29th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Justin O’Byrne) took the chair at 2.15 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 8 citizens of Australia:
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:
Irretrievable breakdown of marriage as the sole ground for divorce, as set down in the Family Law Bill 1 973 based on one years separation.
Maintenance to be based on the needs of all the parties in a failed marriage. Effective automatic permanent entitlement to an ex-wife to be abolished.
Emphasis to be placed on rehabilitation and retraining of estranged wives to enable them to be independent.
Custody to be awarded in disputed cases on the basis of a qualified panel recommendation and to only take into account the material, moral and psychological well being of children involved, not the possessive demands of their parents.
Matrimonial property to be divided equally, taking into account initial contributions.
Costs of matrimonial proceedings to be divided equally.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 63 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 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 60 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 Nations charter these States are entitled to independence and their people to self-determination and beg that such recognition be disallowed.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– As a petition similarly worded has already been presented by Senator Wood, I do not propose to move that the petition be read.
– I present the following petition from 29 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
that for the exercise of complete religious freedom and for the promotion of a liberal and egalitarian society, Church and State need to be kept separate.
that this principle is recognised in Section 1 16 of the Australian Constitution.
that the taxing of any citizens to propagate or support any religion is contrary to this principle and a violation of human rights.
Your petitioners humbly pray that Part 1 1, Section 3, of the proposed Bill of Human Rights, which now reads:
No one shall be subject to coercion which will impair his freedom to have or to adopt a belief or religion of his choice. be amended to read further: and no revenue derived in any way from any Australian citizen shall be appropriated by the Australian Government, or by a State Government, or by a Municipal Government, for the propagation or support of any religion.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– (New South Wales- Manager of Government Business in the Senate)- Mr President, I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
Estimates Committee A:
Attorney-General ‘s Department Department of Customs and Excise Parliament
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Department of Science
Estimates Committee B:
Department of Foreign Affairs
Department of Services and Property
Department of the Special Minister of State
Department of the Capital Territory
Estimates Committee C:
Department of the Media
Department of Education
Department of Tourism and Recreation
Estimates Committee D:
Department of Agriculture
Department of Overseas Trade
Department of Minerals and Energy
Department of the Treasury
Department of Northern Development
Department of the Northern Territory
Department of Manufacturing Industry
Estimates Committee E:
Department of Repatriation and Compensation
Department of Social Security
Department of Health
Department of the Environment and Conservation
Estimates Committee F:
Postmaster-General ‘s Department
Department of Defence
Department of Labor and Immigration
Estimates Committee G:
Department of Aboriginal Affairs
Department of Urban and Regional Development
Department of Housing and Construction
Department of Transport
-Mr President, I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That there be referred to the Standing Committee on Social Environment the following matter-
The effects of the development in Australia of new inland cities, with large populations, and in particular-
the consequences flowing from the demands placed upon inland waters used for industrial and domestic water supplies in those cities; and
the steps which ought to be considered and taken for the proper management and control of such waters to prevent and control any ensuing pollution.
Mr President, as the notice which I have just given refers to the same subject matter as Notice of Motion No. 4, General Business, standing in my name on the notice paper, I withdraw Notice of Motion No. 4.
-My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. What is the Government’s justfication for spending half a million dollars on the painting Woman V the highest amount ever paid for the work of a living artist- when all the Government spends on unemployment relief in Tasmania, where there is distress and concern because of the inability of people to find work, is $1 m?
-I recall, and I think I have some note of it, where the previous Government, with taste that was not so good as this Government’s, spent a considerable amount of money on some landscape by Turner. If what I was told was right, the price was in the $400,000 range. But to compare one thing with another such as that is hardly logical or good sense. If one wanted to talk about the waste of money one would only have to think about the thousands of millions of dollars which were spent by your Government in the dreadful war in Vietnam. You spent billions of dollars bringing death and destruction to people who had done us no harm. We will still be paying millions and hundreds of millions of dollars in the years to come for the repatriation and other results of that senseless, immoral war, and the honourable senator dares to talk about the Government of Australia spending sums of money on works of art.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister responsible for the arts. It follows upon the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition regarding the acquisition by the Australian National Gallery of the Willem de Kooning painting ‘Woman V. I now ask the AttorneyGeneral: Will he confirm that the National Gallery of Victoria in 1973 purchased a painting Val-D Aosta’ by Turner for $475,000 with money supplied by the State Liberal Government? The only reason the Victorian Government did not pay any more is that it got a painting only half as good as ours. If this is so, will the Attorney-General agree that purchases such as these for the cultural benefit of Australians are outside, and should be kept outside, the realm of party politics?
– As I understand the position the Victorian National Gallery paid a total of $475,000 for the painting referred to by the honourable senator. Of that amount, $425,000 was provided by the Victorian Liberal Government and the balance of $50,000 was provided by the then Liberal Party-Country Party Australian Government through the Visual Arts Board of the Australian Council for the Arts. I agree with the honourable senator that these matters should be outside party politics. If one were to adopt the attitude now being shown by the Opposition, which is contrary to what the parties now in opposition were alleging when they were in government, one would not spend any money on the cultural advancement of our people. I think it is very regrettable that this kind of attack should be made upon the efforts of the Australian Government to do something to overcome the neglect of many years. If questions are directed towards the expenditure of moneys and whether we are getting the best deal that we can, I think those are legitimate, but it is deplorable that there should be any attempt to turn back the Government from its endeavours to uplift the cultural standards in Australia.
-My question is directed to the Leader of the Government Senate. Will he confirm the statement made by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Queensland Art Gallery that paintings of Willem de Kooning, the artist of the controversial painting ‘Woman V, auctioned in the last 12 months have brought, in February 1973 in Washington £Stg2,857, in July in London £Stg3,000 and in New York in May 1973 £Stg5,200? Will the Government explain why if these are the auction prices which this artist’s paintings realise it claims that the sum of US$850,000 is a fair market price, as he said yesterday? Does not he consider that the Australian people are entitled to a fairer and better explanation than has been given as to why this tremendous sum of money has been paid in the light of those other figures?
-This is a strange kind of argument to hear from the learned Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I suppose the answer might be that sometimes Senator Greenwood makes a good speech and sometimes he makes a bad one; sometimes he might ask a bright question and sometimes he might ask a foolish one; and sometimes one work of an artist may be considered outstanding while others may not. I understand, while speaking of the former AttorneyGeneral who asked the question, that a predecessor of his, Mr Hughes, has a brother who is a noted art critic. He wrote an article which appeared in ‘Time’ magazine in the United States of America in which he described the artist as the greatest living painter. Is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition saying that we should judge paintings without any assessment of their intrinsic worth? Next he will be saying that we should judge books by the weight of the paper. In other words, let the library buy a ton of books. Then he could say: ‘We bought a ton last week for so much. Why should it cost us more per ton this week?’ That is the kind of argument that is really being proposed.
-I ask the Minister for Agriculture: Is he aware that one still receives many requests from both individuals and groups representing sectors of primary industry for details of the dairy industry restructuring program? Can the Minister say what steps have been taken to provide details of the scheme as widely as possible? Are any further proposals being considered to enable all interested in the scheme to fully understand its terms?
– Since the Government’s announcement of the introduction of a changed dairy adjustment scheme for the industry in Australia tremendous interest has been shown by the industry in all States. Over the months since the decision was taken I have endeavoured to convey to the industry as widely as possible, through the media and through statements, an explanation of the scheme. It does concern me that even at this stage there still seem to be significant sections of the industry which do not understand what the Government has in mind. As the honourable senator would be aware, the legislation has gone through the Parliament and it is necessary for the Australian Government to co-ordinate its activities for the implementation of the scheme with the various State authorities. That does take time, but I hope that within the next month or two final arrangements can be made with the States for putting the scheme into operation. When it is ready to receive applications my Department will advertise in the media indicating to the industry the necessary steps that can be taken in order to obtain assistance under the scheme.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Agriculture and I too would like to know what the Government has in mind. In view of the admission by the Acting Prime Minister that the Government bungled over the superphosphate bounty decision, how many applications have been received by the Minister’s Department requesting the continuation of the bounty and how many were referred to the Industries Assistance Commission? Who made the referral decisions and what criteria were used to determine the merits of the applications? What is the superphosphate price in Australia following devaluation? How does this compare with the price 12 months ago?
– I am not aware that any Minister has said that the Government bungled on the matter of superphosphate. It is true that one comment has been made to the effect that the Government may have acted in a manner different from the way in which it did act. But it should be pointed out that at the time of the decision it was made quite clear that access to the Industries Assistance Commission would be available to any section of rural industry in Australia or to any region of rural industry, that if it presented a prima facie case to the Government, that case would be referred to the Commission. In the case of the Westralian Farmers Co-op Ltd, its submission was regarded as a prima facie case of disadvantage to the area. As a result the submission was referred to the Commission. I believe that a finding by the Commission should come down by about March of next year. I cannot say exactly the precise number of other submissions which have been made. I think it would be of the order of eight or maybe ten. None of them established a case as clearly as the Westralian Farmers did. Consequently it was decided by the Government that a prima facie case had not been established. The matter is always under review by the Government, as are all policies. Although the present system of approach may appear on the face of it to have some difficulties, I believe that in fact it does provide an open channel to any section of rural industries to make submissions to the Government. I am quite sure that in every case a fair evaluation is made of these submissions before a decision is made.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Agriculture. I refer to the Government’s policy not to renew the superphosphate bounty. As this bounty expires on 3 1 December this year, is the Minister aware that this will discriminate against those users of superphosphate who are unable to take delivery before that date? As the Government will be incurring the cost of bounty payments up to 31 December, will the
Minister give consideration to spreading the equivalent cost of the bounty over the full year ending on 30 June 1975 so that all users of superphosphate will receive some benefit rather than only those who can take delivery before 3 1 December?
-Firstly, may I finish answering the previous question asked by Senator Drake-Brockman. I remembered when I sat down that he asked me to indicate prices. They vary within the States. I answered a question about this matter, I thought, only a week or so ago.
– The Minister had some doubts about it then. I thought he may have additional information.
-That may be because the price varies between the States. There are 6 different figures to keep in one’s head, but I believe the average price is $36 to $38 a ton. That is the present position.
As to Senator Young’s question, this matter has been brought to the attention of the Government. I believe that it has merit. It would not matter which way the Government ended the bounty under the present policy arrangements. It will create a build-up of orders which, in all probability, the industry cannot meet. I am quite sure that the argument which has been advanced by Senator Young is a genuine one to try to spread the impact of that build-up to as many farmers as possible, especially the smaller farmer. I am currently considering the matter. I believe it is possible that there is a case to support the principle of what Senator Young is saying. There are difficulties because, firstly, it means that the present legislation will have to be amended. I hope that if the Government does decide to do that, with good intentions on the part of the Parliament an amendment to that effect can be carried. Whether it would get over the inequitable features of the system, even in these last 3 months or 9 months to go, is debatable because I believe that the very nature of the phosphate bounty distribution system was inequitable from the beginning. But even apart from that, I will make a decision on this matter, I hope within the next few days, and I will then make a public statement one way or the other.
– Has the Minister for Agriculture received a recommendation from the Australian Wheat Growers Federation that wheat quotas should be suspended and, additionally, that the level of the first advance on wheat deliveries for the current season should be raised by 60c to $1.80 a bushel? Can the Minis.terr indicate when he will be able to give a decision on the Federation’s request?
– I have received a request to that effect. I should point out that the level of the first advance is decided very early in each year- in January or February- for the succeeding wheat season; that is, the $1.20 which has been agreed to by this Government and the industry for the 1974 crop was determined very early this year. The industry is suggesting an increase to $1.80. This would create a precedent of major proportions. It has been customary over the years that when the first advance was decided, that was it. The extra 60c a bushel which has been suggested would mean a 50 per cent increase in the commitment of the Rural Credits Department of the Reserve Bank. The commitment at present is of the order of $700m. Therefore it would be putting an additional load on the Reserve Bank of possibly between $300m and $400m. That is the order of finance that would be involved if the request was acceded to and I do not believe that any government would do that lightly. I will be having discussions with the Australian Wheat Growers Federation shortly on this matter. When it is resolved I will make a public statement on it.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Defence outline the Government’s plans in relation to the probable increase of our current complement of patrol boats in view of additional responsibilities in northern waters?
– Questions have been raised about this matter here and there, including the Press. Queries have concerned whether the defence forces have sufficient patrol boats in the area. Recently Senator Drake-Brockman asked a question about the strength at Darwin, where there are 4 patrol boats. Proposals for acquisition of new patrol craft are being considered in the general defence planning. In addition the honourable senator probably will have read that Mr Barnard, the Minister for Defence, whilst overseas inspected a number of new types of pa1trol craft and will be considering what to do about them. There are 13 patrol boats operating and, as I advised Senator Drake-Brockman a few days ago, four of them are based at Darwin. One has most recently been added to the complement.
-Has the Minister representing the Minister for Manufacturing Industry noted the comment of the Premier of South Australia that the vehicle building, electrical appliance and electronic industries in South Australia are in some difficulty in the short term as well as the medium term, and possibly even the long term? Has he noted the Premier’s expressed intention to ask the Federal Government for special tariffs and subsidies to protect those industries in South Australia? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether any decision has yet been reached to protect the employment position in South Australia?
-I am not aware of the substance of the matter that has been raised by Senator Cotton. I will have to refer it to the Minister responsible.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I am attracted by a comment made by Mr Peter Myers concerning the Aboriginal Housing Panel. He stated that it was incompetent and lily-livered. Can the Minister advise the present composition of the panel? Can he indicate how many Aboriginals have served on the Panel, who they are and their length of service? Can he inform the Senate whether the Panel publishes an annual report? If so, is such annual report available to members of Parliament?
-The affairs of the Aboriginal Housing Panel have come into prominence recently as a result of the appointment of a European to the position of director although an Aboriginal had applied for the position. The Aboriginal Housing Panel is not an adjunct of my Department. It is a panel elected by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects to advise my Department on Aboriginal housing. It is an advisory organisation which has no other function. It publishes an annual report, and the information that Senator Georges seeks, I think, would be found in the annual report for 1973-74. 1 am advised that the annual report is available to anyone on application to the Panel. I quote from that report:
The Aboriginal Housing Panel has been operating for 22 months, has met on 18 occasions and has continued to do all it can to encourage maximum involvement of Aboriginals as well as others associated with Aboriginal housing and related fields in its activities.
The next part is a direct answer to one part of Senator Georges ‘ question. It states:
The Panel, a Federal Committee of the Royal Australian Institute or Architects, is composed of Michael Griggs (Chairman), Ken Woolley, Peter Hamilton and Ron Sevitt.
Resignations were accepted during the year from Helen Tippett, who has been ill, Nick Brown who enrolled to do post-graduate studies in Canada and Charles Perkins who resigned due to pressure of other commitments.
I am also attracted to a minute from my Department on this question. On the subject of appointments, it states:
The Selection Committee consists of the available members of the Housing Panel, namely Messrs Griggs and Woolley (both architects). Martin (Department of Aboriginal Affairs) and Sevitt (an independent person). These categories of membership were agreed upon between the Housing Panel and the Department, with the addition of 2 Aboriginal members. The only existing Aboriginal member of the Housing Panel, Mr Ray Nagas, was invited to participate in the selection but declined; the other Aboriginal position has not yet been filled as the Housing Panel has been waiting for eight or nine months for a nominee from the NACC.
So the Aboriginal Housing Panel does try to encourage the participation of Aboriginals in its activities, but essentially it is an advisory body on architecture.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. Can the Postmaster-General indicate whether farm telephones are considered private or business telephones by his Department? In view of the fact that rental for business telephones has increased considerably more than that for private telephones, will the Minister clarify this matter as it is important to all rural producers?
– The answer to Senator Lawrie ‘s question is that unless the farmers themselves affirm in writing that, firstly, the service is not used predominantly for business purposes, secondly, an occupational entry is not required in the telephone directory and, thirdly, the telephone accounts for the service are not claimed as a business deduction for taxation purposes, they will be considered as private subscribers. If the requirements are met, the business telephone rating will not be charged, but they are the circumstances. They must comply with all 3 criteria.
-Has the Minister for the Media had any response from the television or radio industries about the likely effect on those industries of the elimination of the broadcasting and television receiver licence fees? If so, what has been the nature of that response and what effect will this measure have on the prospects for a smooth transition from black and white television to colour television?
– I can inform the honourable senator that the Government’s proposal for the elimination of the radio and television licence fees has had a very favourable reception from all sections, including the trade union section of the radio and television industries. I think it is fair to say that the television industry, in particular, has greeted the news of this measure with considerable enthusiasm. The honourable senator will be aware that the expectation in many quarters was that the introduction of colour television might lead to increased licence fees being charged by the Government. There was concern that this in turn would mean that fewer people would be attracted to the purchase of colour television sets. Today I was particularly pleased to find that this point has been recognised by one independent television production company- one of the largest independent television companies- whose managing director wrote to me to express his appreciation for the Government’s action in eliminating the licence fees and to suggest that this would give added encouragement to the greater employment of Australians.
I might add that there has also been an appreciative response to this measure from representatives of the tourist industry, who believe that the elimination of the licence fees will be of considerable assistance to a more effective development of the tourist industry. The honourable senator can be assured that this Government has done everything possible to get colour television sets on to the market at the lowest possible price in order to improve the quality of life for all sections of the Australian community.
– I draw the attention of honourable senators to the presence in the gallery of members of a delegation from the Parliament of India. On behalf of honourable senators, I express the hope that their stay in Australia will be a pleasant one.
Honourable senators- Hear, hear!
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade. Is it a fact that Australia has failed to gain a major meat export contract with Russia because the price asked was too high? What part did the Departments of Overseas
Trade and Agriculture play in attempting to secure that contract? Is the Government actively searching for alternative markets to alleviate the desperate situation now facing the Australian meat industry?
– I assume that Senator Maunsell’s question refers to a contract with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics which the Australian Meat Board had taken all reasonable steps to win but which subsequently went to the European Common Market. Is that the matter to which the question refers?
– No, it went to the Argentine.
-I understand that in the case of the Argentine there has been a similar situation. Apparently the Russian authorities were interested in a long term contract to purchase some thousands of tonnes of meat and the Argentine authorities have been able to quote a considerably lower figure than the Australian Meat Board has been able to quote. This is very similar to the Russian purchase of meat from the European Economic Community some months back. I understand that the price differential was in the vicinity of $200 to $250 a tonne. It is quite obvious that Australia would not be in a competitive position in those circumstances. I do not think there is much that Australia can do about this. We have cost advantages insofar as our natural pasture is concerned, but there are disadvantages which bring about a higher cost factor. The cost of labour is a point that must be taken into account. I do not think there is any action that could have been taken and was not taken either by the Australian Meat Board or by any other authority acting on behalf of the industry.
-Can the Postmaster-General provide any details of the extent of operation of the planned Australian Post Office courier service? Can he also say how many people it is expected will be employed by the service?
-To the present time the Australian Post Office has placed orders for about 130 mini vans, and it is expected that finally a work force of about 140 people will be necessary. The service will commence in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne during the early part of next year. It is expected that about 62 vans will be delivered in the first instalment. The service will provide the sort of specialised services for customers which is partly provided by competitors at the present time. It will be an extension of the services provided by the Post Office, and it has been generally welcomed by the industry and by the public.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Even though the Budget is only 2 weeks old, will the Government, as a matter of extreme urgency, consider a reduction in government spending as a means of countering inflation? Is the Government aware that the United States Government, with an inflation rate only half that of Australia, has promised to prune its spending by US$5,400m this financial year?
-The debate on the Budget is still continuing and the honourable senator is entitled to make his contribution to that debate during its various stages. It was astonishing to have a Budget produced, as this one was, and to be so widely acclaimed and so little criticised. Any criticism has focussed on relatively minor aspects of the whole program for managing the economy in a very difficult period. I think that any reasonable person ought to agree that the Government has brought down a very sensible Budget designed to deal with the problems of inflation and also with the problems of unemployment.
The reality is that there is enormous prosperity in Australia today. We see that some people have burned their fingers in speculation. We also see that great corporations are making record profits. We see a level of employment that is extremely high by world standards. We also see a Government that is spending money, and spending it heavily, in the areas of health and education and on other things that go towards making for the welfare of our people. The honourable senator asked a question. All he did was to ask: ‘Why do not they cut out Government spending?’ He will remember that when his leader, during the last Federal election campaign, was asked which areas he would cut out, he found it very difficult to say anything, except to suggest cuts in expenditure on health, education and the other services which no selfrespecting government would cut.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. How many commodities are subject to shortfall by-laws, and why are they so subjected?
– Commodities are subject to shortfall by-law when there exists in Australia a shortage in the production of those commodities. The reference to by-law means that the commodities, being in short supply in this country, are admitted free of duty, whereas duty would be charged on them if there were available in this country a sufficient quantity of those commodities to meet the demand. Following up Senator Scott’s question, it is interesting to observe that at the present time there are some 90 commodities in shortfall in Australia. These commodities normally are produced in Australia, but there is not enough of them being supplied to meet the demand. It fits in exactly with what the Acting Prime Minister was saying when he called for higher productivity. Those 90 commodities include such things as a range of various foodstuffs, raw materials, the base chemicals for chemical manufacture, paper products, steel products, aluminium ingots, strip and foil, aerosols, liquid petroleum gas storage cylinders and various items such as raw yarns for the manufacture of apparel. There is a whole range of commodities. The shortages are so evident in Australia that another 25 commodities are under consideration for admission in the shortfall by-law area. It is up to industry to organise itself to meet these shortages. In any community production in one area has to be transferred to production in other areas, and this has been evident for some time. There are great shortages of commodities in Australia, and those people who undertake the production of them could well expand their production rather than the government being required to admit commodities from overseas free of duty simply because insufficient quantities are being produced in Australia.
– My question which is directed to the Postmaster-General is related to the increased postal charges which took effect from yesterday, 1 October. Were all the proposed increases in postal charges included in the legislation passed by the Senate recently, or are some of them yet to be implemented by regulation? I refer particularly to postal charges for overseas mail. Can the Minister give the Senate that information?
– Over the years- in fact, during the period of office of previous governmentsit has been considered to be adequate, once the legislation has been passed by the Parliament, for the tariffs applying to international mail to be simply promulgated. But because of new advice from the Attorney-General ‘s Department and having regard, I suppose, to the reasons put up by that Department in relation to the need for a new and sensitive outlook on international protocols and conventions, this matter was debated and it was considered that the thing to do now is to increase international mail charges by regulation. Senator Murphy and I conferred on this matter and we felt that although the practice followed in the past had been sufficient we would accede to the new advice we had received. I hope that the Executive Council will enact today the regulation which will increase the international charges.
-Has the Minister for Agriculture seen a report in last Saturday’s ‘Australian’ according to which the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party, Mr Sinclair, alleged, inter alia, that devaluation would increase gross farm income by approximately $150m whereas someone whom Mr Sinclair called a Government spokesman had claimed that the increase would be $500m? Is there any truth in either of Mr Sinclair’s allegations?
– I did make a statement to the effect that the increase in the income in the rural sector as a result of devaluation would be in the vicinity of $2 50m to $300m. I have not seen any estimates of the order of either $150m or $500m. I have no idea where those estimates could possibly have come from. My figures are based on estimates made by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics which I think would be the most authoritative body in this country to make such an estimate. Mr Sinclair has a habit of shooting from the hip and saying things which tend to be a bit outlandish. The only time that he is not generous in his statements is when he is asked to make promises about restoring the socalled benefits taken away from the farmers by this Government.
– My question which is directed to the Minister for Agriculture relates to the virtual total omission from Mr Whitlam ‘s United Nations address yesterday of any reference at all to the world ‘s growing food crisis or any proposed contribution by Australia to its alleviation. Is the Government aware of the full magnitude of this food crisis and of its grave potential for disease, starvation, death and even war? Does the Government appreciate the heavy responsibility of Australia as a country with a capacity for significant agricultural export surpluses to play its full role in alleviating world hunger? What are the specific proposals of the Government to provide adequate incentives for the production of appropriate foodstuffs and for the financing of its contribution to underprivileged nations? What plans, if any, has the Government to provide a special peace corps of Australian experts to go to the threatened countries to help in this vital task? Finally, does the Government agree that the size of this problem requires measures of a magnitude far beyond those contained in Australia’s current foreign aid policies?
-The general matter raised by Senator Carrick is unquestionably one of very great importance. Of course, it contains several specific questions. There is no doubt that Australia, as a nation, will need to play a leading role in the general matter of food supply to the world over the next 2 or 3 years especially, and probably for longer than that. I understood that Mr Whitlam specifically referred to the fact that Australia, in fact, would play its role in meeting the problems which we at this stage at least foresee will arise. I do not think that it was his role in that speech to spell out in detail specifically what the Australian Government is prepared to do. I thought I had indicated to the Senate that currently the Australian Government is involved in negotiations with other governments prior to the World Food Conference in Rome in November. Finality has not been reached as to the precise commitments that any government will enter into; nor would one expect that to be the case at this stage.
Dealing with the general question of incentives to producers, I state that I have said before in the Senate- I distinctly recall a similar question asked by Senator Carrick some time last year- that the greatest incentive to a producer is an assured market. No government has done more to secure markets for primary producers in this country than this Government has done. It took this Government to come to power to give wheat growers the financial incentive to grow more wheat and to give them the biggest quota and the biggest first advance payment in the history of the wheat industry.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation. It was announced in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech that British ex-servicemen would be eligible to receive service pensions. Can the
Minister say when British ex-servicemen will be able to receive these pensions and what the conditions of eligibility will be?
– I think that Senator Mcintosh is the only British ex-serviceman in the Senate. So it is probably understandable that he should have raised this matter- not that I would suggest that he had a vested interest in the matter. The Treasurer announced in the Budget Speech that eligibility for service pensions would be extended to ex-service men and women of Commonwealth countries who had theatre of war service in wars or warlike situations in which Australian forces were involved. The proposed legislation will apply not only to British exservice men and women but also to ex-service men and women from other Commonwealth countries. For example, Indian ex-service men and women who now reside in Australia also will be eligible for those benefits. The proposal is that Commonwealth ex-service men and women who had theatre of war service in these conflicts will be eligible for the same service pension entitlements as Australian ex-service men and women. This is something for which many people in Australia have been agitating for many years- unsuccessfully for 23 years in the time of our predecessors in office. They will be eligible for this entitlement after 10 years residence in this country.
If I may add something to this, I am at the present time having inquiries made to see how it will be possible for us to extend these benefits not only to Commonwealth ex-service men and women but also to ex-service men and women of other allied countries who were engaged in wars or warlike conflicts alongside the Australian forces. Without elaborating, I think it is easy to see the difficulties involved in the extension to these people. For example, is a member of a resistance movement to be classified as an exserviceman? What is the position of somebody who served for part of the time with the Vichy forces and for part of the time with the Free French forces, and so on? Precisely what is a theatre of war? Obviously there are very great difficulties in arriving at a definition not only of a theatre of war but of what constitutes an allied ex-service man or woman. But these inquiries are being made and I hope it will not be too long before adequate legislation can be brought down to cover these people?
With regard to Commonwealth ex-service men and women, they will become eligible for the benefits as soon as the appropriate legislation has been passed through the Parliament. I hope that the Opposition will not display the same obstructive tactics on this Bill as it has on other constructive measures which the Government has brought forward. Once the Bill does become law, Commonwealth ex-service men and women will be eligible for the benefits and they will be able to obtain them by applying to the officers of the Department of Repatriation and Compensation in their respective States. The eligibility of Commonwealth ex-service men and women will be widely advertised throughout Australia.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question relating to the increased PMG charges. Is the Attorney-General aware that under the common law where a fee for service is paid in advance this constitutes a contract and the fee cannot be altered until the contract expires? I ask: Do not telephone rentals and mail box rentals paid in advance constitute a contract between the renters and the PostmasterGeneral’s Department? Does the AttorneyGeneral feel that the Postmaster-General should not be allowed to ignore such contracts until they, are at an end?
-What the honourable senator puts is, I suppose, broadly correct, there are circumstances where even such a contract may be susceptible to variation through supervening circumstances. But here it is not a matter of the common law, I suppose. Each one of these arrangements that are entered into is subject to whatever provision might be made by statute. If the honourable senator is referring to somebody getting a box for a limited period- assume he had hired one for 6 months and paid his money- I would have a certain amount of sympathy for him if during that 6 months the rental was altered. I do not know what the effect of it is, but I will look into it with the PostmasterGeneral who, as the honourable senator knows, is a wise and sympathetic man who will try to do the right thing by the people involved.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Media. I preface my question by reminding the Minister that he has told the Senate on a number of occasions that he has asked his Department to pursue new outlets for film productions by Film Australia, particularly television outlets. Can the Minister inform the Senate if this policy has been successful in achieving distribution of Film Australia films in the United States? If so, can he give details of any such productions which have received widespread distribution?
– I can tell the honourable senator that the policy to which she has referred has been put into effect and is proving to be quite successful. In fact, I am told that four or five hours ago there was telecast over the American ABC network a program in the series ‘The Wild Wild World of Animals’, 3 series of productions that were made by the Australian Government film production unit, Film Australia. The program was shown in evening peak viewing time over a network of some 55 television stations throughout the United States. This distribution was made possible as a result of negotiations between officers of my Department on the one hand and the Time-Life organisation on the other hand. Distribution arrangements are being made for the films to be shown throughout Canada, Japan and several South American countries. The name of the series of films, from recollection, is ‘The Three Lonely Mammals’ and the films are about Australian marsupials. I understand that the series is currently enjoying high ratings and that the program shown in New York this morning will have an estimated audience of some 25 million people.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is the Minister aware that a draft contract for hospital services, prepared by a working party from the Government and the medical profession, is to be presented to Canberra doctors for their approval at a meeting tonight? Is he also aware that acceptance of this contract would enable adequate staffing of Australian Capital Territory hospitals by doctors already in Canberra with no need for extra full time appointments? Is it a fact that notwithstanding the foregoing, Dr Wells of the Australian Capital Territory Health Services has already appointed full time specialists to the hospital services scheme without advising the doctors of these appointments? Will the Minister, as a matter of the greatest urgency and in order to prevent breakdown in the almost completed negotiations, order the immediate publication this afternoon of all appointments made secretly by Dr Wells to Australian Capital Territory hospitals and will he assure the Australian Capital Territory Medical Association that the position of its members has not been prejudiced by the actions of Dr Wells to date?
– I must say that I have a great admiration for Senator Baume ‘s intimate acquaintance with the minutiae of the Department of Health. I must confess in answering this question that, far from knowing what devilish deeds Dr Wells has been performing over the last few days, until this moment I had not even heard of Dr Wells.
– You should have.
-Senator Baume says that I should have and I am prepared to accept the correction, but I must confess in all honesty that I have not. Senator Baume apparently believes that something should be done urgently this afternoon. As he is aware, I am not in a position to do it because I cannot direct Dr Wells or anybody else to do anything. All I can do is undertake to convey Senator Baume ‘s question and his strictures to my colleague the Minister for Health and ask him to act with the promptness which Senator Baume, who, as I say, appears to know a great deal about this matter, seems to think that the circumstances demand.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Is it true that under the Post and Telegraph Bills passed last week provincial newspapers distributing in rural areas have either one of two alternatives, namely, to distribute all newspapers through the Post Office which does not make deliveries on Saturdays or pay a rate of postage 6 times as great by way of penalty if the alternative means of distribution used at present are continued? If the latter is the case, as outlined in yesterday’s Tasmanian North-West Coast ‘Advocate’, does not the Minister agree that this is not only unfair to the large distribution area outside the urban delivery service but also distinctly dictatorial and discriminatory against the rural areas and the decentralised Press?
– The case mentioned by the honourable senator was brought to my attention last night by Mr Ron Davies, the member for Braddon. It was pointed out- if the honourable senator would look at the Bill which went through Parliament he will see this himself- that the position as outlined by the editor of the ‘Advocate’ is not correct. If the honourable senator likes I will give him a copy of the circular which was sent to Mr Ron Davies for his information.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate as the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to the Prime Minister’s address to the United Nations in which he is reported to have described the international situation in such pessimistic terms as ‘a drift away from international order’, ‘a sense of events out of control’ and ‘a nightmare world’. As the Government’s previous assessment was of growing stability in the world and a no-threat situation for ten or fifteen years, will the Government now revise Australia’s defence policy in line with the Prime Minister’s new assessment of the world situation?
– I think it is very clear that the assessments about Australia’s position, as I recall them, made by various Ministers for Foreign Affairs in previous governments, as well as in our Government, were that there was no threat to Australia in the next ten to fifteen years. I think everyone agrees that we are in an area now of stability. I think it is fair to say that because of the policy which has been pursued with our immediate neighbours by all recent governments in Australia and which has had the support of all political parties, Australia has good relations with her neighbours. But I think the Prime Minister in his speech at the United Nations was referring to the whole world scene.
It is well known that what is happening in the Middle East has created an explosive situation. There are other areas of the world where, unfortunately, people still resort to violence rather than to negotiation and settlement of differences. Those situations do not constitute any threat of the kind which was being referred to by those assessing Australia’s situation. The honourable senator might say that if a world-wide nuclear conflict broke out, surely Australia would be affected. That is common sense. But it is also common sense that there would be nothing that Australia could do about it. If there were a total nuclear conflict we would be wiped out, as would anyone else. Irrespective of how much we spent on our armaments- if we were to spend ten times as much- we could have no effect on the outcome of that conflict.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Media. I refer to ‘Operation Pimp’ which commenced in South Australia this week for the benefit of the State Labor Government. Is it a fact that this media monitoring system cost the South Australian taxpayers $9,000 and that it is designed to monitor radio and television news as well as current affairs and talkback programs? Which Federal Minister or Ministers approved the installation? Does the State Government hold a licence to operate it? If so, what is the annual fee payable to the Commonwealth? Can the Minister say whether he is certain that this facility is in conformity with section 120 of the Broadcasting and Television Act? Is the Minister aware that Mr Kevin Crease, the Government-paid entrepreneur of the show, on television and radio interviews gave Mr Dunstan a top rating but gave the Leader of the Opposition a low rating? Is it not quite incredible that that should happen in a Government paid service? As this system which is extremely reminiscent of the Goebbels era will be used by the professional Labor Party Press secretaries to manipulate the news media to the advantage of Government Ministers and officials, will the Minister approve the same facilities for the Liberal Party Opposition?
– I saw a report on this matter. The last information I saw on it I think was an opinion which expressed to me that no approval was required because the organisation was not an operational one and was not publishing in any manner. Therefore, as I understand the situation- I am speaking from recollection now- no ministerial consent was required. However, I am given to understand that this is only one of a number of operations of this nature which have been set up by one or two other State instrumentalities. I am led to believe that the first State Government which established an organisation of this nature was the Bjelke-Petersen Country Party Government. However, I think a government is entitled to ascertain what is going on in all sections of the media from time to time. As I understand the attitude being adopted by the Dunstan Government, the position is that Mr Crease has been assigned the task of monitoring current affairs and documentary programs which are broadcast from time to time so that if a point of view that is critical of the South Australian Government is presented, the opposite point of view likewise can be put. I cannot see anything objectionable in that. To me it seems a strengthening of the democratic process.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister for the Media, refers in particular to reports in today’s newspapers of the alleged harassment of Mrs Petrov by an Australian Broadcasting Commission ‘Four Corners’ film crew after Mrs Petrov had made it clear that she would not be interviewed under any circumstances. I ask: What safeguards does a private citizen who does not want to become involved with the media possess against this type of harassment? Is this action contrary to Australian Journalists Association ethics? What is the Minister’s attitude to this incident? Has he any knowledge of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s attitude to its employees who employ these tactics?
– I tried to obtain some information on this matter this morning and during question time a note has been sent in to me. I have been informed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission that it is true that a number of people from the ‘Four Corners ‘ program yesterday called at a house in Melbourne at which it had been alleged that Mrs Petrov was living. As I understand it, the people concerned say that they had intended to research the possibility of some form of story to do with the Petrov case, but it is not clear at this stage what kind of story the ‘Four Corners’ team was seeking. The account of the events yesterday that has been conveyed to me as being the account of the people involved is that they went to a house in Melbourne, knocked on the door and received no reply. The ‘Four Corners’ people say that they then saw a woman leave the house in a car and they followed that car to a nearby police station. Shortly afterwards police officers interviewed them and asked them their business. The Australian Broadcasting Commission people say that they had no intention of harassing the woman concerned and apologised for causing anxiety to anyone involved. This is the extent of the information currently available to me but I have asked the Acting General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to provide me with any further details of the event when this is possible.
The honourable senator has asked me what my personal attitude is to this matter. I do not attempt or set out to prejudge the issue, but if there was harassment on the part of journalists towards any citizen I think it was wrong, and particularly on the part of journalists employed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Journalists employed by private commercial interests might engage in harassment for the sake of obtaining a sensational story. In my opinion there is no reason why journalists employed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission should do so. I intend informing the Chairman of the Commission accordingly and will ask him to take the matter up with the Federal Secretary of the Australian Journalists Association.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a report of the Inter-departmental Committee on the Production of Educational Publications, and seek leave to make a short statement thereon.
-Is leave granted? There being no dissent, leave is granted.
-On 13 March 1973 the Government approved the establishment of an inter-departmental committee to inquire into the nature and extent of supplies and shortages of text and reference books required by primary, secondary and tertiary students; and recommend means of improving supplies and overcoming the shortages. Members of the Committee were drawn from the Department of the Media- chairman and secretarial services- and the Departments of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Treasury and Education.
I now table a copy of the Committee’s report. The Government has accepted the following recommendations of the Committee:
The Government has referred the Committee’s recommendations for consideration by the appropriate Australian Government Ministers and has agreed that I should table the report of the inter-departmental committee.
- Mr President, I seek leave to make a short statement of the tabling of that report.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator GUILFOYLE (Victoria)-On a brief reading of the report of the Interdepartmental Committee on the Production of Educational Publications and its conclusions and recommendations, I find interest in the study that was made. I am pleased to note that the report is to be brought to the attention of the appropriate authorities wherever it is applicable. I refer to paragraph 119 of the report, which relates to disadvantaged groups. I take this opportunity to mention the fact that migrant groups in our community at the present time are making representations to us for the supply of text books in various languages. I am thinking particularly of the Italian language text books which that particular migrant group has stressed as being an urgent necessity. I hope that the members of the interdepartmental committee which made this study and the appropriate bodies to which the report is referred will take cognisance of this urgent need which has been expressed at many levels.
I also take this opportunity to refer to paragraph 132, relating to the prices of text books. It seems to me to be appropriate at this stage to mention the Government policy regarding the taxation deduction for education expenses of dependants. The stress placed by this report on the increasing prices of text books draws our attention to the fact that the $150 allowed as a taxation deduction in respect of dependent children is inadequate in view of the text books and other educational requirements of secondary students. I take this opportunity to stress to the Government that this taxation deduction not only was to cover fees at independent schools but also was a recognition of the need for parents of children at all secondary schools to have adequate supplies of books, aids and equipment. I believe this report shows that the prices of the text books required are increasing. I stress to the Government that the particular policy it has adopted will cause hardship for many families throughout
Australia, not just those involved in the independent schools structure.
The report is to be commended. I am pleased to know that the appropriate authorities will have the benefit of the findings of the people who researched this subject. I welcome the report which has been tabled.
– Pursuant to section 38 (3) of the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act 1967-1973 I present for the information of honourable senators the seventh annual report of the Australian Industrial and Development Grants Board for the year ended 30 June 1 974.
– Pursuant to section 37 of the Australian Industry Development Corporation Act 1970 1 present for the information of honourable senators the fourth annual report of the Australian Industry Development Corporation for the period 1 July 1973 to 30 June 1974.
– Pursuant to section 22 of the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act 1954-1972, I present for the information of honourable members the twentieth annual statement concerning the operation of the Act and the payment of subsidy during the year ended 30 June 1974.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1 969- 1 974, 1 present the reports relating to the following proposed works:
– I have received a communication from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral thanking the Senate for its expression of sympathy on the occasion of the death of his wife, Her Excellency Lady Kerr.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) read a first time.
– I move:
Mr President, I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard the contents of my second reading speech.
-Is leave granted? There being no dissent, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows)-
The Bill has 2 main purposes. First it provides for an additional full-time Deputy Chairman of the Universities Commission. This will bring the membership of the Commission to eleven. At present the Commission has a full-time time Chairman, Professor Karmel, and Deputy Chairman, Professor Bull, and 8 part time members. There are now 1 7 universities and the Wollongong University College will achieve full university status in 1975. In addition the Government has approved in principle the establishment of new universities at Albury-Wodonga, Campbelltown and Geelong. Honourable senators will be aware, through the legislation which has been before the Senate, of the successive initiatives which the Government has taken in relation to universities: The abolition of fees and the assumption of full financial responsibility by the Australian Government, provision for needy students, new and expanded medical schools, and support for new programs in social work, special education and community practice. Altogether the work load on the Commission has increased markedly in recent years and given the major tasks of the universities in teaching and research, will not diminish in the years to come.
Professor Karmel himself has been heavily engaged in a number of special inquiries, quite apart from his historic work with the Karmel Committee on Schools, and is at present bringing to a conclusion the report on open tertiary education. The Government has therefore decided that an additional Deputy Chairman of the Commission should be appointed to assist with aspects of university programs which warrant special inquiry. He would have a particular responsibility for scientific developments and the establishment of new universities, and provide high-level representation for the Commission on committees concerned with these matters. The appointment would be at the same terms and conditions as for the present Deputy Chairman.
The second main purpose of the Bill is to amend the definition of ‘university’ in the principal Act to restrict the meaning of the word to institutions established by the Australian and State parliaments. Some self-styled universities, which are in fact private coaching or teaching organisations, have been established from time to time, some of them with questionable educational standards and offering degrees and awards of doubtful content. The proposed amendment places no restriction on the activities of such organisations but makes it clear that the Commission will not make recommendations in respect of them; and this means they are not accepted as universities by the Government or the Commission. The Bill also includes 2 machinery measures. In accordance with the Government’s practice, the word ‘Australian’ will be deleted from the Commission’s title and it will become the Universities Commission. Provision has also been made for the remuneration of members of the Commission to be determined by the Remuneration Tribunal. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
- Mr President, I had in mind to depart from the normal practice and not seek the adjournment of the debate, but rather speak to the Bill immediately as the Opposition will not be opposing it and would wish to see it go through as quickly as possible. But there is one person who has not been consulted and who may be deprived of the opportunity to speak if I did what I had in mind, so I will seek the adjournment of the debate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Rae) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wriedt) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment of additional financial assistance grants to the State of Tasmania. It provides for the payment of an amount of $ 15m in addition to the financial assistance grants otherwise payable to the State in 1974-75 and for the incorporation of this amount into the ‘base’ for purposes of calculating the grants payable to the State under the formula in 1975-76 and subsequent years. The decision to provide an additional financial assistance grant to Tasmania followed a request by the Premier of Tasmania at the June Premiers Conference this year for discussions with the Australian Government to consider the possibility of his State withdrawing from the special grants system. Following such discussions it was agreed that the revisions to the State’s entitlement under the financial assistance grants arrangements which I have outlined would be appropriate to enable such a withdrawal. It was also agreed with the State that the Grants Commission would be asked not to recommend final adjusting payments- known as completion grants- in respect of the ‘advance’ payments of the special grants made to the State, on the recommendation of the Commission in 1972-73 and 1973-74. This request has been conveyed to the Commission.
Turning to the details of the Bill, the first 3 clauses are of a machinery nature. Clause 4 of the Bill provides for the amendment of the States Grant Act 1973 -the legislation which at present authorises the payment of financial assistance grants to the States- by the insertion of a new section 6a to follow section 6. The first subclause of the new section 6a specifies that during 1974-75 there will be payable to Tasmania an amount of $ 15m in addition to the amount payable under section 6. The second sub-clause of the new section provides for the additional amount of $15m to be included in the base amount for calculation of grants payable to Tasmania in subsequent years under the formula laid down in section 6. 1 commend the Bill to the Senate.
-The Opposition will certainly not oppose the Bill but wishes to debate it. There are many matters to which we wish to refer in relation to it and in relation to the seriousness of the situation in Tasmania. In accordance with the normal procedure, I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wriedt) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to make a minor amendment to the States Grants (Beef Cattle Roads) Act 1 968 in order to extend the period of application of the Act to the State of Queensland from 1 July 1974 to 31 December 1974. Under the terms of that Act, financial assistance in the form of grants totalling $39.5m was made available by the Australian Government to Queensland over the 7-year period from 1 July 1967 to 30 June 1974 for the construction of an approved program of beef roads works. The devastating floods in Queensland earlier this year delayed progress on some of the works in the final year of the program with the result that, by 30 June, there was a relatively small shortfall in the expenditure under the approved program.
The amendment of the Act is necessary in order to provide finance to the State to the extent of the shortfall in the original program of approved works. The amount involved is only $279,000 and an appropriate provision has been made in the Budget. I would explain that the works in question have already been carried out. The Australian Government has pledged its assistance to Queensland in its flood restoration efforts and has consistently adopted a positive and constructive approach in this matter. This Bill is in keeping with that approach and I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– As was explained by the Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wriedt) the purpose of this Bill is to extend the period of application of the existing beef roads legislation to the State of Queensland. For technical reasons the money could not be made available to Queensland beyond 1 July of this year. The works were delayed because of the flood situation, and it is simply necessary to extend the period of application of the Act to enable this money to be paid to the Queensland Government. In those circumstances, the Opposition is happy to support the Bill and to allow the matter to proceed forthwith.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to enable Australia to accede to the United Nations Convention known as the 1958 Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. The Convention facilitates the settling of differences by arbitration. To this end States that accede to the Convention are obliged to recognise and enforce foreign arbitration agreements and foreign arbitral awards. An arbitration agreement for this purpose is one by which the parties undertake in writing to submit their differences to arbitration. Usually such differences will relate to contracts, especially contracts of a commercial character, but it is sufficient under the Convention that a difference is in respect of a defined legal relationship. Arbitration is a relatively inexpensive, speedy and final method of settling differences in business dealings. It is often more adaptable to the complexities of international trade than ordinary court proceedings are. The parties to an arbitration can choose arbitrators with relevant technical knowledge. They can select a place for the arbitration proceedings which will minimise their costs and they can avoid the uncertainty associated with proceedings before foreign courts.
The effectiveness of international arbitration depends, however, on arrangements in the countries concerned for the legal recognition and enforcement of arbitration agreements and awards. Recognising this, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations convened a conference, in June 1958, to work out a convention. Forty-five States, including Australia, attended the conference. A Convention was concluded and came into force on 7 June 1959. To date, 41 States have ratified or acceded to it. They include such major trading partners of Australia as
Japan, the United States of America, France, the Netherlands and the Federal Republic of Germany. Last December the General Assembly of the United Nations resolved to invite States which had not ratified or acceded to the Convention to consider doing so. This was done on the recommendation of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the members of which were of the unanimous opinion that the Convention is of substantial benefit to international trade.
The present Bill deals with the matter on a national basis. This is desirable because the implementation of an international Convention is involved and because that Convention concerns trade and commerce with other countries. The Australian Parliament has the necessary power to proceed in this way and should exercise that power. The former Government had proposed that the matter be dealt with by State and Territory legislation, but that would have been unsatisfactory. The resulting multiplicity of legislative provisions would have been confusing, particularly to parties in other countries. Apart from that confusion, there would have been uncertainty as to when the necessary legislation in the eight different jurisdictions would have been passed.
The present position in Australia is that foreign awards such as those covered by this Bill are recognised and may be enforced in accordance with the State and Territory law that governs domestic awards. However, a party seeking to enforce a foreign award under that law has to adduce evidence to prove that the parties had duly submitted the matter to arbitration; that the arbitration was conducted in accordance with the submissions; and that the arbitration was valid according to the law that was applicable to it. To prove those matters, it will often be necessary to arrange for the attendance at the Australian court of witnesses from other countries. Enforcement is therefore likely to be a difficult and expensive task.
A better procedure for enforcement of certain kinds of awards is available under the State and Territory legislation that provides for the reciprocal enforcement of foreign judgments. However, that legislation is applicable only if the award in question was made in a country with reciprocal legislation and is enforceable in that country as a judgment of a specified court. The Bill I now present expressly preserves the existing procedures I have mentioned for the enforcement of awards. But it provides for an additional procedure that will be simpler, less expensive and generally more satisfactory. Under the Bill a party seeking to enforce a foreign award will need only to produce to the Australian court the duly authenticated original award or a certified copy of it plus the original or a certified copy of the arbitration agreement under which the award purports to have been made. If any of these documents are in a language other than English a certified translation will also be required. The onus will then be on the other party to establish any reason that may exist why the court should not enforce the award.
The Bill provides that a court will be able to refuse to enforce an award for any of the following reasons: Incapacity of the party against whom enforcement is sought; invalidity of the arbitration agreement under the relevant law; absence of proper notice of appointment of arbitrator or of arbitration proceedings or inability for some other reason of a party to present his case; scope of award outside the submission to arbitration; composition of arbitral authority or arbitral procedure not as required; award not yet binding or already set aside; subject matter not capable of settlement by arbitration under relevant Australian laws; and to give effect to the award would be contrary to public policy.
As well as providing for the enforcement of foreign awards, the Bill provides for the recognition of agreements to submit differences to arbitration. This recognition is in the form of a right given to a party to such an agreement to obtain a stay of any court proceedings that may have been instituted to determine a matter that had been agreed to be submitted to arbitration. On granting such a stay of proceedings the court is to refer the parties to arbitration. In this respect, the Bill will go somewhat further than the existing State and Territory legislation under which the question whether a stay of proceedings should be granted is left to the court’s discretion.
Arbitration agreements will be recognised by the provision I just mentioned if the procedure is governed by the law of another Convention country; if there are Australian parties to the agreement, even though it is governed by the law of a non-Convention country; or if parties to the agreement are from a Convention country. The recognition and enforcement provisions in the Bill will be applicable in any State or Territory Court and also in the Superior Court of Australia when that Court has been established.
The Bill provides for Australia to accede to the Convention with a declaration that it is to extend to all our external Territories except Papua New Guinea. Two other declarations are permitted by the Convention but are not provided for in the
Bill. One possible declaration would be that the Convention shall only apply to awards made in the Territory of another contracting state; the other would be that the Convention shall only apply to differences considered to be ‘commercial’. Neither of these 2 declarations would serve any useful purpose for Australia and in fact would detract from the usefulness of the Convention.
Mr Deputy President, the advantages of Australian accession are clear. As far back as 1959 all the Australian States had indicated their view that the Convention should be adopted. Regrettably it has taken until now for the necessary legislation to be introduced. On behalf of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy), I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Rae) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 1 October (vide page 1 560), on motion by Senator Wriedt:
That the Senate take note of 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 1975
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending June 30 1975
Civil Works Program 1974-75
Government Securities on Issue at 30 June 1 974
Payments to or for the States and Local Government Authorities 1974-75
Urban and Regional Development 1974-75
Australia ‘s External Aid 1 974-75
National Income and Expenditure 1973-74
National Accounting Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure of Australian Government Authorities
Income Tax Statistics
Taxation Review Committee, Preliminary Report 1 June 1974
Upon which Senator Withers had moved by way of amendment:
Leave out all words after ‘that’ and insert ‘The Senate is of the opinion that the Budget fails to tackle Australia’s economic crisis, in that:
Unemployment is permitted to grow and the prospect for school leavers is prejudiced;
Inflation is accelerated;
Existing poverty is ignored and new poverty is created:
d) Personal income tax is increased 45 per cent;
Living standards will be lowered;
Private enterprise is stifled;
g) Government power is further centralised;
Individual incentive and thrift is penalised;
A double tax is levied on estates.
And because the Government:
Has made the Budget a socialist vehicle to intensify the attack on the States and break down the free enterprise system.
Believes the absurdity that the Government can spend without people paying or can build without people producing.
Has preached private restraint but has threatened its achievement by its own Government extravagance.
– Yesterday, I was speaking in support of the motion that the Senate take note of the Budget Papers and in oppositon to the amendment moved to that motion by Senator Withers, the Leader of the Opposition. I was making the point that we in Australia are in a very difficult inflationary situation, as indeed are the people in most of the countries in the western world. I was able to produce some evidence to show that world economists, in analysing the problems facing the economies of the world, were stressing that the surplus money supply situation created deliberately by the American Government had now flowed into the economies of all the other countries tradingwith the United States of America. Professor Johnson pointed out that it was impossible for countries in a domestic situation to do anything that would have more than a minimal effect in curing this major international problem. I was also stating that, in addition to it being an international problem, it was a problem associated with the private sector of the economy.
Since making those statements, I was fortunate enough to receive in the post this morning a copy of a speech made at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Sydney only a week ago yesterday by the Chairman of the Sydney Stock Exchange Limited, Mr Valder. I found that he made certain comments that only add to the points that I was making yesterday. He said:
We are in the midst of a credit squeeze designed, one hopes, to rectify some of these inflationary problems. At the same time our market is being influenced by international factors: put simply- the threat of a developing world recession. Which means that we are not alone in our problems.
Mr Valder went on to say; I think it is important for Opposition senators to take this into consideration: . . the Australian economy is still in pretty fair shapeliving standards are high, the level of employment is still (by any past standards) high, we still have our great natural resources, and we have largely escaped the consequences of the international oil crisis, . . .
This is one of the points that Dr Cairns has been making. He has said that we are still in a fortunate position in this country. I think that statement underlines the fact that none of the current inflationary problems that we face in Australia is the result of the actions of this second Whitlam Labor Government, a government which has been in office for only 20 months. Subsequently, I will deal at much greater length with the attitude that the Opposition Parties are taking in respect of the Budget and the inflationary problems. I believe that their attitudes are inadequate, inane and insipid and are completely out of character with the responsible attitude that political parties should be taking at this time. However, at the moment I would like to deal with the Budget itself, to lay the dust on the wilful distortions by the Opposition Parties, particularly by Mr Snedden and his colleagues, and to try to present the Budget to the Australian people in an objective way.
I said yesterday that the Budget has not set out to curb inflation. Having regard to what I have read to the Senate from the statements of international economists and other people, I think it could be said that no budget can curb inflation on the domestic front. The Government does not see the Budget as an instrument in the fight against inflation. The Budget represents an attempt to harmonise Government income with an expenditure planned to accommodate the Labor Government’s electoral program which was endorsed by the people twice in the last 2 years. The Australian Government does not intend to follow the mishmash meanderings of the previous administrations. It does not intend to curtail public sector activity. It intends to press ahead with a program that was endorsed by the Australian people. Of course, the central strategy in the program of this Government is to transfer from the private sector such resources as will enable the public sector to fulfil its proper role in developing our nation. It is a responsible Budget because it intends to help all arms of government fulfil their public works programs. It is a responsible Budget because it seeks to improve the various groups in our community who need government help, whether they be war pensioners, age or invalid pensioners. It is a responsible Budget because it makes available an ever increasing amount to the States so that education, housing, sewerage, roads and public transport are not disadvantaged by private sector mismanagement of resources in this country.
I want to refer to one of the Budget documents, which was made available on Budget night, to indicate to the Senate and to the people at large what this Government is about in its endeavours to transfer resources to the public sector. I am comparing the 1972-73 Snedden Budget with the Budget produced by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) in 1974-75. Over that 2-year period we have budgeted $2,4 19m more for public sector expenditure than was provided in the last Snedden Budget. Which Opposition senator is prepared to say that the money we are spending in the various sectors should be curtailed? For example, expenditure on education has gone from $259.4m to $1,172. 9m, an increase of $9 13 m. I have not heard any member of the Opposition parties, either in the other place or here, suggest that there should be a cut in the education budget. In health expenditure we have gone from $20.5m to $1 15.2m, and it is interesting to note that these are moneys which are being paid by the Commonwealth to State agencies. The Commonwealth’s involvement in housing has gone from $24.2m in the last Snedden Budget to $263.2m. In the areas of urban and regional development we spent $ 1 m under Snedden. What a wonderful amount for a government to provide in accepting responsibility for the improving the life styles in our urban areas. The expenditure has gone from $ 1 m to $25 1 .7m in the Crean Budget. In the infrastructure areas, that is, transport and communication, water supply, electricity, labour and employment, industry assistance and other general public purposes, there has been an increase from the Snedden Budget of 2 years ago to the present Budget of $150m.
I believe that the Government is in this Budget carrying out its responsibilities to endeavour to achieve balanced development in our community. It is a responsible Budget because taxation, particularly on the lower incomes, has been considerably reduced and in some cases almost eliminated. It is all very well for people to talk now about the problem of taxation when until this Budget the taxation scales were exactly the same as those that operated during the entire 23 years of the anti-Labor administrations. Yet this Government is criticised for not doing something about the taxation scales. We have brought about some reconstruction of the taxation scales on this occasion. It is interesting to read the criticism embraced in the amendment moved by Senator Withers and spoken to at length by all Opposition members relating to the transfer of funds from the private sector to the public sector via income tax. In its amendment the Opposition seeks to suggest that there is something wrong with the decision of the Government to collect 45 per cent more from this section of the taxation scale. It ignores the fact that in 1 962-63 the Commonwealth collected $54 lm from that same sector of income- pay as you earn taxation- and in 1964-65, in a comparable period, it collected $785.262m, which happens to be precisely the same increase of 45 per cent for which we are criticised on this occasion.
This is a responsible Budget because for the first time local government has been recognised as a vital third arm in the trinity of government in this country with the magnificent untied grant- no strings attached- of $56m. It is the first time in the history of this country that the Commonwealth has accepted financial responsibility for local government and given it assistance. It is a responsible Budget because for the first time the Australian Government has embarked on a major 5-year program to expand and modernise public hospitals and other health institutions in the States. It is a responsible Budget because the Government has put its money where its mouth is as far as Aborigines are concerned, spending $164m in this financial year, the greatest amount ever allocated to help our indigenous people. It is a responsible Budget because we have allocated record amounts to the States for public housing, for the establishment of a new Australian housing corporation and for the further liberalising of loans for defence service homes. It is a responsible Budget because it has allocated record sums for urban redevelopment to improve materially the life styles of the great majority of the Australian people. It is a responsible Budget because we have allocated for the first time $12m for a legal aid service to give assistance to the lower income groups and to poor and disadvantaged people, particularly our own indigenes.
I could go on and on itemising the great new initiatives taken by this Government, initiatives that undoubtedly are being engulfed by the obtuse attitude taken by the Opposition and by sections of the daily Press. Some of those who write the daily Press editorials never seem to find time to read the small print, never seem to find time to give credit where it is due. If they did that I am sure a lot of the rubbish and trash that is printed as editorial comment in some of the more biased journals in our country would not appear. I do not glibly say that there are no weaknesses in this Budget. The increased Post Office charges, brought about largely by the imposition by the Treasury of interest rate charges year by year on the Post Office- an amount of $200m will be paid to Consolidated Revenue this year- are to be regretted. I hope the time will come when this Government will be able to bring about the necessary reorganisation of the Post Office so that we can have an efficient public instrumentality, one able to give service at a resonable price to the Australian community.
I deal now with the criticisms that have been levelled at the Government by some of the State
Premiers, particularly the Premier of New South Wales. Of course the Government has to have this criticism levelled at it from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) and from Opposition speakers here. They tell the Government how it should have done this and how it should have done that in this Budget. Words fail me when I find that Opposition speakers are suggesting further expenditure of public moneys in the public sector. What is the real position? The facts are that in terms of the Budgets from 1972 to 1974, that is the Snedden Budget and the Crean Budget, there was an increase in general revenue assistance to the States of some 40 per cent over the 2-year period. Special grants show a similar increase of some 40 per cent. More funds are being made available to the States now than ever before in the history of the Commonwealth. I can only say to those who are endeavouring to create the impression that the States have to increase their Budgets in order to make up the leeway that there must be something wrong with the administration of the State organisations. Honourable senators might like to look at table 3, the estimates of receipts and summary of estimated expenditure, to make a comparison of the amounts allocated to the States in 1973-74 and 1974-75. Last year, in terms of expenditure, payments to the States represented 28 per cent of the national Budget. This year they have increased to 30 per cent. Last year, of course, it was an even higher increase, something like 27 per cent on the previous year. So there is just no truth in the exaggerated claims made by the Opposition Parties and the State Premiers.
I would like to add emphasis to the point that has been made by Senator Steele Hall about the attitude of the Opposition Parties to the Budget and to the economic questions and problems facing this country. I have here a copy of the speech made by Mr Snedden titled ‘Economic Policy Statement for a Liberal-Country Party Government’. What did he say in this document? He said that in a 1 974-75 Budget to be introduced in August a Liberal government would reduce the rate of growth in total government spending. Anybody can read in Hansard that in his speech in the other place he criticised the Australian Government for not making more funds available to the States. We have had honourable senators in this place suggesting that the Australian Government should have made more money available for the States and for public expenditure. So here we have the Leader of the Liberal Party and the alternate Prime Minister, himself a former Treasurer, suggesting that there should be a cut in the rate of growth.
He also says that we should reduce taxation. It is interesting to read one article which I have time to deal with today. It appeared in the ‘Age’ and was written by the economics writer on 25 September. The heading is: ‘Snedden confuses his cures’. The article goes on to say that Mr Snedden said that Australia’s economy is in a mess- ‘The Leader of the Opposition made this point well last night’ said the economics writer. But let us analyse what the Leader of the Opposition said. He said that the first priority should be for this Government to deal with inflation. Then he pointed out that we have to do this by maintaining economic growth and full employment. One does not have to be an economist to appreciate that these 2 questions are closely related.
The article went on to say that Mr Snedden said that we have to stop unemployment, which he claims is 2. 1 7 per cent and rising. Of course, he does not tell the Australian people that in the last year of his office, and I am sure that he will concede that we could not be blamed for the unemployment figures as at December 1972, the figure was 2.39 per cent of the work force. We had been in office only a matter of days when those figures became available. Here he is complaining, and rightly so, that we had to stop unemployment which had reached 2. 1 7 per cent. If Mr Snedden believes unemployment should be reduced then from his standpoint the Budget is not sufficiently expansionary. Surely he would have to take the view that the Budget should go further in public spending.
Mr Snedden said that he would reduce taxation by $ 1 ,000m, that he would cut government spending by 25 per cent and that this would result, according to his own figures, in a saving on expenditure of something like $900m. In other words, we would cut income by about $ 1,000m and expenditure by about $900m. This would mean that there would not be much difference between the present Government’s Budget and that suggested by Mr Snedden. For example, if consumption spending grows as a result of spending in the private sector it is difficult to see how private investment can decline and avoid another situation of demand inflation. I think the point can be made quite correctly that if we have a growth in private consumption plus a cutback in government spending it would lead to higher business confidence and a higher level of investment spending. So we would be confronted with the same sort of money supply position which was evident when this Government came into office. I refer the Senate to the statement issued by the Treasurer a few days ago in which he pointed out that in the 1972-73 period the money supply had increased by 26 per cent, which, he said, was clearly excessive. He said that the policy in 1973 has been directed to slowing growth in the money supply and the increase during the year was held to 14 per cent.
So Mr Snedden does not seem to have any clear path to follow and does not seem to have any understanding of the economic situation facing our country. If the squeeze is relaxed, as he has suggested, then investment spending will accelerate. If investment picks up we will soon be back into that vicious demand inflationary period which was evident in the early part of 1973, and the Government sector will be competing with the private sector for resources, forcing up prices again as they did a year ago. And as happened in 1973 it will be the private sector that will get on top of the public sector. The Leader of the Opposition is attacking the Government for, to use his words, ‘the brutal treatment of the States at the Loan Council gathering in June’. He also suggested that there is something wrong with the fall in defence expenditure. Is he suggesting that we should get it back to the level at which it was in his period of office? If he is suggesting that the pro rata rate should be increased to 3.5 per cent of the gross national product it would mean the expenditure of an additional $500m and a further increase in Government spending. It reminds me of a story about the lion and the bull which goes something like this: ‘The lion sprang upon the bull and devoured him. After he had feasted he felt so good that he roared and roared. The noise attracted hunters and they killed the lion. The moral of which is that when you are full of bull, keep your mouth shut’.
I would like to refer in the few moments I have left to some of Mr Snedden ‘s infamous remarks on the economy during the period 1970 to 1973. In a debate in the House of Representatives on 27 August 1970 he said:
Unfortunately we have not solved all our economic problems. One might say: ‘Which country has?’ Inflationary pressures are still with us. Over the decade 1959-60 to 1969-70 the consumer price index rose at an annual rate of nearly 2Vi per cent. Over the last 5 years the average annual increase has been a little over 3 per cent. Last year the increase was nearly 4 per cent. And in the June quarter of 1 970 it was at an annual rate in excess of 5 per cent. It is true that prices have risen even faster in many other countries, but whereas the inflation rate is tending to slow down overseas it is tending to rise in Australia.
Words of wisdom from the potential Prime Minister of Australia. But listen to these words of wisdom, these little gems, that came from the Leader of the Opposition. He continued:
When these pressures are running high you need high interest rates to induce people to save and lend.
What lovely words of wisdom to fall from the mouth of the man who, as Treasurer, held the economic reins of this country for some two or three years and failed to arrest the inflationary trend. Later on he said:
We live in an atmosphere today that encourages cost-push inflation.
On 18 February 1971 he said: to apply the wrong remedy would mean creating new problems, such as under-employment and underproduction which other countries are experiencing, without curing the problem of inflation.
These other countries still have a higher inflation rate than we have. Later on he said:
The economic outlook for 1971, as it appears, is that in 1971 there is an excess demand threat, but excess demand does not presently exist.
In another part of the speech he said:
In Australia there is a danger of excess demand.
I cannot quite follow his reasoning or even his statements in the one speech. Then he said:
After the last Budget was presented other decisions were taken which could have resulted in an over-expansionary Budget . . . Current wage inflation does not necessarily mean that there will be an excess demand . . . There may be no actual excess demand for goods as distinct from excess prices.
In one speech, on one day and in one place Mr Snedden contradicted himself on 3 different occasions. On 17 August 1971 when speaking in the debate on the Appropriation Bill he stated:
Even more than usually the Government has this year found it necessary to shape its Budget to serve an overriding economic purpose. Australia is in the grip of inflationary pressures.
This was said by the Treasurer at that time. He continued:
The rate of increase in costs and prices is already fast and has tended to become faster. This is a serious condition. If allowed to develop unchecked it will cause increasing economic and social hardship to many people, add to the burdens of rural industries already depressed -
One would think that rural industries had never been depressed before there was a Labor Government. Mr Snedden is admitting that in the period when he was Treasurer depression already existed in many rural areas. He continued: disrupt development plans of great promise and undermine the rich possibilities of growth which our future unquestionably holds . . .
On 1 December 1 97 1 Mr Snedden in attacking an Opposition motion of censure on the Government stated:
An Opposition can attempt to obtain political advantage out of difficult international and domestic economic circumstances. But it can be regarded as responsible only if it has an economic platform for examination and review . . . The Government, in early 1971, took action to impose restraint in areas where restraint seemed to be necessary- public spending, private investment in new plant and equipment and non-dwelling building construction. Given this background it was natural that accompanying the strategy adopted in the last Budget was an element designed to guard against the future development of excess demand pressures.
So we have Mr Snedden, who is the alternative Prime Minister, suggesting certain courses of action which this Government has already taken in relation to the current economic position in our country. Discussing the Budget strategy later in 1972 Mr Snedden said:
We see it as a critically important objective of our policy to combat the inflationary forces now running in our economy and it is against this objective that I now come to explain the strategy of this Budget and our decision to raise additional revenue. The chief instruments available to this Government and its related authorities are the annual Budget. . . Since there will still be, within Australia, a considerable increase in Commonwealth spending, it must at least be offset by an increase in Commonwealth domestic receipts from taxation and other sources of revenue.
There we have the alternative Prime Minister, the former Treasurer, using precisely the same tactic and the same strategy which the Government has used in this Budget. We are talking about the 1971 Budget. Mr Snedden stated:
Company tax will rise to raise $24m. It is proposed to raise a large part of the balance of our revenue requirements through the personal income tax rather than add to sales tax. Accordingly we propose to increase the2½ per cent levy to 5 percent.
So we have the Leader of the Opposition suggesting that there is something wrong with the Government applying the principle and tactic of raising additional revenue by personal taxation when he did precisely that in 1 97 1 . He stated:
We propose to increase the rates of custom and excise duties on cigarettes and cigars . . .
Incidentally, if one examines the income in the current Budget one sees that there is a fall-off. Whereas in the Snedden Budget of 1972-73 there was an excise income of 13.8 per cent in Federal Revenue, this figure has dropped to 1 1.4 per cent in 1974-75. So we can go on and on pointing out the inadequacies of the approach of the Opposition to this problem of the Budget. We point out that the Opposition has no real alternative policy to offer to the Australian people. I call upon the Senate to reject the amendment which has been moved by the Opposition because it does not accord with the past experience and practice of the Opposition Parties when they were in government.
-Today in this Budget debate I shall deal with 3 basic things which are of importance to my State of Tasmania, which I could term as the State most neglected by this Government. Over the last few weeks we have seen a neglect of Tasmania by the Government in things like the 25 per cent increase in the Australian National Line shipping costs. We have seen neglect in Tasmania of the textile industry. Generally in the Budget Tasmania hardly gets a mention. Certainly I do not think it gets the special treatment which an island State requires these days. In a Budget which sees the arts get an additional $6m, which is an increase of some 40-odd per cent, practically no attention is given to Tasmania. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) talks about subsidising freight rates only when he is forced to do that. But before dealing with the 3 topics on which I want to touch I mention briefly 3 words which this Government has managed to make dirty. It has managed to make defence a dirty word. It has downgraded that most important aspect of our government responsibility. The amount of $ 1,300-odd million which is to be spent on defence is a decrease when we consider the increase by inflation-
– It is priority.
– It is a decrease in the amount if we allow for inflation.
– It is not a dirty word. It is a question of priorities.
– In many ways this Government has made defence a dirty word. Yesterday Senator Hall put it very well when he said that this wretched Government was deliberately ruining our defence capability. We are told by Mr Barnard’s crystal ball that for 15 years we will not need defence. What we will have left after 15 years, if defence is allowed to fall away, will be a position where we cannot defend ourselves. We could easily be overrun. In my opinion Mr Barnard is not exerting his authority. I was going to say ‘his strength’, but certainly that would not be the word to define our ex-Deputy Prime Minister.
Another word which this Government has made dirty is profit. This country has been built on the profit of private endeavour. I shall say more about that in a moment or two. I will point out also what I feel some members of the Government and others are trying to do to the country. The next dirty word is multi-nationals. When the Australian Labor Party wants to blame someone, quite often out comes that third dirty word. But what about the multi-unions? We see communist and left wing controlled unions asking their union representatives in this place to get the Senate to approve the amalgamations of unions. They claim that it would stop demarcation disputes. Theoretically there may be some merit in legislation which is designed to encourage single unions for each industry, for ease of administration, although the great centralisation of power would negate any benefits. The honourable senators say that there are too many unions in Australia. They say that this gives rise to demarcation disputes and that there would be fewer of these demarcation disputes if there were fewer unions.
The fallacy of this argument can be illustrated by the fact that there have been numerous demarcation disputes within the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union which have led to industrial dislocation and standdowns since the amalgamation of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of Australia and the Sheet Metal Workers Union into the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union. One of the worst demarcation cases that we have had in Tasmania ‘s history occurred last year. It was a demarcation dispute at Renison Bell which is the biggest tin production area in Australia. It resulted in a considerable loss of income to the workers at Renison Bell.
– What were the classifications in that demarcation dispute?
– I can tell the honourable senator, to emphasise this point, that the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union sent a telegram to the Deputy President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission on 4 May. It said bluntly that this was a demarcation dispute.
– With whom?
-It involved people within the same union at Renison Bell.
– How could it be a demarcation dispute with only one union?
-This is what was happening.
– It was not. It was between 2 unions.
– It was within one union. Otherwise why would that union send a telegram saying that it was a demarcation dispute? You cannot convince any Tasmanians that amalgamations will stop demarcation disputes because we know from bitter experience that they will not. I do not think that these moves for amalgamation can be disconnected from the decision of the Australian Council of Trade Unions that unions charge their members 1 per cent of average weekly earnings. The AMWU has a membership of about 1 80,000. With fees of 1 per cent of average weekly earnings the annual income of that union is about $ 11.5m. That is about one-quarter of what the Tasmanian Government gets in taxation. If that amount is multiplied by the number of members that the union would be able to dragoon into its midst if allowed to do what it wants to do the enormous centralisation of power and money which could result is clear. The funds would be under the effective control of some self-confessed members of the various communist parties. I have in mind people such as Carmichael and Halfpenny or others of the the extreme socialist left forces. These people are committed to a foreign ideology and the principle that might is right without regard to others in the community. It is not the multi-national companies that we need to worry about in Australia as much as it is the multi-unions.
I have been sidetracked by the Government’s way of making certain words dirty but I say that the real dirty words in Australia now are socialism, inflation and taxation. The first of the 3 areas of the Budget with which I want to deal is housing, which is so very important to the young people of this country. As one of the youngest senators I will put a few points to the Government and any people who may be listening today. The second area relates to aviation costs to Tasmania and how there should be special fares for Tasmania. For the third point I want to say a little about what I consider is a cleverly connived collapse of our country.
One cannot live on hope alone or live without it. Houses are not merely refuges from storms and tempests or places for rest and renewal. They are places where young married people are able to mould their lives along the paths of their own choice; they are places where they can mould the lives of their young children and where the love within a family can develop without the hindrance of pressures that intrude unless people have their own homes. Today I am talking mainly from the point of view of the hopes of our young people, married already, about to be married or at an age when marriage is just around the corner, even if they have not yet realised it. I say to these people that their chances of ever being able to afford a home of their own while this Government pursues the policies it is obviously prepared to pursue and which are quite obviously government policies are very slim indeed. I do not believe that this Government is interested in people having their own homes. They are against private ownership of any kind and they would like to see all houses owned by the state. Then the young people particularly would be forced to become tenants of the state.
Senator Gietzelt has told us of the increased provision in the Budget for housing. Under the 1973 housing agreement welfare housing this year will increase by 7 per cent at a time when we are suffering from inflation of over 20 per cent. The Government is setting up the Australian Housing Corporation, a new body to start all those housing functions that the Australian Government has constitutional power to implement. This will include direct lending to families for housing. So we see that almost half the small increase in housing expenditure will go to the new corporation at a time when the building industry is in a crunch situation. We will see the growth of another bureaucratic part of the government and an unnecessary addition to the steps towards further socialisation of this country. This Government has a deliberate policy of giving very little help for housing. I hope that the next government will come to immediate grips with the housing problem. My feeling is that every person should have a house in which to live. Every young person facing the prospect of marriage has a right to a home. Every honourable senator must be aware of the massive shortage of houses and places to live already existing before the real effect of the shortage has hit this country. Any senator who can go to his or her home State without being confronted with housing problems is very lucky indeed.
One point that I feel should be made very clear to the people of Australia is that the lack of housing is not a temporary situation. People who have just reached voting age and intend to marry within the next three to five years may as well realise fully that in just 20 months in office this Government has reduced a relatively stable industry to its knees. Now that people cannot afford a house the Government has started the Housing Corporation so that it will build the houses and people will never be able to own a home of their own. Canberra has become a city full of dreams but those dreams do not allow for young people to own their own houses.
The recent Budget has certainly been used as a political instrument that offers no hope to those people who do not yet have a house. Please get it clear that this is not a temporary measure. Do not think that in a few months it will be all right. I repeat that this Government does not want people to own their own homes. It wants to own the lot. I have not been referring to big flash houses. I have no intention of wasting the time of the Senate by talking about the problems of people other than those who are in need. I am concerned only with those people whose problem is of need, not of choice. I suppose that later in the debate a Government senator will jump up and produce a spate of figures to show just how much the Government is doing for housing. Those figures will be so much hogwash. The building industry is ruined at a time when more and more people need houses. They want to get away from their in-laws. They want peace and privacy in their own homes in the Australian tradition. The figures that the Government should be presenting do not relate to the number of houses that have been built but to the number that have not. Once upon a time films used to end with the hero and heroine marrying, settling down and living happily ever after.
– Don’t make me cry.
– I would be glad to make Senator Grimes cry because I do not think he has much pity for the young people of this country who do not have their own nouses. He should look into the position one day and see just what a hole the Government he supports has put them in. In the old days films would end as I have said but that is not to be the way for many Australians, the purpose of whose lives is being frustrated. Many must be filled with hopelessness and misery. The simple reason is that this Government wants to restructure society. It wants to restructure it all right. As Mr Hawke says, it wants democratic socialism. That might be a nice sounding phrase but it is a dangerous idea put out by one of the dangerous men of Australia. Mr Hawke says that we can vote on the way we want things run. How can he get us to believe that would work when a lot of the unions do not even elect their officers by a secret ballot?
Another of the Labor Party’s dangerous men, in my opinion, is Dr Jim Cairns. He has done a great con job on the community. All of a sudden he is acceptable to some of the business community. How they can be so gullible as to trust him I do not know. Do they remember his past actions? Do they not know that he is only putting on a front? Do they not realise that he will help to destroy the community as soon as he possibly can? What is wrong with the business leaders? I reckon they are crazy to think that Dr Cairns will not continue on the path to socialism as quickly as possible. The more businesses that go broke and are forced out of existence the better that this mob that is in Government will like it.
– That word ‘mob’ is not very edifying.
– It is well chosen. I come back to housing. Many reasons are given for the shortage, but basically it is a lack of reasonable cost finance. Do not let anyone kid himself that the Government could not get interest rates down if it wanted to do so. Do not let anyone kid himself either that making housing interest tax deductable would help much. It would be much better to have 5 per cent interest with no deductions than it would be to have 1 1 per cent and some deductions which effectively lower the interest rate to, say, 8 per cent. Young people, many of whom voted for this Government, have been gypped and short changed by those whom they helped elect. I am continually getting letters about this matter. Many of the people who write admit that last time they voted for Labor. I am afraid that I am not able to offer them much hope as far as housing is concerned.
Other speakers in this debate have mentioned the property tax. It is on again, off again. I do not know whether we are really sure that it is on again, but all it will do is add to the inflation of housing rents. Housing will then be in the double squeeze with shortages adding to increased rents, and landlords will have to make allowance for the 10 per cent tax on property. So that impost will put up rents also. This Government has done nothing for the young people of Australia with regard to housing. The building of homes should take absolute priority. The housing of people of all ages adequately should receive the active support of everyone in this chamber. Never let this matter be called a problem, particularly when referring to housing for the aged.
The fact that our parents live for many years longer than used to be the case is surely not a problem, but something for which we should be thankful. Some fortunate older people are able to look after themselves. Some are able to find accommodation with their children. But an ever growing number of old people cannot for various reasons live with their children and cannot provide for themselves. We must continue to expand the facilities that are available to this group. During their ordinary lives this group has paid taxation and has done a great deal towards the development of this nation. Now is the time that we can repay them- in their twilight years. I cannot believe that it is impossible to build the houses that we need in this country. All it needs is a government with the will to do it. Then needs of our young people could hope that one day they will be able to own their house.
The only practical way for people to travel to and from Tasmania is by air, and each time that air fares are allowed to increase, fewer and fewer people are able to travel and to visit friends oh this larger island. Fewer people are able to travel to Tasmania during their holidays to enjoy the benefits found in ourwonderful State. Perhaps Senator Grimes might even agree with me on that. I feel that Tasmania should be a tourist State. I have always contended that Tasmania should attempt to obtain a great part of its income from tourism. I have spoken on this topic previously. This Government seems to have a crazy outlook on how, where and by whom civil aviation should be used. I read recently in a magazine that ‘Australia could not live without Qantas but it could live without Mr Jones.’ He is our Minister for Transport who recently put up by 25 per cent the freight rates on goods carried by the Australian National Line to Tasmania. He is a Minister of the Government which is putting up the charges to the civil aviation industry. I do not intend to talk about Qantas Airways Ltd. I will restrict myself to the local airlines because they more directly affect Tasmania. One day soon I will have a go about Qantas, because civil aviation is a topic in which I have a great deal of interest.
Mr Jones and his Department of Transport decided to increase all the charges to civil aviation. Of course these will eventually be reflected in increased air fares. The fares to and from Tasmania are already becoming prohibitive for many Tasmanians. I feel that the Government should be considering the total effect on civil aviation and the people who travel with the airlines. The Government should remember the dollars that it gets from the tax on the profits of restaurants, hotels and motels, from the people who work in this type of place and from those who are associated with the travel industry. Civil aviation in Australia should not be looked at in isolation. The Government should consider the overall effect, particularly on Tasmania, because Tasmania is so dependent on air transport. As an example of how important aviation is and can be to one place, one need look only at Hawaii. I do not choose Hawaii because I think that it is a perfect place, but purely because it is an isolated place. Hawaii is dependent, as is Tasmania, to a certain extent on air transport, and without the airlines people in Hawaii would go broke. The people of Hawaii know that that is the situation. But what have they done? I believe that the cost of landing a Boeing 747 in Hawaii is US$ 1 50. To land the same aircraft at Sydney costs US$4,000. If that Jumbo had 400 people aboard, that would be US$10 each to land that aircraft at Sydney.
– Do you put up the cost of your chemicals that you sell in your shops when you see fit?
– I very rarely use this chamber as a means of advertising, but I will say our prices are some of the lowest in Australia.
– But do you put them up?
– Answer the question.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Order! Senator Townley is not here to be asked questions by other honourable senators. Proceed with your speech.
-Mr Acting Deputy President, I have been asked a question. I would like to answer it. Our prices are put up much later and by much less than prices are put up by anyone else. If Senator Wriedt visits Hobart when he has a spare moment I will show him just how low they are.
– What, the city is?
-That is a Labor senator saying how low the city of Hobart is.
– That is what you say.
-That is the attitude which these people in the Government have about all Tasmania. They could not care less about Tasmania.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, I wish to raise a point of order. I have been misrepresented by Senator Townley. The honourable senator is trying to imply that I referred to Hobart as a low city. I asked the honourable senator the question by way of interjection because I did not understand the point that he was making about the word ‘low’ in connection with Hobart. I asked him to explain himself, not so that he could say that I made a specific statement. I was asking him to give an explanation.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The honourable senator was one of those making interjections. By making interjections he was disorderly. No point of order is involved.
– I will answer at some other stage the question asked by Senator Wriedt. I was talking about the tremendous cost of landing a Jumbo in Australia. I think that this is a punitive tax on one section of the community. When the Minister is summing up this debate, perhaps he will say whether this Government has ever had a round table conference in which all aspects of its income from civil aviation and associated spin-offs are taken into account, or whether it is simply putting up costs to the air travelling public because the Government feels that those people are a privileged group. I would like to see the Government carry out such an appreciation of the airlines situation in relation to Tasmania. More importantly, I would like to see a lower air fare structure for flights between Tasmania and Victoria, perhaps with a subsidy.
I turn now to the third part of my speech which I have headed, ‘A cleverly connived collapse. ‘ In 1972 the present Deputy Prime Minister, Dr J. F. Cairns, wrote in a book called ‘The Quiet Revolution’:
Revolution in an advanced capitalistic country can only become a possibility if there is a serious economic crisis.
I feel that that is happening in this country at the moment, and I believe that it is being done deliberately. I believe that Dr J. F. Cairns and some of his friends also are pushing this country headlong towards disaster and doing it knowingly I believe that he is aided and abetted by the President of the Labor Party, Mr Bob Hawke, and several others. They have generated a state of fear of the future in Australia and they have us headed towards a very serious situation. Many people have been saying these things privately for a long time, but it is time for them to start speaking out and being heard.
A moment ago I tried to tell the young people of Australia that the housing shortage was a deliberately engineered plot and one for which no end is in sight. The same applies to the whole economic mess that this Government has engineered. It is not going to clear up until we have different attitudes from this or the next government. I feel that the inflation is deliberate and we have seen already that unemployment follows inflation as surely as night follows day. When there was talk a little while ago of a recession developing and it looked as though there would be unemployment, we were fed soothing words by the Government. When the stock market fell in a similar manner to the fall in the depression era, we were told that Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and ether shares were good buying. Then someone said that there was a credit squeeze and the Government insisted that there was not. For how much longer will this Government dishonestly try to fool and deceive the people of this country?
When a scapegoat is looked for, the Labor people start trying to blame the system. This is a typical socialist tactic- to engineer a disaster and then blame someone else. In this case the Government is blaming the system. What is happening in Australia is this cleverly connived collapse, and the aim is total socialism or even communism.
– Why do you have to talk such rubbish?
– If Senator Georges wants to talk, he has come in too late. I dealt with interjectors a few moments ago and they have had their turn. I deal with interjectors only in the first 10 minutes I have in which to make my speech, and I have only 3 minutes to go. I have no time to deal with Senator Georges. We have to remember the first plank in the platform of the Labor Party. Senator Georges should remember this. The first plank in the platform is the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange. Those are the words that all Australians should be keeping in mind. I know that I will not convince some of these solid Labor supporters; but I ask the people who swing, those who decide on which side of the chamber we sit, to take note of what this Government is doing.
Bob Hawke has been asking for democratic socialism and this Government has been after it by indirect means- things such as high inflation, unemployment, tight credit, high interest rates and a lot of industrial disruption. These are the things that are leading to the economic crisis. Dr Cairns said that if there is to be a revolution in an advanced capitalist system it is essential to have an economic crisis, and that is where we are going. I do not need to tell honourable senators that I believe in free enterprise. It is still free enterprise which provides 75 per cent of the jobs in this country. It is from the tax on this system that the money is raised for education, social services and the like. I do not think we need socialism in Australia and I do not believe that this Government has a mandate to wreck the system. So what do we do? I suggest to those who are in favour of free enterprise that we have to modify it slightly and constantly in order to make it acceptable.
– Then it is not perfect. You admit that.
-Neither is the honourable senator. We have to watch and ensure that this Government does nothing to further inflame an already disastrous economic situation. The people of Australia kicked out the socialists 25 years ago; but this time they are acting more cleverly, are better planned and are acting in a more patient way, and this should be pointed out to the public. However, their aim is the same- to develop an economic climate to facilitate the implementation of the first plank of the Labor platform. The Government was not elected on socialisation. If it wants such a mandate, let us have an election with that as the basis of the campaign. We anti-socialists have a responsibility to talk and argue against the socialists. If we do not, we may well lose.
– You have a socialised pharmaceutical industry -
– I beg the honourable senator’s pardon. I have half a minute and I can take his interjection.
– You have a socialised pharmaceutical industry from which you benefit. Are you objecting to a socialised pharmaceutical industry?
– I would be happy if it were not there.
– What about the medicines that you sell at such fantastic prices?
– I have done that argument over already. Our prices are lower than anyone else’s. If we do not speak out fairly soon we may well lose our prosperity and freedom, and it will be all because we would not stand up and fight.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I naturally support the Budget; but before I proceed with my submissions I want to attack what I call the soft under-belly of the argument of the last speaker, Senator Townley. He had 2 recurring themes. One related to young people and their way of life, and he linked that with housing. I put it to him very clearly that in the cities in my State of New South Wales no crocodile tears were shed when Mainline Corporation Ltd went to the wall. One of the most important things curbing housing construction is the fact that the big developers are more concerned with building prestige office blocks.
I say to Senator Townley and all the other exponents of private enterprise that if we, as a government, imposed rigid controls and insisted that private builders devoted all their energy to housing, schools and hospitals, he and they would be squealing about socialism. We know that an unfettered private enterprise system creates the viciousness and greed that are personified in Mainline and kindred organisations. There is something very wrong when we find Mr Baker of Mainline squealing and asking for a handout from this Government, and then he goes over to Long Island in the United States of America to live it up. He is one of the many people who say that they have a wonderful system.
I am prompted by the presence of Senator Drake-Brockman to refer to some of the mining mercenaries in Western Australia. I had a telephone conversation with the managing director of the VC Mining Company whom I criticised on a previous occasion because he welshed on wage claims. He said: ‘Senator, do you realise that I have lost $5m?’ I said: ‘Are you going to go back and work on a jackhammer?’ He said: ‘No’. I said: ‘You are still living in that palatial home of yours near Scarborough Beach’- then he hung up. It is this set of values about which we in the Labor Party are concened
I want to get back to the other argument raised by Senator Townley and what this Government has done. I pay him a compliment. I know that he is interested in amateur sport. This is the first government since Federation that has been prepared to assist the less popular spectator sports. We have some concept of idealism. Not so long ago a 12-girl softball team went to North America. Softball is a small sport in terms of spectator attendance. This Government subsidised each of those girls, 1 8 to 20 year olds, to the extent of $400 each towards their $1,200 fare. I think Australia is all the better because 12 Australian girls competed in that international carnival in North America. Similarly, we had Australian wrestlers competing in the amateur titles in Turkey. Again, one-third of their fares was paid. The point I am trying to get across is that the major football codes raise money as a result of their gate capacity but the smaller sports get this well needed assistance.
I refer again to this housing theme. Senator Townley said that he really believes in assisting a housing scheme; but, if the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Cavanagh presented a Bill which virtually hog-tied the big developers as to the sort of dewllings or buildings they should construct, Senator Townley would claim that that was socialism. He cannot have it both ways. He indulged in these hit and run tactics.
Senator Townley also raised the question of trade union costs. He ought to know the overall cost of sending an Amalgamated Metal Workers Union organiser to Port Hedland and places like that. After all, trade union officials have to go from one end of the continent to the other on arbitration work. They have to fly and the union members have to meet the cost of the air fares. If the honourable senator wants to argue about amalgamations, he ought to know that to enable unions in the manufacturing and food groups, such as the pastrycooks and biscuit makers union and the storemen and packers union, to carry out research and provide services for the rank and file, amalgamations have to occur. I would only say this to Senator Townley. I hope that within the next month I will be talking to Brother Garland of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union. I am pretty certain that Senator Townley has got his facts mixed about the Tasmanian demarcation dispute that he mentioned, if he asserts that it was within the components of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union.
I do not run away from the idea that in this age of technological changes people will get fears about new job processes, what is involved and who will be affected. Let us be quite clear about it: If we are honest with ourselves here we know that Senator Townley will be up on his heels hounding and fighting to save himself as a senator. He will not worry about the demarcation dispute when he comes back into the Senate as a fully fledged member of the Liberal Party. So let us not have any more hypocrisy about trade union demarcation disputes. If we have a socalled free society and people believe that they have been sold short, they have a way to express their views. I do not run away from the situation, and neither does Bob Hawke. All sorts of people- whether they be employers or employees- can be obstinate. But if we believe in the cut and thrust of discussion we cannot expect instantaneous solutions to problems.
I think that the best way for me to continue is to turn to what I intended to say in my speech. I shall quote from a very enlightening article by a Mr Peter Boyce in the ‘Australian Liberal’ of September 1974. He is the Reader in Political Science at the University of Tasmania. This ought to have a lot of significance for Senator Townley. One paragraph states:
The Whitlam Government has rightly focused attention on previously neglected social welfare and minority problems. It has rightly infused money, ideas and hope into the several education systems of this country. It adopted a more systematic, a more idealistic and a more activist approach to foreign policy, and it sought to open up government and public policy to public scrutiny.
That is from the ‘Australian Liberal’. It is not a Labor Party journal; it is not a socialist journal. The author of that article is an extremely enlightened man. When the members of the Liberal Party received the September issue of the ‘Australian Liberal’ it must have made them think.
– That is September this year?
– Yes. If any honourable senator wants to challenge the authenticity of what I have said, I will take up the challenge and have this journal tabled. There are no takers. I now proceed to deal with this idea that if one attacks private enterprise one is a Bolshevik. I have to repeat: If one looks at the recent issues of the ‘Australian Financial Review’ one will see that in Queensland Sir Gordon Chalk and Mr Camm have been telling the people what is wrong with Comalco and all these big mining companies. I say very simply that in the big business world these big companies will pay only the taxes or the royalties which a government imposes from the top. The plain fact of the matter is that, as much as I might dislike the members of the Queensland Cabinet, they saw the ultimate writing on the wall and they had to insist that the mining companies pay a higher contribution.
The moral of the story is that there is no difference between the attitude which the members of the Queensland Cabinet had to take and the attitude which our own Minister for Minerals and Energy, Mr Rex Connor, has to adopt. When the case of Rex Connor comes under review I wonder whether the coal owners of Australia realise that it was because he adopted such a strong attitude that the Japanese buyers of coal were prepared to renegotiate and give us a better price. This is one of the indictments that I make against previous Liberal governments. They virtually genuflected to every overseas company; they never questioned them on policy. One man wanted to question these overseas companies, and that was John Grey Gorton, a former senator. But what did honourable senators opposite do? They hounded him and sent him to a political Coventry. That is what they did on that occasion, and there is no rebuttal of that fact. Even Senator Jessop is speechless; he knows that it is the truth.
I turn now to education. There is a big danger here. We, as a Labor Government, are feeding back to the States money to be used in the fields of education and social security. I say to Opposition senators who argue that we have a good Federal system, that it depends on the sincerity of State governments. Together with others, in my own humble way I have argued about particular schools and the need to cater for the problems of schools which have a high migrant pupil level. I note that the headmistress of the West Brunswick High School in Victoria says that the Victorian Minister for Education will not tell her how this money has been spent.
I come to a matter to which Senator Townley referred, letters from constituents. I have received a shoal of letters from parents’ and citizens’ associations in New South Wales. They have said: ‘Look senator, we know the statesmanship of Mr Kim Beazley, the Minister. We know the money that has been funded to New South Wales. But we cannot find out how it has been spent’. Eric Willis is a very difficult man. In deference to you, Mr Acting Deputy President, I will not use stronger language, but Eric Willis will not be in this sort of thing. He says that he is not obligated to tell the people how the money has been spent.
I turn to another field. I pay a tribute to the former occupier of the Chair, Senator Wood, because he, Senator Poyser and I were the first 3 senators to espouse the cause of conservation. Under the present Minister for the Environment and Conservation, Dr Moss Cass, an amount of $9m is to be provided for this purpose this year. It is not a tremendous sum, I will admit, but it will make a great deal of difference in the way in which the States acquire additional wildlife habitat for national parks and wildlife reservations. When one compares that amount of $9m with the ‘do nothing’ policy of Peter Howson, it is no wonder that the Liberals in Victoria would not have him as the State President of the Liberal Party in that State. He does not deliver the goods; Dr Moss Cass does. This is typical of the Whitlam Government. We are storming so many of the bastilles and overthrowing so many of the old shibboleths that exist in relation to what cannot be done. We say that it can be done.
There has been reference to women’s rights. John Gorton suggested some form of pre-school child minding facilties. In this Budget an amount of $74m has been provided for this purpose. I think that there are only 2 honourable senators who refuse to face up to this situation. One honourable senator is absent so I will not name him. But I was very perturbed about what Senator Jessop said last night because I think he made an attack on Australian womanhood. He questioned whether it was the time to introduce maternity allowances for Commonwealth public servants. There is always an argument about when will it be time to do these things.
– How much will it cost?
- Senator Jessop is moving further into the morass. He asks; ‘How much will it cost?’ Probably it will be money well spent because the products of the labours of these women will be future taxpayers. That is a very mundane way of looking at it, but if one takes it that way, the longer Senator Jessop protests the more it shows how honourable senators opposite are. They oppose legitimate reform. I will take it a little further. We have provided support for unsupported mothers. We have provided additional social service benefits for these people. I say unquestionably that under this concept of the new family life where for various reasons women return to work after a period of years, the provision of pre-school child minding facilties is a must. I repeat: We have only implemented something that was talked about for 5 years. This is the sort of era in which we are living.
Honourable senators opposite have argued about our concept of taxation. We have introduced a graduated scale of reductions in taxation. I make no apologies for the fact that under our taxation system, if somebody earns money outside his own direct manual effeort he should pay a different rate of tax. It is not a fair concept to have uniform tax scales if one person can get a dividend by sitting on his backside in a nice upholstered chair and somebody else has to go and work in a mine or in a dockyard. There is no question at all that there should be different forms of taxation. This is the whole concept of our approach to the various questions facing our society and what we are trying to do.
In the foreign affairs field we are not trying to usurp any other country’s territories. But we believe that we can go to the United Nations and we have not got to look over our shoulders and decide what the attitude of the superpowers are. I thought that Senator Townley, in a very mean way, attacked the credibility and sincerity of the Acting Prime Minister (Dr J. F. Cairns). Let us be real about this matter: It takes a little bit of moral courage when one is somebody’s guest to question the motives of one’s host. I know that when Dr Cairns was in Peking he did not hesitate to question the attitude of mainland China to atomic explosions. He returned to Australia and he stated what he had done. This is a continuation of our consistent policy. We can go back to Labor leaders like Dr Evatt who questioned simultaneously the Suez episode and the invasion of Hungary. We have maintained a consistent attitude. One of the finest debates that we have had in this House took place a few weeks ago when Senator Wheeldon indicated very clearly the Labor Party’s policy on this area of foreign affairs. We are in a unique situation. We are not a colonial power. It is true that we have large resources. I know that Senator Willesee and the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) at the United Nations will be endeavouring to bridge the gap between the Arab States, with their corralling of oil reserves, and the super powers who, in the main, have a different attitude.
It should be remembered that this relaxation of tensions which has been brought about by our understanding with countries with different ideological attitudes- I am referring now to China on the one hand and Indonesia on the other- has meant that we have not had to be committed to excessive defence expenditure. That does not mean that we are not unaware of basic defence requirements. As a matter of fact, as Senator Bishop indicated here today, we are aware that it is necessary to use patrol boats. I emphasise that they are important in the detection of drug smugglers and those minority of fishermen who invade our off-shore islands and destroy penguins and things like that. They are the things that the patrol boats should be able to detect so that the people involved can receive the suitable legal punishment. This is the attitude that we are following.
On this question of foreign policy, if Senator Townley were honest with himself he would have denounced the visits of President Nixon and Mr Edward Heath, the Conservative Prime Minister of Great Britain, to places such as Moscow and Peking. As a matter of fact, Senator Greenwood, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, crossed the border into China. Maybe that is one of the reasons that Senator Townley kept out of the Liberal Party; he may have been contaminated. But now he has made his peace. I feel it is regrettable that we cannot have a rational discussion of foreign policy. Whether we like it or not the cold war era has passed. All countries, including Australia, have to live with the other countries to which I have referred. That does not mean that we have to kowtow to them. If we believe that they are wrong on a particular issue, we say so.
I do not wish to be disparaging of Senator Drake-Brockman, because I like him as a man, but the general attitude of the Country Party and the Liberal Party to our relations with the United States has been to say: ‘Look, if the Labor Party takes on the Americans in relation to differences on foreign policy, the Americans will get even with us by means of trade’. But what happened after the advent of the Labor Government? Honourable senators should look at the figures for meat imports to the United States from Australia. So that refutes that particular argument. Because it has all these attitudes, the Opposition again is showing its ingratitude.
I refer now to the question of sugar. The Opposition was in Government when Great Britain decided to enter the European Common Market. When Labor came to power things were in such a shambles that Dr Rex Patterson had to go over there on several occasions. Opposition senators know as well as I do the price that producers are receiving for their sugar at the moment, and it is an indication of the statesmanship of Dr Patterson in his high level negotiations. I know that other honourable senators, such as Senator McLaren, have a greater knowledge of primary industries than I have. However, I have shown that we are doing all right in very many fields. The nub of my argument is that foreign policy has to be married to export policy. There was a time when our predecessors had hang-ups about relations with China. In the meantime Canada, one of the Commonwealth countries, was cornering the wheat market with China. In addition to that we opened up potential markets involving, I think, 800 million people in the trade pacts we have signed with China. East Germany and North Korea. I know that some people may question this action. If we can keep our economy buoyant by selling reasonable quantities of goods to Iran as a result of the Shah’s visit here last week, it will be another indication of the universal attitude of the Whitlam Government to diplomatic relations. In turn I think it will keep the employment position reasonable. Make no mistake about it; it does not matter what Government is in power, we cannot have a repetition of what happened earlier in history when the Luddites introduced a new form of industrial revolution by going around smashing all the wheels and rollers in machinery.
We cannot stop economic progress. The difference between the attitude of the Opposition and the Government to employment is that the Minister for Labor and Immigration, Mr Clyde Cameron, has spent many hours devising emergency unemployment schemes. I read the other day that Mr Lang and others were talking about the situation in the 1930s. But it should be remembered that we are not dealing with the dole concept; we are talking about retraining systems in which Mr Clyde Cameron has said in good faith that nobody will receive less than their average weekly wage. This is the situation. After all, we cannot prevent amalgamations taking place in private enterprise; we cannot prevent mergers in some of these cases. The plain fact is that our predecessors had a succession of Ministers for Labour and, in spite of technological changes, during the whole period that they were in power they did not call for one report in which they could attempt to assess the effect of automation in the following 5 years or 10 years. One of our great problems at the moment in relation to unemployment is that we cannot get cooperation from the State governments in advising us just what their employment needs are. They just will not co-operate. The Liberal State Premiers and their Ministers in most of the States are quite happy to create a state of unemployment for short term political reasons, and that just shows how barren are their political philosophies.
As I have said, the Whitlam Government Budget is concerned with education, health, social welfare and urban improvement. These are the things that we want to tackle. On the subject of urban improvement, I sat on the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution with Senator Davidson, Senator Ridley and one or two other senators. As a New South Welshman I was pleased that our report advocated a face lift for the Parramatta River and the George’s River. Nobody has greater vision than Mr Tom Uren in regard to urban improvement. The New South Wales Housing Commissioner, Mr Bourke- he was a Labor appointment; I have no objection to the man in one sense- was harping about the fact that the New South Wales Government wants to build houses on that section of the Parramatta River with which we dealt in our report. This is where our Federal system goes wrong in that our idealism can be thwarted. Mr Bourke went on about urban snobbishness- in essence it is not snobbishness to want riverside banks. The thing is that the Federal Government has great ideas and vision in relation to water pollution and such things and these mean little men with mean little minds at the State level try to sabotage what we propose.
I can see Senator Jessop out of the corner of my eye and I am reminded of the salinity problem in South Australia. Successive South Australian Governments, including Senator Hall’s Government and the present State Government under the leadership of Mr Dunstan, have been aware of the recommendations contained in the Committee’s report, but because of hang-ups at State level about Canberra ‘s motives nothing has been done. If they get those attitudes out of their minds, so much of what we are trying to do will be implemented much more speedily. Whether the $30m which has been allocated for sewerage works is spent will depend on how the States respond. Some of the State Premiers will not provide us with the figures. This applies even to Mr Morris, the New South Wales Transport Minister. I have asked him to give me the figures in relation to enterprises in his own State. The bus employees union in New South Wales is not overtime conscious at the present moment. Its members would much prefer to work 10 days a fortnight. Yet because they have to work excessive hours of overtime- this applies to traffic grades in the New South Wales Railways- people get irritated and bitchy. They cannot clear annual or long service leave. Yet Mr Morris will not respond to my requests to provide the number of additional men required on the traffic grades or even the number of additional bus conductors required. There are pockets of unemployment. We are trying to grapple with this problem but we can succeed only if we get the co-operation of the States in letting us know their labour requirements.
When the first Whitlam Budget was presented we sounded a tocsin in relation to education, health and social welfare. Despite world wide inflation we propose to continue these programs. American publications such as ‘Time’ and Newsweek’ contain graphs in relation to inflation. Australia is well down the list in these graphs. The world position has not inhibited this Government in introducing its social revolution. I state again for Senator Townley ‘s information that it is a social revolution. It is a bloodless one. My concluding remark is to remind honourable senators of what was said by that great American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He said that the greatest threat to our institutions are those who refuse to face up to change. Senator Townley is in that category.
– I am very glad that Senator Mulvihill has resumed his seat. During the last 25 minutes he was getting so carried away with his love for his Ministers, his Government and his policies that I thought he was going to get carried right out of the Senate chamber. It has been rather interesting to listen to the speeches made by Senator Mulvihill and Senator Gietzelt. Both of them have deliberately avoided speaking about the Budget itself. Both of them know that this is an old ploy in trade union circles. When people want to take the pressure off one subject, they put the emphasis on another one. That takes attention right away from the subject over which they are being criticised. Both honourable senators did this.
The Senate is debating a motion moved by the Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wriedt) that the Senate take note of the Budget papers. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) has moved an amendment to that motion. I want to put this on the record -
– You are not going to read it again.
-Yes, I am, because I think it is well worth reading. The amendment, which I support very strongly, as moved by the Leader of the Opposition, reads as follows:
Leave out all words after ‘that’ and insert ‘The Senate is of the opinion that the Budget fails to tackle Australia’s economic crisis, in that:
Unemployment is permitted to grow and the prospect for school leavers is prejudiced;
b ) Inflation is accelerated;
Existing poverty is ignored and new poverty is created;
d ) Personal income tax is increased 45 per cent:
Living standards will be lowered;
f ) Private enterprise is stifled;
g) Government power is further centralised;
Individual incentive and thrift is penalised;
A double tax is levied on estates.
And because the Government:
Has made the Budget a socialist vehicle to intensify the attack on the States and break down the free enterprise system.
Believes the absurdity that the Government can spend without people paying or can build without people producing.
Has preached private restraint but has threatened its achievements by its own Government extravagance.
I believe that every part of that amendment can be levelled at this Government as a criticism. I have heard speakers in this debate say that they believe this is a good Budget. As far as I, my Party and the other members of the Opposition are concerned, this Budget will go down in history as one of the most negative attempts to cure the evils of inflation and high wage demands. Perhaps no Budget has received such a mauling as this one has received. It has been criticised by every section of the community. Yet we hear Government senators saying that this is a good Budget and that it is acceptable to all.
The Budget has been criticised even by the Caucus members themselves and by the trade unions. I believe that this criticism by the trade unions is most certainly warranted. This Budget has failed to deal with Australia’s twin problems of inflation and unemployment by the use of budgetary measures. We had the spectacle, just a week after the Budget was introduced, of the trade unions meeting in Sydney to discuss the Government’s economic policies. What came out of that meeting in Sydney had a very dampening effect on the Government, so much so that within a week of bringing down the Budget the Government made another announcement. The announcement was made at 6 a.m., but every pressman in Parliament House knew about it at 10.30 the night before. Of course, I refer to the Government’s decision to devalue the Australian dollar by 12 per cent. I believe that this action did have some relationship to the 2 great problems of inflation and unemployment which we are facing. But at no time since the Government made that announcement has it indicated that it intended to or made an attempt to link the 2 moves as one overall strategy of budgetary action. I believe that it can be claimed quite rightly that devaluation was an afterthought and was an attempt to plug the gaping holes in the Budget. That action was taken to win back for the Government the rapidly waning popularity it previously had with the all-powerful trade unions.
I am quite sure, upon looking at the Budget, that this document is proof of Labor’s mismanagement. It is further proof that since 1972 Labor has governed in a way that can be likened- Senator Gietzelt tried to make a little joke a while ago- only to a young novice in a kitchen trying to make a pot of hash. He stands back and chucks anything and everything into the pot and hopes that something of substance will come out of it. That is exactly what this Government has done. It has done this since the time that it came into power. I think all of us recognise that fiscal measures cannot be introduced without here being some proper balance in those measures. If there is not some balance, there will be an unpalatable mess. I think all of us recognise that economic growth can come only through increasing productivity. But an essential part of that increasing productivity is investment. The Government has attempted to obtain growth while stifling investment and reducing productivity. This is just political madness. But what can we expect from this Government?
A little while ago, Senator Mulvihill took us back to the days when this Government first came to power. I well recall those days. This Government came into office fresh from a period of 23 years off the treasury benches. We had a situation in which every Minister rushed in and made great pronouncements on policy, saying that the Government was going to do this and that. Never at any stage did they consider the cost involved or where the money was coming from.
– What was the inflation rate then?
– I am coming to that. I want to take honourable senators back to that because I think that is the whole heart of this Budget. If people make statements such as the ones we have heard from Government Ministers without giving any thought to where we are going or where the money will come from, this is something like economic madness.
Let me go back to the days when the present Government Party was in Opposition. For a very long period we heard only one spokesman on economic matters from the Opposition side. That was the man who is occupying the position of Treasurer today. Time and time again when there was any policy to be stated by the Opposition Party it was Mr Crean, the present Treasurer, who stated it. No one else had a go. But what is the situation today? We have 27 Ministers and we have 27 authorities on the economy of this country, all getting up and telling us how we should do things.
– What have you heard me say?
-We will take 26 Ministers, then. There is plenty of time for Senator Wheeldon to get up yet, but it pleases him to say there are 26 authorities making economic announcements at the present time. When one wants to find out about the policies of this Government one has to wade through the 26 pronouncements. One has to see who made them, at what time they made them, and then one might have some idea.
Let us go back and deal with inflation. Some authorities say that inflation is already running at 20 per cent and it could go even higher very shortly. I want to recall the situation when this Government came to power, when there was a rate of inflation of 4.6 per cent and it was falling at that time because of the measures taken by the Liberal Party-Country Party Government. The new Government came in and announced that it would spend so much on particular areas. It was not very long before we had the inflation rate going up and up. When it started to rise the Opposition questioned the Government and it was told that inflation was a world-wide problem and nothing could be done about it; it was something that had been imported. That was the answer that was given for some considerable time; we had inherited inflation. The Government blamed everyone except itself. Senator Wheeldon, and I pay tribute to him, was good enough to send me to New Zealand the other day to look at the accident compensation scheme operating there. I found a little country under a Labor government which is dependent for its income on the sale overseas of primary products. We are told this country that the prices of our primary products are falling, and no doubt they are falling in New Zealand. But I found a country that had no unemployment. I found when walking down a street that every window one looked into had an advertisement asking people to come and work for that employer.
– They have no Senate frustrating the carrying out of their policies.
– I will get around to that in a moment. Do not let us pass that one over. If Australia and New Zealand can function side by side under the same type of government, yet one has a very high unemployment rate while the other has no unemployment at all, there must be something vitally wrong with this country. I am quite sure that what is wrong with this country is the policy of this Government. There is no other answer for it. When the Government ran out of excuses such as imported inflation, inherited inflation, the problem being caused by other people, we had a situation where it changed its line of attack and said inflation was the fault of the multi-nationals. The big multi-national companies who were operating in other parts of the world were causing the trouble in Australia. They were the cause of inflation. We went on for a little while longer and then came to a situation where the Senate had been working for a much longer period than in times gone by, putting through legislation at a rapid rate, and suddenly, because it knocked a couple of Bills back, the Labor Party said that inflation in this country was caused by the Senate not passing its measures. They included in their criticism the State governments, particularly those State governments with a Liberal Premier. Let us look at the situation. What was the Senate doing during that period that it had not done at any other time over the last 25 years? Do not tell me that Government senators when they sat on this side of the House did not put up amendments to the Budget, did not take every opportunity to come over to this side and talk to the Democratic Labor Party members who used to sit in this corner to try to get them to support their amendments. Of course they did.
I want to go a little further because I like reading back over Hansard to see what happened in the past. The Leader of the Government (Senator Murphy) expounds on economic problems in this country, and why we have these problems, and what difficult times they are to get around, but he never recalls the time when he sat in the seat opposite and said that everything the Liberal Party-Country Party Government was trying to do was wrong. Before coming into the House today I picked up an interesting quote from the present Leader of the Government, made when he was Leader of the Opposition. He made some comments on 19 May 1967 in the debate on the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill 1967. The Liberal Party-Country Party Government had brought into this chamber some measures which increased the rate of postage and telephone charges. It did this in May, before the Budget. What happened? Opposition senators rose up in their seats full of wrath. How dare the Government do such a thing! The present Leader of the Government is on record as saying this:
It is a tax on the people who use the Post Office. The increased charges will give an impetus to inflation -
I do not suppose that happens these days- at a time when everybody is seeking to prevent unnecessary inflation.
It is this paragraph which I think is the interesting one. He said:
This Parliament consists of 2 Houses and any proposed law requires the consent of both. If a proposed law does not receive the consent of this House, then it does not receive the consent ofParliament. Let there be no doubt about that.
But what does the Leader of the Government say today? He points the finger at the Leader of the Opposition and says: ‘If you senators do not pass this legislation we are trying to get through then it will be looked upon as a failure to pass and prohibiting Government legislation from going through this chamber.’
– You have changed your mind on the postal charges too, have you not? You were in favour of increasing them in 1 967.
-That may be so. No doubt we saw the same reason as you are seeing today. It is acknowledged that we have a rate of inflation today. The Government will not acknowledge that it is running at about 20 per cent and even higher. We contested an election on 18 May. We had a situation in which the Opposition set out to try to tell the people of this country that there was an inflation problem developing, and developing very rapidly, and that it was reaching a rate of about 14 per cent at that time. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) said: ‘No, we have not got a problem of inflation. This country has never been so prosperous in its life’. He went on saying this for a few weeks and then all of a sudden he woke up and we had an inflation problem. He told the people before the election that the Government had taken certain action and that inflation had fallen by one-third. He went on to peddle the story around the county that having got it down by one-third he could promise the people that by the end of the year it would be down to 8 per cent. What has happened? Where are those promises? Is the Prime Minister still peddling the stuff that he talked about at that time?
– But he had not seen the statement of Mr Daly at that time about the expenditure on chartered aircraft.
-BROCKM AN -I would say he had not seen a lot of things. He had not even seen the light of day. He was still up there reflecting on the glory of being Prime Minister- the magnificent. We have got to the stage now at which we have a Deputy Prime Minister in the other place who yesterday or the day before made a magnificent discovery. He found that we could cure inflation by productivity.
-A magnificent discovery. But he wants to cure inflation with productivity without giving any incentive whatever. He wants people to do it for the love of their country.
-Senator Georges has been here for only 5 minutes and he has not heard what I have said.
– Five minutes! I have been here all the time. I am hoping you will not sit down before 6 o’clock.
-BROCKM AN -I can keep going that long. The Deputy Prime Minister said that productivity is the thing. Let me remind honourable senators that the Liberal PartyCountry Party Government did not discover this in the 1950s or even in the 1960s, but it certainly recognised at that time that productivity had to be the thing that would get Australia on the way to achieving the prosperity that this country is now enjoying. It recognised also that if productivity was to be obtained there had to be incentives. So the Liberal Party-Country Party Government brought legislation into this chamber giving incentives to the people to develop the wealth of this country.
– But you gave it to only a section of the country.
– I would think, from looking at all sections, and acting on the advice given by Senator Georges’ 2 colleagues who had made contributions in this debate, that all sections of the community must be prosperous at present. That is what those 2 senators would say. So those policies developed by the Liberal Party-Country Party Government in the 1950s and 1960s brought the country to that situation, and that situation was developed by fostering free enterprise, which is something of which honourable senators on that side of the House seem to be very critical.
– You are contradictory there because you have said that you should give incentives from the public purse and yet on the other hand you believe in private enterprise. Surely you believe in subsidies to certain sections of the community.
– I just want to remind the honourable senator that free enterprise in this country, as Senator Townley said, has been responsible for the provision of 75 per cent of the available jobs at present. Private enterprise has done this. It produces the goods and services which the people of this country apparently demand or want. It creates community wealth, of which I have just spoken, and because of free enterprise, with people going out to work and gaining for themselves more of the things of life in return for money, it creates tax revenue with which this Government is able to introduce its program of welfare. Ilistened to Senator Mulvihill speaking about the mining industry in Western Australia. I think that industry was the greatest thing that ever happened to this country. There is no denying it. The Western Australian senators would agree with me. Western Australia until then was a State that was dependent in most instances for its income on the primary industry sector of the community. Because of falling prices overseas Western Australia was finding it difficult to compete and, if you like, to keep up with the development that was taking place in the States on the eastern seaboard. But through free enterprise we got the mining industry established. Some big men were involved in this and I remind Senator Mulvihill that if he goes to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia he will find one of the most knowledgeable men in the mining industry there. He is one of the most respected men there and is the son of a former Labor member of the Western Australian Parliament. He is a big mining man, but is he a man who is living in a great house? I see honourable senators opposite looking at each other. They do not even know their own history.
– We do know that we sold mining resources for very poor royalties in Western Australia.
– Well, there is nothing in the mining industry while you leave the minerals in the ground. You have to get it out first of all in order to get something for it. You have to get the mining industry to develop the north-west of Western Australia, to develop the harbours, to put down railways and to develop the infrastructure, such as accommodation for the people working there.
– All paid for by the taxpayers. You read the Fitzgerald report. He explodes that myth.
-Where did he get his instructions from? Where did he write from? Answer those questions and we will believe that report.
– He is a very respected member of the community.
– I think that all Australians are very well respected but we are not compelled to agree with everything he says simply because he is a respected member of the community. I want to remind honourable senators opposite that the boom in Western Australia has paid off. It was brought about by free enterprise and by offering incentives to people. This is nothing new. Yet the Acting Prime Minister (Dr J. F. Cairns) of this country speaks up as though it is. I was reminded this week of what Abraham Lincoln had to say on this subject and I would like to quote it because even in his day he recognised that one had to give incentive to a man to get something back. Abraham Lincoln said:
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred. You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money alone. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence. You cannot help a man permanently by doing for him that which he can and should do for himself.
Sitting suspended from 5.56 to 8 p.m.
-I rise to enter the debate on the Budget. Tonight I wish to take the opportunity which the debate on the Budget presents to speak on several matters which are of concern to me. But before I do so I indicate to the Senate the reason why I support the Budget strongly and why it did not follow the traditional approach to control inflation. I was one of several persons who believed that at this time we ought not take a big stick to the economy. I was one who did not believe that the economy should be thrashed to the point where many people, many groups of people and many companies would suffer. I believed- I expressed myself once before on this matter in the Senatethat there needed to be a new understanding of inflation and a new understanding of the method to control inflation. I believed that it was highly undesirable to use the methods that had been used in the past, to attack the economy with draconic measures which would result in suffering not only for those who were guilty of exploitation and manipulation but also for those who were innocent of anything other than the desire to work hard and to apply themselves diligently.
I am not one who supports the time honoured methods, which the Department of the Treasury has presented in the past, of a shake out in the economy, a total restriction on credit and all sorts of measures which would make it difficult for people to operate. Of course this would mean the collapse and destruction of many institutions, financial and otherwise. The end result of that sort of policy was suffering for many people at a very low level who were not in the position to anticipate the consequences of such a policy. It involved not only the individual worker but also the subcontractor and the small businessman who were not in a position to have foreknowledge of what was to come and who were being used, perhaps, by those in higher places. So the people’s small capital and effort were being used by the great manipulators within our economy so that when the crash came those at the top were able to use the various devices to escape their obligations, to retire within the limitations of their companies and to survive the consequences of their act. But those down below had to pay the piper. They had to suffer unpaid pledges and losses of payment for contracts entered into. So for those reasons I oppose the traditional methods and support the method which is used in the present Budget, to ease into the situation and to take those softer methods which will enable us to adjust to and face the attack on inflation.
The consequences of inflation have been imposed upon us for several reasons. Inflation has a base in the actions of those who operate externally and- this cannot be denied- it has been caused by the monetary policies of concerns which are so large now that they spread across many State and national boundaries. The monetary policies which have become common since the last war have developed apace. They have accelerated lately and, to a certain extent, they have been the cause of the inflation which we face. Admittedly, some of the things which we ourselves- the previous Government and this Government- have done to the economy have added to inflation. But I believe the basic cause of inflation- I think I am supported in this- is external. The shake out which is occurring at the present time because of the credit restrictions which have been imposd is severe enough. It would have been even more severe if we had used other methods. It is severe because certain financial institutions have failed. The tragedy of it- there needs to be caution here- is that this time it is the hire purchase companies which are suffering the consequences of financial mismanagement.
In 1968, 1969 and 1970 it was the share market which suffered. What I am afraid of and what I caution is that the next group of financial institutions to suffer will be the housing societies. Today I saw that in Victoria the housing societies sought and gained an extra 2 per cent in the rate of interest. The housing societies- like the hire purchase companies in the past- are engaging in practices which to me are not viable, which appear to be actuarily unsound and which, in a short period, will place them in financial trouble. As I see it, the housing societies have come into the market and have become pacesetters for increased interest rates to the detriment of the whole community, even though the increased interest rates strike first at home buyers. But the housing societies, by competing on the open market with increased interest rates, have forced other financial institutions to enter into that area of competition. What I consider ought to be debated is whether this competition in higher interest rates ought to be permitted. There ought to be some limitation on the right to advertise, to compete and to promote higher interest rates.
– But it started with the bond rate.
– It could have started with the bond rate but here there is an imbalance. There is dangerous competition between the banking institutions, which have what I think are called the lender of last resort facilities, and the housing societies which, at the present time, have not. The housing societies for so long have remained outside the control of the Reserve Bank of Australia, as have the hire purchase institutions. But what horrifies me is the ability of housing societies to enter into competition and to advertise lavishly. I am not speaking of one, two or three housing societies but a multiplicity of them. They can enter into the advertising area and compete one against the other by offering a higher interest rate. If the interest rate is justified it ought not be allowed as a means of competition in the way that it is at the present time. Let us look at some of the smaller housing societies which are insecure and whose insecurity could lead to the insecurity of the larger housing societies. They have been inviting deposits at high interest rates. Their future depends on the continuing flow of deposits so that if they are in difficulty with the level of deposits they seek a higher interest rate in order to attract deposits. It is unhealthy and it is dangerous.
But what happens to the deposits? The deposits are no longer being used for the purpose for which the housing societies were created. The deposits which the housing societies are receiving at present are not flowing to the home borrower, because he can no longer afford the terms which the housing societies are demanding. It is difficult for a person on an income of less than $200 a week to obtain a loan from building societies. At present the building societies are having difficulty in obtaining sufficient borrowers to use up the deposits which they are gaining by competing through higher interest rates. Where is the money going? It is going into short term deposits. At present they are able to gain advantage of the high interest rates which banks and other institutions are providing for short term deposits, but this is coming to an end.
The high interest rates that the banking institutions and finance corporations have been able to offer to the housing societies are starting to fall. I think it is necessary for the Parliament to consider an inquiry into the soundness of the policies which are now being followed by the various building societies. To me they appear so actuarially unsound that even what I am saying now weakens their position. I remember that the Treasurer (Mr Crean) stated clearly in a short speech that the housing societies are actuarialy unsound because they borrow short on a daily recall basis and lend long. What happened after he made that statement? A week later he had to endeavour to recover from that statement because there was a run on housing society deposits. That demonstrates the need for us to look at the basic causes of inflation, that we should accept the principles of the Budget which are that the social reforms which society needs shall not be in any way limited. However, at the same time we should not deny the fact that inflation is running at an undesirably high level.
Do not let us have any politics about this problem. I have here a booklet that somehow was left in my drawer after a debate about 18 months ago. It is titled: ‘Speaker’s Notes- The Australian Labor Party- Federal Elections 9 December 1961 ‘. In support of its arguments it contains some statistics taken from the Quarterly Summary of Australian Statistics December 1960 setting out the inflation rate from 1950 onwards. In 1950 when the Menzies Government came into power the inflation rate was 10.2 per cent. In 195 1 the inflation rate was 20.7 per cent. Let us not get into party political arguments about the extent of inflation. Let neither side deny that inflation exists. It does exist, and at a higher rate than is desirable but it has also done so in the past. It reached 20.7 per cent in 1951 when the Liberal Party was in its second year in office.
I will use the flexibility I am permitted in the debate on the Budget to move to another matter so that I will not have to speak tonight after the motion is moved to adjourn the Senate. Generally speaking we use the adjournment debate to raise certain matters but honourable senators will accept that over the past year I have been, shall we say, rather restrained. I have not imposed upon senators by causing them to stay beyond the hour that the Parliament normally adjourns.
– It has been very good of you, and we appreciate it.
-Before you say how good I am you should listen to what I have to say. Honourable senators will recall that about 12 months ago I became involved in a disputation concerning the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.
– It was about turtle farming.
– It was. Before I proceed to that point I want to make my position clear. Large sums of money are collected from the citizens of this country. As I have said before, some people work exceedingly hard, some work beyond the normal 40 hours a week, some find that their wives have to work, some find that they have to engage in private enterprise in order to make ends meet. The higher is their accumulated income for the year the higher is the taxation that they pay. It is necessary for the Parliament to see that the moneys raised by taxation from the people are fully accounted for and are not in any way wasted or dissipated. I do not think anyone will disagree with that proposition. For that reason I believe that the most important committee that we have in Parliament is the Public Accounts Committee which supervises public expenditure and investigates conditions or revelations which the Auditor-General makes known from time to time.
The Public Accounts Committee has a responsibility before that, and so also do the Estimates committees, for the investigation of the expenditure of public moneys. About 12 months ago I disclosed a breakdown in the accountability of moneys expended by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in an area supervised and controlled by a company called Applied Ecology Pty Ltd. The statements that I made at that time were subsequently supported by the AuditorGeneral. In order to support the criticism that I made I accepted a position on the board of Applied Ecology. I accepted that I should not criticise without accepting the responsibility to correct the malpractices that I believed were occurring. At that time I made certain criticisms which should have been accepted as valid, coming from a member of Parliament, but that did not happen. What did occur was that an attempt was made to discredit not only the material that I presented for examination but also to discredit me personally. I was then subjected to a continuing attack to have me removed from the board of Applied Ecology.
– From where did those attacks come?
– I was subjected to continuing attempts to have me removed as chairman of the board of Applied Ecology. To the credit of my Party those attempts were resisted and I was allowed to remain a director of Applied Ecology. What did we find when we began to investigate the operations of Applied Ecology? We discovered that not only was money being wasted but there was also no way in which accountability could be made either by Parliament or by any other group. When I joined the board of Applied Ecology Mr Gordon Bryant, the previous Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, also appointed to the board Mr Jim Neill, a qualified and leading accountant in Canberra, and Mr Ray Thorburn, a member of the House of Representatives. Honourable senators will be fascinated to learn that at the time we joined the board there was not even an assets register to show some sort of control over the assets that had been purchased. There was absolutely no way in which we could account for substantial expenditures. It took us months to go back through dockets to establish just what had been purchased, where it was located and who was in control of it. It took us months to set up an accounting system which could be audited, supervised and scrutinised at any time by a member of Parliament or the public, and which could show what was being expended and where the expenditure was going. In spite of all these efforts there was a continual attempt to remove me from the chairmanship and membership of the Board of Applied Ecology.
Last week or the week before- the days go quickly- we had the annual general meeting of Applied Ecology. I had accepted reality and decided to resign as Chairman of Applied Ecology because of continual friction with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs concerning the program and the direction the program should take. I accepted that this continuing friction would not assist the economic position of 130 Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginals. If I remained as Chairman, and in continual conflict with the Department over the direction which the program should take, these people would suffer. I had some discussions with one of the new directors, Mr Les Smart, a very highly qualified accountant from Victoria, who had been appointed to the Board by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh). Mr Smart was part of the team appointed by the former Special Minister of State, now the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee), to investigate the turtle project. I discussed the matter with Mr Smart and 1 agreed that I should move from the position of Chairman to the position of Executive Director and so remove the cause of friction, but it was agreed that I would be able to carry out a commitment to the Torres Strait Islanders and the Aboriginal people. Apparently this did not satisfy the head of the Department who I believe carried out a continuing campaign against me. In fact the head of the Department canvassed the newly appointed directors to have me removed as Chairman. I was prepared to put up with this. But I was not prepared to put up with a letter which I received on 20 September 1974, which I would like to quote. This letter, signed by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, was a clear revelation to the Board and me that the head of the Department, whom I hold responsible for the contents of this letter, had no concept of what we were doing, what was needed or the social injustices which had been imposed on certain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities. But the head of the Department was determined still to have his own way.
– Why do you blame the head, not the Minister?
Senator McLaren- Mr President, I raise a point of order. I ask for your ruling on whether Senator Webster, who is the Chairman of Committees, is in order in continually interjecting when he is not in his right place in the Senate.
– I would expect Senator Webster to know the Standing Orders.
– There was no concept of 12 months’ hard work on the part of 3 members of the board and of the work of the new directors who had been appointed to the board. When we took over the accounts of Applied Ecology it had a deficit of $80,000 a month, and at the end of the last financial year it was reduced to $27,000 a month. Besides straightening out the account, we endeavoured to take the control of the project out of the hands of Europeans and place it in the hands of the people themselves. To do this we set up in the Torres Strait a group which we call the Applied Ecology- Torres Strait Islands Group. The chairmen of the 3 island groups were represented on this group. We appointed field officers who were Torres Strait Islanders, and we appointed field assistants who were Torres Strait Islanders. We converted the expenditure from an imbalance which was weighted in favour of Europeans to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders themselves. This took some doing. Yet in this letter of 20 September this matter is questioned. Every action that we took was questioned. I read merely a paragraph from the letter that was sent and which, I believe, was composed at the direction of the head of the Department. We kept the Department informed of everything that we were doing. Part of the letter stated:
I note the information conveyed in Mr Cooper’s letter.
Mr Cooper is the admirable Secretary of the Board of Applied Ecology who was of great assistance in resolving the great confusion of accounting and organisation and turning it into something that was solid and understandable. The Minister stated:
I note the information conveyed in Mr Cooper’s letter of 3 July about Applied Ecology- Torres Strait Islands Group.
Surely he must have understood what was being done by a group which was set up to enable the Islanders to make decisions and to recommend to the Board of Applied Ecology. The Minister stated:
I note the information conveyed in Mr Cooper’s letter of 3 July about Applied Ecology- Torres Strait Islands Group. I am, however, concerned about the establishment and activities of this Group. I ask what authority exists for the expenditure of funds on meetings of the Group? Do not meetings of the Group raise expectations at a time when the long-term prospects of the project are not yet known? With particular reference to the minutes of the Group’s meeting or 27-28 July, is it within the functions of the Company for the Group to be deciding on the building of dories . . .
In other words, the letter questioned each decision that the Board made and the participation of Torres Strait Islanders and Aborigines in the decisions that Applied Ecology had to make.
I have 3 minutes in which to finish this speech. Let me tell the Senate one more thing, because if I do not conclude tonight I will take up the subject at a later stage. I resigned from Applied Ecology because of the refusal of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to accept the nomination by the new Board, which consists of several eminent gentlemen, including scientists, of Miss Margaret Valadian, who is one of the most qualified Aboriginal people in this country and has an Australian degree and 2 American degrees, as a member of the board. The board was unanimous in its recommendation of Miss Valadian so that it could take advantage of her ability as a social scientist and the fact that she is a member of the Aboriginal race. That nomination was denied by the head of the Department who has shown to this point a vindictiveness against this young person just as he has shown a vindictiveness against other people of Aboriginal origin who are not prepared to accept his attitude with regard to the solution of the problems of the Aboriginal race. For that reason I resigned not only as chairman but also as a director because I could no longer face the obstruction of the head of the Department or the displeasure of the Minister.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. I request Senator Georges, under standing order 364, to table the document from which he quoted. I make that request rather than seek an order. I do not think he would mind tabling it.
– I am prepared to table the letter to which I referred. I am prepared to table the annual report of Applied Ecology Pty Ltd, which will support what I have said. I am prepared to table the letter that Margaret Valadian sent me anticipating the refusal. She said that she believed she had been nominated as a director of Applied Ecology. She said that to save us both embarrassment she wished the nomination to be withdrawn. She added: Perhaps another time, in another race’. I am prepared to table that as well.
-Is the honourable senator seeking leave to table the documents?
– I seek leave to table the documents.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The next speaker in the Budget debate is Senator Bessell from Tasmania, who is the last of the IS newly elected senators to make a maiden speech in the chamber. Senator Bessell lives in the Rocky Cape area of Tasmania where he is a farmer. I remind the Senate that it is a time honoured custom that a newly elected senator making his initial speech to the Senate is heard without interjection or interruption.
-Thank you, Mr President. Firstly I thank the electors of my State of Tasmania for their support. It is because of their support that I can now serve them in this Parliament. I also take this opportunity to thank you, Mr President, the Clerks and the parliamentary officers, and colleagues on both sides of the chamber for their help and courtesy in the time I have been here. I also take this opportunity to congratulate all the other senators who have passed this point in their parliamentary careers.
In this my maiden speech, I would like to refer to 2 topics that are of great concern not only to myself but more especially to my State of Tasmania. They are Bass Strait shipping and the rural industries. I am more than concerned that the recent Budget will not contain inflation or do anything to relieve unemployment. It virtually ignores the serious problems of Tasmania. Because of the regularity with which strikes affect shipping to and from Tasmania, most honourable senators will be reasonably informed on the disastrous results or effects on virtually the whole of the State of Tasmania of this continual disruption to this vital sea link with the mainland States. During the campaign leading up to the election on 18 May, together with other members of the Liberal Senate team, I visited many factories in Tasmania and, without exception, each time the management were asked a question on shipping they gave the same answer. It was that because of this factor they wished they were not in business in Tasmania. They gave 2 very good reasons for this. The first was the unreliable nature of shipping, caused mainly by industrial unrest, and as a consequence the need to stockpile, when possible, sufficient raw material to enable them to continue to manufacture during the currency of any future shipping trikes. Then, of course, there is the attendant difficulty of getting their goods to the markets in the other States of Australia. I am sure honourable senators would acknowledge that in the current economic situation this is unnecessarily costly and only lends weight to what I said about their wishing that they were established on the Australian mainland.
Another feature is the dramatic increase in unemployment in Tasmania, due in no small part to the Government’s decision to impose an acrosstheboard reduction of 25 per cent in tariffs. The marked downturn in employment in the textile industry, particularly in the Launceston area, is a direct consequence of this action. This action, along with the other things mentioned, has left virtually no alternative employment opportunities for Tasmanians. The need at the moment is for a climate which will encourage expansion, not retard it. The stagflation that is evident in Tasmania at the moment is due in a very large degree to the Government’s decisions and its inability to handle industrial unrest, particularly in the transport area. While recent announcements about additional tonnage to start operating during the early months of 1975 will, if it eventuates, overcome the problem of backlogging, it will not, and does not, in any way solve the problem of industrial unrest. Nothing, or very little, has been achieved in exempting Tasmania from the disruptive ravages of maritime strikes.
Let me now look at the cost of these strikes. I want to illustrate what unreliable shipping services do to the cost factor. One manufacturer, who makes brass fittings for nylon water piping, said at the time we were discussing this matter with him that he was forced to send 40 tons of brass fittings a months to the mainland States by air because of his inability to get the supplies to the market in the way that the market demanded. Air freight is twice the cost of sea freight. Is it any wonder that the owners of factories such as this are asking themselves whether it is worth it? I think this illustration also serves to bring into stark focus the other most important element in shipping, and that is the cost of freight. When we examine this question we see the disadvantage that all Tasmanians suffer. While transport costs throughout the nation must increase of necessity, due to the uncontrolled inflationary situation, the costs are much worse in the Bass Strait area than in any other area in Australia over a similar or relative distance. The authority for that assertion can be found in the report on Tasmania’s interstate transport problems by the Bureau of Transport Economics which was presented in March 1973. That report clearly shows that what I just said about comparative distance unfortunately is only too true.
To add weight to what I have said and to illustrate what I mean I would like to refer briefly to some extracts from that report. As to tourist vehicles, southbound into Tasmania there were 17,225 and northbound from Tasmania there were 17,313. I think honourable senators appreciate that any cost which militates against an increase, however slow, in the number of vehicles going into a State like Tasmania, which depends so greatly on tourism- the tourist industry is worth in excess of $30m a year to Tasmaniais something we have to take the greatest care to avoid, if it is at all possible. As to freight, 1,002,972 tons went into Tasmania and 1,088,726 tons went north from Tasmania to the mainland States. These figures may be somewhat out of date as that report was presented in March 1 973, but any differences would be only slight.
I want to refer to a couple of extracts from that report to clarify the real situation. I refer, firstly, to table 2 on annexe E7 which refers to line haul costs. Later I will deal with door to door costs. The cost in the northbound direction is $5 for line haul, $1.51 for wharfage and $1.30 for terminal costs. The total for the line haul and associated costs is $7.81. In the opposite direction, southbound, we find that the costs are: Line haul $5.20, wharfage $2, terminal costs $1.30, making a total of $8.50. Again referring to an extract from the report we find that the costs by rail over a similar distance are: Line haul $5.50, loading and unloading 70c, making a total of $6.20. By road the costs are: Line haul $7.50, loading and unloading 70c, making a total of $8.20. These figures apply to 1 ton of 40 cubic feet cargo.
It is interesting when we look at what happens when we take the costs of 1 ton of 140 cubic feet cargo of, obviously, a different type. The sea freight costs in a northbound direction are: Line haul $16, wharfage because of extra handling $5.25, terminal costs $4.55, making a total of $25.80. The costs in a southbound direction are: Line haul $17.25, wharfage $7, terminal costs $4.55, making a total cost of $28.80. By rail the costs are: Line haul $8, loading and unloading 70c, making a total cost of $8.70. By road the cost is exactly the same, $8.70. We must add to these costs the door to door costs. Annexure 10 in the same report shows the costs on the Melbourne to Devonport distance, using the 3 modes of transport, for line haul to be: Sea, southbound, $17.70, sea, northbound, $15.80, road $14.60 and rail $12.60. These figures suggest that under the circumstances specified previously the door to door costs over the distance would be from $ 1 to $3 greater by sea than by road or rail in a northbound direction and from $3 to $5 in a southbound direction. These figures refer only to the movement of cargo of density of 1 ton of 40 cubic feet.
The difference in the door to door costs for cargo of lower density can be shown to be very much higher. The line haul cost for cargo of a density of 1 ton of 140 cubic feet is much greater by sea than by road or rail. However, efficient blending of cargoes of varying densities could be used to modify, at least to some extent, the cost of sea transport. Density of cargo generally only slightly affects the line haul cost for road and rail. The other costs of freight forwarders would increase slightly due to the lower density and the charges would be similar for all modes of transport. The costs associated with the additional handlings peculiar to sea transport would probably be in the range of $2.50 to $3.50 for 1 ton of 140 cubic feet cargo. This would mean that the difference in the door to door costs between the modes of transport for 140-cubic foot consignment would be in the range of $20 to $25 a ton. Medium density cargo of, say, 60 cubic feet a ton would cost from $6 to $9 a ton more on the door to door basis when using sea for line haul. The line haul and associated costs which are about $12.80 in a southbound direction and $11.50 in a northbound direction by sea compared with $7.40 by rail and $8.20 by road are the major differences in the door to door costs.
I think it is interesting to look very quickly at what happens when one extends the distances. There we see a greater relativity, but it does not help our situation with regard to the huge tonnage of cargo that is shipped in in the non-bulk cargo area in the northern part of the State. Using the same modes of transport, but this time extending the distance from Melbourne to Hobart instead of to Devonport, we find the costs by sea are: Line haul $11.98, wharfage $1.72, terminal charges $1.30, making a total of $15. The costs by rail are: Line haul $13, loading and unloading 70c, making a total cost of $13.70. The costs by road are slightly dearer. They are: Line haul $19.70, loading and unloading 70c, making a total cost of $20.40. Again this is for one ton of 40 cubic feet cargo.
We see the difference in cost as soon as we look at the figures for one ton of 140 cubic feet cargo. Here the costs are: Line haul $38.90, wharfage $7, terminal charges $4.50, making a total cost of $50.40. By rail the costs are: Line haul $15.60, loading and unloading 70c, making a total of $16.30. The costs by road are: Line haul, $21, loading and unloading 70c, making a total of $21.70. These figures, I think, not only indicate the variation in commodities; they also serve to show that by taking the average between $ 1 and $5 of $2.50 and applying this to the amount of cargo we see that the State of Tasmania is paying about $5m more in transport charges than other areas which are a similar distance from capital cities.
I recognise that Mr Nimmo is currently conducting a further inquiry into cost differences with regard to Tasmania. I feel, however, that there may well be merit in the thought that because of the necessary time delay in the receipt of the report, and taking into account the rapid escalation in costs, an interim subsidy may well commend itself to the Government. This would return some rationalisation to a continuing and frustrating situation and, hopefully, restore some degree of confidence in secondary industry that is sadly lacking at the present time. I am sure that the combination of costs of transport delays, however caused, has served to undermine this confidence which at this moment is surely needed to assist in creating additional job opportunities.
I note that last Friday Dr Cairns on a visit to Tasmania announced that the Government would pay a $2m subsidy to the Australian National Line operating on the Tasmanian trade. This will do nothing to reduce the disadvantage that I have already mentioned. It will serve only to offset the recently announced rise in freight rates to the mainland and not to Tasmania. The need for prompt action has in no way been resolved by this subsidy. Therefore, the problems as outlined still exist and they are crying out for resolution in order to bring about some equality in the costs of transport. It seems highly discriminatory to pay a subsidy only in one direction. Of necessity it will do nothing to decrease the costs of imports into Tasmania which will still carry the 25 per cent increase in costs.
I turn now to primary industry. To me it is not by accident that the term ‘primary’ is used when talking about this industry because rural industries still earn in excess of 50 per cent of Australia’s export income. We have seen many decisions taken by this Government which have served only to destroy the confidence of the rural industry in this Government’s ability to recognise and assist the one industry which by its very nature is unable in any way to insure itself against the ravages of inflation. There have been so many decisions taken that they are too numerous to mention, but some of the most important with their possible and eventual flow-on results include the alteration in the depreciation rate on machinery. This must have the effect of reducing demand, with the inevitable result of an escalation in unemployment in that part of secondary industry which services primary industry. There is a natural tendency on the part of farmers to retain plant, tractors and so on long beyond their useful life. The decision to alter the depreciation on development costs from a claim for the year in which the expenditure was incurred to a claim spread over 10 years means, in effect, that the farmer will be paying tax on nine-tenths of any cost of development. While this may have something to commend it after a period of years, it will be disastrous in the early years in the present economic situation with the cost of money at record high levels.
The increase in telephone charges has added to the burden particularly because many rural producers unfortunately live outside of the local call area. The Government has increased fuel costs, both by imposing an additional charge by way of excise duty and by removing the petrol subsidy that kept prices in country areas more relative to those in the city areas.
I refer now to the very much debated removal of the dairy subsidy. The Government has decided to remove the dairy subsidy over 3 years, in spite of all of the economic and social disabilities it will cause. While money has been made available by way of assistance to the dairy industry in other directions, this assistance almost certainly will help, unfortunately, only a small percentage of people engaged in rural industry. This decision, in common with many other actions of the Government, seems to have been dictated by pressures from within the trade union movement which seems not to want to appreciate, or is unable to appreciate, that the whole family in rural areas is often involved 7 days a week for up to 12 hours a day.
The imposition of the 1.6c tax on the export of meat is another example of the Government’s attitude. This was an almost panic like reaction to a situation which all but the Government seem to recognise could only be short term. This tax did not represent a very high percentage increase when export meats were commanding 35c to 40c per lb in the sale yards, but now that the price of export meat is down to 1 5c or 1 8c per lb it certainly will mean a high percentage increase. We do not hear anyone on the Government side of the chamber getting nearly as excited as some of them did earlier this year when prices were much higher. Perhaps they are not concerned with the situation of many of the beef producers who purchased store stock when prices reflected the high market price of beef and now face limited markets with low and uneconomic prices.
We have heard a good deal about the removal of the superphosphate bounty during question time over the last couple of days. Notwithstanding the 100 per cent increase in ex-works price in the last 6 months- in some cases the increase has been slightly in excess of this- the removal of the subsidy is a further example of the Government’s attack on rural industries. In this decision, as in many other decisions, we see what appears to be an intense dislike by the Government of the farming community, or at least the bigger producers. The Government should at least recognise the plight of the smaller producer and pay a bounty on at least the first 30 tonnes or 40 tonnes used on each property. The inevitable result of the Government’s decision will of necessity be twofold. Firstly, it will gradually reduce production and, secondly, it will almost certainly force up the price of food. However, I imagine that prices will not move anything like quickly enough to compensate completely for costs which are estimated to be increasing at around 20 per cent a year. While there has been some recognition in the food and vegetable processing industry of a need to allow for cost escalation in contracts, it is a pretty fair bet that costs will not be entirely recoverable from price increases. At the moment meat, of course, is a classic example of this.
I have given some examples of decisions taken since December 1972 which seem to illustrate the apparent disregard by this Government for the rural industry. Also the emergence of much talk amongst farmers about taking militant action highlights not only the condition within the industry but also their dissatisfaction over the militancy in many sections of the industrial union movement. This situation is very disquieting because normally rural people are more inclined to be conservative than militant. The Government must recognise its responsibilities in this situation and take what steps are necessary to try to find remedies that are not simply short term palliatives, as such remedies will only cause continuing problems.
On many occasions we have heard from Government senators about the Government’s research and endeavours in relation to international markets. But, unfortunately, judging by the situation we see in relation to many commodities in Australia today, the Government has not yet been able to achieve what we would have liked it to have done in this field. I think it is well, though, to acknowledge at this point the initiatives taken by the Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wriedt) and the Government with regard to the establishment of a floor price for wool. These are the types of stabilising moves that are very much needed right throughout primary industry. I certainly commend and congratulate the Minister for his part in this plan. There has always been a tremendous problem in rural industry associated with the stability of commodity prices. I would imagine that there always will be some instability, particularly in relation to those products which of necessity are sold on international markets.
It may well be possible to cushion the severity of movements in farm income if steps were taken to allow farmers to insure against low incomes and low prices in the bad seasons by enabling them to purchase bonds or to take out some type of insurance when commodity prices are high.
They would then be able to use this capital to assist in meeting taxation payments when prices were low. In this way perhaps we could see one of the greatest worries of the farmer- that is, the instability of prices- somewhat dissipated. I think that this would not only help the farmer but it would also bring about a good deal of benefit to the whole community. It seems common knowledge that while farmers have money they spend it, and if they are spending it so is everybody else.
Another problem which I think demands some action is in the field of currency movements. It has been obvious for some time that Australia should have cut its ties with the American dollar and allowed the Australian dollar to float for a fixed period so that it might find some relativity with other world currencies. Alternatively we could have allowed for a fixed float over a given percentage. A moderate devaluation of the Australian dollar to the rural industry could at the present be of great national benefit. It remains to be seen, however, whether the Government’s devaluation of 12 per cent, and its timing, is, on balance, good. Let us truly hope that it is. Undoubtedly the devaluation will cause some upsurge in the inflationary situation, and this may have the effect of offsetting some of the benefits that have been so long overdue from such a move. Devaluation cannot be judged in isolation; it must be considered in parallel with the Federal Budget which, unfortunately, is severely inflationary.
Another problem that is giving concern to rural industry, due to the escalation in the price of land generally, is the old problem of estate duty or probate. I feel that while there is an immediate need to extend upwards the minimum limit under which probate is not paid, so as to bring about some relativity and relief to the curent situation by a comparison with what it was immedately after the last alteration, there is a more pressing need, I feel, for the formulation by the Government of a policy that will eventually abolish this unfair and destructive tax. It is destructive in the sense that for the vast majority of rural estates it often brings about a situation which is a paradox in relation to the policies on rural reconstruction of both of the major political parties. When Government funds are made available by way of loan for farm build-up, consolidation of farm properties, unfortunately we see time and time again that on the death of the owner some asset- usually land- has to be sold to meet the unfortunate burden of probate. Surely, with the combined abilities that are available to this national Parliament, we could arrive at a solution as an alternative to estate dutiespreferably a solution which was capable of exempting estates not only from Federal estate duties but also from State estate duties. Mr Acting Deputy President, I note that my time has nearly run out. I conclude by mentioning again the concern that I share with a great number of people everywhere that the economic situation that faces this country now is frighteningly akin to what we saw in 1 929. 1 feel that this situation requires the co-operation of all who can contribute anything towards a sensible and balanced solution of it.
– Firstly, I congratulate those Opposition senators who have already spoken during this Budget debate, and spoken very eloquently. In particular, I commend my fellow Western Australian, Senator Chaney, for the very fair and reasonable summary, which he delivered last week, of the Budget’s general objectives. Senator Chaney has recognised that the Budget, as he puts it, represents what the Government promised the people of Australia’. He recognises that it expresses the belief that resources, at least at the margins, should be directed towards satisfying public needs rather than private wants and that it contains ‘a soak the rich element with its capital gains tax and property income surcharge ‘. By acknowledging those realities he achieved a level of objectivity which is not often reached in this Parliament and which has been conspicuously absent from post-Budget comments, some of which have been on those very issues, by many of his colleagues.
Not everyone, perhaps not even Senator Chaney, will agree that relatively more resources should be directed from the private sector to the public sector. Some might even argue that the existence of what the American economist, Galbraith, described as public squalor in the midst of private affluence is a desirable social objective. In fact, in some conservative circles there appears to be a deeply entrenched view that all private spending is innately desirable and that all public spending is inherently wastefulunless, of course, it is directed to what is somewhat euphemistically called defence. A logical extrapolation of that point of view would be that the last few feet of non-functional metal on a modern motor vehicle is more important than the road upon which the motor vehicle moves, that the unsolicited plastic toy in the cornflakes packet and the costly package that contains it are more valuable than an adequate health service or that the half empty glass and concrete monoliths that dominate the city skyline are socially more desirable than public housing for economically or ethnically underprivileged groups.
Some people may argue that people who possess considerable wealth and/or receive high incomes should not pay higher taxes. Such people may even argue that attempts by governments to redistribute wealth or income in favour of the relatively poor are unwise or even immoral. The degree to which income should be redistributed or the relative allocation of resources between the public sector and the private sector becomes ultimately a value judgment. As such, it provides an area of quite legitimate political dispute and debate. I do not complain because Opposition members debate these issues or dispute them. I do not complain simply because they believe or say that public spending should be reduced. But I challenge them to specify the areas in which they would reduce public spending if they were the Government. The silence is eloquent. Calls to restrict public spending are popular only in the abstract. Except in terms so vague or so petty that they are meaningless, the Opposition has failed to specify one area in which it would restrict spending. On the contrary, it talks vaguely of an alleged need to increase defence spending, sometimes by as much as one per cent of gross national product or about one per cent of gross national product, which amounts to about $500m. A few months ago it promised to restore the superphosphate bounty which last year cost $68m and which benefits far more than proportionately farmers on the highest incomes.
If Mr Snedden ‘s much vaunted calls for leadership are to acquire any credibility outside Liberal Party cheer squads, let him specify the areas in which he would reduce spending. Is it to be spending on pensions, is it to be spending on education, is it to be spending on health or is it to be spending on grants to local and State governments?
– Overseas trips by the Prime Minister.
– In dealing with the question of overseas trips and the chartering of transport, I can state that there is one thing of which I am sure. I can guarantee that the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party in the House of Representatives (Mr Sinclair) does not believe in restricting Government expenditure on the hire of private motor cars for shopping trips for his wife. But to keep the discussion on a more orderly basis, I have excluded petty areas and that is a petty area. Let Mr Snedden specify where his much vaunted tax cuts would be made and whom they would benefit, not by vague and deceptive references to middle income earners but by specific references to taxable income divisions. Until the reductions in spending and the like reductions in taxation about which the Opposition talks have been specified, the talk amounts to nothing more than a sustained exercise in political chicanery.
The Budget itself could not, by any rational judgment, be claimed to have more than a marginal influence on inflation. It is true that it assumes a continuation of inflation. In the circumstances which exist throughout the capitalist world, not to have done so would have been at the best optimistic or at the worst dishonest.
– It is very high, though.
– It is exactly half way down the scale of the Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation countries with which we are normally compared. We are equal twelfth on the scale of 24 countries. A high and recently accelerating rate of inflation is common to all capitalist democracies.
In a series of books stretching as far back as 1952, of which ‘The Affluent Society ‘ is probably the best known, the American economist, Galbraith, both forecast this phenomenon and provided a convincing analysis of its underlying political and economic causes. His basic premise was that price competition has virtually disappeared from most sectors of the economy and has certainly disappeared from what he calls the economic heartland. The private entrepreneur or the private corporation is not, as poltical dinosaurs and free enterprise myth makers would have us believe, an aggressive, fiercely price competitive human or corporate dynamo. Prices are determined not by competitive market forces but by cost mark-ups or, probably less commonly, by collusive agreement. Demand is not spontaneous, but is largely synthesised by a continuous and expensive campaign, the object of which is the manipulation of consumer preferences and the creation of human wants, as distinct from human needs.
– The beef producer- how does he fit into that?
-I will deal with the beef producer later. The sheer size, the resources and the limited number of firms in the secondary, and to some extent even in the primary and tertiary, sectors have provided for each of those firms a considerable degree of original monopoly power, and in response to this monopoly power organised labour has developed countervailing power. The Bourbons of capitalist society, of course, still believe that the former can be tolerated but the latter cannot. Progressively, both the sellers of labour and the sellers of commodities become price setters rather than price takers. So on both sides of the market pressure on prices is upward.
According to more or less conventional economic theory, a business recession accompanied by high levels of unemployment will deflate price pressures on both sides. In a political democracy that so-called solution is not viable. Even if it were, the cost in terms of human suffering probably outweighs the gain. Recessions, as the cynics have noted, are usually championed most vigorously by senior public servants on de facto lifetime appointments and politicians holding blue ribbon seats. Given the constraints of a political democracy, inflation, according to Galbraith ‘s diagnosis, is unlikely to disappear until an intellectual revolution has developed into a common consensus, until a new conventional wisdom more attuned to the realities it seeks to interpret has replaced the old. Unfortunately, there is little sign that such an intellectual revolution has become a common consensus. Acceptance of the simplistic notion that inflation is a product of the Whitlam Government demands the exclusion of evidence from the rest of the world. It ignores the destabilisation of all capitalist economies which flowed from the declining strength of the American dollar, which was a direct consequence of the reckless distribution of $60 billion worth of paper currency throughout the world, chiefly to finance the United States’ immoral adventures in IndoChina, which I understand were warmly applauded by virtually every member of the present Opposition in this Parliament.
Acceptance of this notion demands also a blackout on history for the year prior to 2 December 1972. Many factors have contributed to and have compounded price increases in 1973-74, but the genesis of what ultimately occurred took place in December 1 97 1 . After 3 days of internal wrangling the then Liberal Party-Country Party Government made the most selfish, irresponsible and sectionally motivated economic decision an Australian government has ever made, with the possible exception of a similar decision made by a similar government in 1950. In December 1971 the McMahon Government caved in to political blackmail from an unrepresentative minority party which was concerned with the protection of its eroding electoral base and the interests of its financial backers, who had been foolish enough to write long term contracts in United States dollars in the late 1 960s. In December 1 97 1 the then Liberal Party-Country Party Government settled for a de facto devaluation of the Australian dollar. In the ensuing year $ 1900m of foreign capital poured into the country. In the last quarter of 1972 the money supply grew at an annual rate of 37 per cent.
Not only did that Government make a mistake, not only did it refuse to correct it when the evidence became clear that it had made a mistake, but at the time it took the decision it knew, or at least the majority Liberal Party knew, that it was a mistake. The then Treasurer, Mr Snedden, who was an accessory, however unwilling, to that decision, is now the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives who talks glibly of leadership. Leadership indeed! The Labor Government was accused in this chamber last week of dividing the nation. Virtually all political activity is divisive to some extent, but do the people who involved Australia in the war in Indo-China expect to be taken seriously when they pontificate about divisions in society? The Country Party, that sectionally based group, which for as long as I can remember has spewed out anti-urban venom, which nurtures and feeds upon farmers’ distrust of city residents, civil servants and city business, has the audacity to accuse the Whitlam Government of turning city people against country people or against farmers who, in the Country Party lexicon appear to be synonymous. Since the end of 1972 the Country Party in general and its leader in particular have conducted a continuous campaign of vilification against the Whitlam Government, a campaign which preyed upon the fear and ignorance of large sections of the rural community, a campaign supported by misinterpretation, distortion, deception and irresponsible inflammatory rhetoric. Some examples of the last: From the Farmers Weekly’ of 21 December 1972: The Leader of the Country Party launched an attack upon the appointment of Senator Wriedt as Minister for Primary Industry, later Minister for Agriculture, who has subsequently been described by the president of the major farmers’ organisation of Victoria as the best Minister for Primary Industry Australia has ever had. From the ‘Farmers Weekly’ of 19 April 1974: Story: The Government has country people in its gunsights. Author: Anthony. From the ‘Farmers Weekly’ of 23 August 1973, commenting on the Budget: Vicious attack upon rural industry. It really puts the boot into rural industry. Anthony. From the ‘ West Australian ‘ of 1 September 1973 a report of Mr Anthony’s speech at a meeting of the New South Wales Country Party Council, in which he ‘predicted that a tax of up to 12c a lb would be applied initially to meat exports.’ He went on to say it would then be increased because an export tax would not reduce domestic prices.
I wonder whether the Leader of the Country Party still believes that domestic prices are not set by export prices. That is the answer to the honourable senator’s question about the beef industry. Both the claims by Mr Anthony were false. The climax of his long campaign of vilification and fabrication I personally witnessed in Forrest Place, Perth, on 25 March 1974. Incited by Country Party propaganda, obligingly amplified by the rural media, and fortified by Swan Lager, a few dozen political thugs staged an exhibition of violence without precedent in the city of Perth. A Prime Minister was physically assaulted by people who had been told so often and for so long that they were being victimised that they believed it. In electoral terms the demonstration was almost certainly counterproductive, which probably explains why the Country Party is now trying to dissociate itself from the violence which it originally incited.
I challenge those members of the Western Australian Government who may choose to disagree with my interpretation of the events in Forrest Place to authorise the royal commission that they were asked to hold or even to release the police report which I understand they have suppressed. The Labor Party was exhorted in this chamber last week to deal with facts. Here are some facts relevant to whether farmers were being victimised. In the financial year just ended net farm income in Australia reached an all-time record high of almost $3 billion. It was almost $3,000m in the financial year just ended.
– What was the reason for it?
– It was more than treble-
– Since you know so much, give us the reasons for it.
– I do not have the time and have never claimed that the election of the Whitlam Government was responsible for it. The point I am making is that net farm income reached an all-time record high and I do not believe that people who have record high incomes are being victimised by any government. Apparently Senator Young disagrees. By any realistic definition–
– Go and ask the farmers.
– Do you not want the facts? By any realistic definition of what constitutes a farm, average net farm income in Australia last year was around $15,000, which is more than double average weekly earnings. Sixty-five per cent of Australians have incomes below average weekly earnings. Now who is being victimised? In Western Australia, the State where this demonstration of violence, this exhibition of thuggery, took place, it was considerably higher. Average net farm income there was probably as high as $25,000. These were the people who were persuaded that they were being victimised. Honourable senators opposite asked for the facts and now they have them. I might add that the Green Paper has estimated that the average net worth of Australian farmers is in the vicinity of $100,000 compared with $12,000 for nonfarming Australians. So much for victimisation.
I think someone asked what was happening a couple of years before. Amidst all this talk of a rural revolution or attempts to incite a rural revolution it is interesting to look back a few years to when net farm income averaged about $3,500. That was in 1970-71, I think. At that time Mr Anthony was telling the wheat growers that he would not sell his soul for trade by desisting from insulting the Chinese, the previous Government had worked its way out of its major wheat market, and Mr Anthony called off the professional lobbyist that the Australian Wheat Board was employing in the United States because, as Mr Anthony told a meeting of the executive of the Farmers’ Union of Western Australia, he was starting to embarrass the Americans. Of course, in those days- that is, 1970- we did not do anything to embarrass the Americans. I seem to recall in 1969 the former Leader of the Australian Country Party stating that rural industry was facing its darkest hour since the great depression. I noticed that the current Deputy Leader of the Country Party (Mr Sinclair) repeated that the other day. Where was the rural revolution then? The distinction between a real economic crisis which existed in respect of agriculture in 1970-71 and a fantasy economic crisis which exists today and between the reactions to the two can be explained by the fact that current so-called attempts to incite a rural revolution are politically motivated. It is true that average net farm incomes this year appear likely to be much lower. Possibly they may fall to an average as low as $8,000 but that is still above the average weekly earnings.
– Of a typist.
– Only 35 per cent of Australians exceed average weekly earnings. Senator Marriott must have a well paid typist. Certainly there are poor farmers. Certainly there are poor people in country towns. The Henderson report showed that the incidence of poverty in country towns was nearly twice as high as it was in capital cities. That is the way it was under Country Party rule. The rural town poor received no assistance from superphosphate bounties, dairy bounties or farmer taxation dodges and the small farmer received very little assistance. The weakening of their competitive position vis-a-vis the larger farmers possibly exacerbated their problems. So far as I am aware, neither the Country Party as a group, the Liberal Party nor any major farmer organisation has ever campaigned for income assistance for either the rural town poor or the small low-income farmer. Perhaps they do not realise that input or output subsidies and taxation concessions are regressive. Perhaps they callously regard the rural poor as expendable human propaganda which can be used to rationalise the regressive distribution of largesse to the rural aristocracy. The real inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth in this country do not exist between the urban sector and the rural sector. The real inequalities are within the urban sector and within the rural sector.
This Budget expresses the fundamental belief of the Australian Labor Party that gross inequalities in the distribution of wealth and income are immoral. Quite apart from their propensity to filter the evidence and distort the facts, the opponents of this Government and the opponents of its agricultural policies in particular suffer from a congenital inability to comprehend the basic logic of the free enterprise system they espouse and the crucial role of market prices in allocating productive resources. Sir Charles Court, who is probably best known as the exgoverning director of Cherita Investments but who is also the Premier of Western Australia, at least until the more rational and progressive members of the Liberal Party, some of whom sit across the aisle in this chamber, can engineer his removal, made the astounding claim last month that the Australian Wool Corporation would sell more wool to the trade if the Government set the reserve price higher. He was at the time accompanied by his new-found ally, the Premier of Queensland, who has, I understand, recently embraced the economic doctrines of the League of Rights.
Sir Charles evidently possesses not only a remarkable ignorance of the process of price formation but also is ignorant of recent wool marketing history. In July the corporation did try to hold a 300c floor price. The trade bought less than 30 per cent of the wool offered when the reserve price was 300c. Since then the reserve price has dropped to 250c and the trade has bought about 50 per cent- and 50 per cent is more than 30 per cent. Having denied the existence of a rational world, Sir Charles then asserted that the world needs more wool growers and greater production. If anybody wants the reference for this, it was reported in the ‘Western Australian Farmer and Grazier’ on 12 September. The Australian Government is currently buying about 40 per cent of the wool clip. In what sense the world needs more wool growers or greater production Sir Charles Court did not explain. Sir Charles is, of course, a growth man, a simplistic growth man, and it was he who boasted loudest and longest during the 1960s of the ‘million acres a year’ being opened for agriculture in Western Australia. He was the architect of a policy of reckless agricultural expansion.
In 1969 his Government introduced legislation to restrict wheat production on land which only one year earlier it boasted of having developed. In 1969 thousands of sheep were fed to pigs, not because there was no demand for mutton but because there was a shortage of abattoirs to slaughter the sheep. The Government was warned as early as 1966 of the impending abattoir crisis in the Towns and Austin report. It did nothing to forestall the crisis. Indeed it exacerbated it by continuing the ‘million acres a year’ policy. Sir Charles, of course, does not believe in economic planning or indeed any rational planning.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster) Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
-Mr Deputy President, by calling Senator Walsh to order you have saved us from having the wool pulled over our eyes any more. I start my speech by congratulating my Tasmanian colleague Senator Eric Bessell on his maiden speech in the Senate tonight. In the Senate we have had the privilege of listening to all 15 new honourable senators who grace this chamber as a result of the election which was held because of the double dissolution of Parliament. Before I get on to the main subject matter of my speech on the Budget papers I congratulate the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Bishop) on whom I do not place one cent of criticism for the parlous state of the postal services in Australia today. Nor do I believe that Senator Bishop, as PostmasterGeneral, would have had anything to do with the design of the 10c stamp which came into operation yesterday.
There has been a rise of 3c in the cost of postage of an ordinary letter by virtue of the work of this Government in its inflationary period. I am not sure whether the design of the stamp indicates a sense of humour on the part of public servants who asked for designs, whether it is a cynical approach of the Government’s attitude towards taxpayers or whether it is a happy coincidence. The 10c stamp which we are all buying to mark this movement into double figures cost for an ordinary letter under Labor has a picture of an old fashioned water pump and the title Pioneer Water’. This indicates the achievement of the hope of the Australian Labor Party to pump the last cent which it possibly can out of Australian taxpayers during the brief time it will be in office as the Australian Government.
What I like about the debate on the Budget and other general debates in the Senate is that they give me a chance to indicate my sincere belief that the Senate is a States House. I say it is a States House because in this debate honourable senators are able to speak on any aspect or any problem which is confronting or harrassing the electors of the State from which they come. In the party rooms- I have never been in Caucus but I can understand- I know that honourable senators from the States can get together in voicing opinions. They can have some influence on their executive or the shadow executive. I know that in party policy committee meetings we have a chance as State representatives to put the view of out State rather than the view of an electoral division. As you know, Mr Acting Deputy President, in the committees of the Parliament a State’s views can be put. This has been proved by the honourable senators from Tasmania. A matter pertaining to the importance of shipping betwen the Bass Strait islands and the mainland was referred to a Senate select committee because of the initiative of my colleagues Senator Wright and Senator Rae.
Because this is a States House I propose to add a little more to what Senator Eric Bessell said in respect of two or three major problems confronting the people of Tasmania. Quite honestly, 1 believe it is fair to say that Tasmania with all its wealth, all its beauty, all its initiative and all its knowhow at the moment is a beleaguered island. It is an island under seige in 3 respects. Firstly, and most importantly- this is most damaging- it is under seige because of the chaos in shipping. Secondly, it is under seige because of the harm done by the tariff cuts to the textile industry and because of the lack of action against inflation. One may add, in truth, that this is because of action taken by this Government to inflame inflation. Thirdly, and quite importantly to Tasmania, as was proved at the last election by the reaction of the electors, Tasmania is under seige because of the harm done to rural industries in under 2 years by this Government. Senator Bessell with his expertise and knowledge of freights gave a picture of shipping which I hope departmental heads will precis and give to their relevant Ministers.
Because of the serious situation caused to Tasmania and the other States by shipping I shall set into the record some of the main statements, promises, platitudes and criticisms which have been made in recent weeks by other men in public life. I commence by saying that the gravest causes of the problems of shipping to Tasmania are strikes and industrial unrest. The greatest of these is the demarcation dispute. I think that any sincere trade unionist would say that demarcation disputes are the most unfortunate happenings in trade union circles in recent years. Anything that can be done by anybody in Parliament to try to overcome demarcation disputes will help the whole of Australia ‘s economy.
– We tried to do that with our amalgamation proposals.
– You may have tried. Another aspect to which I want to refer is the uncertainty of sailings of the ships with both cargo and passenger traffic. In relation to the passenger services I say that industrial disputes and the uncertainty of sailings are killing the passenger trade across the Bass Strait. The killing of the passenger trade is harming the tourist industry between Tasmania and other States. None of these things are problems to Tasmania only. We buy and sell on the Australian market. The people from whom we buy and to whom we sell on the Australian mainland market are affected by the shipping problems which we have. The costs of transport are going along with galloping inflation. On 5 September honourable senators and members from the House of Representatives from Tasmania met the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones)- I honour him- who came to Launceston and received a deputation of Tasmanian Federal members on the problems confronting our State. On the next day, 6 September, we read in the Hobart ‘Mercury ‘:
The Australian Minister for Transport (Mr Jones) told State and Federal parliamentarians at Launceston yesterday that ANL and Union Steamship Company vessels coming on to the Australian trade early next year would make a very decided impact on Tasmania ‘s shipping problem.
Mr Jones said the Government was prepared to make sure Tasmania had adequate tonnage to cope with its expansion.
To me’, said Mr Jones, ‘It is one of the important pieces of transport in Australia today.’
That is what Mr Jones said to the Press after hearing a deputation which was talking about instant cures which were required- not about what would happen next year if all the fairies came good. On 12 September the official news was released by the Minister for Transport. The first short paragraph states:
The Australian Minister for Transport (Mr Jones) today defended the action of the Government in authorising freight increases by the Australian National Line.
Not a word to Bessie about 5 September or the Tasmanian parliamentarians. On 10 September the line announced increases of 25 per cent in coastal general cargo freight rates, 10 per cent in passenger fares and accompanied vehicle rates from Tasmania to Sydney and 15 per cent for Bass Strait. I am glad to say that this proved to Tasmanians and the other Australian people how quick our parliamentary leader Mr Snedden is to see what wrong is being done. On 1 3 September he issued the following press statement:
The Labor Government has again demonstrated its callous disregard for Tasmania by announcing an increase in ANL shipping charges.
A little later in the statement he rightly reminded the electors of Tasmania about the promises made by Labor before the last election. The electors of Tasmania could become very important in the next federal elections as 5 seats will be coming up for the taking by the Opposition parties from members now representing them who have grown old and lazy. Mr Snedden said:
During his long period as Leader of the Opposition Mr Whitlam was fond of telling Tasmanians that a federal Labor Government would treat Bass Strait as the road link to Tasmania.
It is a road that has no ending and no enchantment to travel on while a federal Labor Government remains in power. Mr Bingham is the very progressive, personable and brilliant Leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party in Tasmania. On 14 September he broadcast to Tasmanians and after wishing them good afternoon he said:
Tasmanians are sick and tired of the unending delays in granting simple justice to their State in the matter of freight costs between this island and the rest of Australia. The Whitlam Government stands condemned of the most flagrant breaches of its pre-election promises to equalise the rates for Tasmanian freight with those applicable to those on the mainland.
The message from Messrs Snedden and Bingham got through some of the 20 staff of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) now staying at the Plaza Hotel, New York. On 19 September he issued a statement which said:
The Prime Minister, Mr E. G. Whitlam, announced tonight that the Australian Government will make an immediate reassessment of the Australian National Line freight rates to and from Tasmania.
Long before that date, because of the goading of Tasmanian federal members of Parliament the Government set up the Nimmo Committee of Inquiry. While that was in progress up went the rates as announced by Mr Jones, the Minister for Transport. About six or seven days later- the Nimmo Committee was still making its inquiries- the Prime Minister announced that there would be a reassessment of the Bass Strait rates. Last weekend Dr Cairns, on a trial run for Acting Prime Minister before going to see Chou En-lai with his family and others in a VIP aircraft, visited Tasmania. Whilst there he promised, as it were, a $2m subsidy to the Tasmanian people. However, when it is examined closely it is seen to be a temporary matter and not a payment of money to the ANL to reduce rates. It is apparently to hold the rates at the old level for northbound cargo. There is nothing to help Tasmanians who have to purchase the goods brought in by ship or aircraft. Dr Cairns took a backhanded sort of way of helping and I do not think that the people of Tasmania woke up to it until Mr Bonney, our shadow Minister in the State Parliament, said as reported in the Hobart ‘Mercury’ of 30 September:
The freight subsidy announced by the Acting Prime Minister (Dr Cairns) did nothing to resolve Tasmania’s tremendous disadvantage . . . The subsidy will be welcomed and while it may be seen as something of a rebuff to the inflexible attitude adopted by the Federal Minister for Transport (Mr Jones) it will have no lasting effect.
On the same day the ‘Mercury’ said in a leading article:
But regardless of the motive, the decision to stay the increase in ANL freight rates until the latest transport inquiry is completed is worth more to the Tasmanian economy than the cost to the ANL or the Government. The direct benefit has been estimated as the equivalent of a subsidy of $2m . . . However, Tasmanian business and industry should not regard the Commonwealth gesture as the solution to the State ‘s transport problems.
The ‘Mercury’ goes on to hope that something real and not simply as a palliative will be done to overcome the shipping problems. We have had some publicity in all the States as the result of the Acting Prime Minister’s visit to Tasmania. On that trip he cast a doubt in the minds of people in rural industries interested in the superphosphate bounty about whether the Government will remove the bounty and if so, when and how. But he did admit that it was a mistake or a blunder. Different newspapers used different words in reporting his speech. Until that doubt is resolved people in the rural industries will be very troubled. If there is one problem greater than another facing the Australian people while the present Government is in power it is the varying policy statements either in the Budget or by Ministers. As soon as a Minister gets out of Canberra past Queanbeyan or Yass and faces a television commentator, radio journalist or Press man he makes a statement. Promptly another Minister offers doubts about the wisdom and viability of the policy statement that has been made. The Australian taxpayer does not know whether the 15-day-old Budget is a fizzer or a goer or is to be repaired or replaced.
I remind honourable senators of the cruel, thoughtless and harmful tax on unearned income which was wiped out many years ago but reintroduced by this Government. I do not know whether the perpetrators thought about it properly or whether it was a sudden, nasty thought in a moment of bad temper. I am aware that Caucus is making changes, that the Economic Committee of Caucus is going to make further changes and various Ministers are saying that it ought to be wiped out. Newspaper editorials are saying that it must be removed. The taxpayers do not know what is happening but they do know that unless some remedial action is taken by the Government in respect of the tax on unearned income, any employee or self-employed person who has put money into a savings bank to earn interest against a time of sickness or need is to have a 10 per cent tax placed on the interest on those savings. This is at a time when the Government, if it had any common sense and any economic values and if it wanted to be honest with the people, would be doing everything in its power to encourage the saving of money. It would not be putting up interest rates. The Government will want extra money in bonds to spend on the development of this country, but from the way in which the Government is acting I believe that it is fair and honest to say that if all the budgetary proposals of the 17 September document are put into legislative form literally hundreds of thousands, if not million.;, of dollars will leave Australia because of the cruel tax on unearned income.
The weekly, monthly or annual amounts paid to a public servant, a parliamentarian or any other person who has decided to have superannuation paid on retirement will be taxed as earned income, I understand. I am waiting for an official answer, but I actually knew it before I asked the question. That is a trick which is sometimes used in politics. Many people in private enterprise who are in a superannuation scheme, on retirement at the age that they and their employers have chosen for their retirement, are paid a lump sum. Their fund payments and their employers fund payments have been based on the stated age of retirement. This is the freedom of private enterprise which all of us cherish. They are paid a lump sum to invest as they think will best benefit themselves and their family responsibilities in their old age. If Caucus allows the Government to impose this tax, the Government will tax the interest payments on those investments as unearned income and will tax the payment of the lump sum as a capital gain. This will not help the top 40 in wealth or income. This will hurt the ordinary man and woman. These days it is most essential to bring women into the calculation because a very big percentage of the work force is women, and they will be hit- stunned would be a better word- by this tax on unearned income if Caucus permits it to be brought into legislative form in the next few weeks.
Mr President, you have represented Tasmania, particularly the northern part, for longer than anyone else in this current Senate has represented any State. You know the hardship and the despair that has hit the people of Launceston and northern Tasmania because of the 25 per cent tariff cut which has hurt the textile industry. There have been arguments about the number of unemployed. At a Press conference last month the Prime Minister, when representations had been made to him by Mr W. C. S. Oliver, the Secretary of the Northern Tasmania Development League, quibbled about whether 340 or 360 people may be or were out of work. Mr Burgess of the textile organisation, Mr Oliver and others said that 900 were threatened with unemployment and would be unemployed. Mr Barnard, the member for Bass, the ex-Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence, for the first time to my knowledge in a long and loyal career went out from under the Prime Minister and said in front of his Tasmanian colleagues, I believe, that if Mr Whitlam had read the second page of the report he would have found that the figure was 900. Mr Barnard used the word disemployment’. I do not know what difference there is in Labor circles between disemployment and unemployment. All I know is that in good hard Australian language it means that they will have no work to do and no income. If they have any money in the bank they will be taxed on the interest.
These are the problems facing Tasmania at present. No wonder the people are upset. No wonder there is an air of serious despair. It is more loathsome and pitiable because of an advertisement which appeared prior to the 1 8 May 1974 election as a result of the double dissolution. I refer to an advertisement from the ‘Mercury’ of Tuesday, 14 May 1974. It is a full page advertisement snowing Mr Fluffy. It states:
Only Whitlam will reduce Home Interest Rates by 3 per cent.
If anyone can prove to me that interest rates have been reduced by 3 per cent or 1 per cent by the Commonwealth Government or through any of its efforts, I will apologise. I believe that when the advertisement was placed in the newspaper it was known to be a fabrication- a premeditated fabrication. The then Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Barnard, the member for Bass, authorised in the week prior to the election an advertisement which stated:
Snedden Threatens Your Job.
One truth that could come out of that advertisement is that caucus took Mr Barnard’s job away from him. Mr Barnard was the man who advertised to try to put fear into the minds of the work force, the people and the electors in Tasmania by saying:
Snedden Threatens Your Job.
He did not have the courtesy to say: ‘Mr’. We are used to that sort of ill mannered attitude. Long before I knew I would use this advertisement in the Budget debate and before the election was held I had written in my own fair hand on this advertisement which was authorised by Mr Barnard, ‘Snedden and Anthony threaten our job’, because I thought and hoped that the Liberal and Country Parties would come back into power on 18 May.
I close by saying that never in my 21 years in this Parliament have I found so much of real importance to talk about and to expose in the frailties, wrongs and harm of this Government. Because of that I have great fears of the outcome if the Government presses relentlessly on with its fifteen or sixteen day old budgetary proposals. I support the amendment that was so ably moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Withers).
– I oppose the amendment. I wish to say a few words about what Senator Marriott said about the position in Tasmania. I ask Senator Marriott and all Liberal senators what they did about Tasmania in over 20 years of government.
– We kept the textile workers in work.
– Of course you did. Senator Marriott talked about union amalgamations and transport costs. What did honourable senators opposite do about those things? Only a few days ago we put forward a proposal to stop demarcation troubles and disputes, which make up about 7 per cent of the industrial disputes in Australia. What did honourable senators opposite do? They did what they did on 3 previous occasions. They voted against it. We put forward measures to make sure that demarcation disputes were minimised.
People ought to be able to get together. One of the leaders of the Opposition, Mr Lynch, said in 1971 that there ought to be more amalgamations; that it was better to have fewer unions. Yet only two or three days ago honourable senators opposite again voted against this Labor Government’s proposal, although all the evidence clearly shows that that proposal is supported by employers and unions alike. Honourable senators opposite raise all these problems about demarcation disputes between one union and another in the shipping industry but when we provided a remedy they opposed it.
What have they done about the cost of shipping to and from Tasmania? When they were in government they instructed the Senate Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade to conduct a long-standing inquiry into problems relating to freight rates on the Australian National Line shipping services to and from Tasmania. In September 1971, when they were in government, a report was presented stating what ought to be done to correct the situation. What did they do about it? I refer the Senate to page 61 of that report where the Committee made a unanimous statement. I do not know whether Senator Marriott was a member of that Committee; I think he was.
– No, I was too busy.
– I know about it. I was on the Committee.
- Senator Poyser was a member of the Committee. At page 6 1 of that report the Committee said:
We recommend that subject to the requirement that the ANL meet its statutory obligations to pursue a policy directed towards securing revenue sufficient to meet all its expenditure properly chargeable to revenue, and to permit the payment to the Commonwealth of a reasonable return on its capital, the present tonnage limitation should be revised and the Line should have equal opportunity with private operators to provide any additional tonnage required on the Australian coast.
In its conclusions and recommendations the Committee repeated the same sort of sentiment. What did honourable senators opposite do about them? Absolutely nothing. The Committee also made some other observations. In its conclusions, on page 7 1, it stated:
Upgrading of the Tasmanian mainline railways would be beneficial and the granting of Commonwealth assistance should be considered.
Honourable senators opposite did nothing about that recommendation. The only Government that has promised something about it is the Labor Government. Although all these great remedies were recommended in these reports relating to a situation which was causing increases in shipping tariffs, the Liberal-Country Party Government did nothing about them.
– What about the Bell Bay railway?
– The honourable senator keeps raising questions which his Party never at any time attempted to cure. The honourable senator and his Leader talk about the need for restraint. Every argument in this chamber and in the other place has been directed towards the Government not spending as much, yet when we go through the various items of expenditure honourable senators opposite say that we should spend more. They say that more money ought to be provided for defence, for child endowment and so on. What sort of situation do we have today? It is no different from what always obtained; yet the Liberal Party says that there ought to be restraint on Government spending.
– The textile workers had jobs.
– The only Government in Australia that has ever had a comprehensive policy on manpower is this Labor Government. The only Government which has ever been able to provide immediate assistance in the form of regional employment development schemes is this Labor Government. I want to refer to Senator Marriott’s complaint about Tasmania. He has now left the chamber, but honourable senators will notice in the -
– He is not here.
– Of course he is not here.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marriott)- Order! Interjections are very disorderly.
– I am sorry, Mr Acting Deputy President. I want to refer to what you said about there being no assistance to Tasmania. The Minister for Labor and Immigration, Mr Cameron, only recently pointed out the amounts given to Tasmania for programs under this Government’s regional employment development scheme. In Hobart, the municipality of Huon is to receive over $2 15,000 to upgrade the obsolete water mains in Franklin. Provisional approval has been given. Provisional approval has been given for work to upgrade water mains at Crabtree Grove in Hobart at a cost of $12,700. The municipality of Huon in Hobart is to upgrade the water mains at Mountain River at a cost of over $16,000, and this work has received provisional approval. Extensions to the Midway Point sewerage scheme in the municipality of Sorell, costing $40,000, have been deferred because they are subject to agreement with the Department of Urban and Regional Development. Provisional approval has been given for a project in the municipality of Beaconsfield, Launceston, for a project costing $32,000 which involves the use of female labour in painting. Again in Launceston, provisional approval has been given for the employment of female labour at the council chambers at a cost of $4,500. There is another project in the municipality of Beaconsfield, and so it goes on. There are scores of projects not only in Tasmania but also in my State and in every other State. This is the only government which can marshal immediate assistance in the circumstances which arise as a result of this great problem of world-wide inflation. We have been able to approve projects immediately, despite the fact that people still talk about State problems. In addition we have organised the manpower situation.
The strange thing about the Liberals, as I said earlier, is that they ask why we do not do all these things. They ask us why we do not cut spending and also why we do not approve more social services. Our policy has been successful. For once, even though there have been very serious inflationary crises throughout the world as well as in Australia, we have kept our promises relating to social welfare, education -
– Tell us about removing the means test. Tell us about cutting the education allowance.
-We have more than exceeded the claims made by anybody in regard to education and social welfare, as well as in regard to repatriation benefits. Honourable senators opposite ask why we do not spend more; yet their Leader, Mr Snedden, said that we should ensure that 25 per cent less would be spent, which would mean that there would be a cut of $900m. Would the Australian electorate countenance a cut of $900m in the program we have put forward? Would the electorate support Mr Snedden when he says that the main thrust of his policy is to reduce the acceleration in public sector expansion? He says that his Party would make a careful scrutiny within the areas of lower priority to determine which projects should be cancelled or deferred. Honourable senators opposite cannot have it both ways. They cannot cut and expand at the same time. Their propositions always have been the same. They come into the chamber and say that we are spending too much and that we should cut back.
This Government has made sure that in a situation which certainly is not particularly secure the promises of the Labor Party will be kept. For example, we have made sure that the biggest single increase in the Budget is in spending on education. For the second year spending will rise. This financial year it will rise by 78 per cent to a massive $ 1,535m. This has never been thought about before. If the Liberals had been in power the people would not have had one-fifth of that amount spent on education. Would the educational grants to all the schools have been maintained? Of course not. Would the new additional allowances provided by this Government have been provided? Consider the welfare matters and the repatriation budget of the Department of Repatriation and Compensation administered by Senator Wheeldon? Would those things have been done by a Liberal government? Consider the increases in repatriation which have been approved following upon the vast increases that were granted when I was Minister. Senator Wheeldon, of course, has outmanoeuvred me and has made a better deal. Not only has he kept the promises made to the exservicemen; he is providing new benefits to the Commonwealth soldiers who served in the wars- - new things which never would have been countenanced. In the years when we were in Opposition we came along with the complaints of the Returned Services League and other exservicemen about lack of government action; but now we have the RSL and other ex-servicemen applauding the actions of the Labor Government.
In regard to Mr Uren’s plans for the big cities, we will spend more than $400m on old and new cities. This is the first time that there has ever been an Australian-wide plan which will ensure that old cities are renewed and that vast new complexes are built in co-operation with the State governments. This particular plan was accepted immediately in my own State by the Dunstan Government. The Australian Government and the State Government will co-operate on a planning committee. In addition to this plan there are plans for particular works like sewerage works and area improvement works. Money has been given to the State governments for these purposes. New South Wales has received more than $34m for sewerage works. Victoria has received about $34m for sewerage works and $4.2 5 m for area improvement works.
– What did the Liberals give in this field?
– Nothing, and they had no plan because they do not believe in planning. They say that planning is for the socialists. South Australia has received $3m for sewerage works, $500,000 for area improvement works and $4.4m for urban water supply works in the initial stage of construction. Part of the money is being provided by way of grant and part by way of long term loan. Tasmania has received $2. 7m for these works in addition to the particular projects to which I referred earlier. Western Australia has received $ 15.4m for sewerage works and $750,000 for area improvement works. Queensland has received $ 13.5m for sewerage works and $2.5 m for area improvement works. It was the Labor Party which for the first time said in its policy speech that the national Government ought to plan to provide sewerage for most of the important centres in Australia. We have done that. Our policies are being carried out. Of course, in addition we have allocated $75m to ensure that the Government’s program for preschool and child care facilities gets under way.
We are providing $28m to the States for modernising State hospitals. We are providing $ 1 .8m to the State governments to enable them to meet deficits incurred by religious, charitable and other non-profit organisations. We have doubled the grants to the States, to $ 10m a year, to build homes for single pensioners. I have already referred to repatriation benefits. Senator Cavanagh has provided nearly $70m in cash for Aboriginal projects. There has been a huge increase, from $7m to $54. 7m, in the Australian National Line capital expenditure program in order to increase the share of the trade carried in Australian ships. That is in contrast to the point I made earlier when I referred to the report by the Senate Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade in 197 1 which recommended improvements in and an extra share of the trade to the Australian National Line- things which would have beneficially affected transportation between the mainland and Tasmania. But nothing was done.
In addition to all these things, as we know, in my own area and in the area of Senator Douglas McClelland, 2,500,000 people who used to pay television and radio licence fees will no longer have to pay them. We have made sure that that fee, which was a poll tax, will be finished forever. We have followed countries like Canada in ensuring that benefits should be provided to all of the people. But all of the people cannot get benefits at the same time. From now on it will be remembered that television and radio licence fees were abolished by the Labor Government. We have increased our overseas aid, which was a policy pledge of my Government. The amount of aid will be increased by about one-third. The Liberal Opposition has never planned to do anything. It disagrees with our planning. It blames all the problems in the economy on the Labor Government.
– Quite right.
-Of course it does. When we propose to carry out our policies for which we have received a mandate from the people, the Opposition claims that we should not carry them out, that we should not be spending money. What have we tried to do? We have tried to ensure that defence spending reaches the level that we have promised. In relation to defence spending, we have shown that we want to ensure that every serviceman receives about the same rate of pay as people in outside industry. We have heard people say that Labor has cut down on defence spending. Last night Senator Steele Hall said that we are cutting down on defence spending. For the first time in Australia servicemen in all the Services can be sure that they will receive pay increases commensurate with those awarded to people in outside industry.
When I was a member of the Senate Regulations and Ordinances Committee I found that 6 or 12 months after a pay increase had been awarded to fitters or to other people in outside industry a regulation would come along which promised to pay servicemen similar increases. As Senator Wheeldon will recall, very often the members of the Committee said: ‘We should not pay these amounts retrospectively.’ There was much contention within the Committee. On many occasions, because the increases were to be paid to defence personnel, we made sure that the payments were made. That was the old system. We have produced a new system. We have ensured that there are regular hearings in relation to defence pay. If we take into account all the increases in pay that we have made and the benefits that we have provided under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund we find that we have spent more than $300m in ensuring that servicemen receive pay and conditions commensurate with those awarded to people in outside industry. If we want a satisfactory defence force we have to ensure once and for all that servicemen are paid in the same way as their counterparts.
– You cut it from 9 battalions to six.
- Senator Carrick knows what we did. We rationalised the Services. The strange thing is that despite the criticism of honourable senators opposite, during the last Federal election campaign they never promised that anything more would be spent on defence. Whilst their defence spokesman and others in this chamber criticised the Government before the last election and whilst they have come back here and said that we ought to do certain things, none of them has promised to spend anything more on defence because they know that we are managing the defence Services properly.
– What about your promise of 3.2 percent?
– We have almost reached that figure, and Senator Carrick knows that. The figures clearly show that. In 1974-75 estimated outlays in relation to the gross domestic product represent 2.65 per cent. The estimated expenditure is 2.77 per cent, which is near enough to 3 per cent.
– Near enough? It is about $400m out.
– Of course it is near enough. Compare it with the procrastination of honourable senators opposite and of their committee which dealt with the wages of servicemen. Compare that with what we did about rationalisation of the Services immediately we came to office. Did honourable senators opposite promise to implement any of the policies that we have enunciated and carried out? They have not promised anything. Why do they criticise us? If they were going to do something they should have stated it in their policy. But they fell flat because they know that all the things that it is possible to do in the defence area we have done. I say to Senator Carrick that it is simply carping political criticism to come in here without any evidence and say: ‘You should cut back on public spending and at the same time you should spend more’. I cannot work it out, nor can anybody else. Then honourable senators opposite refer to the aims of the States. Of course some of the States have not received all the money they want. But some of the States will not plan with the Federal Government; they will not co-operate. I am pleased to say that my own State of South Australia is most willing to be present at any discussions with Federal Ministers in order to ensure that it gets the maximum from the Australian Government. The South Australian Government will plan with the Federal Government not only in relation to great urban projects but also in relation to railways and public transport. There are more plans to come.
Although honourable senators opposite complain about the treatment which the States are receiving, if they look at the figures they will find that in 1974-75 the States will receive grants and advances from the Australian Government to the extent of $6,033m, which is an increase of 38.4 per cent over what they received last year. What have we done about other issues? What have we done about setting up tribunals and about prices? Honourable senators opposite know that for many weeks they held up the Trade Practices Bill. They know that they have held up other measures in the Senate on the ground that the Senate ought to be in a position to consider legislation. But in fact the Opposition held them up and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Withers) said: ‘We are trying to make sure that there will be a double dissolution’. So the Opposition frustrated the work of the Government despite the mandate that the Australian Labor Party had been given to implement its policies which were announced in public and put in writing. We were the only party at that time whose program could be read by everybody.
– Like putting up the postal charges?
– The honourable senator knows that it would not be unusual for him or Senator Greenwood to come into this chamber and say: ‘Here is Labor Party policy’. We were the only party with a document setting out our policies and, of course, in most recent months the Opposition has tried to copy the document. It has tried to imitate the Labor Party’s policies.
– Not on your life.
-Of course it has. The Opposition has never had a policy document. One could not find in writing the policies of the Liberal Party or what its policies meant. It has never held public conferences. For many years the Labor Party has held debates in the public arena on its policies. The honourable senator could attend one of the meetings as a visitor and sit back in the audience and find out what the Labor Party was thinking about. But one could never find out such things about the Liberal Party.
– Yes, you could.
-Only recently has the Liberal Party decided to do this sort of thing, and maybe it has been brought about by the agitation of our friend from South Australia, Senator Steele Hall, who suggested that the Liberal Party is too conservative and the only way to get it back into power is to follow a line which is perhaps more that of a small ‘1’ liberal and more moderated. There are reports now, of course, that Senator Steele Hall has been offered some inducement to join the Liberal Party in order to consolidate its forces. I hope that those reports are not right.
– They ought to sack Senator Greenwood.
– Well, I saw a statement in one of the Sydney journals that Senator Greenwood might be deposed and Senator Steele Hall might be offered a position to ensure that he will vote with the Liberals all the time.
– Tell us about these postal charges that you have put up.
– Of course we are putting up postal charges. Let me talk about them. It is in this area that honourable senators opposite are hypocrites. I say that in a political sense and not in any personal sense. During all the years that we had Liberal Postmasters-General the argument was put up that the user ought to pay. Only on rare occasions when it suited the rural community did the Liberal Party agree with subsidies. In four of the last years that the Liberals were in government they increased postal charges and they criticised the Labor Opposition for claiming that the increases were too steep. On this occasion, of course, the Opposition deferred the increases proposed earlier in the year until the Budget session. Because of that we have had to increase the charges even more. On the principle put forward by Liberal Ministers in the past and also with the support of the Vernon Commission recommendations, it has been said: ‘The user ought to pay’. We have increased postal charges for that reason. When we first proposed the increases the Opposition rejected them, but strangely enough it decided not to oppose them the other day. Opposition senators criticised them but said that they would let them go through. If Opposition senators were dinkum it appears to me that they ought to be consistent. So it seems to me that the criticism of postal charges has been answered. Both Senator Douglas McClelland and I have done something about which we are very proud, and that is to make sure that once and for all this poll tax on radio and television licences is abolished.
– Tell us about the principle of the user ought to pay on that one.
– The position is that television and radio services are national services and they ought to be considered on that basis. Because they are national services, we made sure that the contribution should not be based on a poll tax. The situation in relation to telephones is quite different because they are restricted to the user. That has no relevance at all. I think I can say quite clearly- everybody knows this-that although it has been claimed that we have been extravagant in Government we have kept our welfare promises.
– You have not.
– Of course we have.
– You have not.
– For heaven’s sake, what about the education vote, the welfare and the repatriation pensions? This is the first time ever that pensions have been tied to a formula. The Opposition talked about it when in government but did nothing. In the old days when those in Opposition were on this side of the chamber they used to grant increases of 20c, and the largest increase that they have ever given since I have been here is $1. To show how good we are we granted an increase of $5, and we did not use the Budget to do so. We could have easily made that increase a Budget gimmick, but we did not do that. We gave that increase before the Budget was brought down.
Of course, the Labor Party does have great problems but it is carrying on with the policies which it pledged to carry out. We are continuing with welfare proposals because that is what we ought to do. Maybe honourable senators opposite are critical of us but surely they ought to give us support in those matters which we have announced publicly. But instead of that, as everybody knows, on almost every occasion they have used all sorts of frustrating devices, the most recent of which was in relation to the amalgamation of unions, which Senator Marriott mentioned. Why do they want to keep doing these things? If they want to take over the reins of government they have to show a more responsible attitude than they are showing at the moment. They have to accept some of the socialist ideas that our Labor Party, our welfare party, has put into operation. Unless the Opposition can reconcile its own philosophies of free enterprise with the social welfare aims which are required in these days, it will never get back into government.
So I suggest to the Opposition and to the people who may be listening to the debate that the Australian Labor Party has again kept its promises in Government. If the Australian people want a return to all the problems of yesteryear and promises which, as I have mentioned, were never given effect to, then they will put back the old conservative crowd again and do away with the progress that Australia is making at the moment.
– We are debating the motion that the Senate take note of the Budget Papers.The Budget Papers constitute a wretched Budget. Senator Bishop can defend it all he wants to, but it is bad in its structure and it makes no economic sense at all. It is evil in what it promises for this country. Senator Bishop spoke about the promises that we did not make. The point is that his Party made many promises across the board and, having made them, has failed to keep them. It makes no sense for Senator Bishop to tell us about the unemployment benefits that the Government will be providing for Tasmania. The people in Tasmania would rather have their jobs than the Labor dole. It is in relation to employment that Labor has broken one of its many promises and for which it has to answer.
On 2 1 September, 4 days after the Budget was delivered, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) addressed the regional conference of the Australian Labor Party in Townsville, and he had this to say:
I have long held the view that the Budget is not just an economic document but a declaration of the Government’s view of the kind of society we want and the kind of people we arc . That is what our Budget was about. Nothing we have done has so clearly demonstrated, so clearly symbolised, this Government’s philosophy and concerns, its priorities and aspirations.
The Prime Minister said that nothing that the Labor Party has done so clearly emphasises its aims. Yet we have a situation of people being out of work and the economy being out of control. That is what Labor is all about. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) indicated the wide ranging dissatisfaction with the Budget, and it emphasises the things we are most concerned about. Unemployment is out of control and getting worse, inflation is worse than we have known it for years, private enterprise is stifled, thrift is penalised, there are socialist attacks on the States and there is a clear attempt to take over control.
- Senator Button does not like what I am saying. I saw what Senator Button had to say last week in Melbourne. There is a clear attempt to remove resources from the private to the public sector. One of the worst features of this Budget which has been put up to the Australian people is the total lack of any national plan. People in business want to get some direction from the Budget so that they will know what the Government has in mind. There are no real signs in this Budget. The first evil in the Budget is the production of uncertainty in our society. I was most interested to see reported in the ‘Canberra Times’ of 30 September- last Monday; 2 days ago- that that Acting Prime Minister (Dr J. F. Cairns) had admitted that there was uncertainty and lack of confidence in Australia. And well there might be. I say that because the Government in power is a government of which he is the deputy leader. Nothing of which I can think would give less confidence in our country. There is doubt and there is insecurity. These conditions lead to a lack of confidence on the part of those who are planning their business enterprises. They cannot budget, they cannot plan ahead and they cannot make the decisions which they need to make if their businesses are to get under way and move ahead.
Australia has a mixed economy, and we believe that there is a clear attack by this Government on the private sector. I remind the Government that in this country it is profit that creates most jobs; it is profit from which taxes are paid; it is profit from which investment is made; and it is profit in the private sector which leads to the production of Australia’s wealth. It is one thing for the Government to talk about what it has done in distributing wealth in this country; but it has done a lot to depress the capacity of this country to create the wealth. Without the creation of wealth and without profit there are no jobs, no taxes, no investment and nothing to share. This is a lesson which this socialist Government has not understood. When private industry suffers, the whole community suffers and the whole country suffers. That is what is happening now. When private companies go out of business, they are backed only by the guarantees of individuals. So those people go to the wall. Companies which have traded profitably for years and which have provided jobs for ordinary Australians are now going out of business. We are losing the capacity to produce. We are losing the capacity to share the wealth. And it is all because of the financial mismanagement of the country by the Government in the last 20 months.
This Budget contains some really iniquitious features. It contains a capital gains tax. I believe that if I have an asset worth $100 today and there is an inflation rate of 20 per cent per annum and the nominal value of that asset is $120 in one year’s time, I should not have to pay a capital gains tax on that increase in value. The increase is due solely to inflation. To be equitable, any capital gains tax should be a tax in terms of real increase in value over and above the increase caused by inflation. This kind of capital gains tax is inequitable. It has many unfair features and it is depressing to the community.
In the last couple of weeks we have seen some disturbing features develop in the Australian society. We have seen the Cambridge Credit Corporation Ltd go into receivership. The interesting thing about this company is that it is the only major finance house in New South Wales not backed by a bank; that is, it does not exist as the offshoot of a bank. It is the largest landholder in Australia and the land which it holds is adequate to cover its debts. In any normal situation, this company would not have failed. The distressing thing is that there are many shareholders- ordinary people- who have no cause to suffer but who will be made to suffer because this Government has produced the kind of policies which I will outline in a moment and which have driven this company to the wall.
Recently I have had to take action to try to support a very fine private hospital in Greenwich in Sydney. This hospital has the distinction of being one of the few places where paraplegics are cared for. Senator Button, a Labor Party senator from Victoria, may smile. But there are not many people who will nurse paraplegics. Of course, these people are paralysed. This hospital has provided a service for many years. Suddenly, it is in danger of closing. It is in danger of closing because of the high price rises that are occurring and because of increased wages. It is being caught in a squeeze not of its own making. The same remarks apply to many other institutions in New South Wales. I will mention just one of them: The Family Welfare Bureau is the only family counselling bureau in Sydney for a large number of people from poor areas. This is a voluntary agency that has had to close its doors, as a result of which there are now no facilities in Sydney for many people who require this kind of counselling. It has closed its doors for one reason only, namely, that on the money available to it it can no longer afford to employ the staff or to continue to exist as it is entitled to do.
I submit that the private sector of our economy is the productive sector. Why are we transferring to the public sector this year an amount which represents 34 per cent of Government spending? We are seeing diminished investment in the private sector. We are seeing a diminished capacity to produce. We are seeing no growth in real terms in the non-farm product. We are seeing continued shortages. The only thing that is increasing is the expenditure in the public sector, and this is associated with a diminished capacity to meet demands. The old-fashioned kind of class warfare is no longer relevant. It is no longer a case of the haves and the have-nots, in the broad sense, in Australia. It is no longer a case of them and us’. We are all in this together. There is only one boat. It is in a stormy sea and there is only one crew. It will not work for the Labor Party to introduce a Budget which attempts to divide the community and which attempts to impose 2 income tax scales- one for some people and one for other people. A punitive tax scale for those who have dared to be thrifty throughout their lives will not do. In the end, we have to have one common destination. The kinds of things which the Labor Government is doing are clearly detrimental to Australia. The public and private sectors should be interdependent, but they are not being given a chance to be.
I have referred to inflation. I would like to talk on that subject a little more now. Mr Whitlam himself had a bit to say about inflation. It is worth recalling the words that he used when addressing the Building Workers Industrial Union- a strong union- on 5 August. He thought that he was among friends. He had this to say:
I do not need to remind you how dangerous and destructive inflation can be for the worker and his family. It can destroy all your efforts and ours- to improve living standards and promote security and social justice. It can also, as I say, destroy the Government.
I only hope that he is correct. Inflation is proceeding to rise and I hope that it destroys this Government. Mr Whitlam went on to say in the same speech:
That is why, from the moment the Government was elected, it has worked unremittingly, ceaselessly, to attack inflation at its roots. . .
If that is what the Government has done, it has been remarkably unsuccessful. If we were told that the Government had not acted to attack inflation, then we could look at the present inflation rate and say that perhaps the Government will get to work on it now. But if we are told that it has been working unremittingly and ceaselessly to lower that inflation rate, then it has made a pretty poor job of it. Mr Crean, the Federal Treasurer, introduced a mini-Budget in July this year. He had some things to say about inflation which are worth repeating today. He said:
Inflation is utterly inequitable in its effects.
We all agree with that. He went on to comment on some of the things that inflation has done. He said:
Yet in the last 12 months inflation has ripped off well over $ 1,000m from the real value of savings bank depositsdeposits owned for the most part by the little people, the ordinary people of this country.
It is during a period of Labor Government, during a period of his stewardship of the economy, that he has allowed inflation to rip off, to use his words- to use the words of the Labor Party $ 1,000m from the value of the savings of little Australians. This is some record to be proud of! Dr Cairns had his own remarks to make back in May of this year at the declaration of the poll for his seat in Melbourne. He was not so confident about inflation. He had this to say:
Perhaps inflation could be reduced by S per cent in a year, but it would be likely to be at the expense of throwing 350,000 people into unemployment, and at the cost of cutting national production by $ 1,500m.
We do not even know what the Labor Party’s view is on whether it wants to control inflation, whether it is willing to take the steps or whether it knows what those steps are. All we know is that at this moment there is no effective and integrated plan against inflation.
The only thing the Government has done that has carried any weight has been to increase interest rates in Australia. The Government has confined itself solely to monetary policies for the effective action that it has tried to take. Australia is a country in which there is no oil crisis. We produce most of our oil and, thanks to Mr Gorton, we have the cheapest oil in the world. There is no reason why our interest rates should still be the fourth highest in the world. There are 4 things that high interest rates do to Australia: They discourage investment because for many people it is cheaper to put their money into Government bonds. Senator Steele Hall last night reminded us that the return on investment for the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd is one cent in the dollar. A person can receive 10c in the dollar if he puts his money into Government bonds. That is what people are doing. The second thing that high interest rates do is generate excessively high wage pressures, and that has been happening. Thanks to Government policy wage pressures are increasing because the average worker has to pay the interest on his home loan, which has gone up not once but many times since this Government took office. The third thing the high interest rates are doing is destroying the capacity to raise money for private industry, so that private industry cannot expand. This is why there can be little or no real growth this year. The fourth thing the high interest rates have done is direct money away from productive areas into non-productive areas such as Government bonds.
There is no effective anti-inflation policy from this Government. If inflation is one of the evils that this Government has given us, there is another one which is like a cancer in that it is spreading throughout society, and that is unemployment. We know that with the inflationary problem in this society we have seen welfare programs lose their impact, we have seen social progress slow, we have seen the pensioners do without their rise in this Budget. We have seen none of the recommendations of the Henderson Committee implemented. In addition to this, we have rampant unemployment in Australia. It is interesting to hear what the Labor Party has to say about unemployment. Mr Whitlam in his policy speech in 1972 made one of his most specific promises on employment, because he criticised the Liberal Party on unemployment. In 1972 he had this to say, and I will remind honourable senators of it:
Labor’s first priority would be to restore genuine full employment, without qualification, without hedging.
Mr Whitlam promised to restore genuine full employment without qualification and without hedging. Just to drive it home, he came back in the 1974 election and promised something else. On 5 May, a couple of weeks before the election, when addressing a convention he had this to say, and he was talking about inflation:
No solution is acceptable if it tolerates high levels of unemployment.
He pledged himself then not to have unemployment, and during the campaign and in his advertising we saw the statement:
In Australia alone unemployment and inflation do not march side by side. ‘
How sick those comments look today when we have to examine the unemployment situation in Australia. The Labor Party has recanted. Dr Cairns, who told us in July that unemployment was not an option, now says to us in Septemberand I am quoting from the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ of 18 September- that it was not possible to reduce inflation without producing unemployment. This is Dr Cairns telling the Australian people that any prescription he had to reduce inflation would mean unemployment for Australians. How did he come to this revelation in September that was not available to him in July and, more particularly, was not available to him when he was going to the Australian people in May. It seems to me it was more convenient not to know the facts in May. Dr Cairns went on in his statement to say, following the statement that we have to have unemployment:
And that is a Tact, however unpalatable, that must be faced both by the Government and by the people.
In Australia at the present time we have a situation where unemployment is rising by four or five thousand people a week; four or five thousand people are losing their jobs. There were 30,000 extra people registered for employment between June and August this year. In today’s Australian ‘Financial Review’ we have an article headed ‘Rising pool of jobless’. And it is going up and up. We face the situation where we have a government committed to controlling employment which cannot do so. Labor was committed to this, as it was to other articles of faith. It was committed to growth, and that article of faith has gone by the board; it was committed to low interest rates, and that article of faith has gone by the board. Senator Georges had something to say about that tonight against his own side. Labor was committed to control of prices, and that has gone by the board. It was committed to the virtues of upvaluing the Australian dollar, and that has now gone by the board. It was committed to full employment, and that has gone by the board. There are 180,000 young Australians leaving school this year with little or no prospect of absorption into the work force. It is no fault of theirs; it is the fault only of the Labor Government that has mismanaged Australia and whose Budget makes no provision for solving all these problems.
Mr President, one would wonder whether a government could be so stupid. Honourable senators opposite are interjecting now- the Labor people here do not like this. I come to one other matter- whether it is the responsibility of the Government or whether it is the fault of the system. In 1972 Mr Whitlam gave the Fabian Lectures in Victoria- and I am sure Senator Button was there to hear them- called ‘Labor at Home’. He had a number of things to say about the responsibilities of a government in Australia. He said:
Another form of defeatism blames the system.
That is what he said. He went on to say something else in that speech. He said:
For all its difficulties and shortcomings, the Australian Constitution is not an insurmountable barrier against social reform and social justice . . . It would be intolerable if a Labor government were to use the alibi of the Constitution to excuse failure to achieve its socialist objectives . . .
This is what he said, that it would be intolerable if a Labor government used the Constitution. He went on to say that it would be doubly intolerable because it is just not true that it need be so.
Mr Whitlam made these statements about the system before Labor was elected to office. He said there was no way you could hide behind the Constitution. But then we have had the statements in the last couple of months from Mr Hawke and we have had the statements from Dr Cairns, that it is not the Government that is at fault, it is the system under which we operate. They cannot have it both ways. Mr Whitlam when he is giving the learned address cannot claim that the system is adequate and then have his Deputy Prime Minister hide behind him. It is Government mismanagement.
We come to the real purpose of this Budget when we look at the Treasurer’s own remarks. The Treasurer said that this Budget would achieve the first real opportunity to transfer resources to the public sector. We are seeing a Budget which promises less control of Australia by private Australians, more control of Australia by the state. The state will own more and more and it will produce less and less for wealth. There will be less wealth to distribute and less opportunity for the welfare programs which are wanted. The Government will not listen to the facts of the matter. It will not learn; it does not seem able to be educated about what is going wrong. Australians are worse off while the Labor Party pursues this hallucination, its dream of socialism. It is a false dream and the Labor Party should know it by now.
We condemn the Budget, whoever ‘s Budget it is. I do not think it is the Treasurer’s Budget. I do not think it is the Prime Minister’s Budget; he was not there to hear it delivered. I think it might be the Caucus’s Budget. Let Caucus patch it up in any way possible, anything to ease the mess and the pain which this Budget means for most Australians. This is the second Labor Budget in 25 years. It is a disgrace. It is a catastrophe, and for ordinary Australians it provides none of the things they want. It provides no stability, no justice, no hope.
The final quote I will offer to the honourable gentlemen opposite is from their own ‘It’s Time’ folders from before the 1972 election. They hate seeing these things. I will quote from it. It makes good reading:
Governments are only people. But if the people who make up Governments lose their way, become confused, forget what they are there for; if they become tired, and dispirited and leaderless, then they cease to be a Government. They become a rabble.
Labor senators should read that section of their document again. It is prophetic. They are a rabble. They have lost their way. They are leaderless. They have produced a budget from a rabble. The Budget and the rabble have failed Australia.
Debate (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.51 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 representing the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follow:
Mercury Levels in Whalemeat (Question No. 153)
asked the Minister for Agriculture, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
A monitoring programme has been carried out by my Department over a period of years and the results are contained in (4) below.
Fish meal- 845 tons.
Blood meal- 6,400 tons.
Meat meal- 1 79,000 tons.
Oilseed meals- 65.000 tons.
In addition, substantial quantities of protein-rich concentrates were imported.
A study of residues in the Australian diet carried out by the National Health and Medical Research Council in 1971 revealed that the diet contained no significant quantity of mercury. The dietary components containing eggs did not contain mercury above the limit of detection.
Eggs tested in Western Australia within the past three months have shown only low levels of mercury ranging up to 0.06 mg/kg. All but 2 of 18 samples showed less than 0.03 mg/kg.
There is no reason to believe that abnormal levels of mercury will occur in normal practice and therefore the Australian poultry and whaling industries will be unaffected.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
Is the Postmaster-General’s Department negotiating a take-over of the Victa Red Telephone Company and Easiphone Telephone Company; if so, (a) what are the terms of the take-over: (b) what are the reasons for the takeover; and (c) what provisions are being made to provide security of employment for employees of these companies.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Post Office is currently negotiating with the two companies mentioned with the intention of purchasing their existing coin telephones leased to subscribers and taking over the current contracts with lessees on mutually agreed terms.
In answering parts (a), (b) and (c) of the question I think it would be helpful to first provide the following background information:
In 1963, approval was given to V.T.C. Pty Ltd and Elliott-Automation Pty Ltd (now G.E.C.-Elliott Automation) to lease local call public telephones to subscribers. The Post Office refers to these telephones as ‘Company Coin Telephones’ but they are respectively marketed by the companies as ‘ Red Phone ‘ and ‘ Easiphone ‘.
V.T.C. Pty Ltd (a wholly-owned subsidiary of V.T.H. Pty Ltd ) is 80 per cent Australian owned by two private investment companies and 20 per cent owned by the manufacturers of the units- Tamura Electrical Works of Tokyo, Japan. G.E.C.-Elliott Automation is owned wholly by G.E.C. (U.K.). There are some 19.000 Red Phones and about 2,000 Easiphones in service.
The approval given to the companies represented an extension of a long-standing Post Office practice by which a variety of special facilities required by only a relatively small number of subscribers and known as ‘Permitted Attachments’ such as answering machines, loud speaking telephones, etc. are made available by private enterprise direct to telephone subscribers. This is done to conserve Post Office capital funds and other resources for basic service commitments.
The following conditions were attached to the authority given to V.T.C. Pty Ltd and Elliott Automation Pty Ltd:
The Post Office reserved the right to withdraw the approvals to lease further instruments, with due notice.
Applications from other companies to market similar units would be considered on their merits (no more have been received ).
The rental charged by the companies for their units was not to exceed $ 1 20 per annum ( no change has been sought subsequently by the companies).
The companies were to be responsible for all major maintenance.
Post Office maintenance was to be confined to replacement of minor external components (to be supplied by the company).
The Post Office reserved the sole right to meet all subscriber demand for:
Multi-coin public telephones, i.e., those from which trunk as well as local calls can be made, and
Local call only public telephones required by Government Departments. Public Institutions, Hospitals, Churches, Schools, etc.
In regard to part (a) of the question the basis of the purchase price offered by the Post Office is the depreciated value of the existing coin telephones owned by each company. Both companies have indicated their willingness to sell their assets to the Post Office at an acceptable price.
In regard to (b), the basic reasons for the proposed takeover are that the Post Office:
Could expect to gain the very satisfactory level of profit which has been secured by the companies.
Would have complete control over the design and maintenance of all coin telephones thus ensuring compatibility with future network developments.
Would have a strong influence in the placement of subscribers’ coin telephones in protected locations so that the provision of street public telephones could be avoided in areas prone to vandalism.
In regard to (c), the position is that, if it is supplied with the necessary personal details of staff members interested in employment in the Post Office, the Department will advise the vacancies open to them, consistent with the conditions for employment in the Public Service. If staff members of the companies then wish to actively seek employment with the Post Office, each request will be given special attention.
– On 1 August 1974 Senator Everett asked me a question without notice concerning Tasmania’s decision to withdraw from the Grants Commission. The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I see no reason for tabling official Australian Government documents relating to the decision of the Tasmanian Government to cease to be a claimant State for Grants Commission purposes. Information on the arrangements which were agreed between the two Governments was made available in a press release which I issued on 1 1 June 1 974.
– On 25 September 1974, Senator Sim asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs the following question, without notice:
Is the Government aware of an organisation called Terrorist International which is the fraternity of national liberation movements around the world? Is the Government also aware that organisations such as the Black September Movement, the Japanese Red Army, the Irish Republican Army and liberation movements which have been granted financial assistance by the Australian Government are members of Terrorist International? Is the Government concerned that its policy of granting financial aid to African liberation movements raises the possibility that Australia will become tainted by association with this terrorist group?
The answers to the honourable senator’s questions are as follows:
Availability of Printed Copies of Legislation
– On 24 September last, Senator Greenwood asked me a question, without notice, about the lack of supply of copies of various pieces of legislation, and he referred in particular to consolidated versions of the Public Service Act and the Superannuation Act. At the time, I advised Senator Greenwood I would inquire into the matter, to see what could be done about it. I can now provide Senator Greenwood with a more detailed answer to this question, which I think will be of interest to all honourable senators:
Firstly, I should state that it is true that both of the Acts referred to by Senator Greenwood have been out of stock for some time. However, the process of providing reprints is now at the advanced stage.
– and Senator Greenwood in particularwill be very much aware of the fact that the task of maintaining the entire body of statute law in an up-to-date condition is an enormous one, but one which has been undertaken by the Government as a task of importance.
We are still very hopeful that the process of producing a Consolidation of all Acts and Regulations of the Australian Parliament- the first for some twenty years or more- can be completed next year.
That task might well have been impossible without the installation of a new computerised printing system. Nevertheless, I am sure the Senate will appreciate that the processes that allow for a much greater volume of printing also place a serious burden upon officers in the AttorneyGeneral’s Department who have the task of checking and proof reading the legislation, and officers of my Department who have to handle the associated paperwork, as well as the additional printing.
There is a limit to the amount of work that can be done by machines.
In the long term, the use of computerised processes for the consolidation of all Acts and Regulations will prove of immense benefit to all who are involved in trying to maintain our legislation in an up-to-date form. in the meantime, I acknowledge the point that Senator Greenwood has made: that there is a need to provide copies of some Acts in order to assist with the current work of the Parliament.
I have therefore requested officers of my Department to consult with officers of the Attorney-General’s Department to see what can be done to ensure a continuity of supply of extant Acts while the work on the consolidation of all Acts and Regulations is progressing.
Senator Bishop: On 17 September 1974 Senator Bonner asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence the following question:
Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence inform the Senator whether it is a fact that the Australian Government plans to drop the prefix ‘HMAS’ from the names of our warships?
The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Government has not considered the question of changing the prefix ‘HMAS’ for Australian warships. There is no intention that this be done.
– On 31 July 1974, Senator Missen asked the following question, without notice:
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport or the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade. Is the Minister aware of the deteriorating situation in the port of Melbourne where up to 7 ships are now waiting for berths to unload their cargoes? Does he agree that a large pan of the problem arises from a shortage of 1 ,500 workers on the waterfront and from the fact that no temporary labour is admitted to the waterfront to assist in moving this cargo? Is it a fact that shipping companies are now commencing to charge exporters ‘congestion surcharges’ which, if not paid, could lead to cargo not being moved? Will he tell the Senate what steps are being taken by the Government to ease this situation which already is having harmful effects on our overseas trade?
The answer to Senator Missen ‘s question is as follows:
As I suggested in my reply there is a labour problem on the waterfront caused by the peaks and troughs of port usage. The problem is to maintain an employment level where there are sufficient waterside workers to meet demand but not so many as to create excessive idle time. A port may be short of labour for some time, but then again, fluctuating demand may result in considerable over-employment.
Under the Stevedoring Industry Act 1956-1966, port quotas are kept under constant review by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority in consultation with leaders of the Waterside Workers’ Federation, which is the union for the port, and registered employers. In doing this, the Authority follows well established procedures which normally take place once every 12 months, or more frequently if required at the request of the unions or employers. Under these procedures a review took place in March of this year and recruitment was conducted. Recruitment was again stepped up after a review in June of this year and is still being undertaken.
With respect to that part of the honourable senator’s question relating to congestion surcharges on exports, the Australian Shippers Council, which is the body designated under the Restrictive Trade Practices Act to negotiate with shipowners in respect of freight rates for outward liner shipping, has not agreed to any congestion surcharges on export cargoes nor is it aware of any such charges being made.
New Motor Vehicle Registrations
– On 24 July 1974, Senator Cotton asked the following question, without notice:
I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Have the Minister and the Government noted that new motor vehicle registrations are said to have fallen by more than 25 per cent in the month just ended? What steps docs his Government propose to arrest this alarming decline which, if it continues, will seriously threaten employment in his own State and in Australia in general?
The answer to Senator Cotton ‘s question is as follows:
The question of the possible employment effect of variations in motor vehicle registration figures is, of course, outside the responsibility of the Transport portfolio and falls within the jurisdiction of the Minister for Labor and Immigration and the Minister for Manufacturing Industry. Although the monthly registration figures are important indicators the Minister for Transport has reservations about attributing long term significance to the normal fluctuations occurring from month to month. The May figures for the last two years have been significantly higher than the general trend. Thus the June figures, which look like a serious reverse, are really only a return to normal. The attached statement extracted from Australian Bureau of Statistics publications should illustrate the point.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 October 1974, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1974/19741002_senate_29_s61/>.