30th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 78 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate, in Parliament assembled.
We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:
Subscribe to the view that the Australian Broadcasting Commission belongs to the people and not to the government of the day whatever political party.
Eschew all means, direct or indirect, of diminishing the independence of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
Reject all proposals for the introduction of advertising into A.B.C. programmes.
Develop methods for publicly funding the Commission which will prevent the granting or withholding of funds being used as a method of diminishing its independence.
Ensure that any general enquiries into broadcasting in Australia which may seem desirable from time to time shall be conducted publicly and that strong representation of the public shall be included within the body conducting the enquiry.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 22 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That whereas from 1st October, 1974, the National Employment and Training System came into operation;
And at that time the then Government agreed that Widow pensioners and recipients of Supporting Mothers Benefit will be in no way disadvantaged . . . ‘under the National Employment and Training System;
And that ‘for all trainees over 2 1 years and Junior trainees with dependents, a full-time training allowance equivalent to the Average Adult Male Award Wage, which will be adjusted quarterly- at the present time approximately $90.00 per week is to be provided;
And that there is very strong objection to the reduction in training allowance to trainees under the National Employment and Training System, which became effective from the 1st April, 1976, as this has placed these trainees at a considerable financial disadvantage.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the members in the Senate assembled will take the most urgent steps to readjust the payments under the National Employment and Training System so that they are equivalent to the Average Adult Male Wage; thus honouring the Governments contract with the said students.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
-I present the following petition from 52 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in the Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully submit that:
A survey has shown that the present situation of sessional kindergarten adequately caters for the needs of our community. A reduction in government funding would seriously impair the quality and availability of the services provided.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in our petition: that the proposed reduction in financial aid to sessional kindergartens be reversed.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 1 5 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That we deplore the confusion generated by the Government’s proposals to radically modify the system of health insurance in Australia;
That we believe the changes will destroy the concept of universality previously incorporated in Medibank;
That the Government ‘s actions will lead to a two-class system of health care and thereby creating a division in Australian society;
That the unnecessary duplication of health insurance funds created by Medibank and private organisations both operating will lead to gross administrative inefficiency, waste and increased costs.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government retain at least the original Medibank Scheme.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That Medibank has proved to be the cheapest and most efficient means of bringing health care to Australian citizens and that the citizens of Australia have received Medibank as a great and valued social reform;
That Medibank has proved itself to be a far superior system of health care than was offered by the private health funds prior to July 1 97S;
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will observe the promise made by the Prime Minister in his policy speech that ‘We will maintain Medibank and ensure the standard of health care does not decline’.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Messner.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate, in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Mulvihill, Senator Messner and
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Objection to the Metric system and request the Government to restore the Imperial system.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Wood (2 petitions).
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Family Planning Association and similar organisations throughout Australia contribute to the welfare and wellbeing of a great proportion of the Australian people both in family planning and in an advisory capacity on the prevention and control of social diseases.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, give urgent consideration to a favourable decision on the continuation of Federal Government finance to enable the activities of the Family Planning Associations and like organisations to proceed unimpaired throughout Australia.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Primmer.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that many Australians are concerned at the announced decision by the Australian Government to reduce the 1975-76 Overseas Development Assistance vote by $2 1 m, and by the abolition of the Australian Development Assistance Agency.
We your petitioners do therefore humbly pray that the Australian Government:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Messner.
The humble petition of Her Majesty’s loyal subjects respectfully showeth:
Your loyal subjects and humble petitioners humbly pray that the Honourable Senators of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled will, as a matter of extreme urgency, pass a resolution affirming the obligation to furnish immediate fulfilment of existing foreign aid undertakings and requesting the re-establishment of the Australian Development Assistance Agency, or the establishment of some similar organization, and transmit the said resolution to the House of Representatives.
And your humble petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray- by Senator Button.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
The purpose of this petition is to bring to your notice the mounting financial burden being thrust upon patients and or relatives of Nursing Home Patients. Fee levels are controlled by the Government but increases in Government subsidies have not been sufficient to cover the spiralling fees in Nursing Homes.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled should take immediate steps to apply a major increase in patient subsidies.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator McLaren.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That distress is being caused to social security recipients by the delay in adjusting pensions to the Consumer Price Index months after goods and services have risen, and that many medications, formerly a pharmaceutical benefit, must now be paid for.
In addition, State Housing Authority waiting lists for low rental dwellings for pensioners become never less, and funeral costs increase ever greater.
Your petitioners call on the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to:
Adjust social security payments instantly and automatically on announcement of increases in the quarterly Consumer Price Index.
Restore pharmaceutical benefits deleted from the free list.
The States Grants (Dwellings for Pensioners) Act 1974, eroded by inflation, be updated and increased to overcome the back-log.
The funeral benefit be updated to 60 per cent of a reasonable funeral cost. This benefit, when introduced in 1943 at 200 shillings ($20), was seven times the pension at that time of 27 shillings ($2.70) per week, or more than twice the basic wage of 97 shillings ($9.70).
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Messner.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Handicapped Persons Assistance Act 1974, to increase the handicapped children’s benefit and with respect to certain formal matters.
– My question is directed to the Minister assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs. In response to a question by me on 19 August the Minister claimed that the increase in payments to the States when properly adjusted should be 14.6 per cent. Is it true that that figure of 14.6 per cent claimed by the Minister is arrived at partly because amounts for unemployment relief were excluded from the 1975-76 figures? Does the Minister agree that there is no oasis for excluding those grants from the 1975-76 figures?
– I am glad that Senator Wriedt has managed to get as far as page 7 of Budget Paper No. 7 because he inexplicably had a mental block at page 6 and did not read the further print. I am happy to say to him it is true that I used the figure of 1 4.6 per cent in precisely the same way as it is used in the Budget Papers. The figures have been properly rectified to include 2 things: An adjustment for pre-payment in health spheres, which was paid immediately before the end of June and which applied to this year, and also an adjustment for unemployment relief. They are properly considered as adjustments by the Treasury. The honourable senator shakes his head but he cannot have it both ways. When he wishes he adds the funds provided under the Regional Employment Development scheme into his figures as though the scheme were permanent. Then when he wishes he forgets that it was his Government which abolished the RED scheme. When he uses these figures in directing a question to me he uses them to his own advantage. I suggest that in the future he should look at the actual table set out on page 7 of Budget Paper No. 7. It is a logical and accurate table.
-I wish to ask a supplementary question. I did not ask that question for the purpose of inviting another debate about the figure of 14.6 per cent. As Senator Carrick well knows, I looked at those tables long before we entered into the debate on this question last week. Although he claims to be precise in his figures, I do not ask him to confirm a table in last year’s Budget documents. However, I ask him whether it is correct that table 41 in Budget Paper No. 7 last year recorded substantial payments to the States for unemployment relief in every year from 1971-72 to 1975-76, including a payment of more than $100m by the McMahon Government in 1972-73. How does he relate those facts to the answer that he has just given?
-It would be a natural rhetorical question also to ask the honourable senator how he relates his statement today that he knew that page 7 of Budget Paper No. 7 existed and that the figure of 14.6 per cent existed to the fact that he used false figures the other day. It is interesting to do this.
- Mr President, I must take a point of order. I am sorry to prolong this and I did not intend to invite a debate on this point. But to clarify the record, on page 7 to which Senator Carrick refers 3 columns of figures have been submitted by the Treasurer. It has been a matter of debate and of opinion in economic circles and in successive governments over the years as to which figure is applicable. Last week I asked for confirmation of a particular column of figures. I point out that Senator Carrick in his reply to me previously referred to health payments being included with employment grants. I suggest to him that if he studies the figures a little more carefully he will find that columns 2 and 3 are separate tables. But that is a detail. I think it is quite out of place for him to suggest that I am quoting false figures. If my figures are false, the figures of the Treasurer are false.
-I can understand the sensitivity of the Opposition in not wanting to be caught out on the selective use of figures, but it is quite a proper thing for me as the responsible Minister to remind the Leader of the Opposition that the subject he is debating today was raised by him on selective and inaccurate figures. I now say that what is set out on page 7 is correct. The figure on page 7 is 14.6 per cent. I am not aware of table 41 in the past Budget but I will look it up and will respond to the honourable senator when I have studied it, just as I did when I looked at page 7 last time.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to the statement in the Budget Speech delivered last week that in light of reviews of programs in Aboriginal affairs additional funds will be provided. I have not found in the Budget papers provisions for additional expenditures so I ask the Minister: When decisions are made for further expenditure where will the money come from?
-There has been some interest taken in this matter previously and I am indebted to the honourable senator for his question. The information I have from the Treasurer is this: When the Government has determined the appropriate levels of further assistance the necessary cash will be made available from the Advance to the Treasurer pending the appropriation of funds at Additional Estimates time by means of the Appropriation Bill (No. 3). This is the usual appropriation source. The timing of the issue of additional funds from the Advance to the Treasurer will depend on when the funds already available from Supply Act (No. 1) and Supply Act (No. 2) 1976-77 and the further amounts provided for in Appropriation Bill (No. 1) and Appropriation Bill (No. 2) are exhausted. I trust that is a satisfactory answer for my honourable colleague.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Education or to the appropriate Minister. I preface it by reminding the Minister of the proposed development of a medical school at the James Cook University of North Queensland in Townsville. Does the Government support the Karmel Committee recommendations for the establishment of a medical school at the James Cook University? Is there any truth in the rumours that this medical school will not be built in Townsville? Is the Minister aware that if this medical school is not developed considerable redevelopment of the already overcrowded and outdated Townsville Hospital will be necessary?
– When I was in Townsville recently I spent some time at the James Cook University discussing, amongst other things, the question of a future medical school. I also took the opportunity to look at the Townsville Hospital and to study its facilities because I am aware that part of the report relating to the practicability or otherwise of a medical school at James Cook University deals with the need to upgrade substantially the clinical facilities of the hospital. These are important matters and this question is highly technical. One matter meriting attention is whether there is a need on specialised grounds for a medical school at James Cook University because it would be specialising in tropical medicine for the sub-tropical and tropical regions. I can only say that this matter is still under review. The whole question of developing further medical schools in Australia is under review. I am very well aware of the interest of the University and of the people of Townsville in extending in that direction. I certainly will give the matter sympathetic consideration when it comes before me again after the reviews being undertaken at the moment are completed.
– I address my question to the Minister for Education in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. Is the Minister aware of any public criticism of the Government’s alleged cutback in grants to sporting bodies? Do such grants come under the heading of the culture and recreation vote in the Budget? Do outlays in this sector include leisure time activities, money for swimming pools, community centres, athletic fields, etc, as well as contributions to youth and social organisations? Can the Minister confirm that the Budget vote for cultural and reacreational outlays is the highest in Commonwealth Budget history?
– As to whether I am aware of public criticism, the answer is yes. The honourable senator also asks whether such grants come under the heading of the culture and recreation vote in the Budget and I confirm that that is so. His third question was whether outlays under this Budget item included leisure time activities and he named them. Yes, that is so. To the honourable senator’s next question whether I can confirm that the Budget appropriation in this respect is the highest amount, I say yes, but I make 2 qualifications. It is the highest amount in money terms but it is not in adjusted real money terms. I remind the honourable senator that a committee is reviewing this matter at the moment looking at the whole area of sport and recreation. The Government is very concerned that sport and recreation in this country should develop as fully as the nation -
– You had never heard of it before 1972.
-Mr President, I resist the luxury of replying to the interjection. I merely say that, if there are defects of Federal Government in this area at the moment, the mote must be in the Opposition’s eye. It had the responsibility for national sport and recreation in this country for 3 years. Having said that, I make it clear, for I believe it is worth while when you tilt that you should look to what sword you touch, that in this situation my Government and I do not believe that the development of sport and recreation is purely a national or a government matter. Basically this is a matter for a whole community. Ideally, these matters generate spontaneously in communities. It is the duty of government to help. My Government is reviewing the situation with a view to determining priorities to assist this development.
-I direct a question to the Minister for Education. It follows on from a question asked by Senator Keeffe and shares his concern about the medical school which was proposed to be established at the James Cook University of North Queensland. When the Minister considers the matter, will he take into consideration the fact that, unless the school is established, specialised and qualified staff presently being attracted to Townsville by the prospect of this school will go elsewhere? Will he also consider that these specialists will be lost to North Queensland if the medical school does not eventuate. I also ask the Minister to insist that the Queensland Government stop playing politics with the situation and announce immediately when and where the school will be built?
-How clearly in Opposition the Labor Party sees that which it did not sec in government. It is only some 8 months since the responsibility for the determination of the development of James Cook University was in the hands of the Labor Party. Now Opposition senators are talking about the State Government in Queensland playing politics. I remind Senator Georges very clearly that -
– It is.
– It seems that it does not matter to him that for 3 long years the Labor Government played politics; it had the opportunity to develop medical schools but did nothing. The Karmel Committee report has existed for some years. Having said that and having taken away the tender concern for the State Government which shows a remarkable ability to achieve wide public support in Queensland, I will take into account the factors which the honourable senator brings to my notice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Is it true that the Government has appointed Mr David Hay to review and examine submissions from all people in respect of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Bill 1976. If so, will the Minister use her powers of persuasion on the Government to ensure that all members of Parliament, particularly those who are vitally concerned and interested in this very important piece of legislation, have the opportunity of viewing the findings of Mr David Hay.
– I will direct the matters to which the honourable senator has referred to the attention of the Minister. I feel sure that I am entitled to assure him that those who have an interest in those matters will have an opportunity to discuss them with the Minister and those concerned with the land rights matter.
– I ask the Minister for Administrative Services a question about the redistribution of divisions for the House of Representatives. On 8 April last the Minister provided an answer that, on the latest available statistics prepared by the Statistician, New South Wales would be entitled to one division fewer and Queensland and Western Australia each would be entitled to one division more than at present. Although the High Court of Australia ruled some 10 months ago that the distribution should not await the holding of a census, I ask whether the census confirms the calculation that the Minister gave last April. I also ask: How many divisions would there be in each State if, as one learned judge suggested, the number of members in the House was not twice the numbers of senators from the States alone but twice the number of senators both from the States and the Territories?
-I thought that the honourable senator would be fairly well informed on this matter. The Government had formulated certain legislative plans arising out of the decision of the High Court late last year, I think it was, despite the fact that the decisions of the learned judges are somewhat hard of understanding concerning section 10 of the Representation Act, which is the principal Act to kick off a redistribution; but only about a week or 10 days ago I received a writ that was issued by the Attorney-General of New South Wales on behalf of a New South Wales citizen. I am one of the defendants, as are the Chief Electoral Officer and a number of other people. The interesting thing about the writ, as I understand it- I gave it only a cursory look before I gave it to the Attorney-General- is that it seeks a declaration from the High Court that section 10 of the Representation Act, as amended by the previous Labor Government after the double dissolution, is invalid. I just wish that honourable senators opposite and their colleagues would make up their minds as to what they want. Honourable senators will understand why the Government may well be showing some hesitation at the moment in attempting to amend section 10 of the Representation Act to comply with what it thought the High Court said last year, as the whole matter has been thrown into the High Court again.
As I recall, a Press report of a statement by a Mr Terry Higgins of Canberra, who is one of the solicitors who issued the writ, stated that he had said that it had been issued on behalf of the Australian Labor Party; that it had been issued certainly not with any idea in mind of bringing about electoral justice but to save Labor Party seats in New South Wales and that the whole issuing of the writ was a blatant political stunt. He was quite open and honest about it. There was none of the namby-pamby business that the Labor Party has gone on with about one vote one value, about cows not voting and so on. He said straight out Labor had issued this writ for naked political reasons, to advantage itself. I congratulate Mr Higgins on his honesty. I understand that Mr Higgins, who is a solicitor in this city, was and may still be the president of the local branch of the Labor Party.
– What about the census?
-It is quite right to say that there is no need to wait for the census figures to become available, but it is rather difficult to commence a redistribution if one does not know how to divide up the number of seats under the Representation Act. The honourable senator will recall that section 10 of the Representation Act says a number of things. One is that you do not count Territorial senators and another is that you do or do not count the people living in the Territories. Whether sub-section (a) or sub-section (b) is valid or invalid is enormously important. Depending upon whether both are valid or invalid or whether one is valid and the other is invalid, New South Wales would end up with 43, 44 or 45 seats. I think it would be an adventurous government which would attempt a redistribution on the basis of New South Wales having 44 seats because, having gone through the whole process, the High Court could say: ‘Start all over again because there should be only 43 seats for that State’. At present the matter is in the hands of the Attorney-General. The Government hopes that the High Court will be able to hear and determine the matters raised in that writ at the earliest possible date. It is a question of great importance. I have no criticism at all of the litigants in commencing this action. I think they have done the nation a service by asking the High Court to clarify the matter once and for all.
– You could have fooled me.
-No. I am enormously grateful.
– What did you say a minute ago?
-I said that Mr Higgins started out with pure political motives. But having started out with interesting political motives now he is unwittingly doing the nation a service in seeking to have clarified the question whether section 10 of the Representation Act is valid.
– I ask the Minister for Social Security whether primary producers who are earning less than the unemployment benefit, no matter what they produce or where they produce it, and who register with a Commonwealth Employment Office are automatically allowed unemployment benefit through regional offices?
– Earlier this year the matters with regard to unemployment benefit which could apply to rural producers were announced by the Government. At that time 3 sections of rural industries were mentioned. It was also said that any claims which were lodged and which were outside those 3 sections of the industry were to be referred to the DirectorGeneral so that he could determine whether those applicants could become eligible. I have since discussed the matter with the DirectorGeneral. Now that rural producers have had this eligibility for some short time the DirectorGeneral has decided that it is in order for State directors to make a determination with regard to members of rural industries outside the 3 categories which were announced by the Government earlier this year. We believe that this will facilitate the determination of unemployment benefit as it can be applied to rural producers. I think the decision that it is no longer considered necessary to refer these matters to the
Director-General of my Department in Canberra is welcomed.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. By way of preface I inform the Minister that I have in my possession a 1 7-page review and position paper on education vouchers prepared by the staff of the Curriculum Development Centre. As this Centre comes within the responsibility of the Minister’s portfolio, I ask: How can he justify the involvement of the staff and of resources of the Centre in the preparation of a document basically critical of the education voucher proposal when the functions of the Centre, according to section 5 of the Curriculum Development Centre Act, are confined specifically to school curricula and school education materials? Further, because of the interest of the Minister and of the Prime Minister in the matter of education vouchers, is the Minister able to enlighten me as to what the staff of the Centre meant when it described the proposed models for voucher systems as having ‘aggressively ideological underpinnings’?
-Recently I was sent a copy of a document- presumably the same document to which the honourable senator has referredby the Director of the Curriculum Development Centre in relation to education vouchers. I have not had time to read it yet, so I cannot comment upon the material which may be in it. It is quite appropriate for any section of the Department of Education and its ancillaries to respond to any problems. Indeed, we encourage them to do so. One of the problems is that in recent years the commissions and other bodies have tended to drift apart with their solo thinking. We encourage them to put their minds to the issues to which education responds as a whole, so this would not be outside their charter. It may well be that, in any case, this was the work of an individual. I make no comment as to the quality of the document. I certainly shall examine it with interest.
It is the policy of the Government parties to investigate the voucher system and in due course we shall do so. There is no way in which at this moment such an investigation would be of any immediate or mid-term use for the very simple reason that, as the honourable senator will know, the Schools Commission has drawn attention to the fact that in recent years the gap in terms of physical resources has widened seriously between non-government schools and government schools to the serious disadvantage of the nongovernment schools. As the Schools Commission acknowledges, the real need at this moment is for governments, as soon as their resources are available, consistent with maintaining and raising the standards of all schools, to adjust the inequities that exist already and that have widened in recent times. Any thought of a voucher which would be transferable, whether between government schools or between government and nongovernment schools, would be an exercise in theory, however much it might in principle be an exercise of social justice. I do not argue against that principle. I merely say that we as a government have not set out on any formal investigation of a voucher system as yet. We shall do so at an appropriate time. In the meantime, I shall read the paper.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question, Mr President, to clarify my original question, which dealt with the functions of the Curriculum Development Centre. I ask the Minister whether he is aware of the provisions of section 5 (2) of the Curriculum Development Centre Act, which states:
The Centre shall perform its functions in accordance with any directions given by the Minister and shall furnish the Minister with such reports as he requires.
Is the Minister aware that section 5 ( 1 ) of the Act sets out the functions which are limited to devising, developing and promoting and assisting in the devising and development of school curricula and school educational material? Could the Minister advise the Senate what relationship the document which the Centre has prepared regarding education vouchers has to the Centre’s functions under the Act?
-I did in fact direct my previous answer to that part of the honourable senator’s question. I am aware of the provisions of the Act. I am aware that the Minister has the power to invite the Centre to do certain things. I am aware of the specified responsibilities. Equally, I am aware that within the whole Department I, as Minister, have invited -
– It is a statutory body.
– The honourable senator reminds me that it is a statutory body. I need no such reminder. It is a body existing for the primary purpose of advising the Department of Education and, through it, the Minister and the Government of the day. Indeed, the legislation enables the Minister to invite the body to undertake very wide educational activities. I certainly would not limit willingly its capability to initiate or to respond to quite wide things not necessarily within the precise wording of some line of the Act.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Repatriation and refer to the changes that will apply to Medibank after 1 October. Can the Minister say what will be the position of ex-servicemen who are entitled to full medical and hospital treatment under the Repatriation Act?
– I am glad to have an opportunity to clarify the position in relation to this matter. Although it has been a well established position since the new Medibank arrangements were first announced, nevertheless I am aware that some doubt and concern have been expressed about the impact of the Medibank levy and the new arrangements for Medibank on repatriation beneficiaries. I hasten to affirm that the new arrangements coming into force on 1 October will in no way interfere with the existing rights to repatriation medical and hospital treatment of any class of repatriation beneficiary who currently has entitlement. Beneficiaries who are presently entitled to medical treatment for all their disabilities at the expense of the Department and who have no dependants will be totally exempt from payment of the Medibank levy. Such beneficiaries who have dependants will be exempt from payment of half the levy unless the dependants are also eligible for repatriation benefits. The categories of persons to whom that applies, that is those entitled to medical treatment of all disabilities, are disability pensioners at or above the 100 per cent general rate, including intermediate rate and totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners; Service pensioners who qualify for fringe benefits; veterans of the Boer War and the 1914-18 War; exprisoners of war; and widows, children and certain other dependants of veterans whose deaths have been accepted as Service related, or of deceased TPI pensioners.
Veterans entitled to treatment for specific disabilities only will not lose entitlement to free treatment for those disabilities. However, they will be responsible for arranging treatment for disabilities not related to service. That was the case in pre-Medibank days. As from 1 October, such veterans will have to pay the Medibank levy unless, like any other citizen, they opt for one of the alternative forms of health insurance from either Medibank Private or a private health fund. Repatriation beneficiaries eligible for relief from payment of the levy and who wish to avoid the taxation deduction which would otherwise apply may arrange that by lodging the health insurance levy exemption claim with their employers. I should like to add one further comment. In view of the doubts that have been expressed to me and which were expressed in the question asked by Senator Jessop, I am currently giving urgent consideration to ways in which greater publicity may be given to the matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education and is in response to the answer he just gave to Senator Harradine. Will the Minister clarify the last part of his second answer? Did he say that he would authorise a statutory authority under his control to act outside the provisions of the Act to which he referred?
– The short answer is no. What I said was that the Act gives the Minister wide powers and that within the width of those powers that could be done. I said that statutory authorities are there to advise the departments and the Minister, and I am encouraging the authorities, with the full support of my Government, to come forward with ideas. I take it that even Senator Wriedt would not think that we should all live as islands unto ourselves and I take it that his question did not mean that each one of the statutory bodies must remain in its case-hardened shell and think no further than its shell. That would be monstrous. It would mean the destruction of the whole concept of education. Of course the statutory bodies must be encouraged to think in the concept of education as a whole, and that the Government is encouraging them to do.
– Has the Minister for Social Security become aware of Press reports that some officers of her Department might refuse to answer or deal with mail? What action has she been able to take to investigate the accuracy of these Press claims? With whom does responsibility rest for ensuring that departmental officers perform duties allotted to them? Is it a fact that it is the public- often those people in need of help- who are likely to suffer if officers in her Department refuse to perform their allotted duties?
– I am aware of some Press reports that were in circulation yesterday with regard to attitudes that were alleged to have been expressed by officers in the Melbourne office of the Department of Social Security. The Press reports alleged that a statement had been made that ministerial correspondence would not be dealt with by the officers in the Department. The question raised by Senator Baume was with regard to the responsibility to ensure that officers perform the duties for which they are engaged. I would respond to that question by saying that the administration of the Department is the responsibility of the Director-General and State directors working through him. I would hope that all correspondence and matters addressed to the Department of Social Security are expedited by the officers who have been engaged to perform these duties.
It should be understood that ministerial letters or letters to members of Parliament from members of the public are very much part of the responsibility of the Department because representations to parliamentarians are very often the way in which the public may have matters expedited, facilitated, and reviewed. I would certainly feel very concerned if there were attitudes expressed that letters of this type are any different from the general work the Department needed to be engaged in to facilitate the benefits and programs that are availably through the Department of Social Security.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. In view of the fact that the Government has decided, as shown in the Budget Papers, to increase the price of a meal taken at a community kitchen on an Aboriginal reserve, will this deprive children of impoverished families of the opportunity of partaking of a meal which they now receive? If so, how many children will be deprived? Further, in view of the Government’s decision to charge Aboriginal reserves for municipal, water and electricity services, if there is a default in payment, what will be the attitude of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs? Would it discontinue electricity or water services to the Aboriginal reserve concerned?
– I do not have the precise information which was requested in the question asked by the honourable senator. I will refer it to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. However, I believe that the withdrawal of essential services from Aboriginal reserves is not something the Minister or the Government would consider should be undertaken. I will refer the other matters of particular detail to the Minister and obtain an answer as soon as possible.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Science. Is it a fact that very strong submissions have been made to the Minister from the Tasmanian Professional Fishermen’s Association, from yacht clubs in Tasmania and other organisations for the restoration, for safety reasons, of the coastal weather reports? Will he consider restoring these important services, at least in Tasmania, pending the conduct of the current total review of the provision of all meteorological services generally in Australia?
-The Bureau of Meteorology progressively since October 1975 has deleted coastal weather observations from marine weather bulletins broadcast over coastal radio. These observations were considered to be of limited value since they referred to the past rather than to forecast conditions and applied only to the immediate vicinity of the observing point. I made a statement on that matter as early as 18 January this year. I detailed reasons for the cessation of the broadcasts of those observations. International regulations on marine weather bulletins require broadcasts of warnings of conditions hazardous to navigation, a summary of the meteorological situation and forecasts of conditions expected. There are additional optional contents of these bulletins that can be coded analyses and /or prognoses, a selection of ships’ reports and a selection of reports from land stations.
The bulletins now being issued by the Bureau of Meteorology continue to include, in conformity with international regulations, gale and storm warnings for the sea and the area, a summary of the meteorological situation and forecasts of conditions expected. The reports from coastal stations have been deleted as an economy measure, as I have said, progressively since October of last year. It was expected that a saving of about $38,000 would be achieved. Discussions are being held currently on the need for restoration of coastal bulletins. They have taken place at my request between the Bureau of Meteorology and a number of interested parties in various States. One of the most active members of Parliament in this regard has been Senator Rae.
– What about Senator Devitt? He spoke about this.
– I reiterate that one of the most interested members of Parliament in this regard is the honourable senator who has just raised this matter with me, Senator Rae. As a yachtsman he is well aware of, and apparently very concerned about, the information that should be available not only for use by fishermen in his State of Tasmania but also for use by amateur yachtsmen and those involved professionally with boating. I am now awaiting a report and recommendation from the Bureau. When I receive that report- I expect it to be received quite soon- I shall give it immediate consideration and announce my decision to the Parliament.
-Has the Minister representing the Minister for Health seen the reply of the Minister for Health, Mr Hunt, to a question asked in the other place yesterday in relation to the community health program in Victoria? Mr Hunt said that the Government in no way had abandoned the community health program and that he had asked officers of his Department to consult Victorian authorities to ensure that no restrictions were imposed in Victoria that were not absolutely necessary. If this is the case, I should like to know why the St Albans Community Health Services Society at St Albans in Victoria, after at least 2 years of negotiation on the building of a centre in that suburb, would have received a letter from the Victorian Hospitals and Charities Commission dated 23 July 1 976 which in part states:
We regret to inform you and your Committee that any Capital Building Program for your Centre will have to be temporarily deferred.
That decision, I add, was made after the Commission had reviewed the budgetary requirements for 1976-77. How many other proposed community centres in Victoria have received similar letters?
– I did not see the answer given by the Minister for Health to the question yesterday, but I am aware that the community health program in the Budget of this Government this year has been allocated funds which have gone in block grants to the States. It is for them to determine the priorities and the projects to which they wish to give support this year. I am not aware of the letter that was received by the St Albans Community Health Services Society in Victoria with regard to the deferment of its project. I shall seek from the Minister for Health information on that and any other matters in which the honourable senator may be interested.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Health indicate whether Medibank Private will cover chronically ill patients insured under the higher Table 2 for as long as they are in hospital?
– I believe that the appropriate information I can give regarding Medibank private cover for persons for as long as they remain in hospital is that the Government originally decided that the qualifying period for entry into the reinsurance pool would be when a contributor received hospital benefits for in excess of 60 days in a year. It was announced that the period would be reduced to 35 days in a year in order to ensure that the Commonwealth contribution of $50m a year would be fully absorbed in the pool. The 60 days provision would not have achieved that and so there was a reduction to 35 days. However, the qualifying period does not affect the contributor who through the reinsurance arrangement is guaranteed benefits to cover costs of shared ward public hospital accommodation without limit on the number of days. The period merely determines the point of time when the benefit liability is transferred to the reinsurance pool. The patient will receive cover for 365 days a year. The doubt that had existed concerned the number of days which would be covered prior to the matter being transferred to the reinsurance pool.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs recall that following a question I asked him in the Senate on 29 April last in reference to permanency of employment for Australian Information Service officers he advised me subsequently by letter that he had asked his Department to report to him on the subject? Has he received that report and, if so, what action has been taken by him or the Public Service Board to bring about a greater degree of permanent employment for Australian Information Service officers?
-Every day since the Parliament resumed I have brought that information into the Senate with me; today I have not done so. I will see whether I can provide the information before the end of question time. I thought the honourable senator would have asked me for it before today.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to the recent appointment by the Prime Minister of the Hon. A. A. Street, the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, as Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in women’s affairs matters and to the proposed creation of a women’s advisory committee. Will the Minister inform the Senate when it is expected that such a body will be set up, what will be its composition and what is its anticipated role.
-I am asked when the committee will be set up, what its composition will be and what its role will be. I have a general idea about it. It is to be set up as quickly as possible. Its composition is to be as widely representative as possible of all the varying interests of women in Australia. Its role will be to coordinate the views of women. So that the honourable senator may have an accurate answer, I will get the information as soon as possible.
– Has the Minister for Social Security received a telegram from the Labor Council of New South Wales regretting that in 1975-76, 70 per cent of child care funds went to centres providing only sessional child care? Is it a fact that this is causing extreme hardship for those mothers who are working full office or full factory hours?
-Yesterday I received about 60 telegrams on this matter and I think that one of them was from the Labor Council of New South Wales. If I did not receive one from that Council I received other telegrams in similar terms to those mentioned by the honourable senator. They pointed to the percentage of funds expended on pre-school education in the past year and expressed the need for development of child care facilities in the various States. Many such telegrams have been received and the matter is receiving my attention. It will be understood by honourable senators that as I have announced earlier, discussions are at present taking place with State governments with regard to funding arrangements for pre-school education in the next year. At the same time we have announced that through the Office of Child Care within the Department we are looking to developing some child care facilities which will cover the needs of those persons mentioned by the honourable senator in his question.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. The Minister will be aware that some unions in the Latrobe Valley, the nerve centre of Victorian power supplies, have called a 48-hour stoppage commencing at midnight tonight in an attempt to force the State
Electricity Commission of Victoria to grant a 35-hour week to approximately 10 000 power workers employed in the Valley. This unfortunate stoppage will paralyse transport, industry and commerce in Victoria for the period of the stoppage and will force the standing down of an estimated 300 000 workers. In view of the drastic effect that a stoppage of this magnitude has on the economy, particularly in regard to the control of inflation, will the Minister investigate the possibility of providing machinery within the arbitration system whereby on a universal industrial issue such as the 3 5 -hour week all workers affected, either directly or indirectly, by the proposed stoppage will have an opportunity of voting by secret ballot on whether or not the stoppage should be held?
– I am only too well aware of the situation to which Senator Tehan refers. I am afraid it exemplifies only too clearly the arrogant disregard for the community displayed by certain sections of the trade union movement. This stoppage will result in there being no power for industry and only half lighting for commerce in this period of 48 hours and will, as Senator Tehan said, result in a massive stand-down of workers throughout Victoria. The central issue is the unions’ campaign in pursuit of a 3 5 -hour week. A full bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission -
– The Authority refused to confer.
-Just listen to this, Senator. A full bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has a claim before it for a 35-hour week in this industry. The proceedings have had to be adjourned because of the action taken by the union. The proceedings will stand adjourned until the bans are lifted. The Government can only condemn in the strongest terms the union action to hold the public to ransom. Not only is the public treated in this way; with large scale stand-downs there is also a massive effect on fellow workers and their families. In the Government’s view the proper place for airing and settling industrial disputes is the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Aside from this, in view of the current economic climate any additional labour costs must be viewed with grave concern. It should be remembered that strikes add significantly to labour costs. The Commission has stressed that in the current economic circumstances it is imperative that the wage indexation guidelines be observed. It is said that there should be only quarterly increases in wages and that increases outside the guidelines should be negligible.
The honourable senator also raised in his question a matter of considerable complexity, one to which there is no easy answer. The current stoppage involves members of both federal and State unions and, as the honourable senator knows, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act refers only to the former. To this extent the Commonwealth Government is restricted in its ability to establish the sort of machinery which the honourable senator suggests. However, in view of the great concern that the Government has about this matter and the importance of the issue 1 certainly will refer the question to the Minister for further consideration.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Administrative Services. Did the Academic Salaries Tribunal present a determination and 3 reports to the Minister on 22 July in accordance with the provisions of the Remuneration Tribunals Act? Was the academic salaries review made public at about the time of its presentation to the Minister? Is there any reason for delaying the presentation to Parliament of the tribunal’s review of academic salaries.
-I did not make the determinations public. I think that was done by the tribunal. Under the relevant Act there are 1 5 sitting days in which to table the determinations. The report will be tabled in accordance with the provisions of the Act. That is all the advice I can give at the moment.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. As Football Park, which is the League football headquarters in South Australia, has been unsuccessful in its application for the establishment of public telephones, I ask the Minister whether he is aware that this sporting complex caters for thousands of spectators on Saturdays and on other occasions, and that the need for public telephones is frequently emphasised. Will the Minister give serious consideration for the early installation of some public telephones to service what is genuinely a real community need?
-I am aware that Football Park serves a multiplicity of important sporting complexes. I am also aware that it serves the needs of tens of thousands of people in the city of
Adelaide. I was not aware that the Park was having difficulties in securing public telephones. I appreciate the need for such facilities and I will take the matter up with my colleague, the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, and endeavour to secure the reform required. report on mcarthur river deposits
– I direct my question to Senator Webster in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory. Is the Urban Development and Town Planning Branch of the Department of the Northern Territory preparing, in conjunction with the Queensland Government, a report on the development of the McArthur River deposits and the ecology of the area? If so, will the Minister advise the Senate what the purpose of the report is, how it will affect government policy on the development of the McArthur River deposits, and when the report will be made public?
– I am unaware of the matters referred to by the honourable senator. I will attempt to obtain an answer for him and produce it tomorrow. timorese refugees
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs in a position to advise whether the Australian Government has had discussions with the Indonesian Government or whether it intends to have discussions in the future with a view to allowing Timorese refugees from either Timor or Indonesia to come to Australia? As further reports have been received that Indonesian troops are still using force against the people of Timor, will the Government once again make overtures to the Indonesian Government requesting that these hostile acts cease and assistance be given to these unfortunate and neglected people?
– With regard to the first part of the question, I will seek the information from my colleague in the other place. As to the second part, I am sure that the Minister for Foreign Affairs is continually urging that course of action which the honourable senator promotes in this place. I will certainly pass on the views of the honourable senator to the Minister. albury-wodonga development
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. Do the manoeuvres by the
Government concerning the Albury-Wodonga twin city development scheme indicate its intention to repudiate the original support it gave to the enabling legislation, to repudiate the Prime Minister’s election undertaking of continued support and to repudiate the solemn, legally binding agreement between the Australian, New South Wales and Victorian governments? If the answer is in the negative, I ask: As a matter of urgency, will the Government state in clear, unequivocal terms its support for this unique and successful project and provide forthwith the necessary loan moneys for its continued uninhibited progress?
– The answer to the 3 questions posed is no in each case. It is not the intention of the Government to repudiate support for the Albury-Wodonga development scheme. The honourable senator will be well aware that the Government is having talks with the State governments with a view to looking at the whole complex of development. I remind the honourable senator that the development, in the true sense, of Albury-Wodonga, when it was at its peak as a growth centre, was undertaken by 2 State Liberal governments. It was a Federal Labor Government, with a 25 per cent acrosstheboard tariff cut, that destroyed the whole basis for the growth of Albury-Wodonga. The Opposition is suggesting that it created this lusty infant and that the Government is destroying it. It is fair enough for me to remind the Senate and the people of Australia that the real test of its creation and growth was under Liberal-Country Party governments and that that in fact will be its future.
-My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. Is the Australian Housing Corporation still in existence? Is it the intention of the Government to retain the Corporation?
-The Prime Minister announced in, I think, February of this year that the Australian Housing Corporation would be abolished and that the Government was looking at the best way of administering the defence service homes scheme, which was really the only main function of the Corporation at that time. The Government has had a series of discussions with the ex-service organisations- the Returned Services League, the Australian Services Council and others- and a number of possible arrangements have been thought of, including further co-operation with the States in carrying out the housing project. I must stress, however, that the Fraser Government has no intention of abandoning its responsibility for the scheme itself. There has been no finalisation, but the review is currently under way.
-Earlier today Senator McLaren asked me a question arising out of a question that he asked me on 29 April. I now have with me 2 pieces of information that I have been carrying about for him for the last 8 days. The first relates to the permanency of employment of journalists within the Australian Information Service. As I recall, Senator McLaren asked about 2 matters, namely, the position of journalists overseas and the permanency of their employment. I inform the honourable senator that the majority of the journalist staff of the Australian Information Service is employed as temporary or exempt officers of the Public Service, although positions for journalists in most other sectors of the Public Service have been given permanent status. Because the journalists in the AIS felt that their livelihood was being threatened they began pressing for permanency in 1973. The former Minister for the Media and his Department accepted the need for permanency and in 1974 submitted to the Public Service Board proposals for the introduction of a permanent structure. Discussions continued throughout 1 975 between representatives of the then Department of the Media and the Public Service Board; but, unfortunately, no decision has yet been arrived at by the Public Service Board. I will chase up the matter with the Public Service Board and see what is the present situation concerning that submission.
As to the position of the journalists overseas in the Australian Office of Information, following the closing down of the Australian Government Liaison Service and the abolition of certain overseas information positions, I inform the honourable senator that no journalist with the Australian Office of Information has been dismissed; nor is it proposed to dismiss any journalist. Of the 12 journalists employed by the now disbanded Australian Government Liaison Service, 10 either have been found other employment in the Public Service or have resigned from the Public Service. The 2 remaining journalists have been placed on the unattached list of officers. They are being employed in the Australian Office of Information until other positions can be found for them by the Public Service Board. The Australian Office of Information will absorb those journalists who have returned from overseas into its Australian staff which services its overseas information functions. I hope that in those 2 answers I have covered the question that Senator McLaren asked me as far back as 29 April. I apologise for not giving the information earlier.
– Earlier today I answered a question asked of me by Senator Walters. I am not sure that I gave her a complete answer to the question. I wish to add to the answer I gave in order to clarify the situation. Medibank Private now has agreed to increase its cover for those patients who insure for a private room at $60 a day public and $76 a day private. They will have full cover for 365 days of the year providing they have no pre-existing illness. If they have a pre-existing illness they will have to go on to another table.
– I have answers to questions asked by Senator McLaren in Estimates Committee F. I shall not read the answers to the Senate but, with the approval of honourable senators, I shall incorporate them in Hansard. I provide the answers on behalf of the Minister for the Capital Territory.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
SENATE ESTIMATES COMMITTEE F
Additional Answers to Questions Asked at the Hearing on 25 May 1976
DEPARTMENT OF THE CAPITAL TERRITORY
Division 829/5/05-Working Capital Advance (for payment to the Australian Capital Territory Transport Trust Account)
Hansard Reference- Pages 178 and 179
Would it be possible to get a breakdown of the actual net savings effected by using taxis, as against using fleet cars and drivers at penalty rates?
As suggested by the Chairman (Senator Wright) at Page 179 of Hansard, the Department has attempted to answer the question by providing information on:
the amount paid for the hire of taxis in May 1 976 and the number of trips involved; and
the comparison of these payments with the cost to the Department if Government cars had been used.
By way of background, taxis are used to overcome peak demands on the Commonwealth car fleet. Wherever possible a Commonwealth car is allocated to carry out the transport request but it is obviously not possible nor economic to maintain a Commonwealth car fleet of sufficient size to meet all demands during peak periods. Over many years the arrangement has evolved where a percentage of Commonwealth travel is allocated to taxis operating in Canberra and in particular this service is used most extensively when demand grossly exceeds the capacity of the Commonwealth car fleet. There is no set percentage of work allocated to the taxis but rather this is determined by the travel demand on a day to day basis.
The travel demand for the Commonwealth Government has been decreasing due to economic restraint over the last nine months. During this period work allocated to Canberra taxis has also decreased.
To the casual observer the operation of Commonwealth cars may appear to be wasteful. For important users it is often necessary to hold a Commonwealth car on standby to ensure that that person is allocated a vehicle commensurate with his status. This is particularly relevant in the case of Commonwealth Ministers. Also Ministers at times do ask drivers to wait while they complete tasks of relatively short duration. Even if they do discharge the car for a short period it might not be possible to use it as a short term job may not be offering.
Details of taxis hired by the Department of the Capital Territory on behalf of various clients were surveyed for the month of May 1976. This survey covered 3852 jobs allocated to taxis. The hire charge to clients for the use of these taxis was$1 8,4 16.
If all these 3852 jobs had been allocated to Commonwealth cars (on the assumption that these were available) the hire charge would have been $19,486. This figure has been calculated using both maximum and minimum trip lengths and within the accuracy of the exercise that was conducted it would appear that the Australian Government has saved about $1,000 by allocation of work to taxis. Attached is an analysis of the origin and destination of these taxi jobs for May 1976.
Chairman and Senator McLaren
Hansard Reference- Page 1 83
What is the aggregate cost paid for taxis in the past three years?
– Yesterday Senator Walsh asked me a question concerning an allegation made in the book Crash Through or Crash, written by Mr Laurie Oakes and referring to some alleged advice given to certain honourable senators by the Clerk of the Senate. I do not know whether the allegation is accurate. It would be dangerous to start a precedent of asking the Clerks to reveal private advice they may have given to honourable senators. I strongly uphold the time honoured principle that a Clerk’s advice to an honourable senator is private. I do not propose to investigate the matter raised by Senator Walsh.
– by leave- I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the time for the presentation of the report from the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on Australia and the Indian Ocean Region be extended and that the Committee now report on or before 30 November 1976.
– Pursuant to section 29 of the Aboriginal Land Fund Act 1974 I present the first annual report and financial statements of the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission for the period ending 30 June 1975.
-I present a report on behalf of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts, relating in particular to outstanding references.
Mr President, I seek leave to make a brief statement in relation to this report.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-In presenting this report may I refer firstly to that part of the Senate resolution which refers to the reporting to the Senate by Senate committees? Honourable senators will recall that the resolution of appointment provides for the regular reporting by committees as to the progress of their proceedings. In accordance with this provision I take the opportunity to report to the Senate in relation to our Committee’s decision concerning some matters which have been referred to it by the Senate.
On 8 April this year I had the opportunity of discussing in the Senate matters relating to references which were before our Committee at the time. On that occasion I said that the 2 petitions on educational matters would not be proceeded with and that the other 5 matters referred by the Senate to the Committee would be retained. Since that date other circumstances have caused the Committee to review this whole matter. In the report which I present today we outline our decisions and our reasons for those decisions.
In the case of the petition on the arts, the report states that the terms of the petition are no longer relevant. I go on to mention the reference on the matter of deprived schools. The document before us points out that government action in this area is virtually the same as that proposed in our terms of reference. Further, in relation to the Australia Council reference, I point out that our report takes account of a series of investigations which have taken place since the matter was referred to the Committee. The Senate Committee considers that its terms of reference have been carried out thoroughly by these other inquiries and the Committee feels that there is no point in going over them again. In addition, the statement on the arts by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), which honourable senators will remember was made on 3 June this year, has confirmed the Committee’s view.
In relation to the reference by the Senate to the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts relating to broadcasting and television, the Committee has already tabled in the Senate 3 progress reports on this matter and currently a government inquiry into television and broadcasting is being undertaken. Because of the continuing lively public interest in this area the Committee has decided to retain this reference. It only remains for me to observe that the reference on the education of isolated school children has recently been completed and, as you know, Sir, our report has been tabled in the Senate. Our further and latest reference which concerns the employment of musicians is already receiving attention.
Finally, I draw the attention of the Senate to the contents of this report and mention that the details of some of the references have been overtaken by events. This highlights the attention that should be given to all references made by the Senate to a committee in order that a committee’s program should not be overloaded to the extent that references of necessity remain unexamined for very long periods. I move:
– I should like to speak to the motion. As a past member and past chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts I regret that the Committee has decided not to continue with the Australia Council reference. It is my belief that there is stil much amiss in that area and that there should be further investigation of some serious allegations which have been made against the Australia Council and some of its prominent members. No doubt the Committee did deliberate on this. It has come to its conclusion. But may I say to the Senate that the announcement now that the Committee does not intend to proceed with the reference which the Senate gave to the Committee places a responsibility on members of the Senate to scrutinise closely during the examination of the Estimates of the Australia Council, its expenditure and its operation. As I have said before in the Senate, we should not make decisions to expend large amounts of money on the arts and then forgo our responsibility to ensure that those moneys are expended wisely. In the past the view has been put that the Australia Council has not expended its moneys wisely. It is my feeling that that is still the position. Again, I do not question deeply the Committee’s decision, I merely warn that it may be necessary to continue to oversee this very important area of Government expenditure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave- I wish to advise the Senate that the Government has given consideration to the distribution of departmental explanatory notes, which until now nave been made available only to senators to assist them in their consideration of the annual Estimates. The Senate will recall that Estimates Committee A- I think the first report was signed by Senator James McClelland- for the last 3 years has recommended that action be taken to make the documents available for public perusal, thereby making possible a wider consideration of these most comprehensive and valuable documents and a greater understanding of the operations of government administration. It has now been agreed that that should be done, and Senate Ministers have been asked to table in the Senate copies of all explanatory notes relating to the Estimates within their areas- not just for their own portfolios but for the areas of responsibility they represent- copies of which have already been distributed to all honourable senators.
This matter first came to my attention on representations from my colleague Senator Bonner, and the statement to which the Government has now agreed was put together by Senators Rae, Missen and Tehan. I thank those honourable senators for what they have done. Senate Estimates Committee A, under Senator James McClelland, first raised this matter, and I believe it is necessary to deal with it in this way. Problems of privilege arise as to whether or not the documents belong to Ministers, to the Estimates Committee to which they are given or to honourable senators. This statement will clarify the position and I believe that tabling the documents in this place and making them public documents will permit far better working of the Senate and of the Estimates Committees.
– Could I invite the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) to circulate these important documents to other members of Parliament? I believe it is only right that members of the House of Representatives should have access to such important documents, and I hope that I have not fallen into error today by giving some of these papers to members of the House of Representatives.
– You would be open to a breach of privilege until the documents are tabled.
– Possibly there would be some breach of privilege, but tabling of the documents would get over that problem, and I thank the Minister for that. I put to the Minister the proposition that he should distribute these documents to all members of Parliament.
– I will consider the suggestion raised by the honourable senator.
Motion (by Senator Withers)- byleaveagreed to:
That the following Notice of Motion and Orders of the Day be discharged from the Notice Paper:
Government business, orders of the day, Nos 23 to 27 inclusive, 29 to 34 inclusive, 37 and 42;
General business, notice of motion Number 3;
General business, orders of the day, Nos 4, 11, 15, 17, 20, 21, 29, 31, 32, 34 to 36 inclusive, 40, 42, 45 to 49 inclusive, 52 to 58 inclusive, 61, 62, 64 to 66 inclusive, 68 and 72 to 75 inclusive.
Debate resumed from 17 August, on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Senate take note of the following papers:
Australia’s Official Development Assistance to Developing Countries 1976-77
Civil Works Program 1976-77
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending 30 June 1 977
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the year ending 30 June 1977
Particulars of Certain Proposed Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30 June 1 977
Government Securities on Issue at 30 June 1 976
Income Tax Statistics
National Accounting Estimates of Receipts and Outlays of Commonwealth Government Authorities
National Income Tax and Expenditure 1975-76
Payments to or for the States and Local Government Authorities 1976-77
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Wriedt) speaking without limitation of time.
– I move:
In the dying minutes of the Twenty-eighth Parliament on 10 April 1974, Senator Withers, commenting on the approaching double dissolution forced by the then coalition Opposition parties in the Senate, said:
We all this night embark upon the great adventure. suggest that we are now embarking upon another adventure in this Budget which I believe will suffer a similar fate to that disastrous double dissolution in 1974. Let there be no mistake: This Budget is a gamble. As we hope to demonstrate, it is a gamble that no responsible government should take. If the gamble works the economy of the country will be little better than it is now. If the gamble fails it will have the most disastrous consequences. This time the coalition is not betting with its electoral hopes; it is betting with the people of Australia. At the same time it is taking odds which no self-respecting gambler would consider.
The Government says it hopes that the Budget will combat inflation, restore confidence, encourage consumer spending and restore job opportunities. We in the Opposition believe that: The Budget will do nothing to restore confidence; it will make only slight if any inroads into inflation; it will inhibit rather than encourage consumer spending; it will increase rather than decrease unemployment; it will lead to a destruction of the financial viability of the States; its strategy will need variation within months, if not weeks.
Before presenting the Opposition’s case in relation to these issues there are 2 preliminary points with which I wish to deal. The Treasurer (Mr Lynch) has asked that the Budget be given a go. We on the Opposition side can legitimately ask: How much of a go was the Hayden Budget given? In fact, how much of a go was any Labor Budget given. Let us recall the words of Senator Withers in the Senate on 10 April 1974 when he said:
We embarked -
That is the previous Opposition- on a course some 12 months ago to bring about a House of Representatives election.
The coalition parties reached this decision to force an election 4 months after the Labor Government took office- before it had even brought down its first budget. From then on there was either an election or the threat of an election every 6 months. Combined with this the State Premiers of the coalition parties refused to co-operate with the Labor Government on its economic strategy. At every turn they took action for political advantage to destroy the Labor Government strategy. Yet now that the situation is reversed, we in the Labor Party, nevertheless, are prepared to assist the Government strategy for the good of the Australian people. Of course, there is little we can do about that in this Parliament but this Budget is so much of a gamble that it could be thoroughly wrecked at the State level. Yet at the State level, Labor governments are prepared to try to fit in with the Federal Government strategy. Last week the Premier of New South Wales stated that he was prepared to cooperate with the Federal Government. That must have been encouraging news to this Government in view of the treatment New South Wales has received.
In his Budget Speech the Treasurer said it would take a full 3 year term to restore the economy. It is well to remember that the senators opposite were not prepared to allow the Labor Party more than 4 months. How different would the Budget decisions have been had this Government suspected that it could be forced to an election next May?
The second preliminary issue concerns the repeated attempts by the Government to blame the Opposition for the difficulties that the Government faces. Let us briefly recall some of the facts. While in office the Labor Government had to face an election or a threat of an election every few months. What long term economic planning is possible on that basis? All governments make mistakes. Few governments face a hostile Upper House which will throw it out whenever the political climate is right. Few governments have their legislation rejected on the whim of the Opposition. Few governments have to run the economy on a 6 monthly basis. Few governments have to face State governments that are not only prepared to undermine their policies but which also refuse to acknowledge publicly the efforts made on their behalf.
There is a further reason why this Government deserves no sympathy. It obtained office at a time when it knew inflation and unemployment were at a high level. It deluded the Australian people that it had the answers to the problems and now it must face the consequences. If its strategies work, well and good. If they fail the Government can expect no sympathy, no quarter and no mercy. It is a Government which will remain illegitimate unless its strategies lead to a remarkable improvement in the economy.
Let us now turn to the specific issues in the Budget. The Treasurer says it is a Budget for confidence. But is it? Let me read a short passage from Budget Statement No. 2 attached to the Budget. This statement deals with the economic outlook for this financial year. This is what the statement records:
It first needs to be said that no-one can accurately foretell the path which the economy will follow. This is particularly so given that the present position of the economy is considerably removed from past experience . . . The following description of the possible path of the economy over 1976-77 may then, indeed will, prove to be incorrect in detail if not, hopeful, in the broad. This will be particularly so if any of these specific working assumptions, which must be made in arriving at an overall forecast, are invalidated.
That is an extract from the Treasurer’s Budget Statement No. 2. It is an extraordinary statement. Let me repeat that the Government believes that its description of the possible path of the economy will prove to be incorrect. It is impossible to say the Government’s economic strategy is wrong. It does not have an economic strategy. It concedes that it has little or no idea what will happen to the economy as a result of the measures it has taken. Yet it is prepared to cause so much hardship to so many Australians without having any real knowledge of what it is doing. How could such a Budget establish confidence when the Government itself has no confidence in its own Budget?
I said earlier that the Budget is a gamble. I take that a stage further. Whatever little confidence the Government has in its own examination of the economy is dependent upon a number of assumptions. These assumptions include the recovery of economies overseas, the ability of the banking system to meet the needs of the economy for finance and the continuation of some form of partial indexation of annual wages. When these factors are examined it is clear just how much of a gamble the Government is taking. Already, the Government’s strategy is on one leg. As a result of attacks on wage indexation before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, the chances of the continuation of indexation of award wages have been substantially reduced. In the area where the Government does have control- namely, the money supply- there is already evidence that the supply of money is too tight. Even more alarming are the suggestions which have been made that the Treasurer has done his calculations wrongly. This is certainly not a good start for a gambling Budget that allows no room for error. It is hardly a start for a Budget which is supposed to produce confidence.
The main justification for the Budget is that u treats as a first priority the necessity to combat inflation. Yet the Budget documents reveal that even on this score the Government is almost as pessimistic as it is on other issues. Once again I refer to Statement No. 2 attached to the Budget. On page 26 we find the following words:
If these . . . assumptions about indexation and extra-indexation wage settlements were to prove accurate, average weekly earnings might grow by about 12 per cent compared with the 14 per cent increase recorded in 1 975-76. On that basis, the increase in the consumer price index . . would seem likely to be of a similar order of magnitude for the year as a whole.
So, if everything works for the Government, inflation may- I stress ‘may’; the Treasurer’s own word- be reduced from 14 per cent to 12 per cent. It is an extraordinary proposition put forward by the Government that if everything works in its favour it will make an almost unnoticeable reduction in the rate of inflation after 1 8 months of office. All the misery that people will have to endure will have been for a lowering of inflation by a mere 2 percentage points. Whatever image the Government has, it is not one of the great economic managers that it claimed to be last December.
The chances of success of the Government strategy, if it could be graced with that name, are a complete gamble at the very best. The Government relies on there being no new fiscal measures during 1976-77. Yet by cutting revenues to the States the Government is obliging the States to raise additional funds through indirect taxation. The Government relies on there being small extra-indexation wage settlements. Yet by destroying wage indexation it is encouraging unions to go outside the arbitration system. When we consider the effects of the Medibank levy and extra State charges being fed into the consumer price index we can see just what a gamble this Government is taking.
The Treasurer, of course, is relying on favourable figures in the June quarter next year to prove that the Government is overcoming inflation. This implies that all the Government needs to do, to claim that inflation has been reduced to the single-digit area by the end of the year, is to achieve a 2.4 per cent increase in the consumer price index in the June quarter next year. It could hardly be surprising if this modest result were achieved, as the consumer price index increase is usually lowest in the June quarter. But if Government supporters think that this is evidence that inflation is under control, they are even more optimistic than we on the Opposition side believe them to be.
The extent of the nature of the gamble is most convincingly revealed by the Government’s statements concerning the increase in consumption. Let there be no mistake: The Government’s tactics are almost totally dependent upon an increase in consumption. Again I refer to the Treasurer’s own words in introducing the Budget. He said:
The key question hanging over the future course of the recovery is whether the main components of private demand- consumption and business investment- will firmly join stocks and exports in building a continuing recovery. If they do not, that recovery will falter and expire.
Let me add, at this point, that if the recovery expires for these reasons the fault will lie completely with the Government. It believes that the economy can recover only through private demand and has built its whole strategy upon that belief. We in the Opposition believe that the Government is wrong. Orderly recovery depends upon the balanced mixture of private and public demand. By its actions, the Government has totally stifled public demand- the most rapid growth area in the economy.
In any event, the Government believes that growth in private demand will save it and draws comfort from the signs of the past 6 months. The position again is summarised in Statement No. 2 attached to the Budget in these words:
It seems likely that the rate of growth of consumption will exceed that of income when both are expressed in real terms implying a further decline in the savings ratio.
This is yet a further and apparently quite unjustified gamble. People are expected to spend more than they earn. Where is the evidence for that? In June banks recorded a record growth in deposits. The Government had been drawing comfort from recent increases in the sales of motor vehicles. Yet the figures issued only last Monday showed that registrations of motor vehicles declined by 14.5 per cent after seasonal adjustment. Is this the type of evidence on which the Government relies? The fact is that there is no evidence that people will start to spend. Because there is no evidence the Treasurer decided to do some crystal ball gazing. In his Budget Speech he made a most unusual prediction. This is what he said:
Consumers will step up their spending and cut back on their saving only if they judge inflation to be declining.
The conventional wisdom had been, until recently, that in periods of rising inflation consumers would buy goods to beat price rises and as a hedge against inflation. When consumers did not act in this way in 1974 they were considered by many to be somewhat irrational. So the Treasurer is relying on consumers to cany on in this irrational way by spending during a time in which the Government hopes inflation will be falling. Of course, this makes nonsense. Statement No. 2 again records the Government’s attitude. On page 12 it states:
. inflation and inflationary expectations, by creating uncertainty in respect of future prices and incomes and by eroding the real value of accumulated savings, caused consumers to save more, and spend less, of current incomes.
Where is the justification that inflation caused people to save more? Could there be other factors leading to that result? Could it be that rising unemployment had some effect on people’s propensity to save?
The Treasurer, in his simplistic way, has said that because inflation caused people to save more a reduction in inflation will cause them to save less. If they are the conclusions on which the Government is relying not only is the Budget a gamble but it is a very bad gamble indeed. What now are the Prime Minister’s ideas- I am speaking of the present Prime Minister, Mr Fraserabout saving. In reply to the Hayden Budget on 26 August last year he said:
Australia’s tax system in the past has encouraged and rewarded savings and investment. Indeed, this Budget encourages living for today.
What can one say about this Liberal Budget that not only encourages people to spend more than they earn but also depends completely upon people spending more than they earn. There is not much evidence of good housekeeping in that proposition. What encouragement is given to the people of Australia to spend more? The Medibank levy will take up to $10 a week out of the salaries of wage earners after 1 October. Does that help private demand? Because of cuts in State and local government revenues there will be increased rates and charges which the consumer will have to pay. Does that help private demand? Does budgeting for an increase in unemployment help private demand?
During the urgency debate which took place in this chamber last week, I suggested that the Government had not taken into sufficient account the true nature of demand for goods and services and I advocated that it undertake a thorough study of demand trends. In view of this Budget statement there is more reason than ever for that survey to be undertaken.
If the Government is uncertain about most of the factors in the economy for 1976-77, there is one issue on which it is confidentunemployment. The Government is confident that it will be able to maintain unemployment at least at its present levels throughout the year. The Budget Papers suggest that the Government is budgeting for a further increase of 30 000 in the number of unemployed, but the Treasurer has denied this.
Let me recall what the Budget Papers say. In Statement No. 2 on page 25 these words appeared:
The labour force is projected to grow by 2 per cent at the most over the course of 1 976-77.
Statement No. 4 records, at page 1 1 7, the following appeared in relation to income tax:
The estimate for 1976-77 is based on increases of 12 per cent in average earnings and of l.S per cent in the average level of employment . . .
As is revealed by those 2 statements, this Budget appears to have been drawn up with the intention of producing a further increase in the number of unemployed of 0.5 per cent of the work force which is equivalent to 30 000 people. With some curious interpretations of the words the Treasurer denies this but, like most of his explanations, the denial is unconvincing.
Whatever are the Government’s intentions, let us look at the facts. At present, there are 3 1 5 000 people registered as unemployed, in seasonally adjusted terms. There will be no improvement in the number of employment opportunities by the end of the year. That, I believe, is generally recognised by all sides of politics. Towards the end of the year between 100 000 and 120 000 students will be thrown on to the labour market. One does not have to be too intelligent in economics to work out that by January unemployment will be approaching the 400 000 mark. This figure does not take into account all the hidden unemployment caused by the number of people who do not register, the fall in the employment of women, the reduction in the number of people who have second jobs, etc. Where will the escalation in unemployment stop? Will it be at 400 000 or maybe 500 000? How many people will the Government put out of work just to achieve the reduction in inflation of the mere 2 percentage points to which I referred to earlier. How much confidence and consumer spending is the Government relying on amongst the growing number of unemployed? The gamble looks worse and worse.
I come now to the subject of Commonwealth relations with the States. In his Budget Speech the Treasurer said:
One of the topics to which the Government has accorded a very high priority is that of financial relations between the Commonwealth, State and local governments.
In the light of the Budget decisions I am drawn to the conclusion that the Government has given this area a high priority because it wishes to destroy State and local governments because of its antagonism towards the public sector. Again in his policy speech last year the Prime Minister said:
Australia’s prosperity has been further damaged by Labor’s attempts to destroy the States.
That was Mr Fraser speaking last year. Let me give some examples of Labor’s treatment of the States about which there has been so much discussion in this chamber in the last couple of weeks. In 1973-74 the Labor Government increased payments to the States by $735m- an increase of 21 per cent. In 1974-75 the Labor Government increased payments to the States by $2,240m- an increase of 53 per cent. The process was continued in 1975-76 when the payments to the States were increased by $2,000m- an increase of 32 per cent. In this Budget, the Government has set about restoring the position of State governments to the position they were in before 1972. Payments have been increased by $600m- an increase of 7.2 per cent. As there has been some conjecture about this in the Senate, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard Table 1 from Budget Paper No. 7.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Melzer)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The table read as follows)-
-Of course, the Government claims that the position is more complicated than that. By trying to make a virtue out of breaching the agreements with the States on hospital costs and fiddling with the deficit by making certain payments last year, the Treasurer claims that the increase this year is 13 per cent. That figure causes me no embarrassment as I have been predicting, as I did last session some 3 months ago, an increase of that order despite the objections at that time of people like the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs, Senator Carrick. But, however much as the Government likes to fool the people by cooking the books, it is unable to fool the Premiers, judging by the unflattering comments that they have made about the Budget and the federalism policy in recent weeks.
Let us look at it another way to test the case I am putting. Over the 3 years during which Labor was in office, increases in payments to the States averaged 34 per cent per annum. If such an increase were maintained over the next 3 years, payments to the States in 1978-79 would be equivalent to $ 17,000m. If increases were maintained at the rate proposed by this Government, payments in the year 1978-79 would be no more than $ 10,300m. Even if we accepted the Government’s figures, payments in that year would not exceed $1 1, 400m. These figures make it obvious that the States will be far less well off under the current Government than they were under the 3 years of the Labor Government. Let us look at it in another way. In 1973-74, Commonwealth expenditure on its own activities increased by 20 per cent, whereas payments to the States increased by 21 per cent. In 1974-75, Commonwealth expenditures increased by 32 per cent, whereas payments to the States increased by 53 per cent. The last Budget brought down by the
Labor Government provided for an increase in Commonwealth expenditure of 24 per cent, while the increase received by the States was 32 percent.
Thus in every year under the Labor Government payments to the States increased by a rate greater than the rate of increase in Commonwealth expenditures. Under the current Government, the rate of increase of Commonwealth expenditures is 13 per cent, which can be compared with an increase received by the States of 7.2 per cent or, on the basis of the Government’s figures, 13 per cent. Thus for the first time since the Labor Government was last in office, payments to the States are increasing by a smaller rate than Commonwealth expenditures. These figures make it obvious that the States are bearing the brunt of cuts in expenditure but the Commonwealth itself is escaping relatively unscathed. However, this year’s figures do not tell the whole story. The States agreed to the Government’s federalism proposals because they believed that they would be given access to a growth tax, namely income tax, which would increase at a faster rate than under the existing formula. After the States had accepted the Commonwealth proposals, the Commonwealth introduced full tax indexation in the first year. As a result of that decision, general revenue grants will now grow more slowly than they would have under the Whitlam formula.
The guarantee given by the Commonwealth protects the States for the next 3 years, in so far as general revenue grants only are concerned, but it will be all downhill after that guarantee ceases to operate. Nor can the States expect that the other components of their revenue will provide much assistance in the long term. The decision of the Commonwealth to limit the Loan
Council programs to an increase of 5 per cent indicated that the States can expect to be dictated to in future Loan Council meetings.
Specific purpose grants will either be absorbed, reduced or abandoned. Even those programs which are absorbed into State revenues will be cut by the Commonwealth before they are handed over to the States. For example, the sewerage program, which is a program earmarked for absorption into State revenue, was reduced by the Commonwealth from $1 13m last year to $50m this year. This process is likely to be repeated in most areas of specific purpose grants. The net result will be that the Commonwealth payments to the States will decline sharply in real terms.
This will cause the States to seek additional methods of raising revenues resulting in increases in indirect taxation or the application of State income taxes. One of those two courses is inevitable in all States.
Anyone listening to the Government’s rhetoric concerning the States would by now be wondering why the Government has taken such a strong stance against the States. The answer is quite clear. The Prime Minister is determined to force the States to introduce a State income tax for two reasons: He is relying on the reluctance of the States to raise taxes, to suppress the public sector for which he holds nothing but very great distrust, to put it mildly; secondly, he proposes to transfer the work of raising taxes to the States.
There are other factors involved besides the obvious financial ones. This Government has treated the States in a disgraceful fashion. Its stated intention was to put intergovernmental relations on a proper basis, but it has flagrantly breached the agreements with the States on Medibank and growth centres and has been trying to find a way to breach the agreements with South Australia and Tasmania over railway transfers. It promised co-operation with the States but it takes decisions about State finances without taking into account the protests of the States. It promised consultation, yet at a recent Premiers’ Conference, the Prime Minister held a Press conference to announce the Commonwealth’s views before the States even had time to consider the Commonwealth’s position.
The States will be forced to raise additional revenue initially through indirect taxes by increasing water and sewerage rates, local government rates, third party insurance, transport fares, etc. These increased charges will add to inflationary pressures. The State governments may be forced to retrench employees, thus adding to the unemployment problem. Finally, the increased taxes and charges will take money out the pockets of consumers who will have that much less to spend.
I shall now turn my attention to some of the specific measures contained in the Budget. Not all the measures contained in the Budget are unsound; we do not reject it all. The decision to fully index taxation was a courageous one in the current climate. The establishment of family allowances was a move which the Opposition does not oppose. Some tax relief for companies was essential although the Opposition has considerable doubts about the measures actually adopted by the Government. The Government’s decision not to increase the level of indirect taxation is also one which we would not oppose.
However, some of the other specific measures can only be described as damaging. The Medibank decision will haunt this Government throughout its life. The difficulties which the Government has faced on this issue to date will be nothing to those it will face after 1 October. The attack on the States was thoroughly reprehensible for the reasons I have outlined. The callous treatment of Aborigines almost defies imagination and completely gives the lie to the Prime Minister’s claim that the Budget is one for people. The attack on the cities through the curtailment or abandonment of the urban programs was not only completely unjustified but was a very bad investment for the future of Australia. Even the plight of the rural sector has been ignored. Apparently the National Country Party believes that the rural vote is such a captive one that it can now ignore the needs of Australians in rural areas and direct its largesse towards the mining industry.
I will not go through all the specific measures in detail. Last night, in the House of Representatives, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) outlined the Opposition’s objections to many of the specific measures. For the purpose of this debate, I endorse the remarks he made in that place. For present purposes I will confine my remarks to the economic effects of the specific measures. In economic terms the most unfortunate feature was the reduction by the Government in expenditure on capital works throughout all levels of government. Not only did the Government reduce its own expenditure on capital works, but under the guise of the socalled federalism policy forced the States into a similar position through its control over the Loan
Council and its reduction in specific purpose payments for capital works. These measures will have disastrous effects on the building and construction industry. Not only will the measures have serious long term consequences for the nonresidential building sector, but will even cause a downturn in the private dwelling sector which is one of the areas on which the Government was placing some reliance for growth in demand.
In accordance with its stated policy, the Government has stifled all growth in the public sector. What then is left? There will be increases in stocks and the Government places great reliance on this area. Of the expected 4 per cent increase in gross non-farm product, over 50 per cent is expected to come from increases in stocks. Even this factor will create difficulties for the Government in the longer term. There will be some increase in plant and equipment but at an enormous cost to the taxpayer because of the investment allowance. The Budget Papers do not record another growth factor which is support for the Opposition over the coming months.
The Government faces real difficulties both in the short and longer term as a result of the measures it has introduced. There will be little or no increase in demand in the September quarter. Retail sales remain sluggish, there will be a downturn in sales of private vehicles, as there will be in private dwelling approvals.
In the longer term, the picture is not promising. The Government has no real idea of the costs to revenue of some of its open-ended commitments, including the investment allowance and the various tax concessions. The growth area in 1976-77- increases in stocks- wm level out within 12 months. The public sector and the building and construction industry will be stagnating. Only the mining sector will be showing any real growth. At a time when selective stimulatory measures will be required, the Government will have no resources with which to provide them. At this stage inflation may have been marginally reduced, but at a terrible cost not only to the economy but to the well-being of nearly every Australian. Those who will suffer most will be those who are most vulnerable- the unemployed, the Aborigines and the migrants.
If the picture is as bleak as we in the Opposition claim, why then should the Government be adopting these measures? It is determined to reduce the public sector even though demand for public sector goods and services is growing more rapidly than demand for the goods and services traditionally produced by the private sector. The Government has not recognised- indeed has refused to consider- the fact that the level of private demand is reaching saturation in this country, as it is in many other industrially advanced countries.
There is a second and more sinister reason for the adoption of these measures. The Government is not attempting to manage the economy of the country for the good of all Australians but is doing so in an attempt to achieve electoral advantage. It is seeking to put itself into a position to be able to offer attractive carrots at the next Federal election, and it is prepared to sacrifice the weakest members of our society to achieve that aim. It intends to ignore the plight of the unemployed and the disadvantaged. It intends to reduce the standard of services available to the people of this country. It intends to selectively support certain narrowly based interests in the hope that those interests will provide it with a springboard for the next election. I say ‘intends’ because I do not believe the Government will be successful in these aims. As the full effects of its measures are felt by the community, there will be increasing pressure on the Government to change its approach. We in the Opposition will give every support to that pressure because we believe that the measures adopted by the Government are not only fundamentally unsound but work against the long term interests of every Australian.
In replying to a Budget Speech, it is essential to analyse the motives, the methods and the myths that are contained in such a statement. No government has it easy. All governments are confronted with difficult decisions. But those difficult decisions should be taken in such a manner as to minimise the harsh effects that they have on certain sections of the community. If they must be taken, they should be taken in a manner that will spread their effect as widely as possible across the whole community. This perhaps crystallises the difference between this Government and the Labor Government. The Labor Government also had to take difficult decisions. But we did so to try to maintain maximum economic activity in this country and, in particular, to ensure that the disadvantaged were not further disadvantaged. By contrast, this Government’s approach is ruthless; it is economically, politically and socially ruthless. We believe it is an approach that it will live to regret.
– Madam Acting Deputy President, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) has given a masterly demonstration of a misunderstanding of the national problems which face this country. Senator Wriedt said a great deal but he forgot to admit that in his time as Leader in this place Labor was useless in government. His Government planned and brought about disastrous inflation. His Government planned and brought about disastrous unemployment. His Government and he had no faith in any one of their number they put forward as Treasurer and progressively sacked Mr Crean and Dr Cairns. Heavens knows who else would have been sacked as Treasurer if the Labor Government had lasted. His Party and he as Leader in this instance cannot be believed. They were given the obligation in 3 years of government and they were found to be totally incompetent.
The Senate finds itself in a peculiar situation where it is debating this Budget, which is by far the most important economic policy document of this year, without credible opposition -
– I rise to take a point of order. I wish to remind Senator Webster of a remark that he made last week about the condition of the Senate. I now remind him as I draw your attention, Mr Acting Deputy President, to the condition of the House.
– I rise to speak on the point of order. The condition of the Senate has remained the same since the Leader of the Opposition spoke. There were only 4 members of the Labor Party in to hear their leader.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Maunsell)- Order! A quorum is not present. (Quorum formed)
-There can be no credibility in an Opposition which assaults a Budget that has the same fiscal objectives as the Budget brought down by its own Treasurer, the last of a number of Labor Treasurers, just a year ago. I remind the Senate of what was said then by Treasurer Hayden. He stated:
Unless appropriate measures are adopted now, the hopeful signs in the economy could prove illusory, and inflation could take off again from its already high level to a thoroughly destructive one.
He also said:
Inflation is this nation’s most menacing enemy. We aim to curb it. Unless this aim is achieved the nation’s productive capacity will run down and job opportunities will diminish.
In another passage, he said:
Today it is inflation which is the central policy problem. More inflation simply leads to more unemployment.
I quote those few extracts to point out the identical urgencies and priorities seen 12 months ago by Mr Hayden and today by Phillip Lynch, the man who, I believe, will win a place in history as the Treasurer who set in motion Australia’s economic revival.
Treasurer Lynch said in his Budget Speech:
As we have stressed from the outset, we have made our first priority the absolute necessity to combat inflation. We have done so not merely because of the direct hardships that inflation obviously brings, but because unless we can brake inflation we shall not succeed in restoring full employment.
The Hayden economic strategy of August 1975 was based on a similar strategy, the same advice and the same indicators as are available to the present Government, and at that time that Budget was roundly applauded by Labor members and senators. Where is the credibility of Labor? It purports to reject totally, as the Leader of the Opposition has just done, that which it fully endorsed 12 months ago. or am I to be told from the Opposition side that this is a new, enlightened Labor Party? Clearly there is no change. I emphasise that fact to this chamber and to the people of Australia as it is vital to all considerations of the merits and of the arguments put forward in this type of Budget debate.
I remind the Senate that the Parliamentary Labor Party now has the same leadership in both Houses as it had in December of last year when the Whitlam Government was thrown out in a manner that left no doubt as to what the majority of Australians thought of the Whitiam leadership and the policies of his Party. Mr Whitiam was Prime Minister throughout Labor’s 3 years of government. It is not a pleasant exercise to recall what happened to this great nation and its people in those 3 years. But those facts must once again be exposed if we are to appreciate fully the hypocrisy of the Opposition ‘s blanket criticism of policies to effect economic recovery.
Labor’s fundamental aim at that time was expounded by Mr Crean in 1973. The Budget at that time was to increase the share of the resources going into the public sector. This attempt to subvert the concept of a private enterprise economy led us to the parlous state this country reached. Not only did Labor not appreciate the full ramifications of its policies but also, when the situation became intolerable, it took too little remedial action, and too late. Inflation, low and not very significant when Labor came to office in December 1972, after that time ran riot, jumping from 4.5 per cent to 1 7 per cent in just 33 months. We found ourselves ranked with the world’s worst of the 24 OECD countriesI refer to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development- of which Australia had the third highest inflation rate.
The cost of living went up by a staggering 41 per cent in Labor’s first 2V4 years of office and by 55 per cent in a little more than 3 years. What was worth $1 in 1972 under the then LiberalCountry Party Government was reduced under Labor in 1975 to 70c in terms of its original value. In the 12 months from the end of 1974 to the end of 1975, the consumer price index in Australia rose by 14.1 per cent- more than half as fast again as the rise in the CPI in other OECD countries, where the average rise was 9.2 per cent.
Real farm income- and this is of great importance to farmers- dropped in Labor’s period from $2,000m in 1973-74 to $1,00Om in 1974-75 and to $700m in that last year of Labor rule. One could quote the incomes of graziers, dairy farmers, grape growers and others who face a disastrous situation currently. Their incomes are half the level of average weekly earnings in our community. I do not wish to ponder all the sets of facts and figures which constitute that 3-year tragedy, but the scene I have drawn would not be complete without reference to the following extracts from a pitiful record: In 1974-75 company income fell by $1.3 billion and private businesses paid tax at the rate of 120 per cent on real profits. More than 3000 small businesses crashed. Taxation increased from $8.4 billion in 1972 to an estimated $17.6 billion in 1975-76. Net payasyouearn income tax went up from $3. 1 billion in the Labor Government’s first year of office to an estimated $8.6 billion in 1975-76.
– The living standards went up, too.
-Interest rates on trading bank overdrafts increased from the 7% per cent that they were when we were last in power to the incredible 1 1 ¥i per cent that they were in the last year in which Senator McLaren and his colleagues were in power. How proud Senator McLaren must be! The unemployment figure jumped from 100 000 in December 1972 to close to 330 000 in December 1975-in other words, from 1.8 per cent of the work force to 5.6 per cent of the work force.
The public sector share of the national cake increased by some 46 per cent in 1974-75 and dramatically again in 1975-76, with a consequent squeeze on the private sector. The fact that nearly 100 000 workers were transferred into government employment in one year indicates how seriously the Labor Government viewed its socialist ideal. The years of Labor tyranny left this country committed to a course that it is not the Australian people’s wish to pursue and that this country finds abhorrent in the extreme. A calculated socialist doctrine was grafted on to our society that will take years and years to emasculate. (Quorum formed) We as a people must ensure that Labor is never again given the opportunity to govern this country.
I have given the Senate sufficient of the sorry saga to illustrate my point that Mr Whitlam, who presided over the tragedy and who to this day still leads the Labor Party, is not competent to label this year’s Budget, as he did on 17 August, as an empty, static document. Almost daily the news media endorse the fact that it is a most competent document that has been put forward by one of Australia’s most competent Treasurers. Nor is Mr Whitlam competent to pronounce, as he has been doing, that the Budget will do nothing to stimulate real economic recovery. The real recovery has commenced. His pronouncements at other times have been empty, ill-considered and expensive to himself and certainly to his Party’s credibility. A man who defamed a teacher publicly and blamed his outrage on the heat of the Bass by-election campaign is not fit to lead a party or to be trusted with the nation’s secrets. Mr Whitlam ‘s record in government and out of government is lamentable, and that of his Deputy is likewise.
In the past few days we have seen demonstrations against the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in Melbourne and Sir John Kerr in Sydney and, as a community, we are outraged. The destruction of property and propriety for shabby political ends is no more acceptable now than it has ever been, and this Government condemns it. But the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Mr Uren, does not do so. Honourable senators will recall that on 2 May he told the University of Western Australia that the Labor Party would have to act outside the parliamentary processes if it could not make the changes to the establishment that it thought were necessary. He said: ‘If we cannot get results we will have to start to use more mass action’. That such a view could be held by a man in his position speaks volumes for the ineptitude of the Labor Party. It was reassuring to learn, as we did in the Senate yesterday, that all members of the Labor Party do not share their Deputy Leader’s view and that most good Labor men abhor those pronouncements and that contrived action.
Last week in this place the Labor team that was voted out of office last year, with the same Leader in the Senate, had the temerity to institute a debate on unemployment as a matter of urgency. How credible is a party which in government caused unemployment and in Opposition feigns to deplore it, or a party which, during 3 years in office, never initiated one debate on the rising unemployment problem or looked for means of overcoming it? Labor is no longer credible as a workers’ party. How plausible is it to the man in the street to whom the Labor Leader promised without qualification or hedging in his 1972 policy speech that Labor’s first priority would be to restore genuine full employment? How are the Australian people to know what to believe and what not to believe from the mouths of Labor spokesmen in this Budget debate? They can be sure of one thing; that is, that for Labor spokesmen to assault the strategy of the Lynch Budget, as they have done from Mr Whitlam down, can mean only that the lessons of 1973, 1974 and 1975 have not been learned by them. The socialist push is the same. Its advisers outside government- including Mr Hawke- who brought distress to this community, are the same. It is as well that the public has taken the attitude to them that it has. In other words, a Labor victory last December would have meant more chaos to this community- and that does not bear contemplation.
A major consideration in the formulation of the Lynch package for 1976-77 was the Government’s concern for those people who are not wage and salary earners but who are dependent upon social services and welfare programs for the alleviation of the distressing effects of misfortune and old age. They affect very large numbers in the community. The continued ravages of inflation have meant only an erosion of the financial standing of the saved dollars of the people. The Government has sought to rationalise its interblending of human, capital and natural resources in such a way as to serve the interests of the economy and the welfare of the people generally. In its Budget planning the Government has endeavoured to guide the economy of the country in a way which combines economic, social and political factors and which takes into account our underlying philosophies of freedom.
The primary aim of this Budget is to provide the type of economic management that will encourage sound recovery in all sections and, in particular, stimulate the private sector so that consumption spending and private investment spending can bring about a condition of satisfactory levels of employment and a fair share of the national well-being for all persons. I quote from the deliberations of a ministerial council meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development which was cited in the Budget Speech. It states: . . the steady economic growth needed to restore full employment and satisfy rising economic and social aspirations will not prove sustainable unless all Member countries make further progress towards eradicating inflation.
To restrain inflation and restore full employment is the cornerstone of this Government’s economic philosophy. The measures which have been adopted by this Government are completely consistent with this approach. To do this it is essential to galvanise a sluggish and battered business community into investment and expenditure action. That is a pretty difficult procedure after the past 3 years. We, as a Government, have given incentives to do just that. We believe that when read in conjunction with those measures announced earlier this year in May this gives the business sector a real incentive to advance.
I shall detail some of the more important measures taken to overcome the regressive philosophies of the previous regime. In the field of taxation some of the recommendations of the Mathews Committee have been implemented to bring about a very realistic reassessment of the tax base of companies. One of these is the trading stock valuation system which enables the taxable income of companies to be reduced by applying an index to the trading stock figure at the commencement of the financial year. That will have an impact on all sectors of the community- the farming sector, the small business sector and the large business sector. The goods component of the consumer price index will be used to assess the amount of increase in the trading stock on hand at the end of a particular period. That trading stock will then be revalued by 50 per cent of that amount. The effect of this will be the same as an allowance of an additional income tax deduction from assessable income equivalent to the amount of 50 per cent of the increase in the trading stock valuation.
This measure is not entirely as suggested by the Mathews Committee, but it is perhaps more generous in that the amount of the revaluation is not merely deferred for tax purposes but is forgone altogether. Another advance in the company area of the Budget is the increase in the Division 7 allowance for proprietary or smaller company retention allowances. This allowance has been increased by one-fifth to 60 per cent for non-property income. At the same time legislation will be introduced to lead to a simplification of the taxation provisions in the carrying forward of excess distributions. The increase in the retention allowance is designed to maintain equity of treatment between private companies, unincorporated businesses and trusts, thus ensuring that the ploughback of profits from private companies is at least retained. Concessions are essential to the continued health and efficiency of the rnining and petroleum industries. We have attempted to do that. Many other very positive steps have been outlined to encourage the business sector, including the expenditure of $225m on the provision of aged persons’ homes and hostels. One should not overlook the very great advances which have been made in the fields of personal taxation and estate duty which were so badly in need of reform. Our Treasurer (Mr Lynch) has carried out that reform. The catch cry of taxing the community while it works and then slugging it again when it dies should never be levelled against this Government.
Reforms to personal income tax rates by the implementation of indexation have meant a very real advantage to income earners. Now the exemption introduced for property passing solely between spouses under the Estate Duty Act has been set at $90,000, which exemption will go a long way towards alleviating the hardship which so often occurs on the death of one ‘s spouse. One important matter is that of the family farm. It is the basic and most desirable unit of rural production. The vagaries of the market place, together with the cynical malevolence of the previous administration, have meant that the greater part of Australia’s primary industry is in the grip of financial stringency, verging in instances on bankruptcy.
This Budget has promulgated our belief in the strength of the primary sector by continuing increasing support for many industries presently depressed. We have reintroduced the superphosphate bounty to ensure continued high production yields. We have extended the fruit growing tree-pull scheme and we have made additional loans to canneries to finance stocks. We have suspended the meat export levy and made $15m available to the beef industry for carry on finance to beef producers. The underwriting of skim milk powder and the equalisation value for butter and cheese has meant that producers can at least expect a guaranteed return for their products. We have increased the floor price for wool and we have extended the criteria for unemployment benefits to include farmers suffering severe financial hardship. This is a major step in reform in this area. The concept of an income equalisation deposit scheme has been mooted for some time. I note that last year Senator Wriedt, in relation to the income equalisation deposit scheme, stated:
I think we could probably do more for the rural section with such a scheme than with any other single measure. But it was unfortunate that the report by the IAC on income equalisation came from the Government at such a difficult time … I did not recommend it to the Government because I realised the difficulty that the Treasurer was placed in.
This Government has seen fit to introduce the scheme to benefit those members of the rural community whose incomes are at present or will be at a future time, fluctuating wildly at the market’s whim. A Bill to amend the homes savings grant scheme was introduced into this chamber last week. The changes which are to be financed from this Budget are of great importance. At present, a person who builds a home on his parents ‘ rural property is ineligible for the homes savings grant. To become eligible, it is necessary to take title to the land on which the house is to be erected. This can be time consuming and unnecessarily expensive. The amendments proposed mean that the grant can be made for the erection of a house without these unnecessary formalities.
As a package, the Budget will succeed in imbuing confidence into the man on the land for the first time in 3 years. There is a government which is aware of his problems. It is seeking to search for every means to overcome them. Social service contributions are particularly high. No doubt the Government, through Senator Guilfoyle, will mention those contributions in other areas. On behalf of the areas which I representthat is the Department of Science and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation- I point out that the Government has given real strength to the science community. Science has been strongly supported by this Government. Total appropriations for my Department of Science are about $ 189m, compared with $!69m in the previous year. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Institute of Marine Science and bodies supported by Commonwealth grants will all be able to continue operations at a vigorous and healthy level of activity.
Honourable senators will recall that the Australian Research Grants Committee received a high amount of $1 1.85m for distribution in this present year. Of course, out of that will have to come the $2.1m which the Australian Labor Party approved as the amount universities could borrow to continue the support of excellence in science. The learned academies and the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science will receive substantial amounts. The Academy of Science will receive $215,000 and the Academy of Social Sciences will receive $51,500. The Academy of Humanities will receive $31,000 and the Australia and
New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science will receive $20,000. There is so much to say about the area of science- the international agreements, the support of scientists at universities and the support of the Australian biological research survey which is being conducted and which will receive $250,000 support this year.
It gives me the greatest pleasure in my first year as Minister for Science to say that through this Budget the science community can have full confidence that this Government is aware of its needs. Through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, which is receiving approximately 3 times the amount of money for capital construction that it received under the previous Government, a pattern has been set down whereby science in Australia will advance as it has not done previously. In view of the objectives of this Budget, and its importance to the community with its economic and social reforms, I give my strong support to this Budget and commend it to the Senate.
– I support the amendment which was so ably moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Wriedt, because I believe that it represents the economic program that ought to be followed by the Government and the policy which, if applied, would take us somewhere along the path to economic recovery, given the constraints and deficiencies that exist within the economic system.
– I raise a point of order, Mr President. The clock has just this minute extended to the full 30 minutes mark to indicate the time from which the honourable senator has to speak. I do not know whether you noticed, Mr President, but it is standing at 30 minutes at the moment and the honourable senator has spoken already for 2 minutes. I just wanted to draw this to your attention, Mr President.
– Order ! I call Senator Gietzelt.
– We are used to the antics and the activities of the Minister for Science (Senator Webster). I take exception to his behaviour here, particularly as he spoke about the importance of debating economics in this Parliament. The Budget debate affords honourable senators one of the few opportunities to debate economic policy and the paths that governments take from time to time to influence- that is about all honourable senators can do- the economic situation in our country. The Minister ignores the fact that this Government has taken steps to limit the debate in this Budget. We have been informed within the last 24 hours that the Budget debate in this chamber is to be limited to only another 4 days. Taking into account that limited amount of time, it ill behoves a Minister to take the steps that the Minister for Science has just taken.
We believe that the Budget is contradictory. One can make any sort of analysis and try to take comfort from the tables of figures that are provided with the Budget documents. We believe that the Budget is heartless because it takes no steps to bring about economic revival in 1 976-77. There is no doubt that the full deceit of the Fraser Government will be disclosed in the ensuing months as we study and as the Australian people have an opportunity to study the Budget papers and the speeches of not only the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) but also the other members of the Government. No longer can this Government hide behind the phoney rhetoric and propaganda of the last election. Senator Webster took part in the activities of the Opposition during the 3 years that we were in government that denied us the opportunity of playing an effective role in planning an economic program.
Already 9 months have gone by since Senator Webster’s Government came to office. That represents half the time that we had in office during the period 1973 to 1974 and half the time we had in office during 1974 and 1975. So this Government is half-way home, in terms of time, to bringing about any form of economic stimulation. This Government has embarked upon a deliberate policy that is calculated to cause hardship to the majority of Australians. I chaired an all-day meeting of the Economic and Trade Committee of my federal parliamentary Party after the 1974 election, at which we discussed the strategy that was to be worked out in respect of the Budget. We were not working out the details because that clearly was the responsibility of the Ministers and the Cabinet The general strategy recommended to the Labor Government on that occasion by the Treasury officials was that we should deliberately set out to create a pool of unemployment of some 6 per cent. We rejected that particular strategy that day but it is clear that this Government has, in fact, adopted such a strategy. This Government has decided to introduce a standstill Budget. It wants to keep the present level of economic activity. The reason for this is that it wants unemployment to remain substantially high. Therefore the Government intends to set out on a deliberate path of dividing the Australian community, and to burden disproportionately the working people and the most vulnerable sections of our community with the cost of artificially stimulating the private profits sector of our mixed economy. In moving our amendment we believe that the Budget strategy will not work and that it is against the best interests of the Australian people and against the national interest. This strategy is calculated to increase unemployment and at the same time implicitly admits and determines that Australia can expect to have an inflation rate of 12 per cent or higher in the next financial year.
This Government is clearly determined to pursue a collision course with the trade union movement. Notwithstanding the Government’s promises to the contrary, it is determined to break down the consensus brought about by wage indexation. This intention was clearly expressed in its submission in recent weeks to the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Predictably, it has begun to blame not only the previous Government- this Government has had 9 months to get things movingbut also the trade union movement for its inadequacies and for the present economic difficulties. In the present circumstances, of course, the Government seeks to cut back real wages. It has set about also to cut back public works and expenditure in the public sector of the economy.
The aspects of the Budget that Senator Webster has spoken about have been designed to create the conditions I have mentioned. The continuation of those policies will bring about a substantial increase in unemployment. Subsequently inflation will continue at much the same rate as last year. The Budget does not deal with the problems of inflation or stagnation. This Government has already admitted its failures and with the mentality of the 1950s, seeks to find a scapegoat in the unions. But prior to the submission by the unions to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission the Government was attempting to say that the earlier judgments this year of the Commission were partly to blame for the downturn in the economy. Neither the unions nor the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is in a position to effect an economic recovery. The Government, through its contradictory and ill conceived economic policy, has decided to do nothing to promote economic recovery this financial year. Instead, it welcomes the recession which will continue until 1977-78.
The failure of the policy initiatives contained in this Government’s economic package of 10
May, which are set out in somewhat more detail in this Budget, can best be summed up in the comments of members of the business community. What better source can I find for this than the people who in fact are involved in the business sector of the community? The Sydney Sun of 30 June reports Mr Henderson, the Executive Director of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, when commenting upon the economic package of 10 may as follows:
Despite the incentives for investment and private spending the economy had continued in a pre-recovery stage. The resurgence of activity seems as far away as it did twelve months ago.
Senator Webster fails to understand what the orthodox economists are now saying. In the Australian Financial Review and other newspapers economists have drawn attention in the last week or two to the deficiencies in this Budget and they are beginning to question the strategy and general trend of the Budget. In the business and commerce section of the Melbourne Age today it was stated:
The state of business in retailing and car selling is grimwith the short term outlook for more of the same. A Business Age survey yesterday showed that last week’s Federal Budget has had no impact on retail sales.
It also shows that major retailers believe they have had depressed real returns since the end of the March quarter.
The economics editor, Kenneth Davidson, stated in a further comment:
Fresh information now casts doubt daily on the foundations the Federal Government used to decide its Budget strategy.
In a journal published on 2 July 1976 by the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales it was stated:
If the Government continues to act in a manner contrary to stated pledges and promises its credibility will be under question and recovery will be stalled.
The people whose comments I am quoting are the political supporters, the ideologues, of this Government. In the official journal of the Australian Chamber of Commerce Mr Hickson is quoted as saying:
For 9 months of that year this Government has been in office.
Activity in the private sector continued to contract, he said, and this was combined with a low level of business and consumer confidence.
Nothing in this Budget is designed specifically to reduce unemployment. Nothing in this Budget will promote consumer spending, which the section titled Economic Outlook 1976-77 in Treasury Statement No. 2 claims is necessary for an economic recovery. At page 22 of the Government’s own Budget document it is stated:
If consumption fails to grow, there can be no recovery, simply because consumption is such a large part of total demand.
Yet honourable senators and members of the Government continually express the view that we have to get private sector revival, that we have to get consumer spending going. As I hope I will prove to honourable senators, nothing contained in this Budget will bring about the objective. The contradiction between depending on increased consumer spending for recovery to occur, on the one hand, and cutting real wages and the spending power of the majority of Australians, on the other, is so apparent that I would have thought even the Treasurer, Mr Lynch, would have seen it. If in fact the Treasury document has any validity, one would have thought that this Budget would have set about increasing the purchasing power of the community. The Government estimates that net collection of income tax from individuals in 1976-77 will increase by 22.6 per cent to $1 1,000m. That will mean more money for the Government and less money for the individual consumer, notwithstanding tax indexation. It also estimates an increase in sales tax of 21 per cent and an increase in customs and excise duty of 19 per cent, which will mean less money in circulation in the community.
The Government has decided to punish the Australian people further by increasing unemployment, cutting back public sector activity, which should be designed to assist those most in need, and handing over further concessions to the profit sector. It is significant that the profit sector is being cushioned against the effects of this recession and that the FraserLynchStreetCotton quartet have never once called for restraint on prices, although they constantly parrot that there should be a restraint on wages. If inflation is to come down it is axiomatic that prices must stabilise or come down. Record profits announced by so many large companies in the last year, and particularly in the last week, testify to the uncontrolled rip-off of the Australian consumer which has brought inflation in its wake. Honourable senators ought to look at the returns that are being published daily in the financial columns of our newspapers. Rather than seek a rational and fair incomes and prices policy and provide direction and assistance to the rural and manufacturing industries, this Government has decided to bow to the powerful mining sector at the expense of the public purse.
The Budget has ignored the basic needs of local government. I do not want to enter to any great extent into an argument about CommonwealthState relations, which we will be taking up with Senator Carrick on another occasion. Indeed, Senator Wriedt already has endeavoured to take it up with him. Senator Carrick would have to admit that there is a shortfall of some $79m in the amount allocated this year to local government as compared with the allocation last year. That will have a disastrous effect upon activity in both the urban and rural areas. There is a shortfall of $63m for the sewerage program, $29m for land acquisition and $37m for growth centres. All these shortfalls will have a depressing effect upon an economy which needs government assistance for stimulation. This Budget has dealt a powerful debilitating blow to the Aboriginal community of Australia. No less than $33m has been cut from last year’s expenditure, notwithstanding the Government’s express pre-election promise to the contrary. Clearly, the Government does not care what happens to Aborigines in Australia, and honourable senators opposite who have acquiesced in this measure have succumbed to the worst racist measure this country has seen in recent years.
The Budget has ignored the needs of rural industries and rural communities. Contrary to what Senator Webster said, the Liberal-National Country Party Government has turned its back on the very problems which Mr Fraser claimed to recognise in a speech he delivered to the Victorian Farmers Union conference on 6 July. The Government has turned its back on Australia’s rural industries. The hypocrisy of Mr Fraser ‘s assumed concern for the economic hardship of many farming families is exposed by the absence of policy and budgetary assistance. None of the 45 per cent of those in the grazing industry with net incomes of $4,000 or below are to receive direction or assistance. None of the 30 per cent of those in the dairying industry with net incomes of $5,000 or below are to receive such direction or assistance. The 42 per cent of those involved in the multi-purpose grape growing industry with incomes of* $4,000 or below, and the 41 per cent of the farmers in the apple and pear industry have also been ignored. Contrary to what Senator Webster said, assistance to the dairying industry is down by $7. 7m on the allocations made by the Labor Government in 1975-76. Despite the chronic decline in the return to fruit growers, assistance is well below the projected rate of inflation and rises, according to the
Government’s Budget documents, by the paltry sum of $600,000. Yet that is the sector of the rural industry which, together with the dairying industry, is most chronically affected by depressed world markets.
No Government policies or initiatives have emerged to provide rural Australia with the assistance to overcome current problems and the direction to plan for a stable secure future. In his speech to the Victorian Farmers Union conference Mr Fraser claimed:
Yet ironically and hypocritically, the Budget attempts to do just that. It attempts to build national prosperity by ignoring the difficulties faced by the rural sector, the sector which accounts for approximately 50 per cent of all our exports. There is no direction or incentive for the rural producer. There is no support for the small farmer. The rural producer and the rural community are left with the empty rhetoric of their totally discredited phoney National Country Party representatives who clearly have not fought in the Cabinet room for effective reconstruction assistance to the declining industries in the rural sector. Mr Anthony promised more for the rural sector. He is on the record, as are many other National Country Party members, as making this promise. Not only have the agricultural and the pastoral industries received less for rural reconstruction in the dairying industry and for irrigation and other pastoral water projects, but also for the first time they are contributing some $25m back into Federal revenue.
I would advise honourable senators to look at what is recorded on pages 76 and 77 of Budget Paper No. 1. In 1974-75, the Labor Government made available to the farming community $447. lm and in 1975-76, $ 164.3m was made available. During this financial year- 1976-77- farmers are paying into revenue $25.0m. It is particularly painful to analyse Mr Anthony’s pre-election rhetoric if the complete disregard and contempt in which he must now hold his audience is considered. He was making promises and statements knowing, as this Budget now testifies, that he would make little or no effort to fulfil the majority of them. Of course, the Labor Government was responsible for making available $843m in direct outlays to the rural communities during its 3 years of office. Another $300m in tax revenue was forgone over that same 3 year period from the rural community. Those figures are official figures given to me in my capacity last year as the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and
Government Operations which was dealing with assistance to industry from the national government.
Speaking in the Festival Hall at Brisbane on 26 November 1975, Mr Anthony made a series of promises and said, amongst other things:
We understand what agriculture is, what it does, what it needs.
His credibility can be judged by his record. He made 20 promises. Let me look at some of them. The Liberal-National Country Party coalition promised but failed to establish a national rural bank. It made promises but failed to establish a farm income reserve fund and a maximum security laboratory and quarantine station. Expenditure on these items is not contained in the Budget documents. The Government has failed to effectively suspend the export levy on beef or to honour obligations to beef producers indirectly by increasing Commonwealth Development Bank funds which could be directed to assist the industry. These are things which Mr Anthony promised in his election speech in November last year. He has failed to obtain the necessary concensus for a price equalisation scheme for the dairying industry. He has failed to take any initiative in respect of the fishing industry and he has ignored the plans to facilitate entry of younger men onto farms in what the National Country Party called at its conferences the young farmers establishment scheme’.
This Government has already reduced the amount of assistance for the education of isolated children by $l.lm in this Budget. Mr Anthony also said that same speech:
We are committed to a policy to restrain urban growth and foster regional growth.
What has he done? The commitment resulted in the sabotaging of growth centres by a Government which cut necessary expenditure on growth centres by over 50 per cent. The $69m which we proudly allocated in our last Budget for decentralisation principles to which Labor is committed and to which I thought this Government was committed has been cut to $32m. This Government can be charged with a vindictive vendetta against the rural procedures and communities at a time when because of chronically poor market conditions and seasonal difficulties, the majority of rural producers, especially small farmers, are particularly vulnerable.
The Government has offered what it calls a major concession to rural producers by introducing an income equalisation deposists scheme. This is the only innovation in the whole of the Budget for rural producers. It can be termed a major concession only because of the lack of initiative in other areas and the cut-backs in existing schemes. I have referred already to the dairy adjustment scheme and to the rural reconstruction scheme which has been cut by $3m. An analysis of the income equalisation deposists scheme, which, incidentally, Treasury thinks will cost revenue only $2m- so much for the bona fides of a Government that represents the scheme as a major concession- shows that it is not geared to assist those needy farmers piously referred to by Mr Fraser whenever his Government seeks to obtain further concessions for himself and other wealthy farmers. I asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton) about this scheme yesterday. He was not able to tell me how many farmers would qualify or in any way receive benefits from this scheme.
The majority of rural producers, as the Government well knows, are experiencing poor export market possibilities as well as adverse seasonal conditions. They are not confronted with tax problems; they are confronted with income problems and the Budget ignores them. The concession does not immediately assist them at a time when so many of our rural industries are undergoing the most severe downturn since the coalition parties were last in government in the early 1970s. The scheme can be considered only as a concession to large affluent farmers or those city investors who take advantage of tax concessions to avoid tax. By not distinguishing between farm and non-farm income for the purposes of the scheme, a cynic may well conclude that the Fraser Government is more concerned with assisting Pitt Street and Collins Street farmers than genuine farmers. Clearly, the Government has not considered the side effects of this hastily worked out scheme.
I wish to thank my colleague Senator Walsh for drawing my attention to the effect of the Government’s permitting interest to be payable on the whole amount deposited under the scheme instead of on the investment component as recommended by the Industries Assistance Commission. It is clear that Senator Webster has not done his homework. Instead of receiving only 5 per cent on the sum invested, the scheme pays 5 per cent interest on the full sum lodged, even though the primary producer’s equity on the sum lodged is less because of the income received in that year. This results in progressively higher rates of interest being received by users of the scheme as the equity in the sums lodged diminishes because of increases in the rates of taxation. It is a devious scheme; it is a scheme of tax avoidance. It is not a scheme that will assist the rural producers. In other words, the more tax that would have been payable on the sums lodged but for the scheme, the greater the interest payment on the investment component or on the remainder.
For example, a taxpayer with income above $28,250 will be able to deposit the excess for 12 months and receive an effective interest rate of 14.3 per cent. The taxpayer’s equity in the deposit in fact is only 35 per cent because 65 per cent would have been paid in tax. Surely no more encouragement need be given to city investors to participate in the government backed income equalisation deposits scheme. The effect of such participation will inequitably create land use problems of a greater magnitude than that already created by hobby farms and exacerbate much of the problems surrounding our agricultural land resources. Agricultural land prices will rise and encourage the wrongful use of agricultural land holdings. No better illustration of the lack of credibility and deceit of this Government can be found than in the decision to phase out the nitrogenous fertiliser bounty as recommended by the IAC. Mr Sinclair, the Minister for Primary Industry, stated on the Policy Makers program on 25 November 1975 that the Liberal-National Country Party Government policy is:
To maintain the nitrogenous bounty at its present level.
He appeared in that program, with Dr Patterson, to criticise the Labor Government for giving some consideration to the scheme and pledged that his Party would not carry out the IAC recommendation. Without wishing to canvass the merits of the decision, at the first opportunity this Government decided to phase out this bounty yet maintains the operation of the more iniquitous superphosphate bounty in a manner which does not assist those rural producers most in need. The need for a supplementary and quite different Budget should be realised by this Government. That is why I support the amendment moved by Senator Wriedt. Only increased hardship is likely to follow if the Government dogmatically pursues this ill-conceived economic strategy.
Let me cite, for the sake of the record, some of the unemployment figures in the rural sector which ought to be the concern of every member of this chamber. In Albury the number of unemployed is now in excess of 1 500; in Armidale it is more than 1000; in Dubbo it is 2200; in Murwillumbah it is 1300; in Wagga it is 1600; in Ballarat it is 2400; in Mildura it is 1600; in Shepparton it is 3200; in Warrnambool it is 1 500; in Bundaberg it is HOO; in Ipswich it is 2100; in
Toowoomba it is 1800; and in Townsville it is more than 2000. I could go on and give figures State by State, but time will not permit. Rural unemployment is at an all time high and can only increase as a result of this Budget. Positive measures need to be introduced to prevent the very fabric of many small rural producers and communities disintegrating. Rather than promoting economic activity, this Budget will depress it. It will depress the rural communities similarly to the urban sector and will be a blight on the rural economy.
– We have been listening to the usual tirade from Senator Gietzelt. Most if it, I believe, is nonsense. He has shown an uncommon interest in the primary producers. It is usually the habit of the Australian Labor Party to ridicule that sector of our economy. He suggests, displaying some confidence in the Government, that in 9 months we should have got the economy back on the track. We inherited a business that was running at a loss of something like $5,000m. The train was well off the rails. It is quite reasonable for the people of Australia to expect that it will take time for us to rebuild the track and to get the train back on the rails. This was made perfectly clear by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) during the election campaign. Three years of bad management, of course, must require some time to correct. The Prime Minister has promised the people of Australia that within 3 years the economy will return to good health and the unemployment situation undoubtedly will improve.
The incredible part of Senator Gietzelt ‘s speech was when he mentioned that the Economic and Trade Committee of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party was given advice by Treasury officials that unemployment should reach 6 per cent. I question that. That is an incredible statement to make. I certainly would not support that figure. He also made some reference to the inadequacy of our income equalisation program. I just wonder whether he has read the Budget Speech properly. It states:
The Government has decided to continue the averaging system in its present form, but will take up the proposal for a scheme of income equalisation deposits.
Commencing with income year 1975-76, deposits lodged with the Government under the latter scheme will be deducted from the assessable income of the year of income in respect of which they are lodged, and included in assessable income of the year in which they are withdrawn.
The scheme will enable primary producers to act themselves to even out the effects of fluctuating income on thentax liabilities over a period of years.
I think that illustrates our concern for the primary sector which at present is in a very unfortunate economic state.
I support the Budget as a responsible document and as a document clearly designed to inject confidence back into the private sector, which of course is the productive element of our economy and was the part of our economy that built the Australian nation to the state in which it was before the Labor Party took over. In its 3-year period of administration the Labor Party succeeded very effectively in destroying the confidence of the private sector. It created an atmosphere of rabid inflation and unemployment. I believe that inflation and unemployment reached a stage that was unknown hitherto in the history of this nation. This was due mainly to the inordinate growth in expenditure in the public sector at the expense of private enterprise. The Hayden Budget, of course, anticipated that national wages would increase by about 23 per cent. That implied an increase in taxation of 42 per cent. In the Budget that we are considering the Government already has made an attack on high taxation and has reduced the overall deficit to $2,608m. The domestic deficit is estimated at $ 1,879m, which is about $ 1,000m less than the domestic deficit last year. These estimates are calculated after a reduction of $l,250m on account of personal tax indexation and the investment allowance.
In spite of this, there is a long way to go. I am confident that this Budget in the long term will improve the economic state of this country to such an extent that the Government will be able to reduce further what I believe to be excessively high personal taxation. There are still inequities in this field. I refer particularly to the head of a household which has a sole source of income. This person is still being penalised when compared with the 2-income family. I received a copy of a letter written by a South Australian constituent to the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) in July of this year highlighting this point. I will read this document for the benefit and information of honourable senators. It reads:
I am a married taxpayer who is a member of a single income family. I am deeply concerned at the way our system discriminates against one income families.
Apart from very minor other earnings my sole source of income is a salary as a Company Secretary. My wife in turn has looked after our household and children and is quite active as President of our School Welfare Committee and other non-commercial roles. We are also active in Lions Club and other charitable organizations.
I am, however, bitterly disappointed to find that the revised tax scales for 1975-76 and thereafter still fail to recognize the value of a single income family to the community. On the contrary the present tax scales blatantly discriminate against one income family units such as ours.
We have close friends (a married couple) who derive a similar combined taxable income to mine and yet they pay substantially less tax than we do.
The writer enclosed a chart which sets out the comparative tax position at 1975-76 rates for single taxpayers, married taxpayers whose wives have no income and taxpayer couples whose incomes are theoretically equally divided. He also attached copies of working sheets. I ask that 2 documents- one entitled ‘The Federal Income Tax on Individual Taxpayers’ and the other Comparisons of Net Tax Payable by Different Classes of Taxpayers’ be incorporated in Hansard. I have already spoken about this to the Opposition Whip and to Senator Douglas McClelland.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Maunsell)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows)-
THE FEDERAL INCOME TAX ON INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYERS
The Federal income tax is the principal focus of interest for both taxpayers and their professional advisors.
The starting point for an understanding of this complex rate structure is Column 1, applicable to married persons who file separate returns. Here the range of the rate structure is from 14 per cent to 70 per cent. Married persons, however, may elect to file joint returns. Unlike the situation in other countries, this is an advantage; although the income of both spouses is combined, the tax rates (Column 4) are fixed so that the resulting tax is equal to the amount that the couple would have paid if their combined income were earned equally by them. For example, if husband and wife each earn taxable income of $50,000 and file separate returns, under the rates in Column ( 1 ), each pays a tax of $22,590 or a total of $45,180. If they file a joint return, the tax is computed on the combined taxable income of $100,000, but under the rates in Column (4) the tax is exactly the same. The advantage of the joint return is found where the separate income of husband and wife are not equal. For example, if the husband earns taxable income of $100,000 and the wife nothing, a separate return of the husband under the rates in Column ( 1 ) amounts to a tax of $55,490. If in that case husband and wife file a joint return, under the rates of Column (4), the tax is only $45, 1 80.
The rates for an unmarried individual (Column 2) are designed to attain a tax of somewhat more than the tax imposed on the combined income of married persons filing joint returns. Thus, an unmarried person with $100,000 of taxable income pays a tax of $53,090, as compared to the married couple ‘s tax of $45, 1 80.
The rate for a head of household (Column 3) achieves a tax in between that for an unmarried person and a married couple filing a joint return. Assuming the same $100,000 of income, a head of a household pays a tax of $49, 120.
Some controversy has erupted, which has not yet been resolved, because in the unusual case of husband and wife earning the same amount of income, there is a disadvantage in marriage. Using the same figures for simplicity, if the husband and wife each earns $50,000, they pay a combined tax of $45,000 at the rates in either Column (1) or (4). If they are not married, the tax at the rates in Column ( 2 ) is $20, 1 90 each or a total of $40,380.
– I refer to the document entitled ‘Comparisons of Net Tax Payable by Different Classes of Taxpayers ‘. I will give one or two examples. The first column deals with a family taxable income of $6,000. On this amount a single taxpayer would pay $1,020 tax, a married taxpayer with a spouse earning no income would pay $620 tax and a husband and wife with income evenly divided would pay $260 tax. A difference of 138 per cent is involved. In the case of a family taxable income of $8,000, the married taxpayer who is the head of the household pays $1,320 tax, whereas the husband and wife combination with income evenly divided pays only $800, or $520 less. I believe that that is an inequity that ought to be examined very carefully by the Treasurer. I hope that he takes this letter seriously and adopts the suggestion made in it, that a simplified form of the system in the United States of America which provides taxpayers with an option to be taxed as married couples with joint returns is the likely equitable answer.
I will turn to several aspects of the Budget that are of particular interest to me but before doing so I wish to refer to the plight of the shipbuilding industry that has received a considerable amount of attention in recent months. I am particularly interested in this matter because I have made representations on behalf of the industry over a period of almost 10 years. Naturally I am very disappointed that the industry finds itself struggling for survival, but we have to face facts and the facts are very unpleasant. The fact that is recognised by many trade unionists in Australia is that industrial unrest, which has caused unreasonable delays in ship construction and added to costs, has slowly but surely made the industry in Australia uneconomic, and until we realise this Australia will not be able to compete with overseas countries.
The Government has been criticised for ordering ships from overseas. However, I find it strange that these criticisms were not levelled at the previous Government which placed many such orders with overseas shipyards. The Senate should be reminded of the details of the number of vessels ordered by the Whitlam Government. I refer now to a Press release issued yesterday by the Hon. Peter Nixon. It states that the ships ordered by the Whitlam Government were the Australian Pioneer, which was launched in West Germany by the wife of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony), the Australian Purpose, the Australian Prospector, the Australian Progress, the Australian Emblem, the Australian Venture and the Tambo River, which was a conversion project. In his statement Mr Nixon pointed out that the 4 bulk carriers which were said to be too big for Australian yards to construct could have been constructed in Australia if the Labor Government had been serious about the shipbuilding industry. The Labor Government took no initiative to provide any assistance to shipyards in Australia to enable them to increase their capacity to build bigger ships. The Minister suggests it appears that no consideration was given by the Labor Government to reducing the size of the bulk carriers to enable the Australian shipyards to tender.
If the Labor Government had been serious it would have done something about the demarcation and industrial disputes which brought the industry to its knees during the 3 years of Labor Government. I recall drawing to the attention of Senator Cavanagh, who, in the Senate was then representing the Minister for Transport, the fact that the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd was interested in building tankers for the transport of natural gas. I received no satisfactory answer and this indicated quite clearly to me that the Labor Government was quite apathetic to the shipbuilding industry. Mr Fitzgibbon, the prominent trade unionist and commissioner of the Australian National Line, has endorsed the recent decision to purchase vessels from Japan because the ships are able to be purchased at about half the cost of constructing them in Australia, they are readily available, the delivery date is reliable, and the prices are fixed with no built-in escalation clause. Therefore the Government had to give this due consideration and the ANL took the appropriate action.
Our Government has continued the policy of the Labor Party on the shipbuilding industry by providing a 35 per cent subsidy. This represents a subsidy of $9,000 each year for each person working in the shipbuilding industry. The only way in which Australian shipyards could compete overseas would be if the subsidy were increased to something like 55 per cent, but this would commit the taxpayer to a sum of $13,000 for every employee.
– But have not the shipyards got outmoded components? You cannot blame the work force.
-That is a point that I am glad Senator Mulvihill drew to my attention. It is clear that in Australia the shipbuilding technology to which he refers is a little inefficient compared with that of overseas companies. That is an element which Senator Mulvihill has quite properly pointed out.
– A lot of it caused by demarcation disputes.
-That is right
– That causes a lot of the bad technology.
- Senator Withers has raised a point that is equally valid. Demarcation disputes certainly would contribute to the position regarding inferior technology. I realise that it is strategically important to have a commercial shipbuilding facility in Australia, and so does the Government. I am hopeful that the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on shipbuilding repairs that will be coming forward will provide added work opportunities for the shipyards at Whyalla. Some people have suggested that it could be possible to use the shipyards for the building of ships for naval purposes but this will be difficult, because the technology associated with the building of naval vessels is quite different from that involved in commercial shipbuilding. In commercial shipbuilding 70 per cent of the work is involved in the construction of the hull, whereas with naval ships only 30 per cent of the work is involved in the construction of the hull; the rest of the construction techniques is associated with weaponry, sophisticated electronics, and so on. I read a very interesting article in the Australian this morning. It was written by John Stackhouse, the defence correspondent. He makes quite a good attempt at pointing out the difficulties in this regard. His article stated:
It appears that:
In most cases where the defence argument is used it is generally deployed to preserve protected jobs that are woefully uneconomic under present conditions.
The Government is begging its responsibility to set out for the industry a statement of what sectors it wants to see preserved for basic defence supply and back-up and the extent to which its capacity will be used during a period of low threat.
Without doubt Senator Cotton, as Minister for Industry and Commerce, deserves some credit for aiding the ultimate defence benefit, which is securing a strong industrial capability by helping to reallocate resources which are being inefficiently used.
He goes on to say:
This should include applying the same criteria of efficiency to the Government’s own industrial empire, propped up in the name of defence.
He then points out that this includes as the most obvious of all the big naval shipyards at Garden Island and Williamstown which rate miserably low scores on manufacturing efficiency and industrial relations- the problems which led to a death sentence for commercial shipbuilding. I commend that article to honourable senators.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was illustrating the difficulties associated with using commercial shipyards in Australia for the building of Navy vessels due to the different technology involved. I want to finish my reference to the shipbuilding industry by deploring the strike that has been foreshadowed by dockworkers throughout Australia in an attempt to help the shipbuilding industry. I understand that Mr Dunstan has appealed to them not to persist with this type of action and I endorse this call for sanity because until industrial responsibility returns to Australia and the work force adopts the sound principle of a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay Australian industrial workers will continue to suffer.
I now want to turn to the problems facing the Australian Mineral Development Laboratories in South Australia. Honourable senators may not be aware of the national significance of this organisation. I know that Senator Messner and you, Mr President, have shown an interest in this organisation. Briefly, AMDEL was set up in 1964 by 3 parties, each of which guaranteed work to an agreed value. The State Government guaranteed work to the value of $240,000 a year, the Federal Government guaranteed $120,000 and private industry guaranteed a similar amount. The mining boom years of 1969 to 1971 enabled AMDEL to show a surplus over operating costs, but due to inflationary pressures, particularly during the 3 years of Labor Administration, the value of these original guarantees of work have not changed and no longer provide an adequate buffer for a shortfall in contract services. It is significant to note that private industry has always spent much more than its guaranteed $120,000 a year. AMDEL provides for industry and interface between research and practice. I would like, for the benefit of honourable senators, to cite a few more of AMDEL ‘s functions.
AMDEL provides the only complete experimental facility available for ad hoc development work for the mining industry. It provides a facility for the smaller company which cannot afford to carry its own development staff and which would otherwise have to go overseas for the work required. Because AMDEL is a statutory authority and has considerable breadth of expertise it is achieving increasing overseas work and goodwill, promoting exports and international relations. AMDEL offers a means whereby the research of organisations such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation can be developed and put to use in industry. For example, sirotherm desalination developed by the CSIRO has been subjected to extensive engineering testing at AMDEL before being passed to industry. The research into isotope on-stream analysis was developed for industry by AMDEL. The professional staff of AMDEL has a high incidence of industrial background. In fact, 73 per cent of its professional staff has worked in industry.
A point to bear in mind is that from time to time a number of queries have been raised and even formal inquiries held concerning the problem of returns from the millions of dollars spent on more esoteric long term research and the transfer of the results across the technological interface to industry. This is the role AMDEL plays. This is the area in which AMDEL works. I am concerned that the Federal Government is not paying sufficient regard to the urgency of committing itself to a guarantee of work for this organisation. AMDEL has worked overseas in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Indian subcontinent. It has established a high reputation for Australian technology and its services are in demand overseas. I hope that the Government will recognise the need to support this enterprise.
Last year receipts from industry amounted to $1.5m and from overseas clients $300,000 out of a total revenue of $2.5m. It would seem that Treasury completely misunderstands the motives of AMDEL and cannot appreciate that support is required for the basic facility at the fixed work value or indexed cash value. AMDEL, I believe, can sell the rest. The South Australian Government and industry are willing to increase their guarantees. The State Government’s expenditure last year was almost $750,000. The total guaranteed work last year should have been $2.1m.
– It is good to hear you give a rap to the Labor Government.
– I do not mind paying a tribute to a government that is prepared to recognise the importance of this industry and I hope that the Federal Government will follow that example; I am sure it will. I believe we have a responsibility. We issued this guarantee in 1964 and I believe it is now up to us to honour it.
-It was the Playford Government at that time.
-It was under the Playford Government. I am glad that Senator Hall has reminded me of that. That illustrates the enterprise of a Liberal-Country Party administration. I have had talks on this matter with the members of the Ministry and Senator Messner and myself will be seeing Mr Anthony later this day, I hope, to pursue this point.
– I wish you luck.
-Thank you, and I hope you will give me some support too, senator.
– What about the Monarto loss?
– Monarto- that is a point; Labor wasted a lot of money in that area. It is now up to us to repair that damage. One problem I would like to mention which I am sure has been put to many of us- and if the fowlyard can be quiet I believe that I might get this last point over- is the problem of rural telephone services. I am sure that many people in this chamber have had representations concerning the costs involved in connecting country properties to automatic exchanges. The Government recently announced an extension of the free line, if i may put it that way, from 8 kilometres to 12 kilometres. I think that is a step in the right direction but I do not think it is quite good enough. I would like to think that this policy will be extended even further. I realise that since 1973 wage costs have escalated by 60 per cent and that material and equipment costs have also risen by, I think, 40 per cent to 50 per cent. It is my view that the present policy should continue but I recognise the economic problems associated with it. If we extended this free line to, say, 24 kilometres, I believe on present day costs it would cost over a 3-year period something of the order of $150m. Such an extension would certainly solve many problems. It occurs to me that the Government or the responsible Minister ought to consider a system to alleviate the financial burden that is imposed upon people in country areas. I would suggest something similar to the policy adopted by the Electricity Trust of South Australia some years ago when it provided spur line services in country areas.
– That was under the Playford Administration.
-That is correct. The Electricity Trust of South Australia was able to offer local government authorities in country areas time to pay for expenditure incurred- a 10-year period, as I understand it. I have made some preliminary recommendations to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) on that matter and I hope to follow it up in the very near future. Maybe the Government will pay some heed to the recommendations.
There are one or two other features of the Budget with which I was quite impressed. It contained an allocation of $9.4m for water treatment purposes in South Australia. This gives the lie to Mr Corcoran who said there would be no provision for water projects in South Australia.
– Yes, but what an idiot he is.
-Well, the honourable senator said that. Provision for legal aid has been increased in spite of the predictions of the AttorneyGeneral, Mr Duncan, that it would be reduced. There are many aspects of the Budget which could be considered. Railway projects are to go ahead in spite of the fact that Mr Virgo and Mr Dunstan said that they would be abandoned. Many millions of dollars have been provided for this purpose. The railway amalgamation program will proceed contrary to the misleading statements made by Ministers of the South Australian Labor Government.
– Fuel prices were to go up and they had red faces for weeks.
– They just do not know where to stop with these rather unfair accusations.
– There used to be a great tradition in this place that when matters affecting South Australia were discussed in the Senate all sides of the Senate would support the requests of the South Australian Parliament. I have been here for some 14 years and my late colleague Senator Toohey was here before me. This is one of the few occasions when all honourable senators from South Australia have not responded to a call by the South Australian Parliament to support something needed in South Australia. I regret very much that tonight Senator Jessop should deny support to the South Australian Government. His own leader in South Australia, Dr Tonkin, is presently -
– What support are you talking about?
– I am talking about the shipbuilding industry.
– We are following your policy.
-I will tell the honourable senator about his policy. Only three or four weeks ago Senator Jessop joined me and his Liberal colleague Senator Messner in supporting representations from the Whyalla community, including representations from the Lord Mayor, the Council, and other important people, which were made to the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton) for some support to be given in view of the possible transfer of orders to Japan. Senator Jessop was there. He supported the local community. He had his name printed in the local newspaper as being a supporter of Whyalla. Today he came into the Senate -
– I also mentioned why Whyalla had its problems.
– The honourable senator cannot get out of it. Today he marched in here and denied that report. He knew all those things. He was told by Senator Cotton how difficult this shipbuilding issue is and the problems which the industry faces in Newcastle and Whyalla. Despite that the honourable senator and I both said that there ought to be some support for Whyalla in South Australia. Senator Jessop came along tonight and gave some lip service to Premier Dunstan on one issue but acted as a turncoat in respect of the obligation he made to the Whyalla people. That is a bad thing. I was surprised to find that his old political enemy, Senator Hall, supported him somewhat. I do not want to read now all the comments made by Senator Young, Senator Hall and Senator Jessop when they had that confrontation. It is a quite interesting record but I will leave that matter on the basis that South Australians will make up their minds.
– I will bet you are sorry now.
-Senator Young should also consider the support he is giving to his State and the support he is giving to a resolution carried in the South Australian Parliament. All those honourable senators have received a request from the South Australian Speaker, Mr Connelly, for support for the State demand to have the Federal Government review its attitude to shipbuilding.
– Our leader, Dr Tonkin, is here.
– I know this touches the honourable senator. I would like to encompass in my comments tonight our worthy President, Senator Laucke. I spoke earlier of our traditions. On more than one occasion he came in here and supported the South Australian Parliament, Premier Playford and later Premier Hall, in relation to Chowilla Dam. We had great debates.
-Hall- You delayed Dartmouth Dam.
– You nearly lost it.
- Senator Hall was another one but that happened before he changed sides. Honourable senators will remember the great debate about the standardisation of railways. All of us came in here thinking we were serving the State. We were all serving the State by trying to ensure that South Australia was properly supported, it being a small State, in getting communication to the markets of the East. We did all those things and we were successful. We got the Liberal governments to agree that there should be standardisation. But who stalled the standardisation program? It was the Liberal Government. Let me continue the argument about shipbuilding.
– Who stopped the standardisation?
– The honourable senator and the Government he supports. The Government has an inquiry proceeding at present into whether the Adelaide to Crystal Brook connection should be made. It is not yet clear what the Government will do.
– There is a lot of difference in those 2 statements.
– If the honourable senator listened he might find out something.
– What about Peterborough?
-Well, senator, what has happened to the Northern Territory? Without being sidetracked, let me refer to what has happened about rail standardisation. This Government has decided to have some sort of evaluation of the line. We all know that in 1970 the then Minister for Transport, Mr Sinclair, decided to approve the report prepared by the consultants, the Maunsell report. That report has been criticised in many areas. It was dealt with in Senator Hall’s time as Premier. The Federal Government said it agreed with the consultants’ report and would build the line. But what has happened? In 1976 the Government finds it necessary to set up some committee of inquiry consisting of 3 people who are to consider the options. Why is it necessary to consider the options at this time? It is nonsense and quite wrong to say that this Government is doing everything for Australia. I am talking in particular about my own State because I am concerned about it. Each of us from South Australia accepted an obligation when we stood for election to support our State. I want to know what Senator Jessop, Senator Young and Senator Hall told Speaker Connelly in South Australia and what they told Dr Tonkin. Those 3 honourable senators probably had a meal tonight with Dr Tonkin.
– We did not tell him that we would support you.
– Of course the honourable senator had a meal with him. Did he tell him that he would support his policies? Did Senator Jessop tell him that he was reneging on the shipbuilding issue? The shipbuilding industry in South Australia- I mentioned only Whyalla previously- was created by a private entrepreneur, Essington Lewis, as a facility for defence purposes. Unfortunately that shipyard has not been advanced by successive governments in the way that it might have been. The Liberal and National Country parties were in control in those years and it was their responsibility to support the shipyard and to make sure that it had all sorts of new equipment.
– Why did your Government order 7 new ships overseas?
– The honourable senator knows these facts. He has been to Whyalla. In that area he has been the roving representative of the Liberal Party.
– Order! Senator Bishop has the floor. Please allow him to continue his speech without interruption.
– I am pleased to hear the interjections, Mr President. They mean that
Senator Jessop and his colleagues are very sensitive about the switch they have made. I am sorry I have to say this. When Senator Jessop started his speech this afternoon I thought he was going to say that the Whyalla shipyard and the Whyalla community had to be supported. It is an isolated and important region. It contains many new Australians- English people, Spanish people, Scots people- and they are highly skilled. They are shipwrights, boiler makers and welders and we have to keep them. All of a sudden the Government decides that it does not want all these skills in Australia. Why does it not want all these skills at this time?
In trying to defend its action, the Government is saying that the Australian Labor Party adopted a certain attitude to the shipbuilding industry. I put it to Senator Jessop and to the Senate quite honestly that the situation today is quite different from the situation which prevailed when the Labor Government decided to let a contract for the building of 4 bulk carriers which, at that time, could not be built in Australia. In addition, it is true that people such as Charlie Fitzgibbon wanted those ships on the Australian run within a certain time. The responsible Labor Minister said: ‘Yes, we will do that for the time being’. The policy of the Australian Labor Party in this respect has never been obscure. The Labor Party has always said that the defence industries, including the shipbuilding industry, must be maintained in Australia. At any time we are most vulnerable in this respect. The Government says that we are not maintaining our policy. Let us consider that. This afternoon in the other place, the honourable member for Port Adelaide, Mr Young, made a claim in respect of which I support him. Mention has been made in this Parliament before of subsidies in respect of shipbuilding, but what are the facts? Let me point out what has been done in overseas countries. In 1973, to maintain their shipbuilding industries, Japan spent $500m, Spain $60m, Sweden $85m, Germany DM 100m, Norway $160m, the United Kingdom $50m and France between $400m and $500m.
The Government proposes to give away our shipbuilding industry. There is no way in the world that the Government can escape from that accusation. Government supporters always talk to the Labor Party about the need to support Australia’s defence capability. Yet the Government proposes to give away those skills which have been built up in the shipbuilding industry. The Government says that these are not required any more and that Australia will not have shipyards. I put it to Senator Jessop -
– I did not say that. You are misrepresenting me.
-Nonsense. If I remember -
– Will you tell us why the output is one-third?
– There he goes again. I say to Senator Hall that I have just read the facts to the Senate. This afternoon Senator Jessop blamed the situation all on the unions. He blamed demarkation disputes.
– Answer him.
– I will answer him. I have already answered him. I will answer that claim in the words of one of the Government’s Ministers. I ask Government senators who are seeking to interject to listen to what Senator Cotton said. Honourable senators know that Senator Jessop said: ‘Bob Cotton is a great bloke’. He reported support from John Stackhouse for Senator Cotton. This is what Senator Cotton said about the issue when I asked him what was going to happen regarding retrenchments at Whyalla. I wish to relate this answer to what Senator Jessop argued. Senator Jessop claimed that the present situation was the fault of the unions through demarkation disputes. I quote from an answer given on Wednesday, 18 August 1976, by Senator Cotton. As reported in Hansard, Senator Cotton said:
Discussions about productivity improvements and freedom from disputes have indicated that the actual gain from eliminating industrial trouble would not be as great as one might think.
That is exactly the point. I have condemned, as others have, the fruitless arguments in our country about demarkation. Nevertheless, the cost of those disputes amounts to only 5 per cent of wasted costs.
Honourable senators asked what is required in this respect. I went with Senator Jessop on a deputation to Senator Cotton in the course of which we put to him that there should be consideration of a plan for shipbuilding which would embace the union movement and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. What was the result of that proposal? The ACTU met in discussions with the shipbuilders and the Government and it indicated a number of avenues in which cost savings might be effected. That is the only plan that will work in the shipbuilding environment in Australia.
The responsibility for that action rests with this Government and with Senator Jessop, as he has been requested by the Parliament in his State to support the industry. The honourable senator will know that the Premier of New South Wales and the Premier of South Australia have made a request to the Federal Government in which they ask Mr Malcolm Fraser and Mr Nixon to consider what is to happen to the shipbuilding industry. It is up to us to devise a scheme which will allow the shipbuilders and the unions to meet and to reach some form of compromise.
– What about making some constructive suggestions?
– The honourable senator said that -
– You have not made one constructive suggestion yet.
– I invite Senator Jessop to look at his speech tomorrow, as reported in Hansard. His statement was that this situation was all the fault of the unions.
– What about something constructive? Are we to subsidise shipbuilding to 75 per cent?
– Let me make this other point: Even if the subsidies were to be as great as the honourable senator reported or as people assume -
– It is always easy to make such claims.
– Let Senator Jessop tell me this: Is he prepared to sell out all of the skills which we have in Australia in the shipbuilding industry? I refer to the technical workers, shipwrights, boilermakers, welders and others who help to build ships. These people are now getting a shipbuilding program under way in Whyalla by building sections of ships off-shore? Does the honourable senator want to deny skills of that type to Australia for all time, when the fact is that millions of dollars are being spent in the countries I mentioned earlier to maintain a shipbuilding capacity? Do not tell me that that shipbuilding capacity is not as essential for ordinary trade purposes as it is for defence purposes. The fact is that at present throughout the world- Senator Wriedt knows this better than I do because he is a former maritime official- there is an excess of shipbuilding capacity. It so happens that in Australia we must front up to the problem and make sure that we do not lose any of our shipbuilding skills. I have one other piece of news for Senator Jessop. While he was talking -
– Good on you! What about constructive suggestions?
-This is perhaps the best news of all. While you were throwing your weight on the side of the Government in respect of its action- I say to you that in future when you go to Whyalla you will be asked by many British and Spanish workers why you changed your mind about the shipbuilding industry in Whyalla, and you will have to tell them why you switched at the last minute- apparently the Japanese -
– His attitude depends on where he is talking.
-Yes, of course.
– He walked out on them. That is what he did.
– Order! The honourable senator will direct his remarks through the Chair.
-Mr President, I am just informing Senator Jessop that perhaps the situation has been solved by none other than the Japanese shipbuilders. The information that I received just before dinner this evening was that Japanese shipbuilders and the Japanese Government had advised the Australian Government that they would defer signing the agreements until the situation in Australia had improved.
– They have more sympathy for the Australian workers than this Government has.
-Yes. The Prime Ministerhe may have had some scent of this attitude by the Japanese- said today that the contracts would not be deferred. I suggest that obviously the responsibility and the option rest with the Japanese shipbuilders. Tonight on the Australian Broadcasting Commission program PM, Mr Nixon said- no doubt Senator Jessop heard him- that the contracts -
– No, I was working.
- Senator Jessop is not going to leave the chamber, is he? The information I received was that on PM this evening Mr Nixon said that the contracts would not be deferred but that he was advised by his Department that there was a technical hitch with the contracts. The only comment I make on this issue is that the Japanese, I suppose, are concerned about their relations with Australia in other than the shipbuilding area and may be concerned also about what the results might be if the Australian trade union movement, including the unions representing seamen, waterside workers and shipbuilders, decided to take some action against a country other than our own in connection with that order.
I put it to the Senate that this is a most important question. I am not impelled by political motives tonight. I am concerned very much about what will be the future of that technical skill which we have in Australia and which we must keep. Honourable senators will agree with me- I am sure this view is held by honourable senators opposite as much as it is held by methat nobody wants to see that work force in our country, skilled as it is to do almost anything in this industry, depleted. We already know that unemployment has produced a situation in which many teenagers are not acquiring skills. Young people between 15 and 20 years of age constitute 40 per cent of the number of people out of work. They are not skilled tradesmen and they are not learning trades. That sort of situation has to be corrected. This nation has to ensure that it has a skilled work force. No matter what honourable senators opposite think about the political issues involved, Australia certainly has to have industry and it has to train its young people in the necessary skills, otherwise it will not survive. We have to have the competence. It is no good people saying that we can knock out one industry after the other and lose the competence. That means, of course, that we will then be subservient to some foreign power.
– You did it with the textile industry.
- Senator Archer does not come from the mainland. So he ought to know that because of the large distances that have to be travelled over water the country could be held to ransom at sometime unless it has the knowhow to produce things. Retention of the shipbuilding industry is one way of doing that. I suggest that the people of Australia will respond to the demands of the trade union movement and of those on this side of the chamber who want the Government to change its policies. While I am on the job I should finish what I started with Senator Jessop and mention what he said about the economy.
– He has left the chamber.
– He raised the issue by saying that the Government had to get the train back onto the rails. That brought to mind what the Government is doing about the railways in my State. I have already mentioned what happened concerning the standardisation policy which was approved in 1970 and which was proceeding according to plans when it was stalled by the Liberal-Country Party Government when it came to power. Honourable senators know how it came to power. It came to power by frustrating the Labor Government and by sabotaging over several months, if not years, what the Labor Government was trying to achieve during a period of world inflation. It came to power at a time when the Labor Government might have succeeded in getting on top of that inflation. As I have pointed out in relation to shipbuilding, one of the characteristics of the lack of trade was the world situation with which we had to contend and which we were about to overcome when honourable senators opposite decided to take power as best they could.
– By subverting the course of justice, anyway. There is no doubt that certain arrangements were made. What they did was wrong. The Australian people will come to know in time that this Government cannot correct the inflationary situation by acting in the way in which it is acting. What is it doing about railway projects? I refer to the standardisation connection that is important to South Australia if the products of its factories- the consumer durables, the motor cars, the electric motors- are to be shipped to the eastern States at a low cost. Senator Messner might well know what I am talking about as he is a South Australian. The standardisation project is being stalled by some sort of refinement. There has been a change in the Government’s policy. The then Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, agreed in 1970 to adopt the Maunsell report and said that the line should go ahead. A second railway project that is also of very great importance is the construction of the Alice Springs to Tarcoola railway line, which is most essential and overdue. Honourable senators know that that project was stalled for a while but that finally the responsible Minister came out and said: ‘We are now going to build the Tarcoola to Alice Springs line’. But at the same time as he did that he made sure that the railway service in the Northern Territory would be terminated.
– Closed down.
– As Senator McLaren has pointed out, it is to be closed down. That railway service will be needed in the future. The Leopard tanks that our defence forces will be using in the future often will need to be carried on the railways. But the Government is to cut the railway system in two. It intends to sack 300 people in the railways. That is what the Government is doing about the railways. Senator Webster spoke just before Senator Jessop. He could not do much more than talk about great advances that had been made in the scientific field.
– He blinded us with science.
– I must admit that Senator Webster is very helpful whenever one asks him a question. He gives a longer answer than perhaps is necessary, but I must admit that he expands his functions and responsibilities quite a bit. I thought that all he could do this afternoon in speaking of the Budget was tell us what a fine job he was doing in his field and how much money it was getting. I wish to quote from a recent Press release that he issued. It states that the Minister for Science, Senator Webster, said that he was pleased with the Government’s respect for Australia’s science programs as reflected in a number of favourable Budget decisions. Of course, he did not tell us that there had been expenditure cuts recently in certain areas.
-In the CSIRO.
-Yes. There have been cuts recently in the expenditure on the weather reporting services. Senator Webster concluded his Press statement by saying at page 3:
The Government had been particularly concerned to establish that public money for meteorological services is being spent prudently-
That is a good word- at the right total level.
So what he is doing is making the best case out of something on which expenditure is being cut. In particular, I refer to a situation that I brought to his attention. It is sad to think that the telegraphic link between Darwin and Canberra that was broken in the Darwin cyclone has for some reason never been repaired. Apparently no money is available to repair it. It means that the Natural Disasters Organisation cannot get any information on any earth movements for several days. That is not good.
– The money is being spent instead on the superphosphate bounty.
-Yes. I come now to a most important subject about which I want to talk. I do not have much time to talk about it.
-What size deficit would you advocate?
-There he goes! Do honourable senators remember the days when Senator Hall sat in a different part of the chamber? By moving to his present position he has sabotaged his own colleague. I must say that a brief statement of the sayings of Senator Hall has been presented to the South Australian Legislative Council. It is worth reading.
– Would you care to address yourself to the question?
-Senator Hall’s actions will live with him for a long time. I would like to quote one of the Government’s policy objectives, which reads:
We recognise industry, in particular our shipbuilding, aircraft, vehicle manufacturing, weapons, machine tool, electronics and telecommunications industries as a fourth arm of defence.
Urgent action is required to minimise our dependence on other nations for the supply of defence equipment.
– Who said that?
-That is the LiberalCountry Party Government’s policy. I have been repeating those sentiments tonight and I have been challenged by honourable senators opposite tonight about their logic. In the time that I have left to me I want to talk about the other important skills that are needed. Everybody knows that there is a general lack of confidence in the community. I have in front of me many statements about how the retailers in generalthe people in business- are very concerned about the economy and inflation but more particularly about the growth in the rate of unemployment. Those statements already have been made use of during the day. Therefore I will not quote them. Everybody knows that the level of unemployment is growing and that there are no remedies to overcome it. Everybody knows, because it is on record, that the Public Service departments have not taken into their compass as many apprentices as we did when we were in office. The Labor Government employed more of them than the legislation required it to do. In addition it commenced training procedures. During 1973-74 we had a record intake of apprentices and trainees- the highest ever. The Labor Government did that. The Labor Government believed in the teaching of those skills.
Since then, as honourable senators know, the number of teenagers who cannot get a job in the work force has been growing. More than a third of those who are unemployed are teenagers. Most of the young people who are included in the 300 000 people who cannot get jobs have been on the dole for 6 months. Honourable senators opposite know that none of them talks now about dole bludgers, because they know that the level of unemployment has been growing since they have been in office and they have no remedies to overcome it.
The sorts of things the Government might have done by stimulating the public sector have not been done. In all the States the Government is making it possible for further cuts to occur. The
State governments now have to make up for the lack of capital works which were started by the Labor Government. Of course, as most honourable senators know- although nobody will talk about it- there is a need at this time to stimulate capital works expenditure and to go back to the sons of plans which the Labor Government had in order to make sure that people in the community will have jobs. Nothing is produced unless labour is applied. If we lose the ability to produce we lose the skills which go with it and the technical know-how. Australia cannot afford that. Since the war years we have built up a fairly active and efficient manufacturing industry. Now, the Government’s advisers have come along and said: ‘It should be dismantled. Let us chop out the shipbuilding industry for a start’. I suggest that what is required is what is set out in the motion proposed by Senator Wriedt. I hope the Senate will support it.
– I hardly know what to say in reply to that extraordinary speech from Senator Bishop. Surely one could only call it a South Australian Labor Party stream of invective or stream of consciousness. I know Australians fairly well but I have not had much contact with the Australian Labor Party in South Australia. I have never heard anything like that speech so I can only assume that it is something which is peculiar to the Labor Party of South Australia. Senator Bishop’s speech was impressive for one thing, its piety. That piety was impressive again for only one thing, its magnitude.
Senator Bishop, during the course of his speech, coined an interesting phrase. I remind the Senate of it. He said: ‘And the Labor Party did that’. I will be pleased to remind Senator Bishop this evening of some of the other things the Labor Party did.
In the early portion and for a great part of his speech he took it upon himself to attack the Liberal Party senators from South Australia on the subject of shipbuilding. I remind Senator Bishop- I am sure it is only a reminder- and I acquaint some of the back bench senators on his side of some of the facts of Labor Government decisions which were made while he was a member of that government and a Cabinet Minister in that Government. It is a fact that the Labor Party in government, under the Whitlam Ministry, ordered 7 ships overseas.
– They were only rowing boats.
– They were not rowing boats.
– -Doesn’t the truth hurt!
– Indeed, the truth does hurt the honourable senators opposite. That is really why they do not want to hear it. I am obliged to the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) for providing in a Press release the names of those ships, which are: the Australian Pioneer, the Australian Purpose, the Australian Prospector, the Australian Progress, the Australian Emblem, the Australian Venture, and a conversion of the Tambo River. All those names ring well. They ring of the sorts of things the Australian Labor Party likes to say it stands for in this country. ‘Rowing boats’, said Senator Gietzelt! It ought to be pointed out to Senator Gietzelt that the 4 bulk carriers which were said by the Labor Party to be too big for Australian yards to construct, could have been constructed in Australia if the Labor Government had been serious about the shipbuilding industry. The Labor Government took no initiative to provide any sort of assistance to the shipbuilding industry to make it capable of building those ships. That is the fact of the Labor Government.
From all we have heard, certainly in this debate if not before, the Labor Party is obviously more comfortable in opposition than in government. In government is was reminded that it needed to be a little bit more responsible than it had been in opposition. We need to remind it also that it needs to be a little bit more responsible now in opposition than it was previously in government.
What sort of a strategy does the Labor Party give us? What did the Labor Party do? I shall take a subject about which play is being made on the other side, and that is unemployment. This is a simple fact which the Australian community will understand: When the Labor Party came to government in December 1972 there were 136 000 people unemployed in Australia. Much play was made of that by the Labor Party at the 1972 election. In December 1975 over 334 000 people were unemployed.
– How many are unemployed now?
– I will come to that. I ask the honourable senator to be patient and not to rush in, in opposition, as he did in government. That figure I have given represents an increase of almost 200 per cent in 3 years. But what are the facts now? The July 1976 figures show that 270 286 people were unemployed. The July 1975 figures showed 251 622 people unemployed. What those figures did not show was 3 1 969 people on the Regional Employment and
Development scheme. To be on the RED scheme they had to be unemployed. That is the RED scheme which the Labor Government cancelled last year.
– Why have you not restored it?
– The honourable senator asks why we have not restored it. That is music to my ears. The Labor Party has been out of government for about 8 months. Honourable senators on the other side are complaining about the changes we have made to what they did. Now they are complaining because we have not changed their changes. They are consistent. They complain consistently. The total number of people unemployed in July 1975 in Australia under a Labor Government was 283 591. They were registered as unemployed. Honourable senators opposite can trot out their arguments about people who do not register but they are the facts. There are 270 286 registered unemployed now. Honourable senators cannot say that there is a factor operating in relation to registrations now which was not operating 12 months ago. That is what the Labor Party did for Australia. Senator Bishop might well say: ‘And the Labor Party did that’.
I would like to point out some facts and statements which have been made in relation to an important industry in Australia, namely, the metal trades industry. I refer to some facts in relation to that industry because it is the largest secondary industry in Australia. At a function some weeks ago the then federal president, Mr A. Edwards, who is also the Queensland President, pointed out what had happened in that industry. Honourable senators will remember that Senator Bishop spent a lot of time talking about the skills which Australia does not want to lose. I ask honourable senators to remember that because it is interesting to note what happened under a Labor Government to an industry which requires a high degree of skill. It is interesting to see what their effect was.
– Tell us what you are going to do.
– I shall come to that too. Unemployment in the metal trades industry is at its highest level since the Depression. Since 1970 overtime has been cut by an average of 50 per cent. That is what a Labor Government does for the worker! Labour costs have not only priced the Australian metals industry out of world markets but also it is pricing the industry out of the Australian market. So much for exporting skills. Since 1973 the cost of employing a male process worker has increased by 40 per cent in Australia compared with 1 5 per cent in the United States of America. Whereas in 1973 the Australian metals industry had a labour cost advantage of 15 per cent, it now suffers a labour cost disadvantage of 22 per cent. Profits are down 36 per cent from 1973 levels. It is interesting to look at that in the context of Senator Bishop’s comments about what the Labor Party did for Australia and of his reply when Senator Archer, my colleague from Tasmania, made a comment about textiles. Senator Bishop, without taking his feet off the floor, did a double somersault.
In October 1 974 at the Metal Trades Industry Association annual convention Senator Bishop’s colleague, the then Minister for Manufacturing Industry, Mr Enderby, when speaking about the 25 per cent tariff cuts and the activities of the Industries Assistance Commission and of the Government stated:
We have exposed you to competition and you don’t like it- you don’t like it.
Mr Enderby may now realise that the people he really exposed to competition were the Australian workers and they do not like it. This is the problem of the Labor Party, in government or out of government: It cannot look past its blind prejudices. It likes to label this Budget a business budget but it overlooks the fact that when it was in Government and was business bashing, the people who suffered on the greatest scale were the Australian workers, skilled and unskilled. The Labor Government chose to overlook completely the effect wages would have on our capacity to produce, much less export. Now members of the Labor Party are glibly saying that it is our fault. We accept that we have a responsibility. The Labor Party will accept no responsibility and they did not accept any when in government. Even now the decline in jobs under our Government has been less than under the previous Labor Government, even after combining the private and public sector of the economy.
The Leader of the Opposition in the other place (Mr E. G. Whitlam) had much to say about a ‘mixed economy’ and the role of the public sector of the economy when he made a speech last night. What are the facts? The figures for May for the financial year 1974-75, squarely in the middle of a Labor Government’s administration, indicate that jobs in the public sector of the economy increased by 91 000 whilst jobs in the private sector of the economy decreased by 146 000, resulting in a net loss in that period of 57 000 jobs. So work as they might at expanding the public sector and at extending this much vaunted mixed economy theory, the Labor Party
Government was completely unsuccessful in the enterprise of stopping increased unemployment. The figures for the next 12 months to May of the financial year 1975-76 indicate that jobs in the public sector declined under the LiberalNational Country Party Government by 8000; but in the private sector the decline was 18 000 compared with 146 000 at the same period 12 months earlier under a Labor Government.
– That is not helping school leavers.
-Senator Mulvihill says that is not helping school leavers’. But the crocodile tears that have been wept on the other side of the chamber because of the legacy that Labor has left this country just impress me just so much. I have been here long enough to have seen the Labor Party in Government. It brought in some Budgets which contained some very brave words and before those Budgets could ever have taken effect, for good or for ill, its back bench was in a panic and its Caucus was over-ruling its ministry. The Regional Employment and Development scheme is a good example of this.
– How do you know anything about it?
- Senator Coleman asks how I know anything about it. I can draw some conclusions. Some allegations were made in newspapers. Goodness me, the newspapers did not always write nice things about the Labor Party when in Government. When the subject of those allegations subsequently became government policy I had to accept an almost irresistable fact and that was that the allegations were true and that the Caucus, the basis of the Labor Party, had played such a role.
In the context of jobs provided by government it is interesting to note the following statement which appears in the Hansard record of the speech made by the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) on 17 August:
At the end of 197S, the private sector was employing no more people than it had been 3 years earlier, although over that period the labour force had expanded by 370 000.
That is an impressive record. That shows that there was no significant improvement in the private sector and, in fact, that, combined with other facts, leads us to believe that things were going backwards.
The Labor Party is probably relieved it is no longer in government and that it can claim now that no restraint is any longer reasonable. When in government the Labor Party at least did have to count up and formulate its policies. It did have to replace invective with fact on occasions- the fact of government policies. But now it has a free hand. Now it pours its scorn on a Budget which is attempting to bring some sanity into the Australian economy. Yet it provides no credible alternative. I have heard no commentator today make the comment that what the leader of the Labor Party said last night was any sort of an alternative for the Australian people- even for those who are bound and determined to vote Labor in spite of the facts. Members of the Labor Party have this paranoia about business and now that they are in Opposition they can give full rein to that paranoia. It is no longer incumbent on them to be reasonable in any area. It is no longer incumbent upon them to make the occasional soothing noise that their most recent Treasurer made at this time last year.
The facts are that the private sector of the economy is crucial to the health of our economy. That is an economist’s phrase. It means in real person’s terms that the private sector of the economy is crucial to people’s getting jobs. It is crucial to the maintenance and improvement of the Australian people’s standard of living. Three years of Labor Government put us back 20 years in those terms- 20 years of real growth and difficult times which were overcome. It seems as though we are back where we started. The dog chased its tail.
In 1975, in the small business sector of the economy alone, the sector which employs 40 per cent of those Australians in employment in Australia, it is estimated that 3000 small businesses had to close. Some honourable senators might like to take that figure, by itself, on board. I suggest that when they take it on board, along with the trend in unemployment over that period, they will see what those figures really mean. We cannot account for each one of those businesses. We cannot account for why they closed down. But the facts are that 3000 small businesses closed down and unemployment increased.
– Compare it with the figures in 1971.
– I am sorry that the honourable senator was not here earlier. I have gone through the figures for 12 months ago and compared them with the present figures.
– Go back to 1 97 1 .
– I am sorry, I did not go back to 1971. But I did give the figures for 1972 and the figures under a Labor Government are still the worst. The unemployment that a Labor Government created was the worst since the
Depression. Against that we have pursued a policy which, contrary to the statement by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Wriedt) in moving his amendment today, attempts to give the right sort of impetus. A number of policies have been announced already and a number have been embarked upon already which are part of the Government’s strategy. It is important that people know that they are part of the Government’s strategy.
I particularly welcome the Government’s move in the matter of valuation of trading stock. I was a member of this Senate 2 years ago when a South Australian senator asked the then AttorneyGeneral a question in relation to the effect that inflation was having on the valuation of stock with its flow-on effect on taxation. He mentioned that that flow-on effect would mean that companies which were operating efficiently nevertheless would go broke because the right valuation of stock could not be given with the high inflation rate that we had under the Labor Government. The Treasurer has now announced that there will be a move towards a proper valuation of stock for taxation purposes. It is a difficult thing to do but we are doing it, whereas the gentleman who was asked the question 2 years ago to which I have referred promised to look at the matter but produced nothing.
– Where is he now?
– He is not in this place and I daresay he is glad of that. I welcome the announcement by the Treasurer on the Government’s decision to allow private companies to retain 60 per cent of their profits. I have received many representations from small businesses- individuals who are entrepreneurs- in relation to retention of profit. When the Labor Party was in office it required that 50 per cent of profits, at the most, could be retained. Of course, this is terribly important to small businesses- to the small private companies. If they are to build up their capital and to build a secure base which will enable them to expand their business and thereby their employment capacity, they must be able to plough profits back into the businesses. They had no alternative to distributing profit. If a private company owned and run by an entrepreneur paid the profits to himself, he, of course, paid income tax at a rate which was likely to be in excess of the company taxation rate. So the Government got the maximum taxation income from the small business. I welcome the opportunity for that sector of the community in particular to have the capacity to build up its capital investment, to strengthen its base and to strengthen our economy, thereby giving more
Australians jobs. The investment allowance, of course, was another pan of the strategy. It has been introduced already and I know it has been welcomed. One would hope that its flow-on effect will achieve the total objective of reducing unemployment.
Might I say in passing that I welcome the Government ‘s policy in relation to income equalisation deposits. Primary industry is an important sector of private enterprise in Australia, and under a Labor Government it felt that it had no future. With the income equalisation deposits, primary industry has the opportunity to even out the humps and the hollows. It has the opportunity to spread the burden of taxation when it affects them unequally, as it does at present because of such vagaries as drought and variable overseas markets.
The growth of the business sector and with it the growth of jobs is very closely tied to the level of investment in Australia. I pose the question that Senator Bishop pretended to answer: What did the Labor Party do? New investment in plant and equipment fell in two of the three years of Labor Government and private investment suffered its most serious decline since World War II. It is estimated that in 1974-75 company investment declined by 7 per cent. When that is measured against the fact that in the same period wages, salaries and relevant supplements increased by 28 per cent, with all the encouragement that a Labor Government could give to that increase, it is no wonder that there was serious decline in that sector of our community and that hundreds of thousands of people were thrown out of jobs. The figures for this year give us some cause for hope. Seasonally adjusted figures for the June quarter show that total business fixed capital expenditure has increased by 7 per cent and the increase in new investment in plant and equipment from the March quarter to the June quarter was 12 per cent, or 8 per cent in real terms. Perhaps they are fairly dry figures, and to those people who are not economists they sound as if they are beyond their ken. Nevertheless I think Australians learned a very hard lesson under a Labor Government. They learned that although they might not know how to deduce the figures, the figures mean something to them. They mean a job; they mean security; or they mean betrayal by a Party which those people believed was for the worker. At huge cost to the country and at great cost to individuals they found that that belief was not justified.
The Treasurer indicated in his Budget Speech that there is every reason to believe that an improvement is beginning to show up in the investment area, and its resultant effect which we all desire, is on the way. The Government is not just blaming what happens beyond the seas; it is doing something to meet the problem. I welcome the policies, some of which I have already mentioned, which will help in this area. They include the valuation of trading stocks, the provision for the retention of profit by private companies and a couple of other areas which ought to be of concern to Senator Georges, who has been trying continually to interject. Under a Labor Government and particularly under the relevant Minister, Mr Connor, there was a great deal of uncertainty in the mining industry, an industry which I am sure Senator Georges will agree is important to Queensland. I hope that the decisions which have been made to stimulate investment in mining and to stimulate the prospects of those who would invest in mining will have a real effect. Of course, Mr Connor was a member of the Party which talked about buying back the farm, but he gave us virtually nothing worth buying or at least the prospect of very little to buy.
I welcome the decisions announced by the Government in relation to petroleum exploration expenditure being deductible against income from any source, together with all the associated policies announced in that area. They will give incentive to the Australian to invest in his own country. Under the previous Government we had a Minister who gave no such incentive but gave Australian and overseas interests alike every reason to shrink from putting their money into that risk area. I welcome the Government’s decision to phase out the coal export duty. I made a speech on that subject at this time last year when the Labor Government introduced the duty and I do not want to spend a lot more time on it now. My views on that subject are on record and Labor senators can refer to them if they wish. The fact is that investment in the coal industry in Queensland has brought enormous benefit and thousands of jobs to Queenslanders. It has brought benefit to our building industry and it has given us an infrastructure within our State which benefits all the State. The investment is helping to build model cities and the industry has been a model employer. I suggest that Queenslanders should welcome that move.
In the short time left to me I wish to refer to consumers, a subject mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition. I remind the consumers of Australia what happened to their consuming power under a Labor Government. Those who were in jobs found that the tax take of the Federal Government doubled in the period that Labor was in office. When inflation was rampant the Labor Government could only wring its hands and fiddle around with the scales. However it still expected to get a lot more money, even after fiddling with the scales, than it had the previous year. I remind the Australian consumer that on more than one occasion the Labor Government savagely increased indirect taxes. I remind the Australian consumer of what the Labor Government did to the cost of petrol, beer and cigarettes, and in so doing proving that it was not a working man’s government at all. The Labor Government benefitted the public servant and in many ways benefitted the politician, but for the private individual there was very little benefit indeed. I indicated earlier that there was a large increase in public sector jobs. I omitted to point out that the division which had the greatest increase was the Second Division, a high level division containing people who are highly skilled in terms of qualifications. I remind Senator Mulvihill that that increase in the public sector was not for the school leavers; it was not for the little person. It was for the high income earners and it just broadened their horizons a little.
I remind the Australian consumer that indexation is probably the most important thing that has happened to taxation in modern times, perhaps even in the history of Australia. This Government promised to introduce tax indexation so that no government could pursue a policy of inflation and rake in more money without the responsibility of facing the fact that it was effectively increasing taxation rates. I remind the Australian consumer that there has been no increase in indirect taxes in this Budget. Previously we have had debates in this place on the family allowance, and that is important to the Australian female consumer. It is also very important to low income families and it has increased the confidence of those Australian consumers. The rallying in business investment shows an increase in confidence, and there will be increased incentives when jobs increase.
– It has not been apparent.
– I suggest that the Party of the honourable senator who interjects does nothing to increase the confidence of the community. It provides no rational alternative. In contrast to the statements of the Opposition, the Government has every reason to believe that both average and aggregate real disposable household incomes will rise this year. That takes into account the changes projected in the Budget. In net terms, including all the charges associated with Medibank, real household disposable incomes are expected to rise, and they will rise in important areas. They will rise in the area of the disadvantaged family which, as I said earlier, will now receive the family allowance and will not be taxed out of existence. The pensioner and the person living on the benefit of his own thrift and industry have some reason to hope that their incomes will not be eroded. Finally, this Government has indexed pensions, something which a Labor Government would never have the political strength to do. We are ensuring that the weak people- the people on whom Opposition senators are so keen- will be protected in some way. I find the laughter of Opposition senators not terribly impressive. In fact, I find it just a little less impressive that the words I have heard from them so far in the debate. We were told that the Opposition was coming back in strength. However, it seems to have confused a strong voice and loudness with a strong case. I would like Opposition senators to replace some of that invective with some facts which have some meaning to the Australian community.
– The people of Australia may be unaware that tonight the Senate is debating the Budget brought down by the Treasurer, Mr Lynch, in the other place last Tuesday. The ramifications of that Budget for the people of Australia are tremendous. It is unfortunate that this part of the debate is taking place on a day on which the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast. As will be known, we are restricted to making speeches of 30 minutes duration on such days, and there are many things to be said about the Budget, none of which could be covered adequately in 30 minutes. I will endeavour to enlighten a few of the Government senators who are present about the possible ramifications of the Budget in the areas of Aboriginal welfare, housing, education and employment. I found it most interesting that today of all days the Financial Review, one of the few reputable newspapers left in Australia, decided that it was time it brought down a report on the Hay report. An interesting comment made on page 10 of the Financial Review is as follows:
Mr David Hay was appointed to review the delivery of services financed by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs last February, and his report was received by the Government early in June.
One reason the report has not been released is thought to be that it does not provide the damning indictment of Aboriginal Affairs administration as some members of the Government had anticipated.
There is no way-
– Read the next couple of paragraphs.
– I did not miss out a paragraph.
– No; I said: ‘Read the next couple of paragraphs ‘.
– I will oblige the honourable senator. The next paragraph states:
Somewhat taken aback by the severity of the reaction to the $33m Budget cuts the Minister, Mr Viner, said some additional funds might be provided following the current review.
Even Mr Viner, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, is disgusted at the expenditure cuts, amounting to $33m, in the area of Aboriginal welfare. We all know, although the people who are listening to the debate tonight may not know, of the infamous telegram sent on 26 November 1975 and signed by the then Liberal and National Country Party spokesman on Aboriginal affairs, Mr Bob Ellicott, who is now the Attorney-General. Probably he now divorces himself completely from what he enunciated at that time. I will read the contents of the telegram into the record. It has been read in the other place and I will read it here. It states:
Mr Bob Ellicott Liberal and Country Party spokesman for Aboriginal affairs said today there would be no cuts in Aboriginal affairs Budget or in Aboriginal affairs programs. Funds will continue to be made available for housing, education, employment, health, legal aid etc.
– He is eating that telegram with his Weetbix every morning.
– I hope he does, and I hope it gives him the heartburn he deserves. The telegram continues:
Pensions payable to Aboriginal people will not be cut and will rise automatically twice a year with cost of living increases.
Of course, the fact that they will get the rise 6 months late is irrelevant. The telegram continues.
All available funds will be shared among Aboriginal communities on a fair and impartial basis. A Liberal National Country Party Government will support Aboriginal organisations such as the Aborigine Medical and Legal Services. It will hold an urgent inquiry into the role of the NACC to determine whether it can be given a more important role in Aboriginal affairs. Efforts will be made to increase the number of Aboriginal people involved in Aboriginal affairs. Employment and training schemes will be urgently investigated with aim of increasing job opportunities for Aborigines throughout Australia. Spread the word - it is like spreading the gospel- that there is absolutely no truth in Labor Party rumours about cuts in Aboriginal affairs Budget. Under a Liberal Country Party Government Aborigines will be better not worse off. Urge Aborigines to vote Liberal Country Party on 13 December. Full policy is following by mail. Best wishes.
That is really good! I repeat that the telegram states:
Spread the word that there is absolutely no truth in Labor Party rumours about cuts in Aboriginal affairs Budget.
Those rumours, which were not started by the Labor Party, now are coming home like chickens to roost for the Liberal-National Country Party coalition Government.
– How do you know that?
-In this Budget the Government has already cut $33m off the Aboriginal affairs program. I say to honourable senators opposite: Never mind about appropriations made at the beginning of the year or the little mini-Budget that was presented earlier this year. When we were children we called promises such as those contained in that telegram Indian promises. It meant that one could promise anything and everything and then renege. That is what this Government has done. It has reneged on its promises to the people of Australia. The fact that these people are Aborigines is irrelevant and immaterial. They just happen to have a different coloured skin. Because they have always been underprivileged under Liberal-National Country Party coalition governments in the past, this Government will continue to keep them in that state.
Mr Viner agreed, in an interview he gave in August to the Age newspaper, that the Government had broken its pre-election promises. He said that the Government in fact had said that there would be no cuts in Aboriginal spending and unfortunately there had to be cuts in the mini-Budget brought down earlier. I doubt whether he knew at that time that there would be even further expenditure cuts. The Trade Practices Act states specifically that no person or company shall misrepresent the goods or services it has to offer. I submit that that provision should be extended to state that no potential government shall misrepresent the goods or services it has to offer. This is exactly what has happened. This Government, deliberately and knowingly, misrepresented the goods and services it was offering to the Australian people. This Government has made no attempt to deliver the goods and services it promised. I submit that the Government should be liable to prosecution under the Trade Practices Act for giving false and misleading information about its intentions. Instead of there being no cuts in the Aboriginal affairs program, as stated in the telegram, we now see cuts amounting to $33m. That is not chickenfeed.
– Actually, it is $42m. They have hidden a lot of it.
-Is it? That is even worse. That cut concerns the health, education, welfare and employment of people. The fact is that people, whether they be Aborigines or other people, are entitled to the protection of the Government as all Australian people are entitled to it. I submit that in this instance they are entitled to protection against the Government because it is the Government that has acted against the people.
There is one other issue upon which Mr Viner did not quite see things the way the Treasurer saw them. Even before the ink was dry on the Budget Papers, he was saying that he would get more money if it was needed for Aboriginal affairs. The Minister did not really say where it would come from or where he would get it; he just said that he would get it. In fact, this is the way his statement was reported in the Canberra Times last Wednesday:
The Government will allocate more money for Aboriginal affairs after a review of Aboriginal housing and other programs has been completed.
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Viner, said today that no Aboriginal would lose his job because of the cut-back in Government spending which was announced in last night’s Budget. He defended the $33m reduction and said that the Government was determined to end indiscriminate spending and to see that Aboriginal affairs programs operated efficiently and effectively.
I am sure that all those Aborigines who are deprived of satisfactory health care, welfare benefits, education and housing while the Government determines the ‘indiscriminate spending’ will be eternally grateful. Senator Chaney provided part of the answer for us this morning when he asked a Dorothy Dix question of the Minister representing the Treasurer in the Senate, Senator Cotton. He asked where this money for Aboriginal affairs would come from. We all know now that it will come from the Advance to the Treasurer or from Appropriation Act (No. 3). I think I am quoting the Minister correctly. He said: . . when the government has determined the appropriate level of finance required.
Let us look at specifics.
– How do you know?
– Because he said it in the House this morning. If the honourable senator had been here at question time he would have heard the reply.
- Senator Guilfoyle said it this morning.
– I suggest the honourable senator should suggest to Senator Chaney that he does not put up Dorothy Dixers that already have been replied to by other Ministers. If the honourable senator checks today’s Hansard he will find that that is what the Minister said.
I wish to look at specifics. I have my eye on the clock. I intend dealing firstly with Aboriginal housing and then, if time permits, I will go on to talk about one or two other important Aboriginal issues. I think it is fairly important, in view of what Senator Martin had to say a while ago, to deal with my own State of Western Australia. I shall quote a good example of what a State government can do to help bring down a wellintentioned Federal government if it is of a different political colour. That is what happened. One of the big problems of government appears to me to be that while the Federal Government makes all its nice funds available for specific purposes to State governments there is no way that it can make those State governments fully utilise the grants that are given to them. That is just what happened in ‘The State on the Move’- that is Western Australia for those ignorant honourable senators who are not aware of the slogan of the State Liberal-Country Party coalition. We are moving all right; we are going out the back door. But what can be expected from a State government which has its own natural disaster in the Premier, Sir Charles Court, who has already increased charges for public utilities. He even took on the parents of the profoundly mentally retarded children of the Tressillian Hostel not so long ago and threatened to return the children to their homes if their parents did not agree to their being at the Hostel. Then he took away the free travel rights that were available to pensioners.
– Who is this character?
-This is Sir Charles Court. The honourable senator will remember that last year a cyclone came down the west coast. It took fright when it knew Charlie Court was in Perth. It would not even go near there.
– That is the same bloke.
-That is the same bloke. That is what happened in ‘The State on the Move’, Western Australia- this beautiful State of ours. It is a beautiful State. We have beautiful people. We have beautiful Aboriginal people in Western Australia living in poverty, in squalor. Other States have this problem too; perhaps it is more noticeable in Western Australia because I think there are more Aborigines. In actual fact a total amount of $4m allocated for Aboriginal housing in Western Australia was never taken up by the State Government. Senator Martin spoke about the problems of unemployment, the credit facilities for small businesses and the way that small businesses had ceased trading. The amount of $4m would provide a lot of people with housing. It would provide a number of people with employment. It would also create a demand for goods and services especially from those industries that were suffering from distinct financial problems. If this were to happen it would present a much brighter economic picture for Western Australia.
Western Australia did not use the sum of $4m that was allocated. In fact over a number of years the State has just been taking up the surplus from the year before. It is using the carry over figure. The State Government, having already received in, 1973-74 an appropriation of $4m and in 1974-75 an appropriation of $4.556m, allowedindeed it permitted and wanted- industries to run down. It allowed unemployment to rise. It allowed people to live in poverty. It denied the Aboriginal people the right to adequate housing. It did not want to improve the unemployment figures. It did not want to create a demand for goods and services. It was quite happy to sacrifice a few of the smaller industries. It certainly did not want to assist people urgently needing housing. It deliberately and knowingly created a situation which could and subsequently did assist in bringing down a properly elected government- a government elected twice in 3 years by the people of Australia- just because that government was of a different political colour.
When one goes through the estimates of expenditure sometimes one comes across a number of items which may not appear at the time when they are presented to be tremendously important, but they turn out to be most important later. This is just what happened when I was going through the papers to get figures for the debate tonight. The quotation I intend making I think is worth putting on record. It is contained on page 53 of the estimates of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs for 1974-75 and relates to item 0 1 of division 806- Payments to or for the States. The item is devoted to housing. It dissects the 6 States and gives the appropriations not only for 1974-75 but also for 1973-74.
– When Labor was in power in Western Australia, was it not?
– No. Labor went out of power in March 1 974. The honourable senator can cook his books from then on. Let us have a look at what happened in 1973-74 in Western Australia. In that year $4m was allocated for housing. In 1974-75 the figure was $4.556m.
– The same under Labor as under the Liberal Government.
-Please let me finish, Senator Missen. The honourable senator could even laugh at this. I doubt that he will because it is not funny for the people who are affected. The explanatory note at the bottom of the page states:
In 1 973-74 an attempt was made to reduce the Aboriginal housing shortage by channelling increased funds into State housing programs. Due to many factors, such as shortage of materials, labour -
I pause there. Senator Martin spoke earlier tonight and gave us a comprehensive list of the figures on unemployment in 1974. According to these explanatory notes there was a shortage of labour at that time especially in Western Australia ‘The State on the Move’. The explanatory notes continue:
Western Austrafia takes up one-third of the entire continent and yet we could not find suitable land on which to spend $4.556m for Aboriginal housing. The notes then state:
That is a very true statement. The State did in actual fact have some funds unspent at 30 June 1974. It had roughly $2.5m unspent at 30 June 1 974- a time when the number of registered unemployed in the building industry was already one and a half times the number of vacancies being notified. Let us relate the figure as at June 1976, to which Senator Martin referred, to the building and construction industry. In Western Australia there were 667 registered unemployed compared with 1 80 vacancies- about three and a half to one. In the last 2 months- the figures were obtained for me today- the position has deteriorated to such an extent that there are approximately 6 registered unemployed in the construction industry alone in Western Australia to every vacancy. I continue with the quotation:
However, with the present difficulties being experienced in the building industry-
This is interesting. By now I assume that the Department has come to the conclusion that there was an imbalance between the number of unemployed and the number of vacancies. The notes continue:
I have already explained that the ‘excess capacity’ referred to the sum of about $2.5m which was held over from the year before. The notes then state: the States are optimistic that a higher level of activity will be attained this fiscal year.
We have a situation where a department tells the Government that it can anticipate a much greater amount of money being spent on Aboriginal housing in the period July 1974 to June 1975. What actually happened? There was no increase in the construction of Aboriginal housing in Western Australia in 1974-75. Not lc of the $4.556m allocated by the Federal Government was taken up. In fact it has now been returned to the Treasury. You will recall that earlier this year the Government said that from some of the departments it had been able to get some appropriations. While all this is going on, or not going on depending on one’s viewpoint, what is happening to those people who are dependent on those grants for accommodation, people such as Aborigines? There are some who are camped on the banks of the Swan River a few miles out of Perth. Sometimes they can manage to find even a piece of corrugated iron to put up against a tree to give them some shelter. Other accommodation is described in an article by Jim Magnus in the Daily News of 1 1 August, the week before last, I remind honourable senators, and one week before the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) brought down his infamous Budget. The article is headed Aborigines ‘ Shelters Being ‘Destroyed ‘. I do not intend to read it all because it would take too much time and I have to keep my eye on the clock, but I want to read a part of it to make sure that honourable senators opposite who have never known poverty and try not to recognise it when they see it -
– How do you know that?
– It happens to be true.
-Thank you, Senator Keeffe. I intend to read part of it to give an indication of what the Government of Western Australia has not done in the area of housing for Aborigines. An article in the Daily News of Wednesday 1 1 August states:
Allegations were made today that shelters in East Perth were deliberately being destroyed in an apparent attempt to get rid of homeless Aborigines. Mrs Betsie Buchanan, an official of the Campaign Against Racial Exploitation, said Aborigines were being forced to sleep out in the rain.
They are forced to sleep and live in the sun without any shelter at all so I do not suppose it matters much if they are forced to sleep in the rain as well. The article continues:
She said some had complained that bulldozing of their camping spots had been accompanied by increased attention from the police.
I want honourable senators to listen to the types of accommodation that are being bulldozed. The article continues:
Mrs Buchanan said a clump of trees in what the Aborigines call ‘The Flats’ near the Jewell Street Bridge had been a popular sleeping spot. But bulldozers moved in there soon after the destruction of Millars Cave . . .
The article also states:
Off Lord Street, there had been a shelter for 20 people or so, which Aborigines had made by spreading sheet iron between 2 brick walls.
The structure- in the old Millars woodyard and known by the Aborigines as ‘Millars Cave’, had been bulldozed down a month or two ago, she said.
The former occupants then started to sleep on the corner of Short Street under a group of hoardings which they called The Iron Curtain’.
Police moved them on about 2 weeks ago. One man said he had been warned: ‘You had better move on or you will get 3 months’.
I would suggest that there would be a number of Aborigines who would be quite happy to accept a sentence of 3 months in Western Australia just to know that for that period of time they would have food and shelter. Mrs Buchanan goes on to say: it was conservatively estimated that more than 200 Aborigines were forced to live outdoors in the metropolitan area.
In April, 129 homeless people living in the open were counted in a survey in the Swan Valley- but there would have been many more, she said.
Estimates for the East Perth area all say about SO or 60. There are other people known to be sleeping out in Russell and Weld Squares, and in the Coolbellup, Medina and Armadale areas.
Of course, there are any number of other areas around Western Australia where they are sleeping out in squares, in dugouts and in sand pits where they dig themselves a little shelter to get some warmth. The next quotation comes from the following day’s West Australian. It contains a very simple little paragraph in an article headed ‘Homeless in Plea for Bush Facilities’. It states:
The State Government is to be asked to provide caravan park facilities for up to 20 unhoused Aboriginal families at a camp in the bush at Lockridge.
Is that not delightful? In this affluent Western society of ours in which we say to the Aborigines: You will live our life style or you will not live’, we suggest that we might consider putting up caravan park facilities in the bush outside the cities. Perhaps we can say that some of these people are more fortunate than others who live in other parts of the State like the north, northwest and south-west where conditions are not better than those that apply anywhere else, although a great number of them even have shelter.
During the last recess I took the opportunity to go to places like Broome, Kununurra and Halls Creek. Incidentally, in Halls Creek, while I am talking on the Budget and I can talk of a number of things, people cannot even get the news service from the Australian Broadcasting Commission. One resident said to me: ‘If war was declared over the weekend we would not know until the Sunday papers got here on Tuesday’. I will deal with Aboriginal housing and refer to Broome first. In Broome there are 332 people occupying what are nicely called Aboriginal reserves. There are a lot of names I would call them but ‘Aboriginal reserves’ is not among them. They would not be considered parliamentary language anyway.
In Broome there are what are described as 13 jerry-built camps, 1 tent, 2 caravans, 3 converted workshops, 1 under a tree and one simply called Mummabulangine. On Ann Street there are 12 housing units- I refer to them as housing units only because any other description defies mewith 16 family units and over 100 people. The One Mile reserve has 4 houses, 6 family units and 39 people. The Hill, so named because there is nothing else that one can call it because all that is there is a bare hill, has 1 1 houses, 14 family units and 82 people. Morgan Camp has 7 family units, 3 1 people, no accommodation. At the back of the meatworks there are 8 family units and 23 people. Mummabulangine has 6 family units and 32 people. Just to make it quite clear, there are 27 so-called houses accommodating 57 family units and 332 people, and we are living well into the twentieth century. It may be difficult for people looking at these figures to believe that we are living in the twentieth century, but I am told that this is correct. One of those reserves even has lighting, and this makes it unique in Broome. Of course, it is only 32-volt lighting and no one explained to me why that was. Perhaps it can be explained by the fact that pearl luggers which operate out of Broome use 32-volt lamps. Perhaps they over-ordered and this is one way to get rid of them- give 32-volt lighting to the Aborigines on the reserve and make them use up those lamps.
Of course, they do not have any power so they do not have refrigerators, irons or stoves other than wood stoves. Most of them have to cook outside because the conditions inside are too cramped. Some of them even have water connected. Generally there is only one tap; it is outside, but it is a tap. Toilet facilities are virtually non-existent. Some who live in the reserves in Western Australia and in other reserves throughout Australia are lucky because they have some form of shelter. Some of the shelters are made of corrugated iron and are miniature hells in summer and iceboxes in winter. Others are wooden structures which even a person with the most vivid imagination could not call housing units. Others are blankets hung on fences and trees.
I had a lot more I wanted to say but as my time is running short I conclude on a note that was sent to Mr Viner who, I understand, took acceptance of it on 28 July. It was signed by the Chairman, Sam Alberts, at a place called Oombulgurri, an Aboriginal settlement in the north of Western Australia which is going to be selfsupporting irrespective of what this Federal Government does. One of the councillors is Mark Mitchell. The note says:
We want to build our houses. Five before Christmas and 15 next year and use mud bricks and stone for Vant Trump plans. We need mechanical tools and bigger generator. We want grow our food in market garden, goats, poultry and pigs. Mr Johnson has promised us milking cow.
Need more mechanics for training young men in how to look after vehicles. Need a license for fishing. Need new boat for people to provide eggs and vegetables. We can grow sorghum and need a hammer mill now for poultry feed and pigs. Phone licence is taking a long time. We need $4,000; business phone cheaper than radio. We want all people to work, but it is hard for young men and old men to get out of bed if there is not any wages.
Let me assure the Australian people they will be lucky if they get any of these things under this Government. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Melzer)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Reference was made to me in the speech by Senator Coleman to the effect that this morning I asked a Dorothy Dix question of the Minister representing the Treasurer (Mr Lynch). Clearly that expression is meant to indicate that I asked the question as part of a ministerial device to put information before the Senate, and that is simply not true. That question was one which I asked because in the Budget Papers there is an area of uncertainty left as to what the final expenditure for Aboriginal welfare programs will be. As the report in this morning’s Financial Review indicates the Hay report provides no basis for big Aboriginal cuts I was concerned- and I think properly concernedto know where additional funds would come from. In response to my question the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton), who represents the Treasurer in this place, indicated that additional funds could come from the advance account of the Treasurer or through additional appropriations next year.
In any event, I wish to make it quite clear to the Senate that in no sense was I involved in what is termed a Dorothy Dixer. My question reflected concern in the area to which the honourable senator addressed the bulk of her remarks to some extent. To the extent that she showed concern then I share her concern in this area and I assure the Senate that I will continue to do so.
– I just want to bring to the attention of the Senate tonight the apparent changes in attitude in the Federal Opposition in relation to economic matters. There have been some very significant changes since it was in office last year. I am sorry that Senator Bishop from South Australia is not present in the Senate because he made a good deal of the problems in the shipbuilding industry, particularly in Whyalla. No one will regret the problems that we have there more than I and my colleagues from this side of the chamber. The facts are that Australia is suffering from wage inflation which is the basic cause of import competition which we are facing in every area of our economy. It is costing jobs all over the place and most of all, it is a reflection of the difficulties in Whyalla enhanced in particular by the problems of union unrest and so on.
When we look at the cost of wages in Australia without considering what is known as the social wage- and I have seen a graph on this matter- it is pretty clear that in 1972 the Australian wage on a weekly basis and adjusted for currency differences and so on works out at something of the order of $3 or $4 a week below the United States wage. That was the position in 1972. Today the Australian wage adjusted on the same scale is running at the order of $30 ahead of the United States wage. That is the basic cost that is afflicting industry in Australia. It is reflected in the white goods industry in South Australia where no longer white goods are manufactured solely in that State. A lot of parts, if not complete machines, are imported from other countries, particularly Japan, hence ruining job opportunities for Australians. The point of the whole issue, of course, is that, though we are talking about unemployment today, if the fundamental problem is not corrected future unemployment will be absolutely enormous and it is that which the
Government has set about to correct in this Budget.
Turning back to the shipbuilding industry for a moment, I would like to quote from the speech made by the fearless Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) in the House of Representatives last night, if one can term it a speech. He observed in connection with shipbuilding along the same lines I have been referring to and he said:
Our future does not lie in protecting weak industries with higher tariffs, but encouraging industries for which there are continuing markets.
He went on to say in that speech:
Rather than blame the rest of the world for our problems, Australia must ensure that the resources worth developing and the industries worth keeping, the ones most likely to give secure employment and continuing prosperity to our people, are built up and strengthened.
It seems as though that is something of a death bed repentence. I hope Senator Bishop gets the opportunity to read Mr Whitlam ‘s speech tomorrow or at some other time because it does seem as though he is at odds with Mr Whitlam in that matter. He apparently believes that it is an important matter to prop up the shipbuilding industry although there is already a subsidy of the order of $9,000 per job in the shipyard and to keep it in business that subsidy would have to rise to the order of $13,000 per man. He thinks that more will have to be poured on to the fire in order to keep that business going. If an industry finds itself to be inefficient it must readjust and restructure itself in line with current economic trends. The problem with shipbuilding of course is not just inasmuch as it affects jobs in Australia but the increased and the very expensive cost of building ships in Australia is reflected in our economic returns from exports and that reflects on us all indirectly.
Again Mr Whitiam in his usual way turned backward last night and apparently again was repenting on his death bed, but I noticed the editorial in this morning’s Australian Financial Review which I was pleased to hear Senator Coleman reflect upon as being a significant paper in Australia and which indeed contributed greatly to the success of the Labor Party coming to office in 1 972. The editorial states:
Mr Whitlam ‘s speech is, in many respects, a disturbing one, since it seems to show a backsliding into the kind of grandiloquent rhetoric, extravagant promises and business bashing which combined to bring his government unstuck in economic matters.
It goes on to say:
It is true, of course, that the Labor Government did not create on its own the problems of inflation and unemployment. But by many of its public statements, by its kangaroo jumps in policy and, above all, by its spending, it did greatly exacerbate them.
We are at the central issue again as being the second major objective of this Budget and that is the restraint on Government spending. The whole point about Government spending must be that since there is a finite amount of money available priorities have to be established in their proper order. Consequently we see that the Government has approached this in a meaningful way. We have seen it in the area of education where there have been real increases in expenditure for this year. We have also seen it in the area of health. These areas are probably the most important and the ones which are regarded as of the greatest concern by this Government. The point is that if we are to cure the fundamental problems of equality in Australia we need to make sure we get our priorities in order so as to get to the basis of them.
I would like to move on to the third main area and it revolves around the Government’s tax reductions. A deal has been made today of the fact that tax indexation is going to bring about increased revenue to the Government. The point has been made by Opposition senators that income tax will increase by 1 8 per cent this year. The total collections budgeted for are of the order of $11.3 billion, compared with $9.26 billion last year. The increase is $2.4 billion. Because of the adjustments in the concessional rebates, amounting to $0.54 billion, and the collection of the Medibank levy of $0.25 billion as from 1 October, the income tax increase will be of the order of $1.25 billion. This represents an increase of about 13.5 per cent on the collections last year. In the Budget Papers it is estimated that the inflation rate will be in the order of 12 per cent. The Government hopes that it will not be as high as that; that is its conservative estimate. Productivity and increases in the work force will account for about 2 per cent also. So there is a spot-on correlation between the increase in income tax and the increase in collections arising from inflation and so on. This only goes to prove the success of the tax indexation package brought in on 1 July.
There are other things which are of the greatest concern to small businesses and which certainly will help them in the recovery which is now emerging. Having regard to the financial stringency of the times, the implementation of the far-reaching reforms in the calculation of taxable incomes is courageous, far-sighted and extremely necessary. The allowance as a tax reduction of at least 50 per cent and possibly more of the stock valuation adjustment represents a partial implementation of the Mathews Committee recommendations. This will go a long way to redressing the injustice of taxing artificial profits arising from inflation in unit values of stocks. I doubt that Opposition senators have appreciated that it is an artificial profit. This will be of great interest to retailers and wholesalers who so far have not gained as much as manufacturers from the investment allowance. This will significantly relieve the situation of South Australians engaged in the wine industry which the Labor Government helped to destroy when it repealed section 3 1a of the Income Tax Act. The increase in the retention allowance for private companies from 50 per cent to 60 per cent will provide increased liquidity. Whilst I would have liked to see it go a little higher, it is an important contribution. Recognising the stringency of Government finances, it is a courageous move. In a full year those 2 measures will inject in the order of $380m, and possibly a lot more, into mainly small businesses, based on figures for 1975-76. The actual benefit will not be until 1 977-78.
The introduction of the scheme of income equalisation deposits for fluctuating rural incomes will be very significant for small rural properties as well. In this way ‘one time’ fortuitous incomes in good times will be safeguarded from the ravages of the highest marginal rates of income tax. The provision of a deduction of $50,000 against the value of an estate passing to a surviving spouse will help to ameliorate the impact of estate duty on a share in a small part.neship or company. In the past this duty has made a significant contribution to the liquidity shortage of small family businesses where one or other of the partners or shareholders dies. This provision will have the effect of exempting estates of up to $90,000. The figure is $98,000 in the case of farmers.
I turn now to some of the real reforms contained in the Budget. I would like to refer to, amongst other things, the housing voucher experiment. In the Budget $75,000 is allotted for an examination of the establishment of a scheme which would provide a voucher system for individual low income families so that they can search out their own housing, the housing which suits them best, rather than be forced by State government authorities and other authorities to accept housing which is not in their best interests. It is based on the concept of freedom of choice which this Government firmly supports and is a flexible way of approaching the whole problem. Rather than putting more and more reliance on government, this scheme embraces the real private enterprise approach of being organised in order to attract further investment into rental accommodation from the private sector. That is the core of the solution to the problem of housing and ensuring that people have proper opportunities to look after themselves.
– How much are you spending onit-$75,000?
-Yes, $75,000 is set aside to establish a pilot study. The family allowances scheme, which has been well canvassed since 20 May, will bring benefit to 300 000 low income families.
The other main area on which I would like to concentrate tonight is foreign aid. In the Budget the Government is providing $398m for overseas aid. That figure is 14.6 per cent up on the 1975-76 allocation and represents an increase in real terms. Considering the magnitude of the problems of lesser developed countries, this is a most commendable move. It is a step in the right direction in order to try to reduce that horrific gap between rich and poor countries. However, because of the terrific size of that gap, we should be concentrating on other ways of helping lesser developed countries, ways which will yield maximum effectiveness and maximum efficiency. The emphasis should be on trying to help them help themselves. That is why I believe that we should be concentrating more on trade than on direct aid. With direct aid there is no multiplier effect and, the yield per unit cost is far less. Trade is essential as it provides lesser developed countries with foreign exchange which in turn enables them to purchase technology, equipment, plant and capital assets. Import substitution is not the answer, as has been proved lately in many countries, and it is not the best path to industrialisation. Trade is vital in order to encourage countries to develop their own resources, the resources which are most economically viable in their own circumstances.
In regard to the foreign exchange constraint, it should be noted that although certain Asian countries have the potential to expand traditional non-manufactured exports the overall picture appears to be one of limited growth, partly due to the effect of population pressure on land but also due to limitations on the growth of such traditional exports as they know. Without trade the lesser developed countries do not have the foreign exchange to buy goods, but more importantly they do not have the cash at home to pay for goods which they import. Because of the generation of employment opportunities- this being essential for the emergence of a sound industrial base in lesser developed countriesimport substitution increasingly will decline as an issue in those countries. Trade improves the balance of payments. Therefore we have to find a way to ensure that there is an opportunity for lesser developed countries to trade with us. In this country we have specific trade preferences for particular countries. In order to emphasise that point I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table which points out the differences in the tariff rates between Australia and the rest of the world on industrial products, raw materials and semi-finished manufactures.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The table read as follows)-
-That table clearly shows that there is a difference of something like 60 per cent between the tariffs applicable to other countries and the Australian tariffs. We are therefore, in many regards, a very high tariff country. I do not mean to say that we must set about in some disorderly manner, as the Labor Party seems to be prone to do, to destroy our own industries as the Labor Government did with its tariff cut in 1973. What we should be doing is to approach rationally, analysing industry by industry, the advantages that we can bestow on other countries which can be encouraged to trade with us and which can develop their own industrial base which consequently will lead to further trade from us.
The number of items which are presently covered by the tariff preference scheme in Australia is quite high and, at the very most, apply only to those goods which cannot compete with these goods already produced in Australia. Also, the lesser developed countries have the benefit of preferential treatment in respect of specific products. With all the restrictions taken into account only 19 per cent of Australia’s imports from those countries are eligible for tariff preference. It is pleasing to note that there has recently been some change in that situation. There has been a decrease in the rate of the preferential tariff applicable to those countries. There are various items which have been extended to cover these as well. Batteries, electronic equipment, tyre cord fabrics, footwear and handkerchiefs are amongst those items which have been extended to cover.
The very low percentage of imports subject to tariff preferences shows that our assistance has been inadequate, given the magnitude of the problem of lesser developed countries. However, I quote Dr P. J. Lloyd in respect of this matter as it affects Australia. He says:
The unilateral extension to lesser developed countries of preferences on selected commodities has significantly increased their exports of these commodities to Australia. It is estimated that about 90 per cent of the increase in the value of lesser developed countries ‘ exports of these commodities over the period 1965-66 to 1968-69 can be attributed to the preferences under this scheme.
Now, we cannot argue about the value and merits of tariff preferences to lesser developed countries. The sharp growth in the exports of lesser developed countries explains this. The greater opportunities of employment, larger industrial base, broader consumer market and the linkage effects which are derived from these will also be cited as basic gains to those countries.
In view of the large number of goods which are exempt from preferences and which cannot compete on our domestic market, there is ample room for extending further the scheme of preferences to cover those goods which cannot compete with our domestic products, for obviously there is no point in giving other goods preferences if they are already able to compete on other world markets. These labour intensive industries in which the lesser developed countries already have a comparative advantage such as the areas of textiles, footwear, leather products, printing, clothing, electrical equipment, etc., I would therefore recommend, should remain excluded from our preference scheme. But those goods which cannot compete with us should be included. This leaves plenty of other commodities which can be brought into the scheme and given preference too.
The size of our aid assistance in this year’s Budget shows that we are concerned about the problems of lesser developed countries. Recognising the stringency of the Government’s finances at this time, this is a considerable and most generous sum, I believe. What I am concerned about is that in the long run we need to spend more, not in direct aid, but certainly in the area of encouraging countries of lesser developed status to develop their own markets which in turn can lead to greater markets for our products but most particularly would lead to high levels of industrialisation in those countries.
I return to one other matter which affects South Australia and which I wish to mention tonight. This is in regard to the operation of the Australian Mineral Development Laboratories in Adelaide. This is an organisation which has been established for a number of years with the help and guarantee of business from the Commonwealth and the State governments as well as private enterprise through private mining companies. The way in which the organisation operates is that the State Government of South Australia guarantees mining laboratory work of approximately $240,000 a year and private enterprise guarantees work of $120,000 a year, as does the Commonwealth Government. Those values were first established in 1964 and have not been increased since that dme, although the State Government and private enterprise as well as the Commonwealth Government have supported AMDEL with further work since then. However, the growth that has occurred in inflation since 1964 has not in any way helped the cause of AMDEL, since it is running well behind the level of cost increases which have occurred since that dme.
I stress that the moneys which are provided from those 3 sources are not in any sense monetary provisions or subsidies but are guarantees for work of that value. In order to preserve AMDEL ‘s future operations and to ensure that it remains a viable unit, what we are seeking is that it be provided with more work from the Commonwealth Government. We refer to work which might perhaps bring about the development of sections within the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, for instance, which could be channelled to AMDEL. AMDEL has a history of experience not only in the mining laboratory field but also in the consumer area since it has undertaken a lot of testing work on behalf of various car manufacturers and other manufacturers in the Adelaide area. It contributes significantly to the welfare of South Australians, provides a base of skill in the area, of course is terribly important, and has gained a reputation not only in Australia but also overseas for the quality of its work.
The basic problem with AMDEL at present is that its financing is in deficit. It is seeking assistance by the provision of work. It is not seeking direct handouts. Certainly it needs that work in order to make up its deficit at present. However, being assured of a base of work in this area we can be guaranteed that AMDEL will be able to sell its services overseas and to work for other private miners. This of course will help it in its development towards future operations and ensure that it maintains a sound base for experimentation and the building therefore of a sound assembly of knowledge in order to be able to develop further to help the forthcoming expansion of the mining industry that is so important in this country. I hope with Senator Jessop to be able to see the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton) tomorrow in connection with this matter. I have mentioned it tonight because it is of such fundamental importance to the retention of the technology and certainly the ability of South Australians in that State. It is a matter of great important importance to all of us living in Adelaide.
Let me conclude by referring again to the general economic thrust of the Budget which by now has become quite clear, and is well accepted generally by people in business. Unfortunately, Senator Gietzelt is not here at present. He is fond of quoting the Melbourne Age. For his benefit, I will quote an item from the Age of 1 1 August 1976 which appeared under the byline of Graeme McDougall who is the finance editor of the Age. Amongst other things, he said:
If the Government succeeds- and it will if it stays on course- it will be largely because of the persistence of the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser.
He went on to say:
Unemployment notwithstanding, the economy is showing every sign it has passed the bottom and has begun to recover.
It is typical of such times that economic indicators contradict each other and that confidence is fragile.
It is from our position at the bottom of the recession that was brought upon us by 3 years of mismanagement that we are now emerging. We cannot expect all indicators that have been quoted tonight to be in exact sympathy one with the other. It is quite certain, in fact, that many of the indicators will vary one from another as we move closer to the greater recovery period that we see before us. The reasons are quite clear. There are to be structural alterations, changes, in the financial arrangements between various companies. The taxation benefits that companies foresee at the present time will significantly assist business as well. That has been mentioned already. But in particular I return to the private company amendments, which in most cases will mean an effective reduction in the company tax rate from 42.5 per cent to something of the order of 36 per cent. That is a significant saving. It is certainly one that will lead to greater liquidity in the private sector. It can only be hoped that that will further encourage the development and reinvestment of funds in order to bring about the long term recovery that we all foresee.
-The Senate is debating the Budget that was brought down on the Tuesday before last. It is a Budget that has been described by one Liberal Party member of the House of Representatives as ensuring a period of low level depression sustained over several years.
– Who said that?
-I think it was Mr Wentworth. I forgot which seat he holds but he has been there for a long time and I take it that his view is still respected in some quarters in the Liberal Party. That comment was made a week or so ago. Perhaps it is sadly prophetic because the Budget strategy that the Government has embarked upon is dependent upon certain assumptions. We as an Opposition hope that those assumptions will prove to be correct, but we have very real doubts about them. We are bound to point out some of those doubts. Not only do we have real doubts about them; responsible economists and business commentators also have very real doubts about some of the assumptions upon which the Budget is predicated. I refer, for example, to an article by the economics editor of the Melbourne Age that appeared in today’s edition of that newspaper. I wish to quote certain passages from what he had to say. He said:
Fresh information now casts doubt daily on the foundations the Federal Government used to decide its Budget strategy.
On Monday, car registration figures showed a sharp downturn- sharper than might have been expected. Yesterday industrial production figures for July showed a slump. A Business Age survey showed the retailing industry in the doldrums and the car sales have shown no sign of recovery.
He went on to refer to the monthly production statistics in these terms:
The monthly production statistics are notoriously difficult to interpret. But if the decline continues- which would suggest a fundamental break in the recovery which began in the second half of 1975- the Government will have to revise its Budget strategy.
Certainly one indicator doesn’t prove the point. But there has been a rash of them since the details of the Budget were decided many weeks ago. Aside from the points above, there was a sharp reduction in civilian employment in May and a surprising increase in unemployment since.
In concluding this article the economics editor went on to say:
It may be that there are fundamental structural changes occurring in Australian demand patterns which would mean that a large area of Australian industry will be left in recession even if, as now appears less likely, economic recovery is sustained.
If this is the case, Australia faces economic convulsions in the long term. The Government’s Budget strategy of stopping growth in its own spending, and at the same time leaving the burden for recovery on a private industry whose structure was instead suited to the early 1970s may make these convulsions worse.
The same newspaper reports on the situation in the car industry and the retailing industry under the heading ‘Retailers see no recovery’ and talks of a gloomy outlook for the car industry. It describes those 2 areas as the keystone of the economy. The newspaper said that retailers in the long term are hoping rather than expecting that the Budget will restore consumer confidence. It went on to say:
But there were no forecasts yesterday on when that renewed confidence would show through in higher sales.
The same article reports the same sort of pattern in relation to the car industry. At page 4 of the Budget Speech delivered by Senator Cotton in the Senate he had this to say:
More recently, however, private consumption expenditure has begun to grow.
In the business sector also there are early signs of confidence regenerating.
I emphasise the words ‘early signs’. In a moment I want to contrast that statement with statements that were made 6 months ago by the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). Senator Cotton went on to say:
Some healthy gains in capital spending on plant and equipment have already occurred.
The key question hanging over the future course of the recovery is whether the main components of private demand- consumption and business investment- will firmly join stocks and exports in building a continuing recovery.
If they do not, that recovery will falter and expire.
From the point of view of the Opposition, if that recovery does falter and expire all we lack as an Opposition is a reprehensible circumstance and the numbers in the Senate in terms of what was done last year and in terms of promises that were made about these matters last year by the present Government.
Since last year business investment, which the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) referred to in the Budget Speech, has received quite a deal of stimulus in terms of things like the investment allowance, the deferred company tax, the partial implementation of the Mathews Committee’s recommendations and so on. But in spite of those stimuli there is not much sign of business confidence emerging, nor is there much sign of consumer demand developing. The only prediction that one can spell out of the Budget- a prediction that is really spelt out with a fair degree of confidence by the Treasurer- is that there is certainty of a continuing high level of unemployment. However one reads the Budget Papers, that is quite clear. But on the subject of consumer confidence and the revival of business confidence there is no confident prediction and no clarity in the Budget Papers.
We find those things not really surprising for 2 reasons. The 2 reasons are simply as follows: As is obvious to all observers, the Budget contains a very strong ideological bent, twist or kink, if you like. Any word of that description would suit the purpose.
– Kink is the word.
-As Senator Keeffe prefers the word ‘kink’ I will use it. The Budget contains a very strong ideological kink.
– I suppose that is unlike your Budgets.
-I think most commentators would say that it is unlike our Budget of August 1975, which Senator Durack was one of the people who saw fit to delay. Senator Durack will not escape that fact in the 3 years of this Parliament. The strong ideological kink to which I have referred is reflected in the obsessive disdain for public expenditure, which I will come back to in a moment, the fixation with the size of the deficit and the overpowering and totally unrequieted love for the private sector of the economy. I say totally unrequited because there is absolutely no sign of that love being returned in favours from the private sector to the Government at this moment. That is the first reason why we say that it is not surprising that there has not been a resumption of business confidence and consumer confidence- that strong ideological kink in the Budget.
The second point is the Government’s apparent confusion over its actual Budget strategy. I remind people like Senator Durack of some of that confusion as it has been displayed over the last 6 months or so. Last year at the time of the Hayden Budget, which was predicated on the basis of a steady consumer led recovery in the economy the people of Australia were told by the then leader of the Opposition, Mr Malcolm Fraser, that this was a totally false strategy to adopt and that a consumer led recovery was not desirable. We were told that it was desirable that a recovery should occur by an upsurge in business investment rather than an upsurge in consumer confidence. The then Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, in his election policy speech in November 1975- remember, he became Prime Minister on 1 1 November in the caretaker government- assured the people of Australia that a consumer led recovery would be short lived. In March 1976, Vh months later, he was urging the people of Australia to go out and spend. He specifically asked them to spend on refrigerators and motor cars. In August 1976 the urging still goes on from the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, and I suppose, Senator Durack. In spite of every disincentive in the economic situation of August 1976 and in this Budget to spend, the urging still goes on for people to spend. Of course, the urging still goes on and is resisted by the people of Australia because of the continuing spectre of unemployment which hangs over the economic situation.
Let us have a look at how different is the reality of being in Government and bringing down this Budget when compared with the promises which were made in November and December 1975. Let us look first of all at the promise given by Mr Fraser on 8 December and reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph in the following terms: 200 000 cut in jobless, says Mr Fraser. Australia’s unemployment figures could be slashed by up to 200 000 under a Liberal-National Country Party Government, the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, said yesterday. He said that at the same time he would try and cut inflation by 1 1 per cent.
The 2 promises are a 200 000 reduction in unemployment and to cut inflation by 1 1 per cent. On 27 November, during the course of the election campaign, Mr Fraser had this to say:
Inflation and unemployment would drop under a LiberalNational Country Party Government, the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, said yesterday. The changes in the direction of policies would start to have an economic impact, Mr Fraser said.
– That is why employment is going up.
-I am not sure what the Prime Minister promised but the way I read it I do not think Senator Harradine ‘s interjection is correct. But those promises were made by the then Prime Minister in November and December last year. They were supported by the now Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Anthony. He said: ‘We will put people back into work by encouraging a thriving and productive private sector. This will be the key factor in Australia’s economic recovery.’ How different were the promises from the reality of August 1976. These were the promises which justified the delaying of the Hayden Budget for a month in 1975. These were the carrots which were held out before the donkeys who vote in elections in Australia and who did so in December 1975, according to the view of the Government. These were the factors which justified the breaches of convention in the Senate and which created a constitutional crisis in this country which undermined the confidence of half the Australian people in parliamentary government.
– It was the way you messed up the economy which justified that.
-We will come to that in a minute. I have heard a lot of talk today about what we did but I wanted to talk about what the Government has done and what it said it would do. That is the unpalatable thing, is it not? These were the promises of November and December 1975. These were the things which led people like Senator Durack to sit here for a month and delay the Hayden Budget. Such people sat here like ciphers and listened to the empty rhetoric of people like Mr Fraser and Mr Anthony and cried out: ‘Sock it to them Mai. We will show what private enterprise can do. We will show what free people can do in Australia. We will get rid of unemployment. We will reduce the inflation rate and all these things will happen.’ Mr Fraser said: The effects will be felt immediately we come to power. Business confidence will immediately become apparent. People will start to spend again. ‘ That reminds me of the song about bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover. Everything will happen when Mr Fraser gets into power. These were the promises which justified the action of the Senate in relation to the Labor Party Budget of last year and which enabled Opposition senators, as they then were, to screw their courage to the sticking place and delay the Budget.
The Budget we are debating now will not be delayed for obvious reasons. It will not be forgotten in the context in which these promises were made, to which I have referred, and because of matters which have happened since. It is no good people like Senator Martin coming here tonight and explaining to us how the family allowance will lift the level of spending in the community when there is not one tittle of evidence to support that proposition. In the Senate she gave a little lecture, perhaps intended for a Higher Schools Certificate class, on the plight of small business. She somehow suggested that this Government was concerned about that matter. She should have been here yesterday when the trade practices legislation was being debated and she could have expressed a view about that then. But she was not here. It is no good these sorts of lectures being given to us in the context of the undertakings which the present Government made about the economy.
I shall refer to one or two specific areas of cuts which perhaps have not been mentioned but which are rather important in the context of this Budget. First of all, I refer to the cuts made in the budget for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In real terms these cuts amount to $4m. I referred earlier to the ideological bent. Senator Keeffe corrected me and suggested the ideological link of this Budget in relation to public expenditure in some areas. This is nowhere more manifest than in the cuts made to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. This situation results from a long and twisted vendetta by the Government against the Australian Broadcasting Commission for quite obvious and apparent reasons. For example, I have never heard such outraged comments by Liberal Party parliamentarians as I heard last year. Richard Carlton on the program This Day Tonight actually asked the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Fraser, to spell out the promises he was making and the program he offered as leader of the government of Australia if he were elected. There was uproar about that. These were very vulgar and impossible questions to ask a man like Mr Fraser. They were very difficult questions for him to answer and he should not be expected to answer them. Of course, those are the sorts of questions which any responsible interviewer would ask anywhere else in the world of any political leader. These were the sorts of questions which, had they been answered, might have prevented the people of Australia having to face up to the high level of unemployment and the consequences of the mismanagement of this Government which they are now having to face. That is the basis of the vendetta against the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
In real terms the results have been cuts in expenditure on current affairs programs, and on drama programs of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Consequently there hs been unemployment of creative artists in Australia of which the ABC is perhaps the principal employer. There have been cuts in education programs which the ABC alone gives to the people of Australia. For example, in the city of Melbourne in the last week primary school television has been cut in the following ways: Programs for 8 to 12 year olds on Monday and Wednesday mornings have been cut. Programs on health for young people on Friday mornings have been cut. Programs on science for children aged 9 to 12 years on Monday mornings have been cut. They may not be terribly important to people who have the advantage of attending wealthy private schools and institutions of that kind but they are important to millions of Australian school children. They are important to the whole spectrum of the development of culture in this country and the development of a diversity of education facilities.
The second area I want to mention is that of growth centres. I was in the Albury-Wodonga area only a fortnight ago and one finds there a classic example of the relationship which exists between public and private expenditure- a relationship which this Government just does not seem to understand. There were hundreds of investors and developers in Albury and Wodonga who have invested money in aspects of the building industry on the assumption that the development of Albury and Wodonga would proceed at the same rate as that which was provided for by the previous Government. The cuts to a program like that, which amounted to $20m in real terms, are again a betrayal of a long term national Government investment. They are a betrayal of all the rhetoric that is heard on decentralisation and all the lip service that is given to the problems of our cities where 85 per cent of the Australian population lives. We see these cuts as a very real and significant betrayal. But more than that, this Government does not seem to be able to recognise as being important the fact that there is a close relationship between public sector spending and private sector spending, which is illustated by the cuts in growth centre expenditure in an area like Albury-Wodonga. I want to refer in a moment to the construction industry in a particular context. But this, I think, is a graphic example of what we mean.
The other area to which I wish to refer very briefly is that of primary industry. All I want to say about this is that this Budget offers very little relief or sympathy to farmers. Those programs which will be carried on are a continuation of programs which were introduced by the Labor Government. I think farmers will be quite justifiably disappointed because again this is an example of empty rhetoric and a failure to fulfil the promises which have been made. Of course, the Labor Government was accused of ruining primary industry. Farmers were led to believe that it would start to rain again when Malcolm Fraser was elected Prime Minister on 13 December last year. I have been talking to a few of them recently and they say that they have not noticed any particular change in the rainfall patterns or any particular change in the situation of rural industry as a result of the election of this Government. They will be and, I believe, are very disappointed. I only mention that point because for 3 years we had to put up with bleating accusations from the then Opposition that in some way we were responsible for consumer habits of countries like Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom which adversely affected the rural industry in this country. So I mention also primary industry.
I refer briefly to the construction industry because again it seems to me to be a classic example of the failure of the Government to appreciate the relationship which exists between public sector and private sector expenditure. I mention the construction industry because it is an area of high unemployment, particularly in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. It is a particularly vulnerable area and is difficult to bring out of a recession. If I might put it in these terms: There is absolutely no sign that any reduction in real activity by the Government in the public sector of the economy will in any way be compensated for by an increase in activity in the private sector of the economy. There is not one sign in the construction industry that the expression ‘the private sector taking up the slack’ will apply in that industry. Of course, the consequences of that for an industry of this kind are very severe because when there is a recession in an industry like the construction industry- we have a full bottle recession now- the building teams and contracting teams in the large scale construction developments which have broken up are very difficult to replace. Not only is this inefficient in terms of loss of current production but it is grossly inefficient in terms of the period taken to rebuild construction teams and to reestablish companies which have gone out of business in the event of a greater requirement arising in the building sector generally.
Having mentioned those specific areas I want to go back to an area which I believe is fundamental to this Budget. As I said earlier, it is the only area mentioned in the Budget which emerges quite clearly as an area in which the Government is prepared to specify what the situation will be. I refer to the area of unemployment. As I said before, the specifications there are quite clear. Mr Lynch ‘s first budget is an interesting budget and it will be remembered as an unemployment budget because for the first time, in the words of the Budget document, it legitimises continuing unemployment as an acceptable concept. We have now the highest July level of unemployment since the Depression. It is the highest level and is still going strong.
I want to turn just briefly to what has been done for the unemployed people in our community 3 15 000 odd in July and no doubt a significantly increased number since then. Again I want to refer to it in terms of promises which this Government made and promises which have not been fulfilled. I refer first of all to the National Employment and Training Scheme which the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) promised would be retained. The scheme has not been retained in its existing form. It has been severely cut back. I refer secondly to the Regional Employment and Development Scheme, a most crucial scheme to areas which have pockets of unemployment, in particular, rural areas. That scheme has been abolished. On 8 December last year Mr Street promised that the RED scheme would be maintained by this Government. That promise has not been kept.
– But you abolished the scheme, senator.
-I appreciate that in the context of the situation that existed in November and December last year we did propose to abolish the scheme. But Mr Street promised that the RED scheme would go on. If the honourable senator who interjected wants me to quote the passage in which he said this I shall do so. But that promise has not been fulfilled. What I am seeking to do is to ensure that the Minister who interjected and other Ministers in this Government do not escape the consequences of the promises which they made. They will not be allowed to do that. The third thing Mr Street promised to benefit the unemployed was the structural adjustment schemes. None of these promises have been carried out by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations or by this Government. Not only do we have these high July 1976 unemployment figures- the highest July level since the Depression- but also the things that the Government promised it would do for unemployed people have not been carried out.
I want to refer again to the consequences of that high level of unemployment, not only throughout the community at large and throughout all age groups, of the work force, but particularly amongst the young people. There is a rate of 15 per cent unemployment amongst teenage girls and 12 per cent amongst teenage boys compared with 5.4 per cent across the work force generally. Unemployment benefits for those teenagers have been reduced by an effective 15 per cent and 51 000 school leavers in July 1976 were receiving unemployment benefits. We can talk about the rugged society as Malcolm Fraser did in the general election campaign. We can look at the Olympic Games result and not see much evidence of the rugged society in Australia any more. But if we look at the unemployment figures for teenage people we begin to see what the term ‘rugged society’ really means. It is rugged for them. The social consequences for our community as a whole are going to be rugged for all of us because the social problems and the disillusionment associated with teenage unemployment are disastrous in any contemporary society, particularly a society in which 85 per cent of the people live in big urban metropolises. That is the sort of problem which must be pointed up specifically in terms of this Budget and in terms of the promises which were made by this Government before it came to power.
The only other argument with which I want to deal is this: It has been said throughout this Budget debate that everything is the fault of the Labor Government.
– So it is.
– It has been said that we started inflation and that we started unemployment. If Senator Sir Magnus Cormack had been in the chamber earlier, he would have heard me refer to the troglodytes who shout slogans like that. I did not have the honourable senator in mind at the time, but I am encouraged by his example. The fact of the matter is that Government senators and their Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said in November and December 1975 that they would get rid of unemployment and reduce the inflation rate by 1 1 per cent. They sat here in the Senate and delayed the passage of the Labor Budget for a month. They gave lip service to Mr Fraser and grunted and groaned and carried on in support of him during November and December 1975. They sit here still grunting and carrying on. They are not prepared to justify the promises which they made then or supported then and they are not prepared to talk about those promises now. I say to Government senators: You will not be allowed to forget those promises because the justification for everything you did in November and December last year was that you would be better in relation to these 2 matters. Mr Fraser specifically said so. I support the amendment moved by Senator Wriedt.
-Mr President, I rise to support the Budget Papers. I think that the only quotation Senator Button left out of his speech was what we said right from the beginning, namely, that it would take 3 years to rectify the terrible mistakes made by the present Opposition. That was said during the election campaign. The Budget is aimed primarily at caring for the people who, for one reason or another, are unable to look after themselves, the people in whom our Government has been interested all along. Let us look at the way this Budget cares for those people. For the first time in Australia’s history since the New South Wales and Victorian non-Labor governments and the Deakin non-Labor coalition government introduced the age pension, this Government has tied pensions once and for all to the consumer price index. This will succeed finally in protecting the aged, the invalids, the widows, repatriation beneficiaries and supporting mothers in our community from the hardships incurred as a result of inflation. In future, no legislation will be necessary to bring about these pension increases. This will stop any further political delay.
There are increases also in benefits for the sick and the unemployed. Special benefits have been increased as have the benefits for sheltered workshop employees and tuberculosis sufferers. We have abolished the special property factor in the means test for pensions. The means test now will be based only on a person’s income. This measure will benefit thousands of people who previously were disadvantaged because through their thrift they had invested in a family home. As Senator Martin said, we have assisted through our new family allowance scheme those 300 000 low income families, with their 800 000 children, who previously just did not have sufficient income to benefit from tax rebates for their children. Under our new scheme, while the breadwinner will lose his small rebate the mother of the family will collect the full family allowance which is equivalent to that rebate and more.
We have increased the handicapped children’s allowance from $10 a week to $15 a week and the benefit payable to institutions caring for those children from $3.50 a day to $5 a day. We have implemented tax indexation. This is the greatest tax legislation ever passed in this country and it will benefit all sections of the community. This has cost the Government $ 1,000m in revenue. These are just a few examples of what this Government has done for the people of our community who have no strong trade unions behind them, who have looked to our Government and have not been disappointed.
– Who wrote your speech for you?
– I have never had anyone write my speech for me. In bringing down the Budget, the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) reaffirmed that the Government’s first priority was to reduce inflation. This has been interpreted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) as assisting only the businessmen- the free enterprise section of our community. I would like to look at this accusation more closely because I am sure that this statement is the result of the socialism which is part of the political platform of the Opposition. Inflation is certainly the No. 1 enemy of those on fixed incomes. Granted, it is also the enemy of the employer and the employee alike. But the people hardest hit by inflation are those whose incomes are static, those disadvantaged people and low wage earners of whom Professor Henderson talks in his report on poverty. So long as our Government is treating inflation, it is also assisting those who cannot pass on the inflationary increases as businessmen do; it is assisting the underprivileged.
We have been told that we are making too much of a fuss about inflation and too much of a fuss about cutting the deficit. It was only 14 years ago that we in Australia did not know the meaning of inflation. Inflation must not become a thing we are forced to live with, because apart from anything else it destroys our ability to compete overseas. If we cannot compete overseas, we have no overseas money. If we have no overseas money we have no imports. If we cannot import, there is gross unemployment because 65 per cent of our imports are used for Australian production. The latest consumer price index figures are very encouraging; but Australia’s inflation rate is still running at 12.3 per cent compared to 6.2 per cent in the United States of America -
– It is 14 per cent.
– It is 12.3 per cent. In Japan the inflation rate is 8.8 per cent and in West Germany it is 5 per cent. The position has improved since last year. Our inflation rate then was 16.9 per cent. Things are looking better. If Senator Button would only look at the stock market position, he might see that confidence has returned. The Budget has been called an incentive Budget by the businessmen of Australia; but the Leader of the Opposition has tried to denigrate the Budget and to stir up once again that division in the community which he so often has tried to foster. I have spoken about this before in the Senate. I refer to the destructive boss versus worker attitude which has no place in Australia. It is time the Opposition realised that, unless we in Australia have voted out socialism once and for all and have shown that our country has full confidence in democracy, the people of Australia will lose the freedom they have taken for granted for so long. Let us realise that it is only in a democracy that free trade unions exist. In other countries where socialism, totalitarianism, communism or any other ism exists, there are no free trade unions. Trade unions cannot strike for better conditions. The worker works where he is told to work. There is only one boss- the ruling party. Australia has come pretty close to socialism. We have heard many socialistic utterances from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam). Even Dr Evatt a long time ago said:
The taking away in the future of the right of the individual to choose his own vocation and employer is only one of the freedoms the Australian people must be prepared to forgo in the interests of the State.
-The honourable senator says ‘Oh! ‘ He was a good Labor man. Those Australians who believe that there is such a thing as democratic socialism no doubt are very sincere people. I would like to quote Mr Russell Prowse who described democratic socialism in this way:
Democratic socialism is the euphoric passing state from democracy to socialism.
I suggest to those sincere people who believe that there is such a thing as democratic socialism that they should look a little closer at the experience of other countries. Where is there democratic socialism that has existed for any length of time where the people are still free, and where they still have freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom to strike for better conditions? It is time that Australians realised that the thing to fight for is the freedom to fight.
– You approve of strikes then?
– I definitely approve of some strikes. Australians have over the past 3 years taken more interest in politics than ever before. It is certainly an ill wind that does not blow some good. I believe that the majority of people are willing to support this Budget which provides an incentive to free enterprise and an incentive for businessmen to once again expand their production and so create more employment. Profit is not a dirty word; profit is necessary for expansion. Unless we make it possible for the businessman to expand unemployment will increase.
Perhaps the best example I can give is to refer to what happened last month when I was in Sydney talking to union delegates at a certain factory with international ties. After speaking to the delegates, who were very proud of their fight for over-award wages, I talked to the manager. He assured me that the Australian branch of the company was by far the most COStlY to run, that the company was gradually phasing the branch out and that the company would, upon the branch’s closure, import goods. It was thus no longer an economic proposition to produce the goods in Australia. This is just one of the companies that have closed their Australian doors to the workers because it is no longer viable to continue their functions here.
As I have said, profit is not a dirty word; it is necessary for full employment. I hope this Budget will give the necessary incentive. I believe that the moderate and responsible members of the trade unions movement recognise this fact. They realise that the company must be viable or they will lose their jobs. They also realise that the right of a union to strike is the prerogative of a free trade union movement in a democracy, not that of a socialist country. They also realise that they must fight for the right to fight for so long as that fight is within the law, respectful of the basic rights of others.
This brings me perhaps to the greatest threat, the greatest worry that Australia faces todaythe threat of violent demonstrations. For again within a democracy citizens are entitled to demonstrate to show their disapproval of any government action or person. This is a very precious right; a right which, when abused, can end in bloodshed. We are indeed a lucky country. We are one of the few countries that have not experienced a civil war. I pray that we can keep that reputation. Demonstrations like the one we saw last Monday against the elected Prime Minister of the country where, according to the newspapers there were 1000 demonstrators- the nucleus from outside the University- where violence of the type reported occurred; where a brick was thrown through the glass doors causing flying glass to hit the face of Sergeant Barry Carpenter; where Mr Fraser ‘s Assistant Press Secretary was kicked; where Mr Fraser was spat upon and his car kicked and thumped yet no arrests were made, are no longer the prerogative of any person living in a democracy. This type of demonstration no longer respects the basic rights of others. It is no longer within the law. Yet I repeat that no arrests were made. Was this because our society has become addicted to violent demonstrations? Was it because since 1 1 November last year we have witnessed the abuse of the right of demonstration so often against our Governor-General? Was it because we have heard the Leader of the Opposition repeat so often in his efforts to whip up these demonstrations ‘Keep up your anger ‘.
– I rise on a point of order. That statement is a most unjust accusation against the Leader of the Opposition. He has not incited any of these things at all. I suggest to the honourable senator that if she intends participating in the Budget debate she should stick to the Budget and not endeavour to create violence in this community.
– Continue your speech, Senator Walters.
-Thank you, Mr President. Mr Whitlam’s continued silence since the demonstration last Monday speaks more clearly than any words can do. As I have said earlier, this great threat to the Australian way of life is perhaps more clearly expressed by these violent demonstrations than by anything else. In the last couple of days we have come very close to the horrors that have happened in other countries. When a crowd kicks, thumps and spits on the car of our Prime Minister or Governor-General, very little more is required before the car is overturned and burned. When bricks are used who knows where they will land. They could just as easily hit and kill as break a glass door or the window of a car. If that happened here we all would be terribly sorry. We all would be terribly ashamed. It would be to the eternal shame of this Parliament that we allowed it to happen. But perhaps the most culpable person would be the person who ordered ‘ Keep your anger up ‘.
I was talking recently to a friend from Uruguay who was horrified that we have these types of demonstrations in Australia. According to him this was exactly what happened when the Army takeover occurred in his country. Left wing violent demonstrations carried out by a minority group increased in violence but not in number until they became so violent that the Army was brought it. The Army has now taken over that country. He said that the people have been promised multi-party elections for some years now, but in point of fact they are not foreseeable in the future. For him, perhaps, the extreme right wing is possibly better than the radical left wing. It just should never have happened. They have lost their democracy through lethargy. In today’s Melbourne Age Mr Whitlam refers to Australia as one of the richest and most fortunate countries in the world. I agree with him. We are one of the most fortunate countries and if through this Budget we can bring back our position on the OECD ladder-
– Order! In accordance with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I resume an oration I commenced in the last session in relation to the Government’s obligations under its treaties. I refer particularly to the migratory bird treaty. On the last occasion I noted that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was to visit Japan. I made the point that many of our metropolitan rivers as a result of anti-pollution measures have seen the return of quite a number of wetland birds to a changed habitat. In very simple language I raised with the then Australian Government Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, the Prime Minister and the appropriate State Ministers what this migratory bird treaty meant. When this legislation was before the Parliament Senator Carrick spoke for the then Opposition. Senator Willesee and I put the then Government’s point of view and from memory we took a bipartisan attitude.
A former Minister in the Whitlam Government, the present member for Hindmarsh, Mr Clyde Cameron, has always taken the view that any convention should mean something. He has advocated greater adherence to International Labor Organisation Conventions. I took this a little further and asked Senator Withers, because the matter related to the Prime Minister’s responsibilities, what the Prime Minister did in this field when he visited Japan. In this regard I could quote from the top of my head what was reported in the Financial Review. For instance there was one communique about the agenda which the Prime Minister was supposed to have adhered to when he visited Tokyo. I also ascertained from other circles that before he left Australia he asked the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development what he could say to the Japanese since Japan and Australia were co-signatories to the migratory bird treaty.
I will have more to say about this in the investigation of departmental estimates but I believe that, irrespective of the river or the State, if Australia signs a treaty, the treaty should mean something. It may be that the Prime Minister may feel, as Mr Chamberlain did when he came back on one occasion from a conference with the then leader of the German people, Adolf Hitler, that it was just a scrap of paper. However, I lean to the Clyde Cameron viewpoint that any treaty should have teeth in it. I am hopeful that Senator Guilfoyle, who is deputising for Senator Withers, can say whether anything tangible emerged from the discussions our Prime Minister had with his Japanese counterpart.
– Tonight I want to raise a matter I originally talked about in an Estimates Committee hearing, the use of private taxis in lieu of Commonwealth cars. On 25 May 1976 during the investigations of Estimates Committee F I raised this question and I want to quote a few passages from Hansard to put the matter in its proper perspective. On page 177 of the Hansard report of the Estimates Committee hearing on 25 May under item 05, the following appears:
This is talking of Commonwealth cars- as demand in the last 6 months has been declining. In view of the fact that a lot of the pool drivers have been stood down, why does the Department hire private taxis? Practically every night when we go out from the Senate there is a line of private taxis out there to take members and staff home, and yet drivers have had to be stood down.
Mr Darke, one of the officers of the Department of the Capital Territory who was at the hearing had this to say in answer to my question:
The reference you make is in relation to the ministerial passenger car fleet. In actual fact no drivers have been stood down, although 20 drivers have in fact been transferred from ministerial and passenger car fleet driving duties to the bus fleet. There has been a decline in use by Australian Government departments. If you look at the figures we have provided, we have in fact 1 1 1 active drivers in this area and there are 131 vehicles. Allowing for approximately 30 of those to be in workshops, you can see that vehicles are, in fact, in excess of the number of drivers we have.
Of course if we work out the percentage of vehicles being serviced at any one time, it would appear that 20 per cent of the Commonwealth fleet- that is, 30 out of 150 vehicles- is off the road for service. This seems to be a very large proportion. Mr Darke went on to say:
Now to increase the number of drivers to match the number of vehicles we have would be an uneconomic proposition because we must utilise a driver through his 8-hour working day. It is much more economic, from our point of view and from the Australian Government ‘s point of view, to allocate taxis for some of the peak loads, particularly late at night when it costs us penalty rates to keep drivers on.
Later Mr Darke said:
We do charge an on-cost for handling taxis. For instance, when a member or a public servant uses a taxi the department accepting that charge is charged the actual meter charge, including the flag fall, and the radio call plus an oncost that we put on to handle the administrative paper work and to bill the client.
I later said:
I was speaking to Senator Webster who was the Minister before that Estimates Committee-
We have now been told that there is a certain degree of added costs that have to go to taxis. Would it be possible to get a breakdown of the actual net savings affected by using taxis, as against using fleet cars and drivers at penalty rates?
Senator Webster and Senator Wright, who was the Chairman of that Committee, gave an undertaking to me that we could get a breakdown of the figures for May of this year. After that undertaking had been given, I went on to say that what I was looking for was the net saving to the Department by hiring private vehicles when we have drivers on strength in cars which have to have depreciation written off and which are left standing idle in the garage. If we look back to Mr Darke’s comments we find that it is much more economical from our point of view and from the Australian Government’s point of view to allocate work to taxis. Today in reply to a question which I posed last week to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers), Senator Webster on his behalf provided me with the breakdown of the cost of the use of taxis for the month of May. I am afraid that the way I read the answer it may be misleading. I say ‘it may be’ because I want some clarification on the actual costs given in the document which I received today. Bearing in mind that Mr Darke said that we save money by using taxis, in this document the Department says that it would appear that the Australian Government has saved about $1,000 through the allocation of work to taxis in the month of May. That is $ 1 ,000 which the Department has saved. The Department states:
Details of taxis hired by the Department of the Capital Territory on behalf of various clients were surveyed for the month of May 1 976. This survey covered 3852 jobs allocated to taxis. The hire charge to clients for the use of these taxis was SI 8,4 16.
If we multiply that amount by twelve to get a figure for a year, we find that taxis are costing -on figures given in the answer- an amount of $220,992 a year. I had also asked whether we could have a comparison covering the previous 3 years. The answer goes on to state that in the year 1972-73 an amount of $300,895 was paid for taxis. In 1973-74- that would have been the first full year of the Labor Government because at least 6 months of 1972-73 would have been under a Liberal Government- the amount was $220,535 and in 1974-75 the amount was $231,764. So if we add the inflationary costs which we are often told rose under Labor, we find that while we were in Government the cost of taxi services was very much less than $300,000 in 1972-73. The supporters of the now Government brag about the fact that inflation was only 416 per cent a year in this period under their Government. They claim that under our Government it was 14 per cent, so there is a vast difference in the cost of hiring taxis. Although we are told of the cost of hiring taxis there is no mention of the cost of hire cars in lieu of government cars. I understand quite a number of hire cars are used by the Government in lieu of government cars, so that must be an added cost. What I am also concerned to know- perhaps Senator Webster will clarify this when the Senate meets again- is whether the on-going cost of 5 per cent for bookwrok and accounting is included in this amount of $ 1 8,4 1 6 which was paid for the hire of taxis or was that the actual amount that was paid and do we have to add to that amount the ongoing cost? If we have to add 5 per cent to that amount we find that much more is being paid out for taxis than was paid out in previous times.
We know that under the award covering Commonwealth drivers a driver who has worked overtime on a shift and who may be required to work overtime on his next shift is required to have a break of 9 hours before he is allowed to drive the car again. I have no quibble about that. In fact, I fully support that provision. Not only does it ensure that the driver has sufficient rest and his health is safeguarded, it also ensures the safety of the passenger; that the driver is in full command of his faculties and there is no risk to him or his passengers when he drives the car. The question I pose to the Government is: Does the Government insist that taxi drivers also observe these safety rules such as, for example, the rule in respect of a driver having a 9-hour rest between the time he finishes one job and the time he commences another. We know there is a lot of moonlighting done in the Australian Capital Territory in taxi driving. I want to know whether the Government insists that before it allows any member of parliament or any government servant to be driven in a taxi the driver has to comply with the same stringent regulations as apply to government drivers, that is, does it insist that a taxi driver have a 9-hour break?
From talking with some of the people concerned I think this is not being insisted upon and it should be because in the mind of the Government safety should be No. 1 priority and reliability No. 2 priority. We want safety for the people being carried by taxis. People are guaranteed this safety if they travel in a Commonwealth car. We also want reliability. How many prospective passengers have been stood up? How many people leaving this building at night have had to wait outside in excess of an hour for a taxi to come? They do not have to wait if they order a government car because they are reliable and there is no delay.
There is another thing I want to know. I ask Senator Webster how many private citizens are kept waiting late at night for a taxi after they have rung for one. They have to wait and wait because the taxis have been hired by the government although we have Commonwealth drivers who are not getting overtime to which they should be entitled and cars are sitting idle in the garage. I want to know how many Ministers are using taxis to be conveyed to their home when the House gets up at night. I was told today that one Minister last night walked past a line of taxis and got into a government car. This means he is of the opinion that a taxi is not good enough to carry him from his place of work at Parliament House to his residence although it is quite good enough for staff or backbenchers to travel in. These things need to be ironed out. Perhaps it is true, because I have cited the figures that when we were in government we hired taxis but I did not go along with that, which I mentioned at the time. It was only when we went through the Estimates that I found out about the enormous amount of money the government was paying for the hire of taxis.
My complaint is that, as I have set out, we have government cars and should use them. As Mr Darke of the Department of the Capital Territory pointed out, there are 151 vehicles with 1 1 1 active drivers. Thirty of the vehicles are idle in the garage awaiting service. That still leaves another 10 cars available, according to those figures, to be used at any period of time of the drivers are available. But, of course, the drivers are not available because they have been allocated to drive buses. They did not join the Department to drive buses; they joined as passenger car drivers. Some of the others, I am given to believe, are working as leading hands. If the Government wants to keep up the morale of government drivers surely if there is any overtime available they are the people to whom it should be given, not drivers of taxis, which as I explained to the Parliament earlier are driven by moonlighters, many of them public servants. They are on the Public Service payroll. They drive taxis at night for a lower rater of pay than their daily rate of pay and for a much lower daily rate of pay from the private taxi firms than the government driver would be entitled to if he were given the job that is rightfully his. I hope that when Senator Webster reads Hansard tomorrow and sees the remarks that I have made he will be able to give me an answer. I do not expect him to give me an answer tonight, but when he reads my remarks I hope he will be able to come back and clarify some of the points that I have made.
– I want to support some of the remarks made by Senator McLaren but I will discuss the matter in a slightly different way. It appears that the name of the game so far as transport drivers are concerned is driver bashing. We heard a senator on the other side of the chamber tonight talking about the Labor Party’s ability in office to engage in business bashing. I do not propose to enter into a debate on that subject at the moment. I will answer Senator Martin when I make my contribution to the Budget debate. I am fascinated by some of the figures that have been supplied to Senator McLaren. I note that 34.6 per cent of the travelling is between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and between 10.45 p.m. and 1.30 a.m. This appears to me to be a time when overtime is payable. Whilst I have some sympathy with the people who are moonlighting in driving cabs, most of the people who drive cabs under these circumstances are being exploited by the cab owners.
I suppose I am in the very safe category of being one of the members of this chamber who use a minimum of government cars. There are no problems in my home city in respect of this matter. There are 2 cars in the transport pool in my home city, one of which is apparently permanently broken down and driverless, or has been in recent times anyway. I can remember when Mr Daly as the appropriate Minister at the time sent out a letter to all member of both Houses suggesting that there ought not to be any misuse of government cars. I was able to write back to him in my case and say that could not happen because the 2 Commonwealth cars in the pool at the time were used for a Country Party senator who lived in the area and the local House of Represenatives Liberal member. When the three of us arrived home after the week’s parliamentary sittings the 2 air-conditioned cars would be at the airport to pick up the 2 conservative party members and some little time later a cab would arrive for me.
There was one exception to this arrangement. The gentleman who was responsible for allocating the cars on one occasion took his long service leave and the driver who turned up in the Commonwealth car to pick me up was almost ill with excitement. That is the only ride that I have ever had in that car in my home city. Therefore I can say that I have never ever misused Commonwealth cars in more than a decade in my own home city. In the main I do not think there is a great deal of misuse of cars. Again I am intrigued by the figures that have been supplied to Senator McLaren. I notice that under ‘major origin destination’ there is ‘other’ which I suppose includes suburbs of Canberra. The information shows that 1688 cars were used in this category. The origin Parkes, which is obviously Parliament House, is 935. 1 wonder why more detail was not shown.
One gets a little fascinated by things that get hidden by figures. I have no objection to riding in cabs. I do not care what I ride in as long as it has a set of wheels. As long as I can get from point to point I am happy. But the points made by Senator McLaren are valid. It appears to me that there is great fear in respect of this matter and that standover tactics are being used in the department to ensure that cabs get more than their fair share of the amount of transport not only in respect of members of Parliament but also in respect of many public servants and other people who are out on Government business. There is one practice of some cab drivers- a minority of them- to which I object. The passenger is asked to sign a docket at the end of the journey, but the docket does not state where he came from or where he went to. I am not sure that I have been able to trace back some of those dockets. It is a question of: ‘Sign here, mate; I have another fare and I have to rush off’. Rather than have an argument or some sort of demonstration with the driver concerned, you sign the docket. Only a few cab drivers do this. Most of them are very honest. They faithfully fill out the docket and you are able to sign it, knowing what you are paying for. In those cases you do not mind tossing the driver a few cents so that he can buy a beer when he knocks off work. I do not do that for people who try to bulldoze me. I would like to see some of the dockets when they are taken back to the cab company.
I think that some things have not been stated clearly by the Minister. I am not going to ask for a reply tonight, but I hope that the Minister will look seriously at the whole situation and that drivers will not be transferred back to buses. There are cars rusting in the yard here in Canberra because drivers have been transferred back to less lucrative work where there is no overtime. As I mentioned a moment ago, some of the people who moonlight by driving cabs do it at rates below what they ought to be paid because, under this Government in particular, they cannot meet the cost of feeding their kids at home. They have to take a second job in order to survive. However, many of them are legitimate drivers; some drive their own cabs. I am not going out on a taxi bashing exercise, but I believe that the Commonwealth car drivers deserve fair treatment. They deserve a reasonable wage. If there are any perks going, if I may use that term, such as a bit of overtime, they are the people who ought to get them- not the people outside in private enterprise, even though this Government supports private enterprise, free enterprise, or whatever the term is. The first people whom this Parliament should look after are those who are in its employ, and the Commonwealth car drivers constitute a fairly big segment of that group.
– Speaking on behalf of Senator Withers, I want to respond briefly to Senator Mulvihill. I have no knowledge of the treaty to which he referred, but I am sure that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and Senator Withers will be interested in his remarks. I will see that the matter is brought to their attention and that he receives a response.
– In relation to the question raised by Senator McLaren and Senator Keeffe, I believe that the answer prepared by the Department of the Capital Territory and given to Senator McLaren today indicates the existing situation. I refer the Senate again to that answer which will appear in Hansard tomorrow. I would find it very difficult to answer several of the points raised by Senator McLaren. I certainly could not answer them this evening. I will consider his questions generally. I am certain that it will be impossible to answer some of the points he raised. For instance, he asked how many private citizens in Canberra are required to wait for taxis. If he thought for a moment or two he would understand that it would be beyond the scope of even the wisest of us to provide that information. It may be within the competence of the Department to respond to some of the other points.
I believe that the answer given to him today was the best that could be given by the very genuine officers in the Department of the Capital Territory. They were presented with a quite difficult task in evaluating what may have been the runs made in respect of the 3852 jobs given to private taxis during May. I point out to Senator McLaren and Senator Keeffe that that figure represents all jobs done by taxis hired for Commonwealth public servants during May. It does not relate just to members of Parliament, whether they be Ministers or back benchers. The question is a substantial one and undoubtedly it took a great deal of time to answer. The original question was not asked in the way that the honourable senator put it a few days ago. The original question was whether it would be possible to get a break-up of the actual net savings effected by using taxis as against using fleet cars and drivers at penalty rates. I think it took until now to answer the general question. The break-up given at the end of the answer indicated that it was necessary to look to the original point of contact of the taxi and the eventual destination and then to calculate what the journey would have cost if it had been undertaken by a Commonwealth car instead of by a taxi. I take the honourable senator’s comments into account. I do not think we should attempt to argue whether or not private taxis should be used. The honourable senator has the assurance of a departmental officer, probably Mr Darke. It represents a ministerial response. He commenced the answer to Senator McLaren by saying:
By way of background, taxis are used to overcome peak demands on the Commonwealth car fleet. Wherever possible a Commonwealth car is allocated to carry out the transport request but it is obviously not possible nor economic to maintain a Commonwealth car fleet of sufficient size to meet all demands during peak periods.
At times there has not been one Commonwealth car available to anyone in the Australian Capital Territory. I am sure that if that situation arises again Senator McLaren will be the first to say that he hopes he has access to a private taxi. I shall look at the questions that he raised. If possible, we shall provide an answer.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 1 1.27 p.m.
The following answer to a question was circulated:
My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory Arts Council is deeply concerned that there appears to be no grant for it in this year’s budget for the Northern Territory. Will the Minister advise the Senate whether this is due to an oversight or to the fact that the Government has taken the decision to cease such funding which has been made available by all Governments since 1969 in order to enable the Council to make what has been a significant contribution to the cultural life of the Northern Territory.
The Minister for the Northern Territory has suggested the following reply:
It is a fact that no funds have been provided for the Northern Territory Arts Council under the Budget appropriations for the Department of the Northern Territory. However, Federal financial grants to this or similar organisations cannot be regarded as a matter of right and must be adequately justified. The latest evidence available to the Department suggests that the financial position of the N.T. Arts Council is not critical and, moreover, it receives support from the Australia Council which is funded by the Commonwealth Government.
However, the Minister is prepared to consider any further representations which the N.T. Arts Council may wish to make to him.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 August 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1976/19760825_senate_30_s69/>.