Prime Minister concluded his letter by saying:
When considering the implications of this task, I would like you to bear in mind my desire to ensure that the advice which serves as a basis for Government policy on assistance for primary and secondary industry should be subject to public scrutiny, as is the case now with advice from the Tariff Board.
Sir John Crawford complied with the request, as we would expect he would, expeditiously. On page 94 of his report he gave a summary of his main conclusions. I will be as brief as I possibly can in dealing with those conclusions. He gave the following reasons for establishing the Commission:
It can assist the Government to develop co-ordinated policies for improving resource allocation.
It can provide advice on those policies which is disinterested.
It can facilitate public scrutiny of those policies.
I think that those are all admirable, sensible and wise courses of action. Sir John Crawford then laid down guidelines for the Commission and said:
The Commission should only advise the Government; it should not have executive or administrative responsibilities to the Government.
It should be provided with a broad policy framework, which should be consistent with the long term goals of national economic and social policy.
That is a very important clause to bear in mind because the Commission is charged very early on with having regard to those 2 things- a broad policy framework which should be consistent with long term goals of national economic and social policy. Sir John Crawford suggested a name for the Commission. He insisted that it should have industry coverage and suggested that it should advise on assistance to mining industries as well as on assistance to primary and secondary industries. He said it should also have an opportunity to give the Government advice on tertiary industries if desired. He said that the Government should be free to refer any form of assistance to the Commission and that the Commission should be free to report on it. There is a particular section in the report dealing with mandatory and permissive references. Sir John Crawford recommended that the Government should undertake to be advised by the Commission before taking action to grant or to change duties or other barriers to imports; or to grant or change subsidies, bounties or any other forms of direct monetary subvention to any primary or secondary industry, or contingent commitments such as subsidies.
Sir John Crawford recommended that the Government should seek the advice of the Commission on any matter relating to the granting of possible changes in or the effects of any or all forms of assistance provided by the Commonwealth to any industry in Australia. He said that the Commission should have power to initiate inquiries, as the Tariff Board does, and that it should have in various cases 6 years as a time limit. I think that Sir John Crawford tended to change his mind slightly. In the body of the report he referred to 10 years and the Liberal Party feels that that approach is more correct. However, in the final body of the report he opted for 6 years. We still feel that 10 years is more desirable. Sir John recommended that there should be a temporary assistance provision and that the Government should undertake to seek the Commission’s advice before taking action when temporary assistance is to be by means of tariffs or other barriers to imports. He said that the Government, when providing temporary assistance, should automatically refer the matter to the Commission. He said also that there should be general reporting functions by the Commission in its annual reports. Another of Sir John’s main conclusions was that members should be appointed on the basis of competence and not their capacity to represent particular interest groups in the community. I think that that conclusion is a very wise one.
He also concluded that there should be 2 categories of members- commissioners and associate commissioners; that the size of the Commission should be varied, depending upon work load, between not less than five and not more than nine but that there should be no limit on the number of associate commissioners. Another of the main conclusions was that the staff should be responsible to the Chairman, under the general management of the office of the Commission; that the staff should be employed under the Public Service Act. In relation to the Commission’s data requirements and the analysis of data, Sir John concluded that the Commission should make the fullest possible use of existing organisations such as the Bureaus of Census and Statistics, Agricultural Economics and Mineral Resources in collecting and analysing information. Another of the main conclusions was that public hearings should be regarded as the minimum rather than the maximum. Sir John concluded that the Commission should have a program of inquiries which could be set, as far as possible, fairly well ahead so that it could plan its resources, and people would know its plan.
Sir John also concluded that all communications between the Government and the Commission on matters of importance should be public and all directions to the Commission, and advice by the Commission to the Government, should be through the Prime Minister or a Minister designated by him; that the Government should, as far as possible, avoid restricting the scope of inquiries by the Commission; that references to the Commission of direct State as well as Commonwealth concern should best be determined in the first case by consultation; that except in well defined cases reports of the Commission should not be released before a decision is taken by the Government, that the exceptions were primary industry concerns in which negotiations between the industry and the Government may necessarily have to be conducted; that there should be a smooth transitional flow between the existing Tariff Board and the new Industries Assistance Commission. I have been as brief as I could on that report. It is a good report, and Sir John is entitled to have the courtesy of the Senate’s consideration of the report, even in the briefest form which I have taken.
The legislation aims to extend a system of public inquiry into industry and aims to extend the type of industry to which such public inquiry may be directed. We believe that this type of scrutiny and the need for assistance to industry have a great deal to commend them. The Commission will remove many of the misconceptions about industry which have been held in this country by people who did not necessarily understand a particular problem or a particular position. Industry supplies the great part of the muscle of our economy. It has to be remembered that manufacturing industry employs over 25 per cent of Australia’s work force and, I think contributes 33 per cent of the gross national product of Australia. A great deal of the Australian living standard depends upon manufacturing, its economic viability and its capacity to employ satisfactorily. If we have an industry in this country we should be prepared to look after it and we should be prepared to nourish it. At the same time, if it is to get special assistance, it should be carefully examined, as the Bill proposes. This applies to all industries, including manufacturing and primary industries, and, as I mentioned earlier, mining and tertiary industries. I think that one is entitled to say that all industries- primary, secondary and tertiary- are entitled to be regarded as good Australians, in the first place, working to the benefit of this country, and are not entitled to be regarded as fundamentally against the public interest, as some people have tended to think. The deliberations of the Commission should indicate the forms which this assistance should take.
Our colleagues in the other House co-operated to the fullest extent in having the Bill passed. They made many sensible and worthwhile suggestions for its improvement. Some of them were agreed to, and some were not agreed to. The Government indicated that it was in agreement with some, but the whole debate lapsed and we now have to bring up some of these matters in the Senate. Some have not been agreed to, some would have been agreed to but did not get to the point of being passed, and some are still to come forward. We in the Liberal Party Opposition believe very stongly that the Commission should use to the fullest possible extent the skills and the expertise of other government departments and should rely on their facilities rather than try to duplicate their functions. We regard that matter as an extremely important one. Sir John mentioned it in his main recommendations and in the body of his report. It will avoid a wastage of resources, it will avoid duplication and confusion, it will lighten the load on industry and it will lighten the load on departments and on the Commission.
We hope that in time there will be a smoother working arrangement- an arrangement which will be subject to public scrutiny and which people will regard as worth while across the general spectrum of Australian industry, whether it is primary, secondary, mining, manufacturing or, in some cases, tertiary. I believe that for a long time Australia suffered from what I call industry stand-off and that people regarded primary industry and commerce as the natural enemies of manufacturing. I do not think that these attitudes have served Australia well. I would like to see them drawn to a close. I think that the examination procedure by the Industries Assistance Commission is likely to bring about a result which will mean that in the end the Australian community will understand the interdependence of all industry, will understand that primary industry is a great export contributor and will understand that it produces resources which enable Australians to have a living standard. But primary industry also will understand that a great manufacturing industry and a great tertiary industry provide a home market for the producers of Australian agricultural products, and that is very important too. So the country, with all its sectors, is bound together. The sectors are not separate, and they should not be involved in what I call a stand-off position.
The Commission will be called upon to investigate the various requests for assistance, proposals and difficulties, and in the end- we all understand this- it will make recommendations. They will be given publicly, as far as is humanly possible, and the Government of the day will make the ultimate decision and will carry the ultimate responsibility. No commission can take upon itself this final responsibility, nor should it be asked to do so, nor should it expect itself to be able to do so. In the final analysis, the Government needs to know as much about the work as the Commission knows. It is quite essential that any confidential information which comes to the Commission is made available to the executive arm of government, no matter what its political philosophy. The Government must be appraised of the information which brought about the decision. We cannot have a position in which any commission or any board says to a government: This is what you have to do. We tell you that is what our report is. We cannot tell you how we arrived at that because our information is confidential’. That cannot be the case. It would be wrong, it would be improper. The Government must have access, in a style of secrecy and confidentiality if need be, to the findings of the Commission and to the evidence, if necessary, which backed up those findings. The Government must have access to the details if it wants them, and the Commission cannot set itself to one side and say: ‘We are all powerful, we are all knowing. You just take our advice and do not ask us any more. ‘ That cannot be allowed to happen. That position must be avoided. Therefore the Commission must be obliged to make available to the Government any confidential knowledge that it may have obtained.
The Liberal Party Opposition- my Country Party colleagues, my colleagues in the Democratic Labor Party and the Independents will bring their own attention and minds to this problem- has a particular interest in what we call the field of temporary relief and difficulty in assistance because the Commission, as was properly said by Sir John, has charged itself with long term goals, long term considerations and long term interests. In each industry- it is not confined to manufacturing; it is in primary industry, too- a sudden emergency can confront the industry. It can be placed in great difficulty and need to be taken to some authority and given a temporary stand-off relief which can protect it for a period, subject to final scrutiny and reference back to the Commission. We would like to see such a proposal added to the Industries Assistance Commission Bill. Accordingly, we will be moving an amendment later.
There are particular situations which I can remember. People have often thought that the manufacturers were the only ones who ever went for any temporary help to keep their employment capacity at full strength against a challenge from dumping or a flooded market by imports in an unregulated style. I can recall a few cases in primary industry. For instance, a flood of New Zealand lamb was supposed to be about to put the Australian producer off the market. The general spectrum now in Australia is that the whole of Australia is subject to a flood of import competition which may place any section of industry and the employment attached to that industry at hazard. So we believe that it is better that that area be separated for quick and resolute action by the Government, to the Commission and finally back to the Government. We see no danger in this. We see danger in it being tied up in the Commission. We see danger in the possibility of people not getting assistance quickly enough to save them from disaster.
We think that the general situation is that there is an urgent area and a long term area. We believe that the special section needs to be only a very small body of not more than 3 people. Perhaps one of them could be employed on a permanent basis and could draw to his side 2 people to help him. Such people are properly sworn. They need not be the same people. They can be drawn from the community m which they have special knowledge for a special job and be returned to the community again. We believe also that the head of the relief section can be changed from time to time at the discretion of the Government so that he does not get himself into any situation of what I might call case hardened attitudes. We see all the potential safety in doing so. We believe that the quick safety valve concept would not be anything like as effective in the main body of the Commission.
– It is a variation of the old Special Advisory Authority concept.
– Yes, it is quite sensible. The previous Minister for Customs and Excise said to me that it is a variation of the old Special Advisory Authority. It is a variation of the old Authority but it is updated. I think it is streamlined. It has all the areas of protection for those who may get into a disastrous situation quickly. The Government maintains its responsibility. It has more than one person on the Commission. The Commission has some specialist knowledge and it is under the broad umbrella of the whole area of industry assistance and examination.
As I have said, we support the Bill. We like the idea of having all industries subject to examination by the Commission because we think in the end it is fairer to everybody. We think as a result Australia will tend to become a more united country as regards all the sectors that make for its general prosperity and its general living standard. We like the idea of referring questions of assistance to industry for public scrutiny before taking any necessary action. We also believe that the Commission has a right, if it wishes to do so, to undertake its own inquiries on its own initiatives. As you can see, Mr President, I am being as quick as I can. We do support the second reading of the Bill. As I say, we will have a body of amendments to move in Committee. While they are very large in number, they can be streamlined and put through very largely in globo if honourable senators are in agreement. I am anxious to hasten the progress of this very important measure. It has been debated very fully in the House of Representatives from which it originates and to which, of course, it must return.
I have in mind the consideration that underlying this issue with which we are now dealing are Appropriation Bills which deal with the consequential supply of resources for the Government to carry on. I think I am correct in saying that this Commission needs to be established by the Senate so that it can take effect on 1 December. That means that we do not have very long. In effect, we have only tomorrow if we do not dispose of the legislation tonight. That is one of the reasons why I have been pushing along this legislation on the Industries Assistance Commission fairly quickly, and as is my normal custom I have been speaking quickly- perhaps more quickly than normal. So with those few observations I will content myself with waiting until we reach the Committee stage. But the Government and, indeed, my colleagues in the Senate have my assurance that I will be anxious to process the amendments as quickly as possible.
– The purpose of the Bill before the Senate is to establish an Industries Assistance Commission which shall consist of not less than five and not more than 9 commissioners. The functions of the Commission are to hold inquiries and make reports to the Minister in accordance with the Act in relation to matters affecting assistance to industry and other matters that may be referred to the Commission in accordance with the Act. To begin with, I believe that this Bill has been correctly referred to as one of the most important ever brought into the Senate. The Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) when speaking on this Bill in another place said that he regarded the Bill as one of the most important and significant Bills on which he had spoken in 16 years in the Parliament. I say immediately that the Country Party recognises the importance of the legislation. It agrees with the principle of the proposal, which the second reading speech says is to extend to all Australian industries a system of government assistance.
The Country Party has studied the Bill closely and weighed its proposals against the Government’s record of assistance to industry in its first 12 months in office. Those examinations left no doubt that my Party must oppose the setting up of the proposed Commission in the interests of the very industries the Bill purports to help. The points made by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) when he introduced this Bill fall into sharp contradiction with many decisions taken by his Government. Speaking of the Tariff Board in his second reading speech the Prime Minister said:
The Government believes the system has, over a long period, proved its value to successive governments in an important and difficult area of government decision making.
In another part of his second reading speech, he said:
The Tariff Board was established in 1921 and it has been an important and respected source of advice to 2 1 of the 28 Parliaments which have been elected since federation.
One would believe from those statements that the Prime Minister and his Government stand firmly behind the universally adopted practice of providing adequate support for the manufacturing and primary industries of one’s own country. But Labor’s actions since last December prove the emptiness of the Prime Minister’s words. The truth is that this Government is renowned not for what it has given to industry but for what it has taken away. I refer to the across the board tariff cut of 25 per cent which exposed manufacturers to vastly increased competition from imports. I refer to the regular currency revaluations which have seriously eroded returns from exports. I refer also to the parcel of smaller but nonetheless significant take-aways such as tax concessions, investment allowances, petrol and telephone concessions, depreciation allowances, and some subsidies and bounties.
I ask the Senate whether these actions were the work of a government sympathetic to the problems and needs of Australia’s industries. Of course they were not. The very reverse is true. The record speaks for itself: The policy of this Government is to withdraw assistance from industry. In view of this, 1 can only conclude that the real reason for seeking to establish an Industries Assistance Commission is to justify denials of assistance and the withdrawal of assistance that has not yet been taken away.
The Country Party does not object to the principle of establishing a Commission to conduct public inquiries and make public reports on applications by industry for assistance. That approach to the complex question of the allocation of Australia’s resources to needy industries is welcomed. But we object in the strongest terms to the proposal to set up the Commission as a bureaucratic central planning authority with powers and influences that should belong only to the Government and the Parliament.
If this Bill is passed in its present form, it will be mandatory on the elected Government to go to a non-elected statutory authority for advice and recommendations before it can make decisions on industry assistance policies. We have already seen with the Coombs Committee what happens when the Government sets up an advisory body to make recommendations. Its recommendations are readily adopted and implemented.
Surely the same will apply to the proposed Industries Assistance Commission. Because its recommendations will have been made after holding public inquiries, the Government will be loath to invite widespread criticism by rejecting the Commission’s advices. So we will find that a commission not elected by the people, and therefore not answerable to them, will virtually be the decision maker in an enormously wide range of economic policies. So wide are the powers proposed to be given to the Commission that it will be able to initiate its own inquiries without being asked to do so by the Government. This can only result in a situation in which no industry receiving government assistance will be able to plan on the continuation of that assistance.
My Leader, the Honourable Doug Anthony, when he spoke on this Bill in another place, said that this legislation would mean the end of the long-established and widely accepted system under which Government assistance policies for industry had been devised- the system of discussion, consultation and negotiation between industry and government. He said that it would be pointless, even if permissible, for industry to put its views directly to the Government, to Ministers, or to Government departments, because the authority and influence which once were theirs would have been placed in the hands of the Commission.
Some critics of the Country Party have interpreted that portion of Mr Anthony’s speech as a frank revelation of what they term the narrow, vested interested role of the Country Party. That, of course, is rubbish. It underlines the ignorance of the consultation and negotiation system and even questions the democratic right of Australians to express their point of view to the Government they have elected. Several of our biggest industry assistance schemes, such as the wheat stabilisation scheme and the rural reconstruction scheme can be introduced only by the passing of complementary legislation by the
States. It is only through consultation and negotiation between the industry, the States and the Commonwealth that agreement can be reached and legislation can be proceeded with. One only has to recall the wheat stabilisation plan- I think 2 plans ago-when Victoria stood out from the other States on some particular point. The stabilisation scheme at that time nearly fell through because Victoria would not agree to what the Australian Wheat Growers’ Federation, the Commonwealth and the State Governments, other than Victoria, were suggesting. I believe that a similar situation could develop with the Industries Assistance Commission’s recommendations.
I venture to say that very often agreement will not be easy in matters when decisions are made by a bureaucratic instrumentality far removed from the States. In other words, frank discussion between the parties involved has been the cornerstone of some of the most important economic agreements entered into by previous Commonwealth governments. We are now asked to hand over that function to a statutory body which has no responsibility to the States or to the people involved in the industries. I return to the point I made earlier, that there is ample evidence to show that the Labor Government is opposed to the principle of granting assistance to industry. Sir John Crawford, who was given the task of preparing a report on how an industries commission could be constructed, recommended a review of the tariff duties every 10 years. The Bill, however, proposes to reduce the review time to 6 years. This brought a strong reaction from the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia. In an article headed ‘Industries Assistance Bill; Amendments Needed ‘ in its journal Industry News’, ACMA said:
Tariffs are a device for assisting industry over a long-term period . . . as the Bill currently stands it seems inevitable that Australia can look forward to a 6-year cycle of tariff review. This would be absurd.
In making investment decisions, manufacturers are looking for long-term indications as to what the level of protection will be. If the Commission alters the duties or assistance on a 6- yearly cycle basts then uncertainty and concern will result and m many cases investment will be deferred.
The Associated Chamber of Manufacturers of Australia also drew attention to the other dangerous faults in the Bill I have already mentioned. Sir John Crawford also recommended that the Government should be able to seek the Commission’s advice on assistance to tertiary industries. The Bill makes no mention of this provision. So we are left to conclude that Government enterprises will be exempt from the Commission ‘s inquiries. Publicly-owned industry competing against private industry will not have to justify any assistance which it might seek from the Government. One might ask: Why not? I submit the reason is that this Government has no genuine concern for private industry. In fact, it would prefer to nationalise all industries, and it would not be convenient if nationalised industries were subjected to the same public scrutiny as it now proposes for the private sector. I have outlined why this Bill should not be passed. It contains glaring faults and weaknesses, and the Country Party makes no apology for exposing those faults and declaring that it is strongly opposed to the legislation. Mr President, the Country Party will vote against the second reading of this Bill.
– This is a Bill which in effect recasts the whole system of tariff protection in this country. It is a very vital Bill in many respects. It recasts the whole system of tariff protection. It establishes what, in the view of the DLP, will be an immense bureaucracy in control of tariff protection. It means that the power which Parliament has had in this field to a big degree is to be placed in the hands of the bureaucrats. For that reason I am surprised that the Liberal Party has declared its intention to vote for the second reading of this Bill. While it proposes to move some amendments at the Committee stage, those amendments appear to me to be not of a vital character affecting the Bill, and the Bill appears likely to be passed. I regret it, and the DLP regrets it. We feel that the provisions in this Bill establishing a large and immense power of bureaucracy are dangerous. We believe that when this Bill has been in operation for a period of about 2 years, the members of the Liberal Party will be saying: ‘We did not know it was loaded ‘. However, the die is cast.
– The DLP will not be here to see it.
– I will be here, Senator Gair will be here and I believe that Senator Little will be here, and that is something that the honourable senator cannot do anything about. I always remember when the split in the Australian Labor Party occurred in 1956, a leading member of the Labor Party saying to former Senator George Cole: ‘You will not be here very long’. Three years later former Senator Cole was still here and that leading member of the Labor Party was out. So, the honourable senator is very unwise to be a political prophet.
– I think that we should get back to the Bill.
– I say, therefore, that the die is cast; this Bill will be carried. I regret it. I believe that we have reached the stage in this country when the stranglehold of the Executive through Cabinet and the stranglehold of the bureaucracy as permitted by Cabinet constitute a grave danger to the democratic future of this country.
So, I merely say that the DLP will vote with the Country Party against the second reading of this Bill. We believe that it is not in the interests of Australia or of Australian industry. We believe, as I said before, that in a year or two the Liberals will be saying: ‘We did not know it was loaded’. The DLP will vote with the Country Party and we will not accept responsibility for the dangers contained in this Bill.
– The purpose of this legislation is to establish the Australian Industries Assistance Commission which is intended to ensure that politics will be taken out of the protection of both secondary and primary industry. I am pleased that the Liberal Party sees fit to support this legislation. I suppose that if there is one political party in Australia which has had enough of having a gun held at its head over the years, it is the Liberal Party. That gun has been held by the Country Party. That is why the Country Party now is opposing the creation of the Industries Assistance Commission. It was quite evident, listening to Senator Drake-Brockman, that the Country Party does not want a proper investigation of protection and assistance given to primary industry. Yet, the primary industry organisations themselves- contrary to what the socalled representatives of the primary producers in the Senate, as they call themselves, claimsupport strongly the formation of this Commission. They have said on numerous occasions that this is exactly what should have been done years ago. This is true because it means that the primary producers of Australia will be able to argue their case openly and publicly. The Commission will be able to make its recommendations accordingly to the Government.
It is nonsensical to suggest that this is the creation of a vast bureacratic structure. It is a means of allowing all Australian industry, both primary and secondary, to argue openly its case for support. That is why this legislation has been brought down. The Commission will not make decisions on behalf of the Government; it will make recommendations to the Government. It seems that members of the Country Party are afraid of the fact that this might happen. It is quite wrong to draw an analogy, as has been done, with the Coombs recommendations made during the Budget considerations of this Government. The Coombs report contained a series of recommendations to the Government, after the Labor Party had spent many years in Opposition. All the recommendations of the Coombs report were not accepted, as members of the Country Party here know full well. Many of those recommendations were rejected. The report presented by the Coombs task force was given a most thorough analysis by Cabinet during the course of Budget deliberations.
I did not anticipate that Senator Drake-Brockman would launch an attack on the Government in the manner that he did, but he attacked the Government for its policy on tariff reductions and said that these were not referred to any commission. Of course, they were not referred to the Commission. To begin with, the Commission was not in existence at that time and, secondly, it was a policy decision which had been advocated for many years by the primary producer organisations which the honourable senator claims to represent, and about which the former Liberal-Country Party coalition government in the past refused to do anything. But it took the Labor Party to do something.
The same remarks apply to our revaluation decisions. We made revaluation decisions not because of concern for sectional interests but because it was in the interests of the Australian community as a whole to revalue the Australian dollar. The difference between our revaluation policy and that of our predecessors is that within a matter of months we made compensation payments to primary producers who were adversely affected. The position with the last revaluation made by the previous Government was that no compensation whatsoever or no adjustment payments were made by that previous administration. So these arguments are just red herrings that are being drawn across the trail. They are not really relevant to the debate. The important thing is that it is quite apparent that the Liberal Party can see that the formation of this Commission will bring about better government in this country irrespective of what party is in power. It will mean that any government will be able to act on informed recommendations made by people who have been appointed to investigate these respective matters. It should be emphasised that the legislation makes it mandatory that all these provisions for protection of either primary or secondary industry must be considered by the Commission. In fact, the Government would not be allowed simply to exercise its discretion as to whether references should be made to the Commission.
I am sure that in the discussions I have had, particularly with primary industry groups, in the last few months on this matter there is overwhelming support for this legislation. Certainly, there are certain aspects of it about which primary industry groups have some reservations. But the broad context of what is being done by the Government is acceptable to them. I would think that the main points will be discussed during the Committee stages. It is probably as well that we put the motion that the Bill be now read a second time to the vote now and proceed with amendments in the Committee stages.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3- by leave- taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 4 (Interpretation).
Certain attempts are made under sub-clause (2) of clause 4 to define what is meant by assistance to industry. Paragraph (a) of this sub-clause refers to the obvious case of assistance being related to a business or activity on which duties have been imposed and paragraph (b) refers to making payments to persons engaged in industry. Can the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) tell me whether the definitions contained in these paragraphs are wide enough to include the case of revaluation payments to an industry? I am referring to a situation in which the Government has made a revaluation decision that has a direct impact on an export industry. In such a case the price paid for the product is reduced by an exchange decision and assistance obviously is required to retrieve justice for exporters who had committed themselves to the overseas market before revaluation.
I refer to the specific case of the apple industry in southern Tasmania which was committed to supply the European market. Revaluation decisions were made involving growers in a loss of 60c per bushel. The Government itself concedes that the industry should receive 30c per bushel as a result of the revaluation decisions that it made. It is obvious that because the overseas price has been depressed assistance must be given to the industry to equalise the impact of exchange. I ask the Minister to tell me whether, on his interpretation of this clause, an application of this sort would be an appropriate matter to put to the Commission.
Secondly, I would like the Minister to tell me, on the assumption that this Bill is passed in the next few days and the Government does not change the basis on which it is purported to provide assistance in the case that I have mentioned, whether an application by that industry to the Commission for assistance to meet the impact of a revaluation decision made some months ago will be in order so that we can get a decision from the Commission.
– My understanding of the Bill is that it would provide or could provide for such assistance as referred to by Senator Wright. I think it is quite obvious that the main intent of the Bill is that the Commission would not concern itself with that type of assistance. It would not be likely that much of the Commission’s activities would be involved in that area of assistance. But the Bill would not preclude an application being made by an industry for consideration of revaluation assistance.
Senator Wright referred to the apple industry in Tasmania. Assuming my first interpretation to be correct, I should think that industry could make such an application. I do not want to open up a debate on this subject because I am afraid that Senator Wright and I debate it rather frequently. We will be referring to this matter again in more depth before the Parliament rises. It is true that the Government did make a decision on revaluation. Whether or not the Commission would recommend, in the event of it hearing an application -
– No, I am asking whether it has jurisdiction to hear it. Do not let us start to anticipate what the decision will be.
-I have indicated that I see nothing in the Bill to preclude the Commission having jurisdiction to hear such an application. Having considered the application, the Commission may make a recommendation different from the policy which has been adopted by the Government in this respect. But only time will tell what such a decision will be. As I said, I feel that there would be nothing in the Bill to preclude that right of the Commission.
– It will save time if I follow up the explanation given by the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) by asking whether an application on the part of a primary industry in drought or seasonal circumstances is within the compulsive provisions of this Bill and whether the Bill- I know that this is contained in a later provision- having regard to the description of assistance in this clause, will be the real determinant of such assistance. I want to know whether requests for assistance for an industry resulting from drought, fire, flood or other disasters that from time to time occur will be required to go to this Commission for recommendation or whether the Government will be able to deal with such requests without reference to the Commission.
– Again I think the same principle applies as I indicated earlier, that there is nothing in the Act which would preclude applications of that nature being made to the Commission. I should think the Commission would have the power to look at the forms of assistance flowing from the matters which Senator Wright has raised.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 7- by leave- taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 8 (Associate Commissioners).
-This clause comes in the part which deals with the Constitution of the Commission. Up to date, the Tariff Board has been constituted by 9 or perhaps 1 1 permanent appointments to the Board; that is to say, they are whole time general duty occupants of office. Sir John Crawford recommended that as references are made for different industries we get over that situation by making temporary appointments. I wish the Minister to tell me whether under clause 8, which deals with associate commissioners, temporary appointments will be made. In a field of assessment of industry advantage and of recommendation of financial assistance to industry, with all the weight of influence that this provides, I express some concern at temporary appointees participating in the duties of recommendation. I have no function to pit my opinion against Sir John Crawford, the Government and other people who have considered it, but I ask the Minister whether temporary appointees to the Commission under clause 8 will be those appointees who Sir John Crawford recommended would be additional to the permanent appointees and who would be recruited to the Commission to do part time duty for the specific purpose of an industry reference.
-On this particular part I note that in clause 7 there is a reference to the attainment of 65 years, which will preclude the appointment or reappointment of a Commissioner of that age, but in clause 8 there is no such reference. I do not support the general principle that because a person has attained the age of 65 years he should be excluded from appointment, such as we see in clause 7, subclause (2) of which reads:
A person who has attained the age of sixty-five years shall not be appointed or re-appointed as a Commissioner and a person shall not be appointed or re-appointed as a Commissioner for a period that extends beyond the date on which he will attain the age of sixty-five years.
The point I make is that clause 8, with which we are dealing, has no reference to an age limit of 65 years. I ask the Minister why this is so. I am pleased that an associate commissioner shall not be subject to this restriction, but I ask why it should apply to a commissioner.
– The answer to Senator Wright’s question is, yes. An associate commissioner could be appointed for a 5 -year period. He could be appointed temporarily. This would, I suppose, depend on his ability and would be within the discretion of those responsible for appointing him. In answer to Senator Webster’s question, it is true that under clause 7 there is an age limit of 65 years. Of course, this concerns a permanent appointment. In the case of an associate commissioner it may not be a permanent appointment. In fact a person who has some particular expertise could be brought in for the purpose of assisting in a particular inquiry, and may be over 65 years of age. By putting an age limit there, one would preclude the services of an older person. The Act provides that such a person could in fact be appointed as an associate commissioner over the age of 65. I am sure the Committee will appreciate that there is a difference between a permanent appointee reaching 65 years of age and someone who is appointed for a temporary purpose reaching that age.
– I shall not take up the Committee ‘s time except to make one or two brief comments. It is implicit in the Minister’s reply that my question was answered in the affirmative- that clause 8 is the clause that provides for the appointment of ad hoc commissioners for the purpose of a specific industry reference. Honourable senators will notice that subclause (3) prescribes:
Subject to this part, an Associate Commissioner holds office on such terms and conditions as the Minister determines.
Subclause (2) provides that an associate commissioner shall be appointed either-
Subclause (4) provides:
An Associate Commissioner shall be deemed to be a Commissioner for the purposes of the exercise of any powers, or the performance of any functions or duties, of a Commissioner in relation to an inquiry and report by a Division of the Commission of which the Associate Commissioner is a member, . . .
That is a roundabout way of expressing the meaning that I expressed when I referred to an ad hoc appointment for the purpose of an industry reference. I have raised this matter by way of comment only; I have no amendment and I am not opposing the clause, which Sir John Crawford has recommended. However, it has always been my understanding that the independence of the Tariff Board is based upon the security of tenure of its members. If the situation is reached where only the nucleus of a committee or a board of reference has security of tenure, and there are two persons sitting on each side of him- one may be in a particular section of the industry under reference and the other in a different interest, sectional withal in the same industry- the Government may be creating the shifting sands of subversion of the independence of this Commission.
Clause agreed to.
– Clause 9 is one that the Opposition in the House of Representatives had some concern about and in relation to which it moved an amendment, which I shall move here again. Its concern about clause 9 related to subclause (3), which provides:
A power of the Chairman under paragraph (2) ta) or (b shall be exercised, as far as practicable, only after consultation with the Commissioners.
I was concerned with the words ‘as far as practicable’. It seemed to them that it gave the Chairman too much authority to set to one side the opinion of his colleagues in relation to paragraph (2) (a) as to when meetings of the Commission should be convened and in relation to paragraph (2) (b) as to determining the form of the records of the meeting of the Commission which are to be kept in accordance with the Act and the procedure to be adopted at such meetings. It seemed to the Opposition in the House of Representatives that these are very consequential matters to leave entirely to the discretion of the Chairman alone, because the words ‘as far as practicable’ literally can mean anything at all. Therefore the Opposition has circulated an amendment to clause 9, it is in the list of amendments which has been given to the Minister and to honourable senators. Accordingly I move:
It seems to us to be reasonable, and not impossible to achieve. It inserts an essential safeguard which I would imagine the Commission would regard as sensible.
– The Government opposes this amendment. It is not of any great moment but if those words sought to be omitted by the amendment are omitted it would mean that the Chairman could not exercise such powers until he had consulted the commissioners. That is to say, if he wants to exercise a discretion in the convening of meetings, it would be necessary if this amendment were carried for him to consult the commissioners. This restricts his discretion and I believe that it is not in the interests of the operation of the Commission to do that. However, it is not an amendment over which the Government will be greatly concerned, though if this amendment were carried there would be an inhibiting factor in the day to day work of the Commission and especially of the Chairman.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10 to 17- by leave- taken together, and agreed to.
– Similarly, in the House of Representatives clause 18 was discussed and honourable members expressed concern about it. They felt that the responsibility of the Chairman to call meetings was perhaps not as solidly placed as it might be. As I said earlier, we want to dispose of these matters without a great deal of argument. I move:
I do not see that this amendment is at all unreasonable. The Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) will detect that what the Opposition is seeking to do is help the passage of this proposal by making the Commission essentially more workable. This is the first time that this subject has been dealt with and obviously practical experience will dictate the need for some changes. The Opposition in the House of Representatives saw that it would be a wise extra provision to put in the Bill and we here so see it. What the amendment says in effect is that there shall be a meeting once in each month. Why not? If the Chairman is called upon to convene a meeting by 3 commissioners he should do so. The wisdom of inserting such a clause is that it protects against the arbitrary exercise of authority by an individual, the Chairman, who, competent though he may prove to be, could after a period of time become an authoritarian. It is not said that anybody will become so but it could happen. Parliament would be wise to protect against such a situation developing between the Chairman of the Commission and some of his colleagues.
– The Government’s position is very similar to its position in relation to the previous amendment. One can envisage that members of the Commission would be fairly prominent people in the community, people who are busy and reasonably senior in their particular walk of life, and therefore there is the possibility of their being scattered all over Australia at some particular time. If the Senate carried this amendment it would mean that the Chairman would be committed to hold a meeting at least once a month. Again we should try to look ahead to the day to day operations of the Commission. We would be placing what I think could fairly be called an imposition on the Chairman in respect of his normal running of the Commission and its meetings. We should also bear in mind that members of the Commission would be in frequent contact with each other in the normal course of events through the hearings that would be conducted. So to make it mandatory on the Commission to hold formal meetings- presumably the amendment means formal meetings- at least once a month is something which the Government must oppose.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 19 agreed to.
Clause 20 (Disclosure of Financial Interests).
-This clause causes me great concern. I have not had the opportunity to examine the corresponding clause in the old Tariff Board Act. However it would not provide the only precedent because in this chamber in the last 20 years we have adopted a precedent clause which requires any person holding public office in a statutory board or commission of this sort who has a financial interest inconsistent with his duties to disclose it to a meeting of the board or commission. This clause simply says:
I express the opinion that the Chairman of the Commission is an office of such absolute independence that he should be absolutely precluded from holding any interest in any business whatever in Australia.
– At the point of his commencement?
-Of course. He should not be qualified to be appointed until he surrenders all interests in any business. Any business may come in competition with another business. The chairman has the duty of chairing the board which awards financial assistance and tariff protection for what may be a competing interest. Paragraph (2) of clause 20 states:
Where a Commissioner (other than the Chairman) or an Associate Commissioner has or acquires any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any business carried on in Australia, or in any body corporate carrying on any such business, being an interest that could be in conflict with his duties as a Commissioner or Associate Commissioner, he shall, to the best of his knowledge, disclose that interest to the Chairman.
That is not sufficient at all. He should disclose his interest to the board and it should be recorded in the minutes. For a temporary associate commissioner to hold office where it may be that he has an interest which is in conflict with his duties, and yet be entitled to carry out his duties just by his disclosure to the chairman, is wholly insufficient. A formula has been forged in many corporate cases by the Parliament. It was first argued, since I have been here, in the case of the Aluminium Commission in northern Tasmania. Real difficulty occurred there because of interests by commissioners in competing business. This clause has been penned without regard to those precedents. I hope the Minister will accede to my request to postpone this clause so that those precedents can be brought to the consideration of the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control and proper protection can be provided. If there is any commission in this country, next to the Auditor-General, which should be assured of complete independence of pecuniary commercial interest it is this Industries Assistance Commission. It just frightens me to think that a temporary ad hoc associate commissioner who may be brought in to consider a particular reference, by disclosing to the chairman his interest in that industry or in a competing industry, can thereafter go ahead as if he were independent. That is not a system which I think the Government ought to consider it safe on which to base these recommendations. I hope that the Minister will postpone the clause.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (9.34)- Perhap it is ironic that Senator Wright and I who sit together do not necessarily have the same view on this clause. I do not accept the ultimate in this clause as Senator Wright has put it. I believe that the whole history of government in Australia- not necessarily in this field but generally, at any rate- has been that from time to time the Government has called on the advice and the expertise in an associate way, if we like to put it that way, of people who are masters of their profession, who are the leaders of industry and who have something invaluable to contribute to Australia in their own right. When Senator Wright was speaking to sub-clause (1) of clause 20 I interjected. This provision states:
The Chairman shall give written notice to the Minister of all direct and indirect pecuniary interests that he has or acquires in any business carried on in Australia or in any body corporate carrying on any such business.
If we are to exclude people who have those qualifications in their lifetime- that is the very essence which probablly makes them so successful and that is why they are wanted as chairmenthen I suggest we will not get the quality of person whom we necessarily want. I ask honourable senators to bear in mind that a chairman is called upon to give written notice to the Minister of any pecuniary interest. It could be a completely indirect interest. It could be an interest from a deceased estate. It could be something which his great grandfather had before him and from which he could derive a pecuniary interest. I think that this provision is sufficient. I will not go on to his subsequent argument in relation to subclause (2) of clause 20. 1 am more concerned with the first provision which relates to the chairman. If he has a pecuniary interest he nominates it to the Minister. That is a very proper thing for him to do. I suggest that if we exclude those people because they have a pecuniary interest- indirect or direct -in a corporate body or in a business we will not necessarily get the quality of person we want for that important role. What we will get is someone out of a bureaucracy and even that person in his own interest and out of his own savings might have acquired, in a part time way, some indirect interest in a business. He is perfectly entitled to do this. Therefore the postponement of the clause as suggested by Senator Wright does not commend itself to me.
– In relation to clause 20 1 think that in the interest of the debate and the passage of this measure through the Senate I ought to remind the Senate that this matter was dealt with at some length in the other place. An amendment was proposed by the Opposition in the House of Representatives and it was accepted by the Government. The clause with which we are dealing is the amended clause which has come to us from the other place after these factors had been taken into account. Senator Wright may have raised new material but I, for one, would need a lot of time to think about the consequences of it. More time would be required than I have at the moment.
– I endorse the comments which Senator Wright has made in relation to clause 20. We find the point made under clause 20 that:
Senator Wright further went on to disclose that sub-clause (2) states:
Where a Commissioner (other than the Chairman) or an Associate Commissioner has or acquires any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any business carried on in Australia, or in any body corporate carrying on any such business, being an interest that could be in conflict with his duties as a Commissioner or Associate Commissioner, he shall, to the best of his knowledge, disclose that interest to the Chairman.
I agree that in the initial stages of setting up this particularly important Industries Assistance Commission the matter of disclosure should go much further than is required in this sub-clause. Surely the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) agrees that it is not right that any person having a direct or indirect interest in any business should advocate to the Government whether there shall or shall not be assistance afforded in the various areas on which the associate commissioner will advocate. Should he sit on the board if he has any interest whatsoever in the areas with which it is dealing? We have heard that it is intended that this Commission should take the place of the Tariff Board. What do we find if we refer to the Tariff Board Act, which, as has been said, has stood up in good stead since 1 92 1 ? We find that section 1 4 of that Act states:
A member shall not exercise any power by this Act conferred upon him in any matter in which he has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest.
In short, the Tariff Board Act excludes a person from taking part in a particular hearing in which he has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest. In regard to matters contained in clause 20 of this
Industries Assistance Commission Bill- perhaps I may not be quite understanding what the Government intends to bring about- I have some reserve about the aims of the Government. I think that perhaps it is a matter more appropriately to be brought up in discussing Part III of the Bill which deals with the functions and powers of the Commission. However, we are dealing with the manner in which this Government may appoint individuals, the manner in which they may assist industries and the manner in which they may assist industries which run the risk of being attractive to them. I would suggest that those individuals would give a greater impression of disinterest if the Government were to follow the advocacy which was accepted in the case of the Tariff Board Act. I repeat that section 14 of the Tariff Board Act states:
A member shall not exercise any power by this Act conferred upon him in any matter in which he has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest.
I fully support the comments of Senator Wright.
-I am able to supplement what I said earlier and what Senator Webster has added. I now have before me a copy of the Tariff Board Act, section 14 of which provides as follows:
A member shall not exercise any power by this Act conferred upon him in any matter in which he has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest.
I do not know why the draftsman of this Industries Assistance Commission Bill, when penning clause 20, obviously with section 14 of the Tariff Board Act before him, omitted that statutory prohibition. Even though the Chairman declares his interest to the Commission, there is no provision in the Bill prohibiting him from exercising his duties and giving assistance to any industry in which he has an interest or to an industry which is competing with an industry in which he has an interest.
I have been enabled to make one further reference. Following on from the dissatisfaction of the Senate with the loose way of drafting these disqualification provisions in legislation relating to statutory bodies in the period from 1952 to 1955, there was provided by the draftsman at that time a clause that has met with the satisfaction of the whole Parliament since. It has been accepted as a stereotype and as a precedent. I fail to understand why it has been neglected in this avalanche of legislation. One sees this sort of thing once one examines these matters critically. I have sent for and had provided to me the National Capital Development Commission Act. We established that body in 1957. The gentlemen who sit upon that Commission have to award contracts for street-making, subdivision, house-building, sewerage works, and so forth. The provision that the Parliament required then was as follows: (1). The Governor-General may terminate the appointment of the Commissioner or an Associate Commissioner for inability, inefficiency or misbehaviour. (2.) If the Commissioner or an Associate Commissioner-
in any way, otherwise than as a member, and in common with the other members, of an incorporated company consisting of not less than twenty-five persons-
I emphasise that the wording of this Act is that the Governor-General shall’. The word ‘may ‘ is not used.
The Tariff Board Act which this Industries Assistance Commission Bill is to replace absolutely prohibites a member of the Tariff Board from participating in a decision on any matter in which he has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest. The standard clause, which protects the integrity of office-holders in statutory corporations such as the National Capital Development Commission and which I have just read, precludes any member except a person who is simply a shareholder in a company of more than 25 members. If he is a director of a company with a thousand members he is precluded absolutely from holding public office. In the case of this Bill, if any member of the Commission or any associate member has shares in any company of a substantial size he, in my opinion, is in such a position that he should come under the provision set out in the National Capital Development Commission Act which states that ‘the GovernorGeneral shall, by notice in the Gazette, declare’ his office vacant and thereupon the office shall become vacant.
– Certainly; that should be the position.
-Of course it should. No man can serve 2 masters.
– You are putting up your own Aunt Sally and then knocking it down.
-I have listened to Sir Kenneth Anderson speak from his experience of these matters with great respect and if he rises to his feet again I shall listen in silence. Speaking for myself, with great respect, I have had some experience of the conflict between interest and duty. That was Spiro Agnew ‘s downfall. It is the downfall of the whole commercial administration. There is no field in which it is more imperative to have absolute independence of pecuniary interest than in a Commission providing pecuniary assistance to industry.
I rose to bring to the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) section 14 of the Tariff Board Act, to which Senator Webster also referred, and the section of the National Capital Development Commission Act which saw the beginning of clauses of this character to which the Senate has rigidly adhered. Bills which have included them have been passed without debate. Why should there be an innovation in this case whereby the Chairman should escape and be able to make decisions affecting an industry simply as a result of disclosing his interest to the Minister, and why should members of the Commission- even temporary members- who have an interest escape by disclosing their interest to the Chairman? The Bill does not even require that these things should be recorded in the minutes. Nothing is said in the Bill about mentioning this in the Commission ‘s annual report. What is wanted is an imperative prohibition against a member participating in a decision to give assistance to an industry in which he has an interest or to deny it to a competitor who has an adverse interest.
- Mr Chairman, after that marathon effort by Senator Wright, in which he took 10 minutes to put a point which I think he got across in the first minute, I shall now attempt to explain to him why this clause appears as it does in this Bill. It is quite correct that section 14 of the current Tariff Board Act states as follows:
The original Bill which was introduced in the House of Representatives contained precisely the same clause. As Senator Cotton indicated 20 minutes ago, and I do not know why we have wasted our time going through all this -
– You will waste more time if you do not deal with it objectively.
-I will when Senator Wright has finished. We listened to him in silence. He always gets upset when he gets on his feet. He makes a mountain out of a molehill, no matter what subject he speaks on. Why does he not show the same respect as others and, for a change, be quiet while other people are speaking?
– You insolently insulted me.
– I was insolent? Senator Wright would be the most insolent person who has ever walked inside the Senate. The original clause was replaced at the request of the Liberal Opposition in the House of Representatives. The original clause stated:
A Commissioner shall not exercise any power conferred upon him by this Act in any matter in which he has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest.
An amendment was moved by the Liberal Opposition, to which the Government agreed. The reason why it agreed was that under the original clause, which Senator Wright advocates, it could well be that somebody with rural interestsSenator Webster ought to take notice of thiscould have been precluded from acting as a commissioner. That is the reason why the Government accepted the amendment. After Senator Cotton indicated and Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson clearly indicated the reason- they could see immediately why this had been done- we had to listen to 20 minutes of nonsense from Senator Wright.
Senator Wriedt chose to use terms of abuse and to impute insult and insolence. When he has been a Minister a little longer he will know the conduct that becomes the office, and he will listen to debate in this chamber with respect.
– Order! Senator Wright, will you confine your remarks to clause 20?
– I will make such comments as are appropriate in reply to the debate.
– I am asking you to confine your remarks to the clause.
– I do so willingly, having expressed my point of view about the wholly inappropriate remarks to which Senator Wriedt committed himself. Whatever the situation is, it is not a proper protection for the integrity of the Industries Assistance Commission. Having regard to these matters, I do not wish to take up the Committee’s time. I adhere to my original request. I ask the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt), as a matter of courtesy, to postpone consideration of the clause to let us examine the precedents and ask his officers to consider the matter before the Bill comes back to us on the morrow. I would think that, for his protection, and to ensuring the Commission’s complete independence from any industry interest -
– Who drafted your amendment?
– I do not know. I am just saying to the Committee that clause 20 is wholly insufficient to assure the Parliament that members of the Commission are adequately insulated from interest in an industry on which they have to make a decision to grant assistance or to make a decision to reject assistance to an industry with which they are in competition. I do not wish to take any more time to state a simple principle. I do not wish anybody to rest upon something that was done in another place. The Senate operates upon its own principles. I ask the Minister, in consideration of that, to postpone consideration of the clause until after the last clause has been dealt with.
– I support Senator Wright in this matter. I take the point raised by the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) and take his word that the original clause was similar to the corresponding clause in the Tariff Board Act. The Labor Government introduced a clause which contained words which prevented individual members of this particularly important Industries Assistance Commission from having a pecuniary interest in a matter which the Commission was considering. The Minister stated that the wording was changed at the request of the Opposition in the other place. The clause now states that the Chairman only shall disclose his interest in any business which he has at the time that he is appointed or which he acquires while he is on the Commission and that that notification shall be given in writing to the Minister. The onus on a commissioner or an associate commissioner is much less apparently and one which I, certainly would have grave doubts about accepting.
Surely anybody with a commercial background or with commercial knowledge would not consider it sufficient for a commissioner or an associate commissioner, who is sitting on an important matter which may involve the granting of millions of dollars of public money for the assistance of an industry in which he may have some interest, purely by chance word to the Chairman at morning tea time or at some other time to be free of any responsibility because he is able to say that he has, to the best of his knowledge, disclosed that interest to the Chairman. I think that that is an abhorrent inclusion in the Bill. The comment could be made by a commissioner purely in passing. It does not have to be recorded. It apparently does not have to be given in writing. Whoever proposed that amendment certainly did not have the commercial expertise that should be required of members of the Opposition.
– As far as I am concerned, the clause will stand as printed.
Motion (by Senator Wright) proposed:
That consideration of clause 20 be postponed.
– Surely we have reached a ludicrous situation when a member of the Opposition, having heard the explanation that the Government at the request of the honourable senator’s Party agreed to amend the clause, said some shocking things about the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt), was positively rude and then asked the Minister to postpone consideration of the clause. The Minister said: ‘No, I will not do so’. Then the back bench member of the Opposition moved that consideration of the clause be postponed. I believe that the situation is an intolerable one. To test the whole procedure and to do precisely the uncouth thing that was done this afternoon, I now move:
That the question be put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
That further consideration of clause 20 be postponed (Senator Wright’s motion).
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman- Senator Wilkinson)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move that the following sub-clause be added to clause 20:
A commissioner shall not exercise any power by this Act conferred upon him in any matter in which he has direct or indirect pecuniary interest, unless-
It is not sufficient, I submit, for the interest to be disclosed to the Minister. It is not sufficient, I submit, for the interest to be disclosed to the Chairman. It will add to the strength of integrity that should surround these decisions if we add to the provisions of the Bill that a member of the Commission shall not exercise any power by this Act conferred upon him in any matter in which he has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest, unless his interest is recorded in the minutes. If that is done there can be no dispute about the occasion of his disclosure or the degree of his interest. It is not sufficient that such a disclosure should simply be in the minutes of the Industries Assistance Commission. The interest must also be disclosed in any report for which the member is partly responsible so that the Parliament can know whether it is dealing with a report of an interested person or a person who is independent. I shall sign that amendment as soon as I resume my seat and write it.
– I had wished to rise earlier and say to the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) that perhaps he might be so gracious as to allow Senator Wright a little time to consider the matter so that he could come up with some form of words that might meet his objection as well as being consistent with what was done in the House of Representatives and at the same time adding something from the Senate that might be of increased value. I could not rise earlier because the motion was moved that the question be put. I think that perhaps that was a pity. But the Senate has now got itself into a situation in which perhaps it should have been originally. I find myself attracted by the proposition that Senator Wright has suggested as it adds something- it gives strength. I see nothing wrong with the Senate seeking to do something which makes the position better. My concern was with the way in which this whole matter proceeded. But we are now in a situation in which it may be desirable in the Minister’s good judgment to allow Senator Wright the time to get his amendment properly disposed of and circulated, because it could well be a useful addition to the Bill. As I heard it read out, I think I would find it so.
I will make the position of the Opposition perfectly clear. I am trying, and so is the Opposition, to get this matter disposed of usefully and tidily and, if possible, to improve it. If it is desired to protract the debate ad infinitum, of course, it will not be my fault if it goes on forever.
– I am not clear as to what is indicated. Could you, Mr Temporary Chairman, explain to the Committee what Senator Wright’s proposition is?
- Senator Wright’s amendment reads:
A Commissioner shall not exercise any power by this Act conferred upon him in any matter in which he has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest; unless
his interest is recorded in the minutes; and
his interest is disclosed in any report in which he participates.
The question before the Committee is that the words proposed to be added by Senator Wright’s amendment be so added. Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no, I think the ayes have it.
Amendment agreed to.
– I am sorry, I did not get an opportunity to speak before you, Mr Temporary Chairman, put the question. Perhaps I am out of order in speaking now.
– Does the Minister seek leave to make a statement?
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania-Minister for Primary Industry)- I accept the inclusion of subclause (3) in clause 20.
– On behalf of my Party, I thank the Minister for his acceptance of the amendment.
– I am most grateful, too.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 2 1 agreed to.
1 ) In the performance of its functions, the Commission shall have regard to the desire of the Australian Government, in pursuing the general objectives of national economic and social policy and urban and regional development, to improve and promote the well-being of the people of Australia, with full employment, stability in the general level of prices, viability in external economic relations, conservation of the natural environment and rising and generally enjoyed standards of living and, in particular, to the desire of the Australian Government to-
– I move:
– I think that the new paragraph (aa) in clause 22(1) is the product of representations made to the Government since the Bill was passed by the House of Representatives and has been in a stage of transition towards us. I understand there have been representations from the Australian Farmers Federation, amongst others, about this matter. I understand that the amendment is the Government’s answer to those representations. This is the Government’s method of handling the particular problem of people asking for some guidelines as to what are reasonable returns to producers of goods and services. I will not go beyond that because the Opposition has no amendment to propose at this stage. Our next amendment relates to clause 23. 1 rest there in case any of my colleagues or any Government senators wish to add something further.
-The Industries Assistance Commission Bill is the child of the present Labor Government. It is a Bill which the Australian Country Party at least opposes. At the moment the Committee is considering clause 22 which contains the policy guidelines for the Commission as laid down in the Bill. The Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) who is in charge of the Bill, has moved an amendment which seeks to add certain words to those guidelines. I should like the Minister, if he would, at some stage, to explain what is meant by the various guidelines that are laid down for the Commission. Indeed, as this is an Industries Assistance Commission, I imagine that the guidelines basically should be a direction to the Commission as to what will be the policy that it will pursue when granting assistance to or retracting it from particular industry.
One notes in the Tariff Board Act, which is hereby to be replaced by the Industries Assistance Commission Act, a general statement relating to the assistance to be given to industry. Whether it be the manufacturing industry, primary industry or secondary industry, the Board had to direct its consideration to the particular industry. The Board had to consider the question of giving assistance to efficient and economic industry. I think it is worth pointing out that the guidelines for the Industries Assistance Commission are written for a different purpose. I question in my own mind how they will be interpreted when the Commission is established. In, perhaps, a brief dicussion on this matter, I ask the Minister, when replying, to give of his best in the interests of the community, myself and the Committee in general. Clause 22 states that the Commission shall have regard to the desire of the Australian Government to:
But the Minister’s amendment seeks to add after that the following paragraph: (aa) Encourage those economic activities in Australia, and the producers of the goods and services concerned, which contribute to improving the efficiency with which the community ‘s productive resources are used;
I pause to suggest that the Commission will have to undertake a great deal of study in order really to understand what that particular guideline means. Clause 22 continues:
In short I say to the Minister that there is not one statement in what I have read to indicate that this new Industries Assistance Commission and its guidelines will be directed to the support of industry in Australia or whether the industry is economic or efficient. It is my understanding that the Industries Assistance Commission Bill, at least in its title, indicates that it is designed for industries to be assisted in Australia. None of the guidelines, even the one that is now introduced by the Government, indicates that that will be the case.
– I suggest that if this clause 22 were to be appropriately debated, an assemblage of 60 senators, each receiving their individual salaries, would not discharge their duties unless at least one minute were allowed for each senator in which to speak. I say that because this is the clause in which the whole scope, duty and purpose of the Australian Industries Commission is expressed. I am purposely abbreviating my individual contribution because I am deterred by the abuse to which my previous intervention was treated. But I will not be silenced by that, although I will take it into account without resentment. I would like the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) to follow the observations that I make with regard to this clause. I will ask him at the conclusion of my remarks to state where there is a direction in this clause which prescribes the functions and the duties of the Commission to indicate that protection and financial assistance shall be given to support efficient and economic industries on their own account in the context of the Australian economy. That is the criterion that I would expect to be the basis of the Commission’s function. But clause 22 says this:
The first thing to which the Commission shall have regard is the desire of the Australian Government. The clause does not even put it objectively as a policy. It just says: ‘The desire of the Australian Government’. That introduces a particular reference to the Australian Government’s desire. The clause goes on to state: the Commission shall have regard to the desire of the Australian Government, in pursuing the general objectives of national economic and social policy and urban and regional development, to improve and promote the well-being of the people of Australia, with full employment, stability in the general level of prices, viability in external economic relations, conservation of the natural environment and rising and generally enjoyed standards of living,
That general preamble is nothing more than a Party political manifesto. Then, in particular the legislator directs the Commission in the performance of its functions to have regard to the desire of the Australian Government again. Then the clause states:
There is no reference to the economic and efficient interest of the particular industry:
I ask you to note, Mr Temporary Chairman, that the clause does not command the Commission to recognise the interests of the producers or the manufacturers in the industry. The clause goes on to state that the Commission shall have regard to the desire of the Australian Government to:
I have taken the briefest possible time in the most careful reading of which I am capable and have contented myself with the fewest comments only because those few I could not suppress. Where do we find in that verbiage that the Commission is to direct itself to the primary purpose of considering whether financial assistance should be recommended to the applicant industry to ensure that in the immediate future or in the foreseeable long term period it is an efficient and economic industry. How is the Government to be assured of the Commission making a recommendation favourable to the Government’s appropriating financial assistance or giving tariff protection. Unless we have that assurance I suggest that we are simply writing as the function of this Commission a general manifesto whereby it takes into account the Goverment’s social and economic policy, conservation, and urban and regional development to improve and promote the well-being of the people of Australia. These are objectives with which we would not disagree but they are so general as to be unhelpful from the point of view of getting an Industries Assistance Commission to recommend financial assistance in the case in which a particular industry needs assistance to make it economic and viable in the general Australian economy.
- Senator Webster made reference to what the functions and powers of the Commission really mean. I would imagine that any reasonable interpretation of that clause 22 is self-explanatory. In fact, it is placed there as a guide to the Commission, virtually as a reminder of the important role that it will play in the general economic management of the country. Those factors which are included in clause 22 set out the types of thing which the Commission will need to be mindful of when making any of its decisions. In regard to the other comments that were made concerning these provisions contained in clause 22,I think that there was some reference to the fact that this was a political manifesto. In fact the Crawford report itself sets out on page 6 in identicial terms the words which have been written into clause 22. In other words, what is written into the Bill is almost verbatim what was recommended by Sir John Crawford in his report. He states in the report:
I consider that, in addition, the Commission could be directed to have particular regard for certain related objectives of Government policy- namely, the Government’s desire to: improve the efficiency with which the community’s productive resources are used; facilitate adjustment to changes in the economic environment (by the industries and people affected by such changes); recognise the interests of consumers and consuming industries likely to be affected by measures proposed by the Commission; ensure that its policies on assistance to, and development of, industries are integrated with national economic policy as a whole; ensure that Australia’s trade and protection policies are compatible; provide adequate scope for public scrutiny of public policy.
Those words are written into the Bill. In addition we find a reference in clause 22 ( 1 ) to: the general objectives of national economic and social policy and urban and regional development, to improve and promote the well-being of the people of Australia, with full employment, stability in the general level of prices, viability in external economic relations, conservation of the natural environment and rising and generally enjoyed standards of living .. .
Those words are additional to the suggestions in the Crawford report. So I fail to see why there should be any criticism of the general guidelines which have been set out in the Bill because they are essentially based on the Crawford report. The Bill also contains additional words which the Government itself felt should be inserted and which broaden those guidelines. It is also important to remember- I think some words of praise have been offered to Sir John Crawford here tonight for the report that he presented- that Sir John Crawford in a footnote on page 6 of the report said -
– This appears on page 20 of the original copy. The Minister is reading from the printed copy.
-Is it on page 20 of the copy that has been circulated?
-Thank you. The footnote states:
I have not tried to draft a preamble for the Act which establishes the Commission, that might include criteria such as those which the Tariff Board has had for many years. (I am referring to the requirement that the Board recommend assistance only for industries which it regards as ‘economic and efficient’.) It should be noted, however, that the first of the objectives in the above list- to improve the efficiency with which the community’s productive resources are usedexpresses the same general purpose as the terms ‘economic and efficient’. It has some advantage, in my view, over the latter because it expresses this purpose in relative rather than absolute terms.
So we can see quite clearly that Sir John Crawford in that report spelt out or clarified what he means by the term ‘efficiency’. These principles have been carried into this legislation. No arbitrary action or decision has been made by the Government in drafting this legislation. It is based on a report which I think generally finds wide acceptance in the community. My own impression is that the report finds considerable or wide acceptance by the Opposition here tonight.
I would have thought that as the legislation is based on the report and as a section of the report has been reproduced verbatim in the Bill we would have found a greater acceptance of the guidelines which are set down in clause 22. I think it is essential the Commission should be given a lead. It should be constantly reminded that there are certain basic goals not only set by the Government but which are accepted by the community at large. The Commission will always be mindful of these guidelines if they are written into the Bill. I do not think that anyone on any reasonable grounds could find argument with any of the clauses which have been written into the Bill as a result of the recommendations of the Crawford report. I understand that there will be no further amendment to the amendment that I have moved.
– I just have one very simple question to ask. I am indebted to the Minister for Primary Industry for the comments that he has made because I am aware also of the footnote made by Sir John Crawford to which the Minister referred. I think that what the Minister said has helped to clear up the matter. But the Minister has not told us what the purpose of the Government is in introducing, by way of amendment, paragraph 22 (aa) to be inserted after paragraph (a). Can the Minister give us an explanation of the policy intent behind this amendment as the amendment is in addition to some of the expressions contained in the Crawford report. Perhaps the Minister’s advisers might be able to inform him.
– I must confess that I did omit to refer to this matter. The amendment does provide a more specific protection to people who are self employed. The amendment is specifically directed towards the primary producer who may be affected by the Bill in its present form. For that reason I think it is a sound amendment and would meet with an objection which I feel has some validity.
– I wish to express my obligation to the Minister for Primary Industry for his reference to the Crawford report as the origin of the words which particularise the matters to which the Commission is to have regard. I only wish to make my own comment that it is strange that there is an entire omission to direct that this Commission shall consider the need for financial assistance for the applicant industry for the purpose of its economic and efficient maintenance in the totality of the Australian economy. I have no doubt that this has been considered by the draftsman of the Bill but the generality of clause 22 has political objectives and the criteria to which the Commission will have regard for the purpose of assistance of industry leaves me mystified. But I content myself with that comment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 23. 23.(1) The Minister may refer to the Commission for inquiry and report any matter relating to the giving, continuance or withdrawal of assistance to an industry by the Australian Government, and may, when so referring a matter, specify a period within which the Commission is to report on that matter.
The Minister shall not take any action in respect of any of the matters specified in sub-section (4), being action that is related to the provision of assistance to a particular primary or secondary industry but not being action that is necessary in order to implement the policy of the Australian Government-
The matters referred to in sub-section (3) are-
– The Opposition has amendments to clause 23 which it has circulated. The Minister for Primary Industry will, of course, be well aware that the Government itself also has amendments to clause 23.I will defer to him as he may want to move his amendments first.
– I move:
– We have an amendment also. As Senator Wriedt has moved his amendment, I would either have to foreshadow this amendment or suggest to him that he and his advisers consider replacing their amendment with the one that we have circulated. We want these words included: or to a particular group or groups of primary or secondary industries’. I will rest while Senator Wriedt consults his advisers. I am well aware of the difficulties of managing one of these measures.
– Could the Government’s amendment that I have moved be dealt with? Senator Cotton’s amendment could be moved subsequently, and dealt with then. I think that will overcome the problem.
-Can I be assisted to understand the meaning of the amendment moved by the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt)? As I read it, it means that the matter that may be referred to the Commission may be to provide assistance in accordance with a law passed before the commencement of this Act or to provide financial assistance to an industry in accordance with or for the purposes of a law of Australia that is passed or made after the commencement of this Act and before 1 July 1 974. Why, may I ask, are we restricted to laws passed before the commencement of this Act or laws that are passed after the commencement of this Act but before 1 July 1974? Why would the Commission not take into account any laws passed at any time in relation to the industry?
– In answer to Senator Wright’s question, there are really 2 reasons. Firstly, the Commission will need to take time to establish itself and set up the machinery that will be necessary. For example, if this Bill were passed tonight it would obviously be some time before references could be made to the Commission because the machinery simply would not be established. The second reason is that there are one or two cases at least where a proper inquiry has been made or consideration has been given to particular legislation. If the Act were made to operate immediately, it would mean that certain cases would need to be referred to the Commission again for examination. In other words, there must be a bridging period, and the Government is allowing a bridging period up to 1 July of next year.
– I know I am tedious and that I irritate the Minister, but I do it as briefly as possible and in my brevity it may be that I am a bit more definite than he would wish. I opened the discussion at the commencement of the Committee stage to ask what industries were available for financial assistance. I had in mind this provision. I did not refer to it by number but I referred to its compulsive provisions. I asked the Minister whether, in relation to the apple export industry in Tasmania, if we are dissatisfied- I hope we will not be- with the final decision of the Government as to revaluation compensation, we could go to the Commission. I got an affirmative answer. It seems as though, in the language which we are considering now, the industry would be precluded from going to the Commission except for assistance in accordance with any law that may be in force before 1 July. I am sorry not to understand the Minister, but I do not want to be left in a false position with regard to that matter.
– I shall explain this point. The date 1 July applies only to the mandatory provisions of the legislation. That is to say, it will not be mandatory for every industry to be referred to the Commission. In other words, there will be the period until 1 July when it may not be necessary for an industry to be referred. But this would not preclude other applications being made before that date.
– I speak now only for the purpose of trying to get total clarification. We have the Minister’s amendment, which has been moved. The Minister will know that we have an amendment, No. 3, which will logically follow when he has disposed of his own amendment No. 3.I am saying to him now that our amendment No. 4 can be discarded because the Minister in his amendment, which will be dealt with after this one, has picked it up. After the Government’s amendment has been dealt with I will move our amendment No. 3 to cover the whole situation.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move:
Leave out paragraphs (f) and (g) of sub-clause (4), substitute the following paragraphs: (0 whether financial assistance for a period exceeding two years should be provided to an industry by the Australian Government, whether or not any financial assistance has previously been provided to that industry by the Australian Government;
whether financial assistance for a period not exceeding two years should be provided by the Australian Government to an industry to which financial assistance (not being financial assistance provided after inquiry and report by the Commission or the Tariff Board) has previously been provided by the Australian Government, where-
the period, or the sum of the periods, of the financial assistance that has previously been so provided (excluding so much of that period or those periods as occurred more than six years before the commencement of the period of the proposed further financial assistance or occurred before the commencement of this Act) is not less than two years; or
the sum of so much of the period or periods of the financial assistance that has previously been so provided as is required to be taken into account under sub-paragraph (i) and the period of the proposed further financial assistance exceeds two years; or.
– This follows a discussion in the House of Representatives where the matter was debated rather fully, The proposal was to increase the period from 12 months to 2 years. At that time the Government indicated that it was content to do so. The Government has kept its word by bringing forward this amendment on its own account in the Senate. It could not be done in the House of Representatives; they ran out of time for some particular reason that I cannot elicit. I am informed that at the time it was being discussed in the House of Representatives the Government indicated that it could see no problem in our amendment No. 3, which is designed to insert after the word ‘industry’, everywhere it occurs, the following words: ‘or to a particular group or groups of primary or secondary industries’. That would go right through this clause. I suggest that as an addition, consequent to what the Minister has moved himself.
– I have one question, paragraph (f) in the amendment refers to the question of whether financial assistance for a period of 2 years should be provided to an industry by the Government? Why is it necessary for it to be 2 years or as in the original Bill, one year before the Commission can consider an application for assistance? It may be a single instance of assistance. If, as I have in mind, devaluation compensation is the form of assistance, it may be a once and for all assistance that is required.
-I ask the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) whether he would explain why the wording in the amendments he has moved to paragraphs (f) and (g) is varied from that in (0 and (g) in the original proposal. I understand that this now purports to provide a change merely from 12 months to 2 years. I am most anxious to have that explanation.
– In reply to Senator Wright’s query, the purpose of extending the period to 2 years is to permit an obviously longer period of cover. There may be occasions when 12 months is not adequate. It was felt that by restricting it to one year we could be creating difficulties at some future stage.
– I point out that it is not restricting it. The Act requires it to extend beyond one year. This Bill requires it to extend beyond 2 years. The Bill does not state: ‘Not exceeding 2 years; but ‘exceeding 2 years ‘.
– That is not what was originally intended.
-I will deal with Senator Webster’s question first and come back to Senator Wright’s question. Senator Webster asked why there had been a change in the wording of paragraphs (f) and (g). I understand that the wording is in a clearer form now than it was in the previous drafting. As a result of this amendment being moved the draftsman took the opportunity to express the paragraph in clearer terms. That is the best explanation I can give to the honourable senator. I will give Senator Wright an answer in a moment.
– I do not wish the Minister to be delayed.
Amendment agreed to.
– Procedurally, and I hope I have made it clear to the Minister, the Opposition’s third amendment should follow the Government’s fourth amendment and precede its fifth amendment. Our fourth amendment will then disappear.
– I seek leave to move amendments 4 and 5 together.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Amendments (by Senator Wriedt) agreed to:
– I am given to understand that in the House of Representatives there was general agreement to the Opposition’s third amendment being moved here with Government acceptance in principle. I move:
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 24. (1)Where-
a period of not less than six years has elapsed since-
Leave out ‘six years ‘, insert ‘ ten years ‘.
What the Opposition is concerned about in clause 24 is the term of 6 years. We believe that 10 years would be a better term. This refers to the power of the Commission to inquire into and report on its own initiative. This view has been put to the Opposition in substantial discussions with a wide range of interested people who are naturally concerned about the Industries Assistance Commission and its ramifications because it is a completely new device on the Australian scene and is very much in its trial period. The Opposition believes that 6 years is not long enough for an industry to establish itself, settle down and get into a position in which it is fairly able to be inquired into. The view has been put by great sections of industry to the Opposition that 6 years is not an adequate time. In questioning these people to the best of my ability I detected nothing but a completely bona fide approach. These people say that it is just not possible for an industry to be reviewed as quickly as that so as to do justice and give satisfaction to the industry investigated on the initiative of the Commission. The Opposition thinks that the term provided is unwise and not sensible. From my reading of the House of Representatives Hansard it appears that this point has been debated in the House of Representatives quite substantially and I am not anxious to go through a great debate again. Although the Government did not agree to it in the House of Representatives, the Opposition still believes that it is wise and sensible that this term be changed from 6 years to 10 years. We believe that the Government should give consideration to it. If any of my colleagues want to draw attention to it I shall be pleased to hear from them.
– The Government will oppose this amendment. I refer to a letter from Sir John Crawford to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) dated 5 September this year dealing with this point where Sir John said:
I draw your attention to the fact that the Bill contains, at my request, one important departure from my report. I had recommended in the report that, in relation to tariffs, the Commission should be given power to initiate its own inquiries ten years after the particular duties were imposed or since the Commission last reported. I had also recommended that, in relation to other forms of assistance, the Commission have power to initiate inquiries after six years. On reflection I now consider that the reasons I had for differentiating the time period as between different forms of assistance in relation to the Commission’s powers of initiative were not strong enough to justify ten years in one case and six in the other. Accordingly, I have suggested six years for both tariff and non-tariff cases.
– Order! It being 1 1 p.m., and in accordance with the sessional order of the Senate, I put the question:
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the Chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Temporary Chairman having reported accordingly)
Questions on Notice- The Senate
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to speak to the motion for the adjournment of the Senate to draw attention to a question which was not answered this morning. I had asked the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) as the representative in this chamber of the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) a question on notice. At the outset I say that I place no blame on the Minister who represents the Minister for Special Security in this chamber. In my opinion this insult was offered to the Senate as a whole. The question was not a difficult one or a complicated one. It had to do with probably one of the most controversial matters which is before this Parliament at this time. I gave the Minister the opportunity of 8 days in which to reply. The reply could have been a simple yes or no, but I received no reply at all. I merely received a reply to the second portion of the question and that in itself, to an extent, was an insult to this chamber because it was a repetition of a reply to a question asked in another place. The reply given to that question had no relation whatsoever to the most important part of my question. The Minister should have welcomed the opportunity to answer if he genuinely desired to explain his proposals on national health not only to this Senate and to the members of this Parliament but also to the community at large. The question refers to the Minister’s statement and it goes on to point out where that statement is to be found. It asks whether 3 out of 4 families would be better off under the scheme, including those where there is a working wife. The question is couched in these terms:
Does the Minister’s statement . . . take into account the extra taxation to be paid if the proposed rate of 1.3S per cent is itself not deductible from personal income.
That question was ignored completely. The Minister made no attempt whatsoever to answer it. In those circumstances I can only say that the Minister, by the White Paper which he has issued, is endeavouring to perpetrate a lie upon the members of this Parliament.
– Nobody could say that the question could not easily be answered.
– It was so simple. He could have said: ‘ Yes, it is deductible ‘, or ‘No, it is not ‘, or ‘I did take it into account’, or ‘I did not’. But the Minister left both questions- that is the one that is there by inference and a direct questioncompletely unanswered. The Minister in his White Paper spent some considerable time on this aspect, yet nowhere in it does he disclose to the people the intentions of the Government on this matter. The Minister draws attention to the Government’s policy and how it is to achieve its aim for the highest quality health care at a reasonable and responsible price. He states that the Government will be using two separate but closely integrated approaches. He goes on to point out how, in the past, the cost of the health service has been more reasonable for those on high incomes because the payments to the hospital benefits funds have been tax deductible. That leaves an inference, of course, that no longer will these payments be tax deductible under the new scheme. But the White Paper does not state that definitely. Indeed, in the closing paragraph of the White Paper the Minister states:
The total net cost to the Budget, including the effect of tax deductions, will be approximately the same as would be the case under the existing health insurance scheme.
No wonder there is an atmosphere of complete confusion throughout the medical profession and the charitable and private hospitals if this is the sort of explanation we are to receive when we are merely seeking information and carrying out the task for which we are in this Parliament, that is, to represent the community. It is enormously important that members of the public should know in order to be able to appraise the situation for themselves. The question I posed to the Minister should be answered. Let me give an example, which I have worked out, of what it actually means and so give the lie to the Minister’s claim that 3 out of 4 families will be better off. I do not know whether he has taken these things into consideration. He is not in the position in which I am, because he knows whether the 1.35 per cent will be tax deductible. Of course, the implication that it is a tax leads one to believe that it will not be tax deductible. After all, how is it possible to allow as a tax deduction something that is computed only after the taxable income has been arrived at? But there is a way that it could be tax deductible. It could be tax deductible in a subsequent year. Are we, after the tabling of a White Paper, to remain in a state of confusion on such an important aspect?
– The point is that the question should be answered.
– I fully appreciate that, and it would be to the benefit of the Minister and the Government to accept the opportunity to answer it. I believe that the Minister’s attitude was an insult not only to me personally but to every member of this Senate, including members of the Government Party who so recently were in Opposition and were seeking this type of information from Government Ministers in order to clarify the position for themselves and for the people whom they represented. After all, that is our basic task. We should not be told that the Minister made his computations by the use of some particular table, and be told to go and do the work ourselves. How can we do the work if the Minister keeps secret whether tax deductibility is to apply?
Let us look at what it means in terms of the payments by people on different incomes. I do not suppose that an income of $5,000 a year would be considered an excessive income in working families today. It is about $100 a week. The rate of income tax on an income of $5,000 a year- these are all approximate figures, leaving out the fractions of cents- is 33c in the dollar. The total tax payable by a person on that income would be $916, leaving him a yearly income of $4,084 after tax has been paid. In future, he will have taken out of that for health insurance about $70, which is computed on the basis of the $100 a week or $5,200 a year. If it is the Minister’s intention that the payment be tax deductible, at a tax rate of 30c in the dollar that person’s total payment for health insurance would actually be not $70 but $59. He would receive a taxation rebate of $11. So, although he would be paying $70 for health insurance, he actually would be saving $ 1 1 of his income if the $70 was tax deductible. I would say that to a man in that position $1 1 would be a considerable amount.
Let me move to the higher incomes. A man on $1 1,000 a year would pay the maximum under the scheme that the Minister is proposing; that is, $ 1 50. He pays up to 50c in the dollar tax on that $ 1 1,000 income. He pays a total of $3,388 in tax. Of course, he does not pay 50c in the dollar on the whole of his income, but he pays it on that portion of it in excess of a certain amount, from which portion his $150 contribution for health insurance would be paid. He would be paying 50c in the dollar on that $ 1 50. Of course if it were rebatable, what he would really pay would be only $75. So, he would not pay very much more than a man with an income of only $5,200 a year. In the high tax bracket, a man with an income of $20,000 a year would pay up to 60c in the dollar in tax. Of course, the maximum amount of $ 1 50 which he would have to pay would be reduced by a tax deduction at the rate of 60c in the dollar. He would pay $ 1 5 a year less than the man on $11,000 a year. It would cost him only $60 a year. The argument of the Government in the White Paper is that all this is not justified under the old scheme because a man on $20,000, as well as paying tax amounting to $8,448 as against $3,388 paid in tax by the man on $11,000, should saddle up and carry a greater burden in regard to the health scheme as well. The health scheme is to be compulsory and he will have to join although he may be in very good health and consider that it is not worth it for him to pay such a high premium.
I note that the Government is doing this in regard to its education scheme, when it excludes the A class private schools from assistance. The great proportion of the $8,448 paid in tax by a taxpayer on this high income would be spent on the education of children. The greatest proportion of all taxation these days is spent on education. That man will be paying completely for his child’s education if he sends his child to an expensive private school. That is the Government’s idea of justice today. We all would agree with the principle that in the scale of taxation there should be, as far as is possible, an equation of incomes. Some allowances must be made, surely, for those who are prepared to strive harder to get into the higher tax groups. But should we carry this principle through the entire ramification of everything we do? If that happens we will ultimately kill incentive to improve one’s position, and nobody will want to work any harder. 1 am only illustrating the differences that could occur if these sums are to be tax deductible but we do not know the situation. Apparently the Minister for Social Security does not propose to tell us. He has had a direct opportunity to answer a question so that we would know precisely what this health scheme is going to cost and so that we could compare the statement that he has made to the Press, to the people of the country at large, that 3 out of 4 people will be better off even in the case of families where the wife is working. We cannot find out from him one of the basic essentials which would enable us to make a comparison. Let us look at the table that the Minister has prepared.
– Do you think that it was a calculated evasion?
– Well, we can come to no other conclusion when the question was so simple. It was either the action of an enormously arrogant man who refuses to share his secrets about these questions with the people who have to pay- all that we are after is an explanation to the people who have to pay- or he does not know his job as a Minister in the Government and as the man responsible to answer questions to the people. Members of this Parliament ask these questions but they represent the people. Really, it is the people who are asking the questions.
Let us look at the case of a man with a wife who is working. Let us assume that this man receives $5,000 a year and pays $70 to his hospital benefits fund. Let us forget about whether it is tax deductible or not. Everything that has been said about the method of collecting the tax seems to indicate that it will not be deductible. Let us assume that that man’s wife is working and receiving a modest salary for female labour these days. We know that the position of women is to be elevated and that there is to be equal pay for the sexes but leave that matter aside for the purpose of this calculation. Let us assume that she gets $60 a week or $3,120 a year. She will pay $386 in tax in a year. Her hospital benefits contribution will be $42. If you add that $42 to the $70 that her husband on $5,000 a year is paying, for their hospital coverage they will pay $112 a year. If they want anything above the basic public ward treatment and so on they will have to insure themselves over and above that. It also seems to be a secret as to whether that additional insurance will be tax deductible or not.
– Any prudent person would insure in terms of what is available.
-That is a matter for the people themselves. Let us consider again the case of the man in the higher income group to which I referred before, the man with an income of $20,000 who is paying tax at a rate of 60c in the dollar. If that person’s contribution of $150 for hospital benefits coverage is not tax deductible then it is a lie to tell him that that is all he will pay under the new scheme because he will not pay only $150. In effect he will lose 60c in every dollar because he is no longer able to claim the contributions as tax deductible. The actual cost to him under the new scheme will be about $250.I believe this is what the people want to know. It is what the Senate and Government supporters want to know so that they can explain the position to their constituents. If I cannot get the answers, can honourable senators opposite get them.
– We know them and so do you.
– If you know why are you keeping them secret from the people. If you know you ought to be telling the people.
– How do you know?
– I do not know. 1 have worked out the figures. I have not heard them explained by your Minister or by any other honourable senator opposite. I ask honourable senators to tell me where they have been explained.
– Wait until the Bill comes in.
– Tell me on what page of the White Paper this is explained. This document is supposed to tell us all about it. There is no explanation of these figures in it and honourable senators opposite know this.
– The Bill is not in that White Paper.
– Of course it is not. But this document is supposed to explain it to everybody and tell us what to expect. Are we not to be told the answers to these questions when we ask them in this Parliament? Now that you are in Government are questions as simple as this to answer with the knowledge that Ministers must have not to be answered by them? If you support that you will regret it the day you revert to the Opposition benches. If you maintain this cavalier attitude to questions asked by the people you will again form the Opposition. If this is the sort of treatment that questions on notice are going to receive it is easy to understand how dissatisfied honourable senators must become with answers that are incomplete to questions without notice. There is at least some justification for a Minister not being able accurately and completely to inform the Senate on questions that are asked without notice. But in relation to a question on notice, I say that the answer received by me this morning was an insult to this Senate. I hope that the Minister has the courage to repair the damage to ensure that this Senate is informed on the intentions of the Government in respect of this aspect of the matter.
– When I heard the answer this morning I said to those sitting around me that it was an insult to this chamber. I am glad that Senator Little has taken the first opportunity to condemn it as deficient in the responsibility that the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) has to this chamber. The answer was couched in this form. First of all it says:
The Minister for Social Security refers the honourable senator to his reply to a very similar question by a member of the House of Representatives. . . .
The reply is then set out and it concludes with the words that were used in the House of Representativesand this is the garbage that is carted into this place. It reads:
When I was in Opposition
Says this Minister-
I received no help from the Government and did the hard work myself. I suggest that members of the Opposition ought to star doing a bit of work too.
Government senators- Hear, hear.
– Honourable senators opposite growl ‘Hear, hear’ from their turtle farms which have been so appropriately described by Senator Georges where they pick each other to pieces by the tail and became inedible as food as a result.
– We saw a disgraceful exhibition from members of your Party tonight.
– You agreed with me then, but you did not have the courage to vote with me.
– I would not follow you out of curiosity.
– Now he does not have -
– Order! Senator McAuliffe, not even by interjection during the adjournment debate may you refer to matters which have taken place during the course of a debate during the day.
– He has not the courage to stand up for a level of decency which is required in the chamber of which he is a member.
– You should be the last one to speak.
– I received no help from the Government, and did the hard work myself. I suggest that members of the Government -
– I rise on a point of order. I find Senator Wright’s remarks repulsive and insulting to me. He said that I am indecent and that I cannot recognise decency, or something to that effect. He said that I lack courage. I had 2 previous incidents with the honourable senator when he challenged me, in the Senate, to produce evidence. I have produced that evidence. I give him the rebuttal by saying that he is the coward. He lacks decency by still sitting in his place, unashamedly, and not apologising for the accusations which he has made against me in the past. If he wants it any way, rough or tough, I will give it to him.
– Order! Senator McAuliffe, you have not told me to which standing order you are referring.
– I object to Senator Wright’s remark that I am indecent.
– I did not hear him say it.
– I ask him to withdraw it.
– I call Senator Wright.
-I do not cloak myself with the immunity of points of order to hurl abuse at even Senator McAuliffe. What I am saying -
- Mr President, those remarks which Senator Wright made earlier are insulting to me. They are unbecoming a senator. Fancy him criticising me! At least since I have been a member of the Senate I have not been suspended from the sitting of the Senate.
– Order! Senator McAuliffe, if you wish to sustain your point of order, put the words to which you object in writing, sign the paper and deliver it to the Clerk at the table.
– That is the standing order. The Minister knows that as well as I do.
– I do not know it.
– It is time that you did.
– I wish to speak about the Standing Orders. It is very unfair if we have to go through this procedure. Whether or not it is in Standing Orders, it is not the procedure which the Senate has adopted.
– I have applied it in the past and I apply it now. I merely made the observation that I did not hear any words uttered by Senator Wright which could be regarded as objectionable. If Senator McAuliffe feels that he has been wrongly accused by Senator Wright, I hope that Senator Wright will acknowledge it.
– I am not much concerned about the abusive words. I think that they belittle the person who uttered them rather than anyone else. But I am concerned about this ruling.
– It is not a ruling, it is the Standing Orders.
– Yes, but the interpretation of the standing orders, Mr President, is an important thing. It is quite contrary to the procedure which the Senate has adopted. If on each occasion that someone makes an offensive remark it has to be written out, by the time it is written out and given to the Clerk the incident will be over and the damage done. I suggest that if that procedure is contained in the Standing Orders it is time that Standing Orders were changed. I suggest that we do not go past the present procedure. Standing order 4 1 8 states:
No Senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any Member of such House, or of any House of a State Parliament, or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.
A highly disorderly utterance was made. I take it that the withdrawal was asked for under standing order 418. It does not contain any suggestion that the words shall be written out, signed and handed to the Clerk. Mr President, I say that you are setting a precedent which would be difficult to follow. It denies the justice to which a senator is entitled to have withdrawn immediately a highly disorderly utterance which has been made.
-I made the observation earlier to Senator McAuliffe that I did not hear the words of which he complained. Therefore I asked him to put in writing and deliver to the table the words to which he objected. Senator McAuliffe said that he felt that Senator Wright had said of him: ‘I am indecent, cowardly and lack courage. ‘ If Senator McAuliffe heard those words and if Senator Wright uttered them, I am sure Senator Wright will withdraw them. Those are the words Senator McAuliffe has complained of and the matter is up to Senator Wright.
– I rise on a point of order. I was present throughout this debate. I challenge directly that Senator Wright used those words. He did not.
– Let Senator Wright say that.
– He did not use those words.
-I ask Hansard whether it has taken down the relevant words. I am informed by Hansard that it has. We shall wait for the Hansard passage to be delivered.
- Mr President, I rise on a point of order. The point of order is based on standing order 418, but it also relates to standing orders 422 and 423. They relate to the procedure under which words which have been used in the chamber may be taken down. Standing order 422 reads:
No Senator shall interrupt another senator whilst speaking, unless ( 1 ) to request that his words be taken down;
I make the submission that Senator McAuliffe did not rise and make that request. Therefore, in terms of what he alleges was said by Senator Wright, there is no basis in the Standing Orders on which it can be based. Standing order 423 is possibly more directly pertinent. It states:
When any senator objects to words used in Debate, and desires them to be taken down, the President shall direct them to be taken down by the Clerk accordingly:
My point is that that procedure has not been followed. I spoke before from my recollection of what Senator Wright has said. You, Sir, have asked for the transcript of Hansard in order to check whose recollection is correct. I am quite happy to wait for that to be produced. I submitI think this is relevant to the conduct of the Senate and the practice which you observe, Mr President- that when Government supporters want to resort to the tactics which are used by members of their party in a host of places, the truth ought to have some element and it should not be used as a tactic simply to deny words to be spoken by Opposition senators. Senator Wright did not use the words which are alleged to have been used.
– I speak to the point of order that has just been raised by Senator Greenwood. It is unfortunate, Mr President, that Senator Greenwood, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, did not read a little further from the Standing Orders.
– Which Standing Order?
– Standing order 424 states:
Every such objection must be taken at the time when such words are used, and will not be afterwards entertained.
I do not want to rely so much on the Standing Orders; I want to rely on some common sense. If an honourable senator feels that words have been used against him that are a reflection on his character, surely it is the responsibility of honourable senators to behave as such and if exception is taken to words that are used, the honourable senator offended should ask for their withdrawal.
– There is a dispute as to what words were uttered. That is all I am worried about.
– That is true, Mr President, but Senator Greenwood raised another issue. But he knew of standing order 424 and he did not want to -
– Order! You cannot reflect on Senator Greenwood.
- Senator Wright plainly said the words that I lacked courage to stand up for decency.
– Order! You have supplied me with the words.
– Why does not Senator Wright be manly and stand up and admit it and let us finish the incident.
– Order! Let us finish the incident by all means. I now have to find out what the words were. I have asked Hansard to produce the words and they are on the way. Surely we can get on with the debate and deal with these points of order subsequently. I am sure Senator McAuliffe would agree to allow the debate to proceed. I call Senator Wright.
- Mr President, I take the opportunity on the resumption of my speech to say that Senator McAuliffe was interjecting during my speech, and I said that he did not have the courage to stand up on certain proceedings during the evening.
– You said ‘decency ‘.
– And decency, yes. You ruled upon that, Mr President, and called on me to resume my speech. That closed that incident. I then said that I do not cloak myself with points of order so as to hurl abuse at honourable senators opposite, the implication being that that is how Senator McAuliffe used his point of order. That I will maintain -
– I rise on a point of order.
– Order Senator Cavanagh, Senator Wright is addressing himself to a point of order.
– I do not think he is.
– How many are on their feet?
– I am.
– Order! Hansard has now produced its transcript of what was said. I shall read it out. As far as that is concerned, that is what was said, and we will take it from there. The Hansard report shows that Senator Wright, in referring to Senator McAuliffe, used these words: ‘He has not the courage to stand up for a level of decency which is required in the chamber of which he is a member’. Those are the words that Hansard recorded.
– Those words are offensive to me.
– Order! If they are offensive to Senator McAuliffe, I am sure that Senator Wright will withdraw them.
– My record will stand up to his any day.
– I would ordinarily respond to your request, Mr President, but I controvert any proposition that that is not most courteous parliamentary debate. Having regard to what Senator McAuliffe had said, I think -
– I rise on a point of order.
– Just let me respond to the President.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr President. You have asked Senator Wright to withdraw those words.
– I am not withdrawing them.
– No, he has not withdrawn them, in defiance of the Chair, and I suggest that he be named.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr President, because I think that the Senate should reflect on how this situation arose. Senator Wright made statements which you have verified from the transcript of Hansard. Senator McAuliffe then rose and, if I might say so, used words which the Hansard record, when we see it tomorrow, will disclose to be abusive of Senator Wright, but Senator Wright did not rise to take any objection. In what followed thereafter, Senator McAuliffe alleged and put down in writing which you, Sir, would have before you, words which he said Senator Wright used but which your reading of the Hansard transcript quite demonstrably shows Senator Wright did not use. In those circumstances, I would submit that it is not a matter of requiring Senator Wright to withdraw on the basis that the words are offensive, because in my submission it is not offensive to use the words which Senator Wright used. But if there is to be some form of justice done -
– I rise on a point of order, Mr President.
– I am speaking on a point of order. Won’t you even allow points of order to be raised?
– Order! Senator Cavanagh, please resume your seat. Senator Greenwood is addressing me on a point of order.
– Yes, but I have another point of order.
– All right, I will hear you when I have heard Senator Greenwood. Please resume your seat.
– But, Mr President, I rise on a point of order.
- Senator Cavanagh, will you resume your seat? I call Senator Greenwood.
- Mr President, standing order 418 is in the Standing Orders for the protection of the Senate. If, to use an example used earlier by some other honourable senator, common sense is to be applied, I submit that having regard to what has transpired and to the error which is disclosed by Senator McAuliffe ‘s own recollection and belief as to the words used by Senator Wright, as disclosed by what he put in writing shortly thereafter, it is seeking to take an unfair advantage, an unwarranted advantage, and to misuse the Standing Orders to apply for a withdrawal of the character which has now been requested. I submit, Mr President, that it would be totally unfair to Senator Wright to require him in those circumstances to take any action of the character you intimated you might require.
- Mr President, all I wanted to say was that you permitted an honourable senator to get up and canvass your ruling, which is unpardonable under the Standing Orders. The whole point is that you have given a ruling; you have asked for a withdrawal. A withdrawal has not been forthcoming, and action should be taken.
Sentor Byrne- Mr President, speaking to the point of order, Senator Wright made a certain statement to which Senator McAuliffe objected. His recollection of it was stated in the record of objection which he then presented to you. On the reading from Hansard those were not the words which were said and therefore Senator McAuliffe ‘s protest at that stage could not have any validity because he was protesting against something that was not said. That was acknowledged by Senator McAuliffe because when the actual words came from Hansard Senator McAuliff rose and said- what is the term?
– ‘That is offensive to me.’
– Yes, exactly- ‘that is offensive to me. ‘ But, if he is going to object he must object at the time and that was not the time. The time had passed and that was not the time. Senator McAuliffe objected to words that Hansard established were not said. When the actual words were disclosed Senator McAuliffe acknowledged that he had objected to something that was not said by objecting to the real record but at that stage under the Standing Orders it was too late because the moment had passed. Therefore I submit that Senator McAuliffe is not entitled to take objection at this stage to the words that were actually said.
– Order! I shall address myself to the Senate. When the matter first arose and objection was taken I informed honourable senators that I had not heard the words that Senator McAuliffe claimed he had heard from Senator Wright. I then asked Senator McAuliffe if he would put down in writing his recollection of what Senator Wright had said. Senator McAuliffe then said he understood Senator Wright to say that he was indecent, cowardly and lacked courage. I then asked Hansard to produce what in fact was said and I repeat it. Senator Wright said:
He has not the courage to stand up to a level of decency which is required in the chamber of which he is a member.
Honourable senators, I have looked at this whole problem of what are words which are reflective and cause pain and anguish to senators. I am reminded of a ruling of the Speaker of the House of Commons in Canada who said that Parliament is no place for a shrinking soul. Therefore I think the matter should be closed so that we can get on with the business of the House. I call Senator Wright.
-The Minister who is represented in this chamber and responsible for an answer in this form should have it clearly made known to him that the Senate will not accept this answer. We should support Senator Little’s protest that it is entirely inappropriate for information which this Senate requries of a Minister. Nothing more need be said as to the form of the answer. As to the substance, I am amazed that when Senator Little indicates in his question that he requires clarification as to the proposition that the Minister puts out in the White Paper and he concludes his question by asking the Minister to table for the information of senators the document upon which his. statement was based and the statistical information supplied to him by his advisers, prompting the conclusions referred to, that that was not regarded as an entirely proper request and responded to by an answer carefully putting out the calculations that would exhibit the accuracy of the Minister’s contention.
I rise in support of Senator Little’s protest and to define my standards of the level of responsibility that the Senate requires of Ministers. In my view, unless a proper answer is supplied and this one is withdrawn, the Senate ought not any longer to allow representation of this Minister in this chamber. This chamber is entitled to information. The information could not have been more courteously requested. The information can be supplied by the Minister, with all the office staff that he has available, to the Minister’s advantage and to the satisfaction of the honourable senator who asks for the information.
– Firstly let me reply to the allegations put forward by Senator Little. Senator Little, exactly one week ago on 2 1 November, asked me a question without notice. The question was addressed to me in my capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. I, in my capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, having a question without notice directed to me did not immediately know the answer. I then asked the honourable senator to place the question on the notice paper. That he did last Wednesday, a week ago today. Even though the honourable senator might be critical of the type of answer that has been supplied by my colleague in another place, certainly he cannot be critical of the time taken to answer the question.
The honourable senator’s question was in 2 parts. The first part asked:
Does the Minister’s statement, which appeared on page 3219 of the House of Representatives Hansard of 13 November 1973, that three out of four families, including those in which there is a working wife, would find the Government’s proposed national health scheme cheaper than at present, take into account the extra taxation to be paid if the proposed rate of 1.35 percent -
I repeat ‘if the proposed rate of 1.35 per cent’- is itself not deductible from personal income.
For a start it is a hypothetical question. The second part of the question is:
Will the Minister table, for the information of Senators, the documents upon which his statement was based and the statistical information supplied to him by his advisers that prompted the conclusions referred to above.
Today, on behalf of my colleague the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden), I supplied an answer to the honourable senator’s questions in similar terms to an answer given by my colleague in response to a question asked by the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) on 22 November, which is the day after Senator Little placed this question on the notice paper.
All I can say is that frankly I do not think Senator Little has understood the gravamen of the case put to the Parliament in a document, namely ‘The Health Insurance Planning Committee Report’ of April 1973, and again in a White Paper tabled on 7 November 1973, which set out what the Government has in mind. Senator Little cited a number of figures, which he maintains are assertions, to claim that my colleague’s statement that three out of four families will be better off under the Government’s proposals is incorrect. One thing that I think will probably be accepted by most people is that what Senator Little has set out to do is to supply his own answer to the question in his own way.
– Far from it. I gave you 2 alternatives as to what the answer could be. I would still like to get an answer.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDSenator Little cited some figures which showed his ignorance of the situation as set out in the White Paper. If the honourable senator turns to pages 64 and 65 of the White Paper he will see in paragraph 7.2 that the rate for the 1974-75 financial year will be 1.35 per cent of individual taxable income. That is after all deductions have been taken into account by the taxpayer- educational expenses, dependants’ allowance, water rates, council rates, insurance -
– Gifts to institutions.
– Gifts to charitable institutions and what have you.
– What about payments to hospital benefits funds?
-Look, you had your go for about half an hour.
– I received a lot of interjec tions, too, but I did not complain.
– Order! The Minister will address the Chair.
– I am giving the honourable senator an answer to his question. After all those deductions are taken into account and deducted from the worker’s gross income he then pays 1.35 per cent of individual taxable income for health insurance purposes. My friends opposite cited an example of a husband earning $5,000 and the spouse earning, I think he said, $60 a week or an annual sum of $3,000. If the honourable senator turns to page 65 of the White Paper he will see in paragraph 7.4 that the application of the formula to the current minimum weekly wage of $60.10 would result in an exemption limit. So under those circumstances the wife would not be expected to pay anything at all.
We have heard expressions from Senator Little that my colleague the Minister for Social
Security must be an enormously arrogant man. Senator Greenwood said by way of interjection that there is a calculated evasion. All I suggest to honourable senators opposite who are in any doubt about the financial estimates and financial arrangements is that they should refer to pages 67 and onwards of the report of the Health Insurance Planning Committee to the Minister for Social Security of April 1973.I suggest in addition that the honourable senator refer to pages 7, 64, 65, 71 and 72 of the Australian Health Insurance Program as tabled by me in this chamber on 7 November on behalf of my colleague. Additionally, I would suggest to the honourable senator that he refer to the paper referred to by my colleague in the answer that I supplied today on his behalf, namely, a paper prepared by the Bureau of Census and Statistics entitled ‘ Income Distribution 1 968-69 ‘, a copy of which I have here and which I will provide to the honourable senator. If, after all those things, he is in any doubt I suggest that the honourable senator look at the Minister’s second reading speech, which will probably be made tomorrow night, on the introduction of the Health Insurance Bill which will be of great benefit to the Australian people when enacted by this Parliament.
– I rise only because the point raised by Senator Little and by Senator Wright is essentially the right which every honourable senator would maintain, that is, the right to use this forum to ask Ministers questions and to receive answers. I used the adjournment debate not so long ago to point out that I had not beengiven answers to questions which had been outstanding for 5 to 6 months. I am very happy to acknowledge that, after 2 nights in a row, I have now had all those questions answered. I recognise the forum of the adjournment debate as a place in which we can ask for questions to be answeredan appropriate forum which sometimes, anyway, brings results. What Senator Little has done tonight is to use this forum. Mr President, I think that you almost suggested to him today that he should use it to raise the fact that a Minister, given a question upon notice, has not answered the question which was put to him. I have a copy of the question in front of me. It is contained in the Senate notice paper as question upon notice No. 553. It is a question which I say, with all respect to Senator Douglas McClelland, could have been answered by the Minister to whom it was addressed with a simple ‘yes’ or no’. It was one of those questions which permitted that type of answer. If the answer was yes, then unquestionably Senator Little would have had to revise his opinions or possibly ask another question. But if the answer was no, I believe that this would have revealed an error or an evasion in the White Paper of the Minister for Social Security ( Mr Hayden).
Senator Little was concerned to know why he had not been given an answer. He was concerned to express the right which every honourable senator ought to have to get the answers so that we know what are the facts upon which debate on legislation can take place. If we have what I believe has been a course of action on the part of some Ministers throughout this year of not responding to questions and not giving the answers which are sought, it can be only because there is a calculated evasion or an unwillingness to provide the facts which might lead to debate in which the conclusions might be adverse to the Government or to a particular Minister. I do not know whether that is the fact in this case. But Senator Little was quite within his rights. Let me say that I can only regret that Senator Douglas McClelland did not say: ‘I will put the matter again to the Minister for Social Security in order to require him to give an appropriate answer’.
I do not believe that Senator Douglas McClelland tonight has helped the position because he has not answered the question. He has referred to relevant matters which might assist Senator Little in his understanding of the matter, but he has still not answered the question in terms of yes or no. I suspect this is because Senator Douglas McClelland cannot answer the question with yes or no. I can hope only that he will refer this matter to the Minister for Social Security with the suggestion that the rights of the Senate and the rights of senators are such that the Minister ought to give another answer. I hope that he will do this.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.53 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
It was represented to me that the summons was issued against Mr Gamble on 29 August 1972, returnable at 2 p.m. on that day. The alleged offence was stated to have occurred on 2 1 August 1972. Mr Gamble appeared on 29 August and instructed Darwin Solicitors to act on his behalf. Mr Gamble wanted the matter dealt with at the time he was in Darwin, before his return on 30 August to Canberra. He was on sick leave prior to his retirement from the Public Service on grounds of invalidity. The case was not heard before he left Darwin. The facts put before me, if accepted by the Court, would have established a defence to the charge. Mr Gamble retired at the age of 5 5 on medical grounds and now resides in New South Wales.
On the recommendation made to me I decided that having regard to the course of the prosecution and the special circumstances, including Mr Gamble’s state of health, the trouble and expense of travelling to Darwin, and the fact that he had wished the matter to be disposed of at the time when he was in Darwin, discontinuance of the proceeding would be justified.
I am assured that Mr Gamble was not known to any of the persons involved in making the recommendation to me.
Karmel Committee Recommendations: In-service Teacher Training (Question No. 445)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice:
What number of extra teachers will be required in each State and Territory in Australia to implement the Karmel Committee’s recommendations for in-service teacher training in each of the years 1974 and 1975.
– The Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The recommendations of the Karmel Committee concerning in-service teacher training cover four areas, viz:
General in-service training provided by employing authorities.
General in-service training developed by teachers in education centres.
Training of teacher-librarians.
Training of teachers of the handicapped.
It is not possible to provide details of the numbers of relief teachers required for (a) above, since the length of courses to be put into operation has still to be decided by the responsible bodies within each of the States and Territories. In-service training provided under (b) would in general be outside normal school hours and would not require the employment of additional teachers.
Under (c) the Karmel Committee recommended that grants be provided in 1974 and 1975 to enable 500 teachers a year to undertake library training courses of an average length of 6 months but it did not propose any standard length of course. Under (d) the Committee envisaged that 1500 teachers will have completed a 1-year training course by the end of 1975. In the cases of both (c) and (d) the appropriate authorities in the States and the Territories are to take decisions about length of courses and places available. Until these decisions are taken, estimates of the numbers of relief teachers required are not available.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
– I am advised that the answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Judges, The Honourable Mr Justice Edward A. Dunphy; The Honourable Mr Justice Percy E. Joske, C.M.G.; The Honourable Sir Richard M. Eggleston; The Honourable Mr Justice
Reginald A. Smithers; The Honourable Sir John A. Nimmo, C.B.E., O. St. J.; The Honourable Mr Justice Albert E. Woodward, O.B.E.; The Honourable Mr Justice Robert J. A. Franki.
The Honourable Mr Justice Edward A. Dunphy, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory; Judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory; Judge of the Supreme Court of Christmas Island; Judge of the Supreme Court of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Judge of the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island.
The Honourable Mr Justice Percy E. Joske, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory: Judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory; Judge of the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island.
The Honourable Sir Richard M. Eggleston, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory.
The Honourable Mr Justice Reginald A. Smithers, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory; Judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory.
The Honourable Sir John A. Nimmo, Chief Justice of the High Court of Fiji.
The Honourable Mr Justic Albert E. Woodward, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory; Judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory.
The Honourable Mr Justice Robert J. A. Franki, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory; Judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory.
Supreme Court of the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Island- No sittings from 1 January 1970 to 30 October 1973.
The Honourable Sir John A. Spicer, President of the Copyright Tribunal; there were no sittings during the period.
The Honourable Mr Justice Edward A. Dunphy, Member of the Land and Valuation Review Tribunal of the Northern Territory; the Judge did not sit during the period.
The Honourable Mr Justice Percy E. Joske, Member of the Land and Valuation Review Tribunal of the Northern Territory; the Judge did not sit during the period.
The Honourable Sir Richard M. Eggleston, President of the Trade Practices Tribunal in which function he was occupied for 62 sitting days during 1 97 1 and 2 1 sitting days during 1 973 ( up to 30 October); Chairman of the Company Law Advisory Committee from May 1967 until July 1973; and also Chairman of the University Salaries Inquiry from March 1970 until May 1970.
The Honourable Mr Justice Reginald A. Smithers, Member of the Marine Court of Inquiry; Member of the Land and Valuation Review Tribunal of the Northern Territory; the Judge did not sit on either tribunal during the period.
The Honourable Mr Justice John A. Kerr, Chairman of the Commonwealth Administrative Review Committee which was established on 29 October 1968 and reported in August 1971; appointed to conduct the Services Pay Inquiry that commenced in October 1 970 and concluded in May 1 972; and also the Parliamentary Salaries and Allowances Inquiry upon which he was occupied between 1 7 September 1971 and 2 December 1971.
The Honourable Mr Justice Charles A. Sweeney, engaged only upon judicial duties.
The Honourable Sir John A. Nimmo, Member of the Marine Court of Inquiry; Deputy President of the Trade Practices Tribunal; the Judge did not sit on either tribunal during the period.
The Honourable Mr Justice Albert E. Woodward, Member of the Marine Court of Inquiry (appointed May 1972); Deputy President of the Trade Practices Tribunal (appointed May 1972); Member of the Land and Valuation Review Tribunal of the Northern Territory (appointed May 1972); appointed to conduct the Services Pay Inquiry that commenced in May 1 972 and concluded in December 1 972; Chairman of the Aboriginal
Land Rights Commission the sittings of which commenced in February 1972 and are continuing.
The Honourable Mr Justice Robert J. A. Franki, Member of the Marine Court of Inquiry (appointed May 1972); Deputy President of the Trade Practices Tribunal (appointed May 1 972 ); Member of the Land and Valuation Review Tribunal of the Northern Territory (appointed May 1972); the Judge did not sit on any of the above tribunals during the period; he continued as Chairman of the Designs Law Review Committee after appointment to the Court in May 1972 and continued until the Committee furnished its report in May 1 973.
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:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 November 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19731128_senate_28_s58/>.