29th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Justin O’Byrne) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I inform honourable senators of the death of the Honourable Cyril Chambers, C.B.E. An appropriate message of sympathy has been sent to the late member’s family. I ask all honourable senators to stand in silence as a mark of respect to the memory of the late Mr Cyril Chambers. (Honourable senators having stood in their places)
– I thank honourable senators.
– I inform the Senate that earlier today His Excellency the GovernorGeneral appointed the Honourable Frederick Michael Daly, M.P., to hold the office of Minister for Administrative Services and to administer the Department of Administrative Services following his resignation as Minister for Services and Property and a change in the name of the former Department of Services and Property. This action follows an amendment to the Administrative Arrangements Order to which the Governor-General agreed this morning. The main effect of the change was to transfer responsibility for property and survey matters from the former Minister for Services and Property to the Minister for Urban and Regional Development.
I also inform the Senate that the Special Minister of State, Senator Douglas McClelland, left Australia on 3 October to lead the Australian delegation to the 15th South Pacific Conference in Nauru. He is expected to return to Australia on 8 October. During his absence the Minister for Manufacturing Industry, Mr Lionel Bowen, is acting as Special Minister of State. Senator Willesee will represent the Acting Special Minister of State in the Senate and will also represent those Ministers whom Senator Douglas McClelland normally represents in the Senate.
– The following petition has been lodged for presentation:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House will pass the Bill.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Drury.
Postal Services Regulations and Postal By-laws
– I give notice that 8 sitting days after today I shall move:
That the following regulations and by-laws be disallowed:
1 ) Regulations 40, 43, 45 and 46 of the Postal Services Regulations as contained in Statutory Rules 1975 No. 1 30 and made under the Postal Services Act 1975.
By-laws 181, 193 and 222 of the Postal By-laws made on 30 June 1975 under the Postal Services Act 1975.
– I give notice that 8 sitting days after today I shall move:
That sections 5 1 and 93 of the Liquor Ordinance No. 3 1975 as contained in Australian Capital Territory Ordinance No. 19 of 1975 and made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910-1973 be disallowed.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Against the background that many of us have laboured for years to get citizenship justice for people who have been given rather vague evaluations by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, I ask Senator James McClelland: Can the Senate have an assurance that the findings of Mr Justice Hope on national security operations, an objective to which many people, including myself, have contributed, will not be ignored in the fact of the appointment of a new and overdue ASIO chieftain?
- Mr President, I direct your attention to a point of order, namely, that a question without notice asking for a legal opinion or a statement of policy must not be directed to a Minister.
– On the point of order, I am asking for an evaluation of the Hope report in relation to the new ASIO chief- nothing more and nothing less.
– The Minister representing the Attorney-General will answer the question directed to him by Senator Mulvihill.
-The appointment of a new head of ASIO is not to be taken as implying that the findings of Mr Justice Hope, following his investigation of that body, will be regarded by the Government as redundant or superfluous. Mr Justice Hope is one of the most distinguished lawyers in this country and, as anybody would know who has read any of his previous reports following inquiries in which he has participated, such as the inquiry into the national estate, the Government is entitled to expect from this distinguished lawyer reflections and findings on the nature of ASIO operations which are sure to be most helpful and which are designed to improve the quality of that organisation. May I say in passing that I know Mr Justice Woodward personally, that I have the highest regard for him and that I believe he will make an excellent ASIO chief.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. I refer to the increasing concern and alarm which many people are experiencing in the light of unpaid medical and hospital bills and in the light of the non-payment of so many pharmacists’ dispensing fees. I ask the Minister quite bluntly: Is Medibank running out of money?
– I think a blunt answer is required to a blunt question. The answer is no.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Has the Minister for Transport recently approved further grants for South Australia under the Minor Improvements for Traffic Engineering and Road Safety scheme-MITERS? Will the Minister indicate the extent of funds being made available and how they will be used?
– Recent grants approved for South Australia by the Minister for Transport now mean that South Australia has received its full allocation of $1.5m for 1975-76 for road safety and traffic improvement. Mr Jones had previously approved a partial program to facilitate the prompt implementation of agreed works. Now, following discussions with the South Australian Highways Department, Mr Jones has approved a program of works which will include a co-ordinated traffic signal system in the Adelaide city area, new channelisation of the Keith bypass and creation of priority roads along electoral boundaries.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it a fact that the Treasurer admitted yesterday that his recent Budget, with its stated deficit, is not likely to be realised? Is he beginning to qualify some of the assumptions on which his Budget was based?
-I find it difficult to comment on or to answer the question because I have not seen any such statement from the Treasurer.
-Has the attention of the Minister for Social Security been drawn to the practice of certain doctors who include on their accounts printed messages with pearls of wisdom such as ‘Who is Gough Whitlam?’ and ‘I do not belong to the AMA or the Government’? Will he look into this matter to see whether such insulting and condescending comments can be stopped?
-Yes, my attention has indeed been drawn to documents which have been issued by various medical practitioners to citizens of this country. The documents have had stamped on them such inscriptions as ‘I do not belong to the AMA or the Government’- I am not quite sure what that is meant to tell us- and Who is Gough Whitlam?’. It seems rather extraordinary for overworked doctors to be sending out messages like this at large. I must say also that for a profession that is so anxious to preserve its doctor-patient relationship, which I understand is so precious, it has a very strange way of going about it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labor and Immigration. I refer to statements made by the Prime Minister and senior Ministers over recent months that unemployment in Australia is continuing to fall. Does he believe that those statements made to the Australian public can be relied upon? It is a fact that in July and August of this year unemployment in this country rose to its worst level since depression days? Is this unemployment in part the responsibility of the Labor Government? Does he consider that the Government has been successful or unsuccessful in its employment policies?
-To put the matter in perspective and to deny firmly the proposition that an increase in unemployment is something that occurs only when there is a Labor government, I would like to refer the honourable senator to -
– It is the evidence of recent history, is it not?
– I ask the honourable senator to hear me. A question has been asked and I propose to give it a serious answer. In 1972 inthe United States of America the unemployment rate was 5.2 per cent. Today it is 8.6 per cent. In Canada in 1972 the unemployment rate was 6.8 per cent. It is now 7.2 per cent. In the United Kingdom it was 4.8 per cent and it is now 5.7 per cent. In West Germany it was 0.8 per cent and it is now 3.7 per cent.
– Socialist governments.
-An honourable senator interjects and says ‘Socialist governments ‘. I am sure that both Mr Nixon and Mr Ford would be surprised to be called socialists. The honourable senator refers also to what has happened and to the statements by Mr Whitlam and others about unemployment falling in this country in the recent period. I cannot recall such statements having been made. But if we wish to analyse the figures that were released the other day, we find that there was a further rise of 3800 in the seasonally adjusted level of registered unemployment. I notice that no newspapers seem to have mentioned that there was an actual drop of 2135 in the raw figures. That seems to have been overlooked in the reports. However, let us accept a rise of 3800 in the seasonally adjusted level in the last month. This rise was considerably smaller than the increases recorded in July and August. Nevertheless, as Minister for Labor and Immigration I have not sought to conceal the realities and the seriousness of the employment situation. Indeed, in commenting on the crucial role of wage indexation in the Government’s economic strategy, I have continually pointed out the fragile nature of the improvement which is in prospect for the Australian economy.
I repeat what I have said in the past in answer to similar questions: I am thoroughly convinced that if what has been told to us of the alternative strategy of Mr Fraser in solving this problem were to get a chance to work in this country, we would be facing at least double the number of unemployed. If he makes a reduction of $1 billion in the deficit, which is what Mr Fraser said he would do- I do not know how he will do it and at the same time give all the concessions he claims he will give- this implies a massive increase in unemployment. So before the Opposition takes so much comfort out of the unemployment figures, let it look to the mote in its own eye.
-Can the PostmasterGeneral confirm reports that there is an increasing demand for telex services in Australia? Are such services now readily available?
– The Australian Telecommunications Commission has stated that a 12 per cent growth in the number of telex services is expected this year. A new program has been set up by the Commission involving an investment of $7m for new exchange equipment and nearly 4000 telex machines, which is about 500 more machines than were originally programmed. The new program also provides for a speedy installation service which will mean that most new subscribers will be waiting less than 3 weeks for connections, compared with a former connection time of 8 weeks.
– Has the Minister for Labor and Immigration and Minister assisting the Prime Minister in matters relating to the Public Service read a report in the Sydney newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, of 4 September of this year, in which a person who was recently appointed to a senior Public Service position admitted to being an anarchist? In the light of that article, will the Minister advise the Senate whether there are any checks made relating to the security ratings of persons appointed to senior positions within the Government? If so, does the Minister consider it to be wise to appoint people such as anarchists to responsible and influential positions in the Australian Public Service?
-Senator Marriott was good enough to let me know that he would be asking this question so I have undertaken a little bit of research in order to be able to give him a clear answer. Security checks are conducted on persons filling positions such as that to which Ms Wilenski, who is the person referred to, has been appointed. It is part of the normal employment process in the Public Service. So if she is an anarchist, I think we can assume she is a fairly harmless anarchist. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines an anarchist as: ‘One who admits of no ruling power; an advocate of anarchy; one who upsets settled order’.
In the news item to which the honourable senator has drawn my attention, Ms Wilenski is quoted as admitting ‘cautiously’ to being an anarchist. If, in fact, she is a cautious anarchist, we could assume that rather than being one who admits of no ruling power, she is more likely to be one who upsets settled order. If this description fits her, I am sure she will be like a breath of fresh air in the Public Service. But, even if we accept the word in its most blood-thirsty connotation, there are those who say that the Public Service needs a bomb under it. I, of course, do not subscribe to such a view.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. I ask: Firstly, is the Minister aware of the serious bush fire hazard that exists in the Kalgoorlie region and the eastern gold fields region of Western Australia generally? Secondly, will the Minister for Defence give favourable consideration to allowing the Kambalda-Kalgoorlie unit of the Citizen Military Force to train and be available for bush fire fighting duties in the area during this summer?
– It has been the policy of the defence Services to become involved more than usual in the cases of floods and bush fires that have affected civilians over recent years. I think everybody appreciates that they have done a wonderful job when they have been used. I am thinking in particular of the cases in Queensland and New South Wales. I am not sure to what extent the Minister might consider using the Army Reserve-the former CMF- for such circumstances, but I should think that it would be available where it could be used to perform such duties and would perform them as well as the Regular Army does. I will ask the Minister to react to Senator Walsh’s question and let him know what is the answer to it.
-I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs: Is it a fact that more than 40 000 East Timorese people, representing at least 7 per cent of the total population of that colony, have fled across the border and are now seeking refuge in Indonesian Timor? Is not this, in terms of a percentage of the total population, one of the greatest mass movements of refugees in modern history? What factors have induced the fears causing such a mass movement of population?
-Varying figures have been given on the number of Timorese who have fled or moved across into the Indonesian part of the island, but we accept the figure of 40 000 because it has been confirmed to us by independent sources. So I think Senator Carrick is right in assuming that it is 40 000.
-At least 40 000.
-I said 40 000. Some have said 50 000 and some have got the figure down to 10 000; but our figure is one that we have obtained from independent sources. We believe that there are about 40 000. It is a very high percentage. I am not quite sure whether it is the greatest mass movement in modern history. It is certainly a big one; it is certainly a serious one and it is one that is still bedevilling the unfortunate situation in Timor.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question, Mr President. My final question was: What factors have induced the fears causing this movement?
-I assume that it is fear of the war that has been raging, starting off with the actions of the UDT in Portuguese East Timor. I do not know, but I would assume that it is the normal movement away that one gets in times of such disturbances within a country.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I ask: As the Government is now using large quantities of concrete railway sleepers will he confer with his colleague the Minister for Transport with a view to ascertaining whether there have been instances of inferior quality shoulder castings being supplied to the manufacturers of concrete sleepers? If there have been any such instances will the Minister request his colleague to take the necessary steps to ensure that firms tendering for the supply of concrete sleepers to the Australian Government deal only with companies which are proven manufacturers of the highest quality shoulder castings so as to ensure that quality before price is always the determining factor in the awarding of contracts?
– I am not aware of any complaints having been made about the quality of the shoulder castings to which Senator McLaren has referred. He may, of course, be putting in a plug, which I assume he is, for the South Australian industry near his home that manufactures them. I know that they are of good quality. I will take up the matter with the Minister and see whether I can get a reply for the honourable senator this week.
-I ask the PostmasterGeneral: Is it a fact that the Telecommunications Commission has withdrawn rental concessions on telephone exchange lines and equipment to emergency fire services in South Australia? The Emergency Fire Service provides invaluable fire protection and control services in rural areas on a voluntary personnel basis and is financed by local government with some State Government subsidies. In view of the further burden placed on local government finances which are already severely strained, will the Minister seek to have the concessions reinstated?
-The answer to the first part of the honourable senator’s question is yes. The Telecommunications Commission has withdrawn the concessions. The honourable senator will recall that previously I pointed out, in relation to the Budget strategy, the subsidies which had been appropriated for various concessions. On the telecommunications side they amounted to about $13½m and overall to $17m for both Commissions. The concessions relating to the emergency fire services in South Australia were not included in these figures. I have, however, received representations from two of my colleagues about the matter and I presently have them under consideration by the Telecommunications Commission. I will put the honourable senator’s representations also to the Commission also and let him know the outcome.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. The Minister’s attention would have been drawn to the statement made by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne in today’s Melbourne Age that the introduction of Medibank has brought with it a substantial easing of the financial burden which has confronted so many at a time of sickness. Can the Minister assure the Senate that, despite the fact that Victorian public hospitals are faced with the withdrawal of the services of all sections of the medical profession unless a compromise plan is reached over surgeons’ working conditions, the majority of people in Victoria who voted for a proper medical health service will be properly catered for?
– Archbishops are not infallible.
-Oddly enough, I have not had my attention drawn to his Grace ‘s comments but nonetheless I welcome them. As Senator Chaney has said, they are not infallible in this field but- if I may remind him, and I would have thought he would have known betterneither are the statements of any other archbishops infallible in this or any other field. I think, if I have correctly interpreted it, that I am indebted to him. I certainly appreciate the comments that he has made. There are difficulties in Victoria. I believe that the difficulties are being overcome. I do not believe that despite the efforts of certain surgeons there is quite the calamitous situation to which Senator Melzer has referred. I believe and hope, as we all do, that the Medibank facilities which are being made available in Victoria will continue to prosper.
– I ask the Minister for Labor and Immigration: Will the Minister inform the Senate what is to happen to each of the RED scheme projects in Tasmania? I ask this bearing in mind that there are numerous projects which are in various stages of completion and where obligations have been undertaken by those organising them but which are, as a result of the Government’s action, in a state of suspended animation to the inconvenience and even distress of all concerned?
-Senator Rae is more entitled to ask questions about the RED scheme than are some of his colleagues, seeing that there has been no challenge to the RED scheme from any of his fellow Liberals from the State of Tasmania, although there has been, of course, from Victoria and New South Wales. I thought that most of the sponsors of the RED scheme projects which were not going to be continued had already been notified to that effect. The position is that because of the budgetary situation, no new schemes are being approved. Some of the sponsors of schemes which had been approved prior to 30 June have been told that the approval has been withdrawn. Wherever schemes have been started and money has been spent on them, as far as possible it is intended to complete them. I will let the honourable senator have a full list of the various applications for all of the schemes in Tasmania and their fate.
– I ask the Minister for Agriculture: In view of reports circulating in dairying districts that butter fat prices are to fall by up to 15c per lb due to pressure on markets caused by large stocks of produce particularly in the European Economic Community, has the Minister been approached by dairy industry leaders for discussions on this matter?
-Yesterday I met with the Chairman of the Australian Dairy Corporation in Melbourne and discussed several matters with him, including the present position of returns for the dairy industry. Pricing arrangements, of course, are matters for the Equalisation Committee of the dairy industry and not matters over which I have any control. The States also have a considerable part to play in these matters. The present problem confronting the industry is not so much the question of butter but the question of skimmed milk powder of which there are very large stocks in the world now. Whereas only six or eight months ago it was commanding a price of about $700 a tonne on the world market, it has now come back quite dramatically to a price in the area of $350, and I understand it is still falling. This will have a serious effect on opening prices for producers, and it is something which I am currently considering with the Corporation. I hope that we will be in a position to prevent any disastrous fall in opening prices to the dairy producer.
-Can the Postmaster-General comment on an article which appeared in the Adelaide Sunday Mail which stated that overseas mail arriving in Sydney was being delayed by a multi-million Post Office blunder?
– I have seen the article which appeared in last week’s Adelaide Sunday Mail, but it is inaccurate. The position is that consignments of up to 40 containers of mail arrived sporadically in Sydney. There are at present on the Sydney docks 43 containers of mail awaiting collection by the Postal Commission which is handling between 35 and 40 containers each week. A black ban on the use of contract transport to carry the containers has added to the problems of clearance of overseas mail, and the bank-up has led to an increase in wharf storage charges. However, so far this year the storage charges have totalled about $58,000, which is a long way short of the amount claimed in the article. The Postal Commission is presently negotiating for suitable premises to suit container handling needs and is confident that this will lead to improved clearances in the future.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral, refers to the inquiry by Mr Justice Hope into the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. I ask: Has Mr Justice Hope made any report to the Government in regard to his inquiry? Does the Government intend to publish either any report which he has made or any part of it, or any report which he may make?
– I understand that Mr Justice Hope has not yet reported to the Government. I have nothing official about whether or not his report will be published. I would think that this would be most unlikely. I remind the honourable senator that the practice adopted by previous governments in relation to questions about the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation was to refuse to give any information at all. However, I would think that because of the nature of a report such as this one it would be desirable that it should be kept confidential.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Social Security, concerns proposed payments under hospital Medibank to visiting medical officers. The Minister will be aware that many visiting medical officers do not intend to accept money for services even if it is offered. I ask: Would such refusal to accept payment represent a publicspirited gesture on the part of those doctors and would it assist in holding down the costs of the scheme? Will the Minister give an assurance that the Government will not insist on paying those visiting medical officers anxious to continue working without fee? Will the Minister dismiss as inaccurate the rumour circulating now that even if doctors return cheques to the Government they will be expected to pay tax on notional fees which they would have received had they accepted payment under the hospital Medibank scheme?
– I think the latter part of the question should be more appropriately addressed to the Treasurer who is responsible for taxation matters. I am not responsible for them. With regard to the other matter, I agree that if doctors are proposing to work without payment, which may seem eccentric, it certainly will save a lot of money. I have no advice at the moment as to what the Health Insurance Commission proposes to do with regard to the matter raised by Senator Baume, but he has drawn it to my attention and I will accept his word that doctors are proposing to do this in an effort to assist the public purse. I will see that his suggestion is conveyed to the Health Insurance Commission. I hope to be able to give him an answer in the near future.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation. I refer to the answer he gave in the Senate on 9 September about the cost of the insurance companies’ campaign which started out as opposition to the proposed Australian Government Insurance Corporation and which has now developed into an alliance between the insurance companies and the Opposition to oppose a whole range of Government social welfare initiatives. Is the Minister yet in a position to advise the cost of this campaign that will ultimately be borne by policy holders?
– I have been able to extract some figures which I think would not be in any way generous. They show the amount which has been spent so far by insurance companies in opposing the Government’s proposal to establish an Australian Government Insurance Corporation. As far as their campaign in the various media of information is concerned, my information is that so far this year they have spent in the metropolitan and national Press $187,814, and on metropolitan television $177,282, on country television $13,011, which gives a total figure of $378,107. I think there should be added to that the costs which have not been estimated by my Department which have escaped attention. If one estimates them at 10 per cent, that would add another $37,810. Productions costs of $41,591 and agency fees of $29,738 should be added. That means that almost $500,000-in fact, $477,246-has been spent by the insurance companies in opposing the Australian Government Insurance Corporation.
What is unknown is the cost of pamphlets and other printed matter that goes unsolicited to policy-holders, the cost of the time lost on full pay of employees of insurance companies who attend rallies and any paid overtime necessary to catch up on work which they would otherwise have been doing if they were not attending these so-called spontaneous rallies, and the cost of the salaries and office space of officials working full time on the campaign against the Government. It is known that Mr Renton of the Life Offices Association receives $25,000 per annum as salary as a full time opponent of the Australian Government Insurance Corporation legislation. It would appear that he spends his full time on this activity. So one can say that at the very minimum the figure would be well in excess of $500,000 in the few months that the insurance companies of Australia have been using their policy holders’ money to oppose Australian Government policy.
– Is the Minister assisting the Minister for Defence aware of the concern expressed by the national President of the Exservices Action Association, Mr Hunter, relating to the storage and disposal of poison gas weapons used for experimental purposes during World War II? Has the Minister read the latest report in the Press yesterday in which a former Royal Australian Air Force sergeant, Mr Alick Stocker, claimed that during World War II a leakage occurred on an RAAF train carrying mustard gas in drums during a 100 mile journey in the Blue Mountains? I understand Mr Stocker was a chemical warfare instructor. He says that the mustard gas retains its deadly properties for decades. Is it a fact that the cargo on this train was stored in a disused tunnel near Glenbrook? Is the Minister aware also that Mr Stocker, who still suffers from gas injuries, stated that the last 100 miles of track to Glenbrook could still be contaminated? In view of the public controversy that has occurred since this matter was raised, will the Minister table in the Senate as a matter of urgency all defence and Commonwealth police documents and reports pertaining to this important subject so that honourable senators can be informed on it?
– Yes, I have seen the references to this matter in the Press. When the matter was raised originally Mr Morrison requested that Mr Hunter should supply a statutory declaration, and I understand that it has now been lodged. The matter is presently under consideration by the Minister for Defence. He has not completed his inquiries. So answering the last part of the question first, I think I should say that at this stage we would not be justified in tabling the documents concerned. When the Minister for Defence has determined the matter and has given a reply I will let the honourable senator have it. He might wish to follow up the other suggestion later.
I will add some points which have been given to me because the matter has been ventilated a number of times. Tunnels were used to store chemical munitions in the Blue Mountains area, but records show that they were all cleared. Large quantities of chemical materials were disposed of at a site in the same area. This site was checked 2 years later and it was found that disposal had been complete and the area was safe. Mustard gas spilt on the ground is rendered harmless by natural processes in a matter of days. Leaking phosgene gas disperses in the atmosphere and leaves no trace.
A statutory declaration received from a citizen living in Adelaide refers to the storage, handling and disposal of leaking containers and bombs in the Blue Mountains area. It is rather more relevant to matters of compensation for those handling the material than to possible dangers to the public. Nevertheless, the Minister for Defence has said that he is asking for more details on locations to check against the records. For example, if it is established that the site already mentioned is involved, we already have direct proof that it is safe.
-I ask the Minister for
Police and Customs a question on the subject of trafficking in fauna and the appropriateness of penalties applicable to offences for this activity. From time to time the Press carries reports on the prosecution and conviction of persons for illegal trafficking in fauna. It would appear that the penalties given in many cases are not commensurate with the huge profits available to those engaged in the trafficking. Can the Minister comment on any measures that he might have under consideration to ensure that penalties become a more effective deterrent?
-The Government has under consideration at present the whole question of holding an inquiry into the trafficking of Australian fauna out of this country. I am at a loss to know to what extent the infliction of penalties is a deterrent to the commission of any crime. As a matter of fact, I think that a lot of crime is committed in the belief that one will never be caught and therefore no consideration is given to penalties. A maximum penalty of $1,000 is provided for the first offence for trafficking, and I should have thought that that was a reasonable penalty in the circumstances.
The people who impose penalties or inflict fines seem to arrive at a penalty which is much less than the penalty provided under the law. I have never been critical of the person who has been trained in the field which requires him to inflict penalties. I have never queried his assessment of an appropriate penalty for an offence. I think that he has to consider the punitive aspect as being some deterrent. Possibly the legislature gives an indication of the gravity of the offence as it sees it by the maximum penalty that it prescribes. At present the Government is considering whether we should increase the penalty for trafficking in fauna as an indication to judges that we take a more serious view of the offence. It is one of the questions under review, and I hope that the problem will soon be resolved.
-I ask the Minister for Labor and Immigration whether there is any truth in the report that Australia has refused to allow refugees from Vietnam who are highly qualified professionally to enter Australia from a Hong Kong holding centre. As the report maintains that the decision is denying family reunion, will the Minister investigate the claims and the report and give the maximum humanitarian consideration to any problems?
– I am not aware of the truth or otherwise of the allegation made by the honourable senator. I will have it investigated and let him have an early answer.
-Is the Minister for Agriculture aware that the recent Queensland Budget increased rail freights by 40 per cent? What impact will this have on the grain industry which has invested a lot of money to ensure the efficient handling of grain transport by train?
-Yes, I have seen the report. I sought from my Department an estimate of the cost involved to Queensland grain growers. Apparently it is in the area of $ 15m. This, of course, illustrates the problem which rural people face: So many of these increasing costs with which they have to contend do not come from actions taken by the Federal Government. In many cases they are caused by actions of State governments. Recently in New South Wales we saw where the State Government was compelled to increase water charges to primary producers by a very high percentage. Of course, this was a matter entirely for the State Government. It is another example of increasing costs borne by the rural sector that come from decisions of State governments.
– I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General: Does the Government have an up-to-date estimate on when the International Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination is likely to enter into force for Australia? Does the Government propose to proclaim the Racial Discrimination Act as soon as possible after that Convention enters into force?
– I shall convey the question to my colleague and let the honourable senator have an answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Agriculture. Since the Government agreed to provide the Australian Wheat Board with cash discounting facilities the Board has arranged one discounting service to wheat growers to enable an early payment of money due in the future. Will the Wheat Board continue this service for those who want it?
-Yes. The Australian Wheat Board instituted a system of discount payments to wheat growers this year. I understand that this is the first time it has been done. It simply means that growers can call on amounts due to them from the various wheat pools in order to obtain cash more readily than they otherwise would. The discount rate on the first occasion was 15 per cent. On this second occasion it is intended to be 1 3.5 per cent. It is an indication of the very healthy position of the wheat industry that only 8 per cent of Australian wheat growers availed themselves of the opportunity.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Media. This relates to a question which I asked previously concerning an article in which it was stated that journalists employed by the Australian Information Service are to concentrate on publicising the Government and its policies within Australia at a cost of at least $6m to the Australian taxpayers. The Minister in his reply stated that he would make inquiries from the Minister for the Media and obtain a reply for me. I now ask the Minister whether he has received such a reply. If not, will he endeavour to obtain one for me?
-No, I have not had anything put before me. I am the substitute for the substitute today. I shall make inquiries from the Minister for the Media and let Senator Young have a reply as soon as possible.
– I ask the Minister for Social Security: What has been the total expenditure in Braddon Region No. 2 by the Australian Assistance Plan since its inauguration? What is the estimated expenditure for the same plan in the same area during the current financial year?
– I should like to be able to answer that question, thus indicating the tremendous grasp of detail that I have on this matter, but I am afraid that I cannot. I ask Senator Bessell to put the question on notice so that I can get a proper reply for him as early as possible.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Manufacturing Industry. Is he aware that exports of motor vehicles from Australia have fallen from 15 695 in June 1974 to 3733 in June 1975? What are the reasons for this decline in exports and what is the Government proposing to do to increase exports, particularly in the motor vehicle industry?
– I am not aware of the figures that have just been cited by the honourable senator, but I will convey his question to the Minister and let him have an early reply.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. What is the present total staff employed by Medibank? How many are temporary employees and what period does the temporary classification cover? How do the staff total and staff cost compare with the estimates before Medibank was established?
-Senator Sheil was good enough to let me know last week that he would be asking this question and I have obtained the information for which he asked. The answer to the question relating to the total staff employed by the Health Insurance Commission, which covers Medibank, is that as at 26 September the Commission employed 3844 people. Of that number, 418 were temporary staff. The question as to how long does ‘temporary’ cover may be answered by saying that the continued employment of temporary staff will be examined progressively in the light of the experience which the Health Insurance Commission has in administering Medibank. I do not think that it is possible to nominate any cut-off date for the employment of temporary staff until such time as we know what will be the stable work load for the employees of the Commission.
Senator Shell’s next question was: How do the staff total and staff cost compare with estimates before the Commission was operating. A figure was estimated in January 1975, after most of the private funds had refused to enter into agency arrangements with the Health Insurance Commission. The staffing numbers which were then estimated for the Commission’s requirements were 3500 permanent staff, plus 200 temporary staff to meet demands in those areas, particularly population registration, where the initial work loads were very high. The estimated salary cost for those people was $25,505,000. The revised staffing estimate for the Commission’s permanent staff remains unchanged at 3500, but it is now envisaged that up to 700 additional temporary staff will have to be engaged. The revised salary estimate is $30,900,000.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Police and Customs or to the Minister responsible for administering the Book Bounty Act. I have just noticed that the annual report on the Book Bounty Act for the year ended 30 June 1975 shows that net payments during that year for the book bounty were $5. 9m. I ask the Minister whether he will be good enough to make available for perusal by members of Parliament a fair sample of the material to which this expenditure is devoted; say 10 examples of publications the printing of which have the benefit of bounty- 5 examples under the heading of ‘Educational’ and five under the heading of ‘Literary’? I want to see the type of stuff that is being printed under the heading of Literary ‘ in particular. Will the Minister be good enough to make that available to the Parliament?
– I will do my best to obtain representative samples of the types of books which are attracting the bounty and the headings under which it is being provided.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy. As the Government has retreated in some measure from the $2 a tonne levy on certain coal, will the Minister move for the same or hopefully stronger action in regard to the $2 a barrel or $24.88 a tonne payable on indigenous crude oil? I ask the question with particular reference to the problem of local government councils which have spent large amounts on the installation of gas reticulation capacity over 5 or 6 years and for which the impost means increased cost of up to 59 per cent? Is the policy of the Government to provide Australian resources for Australians only at prices determined overseas?
– The Government made a decision to impose a levy on the export of coal, a matter which was thoroughly debated in the Senate last week. It is true that following the announcement by the Treasurer information received by the Government was that certain companies exporting certain types of coal would find some difficulties in paying that levy. The original decision, of course, was based on the very healthy state of the totality of the coal exports of this country this year and the anticipated increase in profits to be earned by companies which gained well in excess of $100m over the previous year. On that basis the Government was quite justified in imposing a levy. However, because of more detailed information which was made available, the Government has been prepared to vary that in certain cases. The same applies in respect of oil. I am quite sure that if concrete evidence can be placed before the Government which would justify some variation of a previous decision, that would be given serious consideration. As to the last part of the question asked by the honourable senator, it is a matter for the Australian Government to determine prices at which we sell our products overseas. I am quite sure that the policies which have been followed, especially by the Minister for Minerals and Energy ever since we have been in office, have been to protect Australian producers of raw materials and to ensure that we receive reasonable prices for all the raw materials that we send overseas.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. I refer him to the provisions of the Telephone Communications Interception Act and the announcement over the weekend that the Prime Minister has assumed responsibility for the functions of the Attorney-General under this Act. Who performs the function of the DirectorGeneral of Security at the present time? Is there a Director-General of Security? Who makes the applications for telephone intercepts? In view of the fact that the Act gives the function to the Attorney-General, is the Prime Minister acting unlawfully in approving such applications for warrants?
– I understand that what is envisaged is that there will be an amendment to the Act to which the honourable senator has referred but that at the present time if there were any authorisation of interception of telephones, that function for the time being would continue to be exercised by the Attorney-General who, I agree, at the present time and until the Act is amended is the only person so authorised. As to who is acting as the Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation at the present time, I am not quite sure whether Mr Barbour’s proposed successor, Mr Justice Woodward, has yet assumed office. If he has not, I assume that Mr Barbour is still continuing in his job. But I do not know. I will find out and let the honourable senator know.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Science and Consumer Affairs request his colleague to conduct an inquiry throughout the Australian Capital Territory to determine the reason for the scandalous mark-up in prices of many items of everyday use sold through retail outlets as many of these increases have been over 50 per cent in the last 5 weeks?
– I am unable to answer the question, but I shall refer it to my colleague, Mr Clyde Cameron, and let the honourable senator have an early reply.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to my question which I asked last Thursday about the tabling of files relating to the transfer of oil to ACTU-Solo Enterprise Pty Ltd and to the reply to my question which was that it would be passed on to the Prime Minister. I ask the Minister whether he has passed on the request to the Prime Minister and whether he has received any reply if he has done so? When will the documents be tabled?
– The request has been conveyed to the Prime Minister. As yet I have not received a reply. I cannot say whether the documents will be tabled until such time as I receive a reply.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is it true that some drugs listed under the national health scheme are accompanied in Australia by less comprehensive literature than is required in the United States and other nations for exactly the same drugs? Does the Minister consider this to be a satisfactory situation? What is the Government doing to ensure that Australian doctors receive as much relevant information as possible about the drugs they are prescribing?
– I think that this is clearly a question which only my colleague, the Minister for Health, could adequately answer. I ask Senator Missen to place the question on notice so that a proper answer can be given.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Manufacturing Industry give the Senate any indication of any action contemplated by the Government by way of assistance to the carbide works at Elecrona in southern Tasmania that may enable the 2 interests concerned, namely Consolidated Gold Fields Australia Ltd and the Australian Industry Development Corporation, to encourage other interests in the ferro-siliconal alternative as a means of saving the employment of 1 50 people who are employed at the present carbide works and who face dismissal due to closure of the works early in 1976?
-Obviously that is the sort of question to which I could not be expected to carry an answer in my head. I ask the honourable senator to put the question on notice.
-On 2 October, Senator Guilfoyle asked me a question without notice relating to the cost to the Australian Government of the entry of New South Wales into Medibank hospital arrangements from 1 October 1975.
I am able to advise the honourable senator that in the table on page 5 1 of Budget paper No. 7 headed ‘Payments to or for the States’, an amount of $245m has been provided for the Medibank hospital arrangements in New South Wales for 1975-76. New South Wales did not enter hospital Medibank until 1 October and this estimate was based on that assumption.
This amount is based on estimates supplied by the New South Wales Government, which in turn have been based on certain assumptions relating to matters such as the proportion of patients in recognised hospitals seeking free treatment in standard wards, the manner of remunerating doctors treating such patients, and the level of remuneration of these doctors.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the annual report for the Department of the Media for the year ended 30 June 1975.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a review of activities to 30 June 1975 of the Department of Tourism and Recreation.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Inquiry into Schools of High Migrant Density. Due to the limited number available reference copies of this report have been placed in the Parliamentary Library.
– Pursuant to section 6 of the Darwin Cyclone Damage Compensation Act 1975 1 present a report on the operation of the Act for the year ended 30 June 1975.
Senator BISHOP (South AustraliaPostmasterGeneral) For the information of honourable senators, I present the annual report of the Australian Shippers Council for the year ended 30 June 1975.
Senator BISHOP (South AustraliaPostmasterGeneral) For the information of honourable senators, I present the annual Defence Report for 1975.
– On 30 September Senator McLaren asked me, by way of a question without notice, to obtain information concerning the difference between 1974 and 1973 in relation to payments made under the Superphosphate Bounty Act. I said then that I had some figures and that I would present the required tables when I obtained a covering statement. I now have the covering statement. For the information of honourable senators, I table the document.
-Mr President, I present the report of the Committee of Privileges on the matter referred to the Committee by the Senate on 17 July, namely, the directions by various Ministers that the public servants called before the Bar of the Senate on 16 July should claim privilege and the further claims for privilege made by the Solicitor-General, Mr Byers.
Ordered that the report be printed.
-Mr President, I seek leave to move that the Senate take note of the report.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
In presenting this report to the Senate I should simply indicate, as is set out in the preamble to the report, that the Committee was unable to reach agreement and that from a Committee of seven there are in fact a majority report, a minority report and four addendums. I think I can say on behalf of the Committee that we felt that we did well to arrive at that position as a conclusion. I shall say no more about the matter at this stage. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
- Mr President, I present the report of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory on the 59 (A) series of variations to the plan of layout of the City of Canberra and its environs.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I seek leave to move a motion that the Senate take note of the report.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The report tabled on behalf of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory is the fourth this year involving variations to the plan of layout of the City of Canberra and brings to 64 the number of variations approved by the Committee this year. Six items are involved in the present series. Three items are of a machinery nature and I do not propose to comment upon them. The remaining 3 items are, however, worthy of mention to the Senate.
Item 2 in the series provides access roads to the first stage of the National Athletics Stadium, which is to be the venue for the 1977 Pacific Conference Games. The stadium will provide athletic facilities of an international standard. A soccer or hockey field will also be provided within the athletics track. As well as the major stadium, a warm-up track will be built. A stand which will hold 6000 spectators will be provided. The stand will be augmented by other covered and temporary stands which will give the stadium a spectator capacity of 20 000.
Item 5 provides for the deletion of portion of the gazetted reservation for Gowrie Drive, a proposed by-pass road in the suburb of Deakin. The proposal also provides for the provision of a cul-de-sac access road to the recently approved Deakin Telecommunications Centre adjacent to the originally gazetted reservation for Gowrie Drive. An objection to this proposal was lodged by a number of residents of Deakin, who feel they could be adversely affected if the proposed variation indicated an intention that the National Capital Development Commission no longer intended pursuing the development of Gowrie Drive as a by-pass road. The NCDC assured the Committee that it had not taken such a decision and the present variation in no way prejudiced any decision which may be taken in the long term concerning Gowrie Drive.
The final item, item 6, involves development of the Belconnen Retail Mall which is being undertaken by the Canberra Commercial Development Authority. The variation identifies the site for Stage One of the development and requires the closure of Totterdell Street in the Belconnen Town Centre to allow the development to proceed. The Committee was informed that the Canberra Commercial Development
Authority is planning to open part of the development by October 1 976.
Currently the question of parking facilities at the Mall is the subject of negotiations between the NCDC and the Canberra Commercial Development Authority. The Committee was assured that the deletion of Totterdell Street was in no way dependent upon future decisions in respect of parking facilities, and accordingly the Committee has recommended the implemention of this variation, together with the 5 accompanying proposals. I commend the report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
In moving this motion I would like to indicate that Senate Estimates Committees A, E and F have been scheduled to meet on Thursday following the adjournment of the Senate at approximately 12.15 p.m. Committees that have not concluded their examination of estimates allocated to them will be required to meet on Friday and rooms and facilities will be made available from 10 a.m. for this purpose.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had made the amendments requested by the Senate to this Bill.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cavanagh) read a third time.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendment made by the Senate to this Bill.
– The sitting of the Senate is suspended until approximately a quarter past 10 p.m. to enable Estimates Committees C, D and E to meet. Committee C will meet in the Senate chamber, Committee D in Senate Committee Room No. 1 and Committee E in Senate Committee Room No. 3. The bells will be rung for 3 minutes prior to the assembling of the Committees.
Sitting suspended from 3.44 to 10.21 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Wriedt) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
-I do not propose to take up the time of the Senate for any great period, although I had warned a couple of my colleagues that I would be threequarters of an hour. I wish to refer to a number of cases which I believe to be contributing to political immorality in this country, headed by actions of the Opposition in the Australian Parliament, strongly supported by a number of State governments and strongly supported by some sections of the Press. Most people probably saw Mr Gorton, a member in another place who currently is not a member of any Party, refer tonight to the man who thinks he is the alternative Prime Minister and to his inability to make up his mind whether he will take certain action in this Parliament. In the other place today a question was raised by the leader of the splinter group in the Opposition who made certain critical remarks of the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. In this evening’s news bulletins Mr Hawke very rightly challenged the gentlemen concerned to make the same statements outside the House, but the gentlemen will not, of course. Yesterday and the day before the Premier of Queensland made a lot of misstatements about alleged happenings in the Torres Strait, 1 per cent of which may have been partly true, 99 per cent of which was a complete untruth. This sort of thing has carried over into a number of other areas.
I refer particularly to an article by a gentleman named Darmody who is one of those who has added to the political violence and to the physical violence in a number of places in Australia today. During the last three or four days a number of people in this land have died violently. A number of those deaths should never have happened. We do not need further incentives and further articles such as the one which I am about to quote. I will quote only two or three paragraphs. I do not know Mr Darmody. I think from time to time he writes very good stories, but he has done the Aboriginal cause a complete disservice by his article in this evening’s Daily Mirror, in exactly the same way as the Premier of
Queensland has done the Aboriginal cause a disservice during the past 48 hours. The article by Mr Darmody stated:
It was a pub where you could get your head kicked in.
It was a pub that looked on whites with angry suspicion.
It was also a pub that could not supply the ‘ Why? ‘ nor give any reason for the ‘Because’.
He had used the words ‘Why’ and ‘Because’ in his opening paragraphs. The article continued:
It gave off a blindness of logic. The beer-smoke atmosphere was filled with the scent of black challenge; unpleasant, confusing.
The pub was in Redfern. The article stated also:
As you stand at the bar you are snipped for 20c by the nearest black. You let the money go.
The concluding paragraphs stated:
Back to their grog, their dreams and their own brewing violence.
Ask them what they want. They’ll never tell you. Not because they hate you but because they hate themselves for not knowing.
It is a most unfair accusation to make against black people generally. I know the pub to which Mr Darmody referred. I have been there several times. Nobody has ever bitten me for 20c. Nobody has ever threatened violence. To say that this sort of thing is happening is to contribute to the thing to which Mr Bjelke-Petersen in Queensland is contributing. He has lost his control of the Torres Strait, and he is now using the Torres Strait Islanders as his scapegoat. This sort of problem has been accentuated by the indecision of the so-called alternative Prime Minister who cannot make up his mind. As I said in my opening remarks, it is contributing to political immorality in this country. It is contributing to indecision in the community at large and is just not good enough for Australia. I wanted to make only these few remarks because I think there is a message somewhere for the Australian people. As I see it, the message is that people must pull up their socks and get on with the job. As I said in a Press statement yesterday, it is time Mr Bjelke-Petersen stopped quarrelling with the Australian Government, entered into a spirit of co-operation and stopped using the Islanders and Aboriginal people in this country, in his State particularly, as a political football, which is precisely what he is doing.
The accusations against the Australian Government are quite untrue. Mr BjelkePetersen ought to be made to verify them in court. Of course he will get away with the accusations which he has made because they were pan of a political statement. I come back to our friend, Mr Fraser. He is guilty of the same political immorality by indulging in filibustering and blustering instead of saying what he intends to do and letting the Government of this country get on with the job. I know there is a moral somewhere. I think it is a very pertinent one. I think it is that we ought to be Australians first and we ought to be looking after the organisation of this country, not contributing to a lot of violence outside. A lot of churches are not doing the right thing in this area either. I will not nominate them. Those who are guilty will know. On great social issues some churches are looking for political kudos instead of backing the Australian people. In my opinion, it is time we did the job the Australian people elected us to this Parliament to do, whether in government or in opposition. At the moment the Opposition is under fire. It ought to be under severe criticism. It ought to be pulling up its socks first.
– In the June issue of the magazine Quadrant an article concerning the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Malcolm Fraser), written by John Singleton, was published. Among other things the article contained this revelation:
The Labor gang have decided that the only way to nationalise industry is to debauch the currency. It is a nice little theory that has been expounded by a couple of well known socialists in the past, among them Lenin and Marx.
A female citizen who lives in Perth wrote subsequently to Mr Singleton expressing her interest. She stated that she wished to study the matter carefully and asked him whether he could identify for her the relevant passage from Marx and cite the source. Some weeks later she received a reply from which I will quote in a moment. The reply came on the stationery of the Workers Party and was signed by one R. A. Howard, Governing Director of the Workers Party. It stated:
John Singleton passed your letter of August 1 1 , 1 975 on to me for reply, because it was I who gave him the statement by Marx.
I’m afraid I cannot help you with the information as to precisely where Marx made the statement. I ‘m not familiar enough with his works to know. I heard of the quote from Mark Tier, who in turn heard of it from Miss Sudah Shenoy. Miss Shenoy is an academic economist who was at the University of Newcastle last year. However she is now at Cranfield School of Management in Cranfield England, so she is a bit difficult to contact. If you are interested enough to do so, I am sure that if you wrote to Miss Shenoy she would be able to help you. Her address is: Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield Bedford, England. (There is a chance that the statement might have been made originally by Lenin rather than Marx.)
I am a little confused whether Lenin picked up that statement from Karl Marx, who predeceased him by several decades, or whether Mr Howard was meaning to imply that Lenin had picked up the statement from Groucho or Harpo.
– No, it was Chico.
– I am informed by Senator Coleman that it was Chico. This sort of paranoiac prattling by right wing fanatics is of itself not very important or very dangerous. Probably far more important and potentially dangerous are the intimate links between the Liberal Party of New South Wales and Workers Party cranks such as John Singleton and the degree to which Workers Party propaganda has infected the minds of senior Liberal Party spokesmen.
Before becoming probably the best known advocate for the newly formed Workers Party, John Singleton was advertising director for the Liberal Party of New South Wales for the 1973 State and 1974 Federal election campaigns. The baseless allegation about this Marxian conspiracy to destroy society by inflating the currency has on at least one occasion been mindlessly repeated by the present Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and shadow Treasurer. On 15 January 1975 Mr Lynch issued a Press release reminding us of- I quote from the release- ‘Marx’s comment that the most effective way to destroy established society is to grind it between the twin millstones of inflation and taxation’. Whether Mr Lynch repeats this claptrap knowing it to be false, or whether he is a particularly gullible victim of far right wing propaganda I do not know. Perhaps he will enlighten us.
In conclusion, if, as Mr Howard states, the counterfeit Marxist quotation was peddled by Miss Sudah Shenoy, one of Newcastle University’s academic economists, one should express perhaps some sympathy for the unfortunate economic students who were her victims at that institution and some alarm about the quality of the economic tutorage that they may have received from her.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.32 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
Is the area of general aviation involved with the spreading of superphosphate facing almost total collapse due to:
the lack of superphosphate following the Government’s removal of the bounty, and
the very high air navigation charges, and hangar rentals which have recently been increased?
– The Minister for Transport has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The fortunes of the aerial agricultural industry are, of course, dependent on those of the rural industry, and with the present downturn in certain sectors of the latter industry, particularly in beef production, the economic viability of many aerial agricultural operators is being seriously eroded.
There are many service industries and other forms of business enterprise that rely to varying degrees on the rural industries for their livelihood. All are likely to suffer reduced profitability or worse in times when prosperity in the agricultural sector is at a low ebb.
The Government would be most concerned if the availability of services and essential inputs to rural industry were permanently affected by a downturn in the agricultural sector. As you will know, there is a significant element of unpredictability in the fortunes of rural industry but the present downturn appears to be largely attributable to short term influences.
There have been many initiatives taken by the Government to assist rural industries. They include grants for rural reconstruction, the support which has been given to the wool market and the recently approved assistance to the beef industry. In addition, the Government has referred to the Industries Assistance Commission questions relating to assistance to users of phosphatic and nitrogenous fertilisers, assistance which might be justified to reduce fluctuations in the incomes of rural producers and other issues of both a general and specific nature. It would be inappropriate in my view for the Government to attempt to bring m any further assistance measures before the Industries Assistance Commission reports on these matters are considered.
As to the suggestion that the present level of air navigation charges and hangar rentals is a major factor contributing to the depressed state of the aerial agricultural industry, I would simply point out that air navigation charges would, in most cases, represent only about 4 per cent of the total operating costs of aerial agricultural aircraft- hardly the tremendous burden in the industry as claimed by the honourable senator. Similarly, the present level of rentals, which I might add have been reviewed for the first time in 1 1 years, are not a heavy burden on the industry. In fact, of the 268 agricultural aircraft currently on the Australian Register, only 34, or 13 per cent, are hangared at Government aerodromes.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
Is the Minister aware that many general aviation operators involved in the spreading of superphosphate are likely to cease operations. If so, will there be any surviving aviation industry to spread fertilizers when farmers again start buying superphosphate?
– The Minister for Transport has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I would refer the honourable senator to the answer I gave to Question 474, as I believe that it clearly states the Government ‘s attitude on this matter.
Aborigines at Wilcannia (Question No. 599)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
Bakandji Ltd with grant funds provided by the Australian Government.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
Director (Information and Public Relations), at $17,676-1 in A.C.T.
Journalist Grade Al, $14,015-15,397-2 in A.C.T., 1 in S.A.
Journalist Grade B, $10,647-11169-2 in A.C.T., 1 in N.T.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Tourism and Recreation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Tourism and Recreation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
A list of grants approved for national associations in 1974-75 for sportsmen and sportswomen, to compete in events overseas is included in my Departments 1974-75 annual Review of Activities.
Health Insurance in Canada (Question No. 794)
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Did the Minister admit in the Senate on 4 September 1975 that he knew little of financial problems facing the Canadian Health Insurance Scheme; if so, will he undertake to acquaint himself with the present and projected state of health insurance finances in Canada and make the information known to the Senate.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
In replying to a question from Senator Marriott on 4 September 1975 I advised that I was not aware of the particular problems that were being experienced in relation to the financing of the Canadian Health Insurance arrangements but that inflation was an obvious factor that would be affecting the price of health services. I undertook to obtain information on the current position in Canada and I have asked my Department to do so. I shall advise the Senate of the results of the inquiries.
Department of the Media (Question No. 797)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Media, upon notice:
How does the Government justify the retention of a Media propaganda machine of 800 people at a cost of over $60m, when the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization is being forced, because of lack of funds, to reduce its numbers of scientists by 300, despite the fact that many of the research programs deal with matters of the nation’s health.
– The Minister for the Media has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The question is unanswerable in its present form, based as it is on the false premise that the Government employs a Media propaganda machine ‘of the size and cost alleged.
So far as my Department, and the statutory bodies for which I am responsible are concerned, various information activities are carried out which provide the Australian people with basic facts concerning their rights and responsibilities. These functions have been documented on a number of occasions in answer to a number of questions with and without notice.
I can only presume that the honourable senator’s question is based on fictitious Press reports about the role of the Australian Information Service. For his benefit, I again outline the true facts about AIS:
It has a budget of $6.3m and employs a total of 213 people, of whom 1 12 are journalists. Of these, 36 are serving overseas as information officers.
The major part of the work of the remaining 76 involves the preparation of material- for Press, radio and television- to service overseas officers and missions.
So far as information concerning the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization is concerned, I suggest an approach be made to the Minister for Science who exercises responsibility for this statutory body.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, upon notice:
– The Minister for Environment has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Women and Politics Conference
-On 27 August 1975 (Hansard page 274) Senator Keeffe asked me, as Minister representing the Prime Minister, a question without notice concerning Aboriginal women and the recent Women and Politics Conference in Canberra. The Prime Minister has now supplied the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question.
Information concerning the Women and Politics Conference was sent through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to Aboriginal women’s groups and to those Aboriginal organisations in country areas which were considered to have a particular interest in the Conference. In many cases the organisations were also contacted personally by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to encourage the participation of Aboriginal women. Additional efforts were made by the International Women’s Year Secretariat to encourage such participation. Aboriginal and Island women from throughout Australia, including Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland, attended the Women and Politics Conference in Canberra. All received financial assistance, including those who arrived at the Conference without prior registration. Moreover, in cases of hardship, Aboriginal women were not required to make any financial contribution themselves. It is not known whether any of these Aboriginal women had attended the seminar in Townsville.
Golf Team for South Africa
-On 27 August 1975, Senator Jessop asked me the following question without notice:
Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the Australian Golf Union Council recently voted unanimously to send a team to South Africa in November, in company, of course, with teams from many other countriesbut decided not to proceed because of opposition from the Australian Government? Does the Minister know that there are representatives of the black population on the South African Olympic Games Council and that in golf tournaments in South Africa the number of black people who play is higher than the number of black people who play in goff tournaments in the United States of America? In view of the South African Government’s policy which is encouraging integration in sport, and of the obvious desire of Australian golfers to send a team to play in that country, will the Australian Government give its approval for the visit?
The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In April a letter was addressed to the Foreign Minister by the President of the Australian Golf Union, informing him that the Union was most anxious to accept an invitation from the South African Golf Union to send a team of six amateur golfers to represent Australia in a tournament named The Commonwealth Trophy scheduled to be held in South Africa next November. The letter sought advice as to whether, should the Australian Golf Union accept the invitation, the Australian Government would in any way impose restrictions.
In reply, the Australian Golf Union was informed by the Foreign Minister that, in keeping with its strong opposition to the apartheid system, the Australian Government will not permit South African sporting teams and organisations, which are organised on the principles of apartheid, to enter or transit Australia and that, conversely, although Australian citizens are free to play sport wherever they choose, visits by sporting teams to South Africa are officially discouraged. It was pointed out that the Government considers that Australian participation in events in South Africa only serves to lend respectability to the continuance of racial discrimination in South Africa.
In July the Secretary of the Australian Golf Union wrote to the Foreign Minister seeking a review of the Government’s attitude. In his reply to this letter, the Foreign Minister pointed out that it was still clear that the organisation of golf in South Africa conformed to the principles of apartheid except in regard to the selection of international teams. He added that, should the Australian Golf Union decide to send a team to South Africa, the Government would publicly deplore and dissociate itself from any such tour.
It will be clear to the honourable senator that the Government has not given and could not, in present circumstances, give its approval for the proposed tour. I am glad to note that, according to press reports, the Australian Golf Union has decided not to send a team to South Africa.
I should like to add that the honourable senator’s view that the South African Government’s policy is encouraging integration in sport is not in accord with the facts. The South African Government has a firm and clear policy of separate development which applies in sport as well as other areas. Thus I am informed that the South African Golf Union is an all-white organisation, and that there is also a non-racial South African Golf Association which is mainly composed of coloured and Indian members, and a South African Bantu Golf Union for black people. Clearly this does not constitute integration in any sense that people in this country would understand.
The Australian Government is firmly opposed to racial discrimination in any form. Its present policy on sporting contacts with South Africa is based on this principle. The Government believes that any other approach could be taken as implicit approval or encouragement of the South African Government s policy of racial discrimination.
Minerals and Energy Policy
– On 4 September Senator Scott asked me, without notice, as Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy whether the Government was concerned about criticism levelled at Australia’s minerals and energy policy by a leading Japanese industrialist; whether it was apparent that policies of the Minister for Minerals and Energy had cast grave doubts on Australia’s ability to develop the mineral resources needed by its trading partners and whether the Government would heed the advice that Australia could go a long way towards easing its own and the world ‘s recession by encouraging rather than stifling the development of mineral resources.
The Minister for Minerals and Energy has advised me that he assumes the honourable senator’s question refers to criticisms reported on 4 September to have been made by Mr Tanabe, Senior Managing Director of Nippon Steel, at the Australia/Japan Business Co-operation Committee meeting in Perth on the previous day. He can assure the honourable senator that the report was without foundation.
Following Mr Tanabe ‘s reported statements, he met with Mr Saito, Executive Vice President of Nippon Steel, and Mr Tanabe in Canberra on 9 September to discuss Japan’s future requirements of Australian coal and iron ore.
The discussions were friendly and productive. He was assured that Japan was not critical of Australia’s mineral policies, the main concern was to establish that Japan’s needs could be met. He was able to assure Mr Saito and Mr Tanabe in this respect.
Officers of the Department of Minerals and Energy are to have further discussions in October with representatives of the Japanese steel mills and power companies to exchange more detailed information on the quantities and qualities of coal required, and those areas in Australia from which this can be supplied. The Minister has assured the Japanese that where new projects need to be developed to meet Japan’s requirements, the Australian Government will co-operate.
Palestine Liberation Organisation
– On 3 September 1975, Senator Wright asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs the following question, putting it in the context of Australia’s support for the admission of the PLO to UNESCO and the ILO:
Will the Minister make a special announcement that this Government will direct attention to the disintegration of the United Nations and instead of adopting an attitude favouring the admission of terrorist organisations to that body, so promoting it as a forum for guerilla warfare, restore it to the function and proper province of peace?
The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I do not share the view that the United Nations is disintegrating or that it is playing no part in the search for world peace. Its present role in the Middle East dispute is obviously an important contribution in this respect. The honourable senator will be aware that on 22 November 1974 the 29th U.N. General Assembly adopted Resolution 3237 by a vote of 95 to 17 with 19 countries (including Australia) abstaining; and that this Resolution gave the PLO the right to participate as an observer in the sessions and work of the General Assembly, all conferences convened under its auspices and all international conferences convened under the auspices of the United Nations. Although Australia abstained, we now have to take account of the decision embodied in this resolution, which was adopted by a large majority of the General Assembly.
Accordingly, Australia has supported the participation of the PLO as an observer (not as a member) at a number of subsequent United Nations conferences, including the 60th Session of the International Labour Conference in June and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Session held in Geneva in April-May. At the 97th Session of the UNESCO Executive Board held in May 1975, Australia voted in support of draft resolutions which invited the PLO as well as a number of African Liberation Movements to attend meetings concerned with various UNESCO programs as observers. The PLO was invited in an observer capacity, consistent with Resolution 3237 (XXIX). More recently, participation by the PLO in an observer capacity at the 59th Session of the Economic and Social Council which opened at the end of July was accepted by consensus of all the members of the Council.
Australia’s acceptance of observer status for the PLO at the United Nations and Specialised Agencies does not imply endorsement of its tactics. Australia acknowledges the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, but our support for the right of Israel to exist within secure and recognised boundaries has also been repeatedly reaffirmed by the Australian Government.
The admission of the PLO as an observer at United Nations meetings has not, in the view of the Australian Government, done anything which might transform the United Nations into a forum for guerilla warfare.
– On 2 September, Senator Carrick asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs the following question without notice:
I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs what requests, if any, whether for manpower, medical supplies or other assistance, has the Portuguese envoy, Dr Santos, made to the Commonwealth Government with respect to the current crisis in East Timor? Secondly, what offers of assistance, if any, has the Commonwealth Government made to the Portuguese Government on this matter?
Senator Carrick also asked whether the Government had made any approach to the United Nations.
The answer to the honourable, senator’s question is as follows:
On 23 August the Portuguese Government requested Australian and Indonesian assistance in the humanitarian effort directed toward Portuguese Timor. Responding to this request, the Australian Government assisted in the extensive air and sea evacuation operations from Portuguese Timor and has made available the services of an RAAF aircraft to ICRC representatives who have visited Portuguese Timor several times since 2 September. An amount of $100,000 is to be given to the International Committee of the Red Cross to assist the victims of the fighting.
The Government provided an RAAF aircraft to carry Dr Santos and his party from Sydney to Darwin, between Darwin and Atauro Island and from Darwin to Jakarta, and it has also made available communications facilities to enable the Portuguese administration on Atauro Island to keep in touch with Darwin and Macao. No further requests for assistance were conveyed by Dr Santos.
The Portuguese response to Indonesion offers of assistance has not been very forthcoming. Only very limited use has been made of Indonesian ships made available for evacuation purposes. The Indonesian Government has, however, assisted with the reception of some thousands of persons who have crossed into Indonesian Timor since the fighting between UDT and Fretilin began.
The Australian Government is closely bound to the proposition that the United Nations has an important role to play in difficult international situations. It accordingly welcomed the discussions which Dr Santos had with the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations and with members of the Bureau of the Committee of Twenty-Four on the question of Portuguese Timor when Dr Santos visited New York between 2 1 and 2 S August.
Between 23 and 27 August four communications from the Portuguese Government were submitted for circulation as United Nations documents: On 23 August the Portuguese Foreign Minister alerted the Secretary-General to the gravity of the situation and referred to the Portuguese appeal to Australia and Indonesia for ‘support and assistance in the humanitarian tasks’; on 25 August the Foreign Minister referred especially to a message from the Governor of Portuguese Timor asking for ‘immediate intervention of international forces’ to assist with evacuation operations; on 25 August the Portuguese Charge d ‘Affaires in New York advised the Secretary-General that the Portuguese Government had appealed to the governments of Indonesia and Australia to adopt ‘measures permitting the resumption of humanitarian operations to evacuate refugees’; and on 27 August the Charge d ‘Affaires advised the Secretary-General that the Portuguese authorities had been obliged to withdraw military doctors from Dili because Fretilin had ‘refused to consider the hospital a neutral zone ‘.
As of this moment, the Portuguese Government, which is the Government recognised internationally as having formal responsibility for Portuguese Timor, has not put forward any formal proposal for United Nations mediation in Portuguese Timor. It goes without saying that, if a practical proposal emerged for United Nations participation in a solution of the problem of Portuguese Timor, Australia would wish to support it.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
What is the landing charge levied for a Boeing 747, a DC10 and a Boeing 707 at Sydney, London (Heathrow), San Francisco, Frankfurt, Rome and Athens Airports.
– The Minister for Transport has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
The ‘landing’ charges for the various types of aircraft and airports are as follows:
It should be noted that the Australian charge relates to landing at an airport and to the use of en route facilities. As illustrated by the schedule, many overseas charges are not calculated on the same basis as Australian charges. These overseas additional charges are so diverse that comparison with Australian charges is most complicated and possibly not very meaningful.
The amounts used to calculate overseas charges are based on a sixty five per cent passenger load factor. The Australian charges do not alter with load factor variations.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 October 1975, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1975/19751007_senate_29_s66/>.