29th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Justin O’Byrne) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 1 1 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:
1 ) That Parliament should pass the Bill currently before it to establish an Australian Government Insurance Corporation.
That an Australian Government Insurance Corporation will benefit all Australian women and men by offering equal opportunity for employment and insurance cover.
That there is a need to establish in Australia National Interest Insurance so that cover is available against natural disasters.
That the Australian Government Insurance Corporation will fairly compete with the general and life insurance companies thereby benefiting the industry and the policy holders.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House will pass the Bill.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petitions, identical in wording, from 1, 18, 8, 21, 19, 16, 4, 22 and 25 citizens of Australia respectively:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That whereas the natural environment of Fraser Island is so outstanding that it should be identified as part of the World Natural Heritage, and whereas the Island should be conserved for the enjoyment of this and future generations.
Your petitioners humbly pray that the members, in Parliament assembled, will take the most urgent steps to ensure:
that the Australian Government uses its constitutional powers to prohibit the export of any mineral sands from Fraser Island, and
that the Australian Government uses its constitutional authority to assist the Queensland Government and any other properly constituted body to develop and conserve the recreational, educational and scientific potentials of the natural environment of Fraser Island for the long term benefit of the people of Australia.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– I present the following petition from 17 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. We the undersigned citizens of Australia by this our humble petition respectfully showeth:
We respectfully call on the Senate to pass the Australian Government Insurance Bill for many reasons, these being constant attempts by various means, of private insurance companies not to honour or to try to escape their contracted responsibilities. Not the least of failures of private insurance companies is the constant tragic lack of performance by such companies during natural disasters such as the Brisbane floods, the Darwin cyclone etc., this later alone establishes an urgent need for an Australian Government Insurance Corporation
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Labor and Immigration, who no doubt will recall participating in a debate on the Government’s overseas loan transactions in this place on 12 June 1975. The Minister no doubt will also recall his words which are recorded at page 2609 of Hansard of that date, but in case he has forgotten them they were:
I may add, by the way, that the Government had made its own inquiries about Mr Khemlani. The suggestion that there is something murky about it, to use Senator Greenwood’s paranoid term, just will not stand up. Mr Khemlani is a reputable member of the firm of Dalamal and Sons, an old Pakistani firm centred in London. We made our inquiries through Morgan Guaranty, among others, and we got nothing but good reports about Mr Khemlani.
Further in the same paragraph, he said:
We suggest that to say there is anything sinister about that just would not stand up.
In view of the remarks made yesterday by his colleague, Mr Connor, is the Minister still of that opinion?
– Unlike the Leader of the Opposition, I prefer to reach my conclusions on evidence rather than on unsubstantiated reports in newspapers. I will make a judgment about the truth or falsehood of the statements attributed to Mr Khemlani when some such evidence is forthcoming.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, refers to reports that Indonesian forces have been involved in an attack on the town of
Batugade in Portuguese Timor. Can the Minister inform the Senate of any details he might have concerning these reports and also state the Government’s attitude towards the use of armed force by parties involved in the present situation in that country? Will the Minister restate Australia’s belief in the principle of self determination for the indigenous people of Portuguese Timor?
-The Government is aware that tension in the border areas is high and regrets the deterioration of the situation there. The Indonesian Government has denied yesterday’s reports alleging involvement by its forces in action in East Timor. It is possible that they refer to the recapture by UDT forces of Batugade a day or two ago. The town, which is very close to the Indonesian border, has been fought over by Fretilin and UDT several times over the past few weeks. There has therefore been a good deal of military action around it. The reports of Indonesian involvement, of course, come from Fretilin sources.
The Australian Government is unable to confirm or deny reports that any Indonesian forces might have been engaged in the fighting. Nor is the Government able to comment on Press reports that UDT and Apodeti forces in the border areas have been provided with arms and other supplies. What the Government can confirm is that Indonesia has a large scale refugee problem on her hands, with some 40 000 people having fled across the border into Indonesia. These figures have been confirmed by the International Committee of the Red Cross which also reports that a high proportion of the refugees are women and children.
These developments bear out the Government’s long and firmly held view that the best means of resolving the problems posed by the decolonisation of Timor is by talks between the political parties in the colony. I would urge all parties to put behind them the acrimony that has developed over the past few months and to join the Government of Portugal in talks aimed at reaching a solution that would permit the restoration of peace and order and a revival of the process of peaceful decolonisation. The Government has stated previously, and I repeat, that this process should go forward free of external interference.
– My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, refers to the publicity being given to the Khemlani affair. I ask the Minister: As it has been suggested by Mr Connor that he cancelled all contractual arrangements with Mr Khemlani on some particular date and as Mr Khemlani is reported to have said that those contractual arrangements have not been cancelled, so that the truth of this matter can be ascertained will the Minister table in the Senate the telex message, the letter or the memo of the telephone conversation in which all arrangements with Mr Khemlani were cancelled?
-Mr Connor yesterday issued a Press statement indicating that his authority to borrow loans had been revoked by a decision of the Government. I believe that Mr Connor has acted upon those instructions. I remind the honourable senator that the conjecture about what may have transpired in relation to telexes is based, as has been pointed out already by my colleague Senator James McClelland in relation to another matter, on newspaper comments. I am quite sure that Mr Connor, who issued that statement yesterday, has given a factual account of what he has done since he was given that instruction by the Government. The tabling of papers relating to any further communications which may have transpired is entirely a matter for Mr Connor, and I shall refer the question to him.
-Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question. The Minister will realise that he did not answer the question and perhaps that points up the fact that the Government does not wish to disclose the facts. I asked a very simple question seeking information which should be available to the Australian people. Will the Minister table the contractual documents? The Minister must recognise that the overseas contact does not necessarily take notice of debate in this place or in another place. The contract can be negated only by some official document. I ask the Minister to make clear to the Australian people who is the truthful party in this matter- Mr Khemlani, the man who the Government says is a truthful and honest man, or, as the Australian public would wish to have noted, the Minister for Minerals and Energy? I ask the Minister to make the position clear by tabling the official document by which the contractual arrangements with Mr Khemlani were negated.
– I have nothing more to add, really, other than that it is a matter of judgment as to how a Minister answers a question. I believe I answered the question. I have nothing further to add. I will refer the matter to the Minister concerned.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. It relates to the quarterly billing of telephone accounts, a system which is already operating in Sydney and Melbourne. Can the Postmaster-General inform the Senate when it is expected that the service will be extended to other States? What benefits does the system offer to subscribers?
-The quarterly billing of telephone subscribers was introduced on a limited basis in Sydney and Melbourne from 1 July. The bills will be issued quarterly to telephone subscribers whose telephones have been connected from that date. On present planning, a similar service will be provided in other capital cities and some larger provincial centres in the next 3 years. In South Australia it will be provided towards the middle or the end of 1976. Subscribers in Sydney and Melbourne under this system will receive their first accounts in November. As yet we are not in a position to say how customers will react to the system. However, it is expected that quarterly billing will ease the financial burden on subscribers, who will be better able to control and monitor the use of their services.
-Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate give the Senate a categorical assurance, either now or later, that no commission is due or payable or likely to be due or payable to Mr Khemlani who has been involved in overseas loan raising negotiations?
– The Prime Minister has given that assurance.
– I want it from the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
-During the course of the lengthy debates and the questions and answers on this whole issue during the past few months it has been re-stated many times that no such authority to pay commissions or for the Australian Government to pay commissions was ever given. I think the witness who was brought before the Senate, Mr Karidis, made that point very clearly. This assurance has been re-stated on many occasions and the Opposition has been challenged on many occasions to produce evidence to the contrary. The Opposition has never been able to produce it because it does not exist.
– Can the Minister for Foreign Affairs inform the Senate of the details of the agreement ratified between Yugoslavia and Italy on the future of zones A and B of Trieste? In particular, under what sovereignty will the city of Gorizia operate?
-The question of the sovereignty over territory around the port of Trieste has been a cause of dispute between Italy and Yugoslavia, as most people know, for more than 30 years. The 1947 Peace Treaty provided for a free territory of Trieste and denned the border between Yugoslavia and Italy. Neither side ever accepted this arrangement. Until 1954 the sector to the west of Trieste remained under provisional Anglo-American administration, while the sector in the east was under Yugoslav military administration. The London Memorandum of 1954 provided for the zone under Anglo-American administration to pass to Italian civil administration, and the Yugoslav zone to Yugoslav civil administration. This situation existed until the present time, with continual wrangles between Italy and Yugoslavia over the demarcation line.
In statements to the Italian Senate and Chamber of Deputies on 1 October of this year Prime Minister Moro and Foreign Minister Rumor confirmed that agreement had been reached with Yugoslavia on the Trieste question. The Italian Foreign Minister has stated that the agreements would define the border, regularise the juridical status of citizens in the area, protect the rights of families who wished to move from one area to another, guarantee the rights of ethnic minorities in the border areas, assure Trieste of possibilities for development and encourage co-operation in a wide range of sectors between Yugoslavia and Italy. The Yugoslav Foreign Minister, Mr Milos Minich, presented the agreements to the Yugoslav Parliament on 1 October, and the Parliament has accepted them. The Italian Parliament is expected to accept the agreements shortly. The agreement will formalise provisions of the London Agreement which have been in force since 1954. Italy will therefore have sovereignty over Zone A west of the port and Yugoslavia over Zone B east of the port. The maritime border in the Gulf of Trieste will be redrawn so that Italy has adequate channels for passage of large ships and is guaranteed passage through Italian territorial waters, thus terminating the present necessity of crossing exclusively Yugoslav territorial waters. The agreement confirms the Italian status of Trieste and the town of Gorizia. The Australian Government welcomes the agreements on Trieste. They will remove a possible source of irritation between 2 states with which Australia has friendly relations.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to an interview on the Australian Broadcasting Commission radio program AM this morning in which Mr Gaskill, an Australian financier in London, was questioned on the overseas loans affair. I refer also to Mr Gaskill’s statement that he had been recently in contact with Commonwealth Treasury officials and had been informed by the Treasury that the Commonwealth Government is currently interested in raising substantial overseas loans on appropriate terms. Since the Treasurer, in reply to a recent question by Senator Cotton on the Loan Bill, stated that the Government would not raise overseas loans of any dimensions this year, I ask: Will the Minister reaffirm without qualification the answer by the Commonwealth Treasurer which the Minister tabled in the Senate? Will he confirm that neither the Treasury nor any Minister has any authority to indicate the current interest of the Government in any substantial overseas loan borrowings?
– As Senator Carrick well knows, the Australian Government requires loan moneys to be raised at various times for various purposes. There is a deliberate attempt to confuse the normal loan raising functions of the Australian Government with the matters which have been the subject of debate in this chamber and which are commonly known as the ‘Loans affair’. The question arises from the alleged involvement in or encouragement of efforts to raise money overseas in $1 billion units, which was referred to by either Senator Carrick or Senator Cotton in this chamber last week. This is a total confusion and, I think, a deliberate attempt to confuse. The fact is that the Government is entitled to seek loan moneys on the overseas market in the normal way, and the Treasurer has made it quite clear that any further raisings of loan moneys overseas will be done only with his authority. They will be done, I would think, in the normal manner. That is a statement which I am sure the Treasurer would stand by. It will be the procedure. The Australian Government is entitled to seek moneys on the overseas loan market, and it is not a proper course at all that the issue should be clouded by newspaper reports, which cannot be substantiated, about very large sums involving $ 1 billion units.
– I ask a supplementary question. I repeat my previous question: Does the Minister representing the Treasurer reaffirm the answer given by the Treasurer and conveyed by the Minister to this Senate, that there will be no substantial overseas loans raised this year and that the amount of money that will be raised will be very small? Does the Minister reaffirm that answer which was given by him in the Senate?
– The answer is yes. From memory, the question to which Senator Carrick refers was question No. 1 or No. 2 in the second series of answers which were given. Reference was made to the possible raising of $50m for the Australian Industry Development Corporation. That is the answer to which the honourable senator is referring, is it?
-I think that it is. I do not have the set of documents with me, but I am pretty sure that it was the first or second answer given on a previous occasion. The question referred to the possible raising of overseas loans for the purpose of deficit funding. In that answer there was reference to the possibility of the raising of a $50m loan for AIDC purposes. On behalf of the Treasurer, I certainly reaffirm the answer that was given to that question.
– I address my question to the Minister for Social Security and Minister for Repatriation and Compensation. Has the Minister seen articles in the Daily Telegraph and the Australian reporting his reply to a question which he answered yesterday relating to unemployment benefits? I am interested to know whether the Minister considers these reports to be accurate versions of his answer.
-No, I do not consider them anything like accurate reports of the answer. Senator Jessop asked yesterday whether investigations had been undertaken by the Department of Social Security into recipients of unemployment benefits and whether it had been found as a result of these inquiries that some 30 per cent of those into whom the inquiries were made were not eligible for these benefits. The answer which I gave was yes, this was so, but I pointed out during the course of my answer, as Hansard will reveal, that the inquiries were made in selected areas where it was anticipated that a fairly high number of people who were not entitled to the benefits were receiving them; that in no way did this represent a national average and that in fact a number of the people were not dole cheats but were people who had not had their names removed from the list of recipients of unemployment benefits either because they had changed their addresses or they had obtained employment but had not, through inadvertence or otherwise, notified the Department of Social Security.
The Australian, with considerable hyperbole, under the heading ‘Government admits to giant fraud by dole cheats’ stated:
The Federal Government has resolved to crack down on dole cheats to end a multi-million dollar fraud.
No such statement was made by me, nor could any such conclusion be drawn from anything that I have said. The Daily Telegraph said that on the basis of 30 per cent of those people about whom inquiries were made being ineligible, some 100 000 of nearly 300 000 people receiving benefits would be cheating the system. As it happens there are not 300 000 people receiving unemployment benefits. Those are the unemployment statistics of the Department of Labor and Immigration. The number receiving unemployment benefits is less than 200 000. So in any event the figures were wrong.
On top of that it was not suggested, as I made quite clear in my answer, that 30 per cent of total recipients of unemployment benefits were dole cheats. The Daily Telegraph, with some remarkable arithmetic, said that the Government is resolved to crack down on dole cheats to end the scandal costing the country $7.8m a week. No such proposition was put forward and no such answer was given by me. I think this is an example of either gross incompetence by the Murdoch Press or a deliberate attempt to mislead the Australian people.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government who represents the Prime Minister in this place. I ask the Leader of the Government whether the Prime Minister, speaking in the House of Representatives on 9 July- that is to say, three or four weeks after Mr Connor claims that he terminated his relationship with Mr Khemlani- said in respect of petro-dollars from the Middle East, not authorised lending:
This Australian Government is interested in obtaining loans from that source. We were last year; and we still are.
Did a Minister of the Crown, to wit Mr Clyde Cameron, speaking on the same day, 9 July, 3 weeks after the alleged cancellation according to Hansard say: 1 can tell this House that I am certain that the money is there and I am certain that before very long the Minister for Minerals and Energy will be vindicated; he will be able to come into this House with the $4 billion in his hand, obtained at the rate of interest I have mentioned. I believe he will still bring it off.
I ask the Minister whether to his knowledge in view of those statements anything was done by the Government to cancel the continuance of negotiations by Mr Connor. I ask whether or not those 2 statements which I have read to the House were made?
-I am not sure to what 2 statements Senator Wright is referring. I assume that he is referring to the statements he has just read from Hansard.
– I presume that they were made if they are in Hansard. It is to be expected. The question involves very similar subject matter to that in the question asked by Senator Carrick. I am not concerned about whether or not Mr Cameron has made some comments to that effect. What I am concerned about are statements made by the Treasurer whose responsibility it is to negotiate any loans overseas on behalf of the Australian Government. I am not conversant with any detailed instructions which may have been issued cancelling any authority that Mr Connor may have had. Nor am I conversant with the actual documents. That is why I indicated earlier that I will need to refer the matter to Mr Connor and possibly to Mr Hayden, which I shall do.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Agriculture. It concerns loans to beef producers under the $40m combined AustralianState governments scheme and the $20m allocated through the Commonwealth Development Bank. Can the Minister say how much has actually been lent from each of these funds?
– Of the original appropriation of $20m to be lent through the Commonwealth Development Bank to beef producers, $15m has been allocated. Of course those loans have been made at normal commercial rates of interest. In the case of the joint arrangement between the Australian Government and the State governments- I refer to the 4 per cent loan money- of the total of $40m an amount of $15m has been allocated although not all that $15m has been paid out. I might just indicate in passing that the very fact that three-quarters of the original $20 m has been taken up by beef producers at normal commercial rates of interest through the Commonwealth Development Bank indicates that a great many of those producers were quite able to pay the commercial rates after an assessment of their viability by the Commonwealth Development Bank.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as Minister representing the Prime Minister. I ask: Why has the Prime Minister given no explanation for the changes recently announced as taking place in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation? Will any explanation be made? Why, for example, was Mr Barbour removed? Why is Mr Enderby unsatisfactory as Attorney-General in charge of phone tapping while Senator Murphy was regarded as satisfactory? Has Mr Enderby ‘s conduct been more blameworthy than Senator Murphy’s? Have the changes any connection with proposals for greater liaison with the security police of Yugoslavia? Will the Prime Minister end his silence and make a statement which puts an end to rumour and speculation?
-Senator Greenwood would know full well that questions relating to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation normally are not answered. However the one concerning ministerial responsibility is one which may be answered. I might add that by implication, Senator Greenwood is denigrating the new Director-General of Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Mr Justice Woodward whom I understood was acceptable to the Opposition as a suitable person for that particular position. It has been the practice all down the years, whether under this Government or other governments, for the Prime Minister to have a special relationship with Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. All Prime Ministers have had this relationship. Why Senator Greenwood should see something sinister in the ministerial responsibility being that directly of the Prime Minister, I am at a loss to understand. Those changes have been made in accordance with the relationship that would normally exist between the Prime Minister and Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. It relates to the flight testing at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne of a jointly developed landing system called InterScan. Could the Minister say whether the current series of tests has been completed and whether there has been any indication yet from the Department of Transport or the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation on the success or otherwise of the tests?
-I am informed that the tests conducted on the system have been very successful so far. The system is a microwave landing system that is aimed at prolonging the life of some airports by permitting greater movement rates without increasing noise pollution or adding any safety hazard. It provides accurate guidance over wide sectors in the approach and take-off regions, permitting curved and segmented flight paths for both landing and take-off. This helps with noise abatement as well as catering for the new type of short take-off and landing aircraft. The equipment is meeting its design specifications, as developed by the 2 bodies mentioned, and the level of accuracy required by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, which originally requested its members to develop such systems. The tests are continuing. In fact, the current series will be completed at the end of the year. I am informed that further tests will go on next year and that they are expected to be completed by the end of 1976. I think that the contributions that have been made by the 2 departments are very praiseworthy.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to reports that at the meeting of the non-aligned movement in Lima at which Australia attended as a guest the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Palestine Liberation Organisation were admitted as members and that the Republic of Korea was refused any status. I ask the Minister: If that report is correct on what basis was a decision made to exclude the Republic of Korea.
-The Republic of Korea was excluded from having any standing at all with the non-aligned countries. I think it is correct to say that the other countries that the honourable senator has mentioned were included. The Philippines was finally received. I cannot tell the honourable senator on what basis countries were included. It was done in that group’s own committee and guests were not taken into it. It was done in a committee set-up; I suppose one might term it a credentials committee or something like that. That is where the Republic of Korea was kept out.
– Has the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation seen the report in today’s Melbourne Age, firstly, that the Premier of Victoria, Mr Hamer, is ‘concerned at recent heavy increases in workers compensation premiums and their effect on business enterprises, municipal councils and many other bodies and individuals’, and, secondly, ‘that the Victorian Government is planning a comprehensive inquiry into all aspects of workers compensation in a bid to ease the burden on small businesses’? Was the Victorian Government at any stage invited to, and did it ever, participate in discussions with the Australian Government over the proposed national compensation scheme? Has the Victorian Government made known to the Australian Government any views it has about that scheme? Will the Minister undertake to write to the Premier of Victoria offering to discuss this issue further? Finally, is it possible that the inquiry into these matters promised by Mr Hamer and endorsed by the Victorian Leader of the National Country Party of Australia would be covering some of the areas of the comprehensive Woodhouse Committee report?
– I have seen the report of Mr Hamer ‘s statement. It is, I suppose, not surprising that we are seeing an increasing number of similar opinions being expressed lately in view of the rapidly increasing burden which is being imposed upon both private and government employers because of the rapidly increasing premium rates for workers compensation insurance. Similarly, if I may add, one sees in conjunction with this an almost equally rapid increase in the premiums for compulsory motor vehicle third party insurance, which is also causing a great deal of concern. There were discussions between myself and the relevant responsible Ministers from all 6 Australian States earlier this year. Mr Rossister from Victoria represented that State at the meeting. There was an amiable and quite free exchange of views on the whole question of national compensation at that meeting. At the time I undertook that we would have further discussions. Of course, the position is in a state of some fluidity at the present time as a result of the Senate Committee’s report and as a result of further deliberations which are taking place in the Government as to what future action we shall take on the question of national compensation.
I believe that this is a matter in which we should be moving co-operatively with the States. I will take up Senator Everett’s suggestion that I write to Mr Hamer about this matter. I would be very happy to have further discussions with him on the question. Certainly, the matters to which Mr Hamer and the Leader of the National Country Party in Victoria have referred are matters which are the subject of the Woodhouse-Meares report, they were dealt with by the National Compensation Bill which is still on the notice paper in the Senate and was considered by the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. I believe that they should be covered by a national scheme because the problems are problems which affect all the States equally. However, I shall write to Mr Hamer. I hope to have further talks with him or his responsible Minister on whatever proposals he wishes to put forward.
-Does the Minister for Agriculture propose to implement the $152m scheme to assist the beef industry in accordance with the plan suggested by the Industries Assistance Commission recently? If so, when is he likely to take some action with respect to that assistance?
-I feel that I have answered the question two or three times in the last couple of weeks. I can only say again that the Industries Assistance Commission reports have to be considered by the Government. There is a proper procedure which has to be observed. The report was presented only this week. As I indicated in answer to a question asked yesterday, it will probably take about 3 weeks before a recommendation is placed before the Cabinet. I cannot add any more than that.
- Mr President, while I am on my feet, may I give the information I was trying to give to Senator Carrick earlier. I now have the document to which I was referring. It sets out the first question asked by Senator Carrick in the Senate on 1 October. The question was as follows:
Will the Minister reaffirm the statement of the Treasurer, as recorded on page 419 of the Senate Hansard of 2 September, that ‘Present plans envisage that only small amounts will be raised overseas in 1 975-76. Small refinancing loans to cover maturing debt are planned together with a borrowing of about $50m for on-lending to the AIDC which is provided for in the Budget’.
The answer is:
Yes. Present plans with regard to overseas borrowing are as stated in the answers to questions provided by the Acting Treasurer. The anticipated overseas borrowing activities of the Government are for small refinancing loans to cover maturing debt and for a borrowing of about $50m for onlending to the AIDC. In addition, there are expected to be small net borrowings on behalf of the Australian National Airlines Commission and Qantas Airways Limited. These were also mentioned in the answers provided on 2 September by the Acting Treasurer- under the section dealing with net drawings under credit arrangements.
– Has the Leader of the Government seen the 10 September issue of the highly reputable Primary Industry Newsletter in which the Deputy Leader of the National Country Party promised that a coalition government would provide a number of very expensive agricultural and other subsidies? Can the Minister say what these promises would cost? Were they accounted for in the shadow Budget and, if not, were Mr Sinclair’s extra alternative budgetary promises an aberration or is it normal for Opposition shadow Ministers to peddle a different set of lies to each vested interest group?
-That is a difficult question to answer because so many very generalised undertakings have been given by the Opposition in these reports over the last few weeks that they would amount to very large sums of money. For example, if one were to total up the commitments for superphosphate, the beef industry and income stabilisation, they would probably amount to some hundreds of millions of dollars. It is quite obvious that it is a contradiction for the Opposition spokesmen on these matters to try to suggest that under those arrangements the deficit would be held at the level at which it is being held by this Government. It is impossible to have it both ways, and I think it is time the Opposition put all these so-called promises together. Let us add them all up- the increased expenditure on defence arrangements and federalism and the implementation of the Mathews Committee report on company tax and personal tax. Let us have them all put together in one coherent picture to see what they would add to the Budget deficit. We would probably see an increase of the order of $2,000m on the present deficit.
– In relation to the latest disclosures on the loans affair, does the Leader of the Government not agree with our colleague, Senator Hall, who said on 16 July that something would have to be done to find out whether the Government is culpable or whether it is blameless? Does the Minister further agree with Senator Hall’s suggestion that the Opposition should adjourn the Senate until 1 January next year and let the people decide in the meantime?
-I should think that Senator Hall would like to hear the last of the Karidis episode because if ever there was an anti-climax it was the calling of Mr Karidis before the Senate. The Government on many occasions has given a complete record in answers to all the questions that were asked. I am quite sure that the new material to which Senator Wood refers remains to be substantiated. We will see whether it can be.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government. In view of the information given to the Senate on 1 October by the Special Minister of State in answer to a question on notice by me in respect of the extra costly retirement privileges and facilities allowed to certain ex-Liberal and Country Party office holders of the Australian Parliament, and as these benefits are over and above those to which ex-members of Parliament are rightly entitled, will the Minister request the Prime Minister to disallow these special privileges, which are unwarranted and a blatant misuse of taxpayers’ money?
– I can only refer that question to the Prime Minister for his consideration.
– I address my question to the Postmaster-General in his capacity as the representative of the Minister for Environment. The South Australian Murray Irrigators Association has expressed its concern at the presence of the smothering aquatic weed, water hyacinth, in the Murray-Darling river system and the threat it presents to the Murray. Is it a fact that there are some 22 000 acres of water hyacinth in the MurrayDarling system which are not under control and that it is possible for a single plant to spread and cover 700 square yards of river surface in 12 months? Has an aerial and ground spray control program costing $50,000 been arranged between the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments? If so, why has the work not yet been carried out? Is it a fact that at present the weed is being held back by a stabilising log raft near Moree but that any major flood could divert the river and infest the Murray for all time? Will urgent consideration be given to having the control program implemented? In view of the urgency of this question, I indicated earlier to the Minister my intention of asking it. I hope he has some information on this matter.
– I have a long prepared answer to Senator Laucke ‘s question. I seek leave to have it incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he is aware that research into the cost of question time over a sessional period in the British House of Commons indicated that the cost for the session so far as the taxpaper is concerned was close to ? Stg500,000? Is the Minister aware that many of the questions placed on the Senate notice paper by members of the Opposition are of a frivolous nature and that in most cases answers can be readily obtained through alternative information sources? Can the Minister inform the Parliament whether there is a likelihood that the Opposition is indulging in a campaign to hamper research officers in various departments in the execution of their normal duties? Can he give an estimate of the cost to the taxpayer of supplying answers to the many frivolous questions asked by the Opposition?
-I think many of the questions asked without notice by the Opposition are frivolous, quite apart from those questions that are asked on notice. It is the accepted procedure in the Parliament that every member has the right to seek information by whatever method he chooses. It may be that alternative methods of finding the information being sought could and should be used, such as the method suggested by the honourable senator. There may be economies in doing it that way. I would think that it is a matter of judgment for all members of the
Parliament- both the Opposition and the Government- to exercise his or her own judgment as to the actual facility of which they make use.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. I refer to an article which appeared in the Daily News on 7 October, a copy of which I sent the Minister yesterday. It relates to the appointment of Mr Grassby. I ask the Minister: What is the present status of Mr Grassby? Does he have a binding 7-year agreement for employment? Will the Racial Discrimination Act be proclaimed this month, as the article suggests, since presumably an appointment under the Act would require the Act to be proclaimed? If the Act is not to be proclaimed this month, how can Mr Grassby be appointed to the position when it does not yet exist?
Grassby was appointed Commissioner-designate under section 2 (3) of the Act. As the honourable senator will be aware, sections 1, 2 and 7 of the Racial Discrimination Act have already come into operation but the rest of the Act has not yet come into force. It is related to another matter which is part of the honourable senator’s question, that is, the date of coming into force in Australia of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. I understand that the Prime Minister intends to make an announcement about this matter on 24 October, United Nations Day, and although at present I enjoy the favour of the Prime Minister I would not like to put that standing at risk by pre-empting his announcement. The honourable senator will not have to wait very long for an answer.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and by way of preface I refer to the fact that in answer to a question this morning a Minister said that the Treasurer is the person responsible for negotiation of overseas loans and that his, the Treasurer’s, opinions are the relevant ones. In view of that and of the statement made yesterday by Dr Cairns, who was Treasurer at the relevant time, that as early as January this year he had informed Cabinet that Mr Khemlani was not a reliable person, will the leader of the Government help us out of our confusion and tell us whether we should believe Dr Cairns or Senator
James McClelland who this morning was reasserting his faith in Mr Khemlani ‘s reliability?
– I am sure of one thing and that is that Senator James McClelland was not reaffirming his faith in Mr Khemlani. As I understood his answer he was simply saying that he would want some evidence to substantiate the newspaper reports on which these questions are based. I indicated in answer to an earlier question and I reaffirm that the Government’s policy is that these are matters for the Treasurer and the Treasurer alone and that he will make recommendations to the Government in respect of overseas loan raising.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate representing the Prime Minister. Will he state that all arrangements with Mr Khemlani for the infamous overseas loan were cancelled quite some time ago and confirm that Mr Connor informed Mr Khemlani of this? Will the Minister also confirm to the Senate and the Parliament generally that the Government has no financial commitments of any type with those associated with the proposed Khemlani deal?
– That question can go on the notice paper.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health: Has his attention been drawn to a letter from a research officer at the Australian National University to a patient who had sought psychiatric advice in the Australian Capital Territory, and to a letter from Dr Peter Hughes of the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly relating to this matter? Does it appear that the name of the patient could have been supplied to the research unit at the Australian National University by the Australian Capital Territory Psychiatric Services? How was the name of the patient made available to the research unit concerned? Since this on face value could indicate gross disregard for the confidentiality of medical records in the Australian Capital Territory and of information about the identity of Australian Capital Territory residents seeking psychiatric advice, will the Minister as a matter of urgency and preferably before the estimates for Australian Capital Territory Health Services are examined tomorrow, obtain clarification of these matters and of procedures existing to protect confidentiality of records and the identity of patients in the Australian Capital Territory?
– I have been given by Senator Baume a copy of the letter written to him by Dr Hughes, a Liberal member of the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly, in which he says:
Enclosed is a copy of a letter sent to a Canberra patient who contacted the Australian Capital Territory Psychiatric Service direct, and attended for consultation. At no stage did she go to the Kippax Health Centre. Soon afterwards she received this letter, which means that the Psychiatric Service people are giving information to Kippax Health Centre regarding names and addresses of patients who have sought psychiatric help, and these are being passed onto the University Social Psychiatric Research Unit . . .
The enclosed copy of the letter addressed to the patient was written by a Mrs Helen McAuley, a research social worker, on the writing paper of the Australian National University. In her letter Mrs McAuley said:
I am writing to seek your help in an area of medical-social research. At the University and some of the Health Centres, we are studying the effect of stress on people ‘s health.
The staff at the Kippax Health Centre are helping me contact new patients, whom I then see for about an hour, either at home or at the Health Centre.
It is clear from that letter that the Kippax Health Centre provided this information to Mrs McAuley at the Australian National University, but I do not think the situation is quite as clear as has been stated by Dr Hughes, because the letter that -
– My question was far more carefully worded.
-Yes, I know, but I am referring to the letter of Dr Hughes which gave rise to this matter. I do not think it is by any means clear that the A.C.T. Psychiatric Services gave the information to the Kippax Health Centre.
– I asked how the information -
– If Senator Baume will restrain himself for a moment I will get to the point which he is asking me. What I am saying is that it is by no means clear from the information that has been provided by Dr Hughes that the A.C.T. Psychiatric Services did provide information to anybody. All that is clear is that the Kippax Health Centre, with which the patient informs us she had no dealings, provided the information to somebody at the Australian National University. I am asked by Senator Baume to find out how that information was made available to the Kippax Health Centre. If it was not provided to the Centre by anybody under the authority of the Minister for Health, then of course I cannot provide that information. It may have come from neighbours or from some private practitioner. I do not know at this stage how the Kippax Health Centre got the information.
All I can do is undertake to find out- I hope to be able to do this by tomorrow- what regard is paid to the confidentiality of information which the A.C.T. Psychiatric Services has, to answer these questions if they are raised tomorrow at the relevant Estimates Committee, to take what steps I can take, and to ask the Minister for Health to take what steps he can take to see that information of this kind is not disclosed. I repeat that on the information that is available now, despite what Dr Hughes has said, there is no solid evidence to indicate that anybody in the A.C.T. Psychiatric Services has provided information to anybody.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, is similar to that asked earlier this morning by Senator Gietzelt. It refers to Press reports that Mr Jose Ramos Horta, Foreign Affairs Secretary of the ruling Revolutionary Front for Independent East Timor- Fretilin- has claimed that there has been an invasion by Indonesian troops. Will the Minister press his Government to act in a more positive way by sending a team of observers to East Timor to assess the true situation in that country for the sake of those innocent people who must be suffering while this turmoil continues?
– I gave some general information on this matter to Senator Gietzelt earlier. Now Senator Bonner asks that we send a specific team to examine what the situation is. I do not think there is any doubt that there are disturbances on the borders, as I have mentioned already. As to sending up a team, I do not quite know whether the honourable senator means it should be a Government team or whether it should include outsiders. As I said in answer to a question asked by Senator Bonner recently on this matter, if we found, as a result of the very close day to day studies that we carry out on Portuguese Timor and also on relations with Indonesia and Portugal, that it was a desirable thing to do we would certainly give it consideration.
– On the lighter side, I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services. Is it known in how many buildings throughout Australia the Government has placed framed coloured photographs of the Prime Minister? On whose order was this action taken? What has been the total cost to date of this exercise in publicity?
-This question deals with a subject which is much nearer to home than those I generally answer. Mr Daly has given me some information which, I see, he gave in answer to another question. He says that contrary to the various reports appearing in the Press, photographs of the Prime Minister were placed in the Australian Parliamentary Offices at the direction of Mr Daly and without reference to the Prime Minister. The cost involved was $347.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Northern Australia satisfied that the Darwin Reconstruction Commission is making a success of the task of rebuilding the cyclone wrecked city? Is there justification for the delay in granting permission for owners to repair homes? Is there good reason for the fact that so few homes have been built in the 9 months since the disaster? How many new homes will be completed before the onset of the wet season next month?
-For three or four hours on Tuesday of last week this matter was traversed before an Estimates Committee. The departmental officers from Darwin gave a full and detailed statement on it. I suggest that the reply to all parts of the question is in the Hansard report of that Estimates Committee meeting last week. On the question of the success of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission, I think everything possible has been done to re-house people as quickly as possible. The Patris has been hired to provide hostel-type accommodation. Information on the number of caravans that have been hired is in the Hansard report. The delay in the construction of new homes is because of the formation of a building standard which will mean that buildings must be cyclone proof and because of the desirability to make more homes available for habitation by reconstructing damaged homes rather than constructing new homes. Contracts for over 1000 homes have been let. They must be completed within 12 months. I believe that the production under those contracts will commence before the end of this year.
-Can the Minister for Labor and Immigration indicate what he meant when he said in a Press release recently that sympathetic and speedy consideration’ would be given to claims by municipal councils who found themselves in difficulties because of the slowing down of the Regional Employment Development scheme which resulted in the cancellation of some projects? Projects of a total value of $568,000 have been cancelled in 6 municipalities in north-western Tasmania recently. All six are small municipalities and have suffered a collective embarrassment of $51,000 from money spent in preparation for work on RED projects. Will the Minister indicate when an answer to this problem is likely?
-What I had in mind in making the announcement to which Senator Bessell referred is that if the sponsors of Regional Employment Development scheme projects which had been approved and which later had to be cancelled because of budgetary considerations could show that they had incurred actual expense on the faith of such approvals, an application for reimbursement of such expense would be sympathetically regarded.
-I have a reply which I promised Senator Greenwood yesterday to a question which he asked on 2 October. He asked about the matter again yesterday. I explained to him that although I had the information from the Department I was seeking clarification on a couple of points. The question related to Australians imprisoned in Yugoslavia. As far as my Department is aware, over the last 2 years- that is, since October 1973- a total of 13 Australian citizens, of whom 10 were dual nationals, have been in Yugoslav prisons. Seven of the 10 dual nationals were charged with offences under articles of the Yugoslav Criminal Code relating to political activities. There are 5 dual nationals currently in prison in Yugoslavia. Four of these are charged with political offences, 2 of them having been in gaol when my Government came to office. To my knowledge, no Australian citizen, whether dual national or not, has been imprisoned in Yugoslavia without charges being laid against him or on charges merely of membership of bodies such as Australian soccer clubs.
In all cases of Australian citizens imprisoned in Yugoslavia, we have sought information about them, and in a number of cases consular access as well. This has been done both by note and by personal representation to the Yugoslav authorities. Honourable senators may be assured that efforts made by Australian representatives have been constant and continuous. The Government is making every effort to protect the interests of Australian citizens who might face charges in Yugoslavia. No Australian government has secured better arrangements or greater protection for its citizens in Yugoslavia in these circumstances than we have.
I would like to reiterate what I said in the Senate in reply to Senator Greenwood’s remarks on 30 September, that we inherited a situation where there was little or nothing the Australian Government could do to protect the interests of dual Australian- Yugoslav nationals arrested and tried in Yugoslavia. As I said, this was because the previous Government had done nothing about the situation. We have made great efforts to improve the situation and we have made progress. Consultations are continuing, and I can assure the Senate that this Government will do all that is possible to protect the interests of the people concerned. Neither those people nor the Government’s efforts on their behalf are likely to be helped by irresponsible and grossly misleading allegations of the sort which have been put about last week concerning Mr Marko Nazor and his wife.
Since coming into the chamber I have been handed a note about Mr Marko Nazor. We have just been advised by the Embassy in Belgrade that TANJUG- the official Yugoslav newsagency has announced that the District Court in Split has issued a bill of indictment against Mr Nazor charging him under article 117, paragraph 2, of the Yugoslavian Criminal Code with the offence of ‘Association Against the People and State’. I am advised that the penalty for this offence is imprisonment and no death sentence is applicable.
-Mr President, yesterday Senator Missen asked me a question without notice relating to recruiting for the defence force. I gave him some information, but I now have additional information from the Minister for Defence. I seek leave to incorporate it in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no dissent, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
In regard to the effect that budget proposals will have on the recruiting levels, the size of the army and the other two services will be retained at their present approved levels of 1 6 1 1 5 for the navy, 3 1 500 for the army and 2 1 55 1 for the air force. To maintain these manpower levels, the recruiting requirement during the current financial year to replace normal wastage is in the order of8300 personnel. Recruiting against targets is proceeding satisfactorily.
In regard to Senator Missen’s claim that recruiting officers have been advised that there will be a reduction in the establishment of the army, the manpower level of the army is not to be reduced. Army recruiting authorities have been told that the total army strength for 1975-76 is 31 500 and have been given detail targets to maintain that strength.
Senator Missen’s other questions related to a waiting list for people wishing to join the armed forces. This is so. In a situation of parity with authorised manning levels, controls have to be applied to recruiting input to ensure that the authorised ceilings for defence force manpower generally are not exceeded. As normal wastage occurs on a monthly basis throughout the year recruiting inputs are adjusted to meet these outgoings. The current level of inquiries and applications to join the services has resulted in some waiting time being imposed on certain musterings and categories of enlistment. This applies particularly to the navy and the air force. The army is currently controlling the intake of male general enlistments on a monthly target basis.
A policy has been in force for several years of maintaining waiting lists for eligible people for specific musterings and categories for which vacancies are not immediately available.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Excise Tariff Bill 1975.
Railways Agreement (South Australia) Bill 1975.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the monthly report on the Darwin Cyclone Tracy Relief Trust Fund for July 1975. Due to the limited number available reference copies of this report have been placed in the Parliamentary Library.
- Mr President, I seek leave to make a statement concerning the meetings of Estimates Committees.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-Mr President, I inform the Senate that it is proposed that Estimates Committees A, E and F will meet today following the adjournment of the Senate. Tomorrow Estimates Committee D will meet at 9 a.m. in Committee Room No. 1. Committee C in the Senate chamber at 10 a.m. and Committee F in Committee Room No. 3 at 10 a.m. If, after these meetings, any Committee has not concluded its examination of estimates, arrangements will be made to meet Tuesday.
– I advise honourable senators the bells will be rung for 3 minutes prior to the sitting of Estimates Committees. Estimates Committee A will meet in the Senate chamber, Estimates Committee E in Committee Room No. 1, and Estimates Committee F in Committee Room No. 3.
Motion (by Senator Wriedt) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
-I appreciate what the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) said this morning with regard to matters upon which I had earlier directed inquiries to him. I particularly appreciate the fact that he is keeping the Senate informed about what is happening to Mr Marco Nazor. But I am concerned that the information which the Minister gave this morning is information which comes from a newspaper report. I believe it is important that the Australian Government should be far more active on behalf of Australian nationals who are put in prison by totalitarian countries than it has been in the past. I seek from the Minister further information as to whether officials of the Australian Embassy in Yugoslavia have been able to see Mr Nazor. He has been in prison for almost 4 months and I understand that not one member of the Embassy has been able to see him. I would like the Minister to say how many efforts have been made to see him; to whom have the requests been made that Australian Embassy officials do see him; by whom have those requests been denied; and what protests at a ministerial or Prime Ministerial level have been made by the Australian Government in trying to find out what is his condition and what is the response of an Australian citizen to what is being alleged against him. 1 understand from what the Minister says that the only information of the charges which are made against Mr Nazor is contained in the newspaper report. We know this particular provision of the Yugoslav code which makes it a crime for a person apparently to associate with others against the Yugoslav state. We also know that the Yugoslav Embassy in Australia apparently requires a confession from Australians of the associations they have in this country before they are allowed to return to Yugoslavia to see their relatives. Apparently that does not always help because I understand it has not helped Mr Nazor in this case.
I think it should be understood that the type of offences for which so many of these people whom Senator Willesee declares in his statement today to be dual nationals- they are Australian citizens but he calls them dual nationals- are charged are the alleged crimes of membership of organisations in Australia. I believe that it is important for people to appreciate that that is the type of charge which can be made in Yugoslavia and for which persons are imprisoned. I ask the Minister to table in the Senate the text of the representations which have been made on behalf of Mr Nazor so that there can be some assessment as to how earnest this Government’s pleas are on behalf of an Australian citizen. I think it is totally unsatisfactory that Australian citizens should be left to languish and for the Australian Government apparently to wash its hands of people and to say that nothing can be done.
There are things which the Australian Government can do. It can protest. It can create a public outcry. It can condemn publicly. It can in the world scene pinpoint the fact that a government is acting in this ruthless and unreasonable way, denying freedoms and human rights. It can seek to bring to bear all the pressures of the United Nations against a government which acts in this way against the nationals of another country. This Government has not been slow in seeking to have South Africa expelled from the United Nations because of the way in which it regards the South African Government as having behaved towards individuals in its country. Accepting the Government’s statement that it is entitled to that view, why is it not consistent and why is it not at least prepared to be active on behalf of Australian citizens when, as the Minister said this morning, some 13 of them have been imprisoned in Yugoslavia over the last 2 years? I am just wondering how many people in this country would have been aware of the fact that that number of Australian citizens had been imprisoned in a communist country if I had not asked the question?
– How many of them were Australian citizens?
-AU of the persons about whom I have asked have been Australian citizens. Apparently 3 of them were not even dual nationals, but they were imprisoned. I ask the Minister to provide further information about them in due course. I await my reading of the actual text of what he said in Hansard.
I think that the absence of action by this Government contrasts with the action taken by the Canadian Government approximately 2 years ago- about the time when this crackdown by the Yugoslav Government against its Croatian minority first began to bite throughout the world. When a Croatian Canadian was imprisoned in Yugoslavia it was the matter of outcry by the Canadian Press that a citizen had been imprisoned and there was a call to the Government to take action. The Prime Minister of Canada was prepared to come out and publicly condemn or criticise the Government of Yugoslavia and to expect that the rights of Canadian citizens would be upheld.
I understand from what I have been informed that the attitude adopted by the Yugoslav Government to Croatian Canadians visiting Yugoslavia is totally different from the attitude adopted by the Yugoslav Government to Croatian Australians who visit that country. I believe that one of the reasons for the difference in attitude is that the Canadian Government was prepared to stand up to the Yugoslav Government. I believe that the Australian Government is not prepared to stand up to the Yugoslav Government. If it has been prepared to protest and to raise its voice in condemnation then I ask the Minister to table the protests which have been made and the messages which have been sent so that that position can be clarified. If in fact, in the face of strong protests, the Yugoslav Government has not been prepared to act the people throughout the world will be the better informed of the character of that particular Government. I believe that the case which can be then made against the Yugoslav Government on behalf of Australian citizens will be all the stronger.
In this context I think it is not only the Australian Government which ought to be looking to what are its obligations. It is a great pity also that the Australian Press cannot be relied on to be as outspoken on behalf of Australian citizens as apparently the Canadian Press was outspoken on behalf of Canadian citizens when their freedom and their rights were denied to them in another country. One is left with the conclusion that the freedom of the Press is a freedom for the Press itself and not the freedom of other people. It would make a tremendous difference if the Press of this country were concerned about the rights of people that are denied in other countries and were prepared to emblazon that fact in its pages, but one finds that there is virtually no information currently in the Australian Press about Australian citizens who are imprisoned overseas. I am quite sure that the Minister would endorse that aspect because it would certainly help him and the Government if there were some outcry from the Australian Press to protect those people.
What have been the reasons given by the Minister in response to the questions I have raised? I have had from the Minister time and again the allegation that all I am doing is playing politics. I suppose that to the extent that one challenges a government to be outspoken on behalf of its citizens who are imprisoned overseas there is a political challenge and a political attack. If that is the only way in which one can achieve the rights of citizens then I am afraid there has to be that sort of politics played. I believe that so long as a government is tardy in asserting the rights of its citizens it is subject to and ought to be subject to legitimate political challenge.
The second argument which the Minister has given is that to ask questions on these matters is to exacerbate troubles. He says that one should be silent about them. I wish that the Minister would give some further particulars as to how asking questions about Australian citizens imprisoned overseas will exacerbate troubles. The trouble is that these people are imprisoned; that we cannot get them out or have them dealt with on the basis of conduct in that country which constitutes an offence against the laws of the country in which they are imprisoned and not on some alleged association outside the country. It is not an exacerbating of those troubles to pinpoint the fact that Australian citizens are imprisoned. If we were not prepared to raise our voice on these matters, how many other Australian citizens would be imprisoned? What prospects would people have to ensure that their rights would be protected and what sort of a Parliament would this be if, when a voice is sought to be raised on behalf of an individual, we are told to be quiet.
– Who said that?
-That is what the Minister told me. He told me that all I was doing by raising this question was exacerbating troubles. I can recall Senator Georges asking questions in the Parliament over the years in respect of persons who he felt were unreasonably treated. I would have no doubt he believed that it was helping their cause to bring it to the notice of Government because the Government had an obligation to speak up on behalf of individuals.
– He bases his representations on truth; you do not.
– I recall the instances on which he raised the matters. The third point that the Minister made is that it just does not help. It may not help if the Government is subject to political attack. But it certainly helps an individual, his relatives and friends for them to know that someone is raising a voice on their behalf.
Mr Nazor went to Yugoslavia in the early part of this year with his wife and family. I understand that for 3 months not a voice was raised. He has few relatives in this country and very few friends. I have been spoken to by some people who are trying to have something done. I believe that you, Mr President, have received a letter from one identity in the Croatian community, as has the Speaker in the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Malcolm Fraser). I understand that the case for Mr Nazor has been put rationally and reasonably. He is not a person who has had any association with any of the Croatian organisations in this country. If that is incorrect, I ask the Minister to inform me. I understand that his sole connection with Croatia is the fact that he happened to have been born there and that he worshipped in a Croatian church. That is the sole connection he has. He is not a member of the Croatian Soccer Club or any of the other national organisations to which most Croatians belong and to which most of the other ethnic minorities in this country belong. Of course, that is merely an argument as to why possibly in his case more than in another case there could be absolutely no basis to the charges that are being raised against him.
The only point I wish to make in conclusion is this: Mr Nazor is not the only person affected. What has been revealed in the case of Mr Nazor and these other persons, numbered but not named this morning by the Minister, is the tip of an iceberg. I ask the Minister: Why have I not had a reply about a Mr Pavlovic about whom I wrote, not to Senator Willesee, but to the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Senator James McClelland) on 18 July 1974 when he applied for a passport. I have raised the matter in the Senate on 2 occasions, in April and June of this year. I last wrote in respect of this man on 8 July 1975. Perhaps within the last months I wrote, again, to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I have sought an explanation as to why no passport has been granted. Was it only because this man happens to have been born in Croatia? He is an Australian citizen and he is entitled to an explanation. I think it was Senator Bishop who said in June of this year that I could look at the files. I took up that invitation but so far I have had no response to the request. I think it is incumbent upon the Minister, because I understand the matter has been in his Department for the past 3 months, at least to provide me with an answer as to what is his position. What about Mr Popovich another gentleman who was born in Croatia who sought a passport and in respect of whom I wrote to the Minister late in August? I have had an acknowledgement from his private secretary but no further information. What about Mr Vlisic whose case was mentioned in the news within the last fortnight?
What of all the others, whose names I will not mention now because I expect and hope that some response will be given by the Ministers of the Crown- the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Senator James McClelland) and the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee)- to explain whether or not there is a vendetta against Croatian born Australians or an attitude which treats them as second class Australians who are not entitled to the rights which other Australians have. I know that these are serious allegations, but in the representations which I have made on behalf of these people certainly there is a basis for believing there has been a denial of their civil liberties. I assure the Minister that until some clear indication is given by the Government that it is prepared to act on behalf of Australian citizens and to ensure that they get protection overseas I will continue to raise this matter.
It is a great pity that so many Croatian-born Australians want to go back to Croatia, to Yugoslavia, because they run the risk whenever they go back that they will be imprisoned. Such advice as I am able to convey to them suggests that they must give up any hope of returning to their homeland because the type of government which runs that country apparently has a particular set against Croatian-born Australians. I should think that the Minister also could urge people not to go back to Yugoslavia because if it be the position that the Government is not able to do all that it would like to do to help them when they are there, at least that would help the position. In the light of what has been happening, I think that is the least the Minister can do.
– Before the Minister replies, I want to make a few observations. Firstly, in respect of the cases that Senator Greenwood instanced, if he looks at the JAT airline loadings on flights between Australia and Yugoslavia he will find that those cases are the exception, and it is a deliberate lie to say that everybody who goes back to Yugoslavia can expect to be interrogated by the UDBA or somebody else. In relation to Senator
Greenwood’s second point about everybody being black or white, I remind him of the classic case of Srecko Rover, which occurred under his Government. The Liberal-Country Party Government for good and sufficient reasons, would not give him a passport to leave this country. If there are any people in that category under this Government, then it is only following the policy of its predecessors. In any case, even conceding that there may have been miscarriages of justice, Senator Georges will agree with me that we could substitute cases involving Spanish and Greek nationals. I have not had an opportunity to talk to the Minister for a couple of days, but at this time I know several Greeks who have sought permanent domicile in Australia. True, they have deserted their ships. One man has a wife and child and he has been on the run for 2 years. Even with the new Government in Greece, he is afraid that because he ignored an Army call-up he could be dealt with back there.
The message I give to the Senate is that it is no use picking out one country and saying that somebody has breached the law. The matter should be taken a little further than that. Government senators are not fools. If an Australianborn person or a person of Yugoslav origin is involved in drug running and has taken some goods into Trieste on a customs lurk, he runs foul of the law. Do not imagine that every person who is apprehended is involved in political activities. Those are the facts of life. I say to Senator Greenwood that it is not only in that part of the world that these things happen. I dealt successfully with the British High Commissioner with a case involving an Australian girl with a husband who travelled on an Irish passport and who got into an altercation with British troops in Belfast. It is not hard to gather what happened. Her husband finished up in Long Kench. Without going to the Press or radio or television, I was able to act as mediator and a satisfactory settlement was reached. I say to Senator Greenwood that he and I know that Yugoslav people are of extremely volatile temperament, but the same situation would occur if a person became involved in an abusive action about Franco or the present Greek Government. There would be trouble with the law. I take it a little further than that. There are a number of Croatians who still have not got the message about trying to lead a little more temperate life here. That has been manifest with a number of them on ethnic radio. Senator Greenwood was never very vocal about Greeks and Spaniards who were being affected.
There is need for any government to practise restraint. The Government of which Senator
Greenwood was a member had to practise restraint in the case of Srecko Rover, and Senator Greenwood knows that. The activities of Srecko Rover had to be curbed. If our Government has to act similarly, that is just too bad. Perhaps some people have made representations to Senator Greenwood. A member of the Australian Labor Party came to me on behalf of another person whom Senator Greenwood did not mention. I said: ‘You can bring your chap along to see me’. This chap was an aeronautical engineer. He wanted to go to Chicago to improve his industrial know how. I asked him whether he would give me an assurance he would not get involved in some terrorist body in America. He said: ‘No, I will not give that assurance’. I said: You can stew in your own juice’. That is an indication of the rough justice I apply but, it is justice.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) (12.0)- I intend briefly to enter into this debate. In the administration of previous governments, as well as in this Government, I have been most concerned about our inability or our lack of will to deal with the matter of dual citizenship. Earlier, when the United States of America was involved in ethnic problems with the vast waves of migrants entering the United States of America, it made it quite clear that when a migrant came to the United States of America, applied for citizenship and was granted that citizenship by swearing to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, he had fulfilled the constitutional requirements of the United States of America to become an American citizen. At that stage, he or she was entitled to the care, observation and protection of the United States wherever they went in the world.
Senator Mulvihill may recollect, if he turns up the Acts of the Apostles, that when Paul of Tarsus was accused and condemned to be thrashed he claimed before the Roman Governor that he was a Roman citizen. No one could touch him because he was a Roman citizen. The British, when they were responsible for maintenance of law and order and justice in large parts of the world in the 18th and certainly 19th century, would never allow a British citizen to be treated in the way in which Australian citizens are treated in various parts of the world. In fact, if the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) took some care to read his history, he would recollect that one of the great foreign ministers of the United Kingdom in the 19th century, Palmerston, made that great speech in the House of Commons in which he quoted the Latin phrase, civis Britannicus sum.- I am a British citizen. He proclaimed that wherever the British citizen went he would be protected. I will raise this matter later as a matter of policy.
I suggest that there are some unsatisfactory aspects of the reply of the Minister to Senator Greenwood. There are many methods of dealing with foreign governments in these matters, irrespective of who the individual involved may be. I assume, but it has never been said by the Minister, that he has sent for the Yugoslav Ambassador to Australia and instructed him. Is that a method of dealing with foreign governments that has gone out of fashion? Have any members of the Australian embassy in Belgrade sought to see that this man- an Australian citizen- at least has been given the care and protection that a prisoner in an Australian gaol would be entitled to get? At least, in our country, writs of habeas corpus can be issued. That does not seem to work in these fraternal socialist countries to which I have heard reference.
Lastly, I want to make this point: There are great sanctions that the Government can exert in the protection of its citizens. There are great sanctions which can be applied. I do not want to exacerbate the situation any further by nominating what some of these sanctions are. But there are great powers in the hands of the Australian Government to protect its citizens abroad, whether they are in Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia, Spain or anywhere else. I am sick and tired of people travelling abroad carrying an Australian passport signed by the Governor-General and issued under the auspices of the foreign service of this country not being allowed to pass without let or hindrance. What is it, a worthless document? Any secret policeman and any government can arrest an Australian citizen on some trumped charge of guilt by assertion and put him in gaol. The Government claims that there is nothing it can do to help them. If the matter of the protection of an Australian citizen abroad is raised in this place, we are told in glib phrases that we are not helping the situation. I do not believe for one moment that the Minister wrote that answer to the question that he read out here. It bore all the hallmarks of an official of the Department of Foreign Affairs. I end on that assertion. I have not forgotten this matter. I will raise it again in association with my colleagues on this side of the House.
-The complaint which Senator Greenwood has raised against this Government is a complaint which I made on a number of occasions when his
Party was in government, that is, that the Australian Government should assist in the protection of its citizens whether they have dual citizenship or not. Senator Greenwood’s attitude was somewhat hypocritical and the interjection from Senator Webster underlined that hypocrisy. Towards the end of his statement Senator Greenwood referred to the desirability of persons who are dual citizens being warned of the difficulties they face if they go back to their country of origin. This is advice which must be given to them. There are many people who come from some eastern European countries who come to me seeking assistance with visas and my advice to them is that they ought not to go no matter how strong the need and no matter how strong the impulse to go back because the laws of the country from which they came follow them into this country. This they must recognise. Although they may have taken out Australian citizenship, if they are in breach of those laws while they are here they are held responsible for that breach and can suffer for it when they go back. This advice does not seem to be given to people before they go back to their country of origin which still recognises them as citizens of that country.
– It is wrong.
– I know, but whether it is wrong or not, that is the situation. I have insisted that when Australian embassies find that a person who has accepted Australian citizenship is in trouble they should go to their defence. While the Opposition was in government I insisted on many occasions that the Australian embassies should keep in close contact with these people and assist them, and in many cases they did assist them. That is what Senator Greenwood is getting at. The embassies should give even greater assistance to those people than they would give to a person who holds single citizenship.
It is not only in Yugoslavia that trouble occurs. We have an Australian citizen in a South African gaol at present. He does not suffer from this dual citizenship problem but he is in gaol. Several approaches have been made following representations from me to have this young Australian deported from South Africa but the South African Government has resisted these approaches. The latest information I have from the Prime Minister, when he was Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, was that representations had been made for this young man to be deported back to Australia. The South African Government insisted that he serve the remainder of his term. The Prime Minister as Acting Foreign Minister stated that he could see no use in making further representations at that time. Perhaps what Senator Greenwood says should hold here also. There should be an outcry about this. This man ought not to be imprisoned in South Africa.
– Was it for conduct in South Africa or conduct elsewhere?
-For conduct in South Africa but the punishment seems to be oppressive for the breach of which this young man was guilty. Nevertheless, he is an Australian who is in prison there and he ought to be assisted. The reasonable request that he ought to be deported back to Australia should be acceded to by the South African Government. Senator Greenwood is not the only person who is concerned that this is occurring. I think he should spread his concern to other places in which Australians are being put under some restrictions, including even restrictions in relation to their freedom. I think that Senator Greenwood is at fault in that he seems to concentrate only upon Yugoslavia and he seems to have some sort of factional approach to the problem of dual citizens. I agree with Senator Sir Magnus Cormack ‘s statement that the embassies must take a stronger initiative on behalf of these people. There ought to be- I think the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) has indicated this also- international conferences between those nations affected in an effort to solve the problem of dual citizenship. A person who goes back to Greece can suffer some penalty even under the present regime. Greece takes the view: Once a Greek, always a Greek. That view does not apply only to the first generation; it can carry over to the second generation as well. I find that situation- quite unacceptable and the sooner it is resolved the better. If as a result of Senator Greenwood’s complaints there are further discussions which lead to a clarification or solution of the problem, then Senator Greenwood’s complaints are justified.
– The debate certainly has covered the globe. One thing with which I want to dispense immediately- it amazes me that it has been raised by Senator Georges, Senator Greenwood and Senator Sir Magnus Cormack- is the contention that Australian embassies do not care about what happens to Australian citizens overseas. That is just not the case. Ever since I have been Minister for Foreign Affairs I have insisted many times that extra care be taken and that extra drive and initiative must be shown in relation to all consular cases. A consular case can range from somebody who finds himself broke in a country and goes along to the Embassy for help, somebody who is up on a drunk and disorderly charge, to somebody who is up on a political charge. To say that our embassies are not doing anything for these people is just not on. When an Australian citizen, whether he be of dual nationality or a purely Australian citizen, suffers the rigours of the law, people immediately come to my office and say that he ought to be let off, that he is perfectly innocent, before they have looked at the evidence or anything else. If Australian citizens break the law overseas there is nothing we can do to prevent their suffering the penalties of the law. Exactly the same situation applies if a foreigner to this country breaks the law in this country.
I might say in passing- I have 2 cases in my mind at the moment- that when the law was being properly applied in foreign countries we were able, by influence and by making a plea without any legal basis, to get the people concerned out of gaol. One of the people I have in mind had served 2 years of a 10-year sentence. Because he was a young man at the time of the offence- it was a drug pushing charge, quite a bad offence- we pleaded: ‘Look, he is a long way from home. He is a young chap. He has served 2 years in gaol. Let him out. ‘ That plea was successful and he was let out. On another occasion we were able, without any legal authority at all on our side, to prevent people from even going to gaol because of our pleas. So it is quite unfair to say that the embassies do not take up these matters at every possible opportunity.
It is also quite unfair to say that the Government was uncaring about the situations which used to occur in Greece- I knew more about that under the previous regime- and in Yugoslavia. It amazes me that Senator Greenwood makes an attack in this regard because he knows that his Government did not get to first base and did nothing about the situation in Yugoslavia. I have checked with our officers who were in the embassies in those days under the previous Government. It amazes them that we have been able to go as far as we have with the Yugoslav authorities because of the hard line that they take. They claim that they have the greater right on dual nationals. As I understand it, they have international law on their side. As I understand the law, the country in which a dual national was born has the greater right on him. The law is in favour of that country. Because of the international law situation the Yugoslav authorities will not listen to the arguments of another nation.
– Have you tried to negotiate an agreement with them?
-Yes. We did so when we first came to office. The problem there is that a precedent would be set. The Yugoslav authorities say that the moment they enter into an agreement with us they naturally set a precedent for anybody else. They quote to us countries such as the United States of America and Canada, as well as European countries, because there are so many Yugoslavs in other countries. That was the problem and it still is. In spite of it, the Yugoslav authorities have come a certain way along the track.
The first case is the case of Mr and Mrs Nazor. We asked for all the things for which we obviously should have asked. We asked for access to Mr Nazor, to be at the trial and to be given details of the charges. When Senator Greenwood raised his first point I nodded to him that I was in sympathy with him. A cable has been handed to me. I may be wrong, but the information that has been handed to me since I came into the chamber today- it is information from the official Yugoslav Government gazette or newsagency, which is always gospel from the Governmentis that we have not been told about it. If the Department has not already protested and asked why, it certainly will because I will tell it to do so. I imagine it has already done so. The Yugoslav authorities always take this tough line: These are our nationals. These people are committing criminal acts against us. Therefore, we have the right to proceed within the law ‘. Senator Greenwood criticised the Yugoslav law. I cannot do anything about it. I do not write it. I do not write the Spanish law. We can do only what we have done. It is done on each occasion. Time and time again, each day of the week, people are getting into trouble.
Senator Greenwood made the point that people would have been unaware of the situation if he had not raised it. He asked how the people would have known. I suggest to him that a lot of people are in trouble, and the public does not know about them. Some of them are on drug charges, some them are on drunk and disorderly charges, and so on. Of course they are not known, if the papers do not pick up the cases. Our embassies come into the picture if people are convicted and imprisoned. Embassy officials visit the gaol and see that the prisoners are doing as well as they can in a gaol situation.
Senator Greenwood said that I deliberately drew a distinction between dual nationals and Australians. I did. One of the reasons I sent back yesterday the answer which I gave earlier was that I wanted to be perfectly clear on this matter. Three Australians who are not dual nationals received 21 days gaol for an incident on the coast. Obviously it was not a political incident. Maybe they were a little high spirited.
– That has happened to footballers on the Gold Coast.
– Yes, on our Gold Coast. Senator Greenwood said I complained about questions being asked. The point I made recently- I made it again today- was that in the Nazor case a campaign was being run. I was hesitant to charge Senator Greenwood with being involved in it until he confessed to it. He said that he read the information in the paper. Today he said that he has been approached, evidently by Croatian groups.
– I was approached subsequently.
– He was approached subsequently. Originally he read the information in the paper. Subsequently he was approached by somebody. I am glad that I did not say anything about it the other day because evidently he had not been approached then. Obviously these people were building up a case as part of a propaganda machine for their political causes. Senator Greenwood repeated what he read in the paper. He said that Mr Nazor had been sentenced to execution. That was a lie. He said that Mrs Nazor was given 6 years or was being charged. That was a lie. I object to false accusations being made. I do not mind anybody bringing matters before me. I do not mind their coming to me in my office. I want to be as helpful as I possibly can. If they do not want to talk to me at that level and give me their information, so be it. If they like to raise the matter in the chamber, which I do not think is the best way in these cases, that is fine, there are no objections.
Recently I said that Senator Greenwood was more interested in exacerbating a difficult position between 3 countries than he was in helping the individual concerned. His Government had done nothing about this question, but we have been moving on it in the 3 years in which we have been a government. I charged Senator Greenwood with being more interested in that than in the people concerned, but he rejected this. I still say that there were better ways in which he could have gone about this matter. I do not mind questions being asked about it, although I do not like it. I reject questions when they are based on lies.
In regard to the question about a man being held by the South Vietnamese Government or the Provisional Revolutionary Government, I said that this was a situation which was quite different from the one about which we have been talking. In the heat of war a man was captured and is still being held by the troops. We have consistently done something about this matter. If it is true that possession is 9 points of the law, they have the 9 points. We are moving on a diplomatic basis to try to get this man released. I have written to his family about the matter and I understand that officers of my Department have talked to his family. I wrote to members of his family in Perth only recently telling them of the latest moves and sympathising with them in the great worry that they must be suffering. It is all a matter of judgment. We still have not reestablished our embassy in South Vietnam, and we are talking about all sorts of other things.
I believe that we have a greater chance of getting Mr Whitlock out of the hands of the persons who are holding him. Whether they term him as being a prisoner or not I do not know, but he is being held arising out of the war. I believe that we have a better chance of getting Mr Whitlock out of gaol by letting our diplomats do it and by letting me and, if necessary, the Prime Minister maintain the pressures at the level at which we talk to representatives from other countries. All the matters stated in regard to Mr Whitlock were true; this was not the case in allegations made about the Government’s handling of the Nazor case. There were 2 different cases. They are the points that I make, and I believe that they are valid. I do not believe that you help your case or help a person who is in gaol if you base the case on lies. In regard to the second case, which is a peculiar case, it is just my judgment that it is better to leave the matter to diplomacy, to quietly step up our campaign to try to get this man out of gaol. I would have preferred not to talk about this matter, and it was not I who raised it in the public arena.
To sum up, why would any embassy, why would any Minister, want to say that if an Australian is in trouble overseas we do not do our best for him? We find out what the charges are. We talk to him and so on. That is the first point. Secondly, it is quite untrue and unfair to say that for some unknown reason, because a person is a Yugoslav, because he is of dual nationality, we are not interested in him. There is the problem on which, I repeat, the previous Government never got to first base but on which we have made some progress.
The instructions from me to the Department are quite clear: Irrespective of the countries involved, irrespective of the seriousness of the charge or the minutiae of the case, these people should be protected and helped as much as they possibly can by a government. That does not mean that if they break the law overseas we can do anything about it. The laws under which they are sent to gaol may seem harsh to us. In fact they are harsh. One has only to look at some of the laws under which people are being executed in countries very much closer to us. They are laws that we would never accept in this country, that is perfectly true; but nobody in this Parliament can do anything about re-writing those laws. Therefore, we have to work within the parameters set for us. I resent and reject the proposition that embassies do not care about these people. Sometimes it is difficult to find out about these people. Perhaps somebody gets drunk or acts in a disorderly manner and is thrown into gaol and we are not told about it. We have to find out the best way that we can. There may be a breakdown, although we insist that we expect the authorities in all these countries to tell us about these matters. Obviously it is very easy for these things to break down in the bureaucracy. At all stages our people do the best they can.
In regard to the very difficult question of dual citizenship, we have made progress where the previous Government did not. We want to make more progress. We are not satisfied when we cannot get consular access when we require it. We have not been able to get that yet, but we are working on it. We have made progress and we hope to make more progress.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 12.24 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circula
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Works of Art in Public Buildings (Question No. 782)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
It was in reply to a question without notice from Senator Rae which reads as follows:
My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Security and the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation who is also the Minister for war against insurance companies. In the course of making his statements in his war of attrition against the rights and freedoms of insurance companies and their employees will the Minister make reference to the use or misuse of funds of various trade unions to campaign for and provide financial support to the Australian Labor Party against the wishes of large numbers of their members?’
I would be interested to hear from the Opposition members, who talk so freely about secret ballots in trade unions and the democratic election of trade union officials -something with which I largely agree- when they are going to call for a secret ballot amongst the policy holders in these insurance companies about the use of their money to bring down the Government for which the majority of the policy holders voted. ‘
When members of the Opposition are prepared to supply me with this information or arrange for the insurance companies to give me the details, I am prepared to request that the information he seeks in (2) be provided to him.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
What are the titles of the reports, papers or documents produced by or for the Government since December 1972 in the areas of the Minister’s responsibility which have not been publicly released.
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer the honourable senator to the Prime Minister’s reply to question No. 885 (Senate Hansard, 2 October 1975, page 930).
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
What are the titles of the reports, papers or documents . produced by or for the Government since December 1972 in the areas of the Postmaster-General ‘s responsibility which have not been publicly released.
– In question time this morning Senator Young asked me, as Minister representing the Prime Minister, a question concerning overseas loan negotiations. The Prime Minister has now supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer the honourable senator to my answer to a question without notice on this matter in the House of Representatives today. See also the following press statement issued by the Minister for Minerals and Energy on 8 October 1975:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I refer the honourable senator to the information provided by the Prime Minister in reply to Question No. 885 (Senate Hansard, 2 October 1975, page 930).
asked the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I repeat for public information what has already been made clear by protracted debate in both Houses of Federal Parliament:
My authority to pursue the question of loan raisings was revoked on 20 May last to enable a $ 100m Australian Government Loan to be raised in the United States.
I have never proceeded on any basis other than that authority.
I have persistently abided by the decision of 20 May, and have rejected any endeavours to further involve me in loan raising matters.
I have since 20 May made clear that anyone interested in loan matters should deal with the Treasurer.
Specifically I have had only one telephone discussion with Mr Khemlani since 20 May, which was initiated by him, about 1 1 June. I indicated to him then that I was in no
way authorised to discuss loan matters with him, and such matters were under the control of the Treasurer.
I also received one telephone message from Mr Karidis which involved Mr Khemlani. This message was from Athens on 12 August 1975, in which it was stated that discussions were then proceeding with certain bankers who wanted to come to Australia that weekend and asked whether I would be interested in pursuing the loan matter further.
I repeated that I was not and that the matter was one for approach to the Treasurer only.
I have given instructions to my solicitors for appropriate legal action to be taken by way of writ for damages. ‘
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 October 1975, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1975/19751009_senate_29_s66/>.