29th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Justin O’Byrne) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
- Mr President, it is with deep regret that I inform the Senate of the death on 9 September 1974 of Her Excellency Lady Kerr, wife of the GovernorGeneral. I know that all honourable senators will appreciate what a tragic loss her death has been to her husband so soon after assuming Australia’s highest office.
Lady Kerr was born at Molong, New South Wales. She was a social worker by profession but worked only in a part time capacity in the early years of the war. She spent some time with the Family Welfare Bureau and in Melbourne with the Australian Imperial Forces Women’s Association. She was later Secretary of the Hospital Almoners Institute in Sydney. Although she was offered full time executive positions in the social work field, she preferred to spend most of the time bringing up her 3 children and running a home for her husband when he was at the Bar in Sydney. In later years she specialised in marriage counselling and performed voluntary counselling work for the New South Wales Marriage Guidance Council. When her husband became the Chief Justice of New South Wales she fully particpated in the activities of her husband who was also Lieutenant-Governor.
Lady Kerr was not well when the appointment of her husband as Governor-General was announced in February this year, but she recovered sufficiently to allow her to travel with him to London to be received by the Queen and to participate in the 150th anniversary celebration of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Soon after she took up residence at Government House in Yarralumla she went to Sydney as a result of a serious illness. She died in the early morning of 9 September.
I am sure that all honourable senators will recall how pleased we were to see her in this chamber on the occasion of the swearing-in of Sir John Kerr. I am sure that all members of the Senate will join with me in expressing our deepest sympathy to Sir John Kerr and his family in their bereavement. Mr President, I move:
That the Senate expresses its profound sorrow at the death on 9 September 1974 of Her Excellency Lady Kerr, wife of the Governor-General, and places on record its appreciation of her meritorious public service and conveys its deepest sympathy to the members of her family.
- Mr President, I wish to associate the Opposition with the remarks of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. All Australians regret the tragedy that has befallen the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, and his family. Lady Kerr’s death is a crippling blow occurring so shortly after Sir John Kerr accepted the highest office that can be bestowed upon an individual. Having reached the pinnacle of a distinguished public career, Sir John will not be able to enjoy the support, encouragement and company that any married man needs.
Lady Kerr’s death is all the mere tragic because Australia has lost a woman with fine personal qualities who gave dedicated community service over a long period. It is a loss that will be felt widely among community organisations with whom she worked, such as the Marriage Guidance Council of New South Wales.
As the Leader of the Government in the Senate has said, Lady Kerr, a trained social worker, was committed to the need to provide counselling and support to married couples facing stress. During the war years, she worked with the Family Welfare Branch and the AIF Women’s Association. Later she was a counsellor and an executive member of the Marriage Guidance Council. In addition, Lady Kerr was a volunteer counsellor with the Life Line organisation and served on its adoption committee.
Lady Kerr continued to give this service to the community despite personal hardships that afflicted her. Her courage in overcoming these hardships was the finest example any person could have given of an individual’s selfdetermination to make a positive contribution despite personal needs to the service of the community and the nation. Her life exemplified a spirit of thought for others before herself.
All Australians will recognise the difficulties Sir John now must inevitably face and the sorrow her loss must cause him. All Australians will extend personal sympathy to him and his family. The task ahead of Sir John will not be easy but in facing it he can know that he has the full support of bis fellow Australians. On behalf of the Opposition, I extend our sympathy to Sir John and his family.
– I, on behalf of the Australian Country Party, join the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in this tribute to Lady Ken-. She was a person of charm, vitality and endless courage. Despite great suffering from severe illness in latter years, Lady Kerr actively continued the social work to which she was devoted. Few who met her at official functions in recent months could have known of the tremendous strain under which she performed duties as the wife of the Governor-General. On behalf of my Party I offer deep sympathy to Sir John and his family.
– I invite honourable senators to signify their assent to the motion by standing in silence.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places.
- Mr President, it is with deep regret that I inform the Senate of the death on 3 1 August this year of the Right Honourable Norman Kirk, Prime Minister of New Zealand. Norman Kirk became Prime Minister of New Zealand in 1972, just a week before this Government took office in Australia. He was a man who won the affection not only of his people in New Zealand but of all those who knew him. He was truly a self-made man. He was born in Waimate near Christchurch in the South Island in 1923. He left primary school in Christchurch at the age of twelve. He joined the Labour Party in New Zealand in 1943 and entered Parliament in 1957 representing the seat of Lyttelton which he retained in 1960 and 1963 with increased majorities. In 1965 he was elected Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party- the youngest in the Party’s history and the first to hold the office of Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party and President of the Labour Party at the same time. He was re-elected to both of these positions in 1968. He led the Labour Party to victory in 1972, and became Prime Minister at the age of forty-nine.
Even though Norman Kirk was Prime Minister for less than 2 years he left his own special imprint on New Zealand and in specific areas set its course for the future. As the Minister for
Foreign Affairs he involved New Zealand more deeply in the affairs of the region, especially in Asia and the South Pacific. He was an advocate of Pacific economic and political alliance and called vigorously for world peace and unity. He was Australia’s staunchest ally in opposition to the nuclear testing that was being carried out in the South Pacific. New Zealand joined with Australia in taking action before the highest legal body in the world, the International Court of Justice, to seek an order halting further atmospheric tests. To show that his concern with the South Pacific was not in principle only, Norman Kirk increased aid to the South Pacific countries from 40 per cent to 55 per cent of the New Zealand aid budget. In domestic politics, he sought to improve the welfare state. His Government introduced national compensation and superannuation schemes and worked towards establishing the principle of equal pay for equal work as a practical reality. He was a man of great compassion and sought to achieve things by deliberation rather than by precipitation. We in Australia will deeply regret his passing. Even taking into account the special relationship that exists between Australia and New Zealand, the sense of understanding and trust achieved between Australia and New Zealand during the time he was Prime Minister reached new heights. We extend our sympathy to his wife and family, to the New Zealand Government and to the New Zealand people. We have all lost a firm friend. I move:
– I join with the Leader of the Government in the Senate and express, on behalf of the members of the Liberal Party of Australia, our regret at the death of Norman Kirk. All Australians will join the people of New Zealand and his family in mourning him. The death of Norman Kirk was tragically premature. He was a strong and principled political leader. At 51 years of age he had devoted more than 20 years to the service of his fellow countrymen. Mr Kirk was of Scottish descent and was a diligent worker all his life. Although he received little formal education, he qualified as an engineer by correspondence course. At 30 years of age Mr Kirk became one of the youngest local government leaders in New Zealand when he was elected mayor of his home town. Four years after his election as mayor he entered the New Zealand Parliament. His rise in politics was rapid. In 1 965, when he was only 42, he became Leader of his Party. Eight years after entering Parliament Norman Kirk became New Zealand’s first Labour Prime Minister for 12 years.
Norman Kirk fought hard to win office for his Party. He achieved that and became Prime Minister of New Zealand. It is a personal tragedy that a man who has won such office should have it so abruptly denied him. It is a personal tragedy that Norman Kirk should have been denied the opportunity to put into effect the philosophy and principles in which he believed, on which he campaigned and on which he won office. It is a national tragedy that a political leader should be taken from office in this way. There was much in Norman Kirk that all of us admire in a political leader and in a man. He had vision and he had strength of purpose. That strength of purpose and his energy were demonstrated in his ability to gain the highest office, having left school at the age of 12. Australians share special ties with New Zealand, and Norman Kirk did a lot to strengthen the links between us. The world will pay thanks to Norman Kirk for his strong and unqualified stand in opposing nuclear testing, particularly in the Pacific area. His stand helped to consolidate the opposition of other nations to the continuance of these tests. It is our hope that the process he encouraged will be consolidated. We in the Liberal Party will co-operate to ensure that this contribution by Norman Kirk is carried on.
On behalf of the Opposition senators I extend our deepest sympathy and concern to his family. I extend to his colleagues in his Party regret that they should have lost a leader in whom they had trust and respect. I also extend to New Zealanders sorrow that they should lose the services of a worthy Prime Minister to whom they had given their support.
– I associate myself and my Party colleagues with the motion of condolence. Norman Kirk was one of New Zealand’s foremost Prime Ministers. He possessed tremendous strength of leadership and at the same time wide popularity at all levels in the community. At home he was regarded as a national champion. Abroad he commanded genuine admiration and respect. He had both the background and the ability to remain in close touch with the battler and the man in the street and he did this to his country’s gain. Having just spent a week in New Zealand I feel that I know the depth of esteem in which Mr Kirk was held by his countrymen.
Everywhere one heard sincere expressions of New Zealand’s great loss at a time when the nation needed such a man and such a leader. On behalf of my Party we offer to Mrs Kirk and to her family our deepest sympathy.
– I feel constrained to add a few words with respect to the motion of condolence which has been moved in regard to the death of Mr Kirk. With the Minister for the Media I happened to be in New Zealand at the time Mr Kirk died. It came as a very severe shock the day after I arrived in New Zealand to learn of his death. I had known him personally- although I cannot say well- for some years after he became Leader of the Opposition. I do not think that anybody could fail to have a great admiration for a man who grew from origins of rural poverty in the South Island of New Zealand not only to be Prime Minister of his country but also to be an international figure. As Prime Minister of New Zealand he played an important part in international affairs as has been mentioned. He took immediate and decisive action upon becoming Prime Minister to end New Zealand ‘s involvement in the Vietnam war. He played a prominent part in opposition to French nuclear tests. On what could possibly be regarded as the more constructive side he did everything he could to build co-operation among the countries of the South Pacific in which he had a particular interest and with which he had a strong association.
With the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Media I was present at the funeral service in St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Wellington for the late Mr Kirk. I think I can truthfully say that I have never seen so many people publicly show so much obvious grief as was shown at this service, particularly by the Maori people. In many respects Norman Kirk can be regarded as a man who was a model social democrat, a man who stood for parliamentary democracy, for orderly processes of law at the same time coupled with the alleviation of the conditions of the people of his country and of other countries with which his country came into association, not by warlike, aggressive or belligerent actions but by cooperation and by entering into a peaceful social contract. His death is a loss to a fraternal party, the New Zealand Labor Party. His death is a loss to New Zealand and I believe, a loss to the cause of world peace.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places.
– It is with deep regret that I inform the Senate of the death on 2 September 1974 of Mr Hugh Alan Leslie, a former member of the House of Representatives for the division of Moore. He was 74 years of age when he died. He had a long parliamentary career in both the Western Australian Parliament and the Australian Parliament. He was a member of the delegation representing the Australian Parliament at die inauguration of the Legislative Council for Papua New Guinea in November 1951. He had a distinguished record of military service in both the First and Second World Wars. He was wounded in the siege of Tobruk.
- Senator DrakeBrockman will speak on behalf of the Liberal Party as well as his own party in this matter.
– I join with the Leader of the Government in the Senate and with the Leader of the Opposition in paying tribute to Mr Leslie. He was a character in this Parliament as he was in the State Parliament. Although he was a man of small stature he had a heart as big as that of a man twice his size. He certainly was full of fight right down to his finger tips. In the main, his love was his family and those people whom he represented, particularly the less fortunate people in Western Australia and in other parts of this nation. The Leader of the Government in the Senate has said that Hugh Leslie had a very fine war record. He was a South African and he joined the South African forces at the age of 16, fighting in East Africa and later in France. After the First World War he came to Western Australia where he first of all took up farming but because of the Depression he then entered the newspaper world and conducted country newspapers in the wheat belt areas of Western Australia. When World War II broke out he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces in June 1940. In the seige of Tobruk he was very severely wounded and lost a leg. He came out of the Army in 1943 and immediately contested the State seat of Parliament for his area and won it. In 1946 he was re-elected unopposed and in 1949 he decided to enter Federal Parliament for the new seat of Moore. He held the seat of Moore until 1958 when he was defeated. He was reelected in 1961 and retired from the Parliament in 1963.
Hughie Leslie had a great love of the digger. He was known as the little digger because of his fight, and his fight for these people. He represented the Western Australian branch of the Returned Services League on the State executive of that organisation for many years. He was the founder and the president for many years of the Australian Spastic Welfare Association and was responsible for conducting the Miss Australia contest in his State for many years. He was also the organising chairman of the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games held in Perth in 1962. He had a keen interest in the Returned Services League and in the Spastic Welfare Association right up until the time of his death. I was very happy to see many people representing these 2 organisations at his funeral. I feel that Western Australia will sadly miss the work and effort that this man has at all times displayed both in and out of Parliament on behalf of those people. On behalf of the Opposition, I extend to Mrs Leslie and her family the deepest sympathy.
– I invite honourable senators to stand in silence as a mark of respect for the memory of the late former honourable member.
Honourable senators stood in their places.
– I present the following petition from 5,545 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: whereas the Government of the United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada and many European countries have not recognised the unlawful annexation of the Baltic States- Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia by the Soviet Union, the Prime Minister of Australia has authorised the de jure recognition of this annexion.
According to the Chapter of the United Nations, the Baltic States are entitled to independence and their people to selfdetermination.
We beg that such de jure recognition be disallowed.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 1 19 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: whereas the Government of the United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada and many European countries have not recognised the unlawful annexation of the Baltic States- Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia by the Soviet Union, the Prime Minister of Australia has authorised the de jure recognition of this annexation.
According to the Charter of the United Nations, the Baltic States are entitled to independence and their people selfdetermination.
We beg that such de jure recognition be disallowed.
– As a petition in identical terms has already been presented, I do not propose to move that the petition be read.
– I present the following petition from 3 10 citizens of the Commonwealth.
To the Honourable the President of the Senate and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth: whereas the Government of the United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada and many European countries have not recognised the unlawful annexation of the Baltic States-Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia by the Soviet Union, the Prime Minister of Australia has authorised the de jure recognition of this annexation.
According to the Charter of the United Nations, the Baltic States are entitled to independence and their people to selfdetermination.
We beg that such de jure recognition be disallowed.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– As a petition similarly worded has already been presented by Senator Baume I do not propose to move that this petition be read.
– I present the following petition from 86 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:
Whilst the Australian Government is granting freedom and independence to Papua and New Guinea, the once free Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are occupied by the Soviet Union and their citizens are continuously and brutally deprived of personal, civil and religious freedoms. We humbly beg to draw the attention of the Senate to this fact and ask that the matter be raised in the United Nations by the Australian Government. The annexation and incorporation of the Baltic States by the Soviet Union has not been recognized by any Western democracy, including Australia. We beg the Senate to continue such nonrecognition and to disallow any steps by the Australian Government which would amount to recognition of aggression.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– As petitions similarly worded have already been presented by Senator
Baume and Senator Grimes I do not propose to move that this petition be read.
-I present the following petition from 48 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:
Whereas the Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada and many European countries have not recognized the unlawful annexation of the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by the Soviet Union, it has been announced from Moscow that the Australian Government is now recognizing them as part of the Soviet Union. We wish to point out that according to United Nation charter these States are entitled to independence and their peoples to self-determination and beg that such recognition be disallowed.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– As petitions similarly worded have already been presented by Senator Baume and other honourable senators I do not propose to move that the petition be read.
– I present the following petition from 88 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:
Whilst the Australian Government is granting freedom and independence to Papua and New Guinea, the once free Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are occupied by the Soviet Union and their citizens are continuously and brutally deprived of personal, civil and religious freedoms. We humbly beg to draw the attention of the Senate to this fact and ask that the matter be raised in the United Nations by the Australian Government. The annexation and incorporation of the Baltic States by the Soviet Union has not been recognized by any Western democracy, including Australia. We beg the Senate to continue such nonrecognition and to disallow any steps by Australian Government which would amount to recognition of aggression.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– As petitions similarly worded have already been presented by Senator Baume and other honourable senators I do not propose to move that this petition be read.
– I present the following petition from 206 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament asembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth respectifully showeth:
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.
– I present the following petition from 27 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Federal National Parliament of Australia by Pensioners and the Public who do care to be presented to the House of Representatives (Lower House) and House of the Senate (Upper House), to the Honourable Speaker of each House, we ask as members of the Public that:
A nationalised Government and Private transport system be established.
That Pensioners transport be made free within the Federation where the Government has constitutional powers.
To make all Government and Private transport free within the Federation to Pensioners and all other underpriviledged members of the community.
Although the pension has been increased by $1.50 the high cost of living has effectively made this increase worthless, consequently the above actions are considered to require urgent National Government Action.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from SO citizens of the Commonwealth:
Whereas the six million people of the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, occupied and unlawfully annexed by the Soviet Union, have been deprived of freedom, Human Rights and civil liberties and are therefore unable to express their will, we the undersigned Australian citizens of Baltic origin humbly petition the Senate to express its moral support to the rights of the Baltic States to freedom and self-determination.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– As a petition similarly worded has already been presented by Senator Baume I do not propose to move that the petition be read.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the order of the day for the second reading of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1974 be restored to the notice paper.
-My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I ask: In view of the fact that this nation is faced with a crisis of confidence because of the Government’s inability to bring inflation under control and in view of its callousness in pursuing policies which are designed to cause unemployment, will the Government prepare a White Paper on what it considers to be the causes of inflation and how it proposes to combat the causes and alleviate the distress it creates? Will the Government, as part of this study, set out why it is necessary for the Government forcibly to increase the number of people who are now unemployed?
-I will pass on to the Treasurer the part of the question about the preparation of a White Paper, but I must say that I think that some of the questions will easily be answered. If we wanted to combat inflation the first step would be for the Leader of the Opposition and some of his Party either to resign or to cease obstructing the Government in its attempts.
-Which Bills? Name the Bills.
-The Leader of the Opposition asks me to name the Bills. Let me name one measure which stands out very clearly. The measure concerning trade practices and consumer protection was delayed by the tactics of those opposite for some 12 months. There is not one economist or one public spirited person who has not said that that measure was necessary in order to combat inflation. The rackets which have been going on in this community were allowed to go on and to fuel inflation because of the wilfulness of the Opposition members in this chamber. I would ask the honourable senator to co-operate with the Government instead of starting off the day with this kind of question which reveals the obstructionist attitude of the Opposition. The Government has been elected to carry out its policies. I ask those Opposition senators who have any regard for their fellow citizens and for the welfare of the community, to allow the Government to introduce and have passed the measures which we think are necessary to deal with inflation. If the Government is allowed to manage the economy and fails to manage it properly, the Opposition may then complain. But the Opposition has no right whatever to complain of the state of affairs in the community when it is refusing to allow the Government to pass measures which it deems necessary in order to deal with the economy.
– Can the Minister for Customs and Excise indicate to the Senate what stage has now been reached in the establishment of an Australian coastguard? Will it be possible to accommodate my earlier suggestion that recognised yachting and boating organisations, acting on a voluntary basis, be integrated into the search and rescue functions of the proposed coastguard? Will he favourably consider locating elements of the service on the northern Tasmanian coastline for operation in the waters of Bass Strait?
– This is a complex matter and the complexity of it may be judged from the number of Government departments that are concerned with this area. The Department of Customs and Excise, the Department of Health and the Department of Transport and other departments have discussed this matter for quite a long period. As a matter of fact, it has been a very vexing problem. I will try to deal with the problem broadly. It has been determined that law enforcement functions would be carried out by close co-operation between the defence forces and other departments with law enforcement functions, particularly the Department of Customs and Excise. There is a marine operations centre which is in the Department of Transport and which looks after sea and other rescues. It may well be that the suggestion of the honourable senator could be taken up and that private persons with yachts and so forth will be able to give assistance through the operations of that centre. I understand that it is done on an ad hoc basis but I think the honourable senator wants it to be placed on a more permanent basis. I will pass his suggestion to the Minister for Transport.
-My question is addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the Minister’s course of conduct culminating in the departure from Australia of the young Russian musician, Ermolenko, about 3 weeks ago. I ask: Was the Minister aware of what was said by this young man during his interview on the Monday of that week with the Department of Immigration? Is he aware of statements attributed to the head of the Department of Immigration in Perth that, at that interview, the young man made clear that he wanted to remain in Australia? Has the Minister seen a record of the interview? In any event, will he table in the Senate the record of the interview?
-I have read quite a lot of reports on the Ermolenko case. I do not think that any of them alters what finally happened. During the course of that week a very deliberate attempt was made to get me to move away from the central issue. I have described the central issue several times, particularly in my Press statement. It was that we had to make up our minds what Ermolenko really wanted. I happened to be the person who had to make a decision. There were a lot of other people genuinely interested and a lot who were not genuinely interested. The central issue was that Ermolenko had made 2 decisions and we had to decide which one he really meant. That, of course, took a little time. That is why the matter could not be cleaned up as quickly as it might have been for the benefit of everyone concerned. I certainly could not have been clear in my mind until we found out what the situation was. When the situation was quite clear and, as I pointed out in my Press statement, he had not varied from his statement on the Monday morning, after originally saying on the Sunday night that he wanted to stay, and had repeated what he said on Monday to the people I named and finally on television- there was no alternative left but to see that he was taken out of Australia. The situation then was that we, or more correctly some people, were illegally trying to stop what is the normal arrangement for people travelling into and out of a country. The young man had come here on a cultural exchange, and he expressed his wish to go home and wanted to go home but people were stopping him. Under those circumstances there was only one thing for the Government to do and that was to govern and to get him out of the country and back to where on several occasions he had expressed a wish to go. That is what I did.
-Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order relating to the abuse by the Opposition in relation to the asking of supplementary questions, particularly on the basis that on many occasions Opposition senators claim that they want to ask a supplementary question because their original question has not been answered. There are no provisions in the Standing Orders for supplementary questions. I believe that the precedents which have been established in regard to the asking of such questions are now being abused, Mr President, and I ask for your ruling on this matter.
– The previous incumbent of this chair allowed supplementary questions. I understand that he did so in accordance with the practice in the House of Lords and the House of Commons where questions on notice are subject to supplementary questions for clarification. I would like to give more thought to this matter now that it has been raised. I ask Senator Greenwood to confine his next question to clarification of the answer given by the Minister.
-The question I ask essentially is the question I asked earlier. Was the Minister aware of what took place at the interview between Ermolenko and the officials of the Department of Labor and Immigration? Will he table the record of interview?
-I have answered that question already and I am not going to table the record of interview. As I have said several times, I am not going to have a situation where interdepartmental reports are going to be tabled every time the Opposition wants them tabled. Such a situation would be ridiculous.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a statement which appeared in yesterday’s ‘Australian’ in which it is alleged that a major pharmaceutical company has mounted a massive advertising campaign for an analgesic product called Panaceta? Is it alleged that the advertisements make claims that this analgesic could alleviate sleeplessness and nausea- claims which, according to Dr B. H. Stock, President of the Pharmaceutical Society of South Australia, are quite unfounded? In view of this breach of the present voluntary advertising code, can the Minister advise the Senate when the Australian Government’s new advertising code will be introduced to stop this false and dangerous advertising?
-There is no national law which covers the advertising of pharmaceutical goods. Each State or Territory is responsible for making its own laws within its own areas with regard to these matters.
– There is the Drug Evaluation Committee.
-However, there is a body called the National Therapeutic Goods Committee and there is the Drug Evaluation Committee, as Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has mentioned, although its role is somewhat different in that it considers the nature of drugs but not advertising associated with them. The National Therapeutic Goods Committee consists of representatives from the Federal Government and the State governments. At the meeting of the Australian Ministers for Health, which was held in August of this year, the Ministers agreed to take back to their respective States proposals that had come from the National Therapeutic Goods Committee which called for a uniform code of advertising for pharmaceutical products. This Government is still not aware of the actions which the States intend to take to implement the recommendations of the Health Ministers Conference. However, the Minister for Health in this Government does intend to introduce as soon as possible proposals to control this form of advertising in the Territories under the authority of this Government.
– Is the Minister for Agriculture aware that Australian primary producer organisations, particularly those in Western Australia, are gravely concerned at the continued presence of foreign fishing vessels in Australian waters off the north-west coast?
– You whinged last time when we did something about them.
-Do you want me to reply to your answer a while ago? Is the Minister for Agriculture aware that these organisations fear that foot and mouth disease, which is prevalent in nearby Bali, will reach Australia as a direct result of the Government’s failure to exercise tight control over the fishing fleets? Will the Minister inform the Senate of the action which the Government has taken in these matters and the assistance and advice, if any, which have been offered to the Western Australian Government to alleviate the problem?
-During the last couple of years both Indonesian and Taiwanese vessels have been operating within the declared fishing zone off the Western Australian coast. This has been a matter of concern to fishermen in that State. I was in Western Australia last year on the last occasion when this was a matter of some local concern. The Australian Government, with the co-operation of the Department of Defence especially, took all reasonable steps within its legal limits to apprehend vessels which had in fact breached the declared fishing zone. When I arrived in Perth I found to my astonishment that the Australian Government was the subject of criticism for taking the action which it had. I must confess that I was at a complete loss. I thought that the Western Australia authoritiescertainly the Western Australia fishing interestswould have been glad because of our actions. In fact I saw a report in the Press only yesterday about a statement by fishermen in Western Australia indicating their concern at the continuing presence of the vessels in these areas.
What have we done? As the honourable senator would know, the Australian Government has in fact confiscated 4 Taiwanese vessels which have subsequently been resold.
– Big time!
– That is a rather irrelevent comment to make, because our defence forces and reconnaissance people in this area, in the exercise of their duty, are not expected to use overt force. We try, with the co-operation of the Indonesian Government especially, to persuade governments to direct their fishermen to keep outside our declared fishing zone. That is the sensible way to do it. I hope that this Government, or any future government, will not use any sort of gun-boat philosophy against foreign fishermen who do in fact intrude into our declared fishing zone.
The other pan of the honourable senator’s question referred to the importation of exotic diseases. It is true that a risk would occur if animals were being brought ashore, as some reports have suggested. As far as I and my Department know, there is no evidence of this, and I am quite sure that all the surveillance authorities will make every effort to ensure that it does not happen.
– Is the Minister for Customs and Excise aware that there have been complaints in a Brisbane newspaper that certain canned vegetables imported from Taiwan could be a health risk because they may have been grown in human waste? If so, what action has the Minister taken on these importations? Does his Department exercise continuous controls over the quality of imported foodstuffs?
– Yes, I have seen the newspaper articles. Laboratory tests have been made on some limited samples of canned foodstuffs from Taiwan. This has been done by the Australian Government Analytical Laboratories. These samples were found to be of an acceptable standard. Further tests will be made on foodstuffs, grown under similar conditions, which are imported from Taiwan and other countries. Imported food products generally are referred by the Department of Customs and Excise to the Australian Government Analyst for testing only when there is reason to believe that they present a potential hazard to health. Testing fish for mercury content is one such case. Now there are no national food standards which apply generally to imported or locally produced foods. The setting up and enforcement of such standards has been under study by a number of departments, including the Department of Customs and Excise. The honourable senator will recall that in the legislation which has now become the Trade Practices Act there is provision for product safety standards to be established by regulation, and these standards would have Australia-wide operation.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Treasurer. Under what authority has the Reserve Bank of Australia changed the format of our bank notes by deleting the word ‘Commonwealth’ and amending some of the small print on the notes? Under the Act of the Imperial Parliament which set up the Commonwealth of Australia, it is provided that there shall be one indissoluble Commonwealth of Australia under that title. Is the present Commonwealth Government ashamed of the word Commonwealth’, or is this action part of the Government’s plan further to weaken the power of the States and to centralise all power in Canberra? Will the Government cause the new notes to be withdrawn and have the word ‘Commonwealth’ restored to all future note issues?
-As Senator Mulvihill interjected during the course of the asking of the question, that question could come only from a Queensland senator. I can assure the honourable senator that it will be necessary for me to address the question to the Treasurer in order to obtain an answer.
– My question which is addressed to the Minister for Agriculture refers to the live sheep export trade from South Australia and Western Australia to the Middle East. Has any progress been made in ironing out differences between exporters and unionists which have disrupted this trade in the past?
-Over the last few months there have been considerable problems with the export of live sheep, particularly from Western Australia but also from South Australia, mainly because the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union has objected to the number of live sheep being exported, which reduces the throughput of sheep at the abattoirs in those States. Because the position was becoming rather desperate I recently asked the Chairman of the Australian Meat Board to convene a meeting involving the union, the Western Australian State Minister for Agriculture, who subsequently was represented by the Director-General of Agriculture in Western Australia, and the South Australian Minister for Agriculture. That meeting was held in Sydney yesterday. The result of it is that at least at this stage there will not be a ban on the export of live sheep. I think that in the discussions both sides became aware of factors which possibly they were not aware of earlier. It is the Government’s desire to ensure that markets for our livestock are maintained if at all possible. But we recognise the concern of members of that union whose numbers have been depleted recently as a result of the reduction in the throughput of sheep at the abattoirs. A sub-committee was formed at the meeting yesterday, and I believe that it is to meet again in a fortnight.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport a question relating to the recently announced increases in Australian National Line freight rates. Does the Minister realise that, unless Tasmania receives some special consideration by way of a special subsidy to equalise Tasmanian freight rates with those that exist between States connected by road and rail as was promised by Mr Whitlam during election campaigns, Tasmanian industries could well sink under these continual freight increases, with a consequent detrimental effect on the Government’s decentralisation aims and a worsening of our already bad unemployment situation? Will the Minister insist that the ANL does not implement the latest proposed rises at least until the current Nimmo inquiry is completed?
-I think there has been a distortion of the statement made by the Prime Minister during the election campaign. I recall that he said that we would provide an efficient shipping service to Tasmania. As the honourable senator would know, a number of questions have been raised in regard to this matter.
– It was Senator Murphy who promised to cure Tasmania’s shipping problems.
-You sink the boats as fast as we provide them. As the honourable senator would know, we have increased the amount of money allocated for shipping only to have to rescue ships from the bottom of the ocean on many occasions. If there is a proposal to increase freight charges, I will put the request to the Minister. The Australian National Line is a statutory authority and as such carries on its business on a commercial basis. I am prepared to put the question to the Minister to ascertain whether any proposed increases can be curtailed or delayed until such time as the Nimmo committee report is received.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Agriculture. In view of the alarming shortage of fuel supplies in this country, will the Minister inform the Senate what steps he and the Government are taking to ensure that vital supplies of diesel fuel and gasoline are provided in order to maintain the sugar harvest in Queensland and also the imminent harvesting of that State ‘s wheat crop?
-I do not really think this question comes within my sphere of responsibility. I do not know that I am responsible for the movement of fuel around Australia, even though it does affect agriculture. All I can do is to refer the question to the Minister for Transport who, I imagine, would handle this matter- that is, if he has any power in this matter, and I would even doubt that. Anyway, I will refer the matter to the Minister for Transport.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral give an indication of when country mail services in New South Wales will return to normal after the disruption caused by the shortage of fuel?
– There has been some disruption. I can advise the honourable senator that following upon my instructions senior officers of my Department looked into the matter. The problem has been cured by the railways themselves operating normal services as from last Sunday.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the Government’s stated intention of providing $20m or more a month for unemployment relief and in view of the immense flood damage, particularly to roads and bridges in the Lachlan,
Murray, Mumimbidgee, Macquarie and other river valleys in New South Wales, I ask: Will this money be available to local government bodies to help speed their mammoth and urgent task of repair? If so, how soon can the money be obtained and by what manner of application? Is the Minister aware that regretfully a significant element of unemployment is present in these areas and would provide the additional work force that would be needed?
– I think it is well known that the Government has plans to introduce relief measures in areas where unemployment has become a problem. The Government, I think mainly through the Department of Labor and Immigration, has been in close contact with various municipal bodies throughout Australia. It has received a large number of submissions from those bodies on projects which could be usefully undertaken in those areas. Probably today or tomorrow the Prime Minister will be making a statement on this very matter. The details of that statement I think will generally answer the question which the honourable senator has raised.
– I ask the Minister for the Media: Has the Department of the Media completed its survey of television and audio visual equipment available in schools throughout Australia? If so, can the Minister indicate the results of this survey? Will these results be made public? When does the Minister anticipate that he and his colleague the Minister for Education will be able to meet State Ministers for Education to discuss plans for the development of television and audio visual systems in Australian schools?
– I assume that the honourable senator is referring to the survey being undertaken by my Department in conjunction with the Australian Department of Education to ascertain the availability in schools of film, television and audio visual facilities. The project was undertaken by my Department in conjunction with the Australian Department of Education earlier this year. To date there has been about an 86 per cent response to the questionnaires which were sent out to practically every secondary school in Australia. We are hoping to get an almost 100 per cent response. I am given to understand that the first results of the survey are expected to be available at the end of this month. When those results are available I certainly shall discuss with my colleague the Minister for Education the question raised by the honourable senator about making the results public. As far as the conference with State Ministers of Education on the subject of educational broadcasting is concerned, we had tentatively made arrangements earlier this year for a conference to be held, I think, early in May. Because of the double dissolution and the general election which occurred at that time that conference had to be temporarily suspended. My colleague Mr Beazley and I are now negotiating with one another and with the States for the purpose of arranging another suitable date. Hopefully that will be about the middle or the end of November.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Media. Is an inquiry being held into the future administration of Radio Australia? If so, what are the terms of reference? Is it possible that Radio Australia could cease to be administered by the Australian Broadcasting Commission? What alternative structure is being contemplated? Is there a proposition that Radio Australia may become part of the Department of the Media or of the Department of Foreign Affairs? Will the Minister give an assurance that nothing will be done to impinge on the integrity and independence of this highly respected overseas broadcasting service? Is the Minister aware that journalists employed by Radio Australia fear that the independence and impartiality of the overseas news service could be jeopardised by administrative changes?
-Some time ago- I think about 12 months ago- the Prime Minister in his then capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs and I, along with my colleague the present Minister for Foreign Affairs who was then Special Minister of State, had discussions about the future of Radio Australia. As a result of those discussions I was requested to hold talks with officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Public Service Board, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Australian Information Service and of my own Department to obtain a more effective projection of Radio Australia, not with the idea of suppressing it in any way but with the idea of boosting it. At that time suggestions had been made that Radio Australia should be given complete independence and autonomy and not be subject to the control of the Australian Broadcasting Commission under whose jurisdiction it had been for some time. The long and short of the discussions is that they eventuated into a committee consisting of officers of the Australian
Broadcasting Commission, the Public Service Board and my Department conducting a survey into the overall effectiveness of Radio Australia. That committee was recently established. It is conducting its inquiry and I am told that the inquiry will take some time. I can assure the honourable senator that so far as I am aware no intention has been stated by anyone at this stage that Radio Australia should be removed from the area of control of the ABC into the area of control of my Department. But there is generally an inquiry into the overall effectiveness of the organisation and it is being looked at.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing and Construction. Has the Minister seen Press reports of a recent television interview in which the Managing Director of the Mainline Corporation, Mr Baker, claimed that Government Ministers, including the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs actively promoted the demise of that company? Is that a fair assertion? Did, in fact, the Government cold-bloodedly determine that Mainline should not survive? Did the Government actually assist in bringing Mainline down? Were the former employees of the Mainline Corporation left out on a limb or were steps taken to protect their interests?
-I have seen the allegations. I think that to reply to this question possibly it is necessary for me to speak on 2 lines. Firstly, I should speak on behalf of the Minister for Housing and Construction, whom I represent in the Senate, upon what he may have thought on the question and upon what he and the Government did, and secondly, as I have been mentioned in the question, I should speak upon what my actions were in the particular activities. I say at the outset that it is very unfair to say what has been said about the activities at the governmental level, the activities of the Ministers who have been mentioned and their officials who worked around the clock in an attempt to’ prop up the Mainline Corporation when its possible collapse was made known. I am dealing now with the construction side of the Corporation’s operations. There was also the development side of its activities.
The Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Housing and Construction, as well as the Prime Minister, have had long discussions on this question. At one stage it was hoped that a proposition that had been put to them could be developed in order to prop up the company. This was when a management committee was formed to back up the company which needed substantial cash for the purpose of carrying on. I think that the proposal was that the managing company would put in some cash and the Government was to inject 2 lots of cash. This money would be used to pay the debts owing to subcontractors and also to meet the losses of the managing company in continuing with the business. Of course, this involved an open-ended cheque which was too much for the Government which, not knowing the company’s commitments, could never agree to the proposal. But the extent of the desire of the Government to assist the company and its employees resulted in the Prime Minister making a statement that the Government was prepared to assist the company to the extent of some $7m to pay the subcontractors to whom money was owing.
At no stage would I say that it was possible to get the facts from the receiver who apparently could not get the facts himself. The company is in so big a mess that it has not been possible to ascertain the extent of its liabilities at the present time. The company was engaged in some construction at an interest rate between 1 Vi per cent and 2 per cent and was obtaining money for development work and building construction. The development work flopped and the company lost as a consequence. Those are the activities of the Government, which has done everything possible to assist this company. I do not know from where Mr Baker got the information. I cannot recall ever making a statement on my attitude to the company. My personal feelingand I have discussed it with several- is that at no time would I favour the Australian Government’s money going into Mainline for the purpose of high rise development for the Australian Mutual Provident Society and other insurance companies especially at a time when we cannot meet our housing commitments because of the shortage of building materials and manpower for housing construction, they being utilised to build office space which will remain vacant for a number of years.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy: Is it a fact that Australia has reserves of only approximately one week’s supply of petrol and only a few days’ supply of dieseline. If so, what steps is the Minister or the Government taking to alleviate the present dangerous national shortage of reserves of petrol and oil?
-I will have to refer that question to the Minister for Minerals and Energy to obtain an answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise and I refer to recent Press reports on the gaoling of 2 persons for 8 years for importing a substantial quantity of heroin into this country. As this seems a heavy sentence, is it a fact that the courts now have a different evaluation of such crimes or was the sentence a result of other factors of which we are not aware?
-The importation and distribution of heroin are, of course, extremely serious offences. I can inform the Senate that the courts are starting to take a more serious view of them than they did. I have given directions very recently, and they were followed in the case to which the honourable senator refers, that where a case involves a large quantity of heroin, as did this one where I think the quantity was a pound and a quarter- I am given to understand that this is enough for 17,000 doses- the case should be treated extremely seriously by the Commonwealth. I have instructed that even on a plea of guilty the Crown should be represented by senior counsel, or at least extremely experienced counsel, and that evidence should in appropriate cases, of which this was one, be put before the court to inform it of the dangers of heroin and of the prevalence of such crimes. In this case a pharmacologist of repute was called and also an expert witness on the prevalence of the crime in the community.
I think the community generally will be pleased to see that, along with perhaps a more sensible attitude towards marihuana, equally a more sensible attitude is being taken by the courts in dealing with the hard drugs by regarding such offences as extremely serious crimes against the community. If I may have the indulgence of the Senate, I may say that I am considering amendments to the legislation which would very much increase the penalties for hard drug offences. We know that views differ on the other drugs but I tend to the view that it is ridiculous to have the same range of penalties for marihuana as for the extremely hard drugs. I think this has helped to confuse the position in the minds of the community and especially the young people who ought to have brought home to them what a vast difference there is between the 2 types of drugs. I see no reason why the penalties for, say, heroin in the worst cases should not be up to 25 years, with very much heavier financial penalties -
– What do they get for trafficking, though?
-I am talking about the worst cases and about the forfeiture of all assets of those who are party to trafficking in the hardest of drugs.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labor and Immigration. I refer to complaints made by private employment agencies operating in new and growing outer suburbs of Melbourne about the refusal of officers of Commonwealth migrant hostels to facilitate or even to allow such agencies to bring to the notice of migrants avenues for suitable employment and particular known vacancies. In view of the serious current employment situation I ask: Are such hostel officers acting under departmental instructions in refusing that co-operation? Does the Government resent the operation of private agencies in the employment field? Are not newcomers to this country entitled to all the information possible in regard to employment and housing from both government and private sources?
-This is the first time I have heard the case related by the honourable senator. I will make inquiries of the Minister. If the honourable senator has any particular information relating to the location of such cases I would be glad if he would pass it on to me so that I can ask the Minister about it.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, refers to the Australian Government’s recognition of the republic of Guinea Bissau. Does this recognition also constitute recognition of the claim of Guinea Bissau to the Cape Verde Islands?
-No. The Government is not prejudging the situation in relation to the Cape Verde Islands. It believes that this is a matter to be worked out by Portugal in the future in conformity with the United Nations resolution on self-determination and independence. On 26 August Portugal assigned total independence to Guinea Bissau. The documents contained a specific clause to the effect that the Cape Verde Islands position would be looked after at a later date in accordance with the principles of the United Nations. In recognising that fact and also in supporting Guinea Bissau’s admission to the United Nations the Government is not prejudging the issue.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence inform the Senate whether it is a fact that the Australian Government plans to drop the prefix ‘HMAS’ from the names of our warships?
-I think that the honourable senator is probably dreaming up the proposition but I will refer the question to the Minister for an answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. It refers to the following statement of the Treasurer in the Budget speech 1973-74:
Overall the Budget is likely to keep the economy growing strongly.
I ask: Are the current record rate of inflation, the seriously rising unemployment, the negative productivity and the virtual collapse of capital investment indications of an economy growing strongly, or rather of an economy approaching a crisis? Is the current economic situation not clear evidence of the abject failure of the Government’s Budget strategy?
– In respect of the part of the question dealing with capital investment let me say that the latest figures I have seen only today show that in the last quarter the fixed capital investment in this country increased over die previous quarter. In the Budget papers which will be presented tonight the honourable senator will have ample opportunity to see that the economy is in nothing like the state that he suggests. I do not think it is appropriate for me to elaborate. If the honourable senator wants any further information on this matter I will obtain a detailed answer from the Treasurer.
– I ask the Minister for Agriculture: Is the immediate future of the timber industry in Tasmania at risk as a result of the Government’s credit squeeze and its effect upon housing construction? Does the Minister share the concern of all the Liberal senators from Tasmania for the future of the timber, textile, and other industries in Tasmania? These industries have been afflicted by the combined results of the total failure of the Government’s economic policies, together with the Government’s apparent lack of concern to take any positive steps to overcome Tasmania’s trade strangulation which has resulted from shipping and air transport strikes, delays and particularly cost increases.
– The question is in several parts but I think it is best answered in a general way by indicating that Tasmania in this last financial year, like all the other States, will receive greater payments from the Australian Government than any State has received in the past. In so far as the critical area of transport is concerned, one of the first steps that this Government took was to provide a $3m subsidy for Tasmanian shipping services. It is the first time that any such step has been taken. Currently, we are awaiting the result of an inquiry into that particular aspect of Tasmania’s problems. I do not think there is any foundation for the assertions made in the honourable senator’s question. Basically the timber industry is strong in Tasmania. As far as I am aware the level of exports has certainly not declined and the timber industry is one of the major export earners in Tasmania. There probably has been some reduction in domestic demand for timber because of a slight decline in the rate of housing construction- but that would be all.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence: What loss of employment is projected at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory over the next 12 months? Is there likely to be a downturn in employment at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory with the winding down of the 7.62mm rifle project? Will the Government give an undertaking to the people of Lithgow that there will be no unemployment in that town as a result of Government retrenchments from the Small Arms Factory?
-I think the honourable senator’s question warrants a detailed answer. I will obtain the particulars for him.
– My question is directed to the Manager of Government Business in the Senate. I refer to discussions we have had over the restoration of pairs in this chamber. I ask: Is the Minister in a position to state that, if the Opposition agrees to the restoration of pairs under the normal arrangements between Whips, a pair once granted will not be cancelled?
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLAND. Following the discussions that I- in my capacity as Manager of Government Business in the
Senate- have had with the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of the Australian Country Party and the Whips in this chamber, I discussed the matter yesterday with my colleague, the Leader of the Government in the Senate and also my other Government Senate colleagues. I can now advise the Leader of the Opposition and the Senate that as from today the Government will agree to pairs being arranged officially between the Whips. The machinery for the arranging of the pairs will be the responsibility of the Whips. Pair arrangements that are agreed to by the Whips will be recognised by me in my capacity as Manager of Government Business in the Senate. I sincerely trust, as I am sure all members of the Senate do, that an effective working arrangement for pairs can now be attended to.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is it correct, as claimed by Mr Tonkin the Leader of the Opposition in Western Australia, that he suggested to the Minister that Ermolenko should go down and stay with Dr Leigh Cook and that the Minister replied: ‘I am in no hurry to get him out of the country and there is no reason why he should not stay here for a week*? Is it also correct that the Minister told Mr Tonkin- these are Mr Tonkin’s words- that he very definitely would not use Royal Australian Air Force aircraft and that Ermolenko would leave Australia on a commercial flight? Did Mr Tonkin tell the MinisterI quote from a transcript of a conversation between Mr Tonkin and an interviewer- ‘Well now, I was not completely satisfied in my mind as to the reason why this young fellow changed his mind’?
-I received a letter from Mr Tonkin. This was the first time I knew that he had any worries about the subject. He wrote to me and I replied to him a few days ago. He said in the letter that he wanted to explain an article which had appeared. He seemed aggrieved in that he had been misrepresented very badly. Regarding his conversation with Ermolenko, he made the point that one can never be absolutely certain when talking to anyone, particularly under these circumstances, whether what the person is saying is completely genuine. However, there is no doubt that at the time Mr Tonkin spoke to me, and also to the officers of my Department, he told me quite unequivocally that Ermolenko had said that he wanted to return. He was quite certain that this was what Ermolenko genuinely wanted. Mr Tonkin says that when one is talking to anybody it is difficult to know exactly what that person is thinking. Of course, as I have mentioned in my statement, this was one, and only one, of the pieces of evidence I took into consideration in making my decision.
It is suggested that Mr Tonkin said to me: ‘I hear that you will be using RAAF aircraft’. I do not remember the words exactly- either he raised the matter or I raised it- but at that stage I had no such intention and I was not going to be hurried. Had I wanted to hurry I could have sent Ermolenko out on the Monday night. The whole purpose of giving Ermolenko time was to make clear to myself and to other people who were interested that he was not going to suffer a relapse and go back to his original idea. At that stage, as I told Mr Tonkin in my letter, I had no intention whatever of hurrying this matter or of sending Ermolenko out of Australia. On the Thursday morning, although I had positioned the plane on the Wednesday night, I still had not given any instructions that the plane was to be used. I was informed in the morning, from the best industrial advice that I could get- I assure the Senate that it was the best in Western Australiathat there seemed to be no chance of the Federated Clerks Union lifting its ban. It seemed impossible to get the people involved in the Federated Clerks Union to hold a meeting. The secretary was refusing to hold a meeting. As honourable senators know, when a meeting finally was held they lifted the ban. At the time of the lifting of the ban I already had Ermolenko at Pearce, the RAAF aerodrome, and the others were about to leave or were on their way. I decided to go on with that course because, as honourable senators well know, the mobs that were gathering each night at the airport did constitute a danger. The airline people themselves were worried about the situation because of threats. At that stage, the matter having gone so far- I was clear in my mind that Mr Ermolenko should be allowed to leave Australia and that he was being unlawfully held up- I decided to use the RAAF aircraft. Had I been assured in the morning or the night before that the ban would be lifted the result might have been different. That is how far along the line I was at that stage and that is why I proceeded.
– Is the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs aware that finance has been requested by the National Council of Aboriginal and Island Women for the payment of rental for the headquarters of the Council which is presently at 99
King Street, Melbourne, a building called Aboriginal House? Finance was first allocated to the Council by the Victorian State Government but, following the assumption by the Commonwealth Government of control of Aboriginal affairs, the Council has been waiting to hear whether it can continue to operate from that building and whether finance will continue to be available, as it would have been under the Victorian Government’s control. Is the Minister aware of the concern of the National Council at the failure of the Commonwealth Government to provide an answer and let it know what the future position will be? When will the Minister provide finance for the Council’s headquarters so that it can continue to perform its very necessary role without the fear of being unable to have a permanent place from which to operate?
– In my position as Minister I receive many applications from the National Council of Aboriginal and Island Women for financial assistance. Many of them we meet, such as for the calling of its annual conference. I cannot recall receiving an application for the payment of moneys for rent. Of course, it may well be in the pipeline being processed, if it has been submitted. I do not see the reason for asking why the Council cannot receive what was previously paid by the Victorian Government. The position in Victoria is exactly the same as the position in other States. We have not taken over Aboriginal affairs at this stage in Victoria. If it is the practice of the Victorian Government to pay this money, the fault, if there is any, is not on the part of this Government. But I shall look into the question. I think the honourable senator will find that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Council of Women, through its Secretary, Mr Briggs, is especially thankful for the Australian Government’s contributions to the organisation.
-Has the Minister representing the Treasurer seen reports of statements by the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia that hundreds of South Australians living on the River Murray will be faced with a time bomb in approximately 4 weeks’ time? Has the Government made any inquiries regarding the financial implications of the developing crisis in South Australia’s River Murray flood area? Will the Government make available financial and technical services to assist in meeting the flood crisis?
– I have no knowledge of the matter raised by Senator Davidson. I shall refer it to the Treasurer.
(Question No. 139)
1 ) How many doctors have applied for the 27 salaried full-time positions at the Canberra hospitals, for which applications closed on 1 August 1974.
How many of the applicants were Australian expatriate doctors.
3 ) How many were English doctors.
How many were other nationalities and what were these nationalities.
How many of the doctors are (a) under 30 years of age (b) between 30 and 40 years of age and (c) above 40 years of age for each of the national sub-groups.
When will selections be made for the positions.
How many applications for positions were received from doctors resident in the Australian Capital Territory.
I refer the honourable senator to the reply provided in answer to question No. 142.
– Pursuant to section 22 of the Public Service Act 1922-1973, I present the annual report of the Public Service Board for the year ended 30 June 1974.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report on the Administration of Papua New Guinea for the year ended 30 June 1973.
NUCLEAR TESTS CASE AUSTRALIA v. FRANCE
Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) For the information of honourable senators I table the following 2 documents relating to the proceedings by Australia against France in the International Court of Justice concerning the prohibition of further atmospheric nuclear tests at the French Pacific Test Centre. The documents are: (a) Firstly, the written pleadings (known as the Memorial) filed by Australia with the International Court on the questions of jurisdiction and the admissibility of the Australian application instituting the proceedings; and (b) Secondly, the verbatim record of the oral arguments presented by the Government of Australia on these questions at public hearings held by the International Court at The Hague on 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 1 1 July 1974.
– Pursuant to section 25 of the Grants Commission Act 1973 I present for the information of honourable senators the first report- 1974- of the Grants Commission on financial assistance to local government.
– Pursuant to section 18 (1) of the Dried Fruits Research Act 197 1, 1 present for the information of honourable senators the interim third annual report of the Dried Fruits Research Committee for the year ended 30 June 1974.
Senator WHEELDON (Western AustraliaMinister for Repatriation and Compensation)For the information of honourable senators I present the following reports prepared by the working party on medical and surgical aids and appliances entitled: ‘Provision Of Stoma Appliances To All Who Need Them ‘ and ‘Provision Of Dialysis Equipment And Supplies For Home Dialysis’.
Senator WHEELDON (Western AustraliaMinister for Repatriation and Compensation)Pursuant to section 16 of the Social Welfare Commission Act 1973 I present for the information of honourable senators a report by the Australian Government Social Welfare Commission entitled-Project Care: Children, Parents and Community’.
Senator BISHOP (South AustraliaPostmasterGeneral) Pursuant to section 147 of the Defence Act 1903-1970, I present for the information of honourable senators the annual report of the Royal Military College of Australia for the period 1 February 1973 to 31 January 1974.
Senator BISHOP (South AustraliaPostmasterGeneral) For the information of honourable senators I present the following reports prepared by the Immigration Advisory Council entitled: ‘Committee on Community Relations: Interim Report- August 1974’ and Committee on Social Patterns: A Study of Older Migrants, Interim Report- June 1974’.
– I ask for leave to table the report from the Australian Delegation to the InterParliamentary Council meetings in Geneva last year.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-For the information of honourable senators I lay upon the table the report of the Australian Delegation to the 113th Session of the InterParliamentary Council held in Geneva from 22 to 26 October 1973.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill 1 974. States Grants ( Urban Public Transport) Bill 1 974. Urban Public Transport (Research and Planning) Bill 1974.
Prices Justification Bill 1974. Public Works Committee Bill 1974. Marginal Dairy Farms Agreements Bill 1974. Transport (Planning and Research) Bill 1 974. Trade Practices Bill 1974.
– Order! In accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Banks Act, I lay on the table the annual reports and financial statements of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, the Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia, the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia and the Commonwealth
Development Bank of Australia, together with the Auditor-General’s reports thereon, for the year 1973-74.
– Order! I lay on the table the report of the Reserve Bank Board on the operations of the Reserve Bank of Australia, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General thereon, for the year ended 30 June 1974.
- Mr President, I ask for leave to give 2 notices of motion relating to leave to introduce Bills.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Service and Execution of Process Act
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Service and Execution of Process Act 1 90 1 -73.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to members of the Public Service and the defence forces who become candidates for election to the Legislative Assembly for the Northern Territory and similar bodies for other Territories and for related purposes.
Motion (by Senator Durack) agreed to:
That business of the Senate, Notice of Motion No. 1, standing in the name of Senator Durack and relating to the disallowance of certain regulations, be postponed until Thursday, 19 September 1974.
– by leave- I move:
I indicate in quick elaboration that the Government has a pretty heavy legislative program in this present sessional period. I do not know how long it will be before the Government will be requesting a variation to the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate at 5 p.m. on Thursdays. But if a request to extend the hours of sittings on Thursdays is made and if it is acceded to by the Senate, we would assume that General Business would take precedence of Government Business after 8 p.m. on Thursdays.
– The Opposition does not oppose the motion. As I have said in this chamber previously, if the Government wants to sit longer we will do our best to cooperate with it. If the Government has a heavy legislative program we only hope that we will get the Bills in time to enable us to give them proper consideration before they are dealt with in the Senate. I know that one of the troubles between the 2 Houses of the Parliament perhaps since 1901 has been that there always seems to be a legislative logjam in this place. Often Bills do not come quickly enough from the other place. We also realise that shortly the Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Douglas McClelland) may well want to devote the whole of Thursday afternoons to Government Business. If that happens, that will be fair enough. We will just have to sit on Thursday nights in order to deal with General Business. As I have said, we do not oppose the motion.
- Mr President, I seek leave to amend the motion. I am told that there is a typographical error and that I read out that unless otherwise ordered the meeting of the Senate shall be half past 1 1 a.m. on Tuesdays. In fact, it should be 1 1 a.m.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) by leave- I move:
The Chairman of the Committee has discussed the matter with me. He has indicated the progress which the Committee has made. It seems to me reasonable that this extension ought to be granted. The date for presenting the report was fixed for 18 September, which would be tomorrow, but I think that it would be helpful in the consideration of the Bill if the Committee were to continue in the way in which it has been operating.
-Perhaps because of the reasonableness of the persons who constitute the Committee.
– I thought that you would consider it as frustration, seeing that you had it in for so long.
-I will answer the honourable senator by saying that the reference to the Committee was framed specially not to impede the progress of the Bill. If the honourable senator refers to the previous motion and to this motion he will see that they refer to the clauses of the Bill and not to the Bill itself. This present motion is perfectly consistent with the debate on the second reading of the Bill proceeding because the Bill has not been referred; it has merely been the clauses that have been referred. So it cannot be said that consideration of the clauses by the Committee is preventing consideration of the Bill by the Senate.
– If you hold up the clauses it is all right?
-No, it is not holding up anything. Consistently with this motion the Senate could engage upon a discussion of the Bill and, if it so wished, pass the whole Bill. There is nothing to stop the Senate proceeding with its consideration of the Bill. Indeed, I might discuss this matter with other people. It might well be that the principle of the BUI could be discussed by the Senate as soon as a convenient opportunity arose, even before the presentation of the Committee’s report. I hope that sufficiently answers what Senator Webster raised. I request the Senate to agree to this motion.
– The Opposition does not oppose this motion. The Opposition members of the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs have informed me that it is a sensible proposal. An extension of the time for this Committee to meet will mean that the members of the Committee will be able to make certain that their colleagues are better informed on the provision in the Bill. I think it is a very sensible way of handling this Bill, which to many of the non-lawyer members of the Senate is a very complex piece of legislation. The better informed we are, the better we will be able to exercise a free vote on it.
– I should like to speak briefly on this motion and to make a suggestion which probably would have to be considered by the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, of which I am a member. In a way it may be unnecessary to raise it in this place. However, I wish to take up the point which Senator Murphy made. He said that the Senate may be invited to proceed to debate the second reading of the Bill before 17 October when presumably this Committee will present its report on the clauses of the Family Law Bill. I think that before the Senate embarks upon a second reading debate on this Bill it would be most important for members of the Senate to have the advantage of being able to read, if they wish, the major submissions that have been put to this Committee over the last 3 years or so. I am not certain of the time, but it was certainly over 2 years ago that the Committee started to take evidence in public. Senator Murphy and Senator Withers were both members of the Committee at the time that very valuable submissions were presented by Mr Ray Watson, Q.C., from the New South Wales Bar, and also by Mr Justice Selby. Many most important submissions were put to the Committee. As I understand the Standing Orders of the Senate, these submissions are really still under wraps, so to speak. Although they are contained in the transcript of the Committee proceedings, I do not know to what extent they are available to the public.
There is just one other aspect, and that is that a number of submissions have not been the subject of a public hearing and the Committee may well have to go through them and select a number of them for presentation. Essentially, the point I am making is that perhaps it would be better to consider the matter instead of rushing something through at the moment. I think the major submissions selected by the Committee should be made available publicly to the Senate so that honourable senators may have an opportunity to read them before the second reading debate takes place.
– Perhaps I could add something on this. Senator Durack actually spoke to me this morning about the matter which he has now raised. In my capacity as Chairman of the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, I immediately set in train the preparation of an interim report from the Committee on what has happened in respect of the general reference. I understand from the Secretary of the Committee that this interim report is in an advanced stage and will be circulated- if it has not already been circulated- to members of the Committee this afternoon. It was my intention to suggest that the Hansard report of the Committee proceedings, containing all of the evidence and submissions to which Senator Durack has referred, should be annexed to this interim report. In that way the Senate, in debating the second reading of the Family Law Bill, would have the advantage of the matter which has been considered by the Committee up to date on the general philosophy of matrimonial causes legislation. The Hansard record would not include the evidence which we took only last week in Melbourne from a couple of experts including Mr Watson, Q.C., who has been referred to, because that is a separate transcript. I see no objection to that being included. On reflection perhaps there is an objection, seeing that this goes to the specific examination of the clauses of the Bill. So perhaps the latest Hansard record of the proceedings should not be included in the interim report. But I suggest that the Hansard record of the deliberations and evidence taken by the Committee with respect to the general reference relating to matrimonial causes should be available to the Senate when this matter is being debated at the second reading stage.
– in reply- I think the suggestion is a wise one. It seems incongruous that the Senate should not have access to documents when in some cases the evidence has been printed in the daily Press. I think there is power under the Parliamentary Papers Act or the Standing Orders of the Senate for the Committee to make documents public by its own order. But in order to make the position clear I propose on the resolution of this motion to seek leave to move a motion to enable the Committee to present an interim report and also- if it is not already covered- to give the Committee power to table any of the evidence or documents which have been put before it. The Committee may use its own discretion in that regard.
I take the opportunity also to inform the Senate that I have taken note of the proposal that the Family Court, which under the Bill is included in the Superior Court, be taken out of that Court and that a separate Family Court be established.
I propose to put before the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs some clauses which would achieve that objective so that it may also advise the Senate on that matter.
– Does that mean that there will be subsequent amendments to the existing Bill? You are talking about a separate court.
-Yes, there would be at least an alternative proposal put before the Senate. It should not be very difficult to provide for a Family Court outside the structure of the Superior Court. It was proposed, in effect, to have it inside the structure of the Superior Court. This could be put at least as an alternative by those who took that view. Perhaps the question will be resolved before we get to the Family Law BUI. One cannot foretell the fate- good or bad- of the Superior Court Bill. We may be able to do it in the way that has been suggested. I ask that the Standing Committee be given the opportunity to continue for this short period which has been proposed. I indicate that when this question is resolved I will move that consequential motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) by leave- I move:
I understand that it is empowered by its charter to present interim reports, so there is no need to refer to that.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I ask for leave to move forthwith the motion, notice of which I gave this day relating to the restoration to the notice paper of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1 974.
-Is leave granted? There being no dissent, leave is granted.
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) agreed to:
That the order of the day for the second reading of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1974 be restored to the notice paper and that it be an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
– I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
– What is it about?
– It relates to a newspaper article which appeared 4 days after the Senate last rose.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– In the Australian Financial Review’ dated 20 August 1974, 4 days after the last sitting of the Senate, an article appeared on page 1 headed ‘Senate Committees Left to Wither’. The article dealt with the failure of the Senate in the last sessional period to reconstitute 6 of its standing committees, as well as several of its select committees. The article was written by one Brian Toohey. Among other things he said:
The most politically sensitive of the committees still in abeyance is on Arts, Education and Science which, under the chairmanship of Senator James McClelland, has been conducting a wide-ranging inquiry into television and radio in Australia.
The Committee is widely regarded as a thorn in the side of the Media Department and its Minister, Senator Doug McClelland, as well as the broadcasting industry.
Mr Toohey then went on to state:
After the double dissolution Senator Doug McClelland was made Minister in charge of Government Business in the Senate.
Within this context the obvious implication is that in my capacity as Manager of Government Business in the Senate, conjointly with my responsibility as Minister for the Media, I was responsible for delaying the reconstitution of the Senate standing committees, especially the Committee on Education, Science and the Arts and thereby ignored my responsibility to the Senate. Normally, Mr President, I would believe that an allegation of this kind should be treated with the contempt that it deserves and that it should be ignored. However, as Manager of Government Business in the Senate I state categorically that any inference or imputation contained in the article written by Mr Toohey is quite false. I believe the article has been deliberately designed to mislead and misrepresent. The writer of the article at no time attempted to contact me about his innuendo or inference and I am told that he did not contact any member of my staff in order to ascertain the facts involved in the delay in reconstituting Senate standing committees
I am given to understand from my conversations with those who are directly involved in arrangements about the conduct of business in the Senate that the writer did not contact any of those people. I am quite certain, for instance, that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy), the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Withers) and the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate (Senator Drake-Brockman) will confirm that at no stage were they contacted by Mr Toohey before he wrote the article. I am sure that they will confirm that it was not I who was responsible in the last sessional period for the failure of the Senate to reconstitute the Senate standing committees, the subject of the article referred to.
– I have to inform the Senate that on 22 August I received letters from the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) nominating the following senators for membership on the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs: Senator Button, Senator Chaney, Senator Durack, Senator Everett, Senator James McClelland and Senator Missen. In accordance with the resolution of the Senate of 1 6 August the honourable senators nominated are appointed members on and from 22 August.
Message received from House of Representatives intimating that it agreed to the amendments made by the Senate to this Bill.
Message received from the House of Representatives:
The House of Representatives returns to the Senate the Bill intituled ‘A Bill for an Act to grant financial assistance to the States in relation to roads other than national roads’, and acquaints the Senate that the House of Representatives has agreed to amendments Nos 2, 3, 4, S, 6 and 7 made by the Senate and has disagreed to amendments Nos I and 8, but in place thereof has made the amendments indicated by the annexed schedule and has made an amendment to clause 3 relevant to the amendments of the Senate as indicated by the said schedule.
The House of Representatives desires the reconsideration of the Bill by the Senate in respect of the amendments disagreed to and the concurrence of the Senate in the amendments made by the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Cavanagh) agreed to:
That the message be taken into consideration in the Committee of the Whole forthwith.
-I am advised by the Clerk that the schedule in relation to the Roads Grants Bill as contained in message No. 62 has been circulated to all honourable senators.
No. 1- In clause 4, leave out sub-clause ( 1 ).
Amendment disagreed to, but, in place thereof, the following amendment made:
In clause 4, sub-clause ( 1 ), after ‘may,’ (second occurring) insert ‘if the notice relates to a program of projects by way of the construction of urban arterial roads, ‘.
No. 8- Leave out clause 1 1.
Amendment disagreed to, but, in place thereof, the following amendments made:
In clause 3, at the end of the definition of ‘urban arterial road’ add the words ‘, being a road that is, or a proposed road that, if constructed, would be, a Class 6 road or a Class 7 road according to the Functional Classification of Roads included in the Report on Roads in Australia 1973 prepared by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads’.
– I move:
That the Committee does not insist on the amendments disagreed to by the House of Representatives and agrees to the amendments made by the House of Representatives in place thereof and that the amendent made by the House of Representatives to clause 3 be agreed to.
I think there is agreement on this matter. The House of Representatives has agreed to amen.dents Nos 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 to the Roads Grants Bill which were passed by the Senate but it has disagreed to amendments Nos 1 and 8. In place thereof it has made the amendments which are indicated in the paper which has been distributed. There was an alteration to clause 3 of the Bill. The Government took the view that we should amend clauses 4 and 1 1 which relate to the Minister’s power to require State governments and local authorities to submit for approval programs financed from their own resources. The amendment relates to arterial roads which are dealt with in clause 6. 1 believe that these matters have been agreed to. I have moved that we do not insist on our amendments.
– The Opposition will support the motion which has been moved by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh). As he has said, quite correctly, we have had the opportunity of looking at the way in which the House of Representatives has considered the amendments made to the Road Grants Bill by the Senate. I think we moved these amendments on our last day of sitting which was 16 August. The House of Representatives then dealt with the Bill at its special sitting on 23 August. Broadly speaking, the stand which the Opposition in the Senate took- and which obtained the support of Senator Hall- and by which the amendments were passed through. the Senate has been entirely vindicated as is shown by the amendments which have come back to us from the House of Representatives. The Committee will recall that we took the stand in the Senate that it was quite improper that a Bill granting funds to the States for road purposes should include a general power under which the Federal Minister for Transport not only would be able to dictate to the States the way in which that Federal money was to be spent by the States and local authorities but he would be empowered by the Bill, as it came before this chamber, to dictate to the State governments and to the local authorities the way in which they would be able to spend their money on roads as well.
We have heard the old story- it even started again today during question time- about the Senate obstructing this Bill and that Bill and so forth. But the fact of the matter is that in relation to this Bill the Opposition in the Senate has acted entirely in accordance with its role as a House of Review and as a House which is representative of the interests of State governments and local authorities in this nation. That was the basis of the stand we took. As I said, the House of Representatives has accepted broadly our amendments except in respect of one matter only. That is, at still seeks to retain the right for the Federal Minister of Transport to control the expenditure of money by State and local authorities on urban arterial roads. The Minister for Transport in the House of Representatives explained that the only reason he wishes to have that power is that he wishes to be able to control the construction of freeways in the cities of Australia.
We were not particularly satisfied that the definition of urban arterial roads, as it was stated in the Bill, was sufficient to restrict that power of the Minister. That is why there has been an additional amendment to clause 3 of the Bill which is included in the Minister’s amendment before the Committee. That amendment confines the definition of an urban arterial road to a road or a proposed road which, if constructed, would be a class 6 road or a class 7 road according to the functional classifications of roads included in the Report on Roads in Australia prepared by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. For the information of the Committee, I would like to read the definitions of class 6 and 7 roads because they clearly indicate the limitations placed on the power of the Minister in respect to urban arterial roads. Class 6 includes those roads whose main function is to perform the principal avenue of communication for massive traffic movements. Clearly, this is the freeway concept. Class 7 roads are those roads, not being class 6, whose main function is to supplement the class 6 roads in providing for traffic movements or which distribute traffic to local street systems. Of course, these would be roads which are ancillary to freeways.
It is quite clear therefore that with the limitations that have been placed on the Minister’s power, as contained now in the totality of these amendments, the only power which will be exercised by the Minister will be power in respect of freeways or the roads which are ancillary to them. The Bill will impose no restrictions really on the power of local authorities, whether they be rural or urban local authorities, because, as local authorities, they will not be engaged in the construction of these classes of roads, the definitions of which I have just quoted from the report of the Bureau of Roads. Therefore, as I have said, we believe that the stand we took was justified and the flow of further centralist powers to the Commonwealth Government, as these Bills originally provided, has been arrested. Local authorities in particular and State governments, apart from freeway development work, will be perfectly free to spend their own monies in the way they like.
But I cannot let this matter pass without referring again to the way in which the Government sought to treat the Senate in relation to this matter. I will quote again, as I quoted in the previous debate in the Senate, the intimidatory stand which was taken by the Federal Minister for Transport in another place when these Bills were first debated there. He made this threat to the Senate- a threat which, of course, he did not maintain. This is what he said, as recorded on page 1022 of the House of Representatives Hansard of 1 August 1974, when the Opposition in another place put forward these amendments as we have heard them read to us now and as they have been adopted:
I say to the Opposition now: ‘If you, in another place, amend this Bill there will not be any money available because we are not prepared under any circumstances to accept an amendment to this Bill which destroys the policy of this Government’. So I warn the Opposition that we will not accept amendments. If it wants to withhold $1,1 26m from the States and local government over the next 3 years it can go ahead and use its numbers in another place. But the Opposition must accept full responsibility for its actions.
That was the attitude taken by the Federal Minister for Transport, Mr Charles Jones, in another place. It was a clear intimidatory threat to the Senate in an endeavour to prevent us from exercising our proper constitutional responsibility and our duty to scrutinise legislation with a view to moving proper amendments. I am pleased to be able to say that the Senate was not intimidated as the Minister intended. We have made the amendments which the Minister himself has now substantially accepted in another place.
I would like to exclude from my comments any reflections on the representative of the Minister for Transport in the Senate, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh). He has had the unenviable task of having to deal with this subject in the Senate with this type of threat being held over the whole Senate chamber by the Minister in another place. As I have said, I would like to except Senator Cavanagh from any strictures I am making here at the moment. I believe that he has had a difficult task made a lot more difficult for him by the Minister in another place who behaved in this way. I believe that this was a clear warning by the Senate and the electorate to the media which refer continually to obstruction in the Senate. This was a classic case of the Senate acting properly in proposing proper amendments and the Government has, I believe, quite properly accepted them. It has accepted them wholly. It has indicated that it wanted to retain a particular power and I believe that we have met its wishes in that regard in that we have been prepared to accede to its further amendments. In other words, we have seen the 2 Houses of Parliament acting in accordance with their proper constitutional functions. I think also that we have seen a case in which a reasonable approach has been successful in the long run. I believe that this has been a good example of the way our constitutional bicameral system works, and that it has been a good example of the proper and important role of the Senate under our Constitution.
I would like to make this one further point in conclusion: This process is not being assisted and will not be assisted in the future if we have a repetition of this sort of threat made to the Senate by Ministers of this Government in another place.
– I also am pleased that the amendments moved by the Opposition to this legislation have been largely accepted by the Government. Soon after the Parliament rose at the conclusion of the first portion of the session I had occasion to meet a significant number of representatives of State road construction authorities in Adelaide. I may say that they were full of interest about this legislation, as one would expect, and they were interested as to what its fate would be following the earlier threats by the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) to which Senator Durack referred. I do not completely absolve the Minister in this House having regard to his statements on this matter when he returned to South Australia breathing fire and smoke and forecasting what would happen to this Bill as a result of what the Senate had done to it. He, like his colleague in another place, has had to eat humble pie and retract from the very negative stand he took. I am pleased to see that the amendments which I moved regarding the veto power have been accepted. Whilst we are pleased about the amendments, it is still a very small measure of alteration to the enormous powers that have been freshly taken on behalf of the Commonwealth in regard to overseeing all the expenditure of road funds by State authorities. At least I join Senator Durack by saying that I am pleased to see that the amendments have been largely accepted.
– If there is no further discussion I will close the debate and thank the Opposition for supporting the motion. Now we appear to have a Bill which suits all sections. It is peculiar that in dealing with a Bill on which there is such unanimous agreement we have to have recalled to us what is apparently claimed to be a bad past, and some inconsistency between the present attitude and the past attitude. Despite the fire and smoke that I am said to have exhibited in South Australia, there is no inconsistency on the part of the Government on this question. Senator Durack said that the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) stated that he would not tolerate amendments that would frustrate the Government’s determination on this question. When the amendments were moved and the Bill went back to the House of Representatives, the Minister for Transport, together with Cabinet, had to decide which of the amendments the Government would accept and which of them would frustrate Government policy. The Government reached a decision and accepted six of the amendments and rejected two and moved another amendment which preserved its position and was consistent with the statement of the Minister which justified the fire and smoke I displayed in South Australia. So the consistency is there. Let us not take it any further now that we on this first day of the session have reached this happy stage of agreement. If we showed more mutual admiration at times when we agree we would get further. I thank the Opposition for its support on this occasion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Message received from the House of Representatives as follows:
The House of Representatives returns to the Senate the Bill entitled ‘A Bill for an Act to grant financial assistance to the States in relation to the construction and maintenance of national roads’, and acquaints the Senate that the House of Representatives has agreed to amendments Nos 3 and 4 made by the Senate and has disagreed to amendments Nos 1 and 2 set forth in the annexed schedule for reasons shown therein.
The House of Representatives desires the reconsideration by the Senate of the Bill in respect of the amendments disagreed to.
Motion (by Senator Cavanagh) agreed to:
That the message be taken into consideration in the Committee of the Whole forthwith.
SCHEDULE OF THE AMENDMENTS MADE BY THE SENATE TO WHICH THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HAS DISAGREED
No. 1- In clause 4, sub-clause (3), line 38, after ‘may’, insert ‘enter into an agreement with a State to ‘;
No. 2- In clause 4, sub-clause (4), line 1, after ‘may’, insert ‘enter into an agreement with a State to ‘.
Reasons of the House of Representatives for disagreeing to Amendments Nos 1 and 2 of the Senate
– I move:
That the Committee does not insist on the amendments of the Senate to which the House of Representatives has disagreed.
If the proceedings on the previous Bill demonstrated that the Senate was right, I think this time it will be demonstrated that the Senate was half right because the House of Representatives disagreed with 2 amendments and accepted 2 amendments. Amendments 1 and 2 which the Senate made to the Bill when it was before the Senate were disagreed to in the other place. They related to the power of the Minister for Transport to declare a road an export road or a major commercial road. The amendments were to clause 4 sub-clause (3) and clause 4 sub-clause (4) and would have had the effect of requiring the Minister to obtain the agreement of a State before declaring an export or a major commercial road. It is the Government’s view that the declaration of a road as an export road or a major highway under the various categories of road in the Roads Grants Bill and under the various categories of road in the previous Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1969 should be the sole right of the Minister. The Government therefore moved in another place on 23 August that these amendments be disagreed to. That motion was not opposed. In indicating that the Opposition would not oppose the motion, Mr Nixon, the spokesman for the Oppositon in another place, pointed out that the criteria on which an export or a major commercial road would be declared are laid down in the Bill. The Government accepts amendments 3 and 4 which are both to clause 6 sub-clause 6 of the Bill. The Government believes that this clause as originally drafted was a logical approach to the question of future growth centres and the delegation of the concurrent powers of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. However, in the interests of bringing the legislation into operation as quickly as possible, the Government now accepts those 2 amendments.
– The Oppositon will agree to the motion and thereby forgo the amendments which the House of Represenatives will not agree to. We will accept some satisfaction from the House of Representatives agreeing to others. As Senator Cavanagh said, the result seems to be 2-all and perhaps that is a fair compromise all round. I cannot say that the Opposition is happy about the extended powers of the Federal Minister in relation to the declaration of other than national highways, that is, the declaraton of export or major commercial roads. We believe that these extend probably to what are more or less State functions. Nevertheless, the High Court will presumably keep the Minister in line if he transgresses the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth in these matters. In the general spirit of compromise to which Senator Cavanagh has referred the Opposition will not insist on its amendments and will agree to the motion
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
– I understand that Senator Murphy will be moving the motion. I ask leave to amend notice of motion No. (1) standing in Senator Murphy’s name on the notice paper concerning the reappointment of Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-The amendments propose to leave out reference to the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committeewhich was re-established in the last sessional period- and consequently to change the word ‘Five’ in the first paragraph to ‘Four’. As I have said, the need to amend the notice of motion was brought about by the reappointment on 16 August 1974 of the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs.
That- ( 1 ) Four Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees appointed last Session be re-appointed, and be known, unless otherwise ordered, as the Standing Committees on-
Social Environment (this shall include housing, transport, communications and the provision of other facilities).
Government Party to be nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or by an Independent Senator.
– I formally move the amendments which have been circulated, details of which I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The amendments read as follows)-
Leave out paragraph (1), insert the following new paragraph-
Leave out paragraph (2), insert the following new paragraph-
After paragraph (10), insert the following new paragraphs- (10a) Unless it be otherwise specially provided by the Standing Orders, the reference of a matter to a Standing Committee shall be on motion after notice. Such notice of motion may be given-
Any such notice of motion shall be placed on the notice paper for the next sitting day as ‘Business of the Senate’ and, as such, shall take precedence of Government and General Business set down for that day. (10b) Unless otherwise ordered, matters referred to Standing Committees should relate to subjects which can be dealt with expeditiously. ( 10c) A Standing Committee shall take care not to inquire into any matters which are being examined by a Select Committee of the Senate specially appointed to inquire into such matters and any question arising in connection therewith may be referred to the Senate for determination. ‘.
-The 4 clauses constitute one basic amendment. The purpose of the amendment is to re-establish the Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees in exactly the same form as they were in during the previous Parliaments- in the first Parliament under the Labor Government and in parliaments under Liberal-Country Party governments. The Opposition does this for a simple but very vital reason. For a long time the Senate was accused of being all sorts of things. I can recall its being referred to as a lush grazing paddock for political hacks, an old men’s home and in all sorts of other fairly derogatory terms. A number of years ago the Senate set out on a course of action, namely, to institute a system of Senate committees. As a result of this honourable senators themselves took an enormous pride in the work they were doing. They gained great satisfaction. They felt a personal involvement in what they were doing in the Parliament. Amongst the commentators, the media and the political scientists the Senate as an institution -
– This is music to my ears.
-That is right. Therefore I understand that Senator Murphy will be supporting my amendment. Senator Murphy ran about this country for a couple of years almost as Mr Senate’ quite wrongly claiming all the credit for what occurred. Senator Murphy must be given credit for the fact that he was one of those who pushed very strongly to promote the image of the Senate as an institution. He saw the Senate as an institution, as one of the 2 Houses of Parliament, which should take its rightful place in the community. I think it is an open secret within the Senate that on our side there were some problems with our Government at the time. The backbenchers decided that, irrespective of a lot of the Government objections and reservations, they would support the institution of the committee system. I can understand that no government would like Senate committees. They find out too much. Firstly the Gorton Government and then the McMahon Government were quite resistant to the setting up of the Senate committee system. I think that the fact that it was a part of the Senate was sufficient reason for some members of the House of Representatives to be opposed to the Senate committee system.
I know that some resentment has been expressed by members of the House of Representativesnot particularly on one side- that quite often the Senate has been the more prestigious House of Parliament due to certain things. I do not know why the Australian Labor Party has a policy to abolish the Senate. Some of us here occasionally think that it would be far more sensible to have a policy to abolish the House of Representatives because this chamber seems to act in a far better way. These tensions existed but as the Senate committee system was being set up some years ago there was general agreement right around the chamber in spite of resistance from the then Government. I think it would be a tragedy if the Senate committee system were killed off merely by the Senate’s now agreeing to the system as set down by Senator Murphy.
It provides for only 5 committees, leaving out 2 committees in which I believe the Senate has an interest. The first is the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. I know the argument that there is a Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence but, with respect to that Committee, I do not think that it has ever produced to the Parliament the type of report which the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence has produced. I can recall that when that Committee was chaired by my colleague Senator Sim it conducted an inquiry. I do not say this just because it had a Liberal chairman; I think that 3 Labor senators served on it, and Senator Sim would be the first to acknowledge the contribution that his colleagues made to it. I know from my association with Senator Sim of the enormous amount of hard work and research that was undertaken. The Committee produced a report on Japan. I do not think I would be overstating the case if I said that I consider it could be used within a lot of the tertiary institutions almost as a textbook on what Australia’s relations with Japan ought to be and how we see the future developing. I think that is of enormous credit. It is just one aspect but, in addition to that, I understand that the Committee is at the moment about half-way through an inquiry into the type of Army that Australia should have in the 1970s and 1980s.
Senator Murphy referred to the matter of hides, at one stage, for inquiry by another committee, the Industry and Trade Committee. As I remember it Senator Murphy was very interested in hides in those days. Maybe his hide has got thicker or thinner since, I do not know. I recall one reference that went to that Committee at the time that Thomas Nationwide Transport Ltd attempted to take over Ansett Transport Industries. I think that was a reference moved from the then Opposition by Senator Murphy, or one of his colleagues, for the Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade urgently to investigate what ought to be done. I think at that stage that there was some worry as to foreign ownership content involved in Thomas Nationwide Transport Ltd taking over an Australian airline company. That was one of the rare circumstances when a Senate Committee was allowed to meet during the sitting hours of the Senate. It did so because it was engaged in very urgent business for the Senate. I think ex-Senator Prowse was the Chairman of that Committee. The present Opposition Whip, Senator Young, was a member of that Committee which did an enormous amount of work. The Committee worked very long hours. I think that the report they brought in is almost a text book case on how a Senate committee should work.
I recall also the fact that ex-Senator Lillico, who was always very concerned about the pea and bean industry of Tasmania and the effects that the Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement had on that industry, had that matter referred to the Standing Committee on Industry and Trade. I cannot recall whether that Committee ever completed its report but it certainly did an enormous amount of work investigating the matter. Therefore, we in the Opposition believe that those 2 Committees ought to be reestablished. That is the purpose of paragraph ( 1 ) of my amendments. In effect, we want to set up 7 committees. One committee has been set up and the Opposition wants to set up another 6 committees but the Government only wants to set up another 4 committees. I believe that if the Government is opposed to setting up these other 2 committees then it ought to advance some arguments as to why they should not be set up. I have advanced some arguments as to why the Opposition believes they ought to be set up.
I do not believe that the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence can do or will do the work that the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence did. We certainly need a committee on industry and trade. The purpose of the second part of my amendment is to stop the emasculation of the committees. What is proposed in Senator Murphy’s motion, if I can paraphrase it in this way, is that committees shall inquire into and report on only those matters which have already been referred to them. When those inquiries are completed there is no reason for the committees to exist. As I understand Senator Murphy’s motion there is no power to give committees further inquiries. The purpose of paragraph (2) of my amendment is to retain the possibility of all sorts of inquiries going to committees as they have in the past.
There have often been complaints in the pastnot only under this Government but under previous governments- that chairmen of committees often do not convene committee meetings as frequently as they should. My third amendment will ensure that a quorum of members of a committee can request a meeting. That is a normal sort of a requisition.
– Should not it be that the chairman shall have a duty? It is not right to have an officer -
-I would not go to the barricades on that but the chairman might be absent overseas.
– The Acting chairman -
-Perhaps Senator Murphy is right. But this was a method thought to be more convenient. I think that various bodies, which might be called private corporate bodies, such as sporting clubs, have this provision in their constitutions. I know that in the Constitution of the Liberal Party a method exists whereby a certain number of members of the Party can place a requisition, I think, with the General Secretary and the General Secretary must convene a general conference of the Party.
– That is fair enough. I just think that it ought to be the chairman who should have the duty.
– Some constitutions provide for the general secretary to call such a meeting and some provide for the president to do so. I would not argue much one way or the other about it.
My fourth amendment inserts what appear to be new paragraphs (10a), (10b) and (10c). These paragraphs were in previous motions setting up the general purpose committees. They are the means by which references can be sent to the committees. It is a necessary provision and it is a method which has been used in the past. Proposed paragraph (10b) indicates that all matters referred to Standing Committees should be subjects which can be dealt with expeditiously. I think there is general agreement with that. Proposed paragraph (10c) states that any matters referred to the committees should not conflict with matters before Senate Select Committees.
Basically the question before the Senate is: Do we wish the Senate committee system to continue? I know that another motion will be introduced later to establish a joint committee of the Parliament to look at the committee system. Be that as it may, we can set up a joint parliamentary committee that may well be around for 6, 1 2 or 1 8 months before it reports. The question before the Senate this afternoon, which I imagine will be determined before we suspend the sitting for dinner, is whether the committee system on which the Senate has made its reputation in recent years, which has given this half of the national Parliament an enormous prestige and a great deal of understanding in the community, ought to be continued. I believe it ought to be continued for another reason. The Senate committee system has provided a forum for people in the community who have an interest in particular subjects to present an argument and for that argument to be subjected to questions and cross-examination and given a great deal of publicity.
The Senate committee system has played an enormous part in helping a lot of what one might term ‘non-political issues’. I recall that there was a Senate Committee on Air Pollution chaired by ex-Senator Branson. Senator Davidson chaired the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution which did an enormous amount of the initial spade work on this problem in Australia. I believe that until that committee started sitting, calling evidence and generating the publicity of those concerned about the pollution of our water and air, there was no great public interest in this very grave national problem. As a result of what the Senate Select Committees on Air and Water Pollution did, all sorts of environmental groups have become interested. Those groups were able to generate publicity. I think it is as a result of that that most of the legislation which has been introduced- which perhaps does not control the evils of air and water pollution as effectively as we would like- has come about. In this way, I think the committee system has played an enormous part in the functioning of the Senate.
There are committees sitting at the moment. One committee, the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, is chaired by Senator James McClelland and is examining divorce law reform. I know that this inquiry is taking a long time. It has been some 3 years since the matter was referred to the Committee. I think I was the original chairman of that Committee when it examined a reference originating with Senator Murphy. The trouble is, Senator Murphy’s reference was so mixed up- like scrambled eggs- that it took some time to get to it.
– It was a beautiful reference.
– It was quite ambiguous.
– It concerned law and administration.
-Senator Murphy went into so much purple prose about inequities and injustices that we could not quite get to the matter. That Committee has done a very great job. I think the first reference given to the Committee was the Death Penalty Abolition Bill. After examination by the Committee the Bill was redrafted so that it was understandable. That was a committee which, I think, has well served its time in the Parliament. I do not think anybody would deny that the work done by the Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts has been of great value. I think that that Committee looked at the situation of isolated children. Another of its reports, that relating to frequency modulation radio- I think it was presented last year- has become the standard text for most or some of the Government’s action in that field. It is not for me to comment in depth on too much of the reports which I do not completely recall, but nobody can deny the work that that Committee has done.
Honourable senators can go through the list of these committees and their reports, bit by bit. The Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations put down its report on probate duty. It was not a unanimous report, but basically there was a great measure of agreement around the Parliament. That is one of the great virtues of the Senate committee system. It has not only meant that senators from opposite sides of the chamber have had to work together of necessity and have come to understand each other better as people; as a result of the committee system I think we start to appreciate one another’s point of view a little more tolerantly, even though we do not necessarily accept it. I always have envisaged the Senate committee system eventually leading to the sort of objectivity which a second chamber ought to be able to bring to bear without necessarily having the heat of political argument that is generated in the other place. It would be a great pity if that started to happen in the Senate. As a result of the Senate committee work I did in the past I made a number of friends, I hope, on the other side of the chamber. Without having been engaged in committee work and the occasional interstate travelling which is involved, that would never have come about and I would never have understood honourable senators opposite as people or understood why they hold certain views which I have learned to respect although I disagree with them. I think that this is very important if a parliament in a modern day democracy is to work properly.
I am not trying to play politics over Senate committees. I have a commitment to them, and always have had, because of the many things they can do. I understand, as I said before, that often they can be a nuisance to any government. I remember the situation when we were in office. However, governments are not put into office to have an armchair ride. In many of the areas in which Senate committees become involved, as long as they do not become involved in what might be called heated political areas they can be of enormous value and advantage to the government. I remember that when I took over the chairmanship of the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control, the child of former Senator Byrne, it was said that that would be the hottest political committee which ever existed. It never got that way because the members of the Committee, irrespective of the party from which they came, had an interest in studying the problem to see how some of the matters which were arising could be resolved. To everybody’s surprise- I know that we never got much credit for it- we put down a report in fairly quick time and that report, apart from the reservation of Senator Murphy and one of his colleagues, which was well understood by the Committee, was unanimous. The politics of the matter never overrode what the Senate Committee was attempting to do. For those reasons I urge honourable senators to accept the amendments I have moved to Senater Murphy’ motion. I am convinced in my own mind that if the amendments I have moved on behalf of the Opposition Parties are not carried we may as well write about this day as being the day of the death of the Senate committee system.
I will conclude by saying one more thing. This afternoon the Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Douglas McClelland) made a personal explanation. To the best of my knowledge, belief and information, everything he said in that personal explanation was true. As far as I am concerned, as Leader of the Opposition in this place, it has not been because of any known action by me that these committees have been so long in coming into being. As I recall, the simple fact was that we came back here after the double dissolution to deal with a certain number of what we might term double dissolution Bills.
Then we ran on to legislation. However, the legislative program was such that whilst I know that there was a desire by Senator Douglas McClelland to get to these matters- I do not suppose that he minds me saying this- it was talked about between Senator Drake-Brockman, Senator Douglas McClelland and myself but each time there was general agreement that if the Government wanted its legislation dealt with it had to have priority. It was for that reason, and that reason only, as I understand it, that this motion was not called on before today.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) (5.25)- May I engage the attention of the Senate for a few moments. I am grateful to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) for moving these amendments. It has been the habit of governments in the years in which I have sat in the Senate, which go back to 1951, and in the years when I was out of the Senate, to watch what happens to the Senate and what in fact has been happening to the Senate. I suppose that for 50 years or so both the major parties forming the foundation stones of government which is embedded in the House of Representatives, and properly so, have tended to regard the Senate as a mere carcass on which the government of the day can eat. In other words, the concept of the members in the other place, irrespective of the government they are supporting, is to regard the Senate as a place where some gloss or enamel can be put on the decisions taken in the House of Representatives.
That was not intended to be the function of the Senate. The Senate was created to have constitutional functions. One of the constitutional functions that it was given was the capacity to review. The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Murphy, will remember- I say that because I think I used these words once before in the Senate- that we got ourselves immersed in a concept of review which had no validity in the sense that we were regarding the review function of the Senate simply as a review of current legislation which was coming through from the house of government, the House of Representatives. But the reality of the review function of an upper chamber- certainly a chamber of the nature of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia- is that it has a threefold review function. It has to look back historically as it were, over its shoulders, to see what has happened in the past. It certainly has a duty to look at what is happening in the present. Fundamentally it has to combine those 2 capacitiesof being able to look over its shoulders and derive some knowledge and information from the sum of the experience of the past, and examining what is happening in the present in the context of what is likely to occur in the future. That is the first function of the Senate.
I am repeating what I have said in the past. The problem which besets government in a modern society, whether large or small, whether in the United States of America or in Australia or New Zealand, is that of Parliament being able to match the techniques that are available to the Government. The Parliament has to be able to match those techniques without having the resources that the Government has. That therefore means that some area inside the Parliament- the Senate is significantly equipped to do this- must be able to inform the Parliament as to what has happened in the past, what is occurring in the present and what is likely to be projected into the future. Senator Withers has made this quite clear. That being a fact, I say quite categorically that the house of government is preoccupied with matters which are not related to these review functions and therefore the review functions I have mentioned have to be transferred or translated into the Senate which has the time, the expertise, the capacity and the interest to do this.
I will go further than Senator Withers and say that, if an attempt is made to emasculate- I think that was the word I heard used- the capacity of the Senate to form its committees and to examine matters which the Senate refers to them, quite clearly the objective can be attained very easily. That objective is to reduce the Senate to a state of negation. When that has been done there has been set in being the patterns by which the Senate can be regarded as anachronistic and having no ability. Therefore, I beseech honourable senators, irrespective of Party, who have any belief in the constitutional proprieties, to carry the amendment and let the Senate get on with its job. Senator Withers concluded his remarks by saying that he, having once been Government Whip, regarded Senate committees as a nuisance to government. That is when they are a nuisance, but they are not a nuisance to the people who elect senators. Senators are elected to provide a check on government, to advise government and to enlarge the sum of knowledge that is available to the electors. Senator Withers mentioned, for example, the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution, chaired by Senator Davidson, the Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution, chaired by Senator Branson, and other committees.
So I conclude on this note. If the Senate does not carry the amendment it will be putting itself into a position in which eventually the electors will say that it is an anachronism and should be abolished. Senator Murphy must admit deep in his heart, because he has used the committees to attain proper ends, in the parliamentary sense, the Senate’s achievements during the last three or four years. The Senate must resurrect, give further life, further impetus and further support to Senate committees.
– As a newcomer to this place I would say that the Senate committee system has enhanced the reputation of the Senate for those who have looked at it from outside. However, I am confused by Senator Withers’ statement that to vote against the amendment will destroy the committee system, because it appears to me from simply looking at the proposition that we are arguing as to whether we will have 5 committees or 7 committees. I must admit that I did miss some of Senator Withers’ argument. If I missed some explanation, that is my fault and of course not his. But as I understand the argument so far we are talking about five or seven.
– Methods of reference to committees also.
-Yes, methods of reference.
– New references or no more references; that is the second leg.
– I appreciate being furnished with the information that I have missed. That means, of course, that one’s consideration of Senator Withers’ amendment might be in separate parts. It would certainly seem sensible to me if the Senate were to refer matters to the committees by a majority vote. I agree with Senator Withers on that point.
I refer again to the numbers of committees. I understand that there is a Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. I remember that some years ago Senator Murphy’s Party refused to have anything to do with it. But in any case, are we duplicating, or tending to duplicate, by having a Senate committee on foreign affairs as well as a Joint Committee? If we are, I must say that, whilst I am generally in favour of committees, not all committees produce on every occasion worthwhile work. One must look at the efficiency of the system. Certainly it does not appear to a newcomer, Mr Deputy President, efficient to have 2 committees of this Parliament inquiring into the same subject.
– They have different functions.
– Well, perhaps. That had not been explained to me. This is die subject of the debate and I hope that someone will explain it. But on the surface of the matter I am inclined to vote for the major part of Senator Withers’ amendment and exclude the foreign affairs committee because of the existence of a joint committee. I am now a little further ahead with my knowledge because of this inquiry, but I cannot see how a rejection of that part of the amendment would destroy the system. I think that that is still an over-use of the term.
I refer to one very minor point in the motion. It uses the word ‘Independents’. That is a contradictory term in relation to a description of myself in other measures before the Senate in which I am not included as an Independent. The matter is too footling to move an amendment, but I remind Senator Murphy that I do not regard myself as an Independent for the purpose of this motion.
– I believe that the committee system which is now operating in the Senate and which has been extended to the House of Representatives has certainly enriched the work of the Parliament. It is a tribute to the Senate that it was able some years ago to see the need to exercise its power to review, in the form of a committee system, Government policy and legislation. I think that a great deal has been learned as a result of those experiences. I do not doubt that the innovative concepts of the early committees have created in the public mind the value of the Senate as a House not only concerned with reviewing legislation, but also reviewing the effects of legislation and anticipating what may ultimately become legislation. In that sense I think that the Senate has placed itself much higher in the minds of the public and fulfilled a more useful role.
However, having established the value of the Senate and the committee system firmly in the public mind we have now seen an extension of the principle to the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives has now seen fit to introduce a committee system in the belief that the effectiveness of the committee system will be enhanced by the 2 chambers working together- in other words the establishment of joint committees. This makes it hard to understand, therefore, why the Opposition in only one area is seeking to amend the system. It seeks to move outside the joint parliamentary system, which I believe is an extension of the pioneering work done by the Senate, and to have a Senate system as well as a joint parliamentary system operating to deal with the same subjects. As one who has been fortunate to be a member of both the Senate Standing Committee and the Joint Committee and for a period of time a chairman of each of those committees, I can say that there are real difficulties involved, first of all, in personnel from both Houses being able to participate in the working of the committee as well as the ability of the committee to have applied to it the resources which are necessary to enable the correct functioning of the committee. In making those statements I make no criticism of the members of the Senate who in the past have found difficulty in participating in the joint committees as well as the committees of the Senate. We have the ludicrous position that a joint parliamentary committee dealing with one aspect of parliamentary work can find itself in conflict with the work of a similar committee appointed by the Senate.
Senator Murphy’s motion, which has been on the Notice Paper for several months, seeks to reestablish the committees and largely to base them on the experiences of the last several parliaments. I think it would be a great mistake if the Senate were persuaded to support a dual system of parliamentary committees in one specific area. That is what the amendment seeks to do. I wonder why that specific area has been picked to be the area in which there shall be a joint parliamentary committee and a Senate standing committee. If it is possible to persuade the House of Representatives to establish a committee to deal with any aspect of the Parliament’s work or the Government’s policies, it renders redundant the work of the Senate committee. We should give our time, energy and resources to the joint committee and not seek to put ourselves in a position of having a dual system.
Senator Murphy has sought the establishment of the old committee system which worked reasonably well- in some cases very well. A subsequent notice of motion which Senator Murphy has placed on the Notice Paper seeks the establishment of a joint committee of the 2 Houses of Parliament to see how best we may rationalise the resources that are essential for the proper functioning of the committee system. I wonder why those honourable senators who see some difficulties in these areas are pressing their point of view so strongly? Surely they should have no doubt that if they have an interest in foreign affairs and defence matters they will be appointed to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. There is no reason why they cannot become members of that Committee. The purpose of a further notice of motion that will be discussed is to carry out an investigation into the committee system with a view to rationalising it and strengthening it, not weakening it as has been suggested by those honourable senators opposite who have participated in this debate. I urge the Senate to consider the motion that has been moved by Senator Murphy because I think that it accords with the best principles of the Senate as well as with the parliamentary system.
– Honourable senators on the Government benches have, I think, deliberately misunderstood the whole issue. The simple fact is that what Senator Murphy and his Government supporters saw as a virtue when in opposition they now see as a vice. We are talking about 7 Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees that were set up, with the wholehearted endorsement of all Labor senators, to cover the whole of the legislative program that could come before the Senate. Now we are asked to agree to cover five-sevenths of that program, and to cover it for only a time so that the 5 committees can be killed, because those 5 committees are to be limited to considering the references before them. Two-sevenths of the number of Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees which were previously set up are not to come into existence again.
asked: What is the need to have 2 kinds of defence and foreign affairs committees? I make one point to him, and it is that the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence can receive no reference from the Senate. So if, by act of voting, we exclude from our Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence we will exclude our right to make submissions for the holding of inquiries by committees on foreign affairs and defence, because we have no power to send a submission forward. The important thing to remember is that the only references that come to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence come from the Government and by decision of the Government. So nobody can pre-empt that.
– Are you sure that is right?
– Those of us who have sat on both the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence and the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence- and indeed Senator Wheeldon who interjected will know that I have sat on both of those Committees- will know quite clearly that the great bulk of the work of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence is taken up- and rightly- with meeting our ambassadors and others and informing ourselves. A great deal of the Committee’s time is taken up with getting confidential information from our own Department of Foreign Affairs and from others. The Committee does not operate in the normal committee formulation.
What in fact will happen if the Government’s motion is carried in its present form is that it will destroy the committee system as it exists in this Parliament. Temporarily there will be fivesevenths of the Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees which operated previously. It will deny the right of the Senate vitally to submit references on perhaps the most important subject that the Senate should consider, and that is foreign affairs and defence. As in America, so here we should regard the foreign affairs field as being our pre-eminent field. We would have the situation in which the Minister for Foreign Affairs would be a member of this chamber but we would have no committee of our own to which we could make references. It would be ridiculous for this to happen. If Senator Murphy’s motion is carried it will be an indication by the Government that in Government it seeks to destroy the committee system.
-I think that there has been a degree of misunderstanding, as Senator Carrick said, as to what would be the effect of this motion if it were carried. Likewise, there has been a lack of understanding or an appreciation of how Senator Withers’ amendment seeks to cure the position. The first point of distinction is that to which some advertence has already been made, and it is that the Government’s motion seeks to reduce the number of Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees from seven to five. The 2 committees which will not be re-established are the Standing Committees on Foreign Affairs and Defence and on Industry and Trade. If one examines the matters which were outstanding with the Standing Committees on Foreign Affairs and Defence on 10 April this year when the 28th Parliament terminated, one finds that they included the question of the adequacy of the Australian Army to perform its necessary part in the defence of Australia. I understand that work on that particular term of reference had been done by the Committee.
– The report is already prepared.
-From hearing Senator Sim’s interjection, I understand that if the Committee could be re-established the report which has already been prepared could be presented. Why therefore should not that Committee be re-established in order to enable, at the very least, that report to be presented? It represents work done by the Committee. The report contains information. Surely it would serve a purpose to enable those interested to see the way in which the Senate Committee has reported in that area. The other matters that were referred to the Committee deal with Thailand, the recognition of China and the status of Taiwan, and the role of ANZUK. They are all matters which obviously have relevance. They reflect decisions of the Senate at some time in the past that the Committee should look at each of those matters. I think it totally unsatisfactory that without any explanation being given by Senator Murphy- he simply put his motion before us and expressed the hope that the Senate would support it; we were not given any other arguments in favour of the motion- we should delete from the list of committees a committee which originally was constituted when this committee system was established in 1970.
The other committee which is not to be reestablished under Senator Murphy’s proposal is the Standing Committee on Industry and Trade. If one examines the matters which were outstanding with that Committee on 10 April of this year one sees that they refer to the promotion of trade and commerce with other countries, the operation of Australia’s international trade agreements, and the development of trading relations. It may be that that work has been completed because it has been the subject of 2 reports over the period of some 3 years that that Committee was in existence and was working on that term of reference. The other matter under consideration by that Committee was the economic consequences of the introduction of a 3 5 -hour working week. That matter was referred to the Committee exactly 12 months ago tomorrow. It seems that that is a matter also upon which work can be done and a report of value presented. Why should not that Committee be re-established?
When one examines the terms of reference for the remaining 5 Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees which are to be reestablished I note the curiosity that no further terms of reference are to be given to those Committees. They are to be limited to the terms of reference which they have been given in the past. This again justifies, I think, the apprehension of Senator Withers that if Senator Murphy’s motion is carried there will not be an opportunity for these Standing Committees to take on board at short notice within an area in which the members of the Committees have been developing some expertise a particular matter which warrants inquiry. I agree with the suggestion that one can establish select committees. Maybe we have not established enough select committees over the last two or three years, having regard to matters which could have been referred to them. But that is a matter of judgment and views may differ. The point is that if we are to have Standing Committees, surely they should be available to have referred to them matters which arise from time to time. I think of the Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts. Some six or seven matters are currently within its terms of reference. Some of them, of course, go back over 3 years. The Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations has 3 matters before it. One would suppose that they must be nearing the stage of completion. When they are completed that Committee will have no further work to do. The Standing Committee on Health and Welfare has already presented a report in respect of one of the 5 matters which are before it. There is obviously considerable scope for that work to be completed. But, again, after it is completed what further work is to be done by that Committee? The same might be said about the Standing Committee on Social Environment.
My sole point in rising was to indicate the terms of reference currently available for the existing committees which it is proposed to reestablish, to indicate the work which will be lost if the 2 committees which by our amendment we seek to have re-established are not re-established and also to stress the value of a committee system. The arguments were strongly presented by present Government senators in the momentous debates which took place in June 1970 when these committees were established. They said that the value of a committee system is in the body of understanding, expertise and better informed senators that the committees promote and in the way in which issues of concern to the Senate can be dealt with speedily in a miniSenate atmosphere rather than in the chamber of the Senate. I feel that the problems which the Labor Party in Government now sees ought not to obscure its outlook so that it will deny what its members saw as so virtuous when they were in opposition. I hope that the Senate will accept the broad proposition that whether there are five or seven committees- I hope there are seven- at least there is an ability for these committees to continue with the work which might be referred to them from time to time as the Senate is so motivated. One other aspect of Senator Withers ‘s amendment proposes that there should be an easier method by which matters can be referred to a committee. It goes hand in hand with the idea of making the committee system a permanent and constructive part of the Senate’s work. I fear that the Government’s motion will set back the clock for a period if it is carried.
– I will speak to the amendment moved by Senator Withers to indicate our attitude. The Government has made a decision on the matter, as honourable senators would understand. The motion gives effect to my Party’s decision. In substance, the first part of the amendment really seeks to add to the list the other 2 committeesthe Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence and the Standing Committee on Industry and Trade. Senator Carrick said that we were deliberately misrepresenting the position. I will be more charitable to him than he was to me and say that in relation to the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee he has a very short memory. I do not say that he deliberately misrepresented the position to the Senate, but it appears from the Journals that on 23 July 1974 a message was received from the House of Representatives in which it was proposed that a joint committee be appointed to consider and report upon foreign affairs and defence generally and such matters as may be referred to the committee by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, by the Minister for Defence or by resolution of either House of the Parliament. It therefore appears that there is a committee of both Houses- to which this Senate has agreed- which should inquire into matters of foreign affairs and defence and that this Senate can refer any matter to be inquired into by that committee. It seems to us that there is a very strong case in relation to the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee. As this Senate has concurred in a proposition that there should be established a body which can deal with matters of defence following upon a decision of either House, there are very strong reasons why there ought to be a joint House approach in matters relating to foreign affairs and defence. For instance in regard to witnesses, very often there may be an important foreign affairs witness or defence specialist. It does not seem right that such witnesses should be expected to go before 2 committees. I think it may very well be said that this stands in a special category. The Senate having accepted the proposition to establish a joint committee, I think it is reasonable to say that the Senate should abide by that decision.
– Why did you not argue that when you were in Opposition?
– Because the proposal that we put forward was for a span of committees. I moved that motion. We did not take the same attitude in relation to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. I think it did not include defence at that stage. Did that Joint Committee include defence at that stage?
– Yes, all along.
-A11 along. In any event, there were severe restrictions- including the one to which Senator Carrick referred- which have been corrected by this Government.
– They have not been corrected.
-They have been corrected. Whatever else is done, we say that it would not assist the committee system if the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee were included in the motion. Part 2 of the amendment says that matters may be referred to committees. There is no doubt that the intention was that further matters should not be referred to committees, beyond those already before them. It would, of course, still be open to the Senate at any time it desired to send matters to a committee. Part 2 of the amendment does not really do any more than indicate an intent. Leaving it out includes the opposite intent- that is, that matters would not be sent to a committee. It would still be open for the Senate to send any matters to committees once they are established. I think that is clear. It is also fair to say that the intent is expressed in one way by the motion that I have moved and it is expressed in the opposite direction by the amendment moved by Senator Withers. But in either case it is open to the Senate to make its decision at the time as to what it should do. In relation to part 3 of the amendment, I have suggested to Senator Withers- I understood him to accept the proposition- that instead of including the words ‘the Clerk attending the Committee’ we should substitute the words ‘the Chairman or Deputy Chairman attending the Committee’. I think that is more consistent with the dignity of the Senate, especially if there is some difficulty facing the Committee. Senator Withers may care to give an indication that we are in agreement.
Once we determined the matter of intent in part 2 of the amendment we could move on to the other matters. In any event, I see no great objection to what is contained in part 4 of the amendment. The proposal in the suggested new paragraph (10b) is not very wise because we determine at the time whether a matter will be sent to a committee. It is not much use expressing a pious view that matters should be dealt with expeditiously because we decide at the time whether it is proper for a matter to go before a committee. In respect of suggested new paragraph ( 10c), I seem to recall having drafted that myself some time ago.
– What about Trade and Industry?
-The Government’s reason there is consistent with its reason in respect of the intent which is expressed in my motion and the opposite intent contained in Senator Withers’ amendment, that is, that other matters should not be referred to a committee. Unless somebody else wishes to speak, perhaps we can conclude this matter before the dinner break. Senator Hall has indicated a view on Foreign Affairs and Defence. It may be convenient to separate that question. Any honourable senator is entitled to have a vote on a matter. If there are separate questions they should be voted on separately. We can do this simply by deciding whether there should be a Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee. If we decide that I think we could probably decide the other matters in globo.
– Does the Minister not consider trade important?
-Of course I consider trade important. But the Government’s answer in general to what has been put by Senator Withers is that we are proposing the consideration of the whole question of committees and the establishment of a system of joint committees. That proposal was made previously in the last Parliament and it will be made again. That is the motivation behind the proposal which has been put now by the Government to the Senate. Mr Chairman, may I ask your indulgence? Is it possible for us to finish this matter before we suspend for dinner so that we can have it determined?
-Order! Some discussion has to take place between yourself and the Leader of the Opposition in relation to this matter.
-If it cannot be finished now perhaps we should suspend the sitting. I may have a few more words to say after the suspension.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.2 to 8 p.m.
– I present the following papers:
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the year ending 30 June 1 975
Particulars of Proposed Provision for certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30 June 1 975
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending 30 June 1 975
Government Securities on Issue at 30 June 1974
Payments to or for the States and Local Government Authorities 1974-75
Motion (by Senator Wriedt)- by leave- proposed:
That the Senate take note of the papers.
Tonight the Treasurer is delivering in another place his Budget Speech for 1974-75. It is my privilege to outline to the Senate the Budget proposals of the Government.
The Government has twice in less than two years been elected to carry out programs of social reform and progress.
The Budget proposals are designed to advance our programs and to make Australia a fairer society.
Due to the interruption of the normal business of government and Parliament caused by the dissolution of both Houses, the Budget is being presented later than usual.
Furthermore, it has been framed within the context of an economy subjected to exceptional strains. We share with all our major trading partners problems of economic management unparalleled in modern times. Yet it must be emphasised that these problems flow from Australia’s basic strength and real prosperity. In the past year, gross domestic product increased in real terms by 5½ per cent. Civilian employment rose by a record 218,000. Incomes rose strongly in both real and dollar terms.
Partly because of this increase in incomes, price increases have been large and widespread.
Until recently, we have experienced severe shortages and delays in the supply of a wide range of goods and materials and a disturbingly high incidence of industrial disputes.
The Government acted decisively to ease the excess pressures on the economy prevalent during most of 1973-74. Firm action was taken through monetary policy to moderate excessive demands and through exchange rate adjustments and tariff reductions to increase supplies.
These actions have achieved their objective. Demand pressures in the private sector have abated in recent months.
Although demand pressures are being contained, powerful cost pressures have been unleashed which threaten further unsettling price increases. In that connection I mention that the Government is exploring a tax penalty mechanism by which wage and salary increases beyond an established norm might be excluded from assessable costs for the assessment of company income tax.
The conventional response to inflation has relied almost entirely on the creation of mass unemployment. Those who advocate such a course in present conditions are unable to say what level of unemployment would markedly reduce inflation. The Government is not prepared deliberately to create a level of 4 or 5 per cent, or perhaps even higher unemployment.
The Government is convinced that the best course is to attack the cost price spiral directly. We are pursuing this course in discussions with the State Governments arising from the recent special conference with Premiers. We have also engaged in discussions with unions and employers, particularly in the context of the Moore Conference. This form of action depends upon widespread and unusual co-operation. To act on unemployment to reduce cost pressures would inhibit that co-operation and could destroy the Government’s right to claim it. The Government will not close off its options until the possibilities of co-operation have been given a proper test.
However, decisions taken in the Budget context remain important in this overall strategy. We must maintain control over total demand to prevent excessive demand pressures emerging again. The expansion in the public sector contained in this Budget is designed to take up the slack emerging in the private sector.
Crucial as the fight against inflation is, it cannot be made the sole objective of Government policy. This Government is committed to the program of social reform to improve the position of the less privileged groups in our society and to maintain employment opportunities. We intend to pursue those programs and objectives without significant increase in the public service which will be held to the increase in operative staff of 1 per cent previously announced.
The Government’s overriding objective is to get on with our various initiatives in the fields of education, health, social welfare and urban improvement. The relatively subdued conditions in prospect in the private sector provide the first real opportunity we have had to transfer resources to the public sector.
It is against this background that we have budgeted for substantial increases in expenditure on our major programs of reform this year.
Total Budget outlays in 1974-75 are estimated at $16,274 million, an increase over actual outlays in 1973-74 of $3,980 million or 32.4 per cent. Details are given in Statement No. 3. 1 now briefly outline the Government’s expenditure proposals for 1974-75; additional information will, as appropriate, be provided by the responsible Ministers.
Education remains one of the Government’s highest priorities. Last year, Australian Government expenditure on education almost doubled. For 1974-75, total outlays on education are estimated at $1,535 million, an increase of 78 per cent on 1973-74.
Our expenditure on schools will increase from $234 million in the last financial year to $555 million in 1974-75, an increase of 137 per cent. On universities and colleges of advanced education, expenditure will rise from $524 million to $818 million, a 56 per cent increase.
This Budget provides for important new measures in education to be introduced in 1974-75.
A major new initiative will be undertaken in the field of technical and further education, based on the broad program recommended by the Kangan Committee. Subject to the understanding that the States will not reduce the level of their own activities in technical education, we expect to spend $96.5 million in the States on this program in two years, and have provided $49.1 million for this purpose in 1974-75.
The Government has accepted the recommendations of the Schools Commission that extra funds should be allocated along the lines suggested in the Karmel Report to ensure that the impact of Schools Commission grants, and of grants under earlier programs for school science and library faculties, is not eroded by cost increases. An amount of about $78 million will be available for this purpose during the remainder of the 1974 school year and in the 197S school year; $48.5 million of this is included in the 1974-75 Budget.
Changes to existing schemes of assistance to students at secondary and tertiary levels are estimated to cost an additional $7.2 million in 1974-75. These will permit rates of allowances and means tests to be adjusted to reflect movements in costs.
Details of initiatives in education to be introduced in 1974-75 will be announced by the Minister for Education.
The Government has decided to proceed with its full-scale program for the care and education of young children. We propose a fully integrated approach to the needs of childhood, embracing education, health and care services. An amount of $75 million has been provided in the Budget to enable a start to be made on the program by no later than 1 January 1975, and to meet existing commitments.
A Children’s Commission will be established to assume responsibility for administering all existing commitments in this area and for developing the new program. Meanwhile, an interim Children’s Committee will be set up.
Details of the Government’s decisions on the care and education of young children will be the subject of a statement by the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister.
Following consideration of the Hospitals and Health Services Commission report on Hospitals in Australia, tabled in Parliament on 10 April, the Government has decided to implement a five-year program of capital assistance for the provision, expansion and modernisation of public hospital and other health institutional facilities in the States. The amount provided for 1974-75 is $28 million. To meet urgent needs for additional hospitals, arrangements will be made to acquire a site in each of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane for the construction of an Australian Government hospital.
The Government has recognised the need for assistance in the provision of medical and surgical aids and appliances. It is proposed to widen the assistance given in this field by providing free of charge, to those who need them, stoma appliances and the equipment and supplies needed for home dialysis.
The Government is continuing its efforts to improve the position of patients in nursing homes. Nursing home benefits were increased from 1 August at an additional cost in 1974-75 of $24.6 million.
In addition, it is proposed to amend the National Health Act to authorise the Minister to enter into agreements with religious, charitable and other non-profit organisations conducting nursing homes, under which the Government will meet the deficits incurred in running the homes. It is planned to introduce this arrangement in January next. The cost in 1974-75 is estimated at $ 1 .8 million.
The Government has approved a special grant of $1.2 million, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, to Queensland for the erection of Stage 2 of the public nursing home complex at Wynnum. $300,000 has been provided for 1974-75.
We propose to increase, with effect from 1 October 1974, the existing subsidy to approved organisations providing home nursing services. For organisations established before September 1956, the annual Australian Government payment for each nurse who attracts subsidy will be increased from $4,700 to $6,200. For organisations established after that date, the annual subsidy for each nurse employed will be increased from $2,350 to $3,100. As at present, the Australian Government subsidy to any organisation will not exceed that paid to the organisation by a State. The increase in the subsidy is expected to cost $6 13,000 in 1974-75.
The Government is pressing on with its commitment to restore Australia to a position of leadership in the provision of welfare services.
Because this year’s Budget is late, all social service pensions and benefits have already been increased. Pension rates will be further reviewed in Autumn 1975.
Additional pensions and benefits payable in respect of dependent children, including student children, are to be increased by 50 cents to $5.50 a week.
The means-tested supplementary assistance and supplementary allowance payable to pensioners and beneficiaries who pay rent are to be increased by $1 to $5 a week. The amount of supplementary assistance payable is not to exceed actual rent paid.
Orphans pension is to be increased by $1 to $11 a week.
Last year a pilot program provided assistance for 35 Regional Councils for Social Development to establish social planning structures at a regional level. Further impetus is now to be given to the program. Initiating grants will be provided in regions currently not assisted. Administration grants will be increased in the regions already receiving assistance and six more regional councils will be given access to capitation grants to assist local social welfare services.
The States Grants (Dwellings for Aged Pensioners) Act 1969, provided $25 million for nonrepayable interest-free grants to the States over the five years terminating in 1973-74. These grants were for the construction of dwellings to be let to single persons who were receiving an age or Service pension and who were eligible for supplementary assistance. We will now provide an amount of $30 million over the three years from 1974-75, doubling the annual grant to $10 million. The scheme will be widened to embrace the construction of dwellings to be let to single invalid and Class B widow pensioners and single Service pensioners who are permanently unemployable or suffering from tuberculosis.
Home Care for the Aged
It is the Government’s intention that the rate of capital subsidy under the Aged Persons Homes Act, now $2 to $1, will be increased to $4 to$l from 1 January 1975.
The personal care subsidy payable to organisations providing personal care services for the aged in approved hostel accommodation will be increased from $ 12 to $ 1 5 a week.
The basic rate of subsidy paid to ‘mealsonwheels’ services will be increased from 20 cents to 25 cents a meal. The increased subsidy will be payable from 1 October 1974 and will apply to meals delivered since 1 July 1974.
Assistance to the Handicapped
Handicapped children’s benefit payable to organisations is to be increased by 50 cents to $3.50 a day.
We propose to introduce a Handicapped Child’s Allowance of $10 a week. It is to be payable to parents and guardians in respect of a child under 16 years who is cared for at home and who, because of the severity of the handicap, is in need of constant care and attention.
An amount of $1 1.8 million is provided in the Budget to assist employees displaced as a direct result of Government decisions designed to bring about significant structural changes in industry that are in the national interest. Within specified limits, income maintenance payments will be made available to individuals affected by these decisions.
We have endorsed in principle the compensation scheme contained in the Report of the National Committee of Inquiry into Compensation and Rehabilitation in Australia (the Woodhouse Report) and the main enabling legislation will be introduced in the Budget sittings. The Bill will provide for a phased introduction of the scheme and, following detailed examination of the scheme by the Government and others, amendments may be made to the Act before its implementation. The only costs in 1974-75 will be for the payment of staff and consultants to plan the operation of the scheme.
There will be further substantial increases in Repatriation benefits.
The Special Rate pension, or its equivalent, will be increased by $4.00 a week to $64. 10 during the Budget sittings and will be further increased by $4.00 a week during the Autumn of 1975. The maximum General Rate war pension will be increased by $3.00 a week to $25.00 during the Budget sittings and further increased by $3.00 a week during the Autumn. There will be increases in the Domestic Allowance payable to most war widows and in most other pensions and allowances paid under Repatriation legislation. The full details will be announced by the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation.
In addition, we have decided to introduce some new benefits in the Repatriation field.
Free medical and hospital treatment for any condition will be provided for all Australian exservicemen and women who were interned as prisoners of war. All ex-service personnel, irrespective of whether they had service in a theatre of war, who suffer from malignant cancer, will be provided with any treatment necessary for that condition. These benefits will be introduced during the Budget sittings.
Further benefits will be introduced from the Autumn of 1975. The means test on service pensions will be abolished for those aged 70 to 74 years. A further 25 per cent of all war pension payments will be disregarded as income for service pension means test purposes. Ex-service personnel who had war-time service in the Defence Forces of other countries of the British Commonwealth and who are now residing in Australia, and have done so for at least ten years, will be eligible to apply for service pensions.
The Government accorded a high priority to Aboriginal affairs in its Budget allocations in 1973- 74. We propose a further substantial expansion of activity this year. The Budget provides for an increase of $64.9 million in outlays on Aboriginal advancement programs in 1974- 75, to a total of $163.6 million. This provision will ensure that initiatives taken since December 1972 will be consolidated and developed for the benefit of the Aboriginal community.
At the Premiers’ Conference in June, we agreed to advance $235 million to the States for welfare housing purposes in 1974-75. Taking into account that $25 million of the 1973-74 advances was not spent by the States last year, this would allow for an increase in expenditure this year of $67 million, or 34 per cent. Nevertheless, we stand ready to consult with the States on the provision of additional advances in the light of developments in the housing industry, the availability of resources for housing construction, and the ability of the States to put further funds for welfare housing to productive use. If circumstances warrant, we will be proposing that an increased proportion of advances made to the States under the Housing Agreement be disbursed through the Home Builders’ Accounts to assist private home ownership for persons of low and moderate income.
The Government proposes to introduce as soon as possible legislation to establish an Australian Housing Corporation to undertake all of those housing functions for which the Australian Government has Constitutional power. This will include direct lending by the Corporation to families for housing. The sum of $25 million is being provided to enable the Corporation to undertake those housing functions which are not provided for under other appropriations. Details will be announced by the Minister for Housing and Construction.
We propose to improve significantly the Defence Service Homes Scheme. Details will be announced by the Minister for Housing and Construction.
The provision for Defence Service Homes will be increased to $ 1 1 5 million, or $ 1 3 million more than the amount provided last year.
One of the most significant initiatives of this Government has been the major effort to improve the standards of the urban environment in our cities and regions, to establish attractive alternatives to living in the major cities, and to arrest and reverse the decay of the established areas of our cities. This year we will be spending about $390 million on such programs.
In partnership with the New South Wales and Victorian Governments we have, in the past year, established the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation. This Budget provides an amount of $40 million for Albury-Wodonga, the major new growth centre initiative in South East Australia. A further $37.4 million has been provided for the establishment of other growth centres including Monarto, Geelong and Bathurst-Orange.
Last year we made a major commitment towards the establishment of Land Commissions designed to provide Australian families with land at fair prices. Subsequently, the first Land Commission was established in South Australia. The Victorian, New South Wales and Tasmanian Governments have accepted the principles of this program. For 1974-75, we are providing $54.5 million for the purchase and development of land in the States.
Pilot schemes of area improvement have been commenced in the western sectors of Sydney and Melbourne. In addition, assistance to increase the standards of services available in 11 new regions will be commenced during 1974-75. An amount of $14.1 million has been provided for this program.
An amount of $17.5 million has been spent on the purchase of 47 acres of residential land at Glebe, New South Wales, and a further $1 million has been provided to commence the rehabilitation of that area and to improve and increase its housing stock.
During 1973-74 we commenced a program of assistance to the States to eliminate the backlog of sewerage services. That program will be accelerated this year and the Budget provides an amount of $ 105 million.
Last year the program was confined to the major cities. This year we are expanding it to cover provincial cities in the population range 20,000 to 60,000.
This Budget provides for the consolidation of the progress made last year towards meeting a wide range of cultural and recreational needs.
Assistance for the Arts
The Budget provision for programs of the Australian Council for the Arts will be increased by $6 million to $20 million. In addition, $637,000 is provided for payments to authors and publishers under the Public Lending Right Scheme.
An amount of $2.8 million is provided for The Film and Television School, reflecting the commencement, in 1975, of the School’s full-time operation.
An amount of $98 million, or $ 16 million more than in 1973-74, has been provided for operational expenditure by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. A further $14 million has been provided for expenditure on capital equipment, mainly that required for the introduction of colour television.
International Women’s Year 1975 has been designated by the United Nations as International Women’s Year. The Government has allocated $2 million for relevant activities during 1974-75 by both Government departments and nongovernmental organisations.
The Government has agreed to the allocation of an additional $1,025,000 over the next two financial years to enable the National Library to undertake a program of extensive consultations and studies on the possible development of an Australian Library Based Information System.
There has been in the past an undue emphasis on the concept of uncontrolled development; this has left much to do in identifying, conserving and enhancing the National Estate. The Budget provides an amount of $8 million for grants to the States and to National Trusts, and for expenditure in the Territories, ‘ on the advice of an Interim Advisory Committee on the National Estate.
Provision is being made for expenditure of $381,000 to commence a National Parks and Wildlife Research Program, including the commencement of an ecological survey of Australia and of flora and fauna research and surveys. $9 million will be provided to assist the States in the acquisition of land for nature conservation purposes.
The Government will expand its program of assistance to facilitate and encourage beneficial leisure-time activities. These new measures will encourage participation in physical recreation, increase assistance for sport and assist other forms of recreation activities. Expenditure on sport, youth and recreation activities is expected to reach $2.5 million in 1974-75.
The Budget provides $4.5 million for expenditure during 1974-75 on community leisure facilities.
The amalgamation of the former Defence and Service Departments has enabled the appropriations this year for the three Armed Services to be brought together under a single Department of Defence. The provision for defence outlays in 1974-75, including defence-related activities of the Department of Manufacturing Industry and other departments, is $ 1,498.7 million compared with actual outlays of $1,334.1 million in 1973-74. This provision for defence purposes enables the Government to continue its policy of maintaining Defence Forces which, in conformity with the present strategic outlook, sustain a proper level of defence capability and potential for future expansion.
The Government is proceeding with the four new major equipment projects for the Armed Forces announced in April this year, with a total commitment of some $330 million to be spread mainly over the next eight years. These projects are: eight Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft for the RAAF, fifty-three modern medium tanks and forty-five Fire Support Vehicles for the Army, and two new destroyers for the RAN. In addition, an extensive program for the refitting and modernisation of RAN surface ships and submarines is under way. Meanwhile, production is proceeding against the orders of previous years; this involves substantial expenditure on items such as two additional Oberon submarines and ten Westland Sea King helicopters.
New budgetary arrangements for providing financial assistance to Papua New Guinea in respect of defence are being introduced with effect from 1 December 1974. An amount of $12.5 million is being provided for defence cooperation with, and defence financial assistance to, Papua New Guinea from that date. Estimated expenditure on defence in Papua New Guinea this year, prior to 1 December, is $ 10.2 million.
Expenditure on continuing defence cooperation with a number of other friendly countries in the region of immediate strategic interest to Australia is estimated at $ 12 million.
The 1974-75 Defence Program provides for reductions in civilian support manpower additional to those achieved in 1973-74. These further reductions are made possible by the rationalisation of activities.
It is intended that legislation will be brought down later this year to enable the reorganisation of the Department of Defence to be put into full effect.
The Minister for Defence will be making a more detailed statement on defence matters at a later time.
I turn now to the area of economic services, including assistance to industry and the community generally.
The amount to be provided from the Budget to help finance the Post Office’s capital program is $385 million, the same as in 1973-74. This is in accordance with the Prime Minister’s announcement at the Premiers’ Conference on 7 June 1974. The remaining finance for the capital program will come from internal resources.
As the Prime Minister also announced at the Premiers’ Conference, it is proposed to increase Post Office charges substantially. This is necessary to provide additional revenue in 1974-75 and to avoid substantial losses on the provision of Post Office services. The Government therefore proposes to introduce legislation to give effect, from 1 October 1974, to increases in postal and telecommunication charges similar to those rejected by the Senate in July. However, because of the action in the Senate to delay the introduction of the higher charges, and the consequential loss of revenue, it has been necessary to review some of the increases previously proposed. The basic postage rate will rise to 10 cents, instead of the 9 cents that would have been sufficient if the Senate had permitted introduction of the higher charges from 1 August. The business telephone rental will be increased to $85 a year, instead of $75 as proposed earlier.
Further details will be announced by the PostmasterGeneral.
In accordance with the policy announced last year of recovering 80 per cent of the cost of airport and airways facilities by 1977-78, it is proposed to increase air navigation charges from 1 December 1974 by 15 per cent, the maximum permissible under the Airlines Agreement negotiated with the two major domestic airlines last October. Charges to general aviation will be increased by an additional 50 per cent, but the rebate for aircraft not based on government aerodromes will be increased from 33W per cent to 50 per cent. The additional revenue in 1974-75 is estimated at $3.9 million.
The Department of Transport provides a wide variety of services to the aviation industry for which little or no charge is made. The Government sees no reason why these costs should not also be recovered. Accordingly, we propose that charges for these services should be introduced in 1974-75 and increased progressively so as to achieve full recovery by 1976-77.
Within the framework of the cost recovery policy, the Government has decided to proceed in 1974-75 with the construction of a new international terminal costing $4.2 million at Brisbane airport for completion in 1975, a new terminal for Hobart estimated to cost $1.3 million and extensions to the Sydney international terminal at a cost of $2.7 million.
Following the expiry of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1969, the Australian Government intends to provide $1,126 million to the States for roads purposes over the next three years.
It is intended that a total of $350 million will be made available in 1974-75.
The Government recognises the importance of railways in our national transport system. Recently agreement was reached with the South Australian Government for construction of a standard gauge line between Adelaide and Crystal Brook, financed by means of grants and loans to South Australia. Expenditure this year is estimated at $900,000. Agreement has also been reached for the construction by Commonwealth Railways of a standard gauge line that will provide a secure all-weather link between Tarcoola and Alice Springs. Expenditure this year is estimated at $2 million.
In recognition of the costs and problems caused by inadequate railway rolling stock, the Government will be implementing a purchase program by Commonwealth Railways for modern high-performance bogie wagons suitable for inter-system use. These wagons will be available for lease by State railway systems at an agreed rate and will, to some extent, overcome recent shortages of rolling stock experienced by the transport industry. The acquisition program provides for 500 wagons to be ordered this year and 800 next year.
At the June Premiers’ Conference the Prime Minister said that we would be looking to those of our business enterprises which are not paying their way- that is, whose losses are being imposed on the taxpayer- to lift their charges. Accordingly, some increases in Commonwealth Railways passenger fares and freight rate have been made and a thorough examination of the fare and freight rate structure is being undertaken.
As part of our program to assist in the upgrading of urban public transport, we will provide almost $28 million towards the cost of new projects in 1974-75. The States will also receive about $39 million in 1974-75 towards the costs of projects approved in 1973-74. A total of $67 million is therefore included in the Budget, out of a total of $138 million which the Government has so far agreed to provide under this program. The Australian Government has made an offer to the New South Wales Government to construct and operate a railway radiating from Parramatta in the western suburbs of Sydney. The New South Wales Government has not yet accepted this offer, but provision has been made in the Budget for an amount of $3.5 million to allow the project to proceed as soon as it does so.
As announced by the Prime Minister, the Australian Government is negotiating with the New South Wales Government for the construction of a large new graving dock at Newcastle. A provision of $3.75 million is being made to cover estimated expenditure in 1974-75.
The Government’s policy to increase the share of the nation’s trade carried in Australian flag vessels entails a large capital expenditure program for the Australian National Line. A Budget provision of $54.7 million is being made this year for the ANL compared with $7 million last year.
An amount of $75 million has been provided for advances to the Pipeline Authority for expenditure on the Moomba-Sydney natural gas pipeline and spur pipelines.
We are making a start on a program of financial assistance towards the provision of urban water supplies in Adelaide and North West Tasmania; this year the Budget provides $4.4 million to South Australia for the initial phase of a program of construction of water treatment plants in Adelaide. No payments will be required for the North West Tasmania scheme in 1974-75.
As I announced recently, the Government has approved the operation by the Australian Wool Corporation during the 1974-75 season of a minimum reserve price equivalent to 250 cents per kilo clean for 2 1 micron wool. The Government is prepared to guarantee repayment of amounts borrowed by the Corporation to finance these operations and the ‘pot-holing’ activities the Corporation will continue to carry on when the market is above the floor.
The aim of the new arrangement is to provide firm support to the market and give greater confidence to both wool growers and overseas buyers.
The Government has provided in the Budget for an advance to the Corporation of the $13 million available in the Corporation’s Working Capital Trust Fund.
The Treasurer will also shortly be introducing legislation to appropriate funds to enable him to make loans in addition to those provided for in the Budget to the Corporation as required.
The Budget also reflects the arrangements made for an increase in the levy on growers’ returns from sales of wool during 1974-75 to meet any losses from the operation of the floor price scheme. This additional amount, estimated at $44.7 million, will be collected and paid to the Corporation’s Market Support Fund. If no losses are incurred, the contribution will be used for building up reserves.
In accordance with the present Wheat Industry Stabilisation Scheme, and as a result of buoyant export prices, it is estimated that wheat growers will contribute an amount of $39 million to the Stabilisation Fund in 1974-75 in respect of the 1973-74 pool.
In accordance with the decision last year to phase out the bounty on butter and cheese production, an amount of $9 million is being provided for the bounty in 1974-75, compared with $18 million in 1973-74. However, increased funds are being provided for dairy industry adjustment through the broadened Marginal Dairy Farms Reconstruction Scheme. The estimated cost in 1974-75 is $11.5 million, as against $1.1 million last year.
The appropriation for the Rural Reconstruction Scheme in 1974-75 is $30 million. In addition, the fruitgrowing reconstruction scheme will be extended to 31 December 1975 and a provision of $1.5 million is made for that purpose.
An amount of $2.6 million is being provided for an apple export guarantee scheme for the 1974 season. This follows agreement with the States of Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland that the Australian Government will meet half the costs of underwriting the returns on apples exported “at risk” during 1974 to the United Kingdom and Europe.
With the expiry of the Phosphate Fertilizers Bounty Act on 3 1 December 1974 the cost of the bounty in 1974-75 will fall to an estimated $33 million, compared with expenditure of $67 million in 1973-74.
Subject to the agreement of the States of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, it is proposed to set up an Australian Plague Locust Commission to combat outbreaks of this pest. An amount of $250,000 is being provided in 1974-75 as the Australian Government’s proposed 50 per cent share of the costs of establishing the Commission.
The Government has decided to provide a grant of $3 million towards the cost of a weir at Clare on the Burdekin River; $300,000 will be provided in 1974-75. A grant of up to $120,000 will be provided for restoration of damaged levees along the Proserpine River.
The Government has decided to extend its assistance to the Bundaberg Irrigation Project by a grant of $4.4 million; $2 million will be provided for the project in 1974-75.
We propose to provide financial assistance to the States for a two-year Water Quality Assessment Program costing $808,000 to complement the existing program of surface and underground water measurement. The Budget provides $332,000 for this program in 1 974-75.
The Government proposes to assist the States with a long-term program of soil conservation. An interim two-year program of financial assistance will be commenced this year. Grants totalling $2.5 million will be provided, of which $500,000 will be made available in 1974-75.
The Parliament has now passed the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Act, and the Budget provides $50 million for the Authority’s proposed activities in 1974-75.
As announced last year, the petroleum search subsidy scheme expired on 30 June 1974. An amount of $6 million is provided in the Budget for payments still to be made in respect of approved exploration programs completed before that date.
The Budget provides $ 1 5 million for payments this year under the existing Industrial Research and Development Grants Scheme. As announced in last year’s Budget Speech, a review of the existing scheme is being made.
An initial provision of $10 million is being made for assistance to firms by the proposed Structural Adjustment Board under the Government’s scheme of adjustment assistance for firms affected by Government action to bring about desirable structural change.
The Government will widen the criteria under which grants may be given for the development of tourist attractions. The Budget provides $2.25 million for grants under the extended scheme.
$17.8 million has been provided for the National Employment and Training System in 1974-75. There will be an increase of $8.8 million in Government support for apprenticeship training this year. Details will be announced later by the Minister for Labor and Immigration.
I turn now to the area of General Public Services.
In furtherance of its policy on legal aid, the Government has established the Australian Legal Aid Office. The establishment of the Office is a major step towards the Government’s objective of ensuring that legal aid is readily and equally available to all citizens. Australian Legal Aid Offices are already operating in the capital cities and certain regional centres, and more will be opened during 1974-75. Meanwhile, the program of grants to supplement existing legal aid schemes will be continued in 1974-75. Total expenditure on legal aid in 1974-75, including for Aboriginals, is estimated at $ 12.4 million.
The Government is concerned about the plight of needy people in less developed countries overseasincluding, of course, Papua New Guinea for which we continue to have special responsibilities.
A total of $341.3 million has been provided for expenditure on external economic aid during the current financial year. This is $81 million or 31 per cent greater than the comparable figure for 1973-74. Details are set out in the white paper on External Aid issued as one of the Budget documents.
Notwithstanding the adverse effects which higher oil prices are having on our own balanceofpayments position, the Government has allocated $40 million for expenditure on purposes related to the proposed United Nations Special Program of assistance to developing countries which have been seriously affected by the recent sharp increases in oil prices and related international developments. This assistance will take the form of grants and will be additional to the significant increases provided for in Australia’s other on-going aid activities.
In June, the Government supported an increase in the States’ Loan Council programs of 10 per cent. The Government has now decided to support a further increase of 10 per cent. As a result, the States will receive an addition of $92.5 million to their programs, of which $29.7 million will be in the form of interest-free capital grants. These programs for 1974-75 will now total $1,027.4 million.
At existing rates of taxation and charges, receipts in 1974-75 are estimated to increase by $3,894 million to $ 1 5,896 million.
I deal first with those measures which will add to revenue.
The licence fees for radio communication services licensed under the Wireless Telegraphy Act have remained unchanged since 1970. The existing licence fees of $10 per annum for Land and Fixed Stations, and $6 per annum for Receiving Stations and Mobile and Amateur Stations, will be doubled.
The fee for issuing a passport has been unchanged since 1966. The present fee of $4 is well below the cost of issuing a passport and it is proposed to increase it to $ 10.
The Budget Speech last year said that the question of levying a tax on liquefied petroleum gas was being put under study. An interdepartmental committee has now reported to the Government on all considerations, including environmental considerations, relevant to the taxation of liquefied petroleum gas. On the basis of that report the Government has decided to introduce a tax on liquefied petroleum gas used in propelling road vehicles, but not on gas used for other purposes. The rate of tax will be set initially at 2 cents a litre, which is about 40 per cent of the present rate of duty on motor spirit. Should there be any increase in the rate of duty on motor spirit in future, it is proposed that the tax on liquefied petroleum gas will be increased by an amount equivalent to one-half of that increase. It is not proposed to review this basis for setting the relative rate of tax on liquefied petroleum gas for at least five years and the industry can, therefore, plan on that basis.
Pay-roll tax in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory will be increased by one-half of one per cent, to 5 per cent, on wages payable on or after 1 December 1974. This will bring the rate into line with that imposed by the States since 1 September.
The deduction allowed to life insurance companies under section 115 of the Income Tax Assessment Act will be reduced from 2 per cent of calculated liabilities to 1 per cent in respect of income year 1974-75. This is a further step towards ensuring that life insurance transactions, looked at in their totality, bear a fairer share of overall taxation.
As announced in last year’s Budget Speech, there will be a further increase in the rate of company tax on private companies to equate it with the public company rate of 47 Vi per cent in relation to income of the 1973-74 income year.
Taxation of Income from Mining
Several amendments are proposed to the income tax law affecting enterprises engaged in prospecting and mining other than for gold. At present both general and petroleum mining enterprises are able to defer payment of tax for long periods under provisions for the allowance of immediate or accelerated deductions for capital expenditures, including anticipated expenditures. As a result, many highly profitable companies have paid relatively little tax over an extended period.
Other provisions exempt from tax 20 per cent of income derived from production of certain minerals, including bauxite, copper, nickel and beach sands. There is no justification for this exemption and it will be withdrawn as from 1 July 1974.
Deductions will not in future be allowable for capital expenditure incurred on company formation and capital raising. Capital expenditure on the development of a mine or well, on the provision of community facilities adjacent to a mine or well, or on the purchase of mining rights or information will be deductible henceforth over the estimated life of the mine or well. Where the estimated life is longer than 25 years the allowance will be one twenty-fifth of the undeducted capital expenditure. Capital expenditure on facilities for the transport of minerals will be deductible for income tax purposes over 20 years instead of 10 years. However, in relation to any of those expenditures to be made by 30 June 1976 under contracts already entered into, deductions will continue to be allowable under the present provisions of the law.
Exploration expenditure incurred by general mining companies in 1974-75 and subsequent income years will be allowable as immediate deductions up to the level of income derived in any year from general mining and associated activities in the same way as petroleum prospecting and mining companies are allowed immediate deductions against income from petroleum for similar expenses. Prospecting and other activities carried out by general mining companies on the continental shelf will be regarded as having been carried out in Australia, consistent with the taxation treatment of petroleum operations carried on at off-shore locations.
In practice, it has proved difficult to enforce general provisions of the income tax law on the value of some benefits given to employees in addition to their remuneration. Accordingly, amendments to ensure that certain fringe benefits are properly subject to income tax are proposed to apply as from the 1974-75 income year.
Deductions will cease to be allowable for expenditures on club dues, yachts and other boats, etc. The minimum assessable value to a taxpayer of the use of a motor vehicle provided by his employer will be determined under a formula to be prescribed in the law. The value for income tax purposes of benefits received by employees under stock option and share purchase schemes entered into after today will be ascertained as at the time of exercise of the options or the transfer of the shares.
The Australian Government’s programs involve substantial increases in direct expenditures on education and there is no longer a case for providing substantial indirect assistance through the taxation system. Accordingly, the amount deductible against 1974-75 income for education or self-education expenses will be reduced from $400 to $ 1 50 for any one student.
Surcharge on Property Income
The Government considers that income which an individual receives from property- that is, unearned income- should bear more tax than income from personal exertion. The Australian taxation system did, in fact, tax unearned income at higher rates than income from personal exertion from 1915 to 1953 and a number of other countries tax unearned income at special rates.
A surcharge will therefore be imposed on property income received by individuals in 1 974-75. The surcharge will be 10 per cent of the tax on property income included in the taxable income. This tax will be calculated by applying to property income the average rate payable on total taxable income under the ordinary rate schedule. The surcharge will be reflected in provisional tax for 1974-75.
The Treasurer announced on 23 July 1 974 that we would introduce a capital gains tax. Capacity to pay tax is enhanced by capital gains as well as increased income. It has therefore been unfair that income has borne full tax while capital gains have borne none. Taxpayers have also been able to manipulate their transactions so as to substitute capital gains for income and thereby avoid taxation.
The new tax will apply to capital gains realised after today. However, in relation to property already held, the tax will fall only on gains accruing after today. Today’s values will be taken as one basis of calculation of those gains, but where today’s values are below the cost of acquiring property, the new tax will not apply unless realisation value exceeds that cost. At the taxpayer’s option, however, gains accruing after today will be the proportion of total gains that, on a time basis, is related to the period of ownership of assets after today.
Capital gains will include gains from the disposal of assets, capital sums otherwise derived from assets, foreign exchange gains, and gains from the purchase of debentures by their issuer. A disposal will be deemed to occur in cases extending beyond sales and exchanges, and will include compulsory acquisitions, losses or destruction of property, creation of a trust, gifts, transfers on death- in broad terms, any passing of property or an interest in property from one person to another will be included. Capital losses will be deductible against capital gains, but not against income, and for the purpose of deductibility capital losses will be permitted unlimited carry-forward during lifetime and a three year carry-back on deemed disposal at death.
The new tax will not apply to any amount that qualifies as income for income tax purposes. Particular examples are profits from the sale of property which are subject to income tax under sections 25, 26 (a) and 26AAA of the Income Tax Assessment Act.
Gains on sale of a taxpayer’s principal residence will be exempt from the new tax and there will be other exemptions and reliefs.
Half of the capital gains realised by an individual in a year will be included in assessable income and taxed at income tax rates. That is, the rate of the capital gains tax levied on individuals will be equivalent to not more than one-half of the marginal tax rate which would have applied had the gain been taxed as income. The gains of companies will bear tax at a rate equal to half the maximum marginal rate of tax on individuals, namely 33Vi per cent.
It is proposed, however, that full income tax rates, whether for companies or individuals, should apply to one category of capital gainsnamely that part of gains realised on the sale of land which reflects actual or potential change in use. Gains of this kind accrue from community decisions and the benefits of such decisions should accrue to the community. This aspect of the capital gains tax will have a significant impact in controlling land speculation.
These are the key features. There are many complex technicalities involved and extensive anti-avoidance provisions will be required. For these reasons it will not be practicable to introduce legislation before the Autumn sittings. Meanwhile, an explanatory paper is being circulated giving a more detailed but still broad outline of what is proposed.
I come now to the Government’s proposed tax concessions.
As announced in the Policy Speech, the income tax law will be amended to enable Australian residents to claim deductions in 1974-75 and subsequent income years for the maintenance of dependants who are not residing in Australia.
Depreciation on Child Care Facilities
As also announced in the Policy Speech, the income tax law will be amended to provide specifically for depreciation deductions in 1974-75 and subsequent income years for capital expenditure by employers on the provision of child care facilities for children of their employees.
Two amendments will also be made to the estate duty law to give effect to undertakings in the Policy Speech. We shall set up a board to hear applications for release from payment of duty in cases of serious hardship, to be composed in the same way as the existing boards that consider similar matters relating to income tax and pay-roll tax.
The other amendment will exempt from duty, along lines indicated in the Policy Speech, an interest in a principal matrimonial home that passes to a surviving spouse. Before calculating the statutory exemption from duty the unencumbered value of such an interest up to $35,000 will be excluded from the value of the estate. Where the unencumbered value is more than $35,000 the amount excluded will be $35,000 less $7 for every $10 in excess of $35,000. The amendment will apply to dutiable estates resulting from deaths since 29 April 1974 of persons domiciled in Australia.
The Government’s scheme of income tax deductions for home mortgage interest has already been outlined. The legislation will be introduced during the present sitting of Parliament and will apply to interest payments since 1 July 1974.
I come now to the major new taxation concessions proposed by the Government. In aggregate they amount to $500 million in value in a full year.
First, I announced that the Government has decided to abolish broadcast listeners’ and television viewers’ licence fees. The National Broadcasting and Television Service is a service provided to the community as a whole, and the Government believes that the cost of the service should therefore be met out of general taxation revenues rather than through a licence feewhich, being a poll tax, bears relatively more heavily on the less affluent.
Licences which become due for renewal on or after tomorrow, 18 September 1974, need not be renewed.
There will be a full-year saving to listeners and viewers of $71 million.
A revised tax rate scale will apply to 1974-75 incomes of individuals. Compared with the present scale, reductions in tax will apply to taxable incomes up to nearly $10,500 with slight increases above that. The largest reduction will be about $100 a year at a taxable income of $6,000. Further details are given in a separate statement. The revised scale will be reflected in PA YE deductions as from I November 1974.
In addition to the reductions in tax on low incomes in general under the new rate scale, we see a particular need for tax relief to low income families. A special rebate of tax will be introduced for that purpose. If a taxpayer’s saving of tax at ordinary rates from his dependants maintenance deductions would be less than 40 per cent of the amount of those deductions, a rebate of tax will be given to bring the tax saving up to 40 per cent or up to the tax otherwise payable if that is less. In some cases the rebate will extinguish tax altogether. Where this does not happen, it will be greater the lower the income of the taxpayer and the larger his dependants deductions. Taxpayers who would already be saving 40 per cent or more of their dependants deductions will not benefit.
The rebate will be reflected in PA YE deductions as from 1 November 1974. A separate statement explains it further.
The total cost to revenue of the restructuring of the rate scale and the special rebate for low income families is of the order of $430 million on a full-year basis.
The combined effect of these two measures will be to cut dramatically the tax payable by those on lower incomes with dependants. For example, a taxpayer with a dependant spouse and two dependant children and with average other deductions earning $70 a week paid $213 in tax on 1973-74 income; on 1974-75 income no tax will be payable. If he earns $90 per week the tax payable will be cut by more than half, from $389 per annum to $190. At $120 a week the gains remain significant, tax payable falling from $739 per annum to $577.
Taken together, our tax measures constitute major reforms. They will make the tax system fairer and more equitable. The great majority of wage and salary earners and especially lowincome single-income families, will pay less tax as a result.
The cost to revenue of the restructuring of the income tax rate scale, the special rebate for low income families and the abolition of broadcast listeners’ and television viewers’ licence fees is, as I have said, about $500 million on a full-year basis. Some part of that cost will reflect itself in refunds of personal income tax in early 1 975-76.
The net cost to revenue of the general revenue measures I have announced- that is, excluding the proceeds from the proposed increase in the wool levy- is about $237 million in 1974-75. Details, including the revenue estimates for each of the separate decisions, are given in Statement No. 4.
After allowance for the decisions we have taken, it is estimated that receipts will be $ 15,704 million in 1974-75. This would be an increase of $3,702 million, or 30.8 per cent, over the 1973-74 level.
I now summarise the Budget aggregates.
Budget outlays are estimated to increase by $3,980 million, or 32.4 per cent, to $16,274 million in 1 974-75. Budget receipts are estimated to rise by $3,702 million, or 30.8 per cent, to $15,704 million.
The estimated deficit is thus $570 million but in respect of the domestic balance there is an estimated domestic surplus of $23 million. Those estimates compare with the deficit of $293 million and the domestic surplus of $2 1 1 million in 1973-74.
The keynote of this Budget is social progress. We are looking to create a fairer and better Australia.
The year ahead will be a difficult one. The world is beset by severe economic problems. Australia cannot insulate itself from them.
The Budget, together with our other policies, is designed to make the best of things as they are in the world today- to maintain employment opportunities and to protect those who most need protection from the ravages of inflation. At the same time we are looking to the longerterm to the way Australia develops as a nation in the decades ahead. The problems immediately ahead have to be dealt with but in doing so this Government will remain steadfast in implementing its programs.
Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 1 140).
-Mr President, I think that at the time when this matter was adjourned the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) was speaking to the amendment that had been moved by Senator Withers on behalf of the Opposition. I think that Senator Murphy had intended first to respond to the debate that had taken place, but he was prepared to give way to Senator Laucke in order to allow Senator Laucke to express his point of view. Therefore, in order that Senator Laucke may express his point of view I am prepared to accede to his having the floor at this stage.
- Mr President, I thank the Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Douglas McClelland). Although I realise that on Budget night it is traditional not to deal with any further business after the Budget Speech has been read, the matter presently before the Senate is of such great moment that I believe I should say a few words about it. It concerns the committee system within the Senate which has developed in recent years and which has added greatly to the stature of this place. I can see an insidious attack being made on, and the sowing of seeds of destruction of, the committee system, through the proposal enunciated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy). I hope that the Senate will carry the amendment which has been moved by Senator Withers. In my opinion it is vital not to reduce the powers that have been conferred on our committees up to the present time.
I notice in the proposal advanced by the Leader of the Government in the Senate that no further matters are to be referred to any of the committees which are to be re-established. The committees will deal only with those matters which are now in the pipeline. That in itself indicates that we are heading towards the destruction of what has proved to be the most progressive move that has been made by this place in generations. Although I realise that there is a desire not to have a long debate on this matter tonight, I wish to express my point of view and to indicate my deep concern about the seeds of destruction that are inherent in the proposal advanced by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I believe that it is incumbent on all of us, irrespective of our Party affiliations, to express our point of view on this matter. Although it has been said that this motion which has been moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate is Government sponsored, I hope that there will be a realisation of the high importance of Senate committees being conducted by members of this Senate and not being submerged in another system. That is why I wish to add my comments to the excellent exposition of the need for such a system, as seen by those who sit on this side of the Senate, as given by Senator Withers. I trust that the amendment that he has proposed will be accepted in toto.
– I am absolutely appalled by the proposals which have been put by the Government. Senator Murphy rightly has received credit in the past for his advocacy and support of the establishment of a Senate committee system. Senator Murphy, in opposition and in government in previous Parliaments, realised that the role of the Senate was entirely different from that of the House of Representatives and that the operation of a committee system was a proper role for the Senate to play. He has been credited with being the architect of the Senate committee system. Today his speech indicates that he is now the undertaker who is burying the Senate committee system. His proposal that the 5 committees- leave out the other 2 committees for the moment- should merely finish dealing with the references which they have before them is nothing more than a burial of the Senate committee system, a system which has won great credit for the Senate. I think Senator Murphy would acknowledge that.
Many of the Senate committee reports have had great significance not only in Australia but also overseas. Let me say to Senator Murphy and to Senator Hall, who opposes the reestablishment of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on the basis that we have a joint committee, that as one who served on both committees- indeed, I served for many years on the Joint Committee about whose ability even today to carry out proper investigations I will say a few words- the report on Japan was held to be of great significance overseas. In the United States it received great credit. In Japan it is being used as a textbook in Japanese universities. Japanese professors wrote seeking additional copies of the transcript of evidence to use as a textbook in their lectures in universities in Japan.
I have been involved with sub-committees of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. In all the years I have been associated with them there have been only 2 reports which have received any prominence. One was on the Middle East. I think that was in the early 1960s. Another was on the Indian Ocean. By chance I happened to be the Chairman of that subcommittee, which issued that report within 12 months. There was a sub-committee on the South Pacific which sat for two or three years but the report has never been tabled. There was a sub-committee on Indonesia, which sat for some years but only an interim report was tabled.
We found that with this type of committee there were great problems as a result of the difficulties in getting members of the House of Representatives to attend committee meetings because of their other responsibilities. I found, as did others, that it was an almost impossible task and that they did not treat the matter with the same seriousness and the same degree of responsibility because of the different role and responsibilities they had compared with members of the Senate. I say with great seriousness to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) that there is a place for a Senate committee system. If we are going to abolish a committee, let us abolish the Joint Committee. Let us follow the American system where there are Senate committees and House of Representatives committees. In fact, it is a system which I personally would favour. There is a role for a Senate committee system.
I understand the problems facing the Leader of the Government in the Senate. He has got his marching orders from his peers. There is no question that there is within the Government a desire to destroy the Senate committee system. Senator Withers has said that we had difficulties and we did have difficulties. When I took over the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee we had difficulties with our own Government. Here we are moving into an area of sensitivity. Because of the strength and the support that I got from the President in those days and from Senator Drury, the Deputy Chairman of that Committee, these difficulties were overcome. I believe that they should be overcome. I agree that Senate committees are a nuisance to governments. But some governments regard the Parliament as a nuisance too. The function of committees is not only to better inform the Parliament so that it can compete more successfully with the expertise of the Executive but also to put a parliamentary view. A parliamentary view from both sides might well differ from an Executive view.
I look with great foreboding upon this proposal to kill the Senate committee system. It is inevitable that the Government’s proposal will kill the system. It will kill the expertise that has been developed within the Senate itself and the secretariat that is required to service the committees. It will kill the expertise we have been able to gather together from universities, from industry and from outside in order to assist committees. It will kill the relationship which has been growing between the Parliament, the universities and the public. There has been a growing awareness of the value of the committees to which people have been able to come and to talk to parliamentarians. The committee system has been of tremendous value, in a sense, in bringing Parliament to the people. I know that it is hopeless, but even at this stage I hope that in a very short time with a change of government in this country we will restore this system as it was and all committees as they were established. Senator Georges may grin. But there will be a change of government and the pathetic Budget which was produced tonight will only hasten it. We will restore this system because it is of great value to the Parliament and to the country. I am appalled that tonight Senator Murphy will become known as the undertaker who is burying the Senate committee system.
– I am pleased to hear Senator Sim say that when eventually, in the fullness of the decades to come, members of the Opposition come to power they will restore the committee system with all the committees as they existed previously. He will recall that the introduction of that system was moved by the Party which now occupies this side of the Senate. I had the honour of moving for its introduction.
– I give you full credit for it.
– Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster) Order! The Minister may recall that he has already spoken on this amendment. If he wishes to address the Senate again he will have to seek leave.
– I was closing the debate.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- You have spoken on this amendment. I do not think you have the opportunity to close the debate.
– I ask for leave to speak.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The Minister has sought leave to continue his remarks. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– by leave- No one else was seeking the call. I was purporting to close the debate. Let me say that it ought to be put on record, in case those who read Hansard may be misled, that Opposition senators are now supporting the full system as it was but their predecessors when they were in government voted against the proposal. All except one voted against it. I distinctly recall that the system was set up as a result of a combination of the Labor Party with Senator Turnbull and Senator Wood. That is my recollection of the establishment of the original system.
– That is incorrect.
-I am talking about the committee system and the precise way in which those committees were established. Be that as it may, a committee system is not only good but also indispensable to the proper functioning of Parliament. There is no doubt whatever about that. I think that what has been said about the credit and the benefit which has come to the Senate, the Parliament and the nation through the operation of the committee system is indisputable. There is no doubt that this system has worked well. It has been of enormous benefit not only through the reports and the value which they have to the committee but also in the education of honourable senators themselves. Those who have sat on the committees, sometimes with fairly superficial knowledge or in some cases with no knowlege of the subject matter, have had the opportunity of listening to experts from every walk of life and every facet of a subject. They have became authorities on particular subjects, certainly in the legislative sense. I think that this has greatly enhanced the contribution which honourable senators can make. In this chamber there is now enormous expertise on various subjects which, I think, is not shared by any other institution or group throughout this nation. This is because of the operation of the committee system. Whatever my views, which some honourable senators have indicated here tonight, I am bitterly opposed to the disappearance of the committee system as such from Parliament because I do not think it could work effectively. The work of Parliament would be stultified if we were to do away with the committee system.
– In the Senate?
– I said the committee system. There is a division of opinion here. The Government- that is the Parliamentary Labor Party- has taken the view that it is preferable to have a joint committee system. That is the simple issue here. Is there to be a transposition from a Senate system of committees to a joint committee system, to committees of the House of Representatives and of the Senate? I think it has been demonstrated that at least the case for a joint system in regard to foreign affairs and defence has been made out.
– Which will never work.
– It will work if it is given an opportunity under this new system and with it operating alone. I indicate that whatever is decided by the Senate there will have to be a committee system. If there is a joint committee system as the result of a vote here one hopes that all honourable senators will co-operate in the conduct of that system. If by decision of the Senate it is determined that there will be a Senate standing committee, either partially or wholly, then the Government will co-operate fully in carrying on that system. We want it to be recognised that whatever there might be it is essential that there be a proper committee system operating through the Parliament. We all know the value of the committee system. There is a difference in approach to this matter. Whatever the result of this vote be, I certainly urge everyone in this chamber to co-operate fully in carrying out the decision and ensuring that the undoubted benefits of the committee system which have been demonstrated here in the Senate should be able to continue in one form or another. There is no doubt at all that the fine way in which the Senate committee system has operated has been one of the reasons for the determination to carry the system over into the House of Representatives. By the philosophical approach which has been adopted on the part of the Government it is suggested that we have a joint system as far as is practical. Therefore I say that we ought to come to a speedy determination of the issue.
– In paragraph 3 on page 2 of my proposed amendmentSenator Murphy adverted to this in his speech- it states: . . upon a request by a quorum of members of a committee, the clerk attending the committee shall convene a meeting of the committee.
I agree with Senator Murphy that it ought to be the chairman or deputy chairman’. I ask for leave of the Senate to strike out the words ‘clerk attending the committee ‘ and insert ‘ chairman or his deputy’.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Government in the Senate)- by leave- I did suggest that during my speech and I think there is general concordance. We are about to vote. I suggest that it would be convenient for us to vote firstly on the simple proposition of whether the Senate Standing Committee on
Foreign Affairs and Defence should be established and then to take the rest of the amendment in globo.
- Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. If the question is put in this fashion is it to be taken that that is an amendment which will allow those of us who have spoken on the amendment in the first place to speak again to this proposal?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- The question I intend to put to the Senate is that the amendment moved by Senator Withers be divided into 2 parts. The first question I will put to the Senate is that we leave out paragraph 1 which you will find if you put your attention to the paper before you. The effect of that will be that the motion will be either carried or lost. Next I will put the question for the insertion of the new paragraph. That will give anyone an opportunity to move to leave out words or to insert words. I think that will be the best way of getting to this situation. Senator Hall, does that satisfy your wish in this matter?
– Thank you.
Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Government in the Senate)- by leave- On this procedural aspect I point out that this is in the nature of an amendment. I suggest that the whole of the amendment moved by Senator Withers should be divided so that we will have an opportunity to take those parts. It is an undeniable right in any gathering to have the question divided. We ought not to be put in the position of having to move an amendment to an amendment which would in effect require those who do not agree with one part to get a majority. To put the matter in simple terms, if it were divided and if there were a 30-30 vote Senator Withers would lose the portion of his amendment which deals with foreign affairs and defence. I suggest that we should deal with the first part and then see what might happen on the other matters.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- If that is the will of the Senate we will deal with that portion first and see what is the outcome.
– May I speak, using the device of a point of order? If the first question is carried we leave out paragraph 1 of Senator Murphy’s proposal. Do I understand that from paragraph (1) down to (a) there is no dispute on either side? If that is so, the questions in regard to sub-paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) and (f) could be put separately. I understand that there would be no division in relation to subparagraphs (a), (b), (d) or (f) but that there is a possibility that divisions will be required in relation to the questions on sub-paragraphs (c) and (e). That would resolve whether 5, 6 or 7 separate questions were put. I think that the simplest way of going about the matter would be for the Government to agree to divide the questions in relation to those committees in that way. I am quite certain that the question in relation to subparagraph (a) and (b) would be carried on the voices. In relation to sub-paragraph (c), a division would be required. Sub-paragraph (d) would be carried on the voices, a division would be required on sub-paragraph (e) and subparagraph (f) would be carried on the voices. I do not know whether that suggestion would help. It would enable everybody to have an opportunity to vote on the re-appointment of each committee.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)-Is it the will of the Senate that the questions on the motions be put in the terms that Senator Withers has proposed? There being no objection, it is so ordered. The question now is that the paragraph proposed to be left out be left out.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The question now is that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Withers, to insert a new paragraph ( 1 ) be agreed to.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- We are now dealing with sub-paragraph (a), from the beginning of paragraph (1) dealing with the legislative and general purpose standing committees appointed last session. I understand that it was agreed that the one question be put in relation to sub-paragraphs (a) and (b). Is that the wish of the Senate? There being no objection, it is so ordered. I put the question that proposed new sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) be agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The question now is that sub-paragraph (c) be agreed to.
– I am certain that organisationally it is wasteful to have 2 committees dealing with the subject of foreign affairs and defence. However, I have changed my mind on this issue since the Budget has been read to the Senate. The allocation for the defence of Australia has been increased by just over 12 per cent. We have been told that the general Budget allocations will be increased by 32.4 per cent over the allocations made in 1973-74.
Whilst I believe that it is organisationally wasteful to have 2 committees inquiring into the same subject matter, it may very well be a safeguard for Australia if there are 2 such committees. I have changed my mind on this matter on the basis of the totally inadequate presentation to the Senate and the explanation behind that presentation as to how the defence forces will be maintained when the rise in their salaries and wages bill must be far in excess of the total allocation for defence in the Budget. I do not know how on earth we are going to provide sufficient defence for Australia when we are not even allocating sufficient money to keep up with the increase in wages and salaries, let alone the rapidly escalating costs for every piece of hardware that is required for defence. If I do not know, I want 2 committees, instead of one, to try to tell me.
I am sorry to have caused the Senate this little organisational disturbance. I had spoken earlier and I could not speak again. However, I have not held up the Senate for many minutes. But I want to issue my protest and say that if some risk is to be taken I will take it on the basis that we may have a little more expenditure on another committee because the Government certainly has not given a sufficient increase in expenditure to the defence forces as such. I issue my protest in this way by voting for Senator Withers ‘ amendment.
That proposed sub-paragraph (c) (Senator Withers’ amendment) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Justin O’Byrne’
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Sub-paragraphs (d), (e), (f) agreed to.
Paragraph 1, as amended, agreed to.
– May it be noted that the Government does not wish to divide the Senate unnecessarily on these remaining matters. It has been made quite evident what the voting would be and that the Government’s wishes will not prevail. So we are not choosing to divide on the separate questions that are put.
– I though you may have forgotten to get up and oppose the one on trade.
-Perhaps it should be recorded, in view of that interjection, that we opposed, on the voices, the inclusion of a standing committee on industry and trade, it being indicated to us that if we had divided the numbers would have been against us. We did not require a division on it, and will not require divisions on the remaining questions in order to save the time of the Senate.
– The question is that amendments 2, 3 and 4 be agreed to. Those of that opinion say ‘ aye ‘, the contrary ‘ no ‘ -
– The ayes have it.
– I would like our opposition to this question to be similarly noted.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Debate resumed from 30 July (vide page 553), on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland:
1 ) That the Senate concurs in the resolution transmitted to the Senate by message No. 7 of the House of Representatives relating to the appointment of a joint committee to report on and make recommendations for a parliamentary committee system.
That the provisions of the resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
That the foregoing resolutions be communicated to the House of Representatives by message.
Upon which Senator Withers had moved by way of amendment:
1 ) At end of paragraph ( 1 ) add ‘subject to the following modifications:
paragraph (2), leave out the paragraph, insert the following paragraph:
That the committee consist of three Members of the House of Representatives nominated by the Prime Minister, two Members nominated by the Leader of the Opposition, one Member nominated by the Leader of the Australian Country Party, three Senators nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, two Senators nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and one Senator nominated by the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate’;
paragraph (6), leave out the paragraph, insert the following paragraph:
That the committee elect as Deputy-Chairman one of the members nominated by the Leader of the Opposition being a member from a different House than the Chairman, and that the member so elected act as Chairman of the committee at any time when the Chairman is not present at a meeting of the committee ‘. ‘
At end of paragraph (3), add ‘with a request for the concurrence of that House in the Senate’s modifications of the Resolution transmitted to the Senate by that House’.
– This matter was last before the Senate on 30 July when I, as Manager of Government Business in the Senate, moved that the Senate concur in a resolution sent to it from the House of Representatives relating to the establishment of a joint committee to investigate all aspects of the parliamentary committee system. In moving that motion I suggested that a certain number of members of the House of Representatives from both sides and a certain number of members of the Senate from both sides be appointed to that committee. Senator Withers moved an amendment to that motion and the debate was adjourned so that the Government could give consideration to his amendment. The notice paper at page 319 shows that Senator Withers suggested that the committee consist of 3 members of the House of Representatives nominated by the Prime Minister, 2 members nominated by the Leader of the Opposition and one member nominated by the Leader of the Australian Country Party as well as 3 senators nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, 2 senators nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and one senator nominated by the
Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate.
The Government has given consideration to that aspect of Senator Withers’ amendment and is not prepared to accept it. However, we are prepared to indicate that there could be some form of compromise between the original motion moved by the Government and the amendment moved by Senator Withers. The Government suggests that the proposed joint committee to inquire into and investigate the parliamentary committee system should consist of 4 members of the House of Representatives nominated by the Prime Minister, 2 members nominated by the Leader of the Opposition, one member nominated by the Leader of the Australian Country Party, 3 senators nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, 2 senators nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and one senator nominated by the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate. That would mean that there would be 7 members of the committee from the House of Representatives, four coming from the Government side, three from the Opposition side, and an equal number of senators from both sides of this chamber, that is, three from the Government side and three from the Opposition side.
– That would be four to three and three to three.
– Yes. Four from the Government in the House of Representatives, three from the Opposition in the House of Representatives, three from the Government in the Senate and three from the Opposition in the Senate. The Government believes that to be an amicable working arrangement and I put that suggestion forward. Therefore, by way of amendment to Senator Withers’ amendment, I move:
The Government does not seek to amend in any way Senator Withers’ following amendment to paragraph ( 1 ):
That the committee elect as Deputy Chairman one of the members nominated by the Leader of the Opposition being a member from a different House than the Chairman, and that the member so elected act as Chairman of the committee at any time when the Chairman is not present at a meeting of the committee.
The Government does not see any particular objection to that.
– The Opposition agrees with the amendment as put down by Senator Douglas McClelland. It is not the perfect solution but I think it is a reasonable, sensible compromise arrived at between the 2 Houses to get the Committee off the ground. I still think that there was some merit in our suggestion that there should be an equal number from both Houses, but the main thing is that the Senate is properly represented and is not out of balance as it could have been before. It just shows that with a huie bit of tolerance from both sides and a little bit of give and take we can achieve an awful lot in the chamber.
Amendment (Senator Douglas McClelland’s) agreed to.
Amendment (Senator Withers’), as amended, agreed to.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.53 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Senator Willesee: The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I would however direct the honourable senator’s attention to the following sources of relevant information:
Australian Government Directory- published in March 1974, this gives details, as at the time of publication of statutory boards established by the Australian Government. I am informed that a Supplement updating the current Directory should be issued in October.
My answer to Senate Question No. 303 (Senate Hansard, 25 September 1973, pp 861-2)- this indicates the nature of fees and allowances paid to members of various Government boards, commissions, committees, etc.
Remuneration Tribunal 1974 Review- this document, tabled in the Senate on 24 July 1974, provides a useful list of authorities and offices although the salaries and allowances proposed therein have not been implemented.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The exception is the Secretary, Department of Housing and Construction. The central office of the Department of Housing and Construction has some elements located in Melbourne, while its other elements are located in Canberra. This reflects the different locations of the central offices of the former Department of Works and the former Department of Housing which were amalgamated on 30 November 1973, to form a new Department of Housing and Construction. The former Permanent Head of the former Department of
Works was appointed as Permanent Head of the new Department of Housing and Construction when it was established. His residence is located in Melbourne and his official time is divided between the Canberra and Melbourne offices as required. When in Canberra the Permanent Head receives travelling allowance in accordance with prescribed conditions.
On the assumption that the question relates to Departmental Heads who are non-residents of Canberra and whose office is not located in Canberra, the position is that normal travelling allowance arrangements apply for visits on duty to Canberra (see answer to Question No. 67, Senate Hansard, 19 March 1974, page 414).
The Departmental Heads to whom these arrangements apply are: The Secretary, Department of Labor and Immigration; the Secretary, Department of the Media; the Secretary, Department of the Northern Territory; and the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
What has been the cost of hiring aircraft from Qantas Airways Ltd for overseas VIP trips since 1 January 1 973.
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer the honourable senator to answers on I May 1973 (Hansard, page 1207), 15 May 1973 (page 1618) and 16 August 1974 (page 1101).
The remaining charters, which the Queen and 1 have had, cost$450,035 net.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:
Has the survey conducted by the Traffic Section of the Department of the Capital Territory on the problems of the road toll been completed; if so, has a report been presented to the Minister and is it available for study by State Parliamentary Road Safety Committees.
– The Minister for the Capital Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Traffic Section of the Department of the Capital Territory did conduct a survey but it was limited to field studies to obtain data to be utilised to measure the alcohol involvement of Australian Capital Territory drivers. Analysis of the data is almost completed and a final report will be submitted to me soon. The report will be available for study by all people and organisations concerned with road safety. A preliminary report was forwarded to the House of Representatives Select Committee on Road Safety earlier this year.
Canberra: Increase in Rates (Question No. 105)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Capital Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Increases in annual rate charges do not necessarily automatically result from increased unimproved values. The level of rates payable each year is determined by the amount of revenue required to meet the estimated cost of municipal services.
-On 10 July 1974 Senator Withers asked Senator Murphy a question, without notice, concerning Government policy on interest rates. The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government does not like high interest rates but they are an unavoidable consequence of a tight monetary policy which, in present circumstances, is a necessary pre-condition for curbing inflation.
So far as lending for housing is concerned, it would have served no worthwhile purpose to be increasing the supply of housing finance when the housing industry was overstretched, as it has been during the past eighteen months. In those circumstances additional finance does not build more houses: it simply adds to inflationary pressures, to the disadvantage of all potential home-buyers.
The recent increases in interest rates on savings bank housing loans follow increases which have occurred in other sectors of the economy. The savings banks compete with other financial institutions for deposits (on which their lending for housing depends) and to compete successfully they must offer competitive rates; in turn, increases in lending rates are an unavoidable corollary of increased deposit rates. The Government’s scheme for tax deductibility of home mortgage interest, for which legislation is to be introduced in the Budget Sittings of Parliament, will provide significant relief from increased interest charges for low and medium income home loan borrowings.
-On 10 July 1974 Senator Wright asked me a question, without notice, concerning the recent increases in interest rates and the interest rate on ordinary savings bank accounts with balances under $4,000. 1 said that I would obtain a full answer from the Treasurer.
With regard to the recent increases in interest rates, I refer the honourable senator to the answer by the Treasurer which I have provided in response to a question on the matter asked by Senator Withers of Senator Murphy.
With regard to the rate of interest payable on smaller ordinary savings bank accounts, the Treasurer has provided the following information: The Banking Act provides that the Reserve Bank, with the approval of the Treasurer, has authority to make regulations relating to bank interest rates. In practice, bank interest rates have not been formally determined under the Banking Act but maximum rates have been fixed after discussion between the Reserve Bank and the banks, and with the approval of the Treasurer.
On 8 July 1974 the Governor of the Reserve Bank announced that, following discussions between the Reserve Bank and the savings banks and with the approval of the Treasurer, new maximum interest rates for savings bank deposits and loans has been fixed.
The Governor stated that the maximum rate which savings banks may pay on deposit accounts was to be increased from 7 to 9 per cent per annum and that actual rates to be paid by individual banks on the various forms of accounts would be announced by them. The situation is that the predominant rates for ordinary accounts have remained unchanged at 3.75 per cent per annum on balances up to $4,000 and 6 per cent per annum on the upper segment, while the rate offered on investment accounts is now 9 per cent per annum.
As indicated, within maximum rates, each savings bank has discretion, subject to consultations with the Reserve Bank, to determine the rates payable on particular segments of depositors’ balances according to its own circumstances, which would include the cost of conducting the various types of accounts and the income that can be earned on the funds deposited. With regard to the interest rate paid on smaller ordinary accounts, I am informed that, while the savings banks keep this rate under careful review, many of these accounts are in fact conducted at a loss because of the substantial administrative cost involved in conducting accounts which are the subject of numerous small transactions. Unlike trading banks, savings banks do not impose charges for keeping accounts or collecting cheques. Small increases in the interest rate on ordinary savings accounts are very costly; for example, I understand that a 1 per cent increase in the interest rate would cost the savings banks about $90m per annum.
There are also income restraints affecting savings banks. Over half the assets of savings banks are in public sector securities, on which the yield is fixed at the time of acquisition; the high rates now ruling are therefore only obtainable on new investments or when existing investments are rolled over. Savings banks’ income is also affected by the preferential interest rates on the majority of their housing loans.
It is, however, essential to the retention and growth of deposits which in turn provide funds for home purchases by individuals and for financing essential Government expenditures, that reasonably competitive interest rates be offered on the large ordinary accounts and investment accounts which are vulnerable to competition from other institutions.
Investment accounts, which carry the maximum interest rate of 9 per cent, are the savings banks’ major competitive deposit instrument. During the eight months since the last adjustment in savings bank interest rates these accounts have risen by some $800m.
It is also relevant to point out that savings bank depositors with balances on ordinary accounts above certain minima, ranging from $100 to $500 depending on the savings bank concerned, can transfer their funds to an investment account at 9 per cent per annum. Investment accounts are subject to one month’s notice of withdrawal after a minimum term of three months.
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows: ( 1 ), (2) and (3) Information on the employment of Aboriginals in the Australian Public Service was in the 1973 Public Service Board Annual Report (page 77 ).
The Public Service Board has informed me that developments during the year will be outlined in its 1974 Annual Report which I understand will be tabled in September. I also understand that the 1974 Annual Report will include the results of a survey of Aborigines in the Service.
In view of his interest, I have arranged with the Public Service Board for the honourable senator to receive a copy of the survey report.
asked the Minister for Agriculture, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows: (l)
Rates shown are those operating for the greatest period of the year to the most representative destinations, that is, the United Kingdom and Europe.
asked the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Any spare capacity would be used for:
The treatment, where medically desirable, of nonaccepted disabilities, while the ex-serviceman is in a Repatriation hospital for accepted disabilities; treatment of non-Repatriation patients from artificial limb and appliance centres, including admission of patients for amputation; cases of special clinical interest to Repatriation General Hospitals all of which are teaching hospitals.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What is the number of Canberra doctors who have agreed to work in Canberra hospitals, under conditions laid down by the Australian Government.
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
This matter is being handled by the Canberra Hospitals Management Board, a statutory authority. The Board is dealing with all applications received in complete confidentiality and it would be inappropriate for the Minister to require the Board to provide information on the numbers of applications received or on where they came from. However, the Chairman of the Board has stated that well over a hundred applications have been received, including a number from leading world specialists.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Does the Government provide financial or other assistance to organisations supporting children in institutions in Vietnam fathered by Australian or other foreign servicemen during the war in Vietnam; if not, will it do so.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Australian Government is not at present giving financial or other assistance to any child care organisation in Vietnam.
Customarily, assistance provided under Australia’s aid program is made in response to specific requests from the recipient Government. In South Vietnam, Australia’s aid is predominantly infrastructural, reflecting the wishes of the Government of South Vietnam that we concentrate in this area where Australia has specific expertise and which also accords with their most urgent needs and priorities.
Although the Government of South Vietnam has not specifically requested assistance for institutions in South Vietnam in which children of mixed parentage reside, the. Australian Government has pledged $A250,000 to UNICEF (disbursed in 1973-74 and 1974-75) for its Indo-China aid operation including its welfare programs for Vietnamese mothers and children disadvantaged by the war. Consideration is also being given to further contributions in this area.
The Australian Adoptive Families Association has recently made a submission to the Government, seeking financial assistance for a centre it has established in Saigon, where care and treatment is given to orphans awaiting adoption. This submission is at present under consideration. In addition, the Australian Government convened a Conference, on 24 and 25 July, between officials of Australian and State government instrumentalities, in an endeavour to find any ways of improving the present protracted arrangements for Australians to adopt such orphans. This conference has produced some suggestions, which will require consideration not only by Australian Government Ministers but also by State Ministers. I shall be happy to arrange for the honourable senator to be informed as soon as decisions on these matters are taken.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 September 1974, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1974/19740917_senate_29_s61/>.