30th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, perhaps in his capacity as representing the Treasurer. The Minister will recall the announcement that the Australian Industry Development Corporation will not receive the allocation of $75m agreed to by the previous Government in June of last year and payable by June of this year. Did the AIDC initiate of its own volition the revocation of this payment or did the Government tell the AIDC that it was not in a position to make the allocation available?
– The question really relates to the Treasury area and not to Industry and Commerce because the AIDC, as at present constituted, is in the area of Treasury responsibility. I am not aware of the circumstances surrounding the declining of the $75m. I do not know whether a request was made by the AIDC or by the Government. I cannot tell the honourable senator that. I will try to find out for him. I noticed with some interest a report that the AIDC is looking for some money from the Exim Bank in Japan. That report does not seem to have been confirmed either, so it would be useful for us all to get some fairly clear statement about the situation relating to the $75m and about the situation relating to the reported $100m discussions with the Exim Bank. I will endeavour to do that for the honourable senator.
-I should like to direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. I refer to the statement made yesterday by the Minister with respect to future arrangements at Woomera. The statement indicated that Woomera will be reduced to a care and maintenance level over the next 4 years, and I understand that this is consistent with a decision made by the former Government. When does the Minister expect a report to be made by the Australian Services who are currently examining the possible uses of the area for Army and Air Force tactical exercises? Will that report be made available to honourable senators? Is the Minister able to provide a list of all the categories of the 700 personnel who are to be transferred? Owing to the importance of the Defence Research Group at Salisbury and the need to preserve this expert unit, what does the Government intend doing to ensure that this important section of the defence establishment is kept occupied and intact? If there is insufficient defence work for these scientists, will the Minister investigate the possibility of using this source of expertise for research and development into domestic scientific matters such as solar energy and wind energy?
-I do not think even my colleague Senator Jessop would expect me as Minister representing the Minister for Defence to be able to answer that question in the detail in which he would like it answered. Therefore, I will seek the information from my colleague in the other place.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Can the Minister inform the Parliament whether the Fraser Government intends to adopt a new land rights policy for Aborigines living in the Northern Territory? I ask further: Will the new policy be the legislative responsiblity of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly? I remind the Mininster that the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory is almost totally dominated by Country Party supporters who have a vested interest in controlling all Territory lands. Can the Minister assure the Parliament that the Federal Government will reconsider the situation in order to protect the rights of Aborigines?
– The question asked by the honourable senator is a complex one. I will see that a definitive answer is given to him from the Minister.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. Is the Minister aware that approval had been given to erect several television translator stations to improve viewing reception in areas adjacent to Cairns but that installation had been deferred prior to the change of Government? Will the Minister request his colleague, the Minister for Post and
Telecommunications, to continue the erection of these translators at the earliest opportunity?
– My understanding is that approval was given for the erection of 2 television translator stations in the Cairns area- a very important matter to provide a clearer signalbut that in the 1975-76 Budget no amounts were appropriated for this work to go ahead. I will be very happy to draw the honourable senator’s question to the attention of my colleague, the Minister, and to invite him to see whether he can include in the coming Budget estimates an appropriation for this important matter.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. In a news release entitled Cuts in Repatriation Expenditure dated 4 February 1976 the Minister for Repatriation said that savings totalling approximately $4m will be made in repatriation expenditure in this financial year. He went on to say that $3.6m of these savings would be achieved by paying the autumn increase in repatriation pensions in May. I ask the Minister: Does not this decision really mean that veterans and their dependants will be deprived of $3.6m in pension payments that they would otherwise have received but for the Government’s decision?
– The question with regard to repatriation benefits being paid from the first pay period in May refers to a decision taken by the Government. It will be recalled that other pension benefits recipients are also to receive their increases on the first pay period in May in accordance with the movement of the consumer price index. There is a committed policy of the Government to make these adjustments at 6-monthly intervals in accordance with the movements in the index. This will occur from the first pay period in May. It could be argued that there is deprivation of the sum that has been mentioned by the honourable senator, but it is in line with our policy to make the adjustment at 6- monthly intervals.
– I wish to direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. By way of brief background, my question concerns an item on the Australian Broadcasting Commission program AM this morning which consisted of the ABC’s correspondent in America quoting an article by a Mr
Coburn in the lastest issue of the American publication Village Voice which, in turn, is based on an article by an Australian reporter, Mr Malcolm Salmon, in the latest issue of the Paris magazine Le Monde Diplomatique. According to the ABC report, the unsupported article in the Village Voice claims that the Central Intelligence Agency played a role in the Governor-General’s dismissal of the previous Government. As this article is likely to be quoted by reputable newspapers in both Europe and America, will the Minister for Foreign Affairs instruct his Department to inform Australia’s overseas posts that Mr Salmon is not associated with any reputable newspaper in Australia but is in fact a journalist with the Communist Party’s newspaper Tribune and has been a member of the National Committee of the Communist Party of Australia since 1967?
-I will be delighted to convey that request to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Security. It relates to the report of the Commission of Inquiry into Poverty. Is it true that the results of 22 studies associated with the poverty inquiry are not to be published? If so, can the Minister justify the departmental estimate of a saving of $132,000 compared with the immense cost of the research over 3 years that was initiated by the previous Liberal-Country Party Government in connection with those studies? Further, since the survey has been acclaimed world-wide by experts as being unique for its comprehensive research data and analysis, could the Minister explain the reason for the decision, if in fact it has been made, to diminish seriously the value and usefulness of the survey?
– It is a fact that a decision was taken by the Government not to publish in the numbers that had been published previously all of the research reports relating to the poverty inquiry. It will be recalled that this decision was taken at the time that we took decisions to cut expenditure in our endeavour to overcome the inflation that is in our economy at the present time. The publication of the major reports of the inquiry will be undertaken in the way that had been planned; but the numerous research reports will not be published, in an endeavour to curtail something like $150,000 of expenditure that we believed was not justified. It was suggested to the people involved in the inquiry that if they chose to do so they might be able to arrange publication in a private or commercial way of much of the research that they have undertaken. It should be understood that the material will be available to those who seek it, but that we will not be publishing in the numbers that have been published previously all of the reports of the inquiry. The major reports will be presented, tabled in the Parliament and available for discussion.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question, Mr President. I ask the Minister to comment on the suggestion that I made in the question that the cost of the publication of these reports had been estimated by her Department to be $ 1 32,000.
– What is the question? I do not dispute that a saving of $132,000 was estimated in relation to the publication of the reports on many of the surveys undertaken in connection with the inquiry. That fact is not disputed. I did not see any need to comment on that part of the question.
- Mr President, in warnings of impending cyclones in the northern part of Australia the distance of those cyclones from particular areas is measured in kilometres. In view of the fact that very few people understand the metric system and that these cyclones can be of great danger to people and it is necessary to know just where they are, will the Minister for Science take up with his Department the possibility of having those measurements expressed not only in kilometres but also in miles so that the people can be thoroughly warned?
-Both areas-the giving of cyclone warnings and the conversion to the metric system of measurement- fall within my portfolio. I acknowledge the fact that the honourable senator wishes to see the distance given in both miles and kilometres. I think it is appropriate, as we have progressed at least 50 per cent of the way towards conversion to the metric system, that we stay with the new system of measurement where that is at all possible. The South Australian Parliament has taken the quite considerable step of putting into legislation the requirement that in certain areas all measurements and descriptions are to be made in metric terms. I think that as a community we have to get used to the system. Senator Wood will recall that the Senate was one of the bodies that proposed the utilisation of this system in Australia. I do not think that it is feasible to record cyclone movements or positions in the 2 systems of measurement.
-Mr President, 1 desire to ask the Minister for Science a supplementary question. Does his reply to my previous question indicate that the danger to the people in these northern areas of Australia is of no consequence or consideration to him? Furthermore, is it not a fact that in France, where this metric madness started, very often the measurements are given in both metric and imperial terms?
– I will reply to the last part of the question first. I am unable to say what actually takes place in France at the moment in regard to measurements. But I do know that Australia is one of the very few countries which have not fully adopted the principle of the metricsystem. I do not know whether there is a consistent feeling among Australians that it is difficult to equate kilometres with miles. I think there is a general acceptance now, at least in my State of Victoria where the distances on roads and in other areas are shown in metric terms, that it is a reasonably simple proposition, if one is a little slow in mind, to convert the distance shown back into miles in order to gauge just where one may be. I do not say that in relation to Senator Wood but I find myself doing it on many occasions.
It is certainly not the thought of the MetricConversion Board or of myself that any disadvantage should be placed upon people in Queensland because of the introduction of this system of measurement. If it can be proved to mc that disadvantage has been caused through any measurements used by departments or other authorities, I will certainly take the matter up.
-I direct to the Minister representing the Attorney-General a question relating to the fact that the Commonwealth Police are still interviewing independent candidates in the Australian Capital Territory for the last Senate election, with the exception of Mr Michael Cavanough. Is this being done upon an instruction of the Attorney-General? Docs the interviewing of other candidates suggest that the reports that there were bribes other than the suggested one that has led to a prosecution arc correct? Did one of the candidates refuse to have an interview with the Commonwealth Police unless his solicitor was present?
– I understand that the Attorney-General has directed an inquiry. I do not know the ambit of that inquiry nor am I aware of any of the events which have taken place in the course of the inquiry except the publicised event that a prosecution is to take place. The subject matter of that prosecution was announced by the Attorney-General himself, I think on Monday of this week. I know nothing of the circumstances beyond what I have stated. I shall direct the honourable senator’s question to the Attorney-General for him to consider whether a further reply is able to be given.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Education. Following a meeting with Katherine townspeople in the Northern Territory, I made representations to the Minister regarding matters relating to Katherine schools. Is he now in a position to give me an answer?
– I hope that in the course of today I will be able to give a definitive answer. I am thoroughly concerned that the school children should be accommodated as they are in the showground in corrugated iron buildings. I regret very much that this problem which could have been anticipated in the August Budget had no funds made available for it at that time. We are seeking by reallocation of funds to find the essential amount of money, some $104,000, for erecting the demountables. The demountables are arriving at Katherine now. There will be 7 classrooms, 4 toilet blocks and one canteen. We hope that we can act immediately. I regret to say that even if we act immediately there will be a period of a month or more before we can move the people out of the corrugated iron buildings. I very much regret that this should be so.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Is the Minister aware that Senator Bonner was transported to Warwick and other centres in Queensland by a defence force helicopter on Saturday, 14 February 1976? Can the Minister inform the Senate who authorised this form of transport for Senator Bonner and whether other members of the Parliament were invited to accompany him? Finally, will the Minister advise whether similar transport will be available for Opposition senators in the future?
-I am not aware that Senator Bonner took this action, but if he did I congratulate him on showing sufficient initiative to go and see the suffering his electors were undergoing. As I understand the procedures with the defence forces, if a member of Parliament approaches the defence forces they are almost invariably prepared to co-operate with him. I do not know what Senator Bonner did but I would imagine he showed enough initiative, as a Liberal senator would, to approach the defence forces and ask for a lift. If he did that he ought to be congratulated and ought not to be in any way directly or indirectly criticised in this place. If members of the Opposition desire to have the same facilities I suggest that they also show a little initiative and do something to help themselves. There is no need, as I see it in this sort of situation, for the defence forces to ring around and ask people whether they want a ride. If honourable senators opposite have not enough sense and get-up-and-go to pick up a telephone and make a request they can all stay at home.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence apropos of the answer he has just given. Will the Minister lay on the Senate table a statement outlining the specific rights of senators to use any facilities of the armed forces?
-I will ask the Minister for Defence if such a thing is available. I thought I made quite clear in my reply that as I understand it if any member of the Parliament makes a reasonable request to any of the 3 Services the 3 Services as a matter of normal courtesy, do their utmost to comply with the request. I have never had any trouble when I have made a reasonable and sensible request, but then maybe I am trusted by the defence Services. I think it is a reasonable request which the Leader of the Opposition has made and I will certainly ask my colleague in the other place whether he will so put down a statement.
-Has the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications seen a report in the Financial Review of 5 February 1976 that Telecom Australia will market small PABX telephone switch systems in Australia and limit its approval for the distribution of larger units to 2 private manufacturers? Will the Minister say whether this proposal has been implemented? If so, will he ask his colleague to review this matter urgently? If not, will he ask his colleague to make an early statement to that effect?
– I did not see the article in the Financial Review to which Senator Messner has adverted. I will look at it and I will bring to the attention of my colleague, the relevant Minister, the questions which he has posed.
– I ask the Minister for Administrative Services: When were the allegations now the subject of charges against the Liberal member for Curtin, Mr Garland, first drawn to his attention by the Chief Electoral Officer or by anyone else either within his present Ministerial responsibility or in his caretaker Ministerial role as Special Minister of State?
– When I was the caretaker Minister I was not then responsible for the Electoral Office. My friend and colleague, Senator Drake-Brockman, was then caretaker Minister for Administrative Services and was in charge of that Department. In fact, he was in charge of that Department, I think, until 21 December. The fact that charges were to be laid against Mr Garland was not drawn to my attention until the Attorney-General released a Press statement last Monday, I think. When the complaint was received by the Chief Electoral Officer from a Mr Higgins, as I recall the gentleman’s name, the Chief Electoral Officer immediately forwarded it to the Attorney-General’s Department because Mr Ley quite rightly claims that it is not for him to judge whether an offence had been committed under the Act. He sought advice from the Attorney-General’s Department. Thereafter, as far as my Department was concerned, the matter went into the hands of the Attorney-General’s Department for investigation and report to the Chief Electoral Officer. That was done on the same day as the Attorney-General issued his Press release. On that day when advice was given that a prosecution should ensue I was informed by the head of my Department.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I ask: Has the Minister noted reports today that a group of Vietnamese refugees who have been confined in Malaysia for the last 3 months are about to arrive in Australia? Is the Minister aware that a number of representations have been made by senators in relation to these people? Can the Minister ascertain whether the Press report is correct and, if so, can any information be given concerning any decisions that have been made?
– In answer to the question, I am able to state that the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs announced that Australia would offer sanctuary to more IndoChinese refugees. He announced that preference would be given to refugees closely related to people already living in Australia and that priority would be given to re-uniting spouses and children with their families in Australia. There were reports in the Press recently of 27 Vietnamese refugees camped on the east coast of Malaysia. Mrs Constance Mathers approached the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs with regard to them. At this stage it is not possible to say exactly when they will come here. However, we can expect that it will be late in March.
I take this opportunity to say that the Department of Social Security will be responsible for paying special benefits to refugees who do come here until employment can be arranged for them. This will be a payment that we will make expeditiously to enable any difficulties to be overcome that do occur on their arrival. We will be responsible also for providing general supportive and welfare services to the refugees once they have arrived in Australia.The migrant services section of my Department will liaise with the Department of Immigration and EthnicAffairs indeed with all other departments such as the Department of Education, the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations, the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development- to enable any difficulties to be overcome with regard to the refugees on their arrival in this country.
-The Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory will be aware that the building trades in Darwin are heavily dependent upon government contracts. Is it a fact that the Government has frozen the letting of contracts to restore cyclone damaged Housing Commission homes in Darwin? Is it also a fact that no new contracts have been let since the present Government took office? If those are facts, will the Minister indicate when the damaged homes will be repaired, how long the tenants will have to remain in temporary accommodation and what arrangements will be made to cater for those in the building trades who look to government contracts for their livelihood?
-The honourable senator’s question asks for information which I am unable to give him immediately. I will take note of the question and get an answer for him promptly.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade, although the question may fall within his own responsibility. I refer to the reported actions of the Philippines Government in placing an embargo against Australian imports as a protest against Australian protectionist policies. Has the Government adopted a global quota system for some classes of textiles? How will this system work? Will it enable developing countries to have easier access to the Australian market? Are textiles an important element in the economies of developing countries? Does the Government support the view that trade is more effective than aid in assisting developing countries?
-The textile industry is an important activity in developing countries. It is also an important activity in Australia. Australia is a large trading nation and we understand the importance of buying and selling. We also understand the need to give assistance to countries which are developing. We also have a great wish to protect our own work force from unemployment. Therefore, in the context of what we are now discussing we have entered into an arrangement to try to bring about some degree of sensible import capacity for all the countries which are capable of selling such goods to Australia, at the same time having some regard for the importance of maintaining the industry in this country for those who work in it. We found that under the previous arrangement of voluntary restraint most of the people concerned were breaking the rules very substantially. I believe that we have constructed an arrangement which will be satisfactory to all concerned- those who sell to Australia, those in developing countries and our own people who both make and sell textiles and employ people. It is a rather long and detailed matter and I would be very happy to make available to the honourable senator the details of the proposal which we believe will be satisfactory both to those who sell to Australia and those who live and work here.
-Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that seasonally adjusted trading bank deposits in the December quarter were $ 15,080m, a rise of 1.3 per cent on the September quarter? Is the Minister also aware that in the December quarter prices rose by a record 5.6 per cent thereby costing Australian business that much more money to finance stock and turnover? Do not these figures represent a shrinkage of 4.3 per cent in the real and effective volume of money in the December quarter and not an excessive growth of money as claimed by Mr Lynch?
-This is probably a useful time to say something about money supply and its general effect on the whole scene in the context of a Senate which has always taken a serious interest in overall economic matters in the longer rather than the shorter term. There has been a money supply expansion in Australia for quite a number of years. At some points it has been extremely high indeed and at times there have been attempts to restrain it.
– It does not reach the hands of the workers, unfortunately.
– I am endeavouring to help the whole Senate and not just the honourable senator who is interjecting. In the context of the current situation one can look at the figures and see how the money supply has expanded to well above what might be called sensible requirements. Sensible requirements in money supply expansion should have regard to the inflation rate and to the net economic growth rate or the net minus economic growth rate, and above that there should be some capacity to keep the economy moving a little more strongly. These figures are badly out of adjustment. They have been progressively and, I believe, carefully brought to a position in which they will come back into better balance, and that will be for everybody’s benefit.
There has been a number of factors here. There have been factors concerning the LGS change. There have been the statutory reserve deposit calls. Another factor has been the money flowing out of Australia because of devaluation rumours. There has been the recent series of Commonwealth loan raisings both in special bonds and in the longer term cash and conversion loans. This is part of the total scene of money supply about which we are talking. I am of the view that what I ought to get for the Senate is a general statement from the Treasury on how it is handling the money supply problem, because there is in this area from time to time some difficulty in seeing the total picture as distinct from isolated fractions of it. The bank deposit situation is very interesting.
– You have lost us.
-I hope that the honourable senator will come back to me. The honourable senator who asked this question, who is a colleague of mine, has been interested in this area. If nobody else cares about it, I am sure he does. In Australia, as in many advanced democracies, there has been developing what is called a high propensity to save. If we in this country want economic recovery there has to be some ability for this high saving position to develop itself out into actual consumption. In thai general context I have tried to give the honourable senator the most definitive answer that I can. I will get more for him.
– Those honourable senators who do not care about this matter need not bother to read the information that I will provide, but I commend it to honourable senators like Senator McAuliffe who care about this matter.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Administrative Services been drawn to an election letter written on 4 December 1975 by a Mr E. Costanzo on behalf of the former Minister for Northern Australia, Mr Paul Keating? does it appear that the letter, which was written in Italian, was circulated to a large group of Italian speaking voters? Was the letter posted from Parliament House, Canberra, with postage prepaid at public expense? Is it intended that the prepaid postage mail facility should be limited to mail written by senators and members and not to letters written by outsiders on behalf of Labor candidates and distributed en masse at public expense? Does the use of envelopes prepaid at Parliament House seem to represent a gross violation of administrative arrangements and a misuse of public moneys? Will the Minister undertake to seek an explanation from Mr Keating and to advise the Parliament of the outcome in due course?
-I have seen the complaint of the elector concerning this matter. I have no evidence as to who supplied the envelopes. The fact that they were used on behalf of a certain candidate is not necessarily evidence that he supplied the envelopes. I think that is fair to say. However, as I understand the position those envelopes were provided as a result of a determination by the Remuneration Tribunal. I will certainly be seeking advice from the Remuneration Tribunal as to whether this sort of exercise was contemplated by it when it made that determination.
It would appear that these envelopes were provided to honourable senators and members for the purpose of their carrying out their parliamentary duties. I would say that irrespective of which side of the chamber the member or senator came from, these envelopes ought not to be used during election campaigns for electioneering purposes. I think that there would be general agreement around this chamber on that matter. I realise that honourable senators and members on both sides in both chambers have the advantage of incumbency during an election campaign in being able to use free telephones, secretaries supplied at taxpayers ‘expense and office accommodation supplied at taxpayers’ expense. I, as an office bearer and a Minister, am supplied with transport. All of us have access to travel around Australia. That is an enormous advantage to the incumbent.
– And to a caretaker government.
– Yes and that was given to us out of the pigheadness of the former incumbent. All those facilities were available. I do think that somewhere along the line there has to be a cut-off point. I do not believe that it was ever contemplated by the Remuneration Tribunal that post-free envelopes out of Parliament House should be used for straight electioneering purposes. I shall certainly take up this matter with the Tribunal. I shall be prepared to put a submission to it that some limitations ought to be placed upon the use of material for such purposes.
– I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General to advise whether any action has been taken by the Trade Practices Commission under section 50 of the Trade Practices Act of 1 974 relating to mergers. If so, will the Minister detail the outcome of such action or actions? How many complaints have been received and what is the nature of the complaints received by the Trade Practices Commission in Western Australia? Is a legal officer attached to the Commission in Western Australia or does the Commission act on advice from the Crown Law Department in that State? Have any prosecutions taken place under the Trade Practices Act in Western Australia? Is it true that the Crown Law Department is advising the Commission not to prosecute unless it can be assured of winning a case? Are we to assume that by virtue of what we could call this ‘enforced inactivity’ of the Commission manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and companies in Western Australia are immune to the law either because of the inadequacies of the Crown Law Department or perhaps because of political instruction from the State Government?
– I ask the honourable senator to put the question on the notice paper.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, refers to the Government’s decision which was announced last week to pay a bounty of $ 1 1.8 1 a tonne superphosphate on the grounds that this would increase farm productivity. I ask the Minister whether he knows that the present Prime Minister said on the Perth Television program State File on 27 April 1975:
I think that the old value of the subsidy
That is $1 1.81 per tonne- would not increase the use of superphosphate by one ton.
Does the Minister consider the Prime Minister’s assertion to be ill-informed and inaccurate? If not, will the Minister explain how paying a bounty at a rate which the Prime Minister has stated would not increase the use of superphosphate by one ton would stimulate farm productivity?
-I do not have the benefit of looking at television in the city of Perth. Therefore, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the comment. The Prime Minister will be the most able person to comment on that. It sounded to me like a load of rubbish from the mouth of the senator.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs: Has the Minister any recent information regarding the Indonesian invasion of East Timor and the present military and political situation there? I ask the Minister in particular: Is it a fact that the Fretilin government of East Timor still maintains control of substantial territory and population despite the massive military resources of the invaders? Is there any new indication of willingness on the part of Indonesia and its allies in East Timor to allow free access to United Nations observers and the International Red Cross into the area? Is the Commonwealth Government undertaking any new or further initiatives to persuade our neighbours and allies to bring pressure to bear on the Indonesian Government to withdraw its alleged ‘volunteers’ in the face of widespread Australian and international opinion?
-I think this is a matter of such importance that I should obtain up-to-date information from my colleague in the other place and let the honourable senator have it at the earliest possible time.
– My question follows that asked by Senator McAuliffe and is directed also to the Minister representing the Treasurer in this place. Is it a fact that the new Australian Savings Bonds Series 1 which were issued from 23 January and which are now closed were designed especially to appeal to the smaller investors and savers? Is the Minister in a position to advise the Senate whether the claim is correct that wealthy financial companies and nominee companies rushed to subscribe to the bonds at the very generous interest rate of 10.5 per cent? Whilst wealthy profiteering companies would grasp at any opportunity like this, especially when the only restriction imposed by the Government was a limit on the amount of bonds which one subscriber could take out, will the Government note what has happened on this occasion and frame its conditions for any future special savings bonds in a more appropriate manner?
-There has been a lot of speculation about this matter and when the full facts emerge I think it will be found that the speculation has been very largely unfounded. The statistics that I have are only up to a certain stage because the matter is still coming to a point of finality. The statistics that I have show that there were 1 1 8 600 individual subscriptions and the average was $6,300. That does not indicate any massive institutional cover-up taking up the subscriptions about which the honourable senator is worried. If anybody has done a double deal in this matter and has evaded the genuine intent of this particular bond issue, the honourable senator should be in no doubt at all that the Government will have it under very severe scrutiny. I will obtain further information for him to bring the matter more up to date once the figures are closed.
-I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources. What stage of construction has been reached in the building of the Dartmouth Dam and what is the present scheduled completion date? Is it anticipated that the dam will be completed on that date?
-Senator Young was good enough to alert me to the fact that he would be asking this question so that I could obtain some detailed information. I am advised by my colleague in the other place that the Dartmouth Dam project is being constructed under 2 contracts for the River Murray Commission by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission of Victoria, as constructing authority for that State, following authorisation of the project by the 4 contracting Governments. Because of industrial disputes, extensions to the contract periods had to be approved. Storage of water in the dam is now expected to begin on 1 February 1977, 7 months later than the originally anticipated date, 1 July 1976. All work required under the contract is now expected to be completed by March 1978, 4 months later than the original anticipated date, 1 November 1977.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Was there any mention between him, as the caretaker Attorney-General and the Prime Minister, prior to 22 December of published allegations against the honourable member for Curtin, Mr Garland?
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Transport indicate the present status of the project for upgrading the Fingal Valley railway line in Tasmania, for which tenders were called and received. When will the work proceed?
– I do not have an accurate statement of when the work is due to begin, but the honourable senator has my assurance that I will seek today to find that out for him.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Administrative Services. Shortly after the December election the Prime Minister advised the Australian Journalists Association that journalists formerly employed in the Department of the Media need not be concerned about their future with the Public Service. Is it a fact that, following the Minister’s decision to abolish the Australian Government Liaison Service, several journalists in that section of the Department are very much concerned that they will lose their jobs, particularly those journalists operating from the various State offices? Is the
Minister prepared to reaffirm the Prime Minister’s undertaking to the Australian Journalists Association and, in particular, will he undertake that people who have been granted permanent status will not be placed on the Public Service list of unattached officers?
-Firstly, I would wish to check out exactly what the Prime Minister did say. As I understand it, members of the former Department of the Media who are permanent Public Service officers naturally have all the protection that is provided under the Public Service Act. Whilst there are redundancy provisions in the Public Service Act, those provisions, from what I have been able to glean, have never been used in some 70 years. I do not see why they should start to be used now.
– That is why the Topsy is growing and has grown.
-Well, there may be a good reason, but that is another philosophical argument. As to those who are temporary, they knew that they were temporary, and their jobs were always at risk. I will seek further informaton. Not all these journalists have been transferred to my Department. I got some from the Department of the Media; others went to the Department of Post and Telecommunications when the Department of the Media was dismembered. I will seek further informaton for the honourable senator.
-Can the Minister for Social Security say whether it is correct, as publicly alleged by the Leader of the Opposition in another place, that there are to be reductions in funding for assistance and services for the handicapped? If that is not the case, can the Minister indicate what action is being taken to assist the handicapped and to enhance their role in the community, particularly in the Australian Capital Territory?
– In answer to the first pan of the honourable senator’s question, it is not correct, as alleged by the Leader of the Opposition in the other place, that there have been cuts in aid to handicapped people or in the programs that relate to handicapped people. All of the current programs are to be continued. In answer to the second part of the honourable senator’s question, which is fairly wide-ranging, it could be said that the 1975-76 program of aid to handicapped people involves some $30m with regard to assistance for maintaining services.
There are funds towards furnishing and equipping sheltered workshops and things of that nature. There are approved premises catering for handicapped children and adults, numbering some 834 premises. There are 32 grants for new capital works. All of these programs will be upheld as far as the financial commitment is concerned.
With regard to the Australian Capital Territory in particular, it is perhaps opportune to note that in this area the handicapped child’s allowance is payable at $10 a week to parents or guardians caring for children. It is payable in respect of physically and mentally handicapped children as a special children’s benefit. There are subsidies to organisations for capital and recurrent expenditure. I can assure the honourable senator and all other honourable senators that there has been no cut in aid in the handicapped persons program.
– I ask the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development: Is it a fact that an advertisement was recently inserted in the Government Gazette inviting applications for the position of Personnel Service Manager for the South Australian office of the Australian Housing Corporation? Is the Minister aware that his Government abolished the Australian Housing Corporation in the first week of February? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether the appointment was in fact made to the position, whether the appointment has been cancelled or whether the appointee has been placed in a similar Public Service job?
– I am not able to answer the question that the honourable senator has asked, but I will make inquiries. It is a fact that the decision to abolish the Australian Housing Corporation was announced in the first week of February. I understand from what I have read in the Press that this advertisement appeared within 2 or 3 days after that announcement had been made. I assumed at the time that the advertisement had been inserted without knowledge of the Government’s decision. But in view of the other questions which the honourable senator has asked, I will make appropriate inquiries and give him the answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. I refer to the judgment of the High Court of
Australia which was to the effect that the Seas and Submerged Lands Act was a valid Act of this Parliament. Is the Government aware of the confusion which has now arisen in regard to the application of many State laws beyond the low water mark and in the territorial seas off-shore around Australia? Is the Government giving consideration to the passing of any interim legislation by this Parliament to make clear the validity of the State laws until various arrangements can be entered into by the Commonwealth and State governments regarding the long term application of Federal or State laws in these areas?
-The Government has given consideration to the implications of the judgment. The judgment may be said to have made 2 things quite clear: The first is that the boundaries of the States end at the low water mark and the second is that the Commonwealth Parliament has a power to pass laws with respect to matters extending beyond the low water mark seaward. But the implications of those 2 points are very extensive. The matter was discussed by the Premiers and the Prime Minister at the recent Premiers Conference and the Attorney-General has indicated that it will be a substantive matter for discussion by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General when it meets in Hobart early in March. It was the general agreement of the Prime Minister and the Premiers that the matter should be discussed by the Attorneys-General at that conference.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In view of claims by the socalled Deputy Governor of the Indonesian held areas of East Timor that 60 000 people, mostly women and children, have been massacred by Indonesian troops or so-called volunteers, I ask: What protests have been made to the neo-fascist Government of Indonesia by the Australian Government?
-Mr President, when an honourable senator makes comments such as that about Indonesia- a country with which we have close and friendly relations- I really do not know whether I should even attempt to seek to get information for him.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. When was the Minister, as the caretaker Attorney-General, informed by his Department of the allegations about Mr Garland that were published on 6 December?
-At no time when I was the caretaker Attorney-General was I aware of any of the allegations made. I was not even aware of what had appeared in the local newspaper in Canberra.
-I direct a further question to the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development that flows from his answer yesterday to a question about the Kakadu National Park. He said that the boundaries had been delineated and went on about the rest of the matter being more or less subject to further decision. Is the Minister in receipt of any recommendations from the Acting Director of National Parks that visualise an extension of the park to embrace the South Alligator region? Further, when in the ultimate the Minister and the Minister for National Resources have to reconcile their views, will the Minister accept the conservationists’ viewpoint that there is such a thing as land being put aside as a national park and always being off limits to the bucaneers of the mining industry?
– I can only say in response to the honourable senator’s question that the Acting Director of National Parks took the steps which I understand the National Parks Act enables him to take and published what should be the boundaries of the Kakadu National Park. Under the procedures of the Act, after those boundaries have been delineated in accordance with his determination opportunity is given for persons to make suggestions as to whether there should be changes. I understand that that has happened. The Acting Director has submitted his proposals to the Government and the Government has the matter under consideration. The further matters, which had a degree of emotive content in the way in which they were phrased, are matters for the Government to consider and the Government will consider them. It should be borne in mind that the Government has made it quite clear that it is awaiting the findings of the Ranger environmental inquiry before taking a substantive decision in regard to uranium exploitation in Australia.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Education. In reply to a question I asked yesterday, the Minister again stated that the innovation programs were very slow to start. Can he therefore tell me how many applications have been received by the Department of Education since such applications were first invited in October of last year? What proportion of those applications does he expect to be funded and what total of grants would be required to fund those applications outstanding?
– Since the detailed information cannot be available to me, 1 ask the honourable senator to put the question on the notice paper and I will be happy to get the information for her.
– My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, is in 2 parts. Firstly, is it a fact that the Government has terminated the River Murray Working Party without prior consultation with each of the 3 contracting State governments involved? Secondly, as the 4 contracting governmentsI include here the Australian Governmentto the River Murray Waters Agreement had charged the River Murray Working Party with recommending changes to the Agreement which would enable the River Murray Commission to undertake measures to protect and where necessary improve the quality of the River Murray waters in respect to salinity and other forms of pollution, and as the report of the Working Party was received by the ministerial steering committee on 30 October 1975, can the Minister say whether the Government endorses the report and whether the report will be tabled in the Parliament at an early date?
-I will seek the information for which the honourable senator asks.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General, follows upon other questions which have been asked about the position of Mr Garland. The question really seeks assistance in semantics. If a Minister had been charged with bribery during the period of the Labor Government, would the Attorney-General regard that as having been a reprehensible circumstance?
-The honourable senator is well aware of what is stated in the Standing Orders. Not only does he ask for a legal opinion but also he asks about a hypothetical situation. Both aspects of the question are contrary to the Standing Orders.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Security. When the Government abolishes the Social Welfare Commission, who will perform the functions it currently performs? What will happen to the staff presently employed by the Commission?
– The Social Welfare Commission will be in existence until the relevant Act is repealed in the Parliament. When that occurs, the staff now working with the Commission who are permanent public servants will come back possibly into my Department or into other departments in which they seek equivalent employment. Those employees who are not permanent members of the Public Service will have given to them whatever assistance can be given to find employment. The other part of the question, which relates to who will perform the functions of the Social Welfare Commission, can best be answered by saying that at present there are adminstrative reviews taking place with regard to all aspects of government administration. In line with the reports which are awaited on those matters, decisions will be taken as and when they are found to be required.
As far as the work of the Commission which is incomplete is concerned, arrangements and discussions are taking place between my Department and the Commission to ensure that work which can be completed within the near future will be afforded an opportunity for completion. Any other matters which require further work or detailed work will be dealt with by my Department individually if some sort of report needs to be prepared for the work of my Department. Those discussions are continuing with the Commission and we hope that whatever decisions are taken will result in a smooth and easy transfer for the public servants involved. We hope that the valuable work of the Commission that can be completed will be completed as soon as possible.
-I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. It arises from the comments made by Senator Cotton after I had asked him a question. Senator Cotton said something like this: ‘It sounded to me like a load of rubbish from the mouth of the senator’. I intend seeking leave to table the transcript of a television interview to which I referred which was obtained from TVW Channel 7. It relates to an interview on State File between Malcolm Fraser and Leslie Anderson and Peter Finn. I leave aside the question of whether the words constitute a load of rubbish but simply point out that if they do they came from the mouth of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and not from the mouth of the senator. I seek leave to table the document.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-(Victoria-Minister for Science)- Yesterday Senator Keeffe asked me a question to which I did not convey a full answer. I have received some information which may be of use. The question related to the flood situation in Queensland. I have been notified by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) that on 17 February the Premier of Queensland had requested assistance in respect of current flooding in Queensland. He apparently requested a wide range of assistance and that is at present being discussed. Senator Keeffe may recall that he addressed the question to me as the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory and then asked a question in relation to Queensland, which was inappropriate. I notice that the honourable senator has now placed the question on the notice paper and it is directed to the Minister for National Resources. I am therefore unable to supply any further information regarding the other parts of the honourable senator’s question. However, I should explain to the honourable senator that questions on flood relief and financial assistance arising from natural disasters might be appropriately addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate or to the Minister representing the Treasurer.
-( Western AustraliaMinister for Administrative Services)- Pursuant to section 30 of the Australian Development Assistance Agency Act 1974 I present the annual report of the Australian Development Assistance Agency for the year ended 30 June 1975.
– I move:
I have been privileged to be associated with the Australian Development Assistance Agency as a member of what has been called its advisory board, so the report is of considerable interest to me. The Senate will recall the appropriate legislation relating to the Australian Development Assistance Agency and various references to foreign policy, overseas aid and related international associations. I hope that we will have a period later on to discuss some aspects of this document and its import. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the papers and the summary of discussions of the Second International Trade Law Meeting held in Canberra on 22-23 March 1975.
– Pursuant to section 7 of the Tobacco Industry Act 1955-65 I present the annual report on the Tobacco Industry Trust Account for the year ended 30 June 1795.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Honey Industry Act 1962-73 I present the annual report of the Australian Honey Board for the year ended 30 June 1975, together with the financial statements and the Auditor-General ‘s report on those statements.
– Pursuant to Section 36 of the Canned Fruits Export Marketing Act 1963-1970I present the annual report of the Australian Canned Fruits Board for the calendar year 1974 together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
– Pursuant to section 12 of the Immigration (Education) Act 1971-1973 I present the annual report on Migrant Education for the year ended 30 June 1 975.
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 78 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1974 I present the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission for the year ended 30 June 1975.
– For the information of honourable senators I table the report of the Independent Non-Parliamentary Inquiry into the Repatriation System which was tabled in another place this morning by the Minister for Repatriation, the Honourable Kevin Newman. I seek leave to make a short statement relating thereto.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The report of the Independent Non-Parliamentary Inquiry into the Repatriation System was presented to the Minister by the Chairman of the Inquiry, the Honourable Mr Justice P. B. Toose, C.B.E., on 28 January 1976. Briefly the report recommends, inter alia, that: The separate arrangements for compensation of veterans and their dependants through the repatriation system are fully justified; the existing legislation, which is contained in 4 separate Acts, should be consolidated into a greatly simplified single statute; the independent statutory authorities appointed to determine claims and appeals should be re-structured; the method of assessing a veteran ‘s incapacity from service-related disabilities should be revised, and a new scale of compensation payments introduced.
Apart from these major changes, the report finds that, in general, the existing principles governing the provision of benefits are valid and should continue to apply with some modifications. I would emphasise that the findings of the inquiry do not constitute Government policy. The report has only recently been received and the Government has not yet considered it. It will be closely examined and the Government will give serious and detailed consideration to it.
In keeping with the spirit of this undertaking, and the Government’s policy of consultation with organisations representing veterans and their dependants, the Minister shall be inviting some of these organisations to offer their comments on the report, and will be happy to have other comments from any individuals or groups. Because of the amount of work involved any such comments should be made as soon as possible but, in any event, in the next 3 months. I move:
– I rise on a point of order. We in the Opposition are at a disadvantage because we have not had sufficient notice of the statements which are being put down to enable us to take note of the papers or to do anything we may wish about some of the matters that are contained in them. The report has been circulated but I am the only person on the Opposition side who has received a copy. It was put on my desk here only a few minutes ago. The Opposition is at a disadvantage.
– The Leader of the Opposition should be given a copy of all these reports.
– If I may intervene, I would like to say that there has been a slip-up in the arrangements. The general arrangement, as Senator Bishop is aware, is that if a Minister wishes to make a statement a copy of that statement is forwarded to the Leader of the Opposition or to Senator Douglas McClelland 2 hours before it is to be made. It is their responsibility to ensure that the appropriate shadow Minister receives a copy. Evidently this was not done on this occasion. It was due purely to inadvertence. I apologise to honourable senators opposite. I suggest that the way out of the impasse is for the honourable senator to seek leave to move that the Senate take note of the statement and the report and to move the adjournment of the debate, and we can come back to the matter.
– That has already been done.
- Mr President, may I suggest that you proceed at a slower rate?
Debate (on motion by Senator Grimes) adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 58 of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission Act 1975 I present the first annual report of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission for the year ended 30 June 1975.
– I seek leave to move a motion that the Senate take note of the paper.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act 1964-1973 I present the annual report of the Institute of Aboriginal Studies for the year ended 30 June 1975, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
-I seek leave to move a motion that the Senate take note of the report.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
-Is Government Business notice of motion No. 1 , relating to the appointment of 7 legislative and general purpose standing committees, formal or not formal?
– Not formal.
– I seek leave to make a brief statement on this matter.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-As I have indicated to the Manager of Opposition Business, the Government does not intend to call on this matter before next Wednesday, so that Opposition senators may have time to consult amongst themselves and with their colleagues in another place. I indicate also that the Government is anxious to move into the committee system and certainly we hope that the Senate will determine this matter before we adjourn at 5 o’clock next Thursday.
-I seek leave to make a statement on this matter.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-In the light of what the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) has said about the expeditious treatment of this matter, I point out- I think he will appreciate this-that he has listed items from (a) to (g) and some of us are trying to relate those items to the 24 Ministries. It will give us a better idea of where our choices lie if we can obtain certain background information. For argument’s sake, I would be curious to know under which item immigration and ethnic affairs would come, and I know that other honourable senators have other matters they would like elucidated.
– I will see whether I can obtain that information for the honourable senator.
Motion (by Senator Carrick) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Teaching Service Act 1 972-73.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move:
The purposes of this Bill are to make special long service leave provisions for those New South Wales and South Australian teachers who were employed in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory respectively in 1973 and who elected to join the Commonwealth Teaching Service before 1 January 1974, to enable provision to be made for the employment of teachers at technical colleges in the Australian Capital Territory, and to make other amendments to the legislation arising from the provisions of enactments which have been made since the Teaching Service legislation was last amended.
In relation to the long service leave conditions for the teachers who transferred from New South Wales and South Australia to the Commonwealth Teaching Service, the effect of the Bill will be to preserve the long service leave conditions which the teachers would have enjoyed under
State legislation which was in force immediately prior to their joining the Teaching Service and, where appropriate, treatment of future service as though it were State service for the purpose of that legislation. While preserving the eligibility of the teachers for long service leave in accordance with the conditions which were operative under the appropriate State law at the time they joined the Teaching Service, the Bill permits them to have their long service leave entitlement assessed in accordance with the Australian Employees Furlough Act, including future amendments to the latter Act. The Bill does not confer any eligibility for any improvements which might be brought about by changes in a State law which came into effect after the teachers concerned had joined the Teaching Service. The benefits which the Bill confers are limited to a particular group whose position was affected by the Australian Government’s decision to accept direct responsibility for the provision of primary and secondary education in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory. It is similar to the legislation which was introduced in 1973 by which special superannuation arrangements were made for this group of teachers.
A second purpose of the Bill is to allow the Commissioner of the Teaching Service to make available teachers to the technical colleges established in the Australian Capital Territory. Within the Australian Capital Territory, technical education has been provided by an arrangement between my Department and the New South Wales Department of Technical Education. In the main, the full time technical teachers employed in the Territory have been employed by the New South Wales Department. As part of the decision that the Commonwealth will itself provide technical and further education in the Australian Capital Territory, the Government has decided that the teaching staff of the technical colleges in the Territory should be employed under the Teaching Service legislation. The Bill makes provision for this by a variation to the definition of an Australian Government school, and by providing that a prescribed authority may be one which is established for a public purpose in accordance with the provisions of an Act, regulations made under an Act or a law of a Territory.
Other changes introduced by this Bill relate to sections 8, 30 and 37 of the principal Act. These sections are being varied to take into account the provisions incorporated in the Remuneration Tribunals Act 1 973- 1 974. Division 5 of Part III is repealed to take into account the provisions of the Maternity Leave (Australian Government
Employees) Act 1973. I believe this legislation should be given speedy passage by the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Button) adjourned.
-Pursuant to standing order 28a I lay on the table my warrant appointing Senators Bonner, Davidson, Devitt, Georges, McAuliffe, Maunsell, Melzer, Mulvihill, Wood and Young a panel to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested to do so by the Chairman of Committees or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
Debate resumed from 18 February, on motion by Senator Knight:
That the following Address-in-Reply be agreed to:
To His Excellency the Governor-General
May it Please Your Excellency-
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– Last night I referred to the Indian Ocean as being a major area of conflict between the Soviet Union and China. To move on from there, I point out that the region is neither economically nor socially coherent. It involves important and unstable regions- the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa. Of course these areas are rich in resources, particularly oil, but other minerals are in abundance also. In many cases these are sought-after minerals. The region of the Indian Ocean is vital to Japan, which obtains 90 per cent of its oil requirements from that region. It is vital to the United States of America and is likely to become more vital as the United States requires greater oil resources. Of course the region is vital to Europe and is of tremendous importance to Australia. It is worth mentioning that some little time ago 40 per cent of Australia’s exports and SO per cent of Australia ‘s imports passed through the Indian Ocean. These are likely to increase.
We can establish 3 facts: The region is an area of instability; it is an area of great-power interest and competition; and it is a major area of SinoSoviet struggle. We must not blind ourselves to these simple truths even though Mr Beazley in his recent comments chose to ignore them. It is interesting to note that historically Russia always has been interested in the Indian Ocean. In Czarist times it dreamed of a road route from Russia through to the Indian Ocean. Following the British withdrawal in 1968 Soviet Russia attained its dream by the use of naval power. Since 1968 Russia has maintained a relatively small but fluctuating presence in the Ocean. We have to bear in mind that vast fishing and oceanographic fleets are in this Ocean and many of these vessels are equipped for naval intelligence. Indeed, they are the eyes and ears of the Soviet Navy in the region. We also need to be reminded that the Soviet merchant fleet is very closely integrated with the Navy, far more so than the fleets of any of the other naval powers, and that provides the Soviet Navy with far greater flexibility. In the past, Russian naval flexibility has been affected by its long lines of communication, either from Vladivostok or from the Baltic, but the opening of the Suez Canal, which will take the largest Russian naval ships, has altered that dramatically. For example, the communication route for their northern fleet has been changed from 1 1 200 miles to 7300 miles. What is more important is that the communication line for the Black Sea fleet, which is a significant proportion of the Russian Navy, has been reduced from 10 400 miles to 3300 miles. So the Soviet Union now has the ability to reinforce its Indian Ocean fleet rapidly if it needs to do so.
I agree partly with some experts who argue that numbers of ships are somewhat irrelevant; what is more important is the facilities available to support those ships and to support a very much larger fleet. In recent years Russia has obtained greatly increased support facilities, and I will come to that in a moment. One of the major objectives of all naval powers, including Russia, is the ability to influence political events. Throughout history sea power often has been used to achieve political aims without firing a shot, particularly in areas of instability, and I regard the Indian Ocean region as being an area of great instability. The Russians still believe in gunboat diplomacy. It also has to be remembered that it is not how many Russian ships are present but what those ships represent. They represent a modern and rapidly increasing Russian naval capacity. Today Russia has a naval fleet which rivals that of the United States and is in many respects a more modern fleet. The number of ships is immaterial; what is important is what those ships represent and the power that lies behind them. There is no question but that the short term objective of the U.S.S.R. in the Indian Ocean region is the reduction of Western political, economic and military influence, leading eventually to the elimination altogether of Western influence and exclusive Russian hegemony. The ultimate aim of the Kremlin is immutable Soviet paramountcy. One only has to read the statements by Russian admirals and leaders to understand and appreciate that.
The Soviet has been following a very shrewd policy. Its deployment in the Indian Ocean has always been delicately calculated. It has been large enough to achieve its requirements, large enough to be eye-catching, large enough to raise the spectre of a naval race. The Russians hope it has not been large enough to convince the West that it must respond. But the Soviet’s real objective, should the West respond, is to arouse the non-aligned nations to the dangers of a naval race and so create a hostile climate for the United States and European countries, and perhaps even ourselves, if they seek to counter this Russian presence. Apologists for the Rus.sions, such as Mr Beazley, ignore these facts. What is more important- and I referred briefly to this a moment ago- is the Russian ability to sustain a much larger presence by the development of major facilities and the growing use of facilities made available by such countries as India, South Yemen- one suspects Iraq at Basra- Mauritius, and Berbera in Somalia. One wonders why in Mr Beazley ‘s recent statements on the Indian Ocean he completely ignored drawing our attention to those facts.
Berbera today is a major naval facility, and that cannot be denied. Recently committees of both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives found that when Anally completed the Berbera facility will represent the most complex naval support facility available to the Soviet anywhere outside the U.S.S.R. In testimony presented to hearings in July 1975 the committee was told by Congressmen who had visited the area that they had noted missile handling and storage facilities, petroleum storage facilities, including a barracks ship moored in the harbour since 1972, dock and port facilities, a suspected naval communication facility, a barracks and trailer area for Soviet personnel ashore, which the visitors were not allowed to enter, and new airfields under construction. There is already an airfield 13 000 feet long which can take the largest transport aircraft which could carry the type of missile that Russia is deploying, a missile with a range of 300 miles. It has been reported that a second airfield of 13 000 feet is being constructed some 60 kilometres from the Kenyan border. When the United States Congressmen were there they asked to be allowed to enter this facility. They were being accompanied by a Colonel Ahmed Sulieman, who is a son-in-law of the President. He said: ‘We asked the Soviets and they said they wanted no Americans inside. They are strictly their installations, built with their money. If it were mine, I would take you in. But I asked and they said “No”. ‘ So we now know that there is a major facility capable of sustaining a large Russian presence.
-Where is that area?
– At Berbera in Somalia. We also know that the Russians have the use of Aden, the former British naval base. They have the use of Mauritius, Vishakhapatnam, the Indian naval facility in the Bay of Bengal, and it is reported- how reliably I do not know- that they have the use of the facilities at other Indian naval areas. I am not criticising the Indians; they are entitled to provide facilities to those nations with which they are on friendly terms, but it is a fact that these facilities are available to the Russians and it is a fact that some of the nations which provide them are very critical of the United States and of any other Western power which seeks to expand its facilities in the Indian Ocean. There is, of course, an important spin-off from this. It is, as I mentioned previously, that already Russia has been able to increase its political influence. It can now participate as an interested party in any negotiations which take place, and it is now in a position, should it wish to do so, to dominate many of the choke points and key access areas such as the straits that give entry to and exit from the Indian Ocean.
Might I make a brief reference to Angola, because when we are discussing the Indian Ocean we cannot ignore what has happened in Angola. The Soviet Union with its agents or lackeys, as it used to refer to anybody who supported the United States, has taken over Angola. I have been waiting to hear from some of my colleagues opposite some cries for self determination for the people of Angola because they are so keen about people in other parts of the world who may be under threat from non-communist powers. The takeover of Angola is an ominous sign. It is the first time in history that the Soviet Union has been able or willing to exert its influence in areas far removed from the Soviet Union. This situation can only increase instability in the whole of Africa and intensify the Soviet-Sino conflict. Already China is reacting to recent events. Angola will provide the Soviet Union with naval and air facilities in the South Atlantic from which it could threaten the Cape route. May I say also that perhaps we should be keeping our eyes on
Mozambique, on the other side of Africa, which is closer to the Cape route and on the Indian Ocean.
One wonders at the recent extraordinary emotional outbursts by Mr Beazley denigrating such bases and casting doubts upon their value, while the Russians obviously consider such bases and facilities vital to their operations. The Opposition has attacked the provision of facilities on Diego Garcia and accused the United States of America of threatening a naval arms race in the Indian Ocean. The plan by the United States to develop Diego Garcia into a modest facility is no more than a response to the rapid build-up of Soviet facilities in the Indian Ocean region, not to forget of course the buoying facilities that the Russians have in the Seychelles and other parts of the Indian Ocean. All that the Diego Garcia base will do is enable the United States to operate in the Indian Ocean if it needs to operate there. It is no more than a facility, but it gives the United States a capacity to operate and to resupply should the need arise.
I wonder also why some of the non-aligned states which are so loud in their condemnation of Diego Garcia are silent when it comes to the Russian developments at Berbera and Aden and the use of ports in other so-called non-aligned nations. There is no question that unless Diego Garcia is developed Russia will have a major strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean. Any move to decrease the influence or will of the United States can only create a decided imbalance in favour of the Soviet Union, and one about which we should be concerned.
It is tempting to believe that goodwill and noble rhetoric can solve any problems. But cold national interest is the only criterion on which nations in the world operate. For those who fear United States-Soviet escalation, I point out that competitive escalation is better than single escalation by a non-sympathetic power.
Finally, may I refer briefly to the development of HMAS Stirling. This has been a need for a long time to enable Australia to deploy if necessary a 2 -ocean Navy. It is necessary for the protection of our north-west coast and in view of the instability in the Indian Ocean that we should have a presence there and that that presence should be available to those navies of friendly powers should they require to use it. There is also a need, I believe, for a patrol base along our north-west coast to protect that coast against drug smuggling, fishing offences and possible urban guerilla activity on our inter-continental shelf and indeed the whole north-west coast from which are to be found vital areas of development.
The Soviet has already used its power in the Indian Ocean, during the Somali crisis in 1970, during the Bangladesh war and in the course of the Arab-Israeli war in 1 973. Common sense demands that we support the development by the United States of Diego Garcia and the use by friendly powers of a newly developed HMAS Stirling, which I hope will be developed rapidly. Regarding the emotional nonsense spoken by Mr Beazley that HMAS Stirling would be a nuclear target, I think this is a contemptible attempt to create fear. The industrial development around Kwinana and the Perth area would be a far more tempting nuclear target than a small naval facility. Defence is as much a part of the machinery of security as is a fire brigade or a police force. It is part of the recurring price of sovereignty.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
- Mr President, I join with the honourable senators who have spoken earlier in the debate in congratulating you on your elevation to the illustrious position that you now hold. You served a valuable apprenticeship on several of the Senate committees and I know that you learned to handle successfully people who often have violently different personalities. I would also like to pay tribute to some of the earlier speakers in the debate. I liked the way in which they tackled their subjects. Of course they expressed one or two points of view which later will face the test of interjections. Nevertheless I think that they will look back upon their relatively quiet baptism of fire with a lot of satisfaction.
I liken my position to that of a man with an Armalite rifle in that I have to pick off certain things that have been said by Senator Sim, Senator Young and other honourable senators opposite. That is the way in which I will start this speech. I listened very closely to Senator Young when he expressed concern at what he called the conduct of the Australian Labor Party in this Parliament recently because of the way in which my colleagues and I were eliminated from office. My colleague Senator James McClelland dealt with the political history of the matter last night. A response to that is yet to come from the Ministers of the new Government. But I would like to strike a new note. Forty-three per cent of the people of Australia were extremely upset by the way in which the rules were applied. I asked some of those people what I should do when I came back to this chamber. They were unanimous in their views on the mode of conduct that was exhibited by the Opposition a day or so ago.
I want to take the matter a little further. I am not one of those who can speak on legalisms, but I can speak on what I would call the Australian concept of a fair go. I want to draw a comparison in this respect. I hope that you will accept it as such, Mr President. I number among my acquaintances a number of conciliation commissioners. One is Mr Commissioner Johnson, who is engaged in the arbitration system of the State of New South Wales. As a former Electrical Trades Union official, he would be well known to my new colleague Senator Sibraa. There are others in the Federal jurisdiction, including Mr Commissioner Holmes and Mr Commissioner Heagney. I would like to attempt to draw a comparison between their relationship with former colleagues in the trade union movement and the relationship of the Queen’s representative in Australia with his former associates. I want to try to develop the point that justice must not only be done but also appear to be done.
The comparison I am drawing is this: The Commisioner Johnsons and the Commissioner Holmeses have had to deal with former trade union colleagues. They operate in this way: A strike might go on for two or three weeks or a ban might be on for five or six weeks before they, in their capacity as industrial umpires, will give a hint to the trade union that if it cannot get any more out of the employer they will have to give a ruling on the matter and the ruling they will give will not be all that the trade union wants. We can talk and have our views about the reserve power that the Queen’s representative should have, but nobody has been able to give me any information that at any stage the Queen’s representative said to the then Prime Minister ‘ Mr Prime Minister, despite the eyeball to eyeball action that has gone on between you and the Leader of the Opposition, if some decision is not reached I will have to dismiss you- period’, the implication being that the then Prime Minister would have gone to a very vital national election not as the Prime Minister but as the Leader of the Opposition.
Perhaps I could take what I am getting at a little further. Recently there was a test cricket series in which I suppose it could be said that Thomson and Lillee bowled their share of bumpers. It should not be forgotten that, even though one of the umpires was replaced after about the third test, a bowler who bowled a couple of bumpers in an intimidatory manner was not banished to the outfield; the umpire warned him and suggested that he reduce the number of bumpers. If the Governor-General had hinted at what could happen, it may have been that my Party would still have felt that he was exceeding his prerogative, but it was never given such a hint. I say quite honestly that I rang people in Sydney after the events of the other day and they were in agreement with the attitude we adopted. Perhaps it is not a legal concept, but it is my idea and their idea of a fair go. Before a referee sends a player off a football field he warns him. From the whole gist of what Senator James McClelland and other senior Ministers in the Labor Government have told me, it appears as though affability existed between them and the Queen’s representative and there was never any indication that he had said: ‘Mr Prime Minister, I have my job and you have yours and I think that you have exceeded your responsibilities’.
I repeat that I still think that a government which had a majority in the lower House had the right to carry on. But, if one accepts the viewpoint that honourable senators opposite have put forward, there is still a way of doing things. It has been indicated to me as a socialist how soft some of us are on the parliamentary system. I have said it before and I say it again: One day the future Premier of New South Wales, Mr Neville Wran, will get such a majority that if for some reason a Liberal Party senator has to be replaced we will replace him with a Labor senator. I say to all the Queensland senators that we will get even with them on that point one day and it will be justice. To show honourable senators how some of my socialist colleagues are over fair, I point to the actions of a man whom honourable senators opposite malign. I refer to the excellent Premier of South Australia, Don Dunstan. I understand that we have virtually enacted certain legislation that prevents us from cheating as the Queensland Premier has done. Of course, that is not in my book. If I have to do so, I will wait 20 years to get even with somebody who does me an injury that is mean and petty, as I believe in evening the score. I know that Senator Keeffe agrees with me on this point, but Premier Dunstan does not work in that way. We are not apologising for our conduct. We did what we did because we were the aggrieved party. The Governor-General may have found himself in a difficult position, but how do honourable senators opposite think that a person like Mr Commissioner Holmes, who worked as a fitter at Chullora with metal tradesmen, would feel when he has to issue orders in difficult situations. At least he would warn the trade unions that the gun was loaded. That is the point I wish to make in response in particular to Senator Young’s comments about what we did.
I want to deal now with a matter concerning double standards. Earlier today my colleague from Victoria, Senator Primmer, led up with a rather strongly-worded, caustic question and Senator Withers, as the representative in this chamber of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, took him to task for taking sides or indicating some antagonism towards a neighbour not far from here. I appreciate the fact- I think I had a close relationship with our Minister for Foreign Affairs- that we have to have a certain degree of tranquillity with all countries, but I must say that during the last month I have waited for our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Andrew Peacock, or Senator Withers to say something about the hooliganism of a small group of Croats who have been burning the Yugoslav flag at several soccer matches in Australia. If we are to talk about infantilism, let us be fair and say that that is a stupid thing.
I will not say a lot on this issue. I have laid an official complaint with the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott) on behalf of the moderate Yugoslav community of Sydney. I want to know how long this is going to go on. It is not so long ago that a very fine Attorney-General in the then Senator Murphy ensured that the rule of law applied in respect of the actions of some of these stupid people who were trying to intimidate us into recognising the state of Croatia, which does not exist. We have the same relations with Yugoslavia as we have with Spain. Honourable senators will have noticed that I am deliberately dealing with countries that have systems that are far different from our own, but I am arguing on the rule of law and the rule of consistency. I say that it was ill-timed for Senator Withers to criticise Senator Primmer when he has never criticised this minute group of ultra right wing Croatian nationalists. It will be my job in the next 3 weeks, and possibly it will be the job of Senator Wheeldon or Senator James McClelland who have served on a Senate Committee which dealt with ethnic affairs, to protect a particular component of the migrant population which has been stigmatised by people who used forceful means to put their point of view.
I ask honourable senators, particularly the new honourable senators, to remember this: It is part of Australia for many ethnic groups to have an interest in their homelands. But when there was a military junta in power in Greece, no Greek in Australia, no matter how far left his political views may have been, ever attempted to blow up or destroy the property of the Greek Consul-General or the Greek Embassy. If honourable senators examine the Hansard record, they will find it recorded that unfortunately a minute group of Croatians tried to do so. If honourable senators also examine the record of the Senate Estimates Committees they will see that each time I questioned the Commonwealth and State police they agreed with me that these people had to be watched.
When we talk about law and order, we face an amusing position. I was in Sydney attending one Senate Committee meeting. I was with Senator Webster, Senator Durack, Senator Townley and, from this side of the Senate, my colleagues Senator Wheeldon and Senator James McClelland. I was viciously threatened by one of these people outside the Committee room. I naturally stood up to him. Do honourable senators know what I received under the New South Wales law? I received a writ claiming $20,000. 1 can say in the Senate that nothing has been heard about the matter since. If they want to make me into a martyr like Clarrie O’Shea they can, because I will never go into a court in New South Wales if that writ is served. I am not interested in the matter because I know that I would be framed. I do not think that it will happen. But I am interested in history the same as other honourable senators are. In 1913 or 1914 a Queensland Australian Labor Party senator named Miles Frederick was involved in legal trouble after a Queensland rail strike. I think that proceedings had been brought against him by a Nationalist Party leader named Denham. The Government of that day tried to get at Frederick and it took all the legal ability of T. J. Ryan to get him off the hook.
I will be quite frank with honourable senators. I will not recognise a legal system in New South Wales under which, when you attempt to defend yourself, people can attempt to frame you. I have been told that nothing will happen. It had better not happen because I can assure the Senate that I will be quite happy to be another Clarrie O’Shea. I tell honourable senators what will happen: The case will be politicised and it will show that the law is an ass. I know that honourable senators are saying that nothing has happened yet. I am always very astute in these matters. I know that my remarks will be passed back to Mr Maddison, the Attorney-General in New South Wales, and that nothing will be heard of the matter. But my remarks are on the record.
I now want to deal with the question of job ability. We have a new Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Mr Street. When the
Liberal Party was previously in government I sat with Mr Adamson of the Australian Metalworkers Union and Mr Harry Hurrell of the Federated Ironworkers Union when Lysaght Industries were phasing out employees at Newcastle. About 600 people were involved. What we were concerned about was severance pay. There was no talk about any magical job finding. The point that I want to make is that in this technological age time and time again the trade union movement has not been Luddites and behaved as they behaved in the last century.
I wonder sometimes what satisfaction we can get. We have accepted new changes which have reduced the work force. We have heard Senator Cotton expounding his idea, when we have been talking about trade union independence, that the Australian Labor Party is not with it when it comes to considering economic theories. I remember an occasion early in the life of the previous Government when my South Australian colleague, Senator Bishop, and others were developing a theme about a prices and income referendum. I did not squeal about the sections of the trade union movement which felt that there would not always be a Labor Government and that therefore they might be encasing themselves in some ironclad shoe if they agreed to support the referendum. They advocated a no vote in the referendum, as did Senator Carrick and other honourable senators. The people exercised their freedom to vote on the matter. But now Government senators are so brazen as to suggest a national plan of wage restraint, that the trade unions have to give up certain adjustments and we as a Party should remain silent. It can probably be said that since 1900 we all have been guilty of taking partisan attitudes in regard to referendums. That is in the past.
Possibly, if our term of office had been concluded in a fair way we would not be in the frame of mind that we are presently in. I simply say this to Mr Street, the new Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations: He will remember that when he was assisting Mr Lynch, the present Treasurer, at this conference between the FIA and the AMWU, nothing was said then about how the jobs of skilled workers could be protected. I replied to the statement of the present Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Mr MacKellar, on the migrant program. I noticed reference to the matter in the Governor-General’s Speech. I appreciate that we cannot be too specific about how many people are brought to Australia. I am not talking now about the refugee problem that Senator
Guilfoyle and myself dealt with last night. I am talking about job possibilities.
I think that it is generally accepted that anyone who is 25 years of age today and who faces 40 years in the Australian work force will be retrained at least twice and probably more often. We hear much talk about the assembly line blues of people who are working in the motor car industry. It is not a case of whether we placate the Chrysler Company in South Australia, whether we look after the workers in the electorate of Corio or, when we come to Sydney, the Vehicle Builders Union and the Leyland Motor Corporation. I am concerned with people who are now aged thirty to forty and who are presently working on the assembly line. Where do they go from there? We just cannot pyramid our migrant intake, although I know that it can be done in some fields. When honourable senators talk about a lack of planning, I ask them to remember this: We were in government for barely 3 years. Some of the chickens that came home to roost, particularly in the field of immigration, were attributable to the previous Liberal Government’s failure to undertake a scheme, in a manpower sense, of the magnitude of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. At the height of that project, about 7000 people- mostly manual operators of various skills- were directly working in the field. Nothing happened after that scheme was finished.
If we look at the present Government’s manpower intake- this is where I questioned Mr MacKellar- we find that this is where the difficulties arise. I am endeavouring to prove to the Government some of the problems that no government can control. The Australian Labor Party lost the electorate of Kalgoorlie allegedly because the Liberal Party said that if it were in power it would be able to handle the gold mining industry. Honourable senators know that when Russia needed wheat urgently she splurged a lot of gold into the market. This depresses the price of gold and no mine in Australia with shafts running down to 600 feet would be an economic goer in such a situation. It would not matter whether Sir Charles Court, the present Government or the Australian Labor Party made the decisions; there would be employment difficulties.
I ask honourable senators not to forget that sit-in strikes have happened before and they will happen again. They occurred in France in the 1930s. They have occurred in Australian mines. Sometimes agreement is reached and sometimes it is not. The point I am hammering is that, in the light of these technological changes, if the trade unions are expected to be reasonable then they can expect the employers to do a little bit more. People say: ‘To hell with the employers and the employees; what about consumer rights?’ I say this to Queenslanders as a whole: When the waterside workers agreed to the virtual automation of the port of Mackay and the number of waterside workers was decreased, nobody saw any reduction in the price of sugar. Do not get me wrong; if I had to choose between giving the Australian sugar industry maximum protection in preference to importing Cuban sugar, I would stand by the Australian industry. But honourable senators opposite should not approach me and almost in the same breath, harp about rising wages, price build-ups, about pricing people out of a job and saying that this is the cause of high costs. Have honourable senators ever looked at the industries in which we have reduced the number of manual operatives? Nobody can convince me that any saving that is made in this way is ever passed back to the consumer.
There is a further matter with which I wish to deal. When we argued for a 6.4 per cent wage indexation increase we were only trying to keep pace with prices. Put simply, the proposal of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) to reduce that wage indexation increase to about 3.5 per cent would have meant that workers would be further behind. It is all very well to look at certain occupations. No doubt, the metal workers and the miners could be deemed to be, to a degree, the aristocrats of labour. But let us look at some of these minimum rates that are paid. Undoubtedly, some girls in the work force are exploited. I refer to the female migrant in a hospital kitchen or perhaps a motel kitchen. 1 do not wish it to be thought that my remarks are getting close to the bone or are designed to offend anybody who may have motel interests. In Sydney quite a number of Chilean and Peruvian girls were treated brutally by some motel owners in that city.
To my mind, one of the unfortunate facts is our inability to obtain concerted action from the State and Federal arbitration inspectors to swoop in and examine pay dockets. Because of the mobility of labour and the turnover of staff it is impossible to obtain convictions. I do not say that idly. Honourable senators will be aware that last year I raised such a case. My own government at that time was not directly at fault. The case involved W. D. and H. O. Wills (Aust) Ltd. To their eternal credit, 2 former Ministers, Mr Clyde Cameron and Senator James McClelland, beseiged the New South Wales Minister for Labour and Industry, Mr Hewitt. It took him 6 months to find out that 3 Chilean girls were underpaid. They received their money 8 weeks later. I do not say that the union secretary concerned was the most active of men; far from it. But Mr Hewitt then said that he felt that the girls concerned were very arrogant. They were arrogant. I know my colleague Senator Coleman would agree with me on this. The manager said they were flighty. I think that he was very ambitious. He was rather a fat slob. Perhaps he thought the 3 Chilean girls were going to go to bed with him. This is the sort of attitude taken by some of the industrial officers. I wanted Mr Grassby to force that man to apologise, but Mr Hewitt said: ‘The man has rights and Senator Mulvihill hates industrial officers’. I do not hate them; but of course if they get in your way you give them what is coming to them.
Let me turn again to the question of foreign policy. My colleague Senator James McClelland spoke effectively earlier and referred to paper clips as items in which the Government was economising. I want to tell a much more humane story. Once upon a time only the people in the high income brackets ventured overseas, but it is very good for the people in the travel industry to know that the wives of boiler makers’ helpers and clerks and people like that can occasionally go overseas. I instance a lady named Mrs Chaudhuri, an Australian married to a Burmese. Burma at the moment is subject more or less to a military dictatorship. That woman and her 2 children are going to Rangoon to see her husband’s people. They did not want any trouble so the husband did not apply to enter his country; he probably would not have been allowed in. He is not a communist; I can assure honourable senators of that. He is not a fascist. He is just an average Australian. In the goodness of their hearts these people came to me 2 days ago and said that they were going to Burma and wanted to know if they could see the Australian Embassy if they got into strife. We rang the Foreign Affairs people. I did what I have done on many other occasions under the Whitlam Government and asked whether the Foreign Affairs people could send a cable to the Embassy in Burma- in some countries things are difficult- saying that these people were going there. We wanted the people to be able to report to the Embassy and for the Embassy to keep an eye on them and to ensure that if there were any misunderstanding our Government would protect them.
I do not want to be unfair to the Foreign Affairs people because they ultimately did what I suggested. I was told in stilted tones that this Government had economised and that letters, not cables, are now sent to embassies. It so happens that a cable has been sent. Honourable senators might ask: When are these people going? They are going to Rangoon on the twenty-fifth. They are not people who travel regularly. One could say that they should have seen somebody a month ago. They did not know the ropes. If this is the sort of economy that the Government is practising it would look very funny if we had another Sheila Cassidy case not in Santiago but in Rangoon. I do not say we will, but this is just an illustration of this madness about the economy. As a matter of fact the girl’s father, Alderman Bede Mahony of the Marrickville Council has, like a lot of other people in their fifties, paid taxes and likes to believe that the Department of Foreign Affairs operates for all people and not just VIPs.
I refer now to another aspect. I respect Senator Sim’s ability to put his point of view on foreign affairs. He talked about issues on which Australia should be counted. When Senator Willesee was here he repeatedly gave us the story of how we performed at the United Nations in relation to many sections of the Australian people of foreign origin. I would like to know, through Senator Withers, how we will stand up on the question of Cyprus. There has been a lot of talk about bloody aggression in different countries but we know that what went on in Cyprus was equal to what goes on in other countries including Nigeria and Angola. This is an indication of the double standard. I hope that in the near future in the peace talks that will take place the Australian people and their Parliament will give as much service to the cause of the Cypriots as has been given by senior United States Democrats such as Senator Egerton. These are things that people want to know.
Senator Sim dealt with the defence concept and the general idea was that he hitched his wagon to the United States’ star. That might be all right if the United States had continuity of ideas but anybody who has studied events over the last few years will begin to wonder. I think Kissinger had a difficult role in the Middle East. I do not quarrel with him on that but sometimes he has been in a squeeze play. If the Australian Foreign Minister had to wait for the signal to indicate which way to go it would be more or less like watching a tennis match with spectators’ heads going backwards and forwards. We hear what Ford believes in, what Kissinger believes in and what one or two of the leading senators believe in.
It is very hard to get a consensus of American policy. I do not say that idly. I listened with extreme interest to one of the new senators talking about Vietnam and New Guinea. If the Australian Labor Party makes a misjudgment everybody jumps on it, but some of the king size foreign affairs faux pas made by the LiberalCountry Party Government have been enormous. One of them dealt with Australia’s outer defences. A gentleman who has retired now, I think, from the United States foreign service, Mr Elsworth Bunker, was able to con the Menzies Government into agreeing to a transfer of a portion of Dutch New Guinea to Indonesia. I know that it was done to placate Sukarno. At that time there were no mass demonstrations. Looking through Hansard one will see that the maligned Arthur Calwell did question what this would mean to our outer defences. But honourable senators opposite buried that mistake. Another senator is soon to make his maiden speech. I know he has a reputation for dealing with morals in politics. I am wondering what he will say. A lot of us have read about the rehabilitation in Vietnam. I know that if those opposite had. had their way Australia would not have been there, but to me it goes a little deeper. We talk about a Christian way of life and a general belief in a fair go. Is it not amazing that after years and years of war a country under a different system from ours, a Marxist-oriented society, has been able to rehabilitate the prostitutes and line up all the drug pedlars and deal with them? Is it not a challenge to our society that we cannot do so? Honourable senators opposite should not say that we are telling them this only now. If they study many of our speeches they will find that we advocated the shooting of black marketeers and the employment of prostitutes in other work. The reforms I have referred to, the so-called American society and our people were not able to achieve. We talk about countries coming under a different form of government; some of it is irresistible especially so far as South East Asia is concerned. One or two of the Liberal members are a little more far-seeing. I think Senator Missen comes into that category. We know that in Europe today the ability of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Warsaw Pact powers to play Rumania and Yugoslavia against other countries has worked off. There is no doubt that at some stage the rivalry between China and Russia may be used effectively by the United States on some issues, and- what is much more important- it could be used on the new nation of Vietnam, Thailand or any of those countries which will go left. With their own national aspirations they will go to the brink, some with China and others with the Soviet Union, and then they will stop.
Egyptian-Israeli relations are a touchy question. I think Egypt would be deemed to be far more responsible than one or two of the other Middle Eastern countries. People can live with one another and be not completely committed to one attitude. The United States made errors when it first went into Vietnam. After all, it was a British Labour Government under Attlee that avoided unnecessary bloodshed in India, Pakistan and Burma. It is equally so with Holland although there was a little blood spilt before Holland belatedly got out of her colonies. France waited too long in Algeria and we have the situation of Portugal. It is no use continuing with the old idea that there is black and there is white. There has to be a middle area. This is all that Gough Whitlam was endeavouring to do when occasionally Australia took a considered decision. We know that the Scandinavian countries and Canada, if they thought the Americans were wrong both economically and politically, said so. It did not make relations between the countries any worse. The problem with which the Government could be faced at some time in the future- it is not happening at the moment- is that a conservative government in England could be at loggerheads with the Americans. This would put the Liberal and National Country Party Government into a difficult position. It would not know what line to take. I know what line Senator Wright would take. There are a few other honourable senators opposite whose actions I could not access. This is the sort of situation that could arise.
I want to refer to other aspects of this matter and I refer again to political morality. I have been in eastern European countries and all honourable senators can read my dispatches since I first went there in 1959. They can read the things with which I agree and the things with which I did not agree. Do not tell me that there is not something wrong with capitalist society in recent times. We have to look only at Watergate. What is worse than that is that some of the big American aviation companies and possibly their British counterparts think they can buy their way into political power. I know that the Minister for Defence, Mr Killen, who I appreciate as a fair and honest man, has denied that this lobbying does go on. Do not suggest to me that this financial lobbying does not go on.
I fear the Government’s attitude to this matter. If we do not have monitoring systems to safeguard what big business is doing we will find that decisions will be made in foreign board rooms rather than in Canberra, Washington or London. That is a basic point. I do not suggest for one moment that the Opposition has to like every decision the Government makes. As a matter of fact, shortly after the present Government came into power I recall that the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Anthony, had to rebuke gently but publicly the Utah mining company. Honourable senators opposite should not run away with the idea that these are people whose hearts bleed for Australia. All they bleed for is a quick dollar profit. Honourable senators opposite should have no doubts about that. I ask honourable senators to look at the attitude of some of the American firms in the State of Kentucky in relation to safety laws. I suppose I am speaking specifically to those honourable senators from Queensland. If they read Common Cause- and they should- they will read accounts of mining inquiries into some of the mining disasters. The Queensland Government is always afraid to upset the big mining companies. That is why miners have been killed in Queensland. The Queensland Government is not tough enough in its enforcement of safety regulations. My comments apply also to the Northern Territory.
I want now to refer to another point dealing with political refugees. Last night I pointed out to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Senator Guilfoyle) the fears and views of Mr Clyde Cameron, the honourable member for Hindmarsh, who has referred to the increasing problem of political refugees. I think the fact that the problem is increasing is accepted. What I am worried about is that the new Government, although it is taking in refugees from Vietnam and Timor, is not worrying about those people who have been suffering in dungeons in Santiago. This amnesty is another facet of immigration. There were a number of people in Australia to whom Senator James McClelland had given extensions, pending clarification of their work status. One or two of those cases are pending. I am referring in particular to Miss Solek, who is a Czech national. The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) is emulating Mr Grassby and I do not quarrel with him about the amnesty system. Some of the cases that were virtually 90 per cent completed in November and December last year have had to go through all the paraphernalia of amnesty. I do not think the cases of Miss Solek and Mr Albert Madrigal should have been prolonged.
I want to refer again to the political refugees from Chile. I am sorry that Senator Knight is not in the chamber because 1 think he was an officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and he would appreciate the point I am about to make. When we were in government- Senator Willesee knew this as did the then Minister for Immigrationwe found it difficult to define a political refugee from Chile. A half-way term was employed- ‘Persons under duress’. I intend to seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard the names and file numbers of Chilean migrant cases for the Minister to examine. The difficulty is to decide whether a person is an ordinary migrant from Chile who has to take his turn if he does not have a skill or whether somebody who is a motor mechanic or a panel beater should be allowed to migrate to Australia ahead of a trade union activist who has just been released from prison. The decision has to be made whether we take the trade union activist who may live in fear of his life before other refugees.
The British Government protested about the inhuman tortures inflicted upon Sheila Cassidy. There are many Chilean people in Australia who have relatives still in Chile. If I was in the place of Senator Guilfoyle I would fix the number of refugees to come from countries such as Chile, otherwise we will have a preponderance of refugees from certain countries. Once we have reached the net intake for one year other people will miss out. In conclusion, I would like, with the permission of the Senate, to include a table in Hansard of the names of 6 Chilean migrants, their file numbers and the names of their sponsors. I will leave the matter to the sympathy of the Minister. I hope the Minister will examine these cases specifically. I seek leave to have the names incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
FILE NO. N73/45048; N73/45049.
SPONSOR. Mr Renato Navarrete, 43 Jersey Road, Matraville.
CHILIAN MIG CASE.
FILE NO. N74/ 1 1 544; N74/68689.
SPONSOR. J. Garcia, 1 8 Bold Street, Burwood. NSW.
FILE NO. N75/78694, involving admission to Australia of: Mr and Mrs Eduardio Medina Iberra and family, from Chile.
SPONSOR. Mr Sergio Arturo, 14 Denison Ave., Casula.
-May I take this opportunity from the floor of the House to congratulate you, Mr President, on your elevation to the presidency of the Senate. I thank you very much for your kindness, your courtesy, your consideration and your advice during the last 1 8 months. I share the confidence of other honourable senators in your tenure in that office. I would also like to congratulate Senator DrakeBrockman on his election as Chairman of Committees. In the time I have known him I have found him to be a politician’s politician. I am sure that if this Parliament had in it more men like Senator Drake-Brockman it would be a happier place.
I would like also to welcome the new members of the Senate. This is an august chamber and there is a lot to learn in it. There is an old adage that not all the good politicians are on one side of the House and not all the good policies are on one side of the House. Certainly the new senators will get their opportunity to test the truth or otherwise of that. I would like also to congratulate the new senators who have already made their maiden speeches in this chamber. I think they have shown us already that they have a wealth of talent to bring to this chamber. I look forward to the transfusion of knowledge that they will bring us.
Nearly every Opposition speaker in the debate on the Address-in-Reply has started with a sense of outrage about the events that took place at the end of last year when the Government changed hands. Honourable senators opposite were outraged and said that democracy had been raped and that the Constitution had been torn up. I do not share their sense of outrage with them. I have listened to all their arguments. Indeed I think at that time what we saw was democracy in action. I think we saw the Constitution working for the people of Australia. The fact is that the ex-Prime Minister was sacked and he was sacked because he would not call an election. The election was obviously necessary because of the impasse that had developed in the Parliament. But the Prime Minister felt he could go on and govern without Supply and without the support of the Parliament. I notice in some of his speeches the source of the outrage seems to be that the Governor-General did not give the previous Prime Minister a warning that if he did not settle the crisis that had occurred in the Parliament he would sack him. But I suggest that had the Governor-General given the former Prime Minister a warning such as that, the Governor-General himself would have been sacked and the political situation in Australia would have turned into a debacle. The Senate has been told already that it was 300 years ago when the Parliament fought its battle against the divine right of kings. Last November and December this Parliament fought its battle against the divine right of the Prime Minister. The Parliament won that battle.
I have noticed Opposition senators saying that they now fear for the future of parliamentary democracy and the protection of minorities. I remind the Senate that I first came to this Parliament after a double dissolution when a Joint Sitting of the Parliament was called. It was a time when the nation politically was virtually equally divided in half. It was a time when the numbers in the Parliament were almost equally divided in half. To get his Bills through, the then Prime Minister had to call a Joint Sitting of the Parliament and with the slender majority that he had he rammed through 5 revolutionary Bills at a time when any sensible government would have known to tread lightly. What happened to the huge minority in that case? That shows that the Opposition believes that majority rule is parliamentary democracy, which is not so because majority rule simply means that the guy with the biggest gang is calling the tune.
As a further explanation of the events that took place at that time, we all know that the Senate has S main functions and that the function it was performing then was that of informing itself and the people about the administration of the country. The Senate has a duty to inform the people if it finds evidence of maladministration in the country, and the Senate had found ample evidence of gross maladministration and mismanagement in the country. I do not want to be accused of tedious repetition by mentioning at length the inflation, the high interest rates, the unemployment, the Budget deficits, the rural recession, the defence run-down and the blunders of the tariff decisions that virtually wrecked our textile, footwear and electronics industries and some of our clothing industries and created more unemployment. I could mention also the policies that had our mining industry on its knees. We all know that the mining industry has been a front row industry in the development of any country and especially in the development of this country. No new mine has opened in the country in the last 3 years and not one new well has been drilled for oil or gas in the last 3 years.
We had one affair after another, going back to the Gair affair which was really a sleazy attempt by the then Prime Minister to gain control of this Senate. That showed that he knew the importance of the Senate. We had the Gair affair, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation affair, the Croatian affair, the Morosi affair and the Cairns, Crean, Connor, Cass and Cope affairs, culminating eventually in the loans affair which was really the precipitating factor in the dismissal of the then Government. It would appear that the repercussions from the loans affair are not yet over. The then Prime Minister was junketing around the world when his country was rocked with disasters. There was a complete reversal of our foreign policy away from our traditional friends of the United Kingdom, the United States, South Africa and Rhodesia. We had the heartless decision on the Baltic states. We had turned round and were making friends with all those countries which do not even have an Opposition, but I suspect that that is the sort of government that the Opposition would like to see in this country. I submit that the Senate had not only the right but also the duty to take the action that it did to block Supply. There was no plot and there was no coup. The Senate was satisfied that the Government was acting without the support of the Parliament or the people, and the Senate’s view was vindicated at the subsequent election. I submit that there was then no threat to democracy and that there is now no threat to democracy.
Many Opposition senators have said that running through the Governor-General’s address is a vein of philosophy that causes them grave concernthe fact that the big central bureaucracy is to be limited, the fact that the wholesale dependence of people on the Government is to be limited and the fact that resources are to be directed away from the Government and back to private enterprise. I think it has become increasingly obvious all round the world that big government is the cause of our economic problems. One can look at any country that has big government and one will find it in economic trouble. So the obvious solution is to have less government, and that is the solution for which the present Government is searching.
– Can you give us an example of a country with less government that is doing so very well? I did not think so.
– The point I made was that all the countries with big government were doing badly. I could refer to the Cocos Islands as a prosperous place. The Opposition has cited inequitable subsidies to rural industry which it says are disadvantaging other people. Opposition senators have referred to wool export price maintenance, the fertiliser subsidy and several other matters; but they have failed to mention that the manufacturing industries in our big cities have grown up over the years under the shelter of a huge tariff protection that gave them higher wages, a higher standard of living and an umbrella that could not be extended to cover the rural sector. Even today the extent of that tariff protection is about $4,000m a year, and to offset that figure the subsidy to rural industry is merely hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Opposition senators have said that business is not confident now that there has been a change in government. That is not my experience. Nearly every businessman to whom I have spoken feels that a great weight has gone from his back and is attacking the future with confidence. The Opposition is now saying that our Government is trying to crawl behind overseas inflation rates as a cause of inflation here. I listened to Senator Bishop reading the statement of our Treasurer (Mr Lynch). I did not read into that statement the same inference as he did. Indeed, at the time of Australia’s most rapid inflation we were sheltered from overseas inflation because that was caused by a huge rise in world oil prices. The Opposition says that the options open to us to fix unemployment are exactly the same as they were when it was in power. That is not so. I am sure that the stimulus to business will create many more job opportunities than ever would occur under a Labor government, until of course it achieved its ideal socialist state where there is no unemployment. The Opposition is frightened that we will slash public spending in our efforts. I think ‘slash’ is a harsh word to use in the circumstances, but it is important -
– What about the pensioners?
– Pensioners have not been slashed. It is important to remember that public spending is non-productive spending and is selfdefeating, and this Government is taking the opposite course. It has been alleged that we will smash wage indexation. We certainly will not. The Government is committed to wage indexation. Some people would even go so far as to say that wage indexation is a commitment to future inflation. Nevertheless, the Government is committed to it and is taking a reasonable and responsible stance on it. The Government is committed to tax indexation, but the extent to which it will be able to index tax next August will be affected adversely by the decision that was taken on the wages issue. Nevertheless, the Government is still determined that it will smash inflation.
There has been a claim that the recent short term bond issue was a mistake. It was a short, sharp shock to mop up liquidity. It lasted only 13 days and the average take-up of bonds was $6,000-worth, which could not be considered excessive with such an attractive rate of interest. Whether it was a success or a failure, it highlights the dangers of government meddling in our economy. A scathing attack was launched on our policy of reducing the Budget deficit, but I submit that no family can operate if it draws up a budget, overspends and then just prints the rest of the money it needs. I think that the policy to curtail the Budget deficit as much as we can is a good one. There was concern that our cost of investment allowance had not been costed and that in any case it did not help small business. But I suggest that it must be better than taxing small business out of existence. I noted that an Opposition senator stated that the number of bankruptcies in small business actually fell during the term of office of the previous Government.
– It did, too.
– That is quite right, but it is because not so many started during the previous Government’s term of office because of the lack of confidence in that Government. We have been accused of being a sectional Government and of not being interested in the ordinary man. I do not believe that is true. What this present Government is doing is searching for solutions to the problem which are different from those that would satisfy the Opposition. I remember that I warned the Opposition, I think during my maiden speech, of the dangers of the Robin Hood philosophy of robbing the rich to give to the poor. Even if you do that you must remember that Robin Hood was a hood, and a country cannot be run like that.
The Government has been told that it has lost the co-operation of the unions and that this will have a devastating effect on the economy of the country. With our new initiatives in industrial relations I look forward to good relations with the unions. With the introduction of secret ballots and a little democracy in union representation, I look forward to a dramatic change in the relationship between the employers, the Government and the unions.
It has been said that the Government will virtually destroy the Australian Heritage Commission. That is not so. Opposition senators claim that active Government intervention in the Australian Heritage Commission is warranted to look after the national shrines of the country. I do not believe that the Government has a huge role to play in this field. What the Government should do is to provide an easy way for people to be able to retain sites and buildings that bear on our national heritage. It is said by the Opposition that the creative arts are doomed in Australia. I do not know what the Government has to do with creative arts. Indeed, I think that most of the artistic creations in the world were achieved under the private enterprise system. Nevertheless, if Opposition senators look at what is happening at the moment they will find that spending on overseas art has been cut but that spending on Australian art and artists has gone up. With any luck we will not have to put up with any more of these tawdry paintings from overseas.
I was surprised to hear Senator James McClelland refer to Ayn Rand as having written the Prime Minister’s gospel. I was not particularly surprised that it could have been the Prime Minister’s gospel; I was surprised that Senator James McClelland had ever heard of it. Senator James McClelland did not seem to have reached any conclusions that had any bearing on what this author has written. It seemed to me that his mind was muscle bound from jumping to conclusions. He said that her philosophy was that the rich were not responsible for the poor; that the healthy were not responsible for the sick; that the whites were not responsible for the blacks or, vice versa, that the blacks were not responsible for the whites. This is completely wrong. How could all the healthy be responsible for all the sick, or all the rich be responsible for all the poor, or all the whites be responsible for all the blacks? This was not her philosophy at all. Ayn Rand was one of the original thinkers of a new philosophy. She showed in her books the virtues of selfishness. She illustrated the untried ideal of capitalism. Her teaching was one of rational selfinterest and objectivism.
I would recommend for the further edification of Senator James McClelland that he should read books by Hayek, Von Mises and Professor Murray Rothbard. I hope that he does not reach the same erroneous conclusions from reading them.
I look forward to the implementation of the policies expounded in the Governor-General’s address. I support Senator Knight’s resolution, and I think that the implementations of the policies contained in the Governor-General ‘s Speech will direct us towards a new liberty and a new prosperity. I have pleasure in supporting the resolution.
– The address-in-reply debate is one debate in which most honourable senators take part for the purpose of discussing the policies of the Government and of the Opposition parties. After the first day the debate becomes somewhat old hat and one gets tired of repetition. What can be said about the various policies is generally said during the first day of the debate.
– Well, don’t try.
-It is necessary to say some things to satisfy Senator Wright because at times it is difficult to satisfy him. I, like other speakers, wish to join in congratulating you, Mr President, upon your appointment to the high office of President of this chamber. From my considerable knowledge of yourself- knowledge which I think extends back to the time before you entered this chamber- I know that you will observe all the decencies and the rights of every senator and that you will impartially carry out your duties.
I also congratulate Senator Drake-Brockman, but I do not know whether he wants congratulations. Possibly we should lament the fact that because of the counting procedure he was deprived of the opportunity to obtain a position in the Ministry. He is now the Chairman of Committees of this chamber. However, the obtaining of that position when a position in the Ministry was not open to him I think is justification for extending to him the congratulations of this chamber. It is usual to pay tribute to new senators when they deliver their maiden speeches. I recognise that new senators have made their first contribution to debates in this chamber, and I congratulate them on making their maiden speeches. They receive a better deal when they are making their maiden speeches than they might find they will receive during the rough and tumble of other debates in this chamber.
The making of a maiden speech is a traumatic experience. Everything is new and one has so much apprehension when making one’s first speech in this chamber. I have always found that after one makes one’s maiden speech one feels part of the chamber. One feels a little strange in the chamber until such time as one’s maiden speech is made. We wish the new senators well in future debates. What I have said is a warning to them of the rough and tumble of politics that takes place in this chamber.
Senator Sheil has just referred to the fact that honourable senators on this side of the chamber felt enraged about what happened to cause the double dissolution. I recall Senator Mulvihill saying that he knows of one new senator who has great ideals about morals in politics but who is yet to make his maiden speech. I do not know of the new senator to whom Senator Mulvihill refers, but I suggest that whether it be a male or female senator, he or she should resign before he or she gets frustrated with the things which have to happen and which do happen in this place. It is said that there are high morals in politics, but the very thing that enraged the Opposition and about which Senator Sheil has spoken indicates that there are not high morals in politics in this Parliament.
– You might reform us all.
-Yes, but that senator might have to go outside this chamber to achieve something beneficial. He may have to go outside this chamber and reform a lot of other people. One would expect that there should be some justification for the manner in which a government which was elected for 3 years was subjected to re-election after serving 18 months in office and, after getting a second mandate from the people found that after another short period it again had to face the people as a result of an action which I have described as being contrary to the Constitution of Australia. The Government was thrown out of office by an action which resulted from some force implemented by the GovernorGeneral of Australia. One cannot say as Senator Sheil has said that this was only a formality and that the right of the Senate to reject Supply justified this action.
If one heard Senator James McClelland last evening or read his speech which is recorded in Hansard they would know of the discussions that were held between 2 individuals who were involved in the law profession for a long time and who had represented trade unions and fought many industrial fights in New South Wales- one as senior counsel and one as junior counsel. They had been great and close friends and the confidence shared between the two is illustrated in the Governor-General ringing this member of the Executive Council to obtain advice on how to get the then Leader of the Opposition off the hook. However, soon after these talks and contrary to the conversation the Governor-General had with his friend over the phone- contrary to the belief that he instilled in his friend ‘s mindthe Governor-General adopted an alternative attitude and dismissed the Government that was in power. I disagree with Senator James McClelland in his belief that the GovernorGeneral deliberately intended to create a sense of false security in the Labor Party by having this conversation with his friend. I also have met the Governor-General on numerous occasions. As a member of the Executive Council I had discussions with him at Yarralumla after Executive Council meetings. I gained the impression always that he was honest and straightforward and 1 am of the belief still that when he rang his friend in such a confidential manner to seek his friend ‘s advice and assistance he was acting with honesty. I believe that something happened to change his attitude entirely within a very short period. I believe that something happened between the time of that conversation and the time that our Government was dismissed on 1 1 November. The question of why an individual in whom so many people had confidence should make such an about-face deserves thorough investigation. What was the pressure applied? Something dramatic must have happened to that individual. What happened and what caused it to happen?
We heard mention from the other side of the chamber today of a suggestion having been made in an American newspaper that the Central Intelligence Agency was involved in this whole affair. It was suggested that rather than ascertain the credentials of the journalist responsible for the newspaper article we should make it known that within the field of journalism this particular journalist was not of high repute in Australia. Nevertheless, he has written his article and what he has said will be published again. Irrespective of the reputation of the particular journalist he has made his statement boldly. I think a full inquiry should be made into this whole affair to determine those who were implicated and to exonerate those who should be free from accusation. I know the difficulties involved in inquiring into the actions of a representative of Royalty but this is an issue which may require justification from higher up. Something did happen between the conversation held between the Governor-General and Senator James McClelland and the events of 1 1 November to make the Governor-General, whom I thought one could trust, act contrary to the assurance he had given Senator James McClelland.
– Order! I remind you, Senator, of standing order No. 4 1 7 which states that senators must not make disrespectful reference to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral or impute motive to him.
– 1 acknowledge that standing order, Mr President. I did not think I had contravened it. I thought perhaps Senator James McClelland might have done so last evening but that I was rather trying to justify the actions of a man holding a high office. I was suggesting that if this man had been under some pressure from somewhere we should assist in finding out the details, thus relieving any future holder of such a high office from the pressures that can be placed upon somebody in that office. Senator Sheil has said that we have claimed that these events brought an end to democracy. I say that democracy was greatly shaken as a result of the events of 11 November and 13 December. We came to office in 1972 and there is a difference between the Address-in-Reply which we debate today and the Address-in-Reply debate which took place in 1972. In 1972 we had a Governor-General’s Speech that showed the legislative program of the Government and all the new initiatives that it intended to put into operation to reform the lives of Australians and to look after the less privileged in our society. One would have thought that, if nothing else, the actions of Gough Whitlam when he had only a 2- Ministry Government and saved the lives of Australian kids in Vietnam by pulling out of that unwinnable war would have justified his continuation in office for a decade. One would have thought that his reuniting with their families at Christmas 1972 the kids who were held in the gaols of Australia because they were acting in accordance with their conscience would have justified a longer term in office than he had had when he was forced to an election in 1974. The advances in education, in social security benefits and other areas which were foreshadowed by Labor in the 1972 Address-in-Reply debate and which immediately were implemented are in contrast to the present Address-in-Reply debate which follows from an address by the GovernorGeneral which foreshadowed very little new legislation to be introduced by the Government.
Nevertheless, we find that unless a government has the numbers in the Senate the will of the people of Australia means nothing. The popular House, which forms the government, can be destroyed on the refusal of Supply. I have seen the write-up in The Canberra Times today on the new fifth edition of Australian Senate Practice by our Clerk, Mr Odgers, the printing of which we approved yesterday. He upholds the power and independence of the Senate. It is strange for the Clerk of this Senate to enter into political issues as he has done on this occasion. His conclusion is far from correct. It means that a government cannot govern in Australia if it does not control the Senate and that therefore, to have responsible government in Australia, the government must control both Houses, with the Senate being nothing more than a rubber stamp- an expensive rubber stamp- for what the other House does. If the Government has not a majority in the Senate then the Government must fall. So the action of the Governor-General on 1 1 November makes this House purely an expensive rubber stamp for the government of the day, and if it is not a rubber stamp for the government of the day then the government must resign.
During the election campaign those people who thought about the question rallied to the Labor cause with greater enthusiasm than has ever before been seen in politics in Australia. In all types of weather we had bigger and better attended rallies, greater enthusiasm, bigger offers of support from individual people than ever before. More finance was collected from people attending rallies than had ever been known in Labor history. That is a fact. Many people who attended the rallies, who offered to support Labor and who financed the Labor campaign, one would not have thought from their occupations would normally vote for the Labor Party. All the indications were that Labor had greater support than it had in 1972 or 1974.
Then the media stepped in. The media had to throw out the Government, which posed a threat to the establishment in Australia, and Murdoch, who assisted to put Labor in office in 1 972, decided that Labor had to go out in 1975. If a media magnate can decide who shall be in government in Australia where is democracy in Australia? The position was so patently bad that the journalists of Australia revolted against the action of their employer organisations.
– Some of them.
-Let as look. Journalists in Sydney had a 24-hour stoppage. Journalists in Melbourne revolted and as an act of appeasement, the employers in each instance gave them an hour off to attend meetings where Labor candidates could address them. On that day the Melbourne Herald issued an edition which was not quite so opposed to the Labor Party as it was normally. In Adelaide the journalists had a stopwork meeting and accepted a suggestion that they go back to work and put an advertisement in the paper dissociating themselves from the editorial which the editor in Adelaide was under instructions to have published on the front page of the Adelaide Press. There was a revolt by those journalists to whom it was repugnant to be part of the campaign of lies and perfidy that was churned out morning and afternoon and delivered to the people’s homes.
As I said before, while there was greater attendance than ever before at these rallies, we were speaking to only a very small number of the electors who had to decide the issues. The newspapers which went every day into people’s homes churned out a diatribe of lies that were published for the purpose of changing the system. Despite the interests of the people, despite
Labor’s record, despite the enthusiasm of the reception it had received, the media in Australia decided who was going to win the election. It has been demonstrated that the action of the journalists in stopping work as a protest was not sufficient. We cannot have again a democratic election unless there is more industrial action and the false stories of the journalists are not printed. The industrial action will need to come from the Printing and Kindred Industries Union.
There have been some suggestions that not only was the power of the media involved but also there could have been a lot of bribes given for the purpose of purchasing votes. I raised that question today. Not only one case is subject to some legal proceedings. The Commonwealth Police are also questioning other independent candidates. Michael Cavanough said in the Press that he received only $500 but he knows of others who received $5,000. How much was paid throughout Australia to hopeless independent candidates in order to get them publicity to win votes on the condition that they give their second preference to candidates standing for the purpose of opposing the Government then in power.
– Are you willing to make a declaration on behalf of your Party?
-That we did not buy votes?
– I would make a declaration for my Party that we did not purchase votes.
– Did you give any money at all?
– What about the television advertisements?
– All right. It may be said that the big rallies purchased votes, but here is a Minister of the Crown who is justifying the purchase of votes. I said we had collections. I think that all Labor people contributed for the purpose of attracting votes. I give an annual contribution for the purpose of attracting votes but I did not give a penny for the purpose of getting Michael Cavanough a vote in the Australian Capital Territory. I did not give a penny for the purpose of getting any other independent candidate a vote in any district in Australia. That is the purchase of votes. It could be said: ‘We will give some amount for your services in this election’, and Senator Webster can justify that because it might have been done in the Labor Party. Of course, if it were done in the Labor Party then Senator Webster would have a responsibility to report it, Mr Ellicott would have a responsibility to investigate it and, if necessary legal action should be taken. But the fact cannot be avoided that people outside a particular political party were paid to enter this election for the purpose of purchasing votes. How can we have a democracy in that situation? It was Professor Manning Clark who stated in the Australian that 13 December could well mark a day which will go down in history as the day when more militant sections of our community deserted the ballot box for the purpose of militant action.
– You tried that yesterday, with the ABC helping you all along.
-Senator Wright points out that if we tried to do that with the opening of Parliament we were not successful. What he is trying to convey is that we will have to be more successful in the future. As I said before in this Senate, I spent 16 years as a trade union secretary, with a reputation of militant trade union activity during that time. I have spent 14 years in this Senate and, looking back on my history, I think I achieved more for the less privileged people of Australia in 16 years as a militant trade union leader than I have achieved in 14 years trying to be a respectable and honourable politician. I consider that Jim Cairns achieved more for the underprivileged people of Australia when he was sitting down in streets in Melbourne and getting us out of the unwinnable war in Vietnam than he has achieved as a politician in Parliament.
The working class has achieved an enormous amount through the activities of trade unions. The Carmichaels, the Halfpennys, the Mundeys and the Gallaghers who are condemned by honourable senators opposite have achieved more for the members of their unions than possibly a number of other trade unions in Australia. The writing is on the wall. The stage was reached where the hope of those involved in the trade union movement was that we could reach a position where with the election of a Labor government we would be able to achieve peacefully what we had to achieve by industrial action on the job. But when that Labor government was elected, we found that it could be thrown out by a coup d’etat and that that Government could be defeated by the powerful Press of Australia. The question that arises is: Is there any solution to obtain justice in our society through political action -
– Through parliamentary action.
-Yes, through parliamentary action. When the Labor Party held a ballot for election to shadow ministry positions, the question arose whether I would stand. I made my decision that I would not because, in the remainder of my political life, if I am to be honest in my conviction to try to do something for the less privileged of Australia that work must be done amongst organisations and people and not in the Senate chamber.
– Well, we will excuse you right now.
– I know that you would, senator, because you are unconcerned with the matters that concern me. While you have an interest in vested interests and in public companies in Australia, you are not much concerned with this House. You would find it convenient if I left it. But I ask the Government in its proposed legislation dealing with the trade union movement never to underestimate the power of that movement. If an attempt is to be made, as was suggested in the conversation that Senator McLaren overheard in the Parliamentary dining room, to get on top of the trade union movement, I would remind honourable senators that that trade union movement was the salvation of the working class. It created the climate to obtain conditions sought by the working class. Those people will not take their subjugation easily or lightly.
On other occasions with respect to secret ballots, we have heard it suggested that organisers would go on a Sunday morning to trade union members who have received their ballot papers and say: ‘You are not interested in voting in the election, are you? Will you give me your ballot paper? I will see that it goes in. ‘ The attempt to introduce secret compulsory official voting has as its purpose an effort to seek to defeat those sections of the trade union leadership that the Government does not like today. The workers would not tolerate such a system; they did not in the past. For all the secret ballots that have been held for positions, the militant trade unions are still a long way ahead of the respected trade unions in Australia.
In dealing with arbitration and the power of the trade union movement, we must recall that arbitration was a force applied against those who engaged in strike action. Through that force they could be thrown out of their industry. Trade unions were formed for the purpose of united action against such force and protection. When employees took strike action, they could be starved back to work by an employer who had the funds to sit and wait for a return to work. But the position has changed today. Industry operates with costly machinery, financed by large financial commitment in the form of loans. The employer cannot allow his factory to remain idle. He cannot leave his plant idle while the employee can sit outside the gates and wait for him to open it again. The machinery used today is so complicated that a small number of employees, sometimes fewer than half a dozen, can stop the whole process of manufacturing by going on strike. The loyalty of those in the trade union movement is such that no-one else will go in to do or to take the job of those few employees on strike. No one will shift cargo or goods, in a strike situation, that have been produced by someone else. This is a great united team effort. The whole of our system of production in this community must crash unless the co-operation of the trade union movement is received. This Government is not getting that and it is doing nothing to achieve it. As an alternative, it seeks to crush the trade union movement by introducing legislation before it has been considered by the trade union movement. The action by the Government is contrary to the expressed will of one of its Ministers.
Before I conclude, I wish to raise one more question. This concerns the eligibility of persons for unemployment payments; it was mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech. The principle is accepted that anyone who is unemployed, who cannot have found for him or her, or cannot find, a job, is entitled to unemployment benefits. The claim is made that there is a section of our population which does not want to work, which wishes simply to live on unemployment benefits, and will not look for work. I think the position has been distorted. I do not think that there are a great many of these people. There may be some.
One of the conditions that has been stated by the minister responsible for the new criteria to apply to those seeking unemployment benefits is whether a person makes himself or herself acceptable in appearance. The purpose of presenting an acceptable appearance is to make oneself more attractive to an employer as an employee. A further condition relates to a person who has been dismissed for alleged misbehaviour. Reference is made also to those who register for unobtainable occupations. This refers to those seeking employment, for example, as brain surgeons or lion tamers. Those are some of the conditions on which people will not be eligible for unemployment benefits.
I do not know who is to be the judge of the appearance of an individual. I do know that there is to be some power of reference for the purpose of the right of appeal against a decision. But let us consider the appearance of many people these days and what seems to be accepted in the community. I would question whether some of these people have the right appearance for the job that they do but, obviously, they are capable of doing that work.
I am concerned at the loss of unemployment entitlements because of dismissal through misbehaviour. This is a tool of the employer. In every case of victimisation in Australia, a defence offered by the employer is misconduct by the individual. It is always the excuse for the employer. The power of the employer to control an employee at present not only by threatening dismissal but also by threatening dismissal through misconduct or misbehaviour, without any proof and possibly without any kind of misconduct or misbehaviour, is another weapon placed in the hands of the employer, unjustifiably, and is against the interests of the individual.
When thinking of the real dole bludgers, as they are called, I would remind honourable senators that other than in times of war or in rebuilding after war no society, including primitive society, has ever employed all its people in the work force. In primitive society the young and able went out and hunted. There was no deprivation and there was no less intake by a person who was not a good hunter because he did not bring home the same returns as somebody else. In our society we obtain our income by working. But there is work for a section only. This situation can be overcome. It has been overcome in some countries, particularly the United States of America. Those in the electrical trades in New York, for example, at present work only a 4-day week with a 6-hour day. Greater employment opportunities can be provided by reducing the working day, the working week, the working year and the working life. Therefore, we can have shorter daily working hours, a shorter working week, more annual leave with less work in a year, or we can have an earlier retiring age.
– And produce the same output?
– Yes, we would produce the same output.
– And it would go around a larger number, would it?
– It would go around a larger number. The occupational opportunities would be shared. As I have said, in primitive days the hunting was only for sufficient for provisions. We are making do today by having our machinery operated by only a proportion of our work force. We would keep the machinery operating for the same length of time by changing the hours of work and having different employees on from time to time.
I see great dangers and the members of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse saw great dangers in having compulsory additional leisure hours for people who are not trained to utilise those additional leisure hours. A compelled reduction in the working hours of some people in Australia to 35 hours a week would not be of benefit if it meant to them an extra 5 hours in a hotel, gambling den or somewhere else.
– What about fishing?
– People who fish are people who can occupy their leisure hours. But a number of people simply go home and pine away upon reaching the compulsory retiring age. Their life is shortened by their compulsory retirement. But there are others who could retire tomorrow and be capable of occupying themselves in their additional leisure time. Society in the future perhaps will not be able to employ the same number of people as it does today. There could be increased leisure time. Complete leisure for a section of the community or increased leisure for the whole of society is not beneficial if society cannot utilise it properly. At present the employer is making the decision as to who shall be forced to have increased leisure time and the employer is doing so irrespective of whether a man is capable of using the extra leisure time or whether his life will be wasted by being compelled to take that extra leisure time. For example, if the 21 employees of the National Capital Development Commission lose their employment they will have extra leisure time forced upon them.
That raises the question of what we should do when we cannot employ the full population. We have a group of people who have elected to fashion their lives to living on the dole, and in some cases to living as a group in a house. They are people who have elected to utilise a system that we have introduced for the purpose of obtaining their livelihood. It is far better for increased leisure time to be in the hands of those who have selected it than of those who are forced into it. If they all decided to come back into the work force tomorrow and, by continued effort, were successful in finding jobs, because we cannot use our total work force their efforts would result in the displacement of men who at present are in comfortable positions and are providing for a family. Therefore, some leniency should be shown in this regard. If we cannot provide job opportunities we should seriously consider whether our contribution should be to ensure that such people are not in competition with those who wish to work or living a life that is other than they have selected and is resulting in their taking income away from another section of the community.
I conclude by saying that there is many a heartbreak in the events on this occasion. It can be anticipated that the Government will now run its 3-year term of office, but precedents have been established that make it essential that we look seriously at the Constitution and consider whether the State-elected House should have the right to have supremacy over the people-elected House to such an extent that it can in effect dismiss the people-elected Government.
-In speaking to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of the Governor-General I wish, firstly, not just to pay a formal tribute to the newly-elected President but also to say how much I warmly regard his elevation to the office which he now holds and how, during the short period in which I have been a member of this Parliament, I have come to appreciate the unique qualities that he possesses and his sense of fairness and justice. It is very comforting to know that a person with those very qualities is in the Chair in this period when our democracy and our system of government are under some challenge. Mr Deputy President, I pay the same tribute to you and congratulate you on your elevation to the position that you now hold. I have the same confidence in you and the same regard for your capacity to carry out your functions in the Chair.
I also congratulate the newly-elected senatorsthose who have made their maiden speeches and those who have not yet done so- and wish them well. I am sure that they will make a very fine contribution to the Senate. Already two of them- Senator Knight and Senator Kilgariff- have given a good indication of their knowledge and their appreciation of the great needs of the areas that are now being represented by them for the first time in this Parliament, and I am sure that they will look after the interests of their constituents. Senator Messner showed in his speech an appreciation and knowledge of the area of small business, which is of tremendous importance to this country. I think we all appreciated the thoughtfulness of his contribution to the debate. Finally, from the ghastly experience of my early term of office in this Parliament, I suggest to those newlyelected senators who have not already done so that they think carefully about making their maiden speeches fairly quickly and not being caught up in a succession of debates in which it is not so easy to do so. I do wish them well in their early periods in this Parliament.
I believe that we are here among other things, to uphold Parliament and parliamentary traditions. As one who has heard a number of the speeches of Opposition senators in the last 2 days I feel that there is a need to remind ourselves of that point. I, like other supporters of the Government, deplore the boycott which took place in the early period of this Parliament and also the abuse of high officers of state that we have heard in some of the speeches. The course, the view and the narrow attitude that members of the Opposition have adopted at the moment is not one which even harms the individuals concerned, but it does harm and can harm the institutions that are necessary to keep together the fabric of this society. I urge them to bear that in mind because I believe that there is a danger that the office itself will be lessened in the public eye if they continue with the type of pettiness that has been displayed this week. In saying that, I do not wish in any way to denigrate what I know are genuine feelings and a feeling of injustice on the part of Opposition senators. I know that they hold those feelings, but I urge them to consider the way in which they express their cause. We need a responsible Opposition in this Parliament. I think that it is as necessary as a responsible government. Both things must go together.
– As long as it is always a Labor one; that is your view.
-No, I am not saying that. I say to Senator Georges that I believe that there is great value in a change of government occurring every so often. That is a matter which is beyond our cause and beyond our control, but I think that there is a healthiness in the fact that governments do change at reasonable intervals.
-Every 18 months?
-They have not, of course, been changing in that period. In that regard I want to say that I listened with some dismay to the speech made by Senator James McClelland last night. Senator James McClelland is a very effective and able speaker and, of course, he made a very effective speech last night. I greatly appreciate many of the things that he has done in this Parliament and many of his abilities, but I believe that he did himself much less than justice last evening. Senator James McClelland chose to do something which I think should be analysed carefully by honourable senators. Let us look carefully at the speech he made. Honourable senators will see, at page 56 of the Senate Hansard, that he disclosed what he alleged were conversations with the Governor-General in which he suggested certain proposals had been made. I deplore the fact that Senator James McClelland disclosed private conversations. He knows that it is quite unlikely and not to be expected that there will be any confirmation or otherwise of such conversations. We will not know any more about the matter because the Governor-General is not in a real position, nor should he be expected, to enter into a controversy on such matters.
Insofar as Senator James McClelland speaks of his early friendships and of his associations and proceeds to disclose these remarks, I could not help bearing in my mind the expression ‘he bites the hand that fed him ‘. It appeared to me to be an unworthy action on the honourable senator’s part. Having disclosed what he said were conversations, it is interesting to read in Hansard how he proceeded to slide into another argument. He said:
One wonders how many others he talked to.
Senator James McClelland then went on to speculate as to whom the Governor-General talked to. He went on to say, of course, that he believed certain decisions had been made in someone’s mind. Then, after these few words, he came to this conclusion:
That is why we talk of a coup and that is why we regard this incident as the most shameful single act in Australia’s history.
On the basis of no evidence, on the basis of nothing but his wondering and his expectations and his judgments, which Senator Cavanagh today does not go along with, Senator James McClelland came to that conclusion. It is unfortunate that these sorts of conspiracy theories are put forward without proof or justification but which, if they are believed, have the effect of denigrating an office which is held high in the eyes of the public.
There are, analogous to this, constitutional problems which cannot be ignored by this Parliament or by the people of Australia. Nobody seeks to suggest that they do not remain problems. Nobody suggests that after a crisis which naturally imposed dangers and stresses on the system in operation in this country and which was prolonged there are not problems that are unresolved. I say ‘unresolved’ because I believe, as I think all honourable senators on this side of the chamber maintained throughout the election, that the election was not some type of referendum on the future of the Constitution or of the rights of the Senate. It was maintained fundamentally by honourable senators on this side of the chamber, and was upheld by the electorate, that it was a decision as to the economic management of this country, a decision as to which was to be the governing Party to get this country out of its economic problem in the best possible way. That judgment came across heavily in favour of the coalition parties. Therefore, I say that there should not be in our minds any idea that the various constitutional issues which have received attention and attracted importance in the last few months will just go away.
Three matters are in question. The first is the power of the Senate, when it should be used, how extreme its use should be, and whether that power should be reduced in any way. Those questions are of fundamental importance. These 3 questions that I mention now cannot be resolved immediately. They are not matters which will be resolved in the type of heated debate which we have had in the last 2 days, lt would be well worth our while to put them aside for 6 to 9 months, but not much longer than that, so that they could then be considered, perhaps at the Constitutional Convention which will be recalled or in some other forum. This should not be swept under the carpet.
– lt is wishful thinking.
- Senator Georges, anything may be wishful thinking. This is what I wish, what I hope and what 1 work for. That is as much as one can do. The second question raised concerns the powers of a Governor-General in this country. Those powers were held in some obscurity. There is perhaps still some doubt, and of course there are differing views in the community as to what the precise powers should be. That is another question that ought to be the matter of rational public discussion. But, as I said, it will not happen just now.
The third of these questions involves the filling of Senate vacancies. This has worried the Parliament for some 2 years now, and it must be resolved. I listened today to Senator Mulvihill, a man who is normally of a reasonable nature and who has compassion. Today he surprised me indeed when he said that he would get even on this question even if he spent 20 years doing it. He has greater confidence than I have of his ability to influence the affairs of State in 20 years time. Leaving that aside, I would suggest to him that that is not the way in which to tackle a subject like that. I do not believe that any honourable senator on either side of the Parliament wants to see the filling of vacancies in some random way as a matter of revenge or in line with the quirks of opinion in one particular State or of one particular politician. I do not think this matter will be resolved until it is resolved by a constitutional amendment. I believe that this is another matter which in time, when the heat has gone out of this debate and when rationality returns to it, will be looked into carefully by the people who are concerned with such matters in this country.
I wish to deal with a different aspect of the matter. Surely we in this new Parliament should be giving a great deal of consideration to the future and the role of the Senate. I believe that all honourable senators in the 29th Parliament acted as a very efficient House of Review, particularly in the first year of the Parliament. I would say that as crisis fell upon the Parliament in the latter period and as the economy got into trouble there was perhaps some lessening of this efficiency and that some of the attitude of reasonableness which was to be found in this assembly was lost. Nonetheless, the House of Review function in the 29th Parliament was effective, coupled as it was with the committee system of the Senate which must be maintained. Thus we had in many important debates in the previous Parliament very useful debate and give and take which was not entirely on Party lines. I believe that the Senate has to maintain its position primarily as a House of Review but also as a House which develops effectively its committee system and which from that committee system comes forward with useful reports and debate.
I think that we have the promise of some improvement. One of the failures of the last Government was the way in which it endeavoured to push so much legislation through the Parliament. We saw 220 to 230 Bills being passed in a year. I do not think that it did the previous Government much good and certainly it was not possible very often for the Parliament to consider that legislation with the effectiveness with which it should have considered it. I believe that in this new Parliament the ability of the Senate to act as a House of Review will be tested. It was argued by the previous Government in the last Parliament that there was something obstructive about the Opposition. I will not maintain for a moment that the Opposition did not make some mistakes in the last Parliament, that in the hurry and press to pass legislation it did not oppose some Bills which, if time had been available, might have been amended, or that it may have passed some legislation which it threw out. I am sure that in that period, with that mass of legislation, that could certainly be acknowledged. I hope that in this Parliament we will continue to act as a House of Review. It may be an important test of the long term success of the Senate that it should act in this way during a period in which there are big Government majorities in both Houses of the Parliament. I hope that we will perform in that way. If we do, part of the success will be due to the fact that we get together in committees and discover what areas of common ground exist.
I recall reading some 2 years ago a book by Professor Harold Laski who, I think, would be an author acceptable to my socialist colleagues on the other side of the Senate. He made the point that Parliaments and the parliamentary system can survive only if there is a considerable consensus of view over a wide range of matters. There cannot be a consensus of view over many important matters but there must be an acceptance on the part of members on each side of the Parliament that in due course they will cease to form the Government, that there will be no revolution, that they will step out and someone will replace them. There is a continuity. Part of the consensus that is to be found is, I think, helped by the committee system developed in this chamber. I hope that we will have a continuance of that in this Parliament.
I hope that the question time of this Parliament will not be dominated by Dorothy Dix questions which are passed to members. 1 have no intention of acting in such a role. I have no reason to think that Ministers intend trying to get me or other members to act in that role. I just make the point that I hope we will not see question time in this Parliament proceeding in that way. Nor will we find, I trust, ministerial statements taking the place of answers to questions. We saw that before. I hope we can have a new lease of life where those statements will take their right position as ministerial statements and not as answers to questions in the Parliament. I hope we will see as this Senate proceeds some improvement but certainly a continuance of the role which it has largely set.
I turn now to the Governor-General ‘s Speech and to the motion that has been moved. I will not deal in this speech with the major questions which are covered in the Governor-General’s Speech. But because I do not I do not want honourable senators to think that I do not think that those questions are of the greatest significance. The program is essentially based on the conquering of inflation which is ruinous and has been for some years. It is ruinous of the life and business of this community and is combined with the analogous question of unemployment which is damaging so many lives. The third and fourth aspects of the Speech are important- the question of the development of individualism and giving back to people the right to make their own decision and also the development of Federalism in a healthy state instead of what it has suffered recently.
The 2 matters to which I want to turn briefly are referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech. One relates to social welfare and income security. Part of the Speech as recorded on page 9 of Senate Hansard of 17 February 1976, reads:
The Government will proceed with a review of the income security system as a whole, including the effectiveness of guaranteed minimum income proposals in overcoming poverty.
I read with that statement the opening part of the social welfare policy of the joint parties at the recent election:
The objective of a Liberal and National Country Party government will be to ensure that people are provided with a basic level of security below which no one can involuntarily fall. This security will be provided in ways permitting autonomy and choice to the individual.
This tremendously important task which is before the Government should be given high priority. In this relation I wonder a little at the announced decision that the Social Welfare Commission is to be abolished. It seems to me that that Commission had an independent role in supervising a very large and conflicting area with different Ministries in which the interest in these questions could be seen to be not just a matter of the interest of a Department but one in which they should be compared one with another. In this connection I should like to refer to an extract from the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs on clauses of the National Compensation Bill. The Senate Committee had considered evidence given by Mrs Marie Coleman on behalf of the Social Welfare Commission and concluded:
The concern of the Social Welfare Commission, which was expressed in the first report of its Interim Committee, that the development of an integrated policy in the field of social welfare is of vital national importance’, is understandable, especially in the light of the statutory functions of the Commission.
Mrs Coleman in evidence said things which I think are relevant, bearing in mind this proposed policy:
I guess the point that I am making is that to my knowledge 3 separate reports in the last 12 months have gone to the Parliament which have highlighted problems as far as the present minimum income system is concerned, just gaps which are not handled at all. These gaps concern in particular the problems of lone fathers who are supporting families: the problems of large families in general who arc not helped by any present income maintenance system: and equally, the problems that most pensioners and beneficiaries of short term benefits with children have. These arc all groups which tend to fall into the poverty trap, even on the very austere definition of poverty that Professor Henderson has used. Now. we do see, as I said, that there are grave gups which at present are noi being mct, and wc think it may be very important to look at those gaps before wc move into ;in expansion in a dramatic sense in areas which are already receiving some kind of support however one might want to improve that support, lt is a question about what your relative priorities are, 1 think, in terms of developing national policy.
I think it is correct to say that the Senate Committee, which was a Committee comprised of members from both sides of the Parliament, was greatly impressed with her insight, with the various proposals and with the view of an overall common feature to the social welfare question rather than the many different schemes that have prevailed for some time. I say, by way of a parenthesis, that I am sure the matter of national compensation- though the Bill has gone- cannot be ignored in this Parliament because there is undoubtedly a very mixed, obscure and costly situation in regard to the various forms of compensation around the country.
That is not the point I am essentially making here. The point I am making is that it seems to me somewhat dubious that this Commission should go at this time. We in this Parliament remember that the Labor Government was proposing to abolish or bring the Commission under the control of the Department of Social Security. There was objection in this Parliament. Senator Baume, I and others raised objections at the time. I wonder whether the Department is not perhaps winning too much of a victory in having the sole say and having such a body entirely under its control. I say that by way of reservation and I want to see the policy outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech adopted. While talking to Senator Baume this morning he expressed the view- I pay him tribute for it- that it was something like getting the lions to report on the Christians after they had swallowed them up. I wonder whether there might be something like that in getting the Department of Social Security to give reports and so forth after it has swallowed up this body which seems to have done quite a bit of valuable work.
The second matter I want to mention in relation to the Governor-General’s Speech is the statement made in it concerning the implementation of the Family Law Act which I regard as one of the major pieces of legislation of the former Parliament. I say ‘the former Parliament’ and not ‘the former Government’ because it was a matter in which there were great contributions from all sides of the Parliament. The GovernorGeneral ‘s Speech states that the Government will continue to implement the Family Law Act. A great deal of consideration has been given to this matter before the election and after it. In a similar vein Senator Greenwood, when he was caretaker Commonwealth Attorney-General in December last, said: . . if the Government was returned to office on December 13, it would give top priority to setting up the Family Court of Australia.
That has proceeded. I have had the opportunity in the last couple of months to observe very closely the development of the Family Law Court and also the very concerned interest which the new Attorney-General, Mr Ellicott, and Senator Greenwood before him have taken in the development of this new Court. It is an important and exciting venture. It is, of course, one not without some difficulties. Some honourable senators probably will know that there have been some challenges based on whether wigs are worn in the existing courts. There are some difficulties at the moment because some cases are dealt with in the various State supreme courts and some are dealt with in the Family Courts. I hope very strongly that the time will soon come when the State supreme courts cease to operate in this field. I know the supreme court judges have no great desire to continue. It is my experience in a couple of States that there is no desire and no interest to continue to operate. It is a highly undesirable feature that 2 courts should continue to deal with this matter. It is my hope that the continued development of these courts will go ahead with all speed and will have the top priority which was promised to them.
Apart from the matters mentioned in the Speech of the Governor-General I think there are a couple of matters that are not completed. I suppose there are many things that are left over from the previous Parliament which are not completed. I will draw attention to 2 matters which I hope will not be lost sight of and which I am sure will not be neglected. The first is the matter of legal aid. As all honourable senators are aware there was a Bill before the Senate at the time the previous Parliament ceased. We have heard, from questions asked in this place, that the investigation into legal aid is proceeding and that the States are being advised. The opinions of the States on a desirable legal aid system are being sought. I believe that it is necessary to have a very full investigation. I believe there are still very complicated questions to be answered in relation to the proper legal aid system for Australia, such as the way in which the existing bodies that have done a lot of good work can be brought in without any duplication and waste of money, the extent to which a commission can be created that takes the control of legal aid out of the hands of the department and leaves it to develop, free of political control. Yet, at the same time, there must be control in a financial sense. There must also be some influence of government in regard to policies.
The question is raised also of the extent to which the private profession can play a full part in this. A question not resolved is the extent to which salaried services will be required to supplement those services. I hope that in addition to the inquiries that are being carried out at the present time there will also be some further parliamentary investigation into this matter. I feel it is something highly suitable to examination by a joint committee of the Parliament or by a Senate committee. These matters should be considered in a parliamentary sense. I hope such an investigation will be carried out before the final scheme which will be applied in Australia is decided.
Other areas which are unresolved are the reforms of administrative law and administrative relations which were partly dealt with in the last Parliament by the creation of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Another unresolved matter is the appointment of an ombudsman for Australia. A Bill was brought before the Parliament and the Opposition, as we then were, pledged support for that Bill. We were going to amend it if we could do so to improve the Bill and strengthen the position of the ombudsman. Basically, it was a matter supported by my Party. I hope that will be a matter which will be given early consideration by the Government of this country.
In addition to that is the vexed and critical question of open government which is much more than a cliche. During the last Parliament I took a lot of interest in the progress with the Freedom of Information Bill about which I have had a number of representations since the former Parliament was brought to an end. I believe that we need to introduce legislation along the lines of the legislation introduced in the United States of America. I believe there is a great need for information to be given to the public. I hope this will be a matter which will not be lost but which will be raised again in this Parliament.
On this general question of information, may I pay tribute to our Leader, the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) for the booklet which has been given to members of Parliament today entitled A Guide to Commonwealth Government Departments and A Authorities. I think it is excellent that we have this full and detailed publication in our hands because it sets out a lot of information which not only honourable senators but others will want to know so that they can find out who is responsible for various activities. I do not want to carp about this but I draw attention to one thing the publication does not say and one thing we do not have in this Parliament. I am referring to a list of Ministers who represent Ministers in the other place. We have such a list in our drawer and it is useful to honourable senators when they are preparing questions. It would have been helpful if it had been incorporated in this publication. I hope this one-page document will be reprinted so that we will have this further information available to us. My main point here is that the guide which has been produced by the Government will be of great advantage and help to the members of this Senate.
In conclusion I want to say that we have gone through a period of great polarisation of views. There must always be some polarisation of views. It is important that the Parliament should divide on important issues. But there are a lot of other issues that I think are unnecessarily polarised in this community. I believe we must try to find a lot of common ground if in this Parliament we are going to work effectively and have a great deal of success.
I came into this Parliament and in my maiden speech I said that I hoped I would be able, above all things, to carry out constructive work in this Parliament. I maintain that hope today. I hope that I have had some success. I hope that this Parliament and this Senate chamber will set itself work of a constructive nature so that the Government’s programs will succeed. I hope that inflation will not go through the roof as Senator James McClelland prophesied last night. He said he hoped that it would not go through the roof but he expected it to do so. I think we have to look for positive achievements and suggestions, whichever side of the Parliament we are on. I hope that in this chamber and in governing this country we will be able to do that. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion which is before the Chair.
-I should like publicly to congratulate Senator Laucke, who is not in the Chair, on his election as President of the Senate. Senator Laucke is respected by us all as a gentle man and a fair man. I vividly remember his demonstrating his courage in this place not long before the election when he defended his old friend and political colleague, Sir Thomas Playford, from the insults and the innuendoes of the then Leader of his own Party, the now Leader of the Government (Senator Withers). I think Senator Laucke will be an excellent President. I would have preferred our own nominee but I, like ali other honourable senators here, am very happy that Senator Laucke is in the Chair.
Similarly, I congratulate Senator Tom DrakeBrockman on his election as Chairman of Committees. Senator Drake-Brockman is liked and respected by every honourable senator in this chamber. In his short time in the Chair yesterday he quickly demonstrated to those of us who had not seen him in the Chair before his skill and his knowledge of the Standing Orders. I congratulate also the new honourable senators who have made their maiden speeches. They certainly have knowledge in their fields. I express the hope- I am afraid it is a vain hope- that they do not contract the verbal diarrhoea that everyone in this chamber, even someone like me who has only been here 1 8 months, contracts after a very short time.
It is always a pleasure to follow Senator Missen in a debate, particularly when he makes a speech like the one he made this afternoon. He demonstrated this afternoon the tolerance he has so often demonstrated both in this chamber and in committees of the Parliament. He demonstrated that he is willing to listen to the other man’s point of view. He demonstrated that he is willing to modify his points of view and also express his points of view without fear of the consequences. He has done this many times in this place. But I think, idealistically as Senator Missen spoke, that what he was suggesting to members of the Opposition as to what we could do about the constitutional issues and the constitutional problems that face this country is stretching the credibility of his argument a little too far. What Senator Missen was really suggesting was that we should be quiet, we should be good, and that we should not bring up the matter again. He was suggesting that perhaps in about six or nine months time issues such as the powers of the Governor-General, who at the moment seems to have the powers of an absolute monarchy, and the powers of the Senate, which at the moment is the most powerful House of Parliament in the world, and the problems created by these powers, which have been confirmed by the actions of the Governor-General in November and the elections since, can be discussed perhaps at a constitutional convention.
Senator Greenwood nods his head but also smiles. No one on this side of the chamber or, I suggest, on that side of the chamber- not even Senator Wright- and certainly no one in the House of Representatives will suggest to me or to anyone else that, while John Malcolm Fraser is the Prime Minister of this country and we have a conservative regime such as that we have now, there will be any possibility of constitutional amendment or even discussion of constitutional amendment on this issue. What Mr Fraser is about and what the others are about is power, and any constitutional amendment would decrease that power. I agree with Senator Missen that these matters should be discussed and should be looked at. I have no faith that they will be looked at in the next 2Vi years that I will be in this place.
Similarly, I agree with Senator Missen that one of the pleasures in the short time that he and I have been in this place has been to take part in the committees which have investigated various issues. But I just cannot see, and I do not think Senator Missen can see, if he really thinks about it, his Government allowing the setting up of a committee such as the one on which he and I, along with Senators Chaney and Wright, sat, which investigated the National Compensation Bill and which came down with a report that was critical of our Government. I cannot see this Government allowing that to happen and, with the numbers that are on that side, I am sure that such a Bill would not be referred to such a committee. I am very certain that a report such as the report of the committee of which Senator Rae was chairman, following Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, on the securities and exchange laws in this country will never come down while this Government is in power. I am sure that there will be no legislation such as the Family Law Bill. With the big majority which the Government has in this chamber and in the House of Representatives, what Senator Steele Hall predicted after the election will come true- this chamber will go to sleep. There will not be the useful committee system that there was previously. Very few people will sit in the Gallery and listen to Senator Wright and myself.
– We are not hidebound like you.
- Senator Jessop was described as our big, brave, junior senator from South Australia. The word ‘junior’ referred not to the position to which he was elected but to his cerebral development. Senator Jessop will not be a rebel in this place. Senator Wright may occasionally cross the floor or speak against his
Government. Senator Rae certainly will do so, as will Senator Missen. But the rest of the Government senators will be quiet or will yap from behind the picket fences, which are made up of their numbers, like so many scotch terriers.
The Address-in-Reply debate always offers an opportunity for general discussions and we have already had a variety of discussions on various topics in the 2 short days of this debate. We heard a very skilful speech by Senator Messner on small business. We heard Senator Knight speak about his interest in women’s affairs. We heard Senator Sim give his useful speech on the necessity for another war. Senator Sheil has given us an extraordinary example of what Ayn Rand is all about, although I will have to read Atlas Shrugged and the other books again to get the sort of interpretation which he placed on it. The events that led to the election did not surprise some of us. I can remember predicting in a speech in October or September, before the double dissolution occurred, that this sort of thing probably would happen because the people in this country who control the wealth, who have the vested interests and who pull the strings in the Liberal Party were not going to brook any attack on their privileges. They had used their resources and they did use their resources to cause the double dissolution. There was a combination of a Prime Minister who was of their own ilk, a Chief Justice who was always a political operator and a compliant GovernorGeneral; and the aim was achieved. As I said, we seem now to have a Governor-General who has the powers of an absolute monarch.
The worst effect of the election and of what has happened is that more and more groups in the community and more and more people in the community believe that Parliament just does not hold the answer to their justifiable aspirations or their desires to achieve various aims. My concern is that in the long term, or perhaps even in the short term, those people will be added to in sufficient numbers that they will use extraparliamentary methods. One would hope that those extra-parliamentary methods would not burgeon into violence, but if people look outside the boundaries of this country and look at what is happening in the rest of the world-apart from the Cocos Islands, with which Senator Sheil is very impressed- they can see what happens when all the power in a country is concentrated in the hands of a few and a large number of people feel that they cannot get anywhere.
– Say a Prime Minister who is going to govern without parliamentary approval?
– I am talking about the power of people such as the members of Patrick Partners who can put people into the position where they have to take pensions when they do not want to, who are all broke themselves when they are brought to book for their crimes and whose only common feature is that they all have wealthy wives. When one of them gets into this Parliament, I think it is a disgrace to the honourable senator’s Party.
– You are lucky that you are saying that in Parliament, because outside you would have to pay for it.
– That is one of the privileges of being in this Parliament.
– That is right- cowardly.
– The cowardly action in the election was the action that was taken to slap a stop writ on all the newspapers in the electorate concerned to stop them mentioning the Patrick Partners case. Mr Fraser’s speech, as delivered in this chamber, like most speeches from the throne- whether from our side or the other sidebut perhaps more than most, was very strong on cliches and generalisations. It seemed to me to be very light on detail. But then I suppose that that reflects the mind of the person who wrote it.
I think that, taking it together with the previous utterances of the Prime Minister and the subsequent actions of the Government, we can all look at a pattern developing which I believe should give us all reason for concern. The first ringing phrase that I can ever remember coming from our present Prime Minister was during a discourse on his philosophy at a conference in this city, when he assured everyone who was present that life was not meant to be easy. I thought that was a bit rich really, coming from a man who is a member of the squattocracy and who left a private school and went straight to Oxford and then very shortly afterwards came into this Parliament and has been here ever since. I thought it was a bit rich for a man who considers that one of the essentials of life is to hire a butler and to make sure that his drivers wear coats and caps even in the stifling climate that we have had in the last few days. I did not realise that what he really meant was that life was meant to be hard for all those who are less fortunate than himself. Added to that is his latest key phrase- we have heard it many times since the election and especially since the selection of the Cabinet- that there are no soft options for Australians. No soft options for which Australians? For Mr Fraser and his grazier colleagues? Or are there no soft options for the wage earners and underprivileged in this country?
I think that the sort of thing we must look at is his extraordinary comment that the 6.4 per cent wage indexation rise will exclusively insulate from inflation those who are dependent on arbitration for their wages while leaving the rest of the community vulnerable. That is surely an extraordinary statement. The Prime Minister knows, or he should know, and certainly his colleagues and the Treasury know that those in this country who are insulated from inflation are the large possessors of capital and the large businesses which are able to hand on the increases in prices and the professional groups who are able to lift their fees and fix their fees without any restrictions. If wage indexation insulates the wage earners of this country from the effects of inflation it will be the first time in history that this has happened. Of course indexation does not do this. Wage indexation in a time of difficulty such as we are experiencing can help to protect the wage earner. Against the wishes of Mr Street, Mr Fraser tried to prevent the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission from giving the 6.4 per cent wage rise.
Let us look at some of the actions of the Government since coming to office and see what sort of picture we can develop. The pensioners of this country have had their promised pension increase delayed by a month to save a paltry $20m. This has happened despite an election promise that the new method of fixing pension rises- indexing them to the movement in the consumer price index- would enable the new Government to give pensioners their pension increases early and more promptly. It was said that under this new method pensioners would not have to wait for the average weekly earnings to be calculated. Funeral benefits were abolished. These benefits were inadequate, 1 will admit, but they were withdrawn at a time of economic difficulty in order to save about $ 1 m. The result of this action is that the pensioners of this country are in a state of uncertainty as to just what will happen next. That is not surprising, because it seems that the Government is in a state of uncertainty about what it should do.
Hearing aid charges were imposed and 2 days later the charges were removed. We had the introduction of radio and television licences and the next minute they were off. If the Government does not know what it is doing how can the pensioners and other underprivileged people in this country know where they are going? I know that we hear members of the Government say that what we need is business confidence, that the businessmen in this country need confidence. Surely in an affluent society like ours, in an allegedly civilised society like ours, pensioners need confidence. The less fortunate need confidence. They have a right to be certain of their future and of what is happening in this community.
Much play is made of the necessity to ensure that social welfare benefits go to those who are in need of them. I think this is a sentiment which is shared by every member of this chamber and by most people in the community. How has the Government gone about ensuring that benefits are received by those in need? What are the first things the government has done to ensure that any of the social welfare benefits in this community go to those who really need them? The first thing we saw happened before the election campaign began, and seeing Senator Sheil sitting opposite me reminds me of it. A great state of hysteria was stirred up in the community about the so-called dole bludgers. I can remember Senator Sheil saying that they were all fornicating on the foreshores of the Gold Coast. Perhaps Senator Sheil saw this on one of his voyeuristic trips down to the beaches. Never have any figures been produced to prove or to let us know how many of these so-called dole bludgers there were- just claims that there were thousands, that there were millions, that they were everywhere. There has never been any reference to the fact that although the Henderson Commission of Inquiry into Poverty and other committees of inquiry have gone looking for these so-called dole bludgers who have been littering the beaches, they have never been able to find them in any significant numbers.
This campaign about dole bludgers has had 2 effects. Firstly, it gave the excuse for a strict work test to be applied before unemployment benefit was paid. All sorts of things were to be taken into account- length of hair, dress and general appearance. The worst part of this strict work test was that the people working in the employment offices who were assessing people for unemployment benefit were to be set up as moral judges. The vast majority of them did not want this power, and the few who did were not fit to use it. We soon had examples of girls from Bowral being sent 200 miles to take jobs as barmaids. They were told that if they did not go they would lose their unemployment benefit. We had another example of a girl in Dubbo being told that she had to go to Melbourne or she would lose her unemployment benefit. Sanctimonious moral judges, like the honourable senator opposite who interjected and, I think, said ‘tut tut’ and tapped the table, said: ‘This is the only just thing to do’.
That was bad enough, but the worst and the second effect of this campaign about dole bludgers was that it created in the community an atmosphere that everywhere there were these people who were bludging on the community. All the unemployed bored this stigma of being unemployed. Everyone who was unemployed was looked on as a dole bludger. Added to their normal anxiety from being unemployed and to the normal difficulties that they experience while they are unemployed was this state of anxiety and this stigma which was unnecessary. This should not have happened. Bodies like the Brotherhood of St Laurence reported that the innocent were being caught up in these ridiculous work tests and were having to be dealt with by them and the voluntary agencies. These bodies predicted that this would happen before the work test was applied. I believe that a time of high inflation and high unemployment is not the time to start a blitz like this on the least privileged in the community, and it is not the time to put these people in the state of mind of being uncertain about what will happen to them. The odd $40m or $50m saved is nothing in the deficit of $4,000m and is certainly no excuse to cause further suffering.
To compond this insult the Government chose to give the equivalent amount of money away in that famous bounty, the superphosphate bounty. Everyone in this chamber knows that the superphosphate bounty does not go to the battling farmer in any significant amount. It goes to the group that is so well represented by the Prime Minister- the wealthy large pseudoaristocratic farmers of this country who are insulated by their wealth from the problems of inflation, and the large farming companies like AMATIL which have large holdings and which have no need at all for this bounty. The bounty, as it is applied, bears no relationship to the socalled needs principle which was laid down in the policy speech from the Throne as the basic principle for handing out this sort of thing.
The whole problem with the social security system, which Senator Missen mentioned, is that the Government knows, as does any thinking person who looks at the problem, that the only way to bring adequate social security to all citizens of Australia is through the redistribution of wealth. Every government has to face up to this problem sooner or later. It is this basic fact which will, I believe, prevent any effective system of social security from being developed in this country while the present Government is in power. Conservative governments are persistently and consistently reluctant to introduce social reform. We have heard Government senators say that social reform is no function of government. Honourable senators know that those who influence the way in which the Liberal Party and the National Country Party do things will be utterly opposed to any redistribution of wealth in this country. Therefore it will not happen. I hope that the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) succeeds in her efforts and, I am sure, her desire to reform the social security system so that social security benefits go to those who need them and that the income support schemes and the income security schemes prevent people from getting into the position where they need social security benefits. 1 know she would like to do these things, I know she would want to do these things, but she knows she cannot do these things and she will not be able to do these things because the people who are in her Government will not let her do these things.
I believe that the inevitable result of this Government’s collective actions will be the development of a degree of cynicism in the community and particularly a degree of cynicism in the labour force, which has been unheard of previously. Look at the attitude of the union movement to the actions of the Government now. As I mentioned earlier, we know that Mr Malcolm Fraser decided to go back on his promise to uphold the principles of wage indexation. We know that he said that wage indexation was to be supported and that at the next Arbitration Court hearing the increase tied to the cost of living index would be supported. We saw the cynicism of the unions and the absolute dismay of people such as Sir Gordon Chalk and Mr Hamer, many of the newspapers and, one suspects, Mr Street, when Mr Fraser threw this wage indexation promise out the window. We saw that Justice Moore and the other justices of the Arbitration Court were not amused or impressed by the arguments of the Commonwealth Government.
What worries me is that now that Mr Malcolm Fraser and his colleagues have not got their way with the Arbitration Commission, how long it will be before he decides to change the ground rules of the arbitration system because the present ground rules do not suit him. There has been much speculation about this and we know from the events of previous weeks that much of the speculation about Government actions has come to pass. I fear such action being taken because I fear its result. We will have industrial and social chaos. There will be social and industrial action outside the Court. The result will be one mess. The big fault with such a situation will be that the industrially powerful will succeed and triumph and the less powerful fall by the wayside. All the social security, industrial and agricultural policy decisions made by the Government up to now have been aimed at the preservation of the status quo and the same areas of privilege in society. But to achieve this permanent status quo- to achieve this state of social inertia- the Government will have to keep the lid on the legitimate claims of millions of Australians. How long can this be done without draconian type measures which are more suited to countries like Spain, Chile, pre-revolutionary Portugal and some of the communist countries? Perhaps this is what Mr Fraser wants and what his colleagues want.
As a Tasmanian I share the concern expressed by Senator Rae and expressed also by Sir Gordon Chalk, Mr Kevin Cairns and the Labor premiers, Mr Dunstan and Mr Neilson, concerning the proposals contained in the Government’s federalism policy which, I understand, is the brainchild of Senator Carrick. My anxiety is aggravated by statements made recently by Sir EricWillis, who said that the smaller States are getting too much of the tax money and by Mr Wentworth last year when he said that the people of New South Wales and Victoria are sick of paying for the smaller States. I am further concerned by the favourable remarks about the Canadian system by the advocates of the new federalism system setting up Canada as the shining example. They say: ‘It works in Canada, it’s wonderful, let’s have it here’. As Senator Rae pointed out in a column he wrote in a newspaper the other day, anyone who suggests while in the smaller States of Canada that the Canadian system is wonderful is very likely to get stoned because in the smaller States of Canada taxes are 5 to 6 per cent higher, facilities are worse and resources that the people are able to use are worse. These people do not like this system at all. The myth that the Canadian system is perfect and that we should copy it is very wrong. I believe and have always believed that this country is one country and that it should not be considered as a collection of competitive States. We have to realise that this country surely has to develop as a whole and the only way to develop as a whole is to distribute some of the income from the larger, more populous States- the larger, more wealthy States. Often these larger States, especially in the case of Victoria, are more wealthy mainly because the headquarters of so many firms that have their operations in the smaller States are located in Melbourne and Sydney and the firms pay their taxes from there. It is important that we do not rush into a system with the excuse that we are going to make the States more responsible. If we get into a tax war between States in their attempts to attract industries to each of those States the smaller States will not be able to compete with the larger States or, if they do try to compete, the smaller States and their citizens will suffer. If this happens the whole country will suffer.
I believe that those honourable senators opposite in the Liberal Party- I believe there may even be some in the National Country Partywho have misgivings about the new federalism policy should make sure that there is careful discussion about the matter and that a bad system is not rammed down the throats of the smaller States. I hope that we do not end up with a system whereby great tax differences exist between the various States and whereby we have great competition between the various States to set up industries.
In conclusion I should like to say that although I view with grave misgivings the future plans of the Government as set out in the speech of Mr Malcolm Fraser which was read by the GovernorGeneral, I hope that there are sufficient people such as Senator Missen on the other side of the chamber who have sufficient influence on what I see as the extremely conservative attitude of so many of their senators, particularly members of the Cabinet. I hope there are sufficient to remind the Prime Minister and some of his Cabinet colleagues that there are other people in the community who are not as fortunate as they are and who need help and some distribution of the wealth that they do not have. If this does not happen Senator James McClelland ‘s predictions will come true. The first prediction is that inflation may go through the roof and that will be bad enough. But if inflation does go through the roof and if the wealth of this country becomes more and more confined to a small group in the community then we will have social breakdown and social chaos. These are things that I fear most as consequences of the actions of 1 1 November and the resultant election. I think the words of D. H. Lawrence sometimes are the best to follow, when he said:
If we are all of good faith and are not afraid of change we need not be afraid.
Some of us on this side of the chamber are afraid because so many people on the other side of the chamber are afraid of change.
Debate (on motion by Senator Baume) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 4.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 February 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1976/19760219_senate_30_s67/>.