30th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
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 existence of a system of double taxation of personal incomes whereby both the Australian Government and State governments had the power to vary personal income taxes would mean that taxpayers who worked in more than one State in any one year would:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a system of double income tax on personal incomes be not introduced. by Senator Mulvihill.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate assembled, the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the delays between announcements of each quarterly movement in the Consumer Price Index and their application as a percentage increase in age and invalid pensions is excessive, unnecessary, discriminatory and a cause of economic distress to pensioners.
That proposals to amend the Consumer Price Index by eliminating particular items from the index could adversely affect the value of future increases in age and invalid pensions and thus be a cause of additional economic hardship to pensioners.
The foregoing facts impel your petitioners to ask the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Mulvihill.
To the President and Members of the Senate assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned concerned citizens respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled, should ensure:
That the Commonwealth Government should totally finance national highways and half the cost of constructing and maintaining all other public roads.
That since current road funding arrangements have seen a deterioration in road assets, this backlog in construction and maintenance needs to be reduced by the Commonwealth Government undertaking to make a larger financial contribution. by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack.
– May I intervene to advise that Senator Durack will not be in the chamber until this evening. I suggest that any questions which would normally be directed to him be directed to me or, preferably, put on notice.
-I ask the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs: Is the Government considering transferring any specific purpose payments for capital works now funded by the Commonwealth into the Loan Council program of the States? If so, will the Minister identify the programs which will be transferred? In the case of any such programs, what measures does the Government propose to compensate the States for the higher interest rates they would have to pay under those conditions?
– The matter is one which directly concerns the Prime Minister and his policies. I shall bring the question to his attention and seek an answer.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is it possible to confirm that a large grant has been given to extend the national program against trachoma, a program designed to assist in improving the eye health of outback residents, both
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal? Can the Minister confirm also the extent of the unpaid voluntary involvement in this program by the ophthalmologists or eye surgeons who are making this great preventive program work? Is it true that these doctors are giving and have given time and service free of any charge as a public service to people in non-metropolitan Australia? Will the Government acknowledge fully this outstanding and voluntary contribution by Australian ophthalmologists acting in the highest traditions of the medical profession and for the benefit of the Australian people?
– I have some information from the Minister for Health on this matter. The Minister has announced a further grant of $845,000 to further the program against trachoma. This now brings the total amount of Government grants to $1.4m. I understand that the program is being undertaken by the Australian College of Ophthalmologists, assisted by Aboriginal health workers and medical students. The additional grant will enable the work to be extended to other areas of the Northern Territory and to New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. The program has been outstandingly successful in improving the eyesight of outback residents.
I was asked with regard to statistics on voluntary assistance. The Department of Health does not have any statistics on voluntary assistance. But I have been informed that the agreements with the College of Ophthalmologists provided for an allowance which could be claimed by medical practitioners against revenue forgone from their practices. This allowance has not been claimed by some ophthalmologists and eye surgeons participating in the program. Some 126 salaried Aboriginal health officers have been involved in the program and large numbers of voluntary Aboriginal health workers have assisted the field teams at various locations. In addition, medical students have participated in a screening program, and they have received an allowance of $15 a day. This is a program in respect of which the Government acknowledges the splendid contribution of all those involved, in particular those who have given voluntary assistance to it.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I preface my question by reminding the Minister of statements made by Mr Anthony yesterday, 28 March, on the Gold Coast in Queensland where he indicated that the current inflation rate in Australia was now 10 per cent. I remind the Minister that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development determined inflation figure for Australia before devaluation was 14.75 per cent -almost 15 per cent. Does the Minister agree that the devaluation late in 1976 will worsen the inflation figure for 1977? If so, how does he reconcile this aspect with the figure quoted by Mr Anthony? Does the Government agree with Mr Anthony’s figure? If not, does the Government publicly admit that the Minister for Overseas Trade was misleading the Australian people?
-If the honourable senator can recall, I mentioned in the Senate a couple of weeks ago, I think, the Bureau of Statistics analysis of the inflation rate. I quoted extensively from that document which demonstrated, if I recall correctly, that the underlying rate was about 10.2 per cent. I commend to him the reading once again of that analysis; I shall read it once again. That is a correct statement of the situation as I understand it to be. Mr Anthony would have been referring to that yesterday in Surfers Paradise. I wish I had been there too.
-I direct a supplementary question to the Minister. What does he mean by the expression ‘underlying inflation rate of 10.2 per cent’ when he makes a comparison between the statement made by Mr Anthony and the inflation rate published by the OECD? I would like a definition of that ‘underlying inflation rate’?
-Why do we not both read the ABS bulletin once again?
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs. Recent media coverage of the East Timor situation, both in the newspapers and on television, contains many reports allegedly received from Fretilin sources located m East Timor. Will the Minister inquire of his colleague in the other place whether (a) he is aware of who is monitoring these alleged Fretilin messages and (b) it would be possible to establish the precise geographical location of the Fretilin transmitter in view of the fact that often during the last War transmitters supposedly located in the country of conflict were in fact located in neighboring countries?
– I was fortunate enough to have some advance knowledge of this question. I am advised by my colleague in these terms:
-Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister aware of an announcement by Congressman Fraser that the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on International Relations proposes to interview East Timorese refugees who now reside in Portugal? Has the Minister noted that on the Channel 2 national news on 24 March East Timorese refugees were interviewed about atrocities in East Timor? In view of the preparedness of the East Timorese refugees to appear before properly constituted inquiries, will the Minister outline what steps the Government proposes to take to gather information or to hold an inquiry involving the refugees?
-I ask the honourable senator to put his question on notice.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Has he received any information about the criticism of the South Australian Premier relating to what he called the Federal Government’s decision to allow the building of 4 bulk carriers in Japan? Is this reported decision to allow this building correct? Further, is it correct, as the Premier claimed, that his representations to the Commonwealth Government in relation to the building of 4 carriers have not been acknowledged? Is there any information that the Minister can give to the Senate about the shipbuilding situation, particularly as it concerns the industry in South Australia?
-I do not think the Premier is quite as up to date as he normally is. It has been known for some time that these 4 Australian National Line bulk carriers were due to be ordered overseas. It was known that two had been firmly ordered. It was known that two which had been tendered for by the New South Wales State Dockyard were the subject of discussion between this Government and the New
South Wales Government to try to reach some kind of industrial arrangement that might allow them to be built in Australia despite the excessive cost of doing so. That arrangement could not be made to work. I think in about December it was made quite clear that they would be ordered from Japan. They have been so ordered. I find it rather strange that now, towards the end of March, this becomes a matter of concern to the South Australian Premier. Notwithstanding that, we did have some discussions with the South Australian Government. There usually are discussions between the officials of my department and the South Australian department. The matter has not been raised, to my knowledge, by them with us for a quite long time. However, I shall look into the matter after question time and if there is anything more than I can usefully say to my honourable colleague I will give him the information.
- Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Would the Minister ascertain also whether the Premier’s representations to the Commonwealth Government about this matter have been acknowledged?
-Yes, I certainly will. My impression is that they have been acknowledged. If they have not been acknowleged I would be concerned. I believe that they were clearly acknowledged and that the matter was clearly understood to be as it is. I know that the Premier is active in the area of Whyalla. I know that Mr Rainsford, the chairman of the group of people looking into the problems of re-employing people in Whyalla, has my Department’s support.
– My question, addressed to the Minister for Science, is based upon the assumption that Australia will have a continuing role in the Antarctic. I appreciate that part of this question may be relevant to a department other than the Department of Science. When determining the question of a suitable ship to replace those now available on short term lease for Antarctic work, will serious thought be given to acquiring a vessel for full time service, a vessel adequately equipped for polar requirements and capable also of the additional functions of fisheries research and oceanographic survey? Is it not now apparent that Australia is lagging far behind other countries in assessing and exploiting the vast fisheries resources known to exist south of the Australian continent and right down to the Antarctic shelf and that countries concerned have developed knowledge and techniques in regard to fish resources far beyond our own? Would not the economic value to Australia of such operations more than offset any additional cost of acquisition and operation of a vessel with such composite functions, especially if it were available to us on an all the year round basis?
-The honourable senator asked first whether Australia would have a continuing role in the Antarctic. I sincerely hope that it will; in fact, I can assure the Senate that that will be so. That is endorsed by the fact that while the honourable senator was at Macquarie Island recently it was necessary to announce in the Senate that the new headquarters for the Antarctic Division would be in Kingston in his State of Tasmania. The honourable senator asked questions about the type of ship which we use at the present time. The 2 vessels which we lease at considerable expense- the Nella Dan and the Thala Dan- ait of a particular type. They are ice-strengthened vessels but not ice breakers. The are particularly suited to the work in the frozen area. My understanding is that the remaining life of both ships is likely to be somewhere in the vicinity of 8 years. I do not know whether we, as a country, can provide our own ship for that type of transport purpose. What has been of interest to this and the former Government is the question of what should take place in our transport system to Antarctica. As the honourable senator has said, ship transport will remain a problem.
Other nations are building ice-strengthened vessels at the present time. South Africa is bringing out of a Japanese shipyard very shortly one which was built especially for this purpose. My department has surveyed every ship in the world which is available for use for Antarctic purposes. Very few would suit our purpose. I do not believe that we can build a vessel which will be satisfactory for the purpose of transport to the Antarctic continent and, at the same time, conduct fisheries research. As the honourable senator knows as a result of the voyage which he had back from Macquarie Island, both the ships that I have mentioned are round bottom ships and they roll very heavily. They need to be that shape so that when they get into an ice squeeze they ride up on top of the ice. I do not think they will be suitable for fisheries research.
However, I agree with the comment that it is essential that in the very near future this country develop an oceanographic research potential. Also, as a country, we must be involved with marine research in the off-shore waters of the Antarctic. I do not know whether costs would be offset by the information which we would gain as to the reserves of krill and other types of fish in the Antarctic. In relation to the honourable senator’s question as to whether this Government will give consideration to vessels which may suit the purpose, I assure him that at present an interdepartmental committee is looking at the matter of transport which, basically, falls into 2 categories, namely, one for getting supplies and men down to our bases and one as to the possibility of our having some air transport system so that we can more rapidly relieve the people who serve our bases.
– I ask the Minister for Science whether he is aware that pleas for further assistance in the funding of solar energy research have apparently attracted the interest of Saudi Arabia. Is there any substance in the report that Saudi Arabia is seeking to co-operate with Australia in joint solar energy research studies? Will the Minister refresh his memory on the representations and correspondence which I have had with the Government over a number of years on the need for increased funding to allow experiments into alternative energy sources which have been under way at Flinders University to be accelerated? If the Government is contemplating entering into research partnerships, which I would support, can the Minister say whether research efforts throughout Australia into solar energy will be included in such a program?
-Within the past few days I read an article in the Canberra Times which stated that the Arabs were interested in supporting solar energy research. Solar energy research has been raised in the Senate on a number of occasions, and I acknowledge the interest in the subject that Senator Jessop and his Senate committee have shown. Solar energy is of very considerable importance in future energy research.
– He never served on the committee.
-He is the Chairman of the committee. It is only lack of knowledge that prompts the honourable senator to interject while I answer the question.
– He is not on the committee dealing with solar energy.
– I understand that Senator Jessop ‘s committee is about to produce a report which has some reference to this particular matter. The funding of research into solar energy is of considerable importance to the Government and to the Department of Science. Many comments have been made by people within the University of Sydney, the Australian National University and the Flinders University to the effect that the Federal Government should provide more funds for this type of research. I have listed the research which the Government is funding through both the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, which is undertaking major research in this area, and the ARGC, that is, the Australian Research Grants Committee, which in evaluating research being undertaken within the community makes funds available to some of the people who are suggesting that the Federal Government is withdrawing funds for this type of research. The Federal Government is not reducing the funds available for energy research in any particular field. The query by the universities stems from the fact that the Universities Commission apparently has decided to reassess its research priorities and there is a threat that solar energy research in some universities will not be assisted as much as it was previously.
I acknowledge the importance of this type of research. I have noted that in the latter part of last week the ANU suggested that a particular group needs some $2m to finalise some process that it has undertaken. Dr Window of the University of Sydney has suggested that his university will need some millions of dollars over the next few years. I have noted the comment that the Saudi-Arabian Government apparently intends to offer financial aid to the University of Sydney. I sincerely hope it does. All solar energy research is deserving of assistance, but I think that at the present time our attention should perhaps be given not so much to research as to the urgent need to encourage the community to start accepting and applying some of the research findings that have been made. Solar energy should be utilised more in the community, as it has been by Coca-Cola Bottlers at Queanbeyan and a number of other industries and private users.
-Is the Minister for Education aware of the statement just made by Senator Webster who indicated that, as he understands the situation, there has been some reduction in solar energy research in universities in Australia? Is the Minister able to confirm that that is so? If he cannot will he, in conjunction with Senator Webster, ascertain whether there has been a reduction in university research in this area and, if so, for what reason?
-Senator Wriedt ‘s question relates to what may or may not be happening in any or all universities in Australia. Quite clearly, I am not able to answer that question in globo. I am not able to say at this point whether throughout Australia there has been any reduction in solar energy research. I shall direct the question to the appropriate authorities and seek an answer. But if that is so, those decisions substantially will be decisions which have been made at the university levels themselves. For this year the universities have received an increase of 2 per cent in real money terms in their funds. It is true that they suffered a setback in the previous year, but this year their funds have been modestly increased. Therefore, if what Senator Wriedt suggests is correct, it may well be the result of domestic decision making. I will find out and let the honourable senator know.
-Has the Minister for Industry and Commerce taken note of the recent announcement by Kelsall and Kemp (Tasmania) Ltd, an important wool manufacturing firm in Launceston, a very important wool centre, that the company is closing down with consequent unemployment? Can he comment upon whether and to what extent rising costs, particularly in relation to equal pay in this industry and reduced tariffs, account for this untoward event?
-It is true that the general clothing and textiles industry in Australia has suffered a marked increase in its cost disability over the last 5 years. It is part of the problem of the industry which, I think, has lost 45 000 employees since about 1973, most of them during 1974-75. The industry is of very great concern to me and Kelsall and Kemp (Tasmania) Ltd is part of that industry. I have some information which may be useful to the honourable senator. Kelsall and Kemp (Tasmania) Ltd manufacture woollen piece goods but not blankets at Launceston. The decision to close down was taken because of the very poor outlet for woollen fabrics and the company’s record over the last run of years. It made losses during most years. The Onkaparinga Woollen Co. Ltd is buying quite a lot of the Kelsall and Kemp stocks. We have investigated the position of Kelsall and Kemp (Tasmania) Ltd and tried to help. We have found that one of the company’s problems has been a swing away from heavier weight woollen fabrics to lighter weight woollen and synthetic blend fabrics. The Tasmanian location has not helped the company greatly with its problems of selling on the mainland. This is one of the areas that we have asked Sir Bede Callaghan to look into for us in regard to the whole of Tasmanian industry. I am very sorry to hear about the closure of Kelsall and Kemp. We have done what we can to help. We are still trying. I cannot make optimistic promises. As the honourable senator said, the company is a casualty of the heavy cost to make and sell in Australian industry over the last 5 years.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Construction. Is the Minister aware that the Minister for Construction said last week: ‘I refuse to believe there is a recession in the building and construction industry’? If the Minister agrees with that statement, how does he reconcile it with the release by the Australian Bureau of Statistics of figures which show a fall of 1 3 per cent in private building approvals for February, which is a fall of 16 per cent since February 1976 to the lowest level in 19 months? Does the Minister agree that the tightening of loan funds is worsening this situation? Will the Government take immediate steps to rectify this chronic situation in the building industry?
– I am unable to say whether the statement was made by the Minister for Construction, nor am I able to say whether the statement attributed to him is correct. My understanding of the comment that the honourable senator has made is that an article suggested that private building permits, I think, were down by some percentage. I am not certain of that but I will attempt to find out those facts for the honourable senator. I note that the honourable senator himself suggests that building in that area is now at the lowest level for 19 months. Obviously, the honourable senator’s attention to this problem was excited very greatly when the Australian Labor Party was in government 19 months ago. Of course, that was the time when the depression of the building industry set induring the time of the Labor Government.
-I ask my question with the same excitement of mind as the preceding senator. My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Security and relates to the article in today’s Australian newspaper headed ‘PM poised to cut down on welfare cash’. I ask: Is there any substance in the suggestion in the article that the Prime Minister has written to the Minister recommending cuts in certain welfare payments and projects in the next Budget?
-I have seen the article in today’s Australian. I can say to the Senate that I have not received a letter from the Prime Minister in the terms outlined in the article. There seems to be a distinct misunderstanding of how a Budget is prepared and of the operations of departments with regard to the preparation of figures for a Budget. Equally, there seems to be a misunderstanding of Cabinet responsibility in relation to a Budget. I can say only that all the speculation in recent days, which seems to attribute to certain Ministers attitudes which may be at variance with those of their colleagues, overlooks the fact that collectively a Cabinet will decide on the Budget and collectively the responsibility will be shared by all who participate in the Cabinet style of government. I repeat what I said last week in answer to a question from Senator Grimes. It causes needless anxiety to people who are dependent on the programs in and benefits paid by my department to have this irresponsible speculation on a daily basis on almost every program that is now under my control.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. Is the Minister aware of the adverse impact which recent decisions taken by the Reserve Bank to tighten the money supply in Australia are having on the building and construction industry? Is the Minister further aware that the total effect of the Government’s economic policies has been the creation of a critical situation in the construction industry and that additional restrictions on credit are only worsening the position?
– I have not seen the very latest figures and therefore I cannot comment. I will refer the matter to my colleague in another place.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. There appears to be an anomaly in the manufacturing industry at present in relation to the investment allowance. Unless a project is ready for commissioning by mid- 1979 it does not qualify for the higher rate of deduction for the investment allowance. This provision particularly affects large scale projects, often involving investments of millions of dollars, which cannot be guaranteed to be completed by mid- 1979. These projects which do not qualify for the higher allowance therefore have to be bear a higher cost of production and are consequently less competitive. Add to this the uncertainty of long term prospects and industry will probably or possibly have to shelve large scale future projects, thereby aggravating the overall employment situation as well as affecting Australia’s future industrial growth. Can the Minister advise why, at a time when the Government is trying to stimulate the economy, create more employment, make industry more competitive and capture export markets, there is a reduction in the investment allowance from taxable income of from 40 per cent to 20 per cent for all projects which cannot be guaranteed to be completed by mid- 1979?
-This is substantially in the area of the Treasurer, whom I represent, and the details in answer to the honourable senator’s question are as follows: The objective in making the allowance available at 40 per cent during the initial stage of the scheme is to provide a spur to the private sector to bring forward its investment plans so as to bring about a recovery in investment as quickly as possible. I think a recovery taking place in investment will be seen if one studies the figures. The 40 per cent rate is therefore directed towards investment which will have a stimulatory effect on the economy in the short term. The purpose of the 40 per cent rate would not be served by extending it to the second stage of the scheme, that is, to plant acquired in the period 1 July 1978 to 30 June 1983 and commissioned prior to 30 June 1984. Moreover, the new scheme extends to a wide range of industry, and any move to make a 40 per cent rate available in both phases of its operation would have effects on the revenue and would have to be considered very seriously at Budget time. The 20 per cent rate which will apply during the second stage of the new scheme is not ungenerous and corresponds with the rate of allowance provided for the purposes of the earlier investment allowance for manufacturing and primary production plant. A large scale project, as an example, attracting the 20 per cent in respect of eligible plant costing $50m would attract an investment allowance of $ 10m, which at the company rate of 42.5 per cent would mean a tax saving or subsidy of$4.25m.
– Will the Minister for Social Security inform the Senate whether or not it is a fact Koomarri, Australian Capital Territory, will be forced to stand down 13 staff and to cancel several programs, including a special vocational training project and a program of assistance to handicapped people living independently, because of the Minister’s refusal to grant extra money to the organisation? Can the Minister explain to the Senate the rationale in economic terms of withdrawing funds from programs designed to develop social and economic independence for handicapped persons when the result will be an increased call on government funds for invalid pensions for these persons?
-I read a statement from Koomarri today outlining the facts with regard to a reduction in its programs in the near future. It is a fact that on examination of the claims made by Koomarri for additional assistance during an interview last week it was revealed that the additional assistance sought covered staff which had been appointed by Koomarri without the approval of the Department. As all funds under this program had been committed or expended we were unable to increase the amount of $ 1 79,000 which had been paid to this organisation this year. Regarding the latter question about withdrawing funds from such programs, it is not a case of withdrawing funds from programs because funds had not been committed or promised nor should they have been anticipated by the organisation concerned. The honourable senator referred to increased costs to government for invalid pensions which may need to be paid. As I understand it, Koomarri will not be withdrawing assistance from handicapped persons who are now involved with that organisation but rather it is curtailing its plans for expansion and it is reviewing the mode of operation of the organisation. It is fair to say that a great deal of good work is undertaken by the Koomarri organisation but when we looked at the competing needs of other organisations, the staff ratio to handicapped persons and other factors which need to be taken into account, we were unable to accede to that organisation’s request for substantially increased funds this year.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Transport advise what reaction has been received from local government bodies on the recently announced schedule of funding for roads? Does the Government expect that the efficiency of the system will improve with the amalgamation of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads and the Bureau of Transport Economics?
-As I understand it, the legislation regarding the amalgamation of those bodies is currently before or will be before the House of Representatives. At that time there will be opportunity for debate on the principles underlying the matter. The Government itself certainly sees some real advantages in the amalgamation of these 2 bodies and it sees no loss of the delivery of expertise and information that the bodies now provide. I have no particular information about the first part of the honourable senator’s question which referred to the reaction of local government bodies but the Minister has advised that he is confident that for the future an efficient system will be produced and delivered.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I ask: Can he confirm that the Government’s present financial cutbacks on government expenditure have seriously affected the work of the Bureau of Statistics in producing a comprehensive and indispensable breakdown of the 1 976 census figures, thus seriously interfering with or impeding the work of social planners in both the government and non-government sectors? Will the Minister agree that it is imperative for effective planning in housing, health, transport and other areas that well researched and detailed social information be compiled and made available publicly? Will the Minister press upon the Treasurer and his other colleagues the great importance of the work performed by the Bureau of Statistics? Will he be prepared to urge the Government not to cut further the already severely pruned funds made available to the Bureau?
-There was a letter from a group of people expressing concern about this matter published in the Age. Accordingly I suggested that some notes be given to me that might be useful. I am informed that the Government has decided that the processing of detailed data from the 1976 census will be undertaken on a sampling basis. The processing is to commence, as planned, on 1 July 1977 using a sample of 50 per cent of the census schedules to produce information on all characteristics derived from the census. A saving of approximately $2m will be made as a result of this decision. Any loss of accuracy resulting from use of the sample method will be small owing to the size of the sample and ‘small area’ and minority group data will still be available with reasonable precision. Adoption of a sampling technique should enable the processing of the census schedules to be completed some two to three months earlier than would otherwise have been the case. I shall refer the question and the answer to the Treasurer to see whether anything more can be said.
-Has the Minister for Science seen reports that a mechanical device has been developed in the United States of America which can be fitted to a petrol driven motor and which it is claimed will greatly increase efficiency? If the reports are correct, does such a device give great benefits in fuel consumption to motor vehicles?
– I understand that an Australian Broadcasting Commission television program recently screened a film produced by United Press International on work being undertaken by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of California under contract to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The film apparently made reference to the use of hydrogen as a motor fuel additive, the hydrogen being derived from the normal petrol supply through an inboard gas generator. I understand that the work was part of an investigation into the use of a leaner fuel for fuel mixtures aimed at promoting the more efficient use of fuel. My understanding is that lean mixtures do not ignite very well. The laboratory has apparently shown that by an addition of approximately 5 per cent of hydrogen this problem is overcome. The claim is that the admixture results in greater mileage and decreased pollution. Whilst this claim is not unreasonable, I think the report of an increase of about 25 per cent in mileage should be treated as a broad approximation. Obviously that figure could vary very much depending on conditions.
The basis of the existing pollution control legislation on these lean fuels should be acceptable in the United States. The introduction of more stringent standards could lead to the replacement of lean burn engines by other motors such as the Stirling motor or gas turbine motors or other types of continuous burning engines. Although no related research is being conducted in Australia, I understand that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Aeronautical Research Laboratories are aware of the work being done at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In general it is felt that the main motor car manufacturing companies are well aware of the research that is being conducted in the U.S. and it is unnecessary for either of those bodies to enter into research at present.
-The Minister for Administrative Services will appreciate that to enable senators in the Northern Territory to establish contact with new constituents it is necessary for them to have access to new enrolment lists. These are at present not available to honourable senators. Will the Minister consider asking the Commonwealth Electoral Office to supply Territory senators with these lists as they become available?
-I certainly shall.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Is he aware of the extraordinary statement by the Minister for Housing and Construction in the Tasmanian Government that the Federal Government has no plans whatsoever for defending Tasmania in the event of war? The Tasmanian Minister calls this policy the Bass Strait line and says that the Federal Government has refined its defence policy to exclude Tasmania. Can the Minister give an assurance that this statement is not only untrue but positively mischievous and that the Australian continental defence strategy automatically includes this most important island State?
-A11 1 can suggest to the honourable senator is that she does not take any notice of extraordinary statements from extraordinary ministers in an odd sort of government. I can assure the honourable senator that the allegation is completely without foundation.
-I address a question to the Minister for Social Security. The particular circumstances that gave Wonthaggi in Victoria a higher proportion of elderly people than most country towns and made it the centre of that part of Gippsland would be known to the Minister. Great concern is being shown by all people in the area for the welfare of this important section of the community. This is highlighted by what the regional geriatrician, Dr Laxton, called a glaring shortage of hostel accommodation, and should be given careful consideration. Will the Minister spare the time to meet a deputation from the area on this matter?
– I arranged today with Mr Barry Simon, the House of Representatives member for the area, to meet a deputation. I anticipate that it is relevant to the facts mentioned by the honourable senator. It is a deputation from the Wonthaggi area concerning aged persons accommodation. Whether it relates directly to hostel accommodation, I am not sure, but I have a commitment to meet the deputation. If it does not cover the matters raised in the honourable senator’s question I shall be pleased to meet a deputation on those grounds.
– I ask the Minister for Administrative Services a question following the question asked of him by Senator Robertson. When reviewing the rights of Territorial Senators to have available to them certain information from electoral rolls, will he consider extending the same courtesy to senators from the States?
-I considered this matter once before but the cost is extraordinarily high. In view of the honourable senator’s interest, I shall have another look at the matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. It relates to the statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister at the weekend and the answer given to Senator Keeffe earlier today. If the Deputy Prime Minister’s statement about the effects of devaluation on inflation is correct, what estimate has the Government made of the likely rate of inflation when the full effects of the devaluation have come into effect? Does that estimate coincide with the estimate given by the Opposition spokesman on defence? If so, what future measures does the Government intend taking to offset the effects of this devaluation on the price control mechanism ?
-I think the Opposition spokesman on defence is Mr Hayden. I notice that he talks mostly about Treasury and economic matters. I have not had access to what the Deputy Prime Minister said in Surfers Paradise. All I have seen are Press comments as to what he is supposed to have said. Before I refer to anything he might have said I wish to see what he actually said so that I can give a precise answer. Most people who saw devaluation coming were quite clear in their minds that it would have some inflationary effect. It is impossible to quantify how much effect it will have and for how long that effect will last. When the Government has appeared before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission- I think this matter is public as the evidence is public- it has made a case for the importance of the Commission to look at the wage structure and the effect of devaluation on the Australian scene. Beyond that I cannot go. The question will have to go on notice for a more precise answer.
– Is the Minister for Industry and Commerce aware that an announcement has been made that the textile mill of Kelsall and Kemp (Tasmania) Ltd, Launceston, is to be closed? Is he aware of the serious consequences to that area which is already hard hit by textile industry retrenchments which have taken place since the ill-fated, ill-considered decisions of the Labor Government set that industry along an even more tremulous path than it had been treading? Can the Minister indicate whether the Government has completed its White Paper recommendations in relation to the textile industry? If so, can the Minister indicate the general nature of those recommendations and whether any decision has been taken by the Government in relation to them. If not, will the Minister consider urgent steps to preserve that mill’s operation, pending any long term decisions on the future of the textile industry?
– The honourable senator may not have been here when Senator Wright asked me a question about Kelsall and Kemp (Tasmania) Ltd to which I think I gave an answer which covers a great part of the honourable senator’s query. It is true that I am working on the White Paper. One of the areas that has caused me concern in particular and has taken me longer than I would like has been the matter of trying to find solutions for the problems of the clothing and textile industry in Australia. I observe once again that from 1973 to 1975 manufacturing lost about 100 000 people in its workforce, nearly half of them in the clothing and textile industries. The problem of recovering that employment, particularly in that industry, is a problem of some difficulty. But we are working on that problem. We are doing our best. Kelsall and Kemp (Tasmania) Ltd is a case in point. The honourable senator should read in Hansard tomorrow the answer that I gave to Senator
Wright. If he would like some more detail particularly regarding how this company in Launceston is affected, I would be prepared to elaborate.
-I wonder whether the Minister representing the Minister for Defence can indicate the procedure involved in the berthing of the Royal yacht Britannia at Newcastle recently by sea cadets, having regard to the customary practice of using members of the Firemen and Deckhands Union for such operations? What workers compensation protection would apply to the sea cadets who were used in this precedent-establishing action?
-I am advised that Britannia is a commissioned ship of the Royal Navy and is totally manned by the Royal Navy. It is customary for the Royal Australian Navy to provide the berthing party, wherever possible, for any visiting warship. Therefore, during this Royal visit the Royal Australian Navy has provided the berthing party in Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne and will provide or has provided the party in Geraldton and Fremantle. Whenever a berthing party is provided for a naval ship in Newcastle it is standard practice to call on the services of the Royal Australian Naval reserve cadets under naval supervision. The cadets were used again on this occasion. In regard to compensation protection, the Naval Reserve cadets would have been covered under the provisions of the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act 1971, as amended, whilst berthing Britannia.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. I refer to the considerable concern at the apparent delay in establishing a new telephone exchange at Mount Barker in South Australia. Is the Minister able to say when the new exchange in this area of very rapid population growth will be opened in order to relieve the presently overloaded temporary unit?
– My advice is that the building of this exchange at Mount Barker was included on the current year’s construction program at an estimated cost of $347,520, the details of which were given to honourable senators in Service and Business Outlook for Telecom Australia which I tabled in the Senate in August of last year. My understanding is that the building is now virtually completed. I have not been able to ascertain the details of the program for the installation of the necessary equipment to make the exchange fully operational. I will refer that aspect of the question from Senator Messner to the Minister concerned and seek the necessary information.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources. By way of preface to my question, which is about water resources, I understand that in early 1976 the Minister for National Resources advised that the previously agreed procedure for the evaluation of water projects had now become inoperative. Has the Government come up with an alternative procedure of evaluation and is the Minister aware that lack of action by the Government on this matter is holding up important projects, such as the one relating to the Jordan River in Tasmania? If no alternative evaluation procedure has been determined, will the Minister undertake to consult urgently with his colleague to see whether some progress can be made in this vital aspect of Australian resources?
– I have no present knowledge of the matters raised by the honourable senator but will seek the information at the earliest date.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Social Security. Is the Government considering Budget cuts to migrant welfare services such as community interpreters and migrant telephone interpreter services? If the Government has considered such cuts, can the Minister say what consultations, if any, have taken place with ethnic groups to ascertain the value of and the need to continue these most important programs for the migrant community?
– The question relates to one asked of me earlier by Senator Chaney. These matters were referred to in an article in the Australian today. Regarding consideration of cuts in the programs mentioned, I stated in answer to Senator Chaney that the Government at present is preparing this year’s Budget. All programs are under review. All programs will be subject to scrutiny, to work by departments and to assessment by Cabinet, as well as other requirements relating to the preparation of a Budget. As for the need for migrant interpreter services and other services for migrants, we regard these as having a very high priority in the work of my department. As for consulting with ethnic groups about cuts, this is not something that has had consideration by the Government. It is a matter of looking at all our programs and determining this year’s Budget. In that context, as I said earlier. I think that speculation at this stage, 5 months before the Budget, reaches the point of absurdity.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Transport indicate whether any progress has been made in assessing the need for and the possible siting of a new airport for Canberra? Can the Minister say whether current landing and other navigational and related aids at Canberra Airport are adequate, particularly in winter and during fog conditions? Has any consideration been given to providing fog dispersal machines, such as those which are in use at a number of airports in other countries, to overcome problems likely to occur in the coming months at Canberra Airport?
-My advice is that there is no immediate or short-term plans for a new airport to service Canberra. The 1975-76 Canberra region aviation study, which was set up at the request of the National Capital Development Commission, will report later this year. Canberra Airport is owned by the Department of Defence and civil aviation has a permissive occupancy. There is no proposal at the moment to introduce fog dispersal methods. My advice is that at present there is no modern system regarded scientifically as being essentially satisfactory. Any existing system is highly expensive. It is considered, on those bases, both in terms of its nature and its cost, that such a system would not be effective in Canberra. The existing navigational aids are considered adequate for the time being and automatic systems are not considered at this moment to be of particular use for this airport. The interscan system which has been mentioned a number of times in the Senate will be introduced, we hope, on an international basis and this will assist airport capacity by improving the routing of aircraft.
– My question, addressed to the Minister for Social Security, refers to the very real concern that she expressed about the uncertainty and anxiety created by speculation about cuts in the forthcoming Budget. As she said, the Budget is 5 months off and speculation at this stage should be an absurdity. Is it not true that since I last asked a question on this subject speculation has continued and in fact has been widened to include not only the field of social welfare but also education and defence? Has not this speculation been widened by speeches made by the Treasurer and the Prime Minister, such as the speech the Prime Minister made to his electorate yesterday when he said that expenditure would have to be cut and that the fields of social welfare, education and defence seemed the most likely areas for cuts to be made? I ask the Minister: Will this speculation not be stopped if the Treasurer and the Prime Minister cease making such statements or, alternatively, if they make a definitive statement about the Government’s approach in the future Budget?
– No Government speculates about its Budget. No Treasurer is prepared to give details of his Budget prior to its announcement. The matters which have been raised by many Ministers in the Government point to the difficulties in our economy and the need to restrain government spending. I think that principle has been broadly stated by a number of Ministers. I feel sure that the message has reached the Opposition as a point of approach to this year’s Budget-that there will not be a rapid growth in expenditure. There will not be the rate of growth in expenditure which we saw in the budgets of the former Government. When one is preparing a Budget 2 sides need to be taken into account, namely the way in which revenue is raised and the expenditure and priorities given to it by government. These matters will take some months to resolve. To look at details of the Budget at this stage or to speculate about programs would be, I believe, entirely without productive effect. I can only suggest that all honourable senators contain their interest in the Budget until we are closer to the time of its announcement by the Federal Treasurer.
-Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question, if I may. I ask the Minister: How can all honourable senators contain their interest in the Budget when the Prime Minister and the Treasurer are predicting not only cuts in Budget expenditure but also the areas in which those cuts will occur? Would not this speculation and anxiety by members of the Government and of the Opposition cease if the 2 Ministers concerned ceased talking like this?
– I am unable to give any opinion as to how the Opposition would react if certain things were done by Ministers of this Government. I, and other Ministers, have said that all areas of spending will be scrutinised in the preparation of this year’s Budget. I would have thought that was a fairly normal practice in the preparation of a Budget. As for expressing opinions to suit what the honourable senator has asked of me, I am unable to do that because I cannot anticipate what his reaction would be.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications whether he is aware that yesterday some 2000 Telecom Australia employees, who are members of the Australian Postal and Telecommunications Union, went over to a 36% hour week. Is the Minister aware that the reason was that the unions signed a productivity agreement with Telecom to do the same amount of work in 36% hours as the employees had previously done in 40 hours? Does the Minister know how it is possible to do 40 hours work in 363A hours? Does the Minister agree that the answer to this simple question would solve all productivity problems? If the Minister does not know the secret will he undertake an urgent inquiry of the union and of Telecom? Will the Minister ascertain whether Telecom has invented a time machine? Will the Minister let us know whether, some day, we may be able to do a week’s work in the twinkling of an eye? In due course, will the Minister let members of the Parliament into the secret so that they may reduce their average working hours from 70 hours to 637/8 hours?
– I have seen a newspaper report which purports to describe an arrangement which has been entered into between the union and Telecom Australia on the basis that union members would maintain productivity in a shorter working week. I understand also that it raises some very grave difficulties, as apparently those persons within Telecom who for reasons of conscience are non-unionists will be forced to work 40 hours and the agreement will not be binding on them. Many paradoxes emerge. I shall direct the attention of my colleague, the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, to those aspects in particular.
In a more serious vein, the honourable senator does point to a major factor in the whole question of economic recovery, that is, that nobody is asking people in Australia to be sweated labour or physically to work harder. But it is demonstrable that unless we get our costs down and our productivity up we will be costed out of world markets. The simple fact is that the accelerated wages of the years 1973 and 1974 urged on by the Minister for Labor in the Whitlam Government put Australia in a wage structure so far above that of westernised countries with which we compete in trade that we are now facing a threat to our living standards unless we adjust our attitudes to work and productivity. Senator Lewis demonstrated a profound truth for the future, that is, that we have it within our own hands to put value back into the work system, not by any sweat of labour but by applying ourselves diligently to productivity.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware of reports that the rice mills in the Riverina area have been placed under quarantine? If the reports are correct, will the Minister indicate what insect has infected the rice crops? Will the wheat crop in the region be similarly threatened? Finally, will the Minister indicate when the Government intends to proceed with the much needed national quarantine station which could put Australian crops and livestock beyond risk?
-I am not aware of the matter raised by the honourable senator, but I am quite sure the Minister for Primary Industry will be. I shall direct the honourable senator’s query to that Minister.
– I present for the information of honourable senators the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on sacks, bags and certain polyolefin fabrics.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the twentieth annual report of the President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
– I lay on the table of the Senate a corrigendum to the statement of the payments made in 1975-76 pursuant to section 8 of the Independent Schools (Loans Guarantee) Act 1969, tabled in the Senate on 15 February 1 977. 1 seek leave to have the correction inserted in the original tabled paper. Copies of the corrigendum have been distributed to honourable senators.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Pursuant to section 1 1 of the States Grants (Nature Conservation) Act 1974 I present an agreement in relation to the provision of financial assistance to Tasmania for a resources survey for nature conservation purposes.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Withers) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to remove the requirement under section 80b of the Defence Act 1903 for collectors of Service decorations to obtain permits for that purpose. The existing requirement is seen by the Government as an unnecessary restriction on collectors who have taken a great interest in Australia’s military heritage and done much to preserve our military relics. However, the Government is conscious of the need to control the use of Service decorations, particularly the need to ensure that they are treated with respect. Accordingly, it will remain an offence for a person to: Unlawfully wear a Service decoration; falsely represent himself to be a person entitled to wear a Service decoration; or deface or destroy a Service decoration. The Government has recognised that some use of Service decorations is legitimate and had approved an extension to an existing provision to allow Service decorations, as well as emblems and uniforms, to be worn in dramatic performances. In order to bring up to date the existing legislation, a provision has been inserted to make it clear that dramatic performances might include televised performances. The Government has naturally decided to retain the provision allowing a member of the family of a person on whom a Service decoration has been conferred to wear that decoration, provided he does not represent himself as being the person on whom the decoration was conferred. This provision, of course, covers familiar Anzac Day practice.
The measure embodied in this Bill was suggested by the Military Historical Society of Australia and supported by the National Executive of the Returned Services League of Australia. The Government believes that the measure represents a proper balance between the need to encourage collectors of Service decorations who are contributing to the conservation of our military heritage and the need to protect the Service decorations, whether in the hands of collectors or not, from any form of misuse. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 24 March, on motion by Senator Withers:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator Gietzelt had moved by way of an amendment: -Leave out all words after ‘That’, insert ‘the Bill be withdrawn with a view to bringing forward a Bill which-
– In speaking to this legislation I want to say at the outset that I am one of those people who have always been interested in seeing a better return to the Australian producer, be he a worker in secondary industry or a farmer in primary industry. Also, I have been interested in seeing a fairer deal given to the Australian consumer. I am firmly of the opinion that much more can be done in future than has been done in the past to improve lines of communication and understanding between grower on the one hand and consumer on the other hand and, more importantly, to improve the marketing techniques which are used for our primary products, thus bringing about greater efficiency and better returns to the producer. It is because of my interest in those matters in particular that I have chosen to speak today on the Apple and Pear Stabilization Amendment Bill.
From time to time in the Senate we have heard Senator Wright and other honourable senators fulminating and blowing their tops about the high cost of handling charges, of labour costs in particular and also, of course, of shipping freights. The fact is that those costs can be cut only by greater efficiency, by spending millions of dollars on new handling equipment for our wharves, by getting rid of the old, antiquated and obsolete equipment, and, I might add, by Australia acquiring or providing for itself its own shipping line. Until those things are tackled, until we as a nation are prepared to spend millions of dollars in making modern the equipment that exists on the waterfront and in the ports of this continent, until Australia gets its own shipping line, it is no use our belly-aching or continuing to whinge about these matters. Subjective criticism of sections of the community in these areas is not good enough. It is constructive thoughts and suggestions and concrete proposals that industries like the apple and pear industry really need today.
I want to say at the outset that I do not profess to know anything about apple and pear growing, but I do profess to know something about marketing and about communication techniques. Indeed, it was my keen interest in these two subjects which prompted me towards the end of 1976 to put some questions on notice relating to the apple and pear industry, and those questions were answered by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) in December 1976. From a distant view of the industry at that time, I felt that growers were being dudded in the returns they were receiving and, having received the answers that I did from the Minister, I am more than ever convinced that much more can be done by government and by the community to bring about a more efficient marketing and distribution system and thus bring about a far better return to the grower than he is receiving at the present time. Equally, I am convinced that the Apple and Pear Corporation should literally have the cleaners put right through it, and in that context later in my remarks I intend dealing with my questions and the answers I received last December from the Minister.
Meanwhile, let me refer to some aspects of the second reading speech of the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers). The fact that apple and pear growers are in difficulty is beyond doubt when one reads that speech. For instance, last year the Minister indicated that the application of the stabilisation scheme for exports of apples and pears- and I emphasise exports- was an interim measure only pending receipt of the final report of the Industries Assistance Commission on the stabilisation scheme. That report was received and considered by the Government about 6 months ago. The Government then decided not to accept the recommendation of the IAC that the level of support for apples be reduced for 1977 exports and terminated thereafter. Instead, the Government decided to continue the scheme at the same level of support for this year, 1977, as was given in 1976. In monetary terms, that is a substantial reduction in the level of support. Inflation has risen by anything from 13 per cent to 15 per cent, thus reducing the real monetary value of support by that percentage, and also, as will be seen from the Minister’s second reading speech, the number of boxes exported has dropped by about one million in 12 months. Firstly, I suggest that it is poppycock for the Government to say that the support in 1977 is at the same level as 1976. It might be the same in terms of monetary amounts but it is not the same in terms of real value. But the real sting is in the tail of the Minister’s second reading speech when he said:
When the Minister announced the Government’s decision last September, he pointed out that it was necessary that the industry should understand that the present level of support could not continue indefinitely. During 1977, the Government will be looking at the industry situation and considering the appropriate support level which might apply in 1978. At that time the Government would be expecting a phasing down in the level of assistance.
Then the Minister, in hope more than anything else, went on to say:
But one would hope that the economic circumstances of the industry are such that this would be possible.
Surely it is axiomatic with an affirmative statement made by the Government at that time that in 1978 the Government would be expecting a phasing down in the level of assistance to occur so far as this industry is concerned. With current talks of further pruning of Government expenditure and further measures in Government economies taking place, it appears to be axiomatic that the phasing down will be considerable, bearing in mind the assistance that is being made available in 1977 compared with the real assistance that was made available in 1976 and in past years.
Obviously, the export market must increase if there is to be an improvement in the industry. Whilst the same techniques continue to be adopted in the international marketing arrangements I suggest that that improvement cannot come about. Therefore, the apple and pear industries face a crisis. There is in fact already a reduction in real support this year compared with last year. In the terms of the Minister’s second reading speech, in 1978 the Government expects a phasing down in the level of assistance provided to the industry. If one further peruses the Minister’s second reading speech one will find that he stated:
The apple and pear export trade is unfortunately characterised by great uncertainty as to its ultimate returns . . .
In the same paragraph he referred to the risks of over-payments on the one hand so far as advanced payments are concerned but on the other hand he talked about carrying out administrative arrangements which might be of real benefit to this badly affected industry.
I suggest that the terms of the Minister’s second reading speech indicate a negative approach. The Government’s attitude is negative because it seems to say: ‘Subsidised last year; yes, subsidise again this year; phase out next year’- and thereafter, a question mark. So far as continuity of production and the security of the people engaged in the industry are concerned, that attitude is just not good enough.
In his second reading speech the Minister pointed out that apple exports in 1976 to the United Kingdom and Europe were almost 2.4 million boxes- about one million boxes below the level of exports in 1975. That is a drop in trade for these commodities of about 30 per cent to the United Kingdom and Europe alone. The Minister went on to say in his second reading speech that returns to growers were most disappointing and that this was due largely to the over supply of northern hemisphere fruit and the higher shipments from other southern hemisphere countries which resulted in generally lower prices. The Minister then referred to the hardy perennial of handling costs and higher overseas freight rates, and then said:
Several of the factors that operated so disadvantageously against Australian exports in 1976 can be expected to create difficulties again in 1977 and it is important that the industry have once again the basic guarantees provided by the scheme.
The guarantees that are being offered to the growers now are offered only for 1977. The Minister says that in 1978 there is expected to be a phasing down of the present level of assistance. Therefore I suggest that the scheme proposed by the Government and as set out in the Bills is of a very temporary nature. In other words the Bills provide some support, be it of a very temporary nature, for export growers but in fact do nothing to cure the underlying problems.
At this point I wish to make some basic observations and perhaps some constructive marketing suggestions. If apples and pears continue to be produced at the existing crop production rate and if our export market continues to fall- the Minister has already said that the market to Europe and the United Kingdom fell by 1 million boxes last year; a fall of 30 per cent- our domestic market will be seriously glutted, resulting probably in further extensive and expensive Government support. As I understand it apple production in Australia in 1977 is likely to be 19 million to 20 million bushels. Domestic consumption, 1 understand, is estimated to be at a level of about 1 1 million bushels. Exports, hopefully, will be of the order of 2.5 million bushels. Processing will take about 3 million bushels. This will leave a surplus on the existing crop production of 2.5 million to 3 million bushels. That surely will mean a glutted local market from about April to August.
It is just not good enough for me to be given the answer that I was given by the Minister on 10 December 1976. The answer is recorded at page 3 1 32 of Hansard and reads:
The Corporation’s export price determinations could be expected to have only a minimal effect, if any, on consumer prices in the main domestic market as the export trade is largely confined to Western Australia and Tasmania for apples and to Victoria for pears with an established exportable surplus in excess of local demand.
Let me interpolate to say that the Minister in December last year said that the main domestic market for the export of apples is confined largely to Western Australia and Tasmania and pears to Victoria. Yet the Minister alludes in his second reading speech to arrangements which it is endeavouring to make with the States for an additional $lm to assist apple exports. The Minister continued:
The position of the fruit industry is quite serious and I am sure that the combination of the extension of the stabilisation scheme and the supplementary assistance will help to overcome many of the difficulties that producers now face.
The point I make is that if apples and pears are produced at the rate at which they are now produced in Australia, if there is a fall in the quantities that are exported and if there is no corresponding increase in consumption in Australia, the market in Australia will be very seriously glutted. Therefore, I am at cross purposes to see how the Corporation through the Minister can tell me in answer to a question on notice that:
The Corporation’s export price determinations could be expected to have only a minimal effect, if any -
I emphasise those words ‘if any’- on consumer prices in the main domestic markets as the export trade is largely confined to Western Australia and Tasmania for apples and to Victoria for pears with an established exportable surplus in excess of local demand.
What is meant by that phrase ‘with an established exportable surplus in excess of local demand ‘ I am frankly at a loss to know.
I should like to ask why the stabilisation scheme applies only to apples exported to Europe, including the United Kingdom. The most important future markets, as I am given to understand, are considered to be in the Middle East and Far East countries. Our major competitors in those markets are Chile, the Argentine, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States of America. They appear to be gaining ground and we, as a nation, appear to be losing ground. With the exception of the United States of America, I understand that the countries I have mentioned export this commodity under a single brand concept, enabling shipping and distribution costs to be decreased in comparison with those of Australia. I am told that last year a considerable volume of our fruit deteriorated because it was left on the docks after being unloaded from ships equipped with cool storage. The reason for its being left on the docks was mainly due to the fact that it comprised a mixture of brands which had to be sorted before distribution. Our competitors, therefore, had unofficial priority due to the ease of handling, sorting being unnecessary.
– What docks were they- European?
– I am told that they were European docks, Senator. I do not mention the name of the country. This occasion involved the export of Australian apples. When they were landed at these docks there was some problem about distribution. The fruit had to be sorted into brands. Because we had a multiplicity of brands they were left until last while the exports of other countries with the one brand concept were handled efficiently.
– Were they freezer ships or container ships?
-They were cool storage ships. Our competitors have had to change their marketing systems in order to remain competitive. They have set out to eliminate unnecessary steps in the marketing chain. In Australia the normal export marketing sequence is from the grower to the packer; to the area buyer, who, I understand, charges commission at 18c a bushel case; to the exporter, whose commission is about 35c a bushel case; to the shipping broker; to the importer; to the wholesaler and then to the retailer. One can just imagine the great handling charges that are incurred from the time the product leaves the grower until it actually reaches the consumer in a distant place. I am not talking about internal marketing; I am talking about export marketing of this product which is vital to Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria. In short, I am suggesting that we as a nation have to become more customer orientated in our marketing techniques. We have to set out to ensure, as much as is humanly possible, that we supply the right product of the right quality at the right time and at the right price.
I refer again to some facts that were set out in answers given to me on 10 December last, as a result of my placing some questions on notice. I shall set out some of the facts of which I think the Parliament should be made aware. I asked:
What is the estimated percentage cost of marketing compared with the percentage return to a grower, in relation to the marketing of fruit and vegetables in Australia?
Naturally this question did not refer only to apples and pears but apples and pears were included. The answer stated:
There are no regular statistics available for Australia that set out the costs of marketing activities for individual commodities, but some broadly based indicators of costs of marketing for apples and pears and citrus fruit can be derived from data collected by State Departments of Agriculture, Primary Industries and from surveys made by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics.
Why has the Bureau of Agricultural Economics not been able to obtain regular statistics for Australia, setting out the costs of marketing activities for important commodities of this nature, when the Australian Government and the Australian Parliament are involved in considering legislation to give export stabilisation schemes additional assistance? The Australian Government has to consider the internal portion of the trade in order to bring about a greater efficiency in apple and pear production. The answer of the Minister for Primary Industry further stated:
These data indicate that using an averaged wholesale selling price for apples and oranges over the last 4-5 months -
As the answer was given in December 1976, the period referred to was July to December- the marketing costs as a percentage of gross returns are approximately 42 per cent for apples and 82 per cent for oranges. This means that for apples the net return to the grower is around 58 per cent of the wholesale selling price and that for oranges around 1 8 per cent.
I think that is a scandalous situation. The apple grower on the local market gets 42 per cent return of the wholesale selling price and the orange grower gets 18 per cent of the wholesale selling price.
– He is doing better than the beef producer at the moment.
-That is not good enough. That attitude has been adopted by conservative forces in this country for so long. They are saying virtually that the marketing system seems to be more efficient than the beef marketing system so we should continue to retain it and not replace it with the beef marketing system. That is no good. From the figures which are available, I think there has to be a new approach to the whole of our marketing techniques. If a new approach to marketing is adopted and if we sell on a customer orientated basis, internationally as well as locally, we will find that there will be substantial increases in the export market, providing that we set about competing effectively on a competitive basis internationally.
Let me indicate further matters in the answer given by the Minister on 10 December. He went on to say:
Market reports prepared by the N.S.W. Department of Agriculture show that since 1 970 the share of the consumer’s dollar which has been going to the grower varies around 45 per cent to 55 per cent while that going to the retailer and agent is 40 per cent to 45 per cent and 5 per cent to 6 per cent respectively.
The Minister continued: the Economics and Marketing Committee of the Standing Committee on Agriculture … has been examining aspects of the marketing of agricultural produce in Australia and it is proposed that wider reference be given to other issues, such as the role and functions of market information.
He added: the Bureau of Agricultural Economics has under way a program of research into the marketing of rural products.
I asked the Minister this question:
Is the Minister aware that in June 1976 South Australian oranges, which returned 0.7 cents to the grower, were sold at 7.6 cents to the consumer, and apples at the same time returned 3.5 cents to the grower and were sold at 10.5 cents to the consumer?
In response, the Minister answered:
Wide differences occur in the selling prices of fruits in different wholesale markets.
That is understandable. The answer continues:
During the 4 weeks of June 1976 . . . the prices of apples sold on the Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide markets ranged between $5.92 and $8.60 a bushel and the prices for oranges ranged from $2.29 to $4 a bushel. The differences in prices and the extent of the differences point up the difficulty of relating any estimates of costs of marketing to any particular quoted price. BAE Survey data shows that in 1976 South Australian packing houses were able to provide growers with a gross return in the order of $3.40 to $3.80 per bushel depending on variety and packing house. The net return to growers was around $1.40 to $1.80 per bushel after deductions for transport, handling and packing and cool storage (around 2c per bushel ).
– Is that for apples?
– I think it is the net return to growers for apples.
-That is $ 1 .02?
-The answer reads:
The differences in prices and the extent of the differences point up the difficulty of relating any estimates of costs of marketing to any particular quoted price. BAE survey data shows that in 1976 South Australian packing houses were able to provide growers-
I am not sure now that the honourable senator has mentioned whether this applies to apples or oranges:
It would appear that that portion of the answer refers to oranges and not to apples. I have gleaned that only from the last sentence of the Minister’s reply. But, come what may, the answer indicates that handling, packing, and transport and wholesale charges are out of all proportion to the actual return to the grower. I do not think that the Apple and Pear Corporation can wipe its hands clean of these costs and this problem of marketing technique in Australia and say: ‘Well, that is not a matter for us. This is only a matter for us with respect to the export crop’. As I said, if the export market continues to fall as it has been falling considerably in the last 12 months to 2 years, if production remains at the same level and if consumption in Australia remains at the same level or falls because of the increased costs which are involved to the consumer, naturally there must be a very severe glut of this fruit on the Australian market.
On the same day, I received another answer from the Minister for Primary Industry to a question about the Apple and Pear Corporation. I asked the Minister upon notice:
Let me say at the outset that I do not pass any disparaging remarks about any of these gentlemen. The answer showed that there were 9 members of the Corporation. The chairman is Mr L. G. Leckie who, until his recent retirement, was Deputy General Manager of the Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria. He was VicePresident of the Australian Society of Accountants and Honorary Treasurer and member of the Council of the Melbourne Women’s Hospital. The names of the 4 grower members are set out.
There are 3 members with special qualifications. The first is Mr G. R. Muir who is General Manager of the Ardmona Fruit Products Cooperative Co. Ltd, a company engaged in fruit canning and fruit juicing operations. The next is Mr R. W. Bain who is a Tasmanian businessman with a wide experience in the apple and pear industry, a director of Clements and Marshall, a Tasmanian company engaged in fruit exporting. The final member with special qualifications is Mr A. G. English who is General Manager of the Committee of Direction of Fruit Marketing of Brisbane, Queensland. The Government member is Mr R. B. Coombs who is an officer of the Department of Primary Industry.
I also asked:
The names of 7 gentlemen were set out. They did not include the Chairman, Mr Leckie, or the Government member, Mr Coombs. Those names were the 4 grower representatives and the 3 members with special qualifications. From a perusal of the qualifications set out in the first part of the answer, it would appear that the only person who could claim that he has any real association with or involvement in international marketing techniques would be Mr R. W. Bain.
The Minister informed me further:
Export pricing is determined by the Corporation in consultation with exporter and grower bodies in each State and after assessment of prospects in particular markets.
The fourth part of the answer contains the statement that I read out earlier to this effect:
The Corporation’s export price determinations could be expected to have only a minimal effect, if any, on consumer prices in the main domestic markets as the export trade is largely confined to Western Australia and Tasmania for apples and to Victoria for pears with an established exportable surplus in excess of local demand.
The Minister went on to answer the final part of my question by stating:
The Corporation does not acquire and market the Australian apple and pear crop. It has only limited functions in respect of marketing in Australia and in the export field it acts as a regulatory body supervising the activities of private exporters. The Corporation makes its contribution to the disposal of surplus production by the industry through its activities in promotion, research, advice of market trends, industry communication and co-ordination.
I have mentioned some of the matters that I think must be attented to with respect to the Apple and Pear Corporation in the exporting of our products abroad. I believe that modern flexible international marketing concepts are used by our competitors and have to be used by our own Corporation. We have to engage more effectively in international representation. We have to think of and look at export incentives. We have to think of and look at questions of reciprocal and complementary trade. We have to try to ensure early marketing, at least 6 months prior to the season if possible. We have to ensure greater flexibility in areas of finance, price setting and insurance and there has to be government assistance with respect to shipping, marketing and promotion in a much more effective way than has been done to date. There has been a substantial fall in the amount of Australian apples and pears landed in Europe and the United Kingdom. There was a fall of about 1 million boxes, a 30 per cent fall, in 1 976 compared with the results for 1975. There has to be much more detailed investigation of Middle East and far eastern markets so that we can compete with Chile, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa and the United States. There has to be a great promotion campaign. I believe those things will ensure some stability for apple and pear growers in Australia. I commend to the Senate the amendment moved by my colleague, Senator Gietzelt.
– I rise to support the 3 Bills now before the Senate which are being dealt with in a cognate debate. The purpose of these Bills is to extend the support provided under the apple and pear stabilisation scheme for 1 976 to exports of apples and pears in the 1977 season. It is important to realise at the outset that we are dealing only with the export section of the industry which comprises only a fairly small part of the whole industry throughout Australia. I think it is true to say that the problems apparent in the export section do not exist to any great degree in the internal marketing of apples and pears grown in Australia.
The Industries Assistance Commission prepared a report on this industry. It is fair to say that last year the Government made some temporary provisions pending its detailed consideration of that report. I think we have to agree, in fairness to the Government when considering this legislation, that the IAC’s recommendation for this year was $ 1 per bushel for apples and the Government has increased that to $2. That is a 100 per cent increase. The Government rejected that part of the IAC report which said that the industry should receive only $ 1 per bushel for the 1977 season.
I think we have to look at the problems of this industry in reasonable depth and I want to refer the Senate to the IAC report. The IAC made a thorough investigation into the problems of the industry. A passage appearing on page 3 of its report is a short one but it sets out in clear and concise terms the problems of this industry in the export field. It states:
Australia has many competitive disadvantages in producing and exporting apples and pears. Among these are Australia’s remoteness from the major world markets in Europe and North America (apples and pears are costly to transport); relative movements in exchange rates (the Australian currency has tended to appreciate relative to the currencies of other southern hemisphere exporters); the high cost of Australian labour (apple and pear growing is labour intensive); and the technical opportunities which have arisen for extending the season for northern hemisphere apples through controlled atmosphere cool storage.
I think that is an excellent comprehensive summary of the problems which afflicted the export section of this industry. Looking at it for a moment, one has to concede that devaluation to some extent restored the imbalance of the Australian currency as opposed to overseas currencies. We must not forget, in the present climate of high wages throughout Australia, that a labour intensive industry has grave problems. We have to remember that during the 3 years of the previous Government wages escalated well upwards of 50 per cent but there was no corresponding increase in the gross national product. That was one of the underlying reasons for the inflation growth in that period.
I mention these matters at the outset because I think it is important, when looking at an industry of this kind, to examine the underlying causes of the malaise in the industry. One then must look at what sort of assistance can be given either to restore it completely to health or to prop it up until better times come. In looking at this situation we have to look at the terms of the present subsidy and see how it works in the industry. Again I quote from page 3 of the IAC report:
The Commission has found these schemes to be expensive to the community. They encourage the continuation of production for unprofitable export sales. They have also been generally inefficient in assisting the growers in most need. For example, in 1973-74 direct marketing subsidies averaging $14,000 per grower provided Tasmanian apple growers with net farm incomes which averaged less than $6,000. A large proportion of these growers earned substantially less than $6,000. But despite such high level of support, the continuing downward pressure on export incomes has resulted in a major reduction in exports of apples and pears.
In my own State we have a somewhat parallel situation in the canning fruit industry. In looking at the situation the question to be posed is this: If it is costing $14,000 per grower, as the report suggests, to produce an average net income of $6,000 one must wonder just how effective and efficient this sort of support is to an industry because somewhere or other $8,000 per grower is disappearing. Of course, as Senator Douglas McClelland said, and probably correctly, the export market is not improving so one can look forward to a worsening of the situation. I mention these things because I think they must be considered when we are considering a subsidy to an industry because after all it involves taxpayers’ money. We must be certain that we are getting value for money and the money is going in the direction where it will do the most good.
The Government has taken the attitude that it will provide the subsidy at the rate of $2 per bushel for this year and that that is as far as it will go. In looking at the Government’s decision in this matter it is important to look at the other forms of assistance available. Senator Douglas McClelland referred to the second reading speech in the Senate by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Withers. He quoted a passage from page 315 of Hansard. I shall not repeat that passage. It deals with the supplementary assistance program for 1977 and states that an additional $lm was provided to assist apple exports. I refer to the position of the States in this matter. The Minister went on:
The position of the fruit industry is quite serious and I am sure that the combination of the extension of the stabilisation scheme and the supplementary assistance will help to overcome many of the difficulties that producers now face. Some State governments have not been inclined to support this additional measure, however. Subject to finalisation of arrangements, this may result in significantly less assistance to the apple and pear industry in those States than that available elsewhere in Australia.
It is important to realise that the States have a role in this situation. I hope the Senate will not echo some of the sentiments one hears around Australia about the problems which Australia faces being problems caused by the Commonwealth Government. Undoubtedly, some are but where joint ventures and joint funds are concerned, the States are under an equal obligation. It is important too to realise that the Government introduced the rural reconstruction scheme on a much wider basis. The legislation went through the Senate on the last day of the 1976 sitting. That legislation provides a substantial extension of assistance to the unfortunate primary producers, not only in the apple and pear industry but also the dairying industry and the canning fruit industry. Because of the marketing situation, in many cases created primarily by Great Britain’s entry into the Common Market, many exporters find themselves in a situation where their only recourse is to retire from the industry. The Government’s initiative in introducing rural reconstruction should not be overlooked in a debate of this kind. When we are looking at the domestic fruit market I think the Government’s initiatives in relation to the freight equalisation scheme, which benefited Tasmanian growers, are worth looking at, although the scheme caused some concern to growers on the mainland. But that is an indication of the Government ‘s concern for this industry.
Earlier I mentioned devaluation. I mention it again as an initiative of the Government which will assist this export industry, as it assists other primary producing export industries. I think we have to look at the situation of this industry in the context of other primary producing industries which face somewhat similar difficulties. I have mentioned the canning fruit industry in my area. The situation is that almost 50 per cent of the producers have accepted the fact that they will have to retire from the industry. Largely because of over production there is no future. There is just no market for the product to be sold. I am not an expert on the apple industry and I do not say that that is necessarily the situation in that industry. But I think it is worth the Government and others looking to see whether it may not be a more practical solution in the long term to trim the production to the available market, be it local or overseas. So I say that the Government’s proposal is fair and reasonable and that it ought to be supported.
I turn briefly to some of the arguments which have been put by the shadow Minister for Primary Industry, Senator Gietzelt, and the following Opposition speaker, Senator Douglas McClelland, who both spoke at great length about the problem. I was unable to glean from their remarks any really positive proposals. People in Tasmania are concerned and I share their concern for the people in the industry. I have seen the situation in the canning fruit industry in my area in Victoria close at hand. I am not endeavouring to minimise the grave economic and social problems which are disclosed in the Industries Assistance Commission report. It discloses that the level of income creates grave social and economic problems for the people in this industry. I think it is somewhat novel for the Australian Labor Party Opposition to get up and propose an increase. In its 3 years of government, from 1972 to 1975, it reduced the support to primary industry. As an example one need go no further than the dairying industry in Australia which had been subsidised substantially over many years by the previous Government. We find that in effect Labor removed those subsidies and created a grave problem for that industry. Labor’s conduct during those 3 years, of course, was completely inconsistent with price support schemes of any type.
I turn now to what Senator Douglas McClelland said in his opening remarks. I share his concern for a better deal for primary producers. That was his opening gambit. Indeed, we all want a better deal for primary producers. Those of us who sit in this corner of the Senate are gravely concerned for the whole of the primary industries of Australia. But I do not see any future in a suggestion which the honourable senator made about indexing subsidies of this type. That is something like the statement made yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) when he promised all sorts of things to women in industry. I understand from Press reports that this was done to the embarrassment of his own colleagues. One must always look at the cost to the nation of any support, be it for primary industry, secondary industry or any other industry or section of the community. I think it is fair to say that one of the great mistakes of the former Government was that it proceeded to subsidise various phases of government without counting the cost, until finally we reached the situation where we had grave inflation, gross over spending and a huge deficit. These were the great problems which were faced when we came to government in December 1975. 1 reject out of hand any suggestion that the Government instead of offering $2 should have inbuilt some automatic increase indexation factor to compensate for inflation since last year. Primary producers throughout Australia, whilst they do not enjoy the benefits of wage indexation which are enjoyed by the labour force in the community, do not expect the Government to embark on an irresponsible course which could only bring us to a situation like the one we inherited in December 1 975.
– There is a mechanism in the wheat scheme to adjust according to cost, is there not?
– There may be, Senator. If the honourable senator says it is so, I cannot deny it. I am making the point that if we are automatically going to index everything that is subject to government subsidy the economy will not bear the cost.
Another matter which Senator Douglas McClelland touched on was marketing techniques. He said we have to improve marketing techniques. The labour cost factor is of vital importance to primary industry, particularly in labour intensive industries such as the canning fruit and the apple and pear industries. What is happening in some of these industries is that the producer is getting what is left. To take the canning fruit or the apple and pear industries as an example, the fruit is marketed at a price, the middle man is paid and the producer gets what is left. These days in many cases not enough is left to warrant production. During a debate concerning the canning fruit industry in the Senate last year I recall having stated that about 7 cents a can of peaches, which we buy for some 60 cents or 70 cents on the supermarket shelf, finds it way into the pocket of the producer. In the beef industry producers are not getting their fair share of the price. Even though exports of beef have improved, the market to the producer has not improved. This can be traced back to 2 things. I do not want to depart from the theme of the Bills, but when we are looking at one primary industry I think it is important to compare it with another. The situation in the beef industry is that because of the number of strikes in the abattoirs, particularly when stock are at a critical stage of being marketed, and because of the high cost of slaughtering and other intervening costs before a beast is ready to be marketed, the amount left for the producer is much less than perhaps it was some years ago.
Senator Douglas McClelland made some reference, when speaking of marketing techniques, to the composition of the Apple and Pear Corporation. I want to say a few words about 2 of the gentlemen on the Corporation. I refer firstly to the Chairman, Mr Gordon Leckie, as he is known to me. He has had a very long and distinguished background with the Gas and Fuel Corporation in Victoria, and obviously is a man with considerable experience in marketing. I think the industry was distinctly fortunate to have a man of his calibre accept the office of Chairman of the Corporation. Mr Muir, the Managing Director of the Ardmona fruit cannery in our area, who also is a member of the Corporation, has been associated with international marketing of fruit for the past 30 years. Whilst the honourable senator made it clear that he was not attacking the reputations of members of the Board, I think that before he comes into the chamber and claims that only one of the members of the Corporation has marketing experience he should do his homework and examine the careers of the other members. They are the only 2 members known to me and I am quite satisfied that they are very well qualified and equipped to serve on the Corporation. I am certain that they will grapple with the problems which confront this industry. I support the Bills. I concede the problems of this industry in Tasmania, but I accept the Government’s decision as reasonable and proper in all the circumstances.
-The Apple and Pear Stabilization Amendment Bill, the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Amendment Bill and the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Collection Amendment Bill, which we are debating, concern the apple and pear stabilisation scheme. They allegedly extend for a further 12 months support given under the apple and pear stabilisation scheme. As most honourable senators know, the scheme is based on a maximum level of support of $2 a case for some 2 million boxes of apples sold at risk in Europe and in the United Kingdom markets and of 80 cents a box for 1 400 000 boxes of pears sold at risk on the same market. The scheme has been in operation for many years- 5 years, I believe- and has been of some assistance to the apple and pear growing industry. But as every speaker so far has said, it has not been of sufficient influence to prevent the continued decline of this industry. I do not intend to speak at length, nor have I any desire to go into great detailed descriptions and figures supporting my assertion that the industry has declined. I am sure others have done and others will do that. Nor am I certain that I have a complete solution to the problems of this industry and for the salvation of the growers whose livelihood depends on the growing of apples and pears.
This legislation is an interim measure. It is to apply for one year only. It allegedly gives the same support to the apple and pear growers as has occurred in past years while restructuring occurs. I suggest that to say that the level of support is at the same level as for past years is to be misleading, to say the least. As the grower representatives have pointed out, to maintain support at the same level as applied in 1 976 in real money terms, taking into account inflation and increased costs, would involve a support of some $3.80 a case for apples. The amendment proposed by the Opposition and the amendment proposed by Senator Wright suggest that the level of support should be $3.00 a case. This would barely maintain the status given to the industry by the present scheme but I believe it would be a worthwhile measure for the growers and for the Government. It would give the Government time to work out what it intends to do for the industry. The Government may need this time, but I suggest it should not need this time in view of the fact that at the end of 1975, during the general election campaign, members and supporters of the present Government said continually that the election of a LiberalNational Country Party government would mean the survival and the increased affluence of the apple and pear growers, as well as other primary producers in the community.
The Labor Party, and I believe most informed people in the community, have realised for a long time that commodity subsidies of this type certainly are not the answer to the problems of the apple industry or of any other rural industry. I do not think anyone is suggesting that subsidies present a long term answer for the survival of any primary industry in this country. They may sometimes be necessary as a short term measure to overcome crises in an industry, but the long term use of such subsidies, I suggest, has not had a proper effect on any industry. In fact, it tends to distort industries. Because subsidies are based on production levels they assist mainly the large producers who may need no such help or who may need only a small amount of help. If we take the principle of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Government, that help should go only to those who need it, I suggest that commodity subsidies of this type should go to those who can prove they need it.
– Like the Prime Minister with the superphosphate bounty.
– I am not suggesting that people in the apple industry cannot prove they need the subsidy. But particularly from the National Country Party we have support for commodity subsidies on an across the board basis- on a production basis. Of course, as Senator Walsh interjected, the superphosphate bounty is an excellent example of a subsidy which has gone to those who need it least. I was interested to see that Senator Tehan was rather surprised and, I gather, rather offended that the Labor Party should propose an amendment such as has been proposed in this place and the other place. He drew an analogy between what we are doing in this industry and what we did to the dairying industry and pointed out how we removed certain subsidies from it. Of course, Senator Tehan did not point out that the present Government in its term of office has not reinstated these subsidies for the diarying industry and has not suggested to us how those subsidies were of any use in the long term to the dairying industry in this country. In fact, in the years when commodity subsidies were the basic and the only form of support provided by previous LiberalNational Country Party governments, the number of rural producers in this country halved, the proportion of our population in the cities doubled and the only achievement of many of the subsidies, as I and many other Opposition senators have suggested and, in fact, as Government supporters have suggested, was to give a false sense of security to industries and to some producers. I think that the dairying industry provides a very good example of an industry in which this happened.
I submit that we need reconstruction in the apple and pear industry as we need it in other areas. I seems likely that we may have to tailor production in this country to our own markets and to our potential markets. Senator Wright, in his suggested amendment, mentioned specifically the non-European markets. I agree with him that we must find a means to penetrate the Asian and Middle East markets. But in the meantime, I suggest that we need sympathetic and practical assistance to enable to keep going those who cannot continue until such a situation is brought about or to assist those who are unable to change their activities or employment. We need to give sympathetic and practical assistance to those people to enable them to overcome the intervening period of difficulty. Payment of commodity subsidies may be the only way to do it in this industry. But if they are paid, they should be at a reasonable level. They should take into account increases in inflation and costs. It should be obvious that, in fact, such subsidies are a short term measure. If necessary, they should be resubmitted to the Parliament every 12 months.
In the present economic climate of this country, which I would suggest is the result of the Government’s policy to deliberately increase unemployment, the opportunity of apple and pear growers or anyone else in my district to change or diversify their activity is almost nil. It is beyond me, and I am sure it would be beyond anyone, to understand how any apple and pear grower in my town could consider divesting himself of his interests and changing his employment in a district where already in the next couple of months another textile mill will be closing putting 300 people out of work. It is impractical to say blandly to these people: ‘Go and diversify; go and do something else’. As I said, in 1975 Government supporters told apple and pear growers in Tasmania with considerable vehemence that after a Liberal-National Country Party government won the election they would be looked after. They would retain the independence that it was claimed was so important to them.
Last year we were assured in the Senate in debate on the same legislation that the Government was extending the stabilisation scheme for another year while it prepared plans to restructure the industry. I suggest the Government has done nothing. I see no evidence that the Government intends to do anything except ask the States to supply further funds for supplementary assistance to growers. I believe this is federalism at its worst. I believe that this industry and other national rural industries are, in fact, national responsibilities. To push such a responsibility onto the States and not supply any funds for the States to do these things is irrational and wrong. For years, fruit growers in Tasmania have been told that if they wished to maintain their independence and if they wished to avoid what was called socialism they should vote for the conservative parties and that these parties would ensure that the government would look after them. Since this Government came to office, we have had the edifying situation of Tasmanian members of Parliament berating their Government and berating their Prime Minister. We have heard about midnight rows in the Parliament and abuse of members. This has achieved nothing. The fruit growers are very concerned about this. One fruit grower said to me at the weekend: ‘We have listened to the sorts of things that have come from the Liberal and National Country Party governments. We have been told that we can retain our independence only by voting for them. But, in fact, we now have no independence and for the first time we will have to look at some of the proposals that are put forward by the Australian Labor Party’. This gentleman admitted to me that ideological prejudices or philosophical prejudices had prevented them looking at any of the Labor Party’s proposals in the past.
It is obvious that any change in the apple industry will take a long time. It takes years and money to change the varieties of apples. The development of new and modern storage facilities takes money, as does the development of transport techniques. It also requires much scientific investigation in many cases. I suggest that we have no indication from the present Government that any reasonable assistance will be given in any of these fields to the apple industry. It is no good for Government senators to berate the wharf labourers or the transport drivers. I add that noticeably the shipping companies themselves are never abused. It is also no good for Government senators to berate any of the other employers and blame them for the difficulties of the apple industry.
I believe that it would be worthwhile to hear comments from the Government on the Prices Justification Tribunal findings and charges against such shippers as Patrick Operations Pty Ltd and Seatainer Terminals Ltd. Those findings demonstrate that the very real problems in the transport of apples and other Australian products do not in fact just lie at the feet of wharf labourers or the fellows who drive the trucks. It is utterly wrong to lay the blame for the troubles in this industry on those who labour on the wharf, who organise and look after their interests and at the same time tell the fruit growers that the disorganised marketing system we have had for years is a free enterprise system and the best system. They cannot be told that the system of multiple labels we have had in Tasmania for years was a sign of independence and improved our marketing abilities and that any attempt to organise or to interfere at government level was socialism.
I can remember when living in England being able to buy South African apples labelled as such and New Zealand apples labelled as such. But the only way I would find out whether apples came from Tasmania or Western Australia was to look at the bottom of the labels to the small print which gave the various brand names or the various growers’ names. We have to face the fact that our growers compete with South Africa and New Zealand in particular which market apples as countries. Those countries do not have various State marketing systems competing with each other. They do not have various company organisations competing with each other in the same markets. I suggest that it is equally futile for Government senators, as we heard especially in the debate last year, to rail against the tree pull scheme, a scheme that was introduced by their own Government- a conservative governmentto try to rationalise the industry. It is ridiculous to rail against this scheme and to say how terrible it is but at the same time not come up with any reasonable suggestions about how to get rid of apples and pears we are growing and how to get into the markets which Senator Wright correctly wants us to get into to sell the excess apples we have.
I believe very strongly that both parties in this Parliament have some very hard decisions to make on the future of all industries in this country, and I think that is obvious to everyone. We have to decide what industries, be they rural or secondary industries, we will have in this country and are willing to support. We have to decide where those industries will be and at what level they will operate. We have to decide where they will sell their goods and what assistance we will give them to sell their goods. Governments in this country must assist to regulate industries and to decide where the industries will be, in the way the Japanese Government and other efficient governments in Asia do. It is wrong and futile for people in this country to stand up and say: ‘That is socialism; that is unnecessary government interference ‘. Without that mutual assistance between government and industries a lot of our industries will be in strife and a lot of them will go to the wall against competition from countries which market efficiently, which organise their industries efficiently, and whose governments make sure that the industries act in the national interest.
We have heard suggestions that apple growers should diversify- we heard it from Senator Thomas from Western Australia- but Tasmanian apple growers, as those of us from Tasmania know, do not have the same opportunities to diversify as the Western Australian growers. Their holdings are usually not as large and the number of crops they can grow as an alternative to apples is limited. We have to make basic decisions in this country on what size apple industry will be supported in Australia, particularly in Tasmania, and I suggest that that is a national problem. We must decide objectively what is the best means of marketing our crop and where to market the crop, and I suggest that that is a national problem. We cannot have the situation which we have had in the past, and which we have at the present time, of the States going in different directions. We cannot have competition between States for the same market. That situation is considered to be absurd by other countries, and marketing forces in other countries take advantage of the situation. I suggest that we cannot let philosophical or ideological assumptions blinker us when we are considering this problem. We cannot go back to the days of Adam Smith, when the best way to run any market was to let everyone go hell for leather and the weak would fall and the strong would rise.
While these questions are being answered- I suggest that they have not been answered until now, and I include my own Party in that statement; we have not got the full answer to the problem- I think it is reasonable to support those who are in the industry now. The industry in Tasmania has declined considerably in the last 15 years. I was in practice in an apple growing area when the fires of 1967 devastated that area. It was said commonly by knowledgeable apple growers in the area that in fact the fires were a good thing for a lot of apple growers because they burnt out a lot of small uneconomic growers who then received assistance and therefore had a way to get out of the industry. Those are harsh words, cruel words, but from the information I had and from what I saw I believe that in fact it was true.
The basis of the Opposition’s amendment is that the rates under the stabilisation scheme should be increased for another year while the Government decides, on the information it has received from the Industries Assistance Commission, from its own departments and from the growers, just what the future will be and what the level of support will be. I suggest that the solution will not be found in long term commodity subsidies, and I am sure that many in this place would agree with me. Senator Wright’s amendment in fact puts much the same thing but is much more specific in its reference to what the long term solution will be. It mentions only the necessity of assisting the industry to develop nonEuropean markets. It may be that those nonEuropean markets will not be as easily developed as we think. It may be that we will have to cut down the size of the industry to a size which will support the domestic market and that in future our overseas market will be limited. The apple and pear growers, certainly in my State, have little alternative but to use their land to grow apples and pears. As I said before, alternative crops are not always easy to grow and the holdings are not always big enough to form economic units. Those growers have also seen the difficulties experienced by their colleagues who shifted from sheep to cattle and back to sheep and over to dairying as there were booms in the various industries.
This is a small industry and a very confined industry in Australia. It is an industry which should be studied carefully. It is an industry in which it should be possible to arrive at reasonable solutions which treat everyone fairly. If that can be done successfully in the apple industry we may point the way to a means of successfully stabilising and re-organising and reconstructing other agricultural industries in this country. The old system has failed. The system of continuous commodity subsidies has failed. Both systems continue to fail, and I suggest that there is no light at the end of the tunnel for those people who are growing apples and pears in my State and in many other States. Therefore this Government should continue the stabilisation scheme at a proper upgraded level, as has been suggested in both the amendments. It should then come down with concrete plans on what to do for the future of this industry. It cannot go on in the way it is. Each year at this time members on both sides of Parliament get up and quote endless figures and suggest endless solutions, but none of us are experts, and in fact we cannot leave it to the experts altogether. We have to leave it to a combination of expert opinion and grower opinion, and as a Parliament we must do our duty. We must look at those opinions and solutions and decide what solutions the country can afford and what solutions are most satisfactory in order to give a socially just result to the people involved in the industry. We must decide on a plan for the future, and then there will be some justice for the people who have grown apples for so many years, and for the taxpayers who are now subsidising the apple and pear growers at a considerable level. We will then have a stable and reasonable future for the people involved in the industry in Australia.
-One cannot but welcome the obviously increased interest in this industry in the Senate this year. It is I think an indication of some encouragement that the Opposition has put forward an amendment designed to improve at least the basic assistance which should be given to the industry. We have listened to Senator Grimes, and it is quite obvious that he is most concerned about the industry. We have listened to Senator Gietzelt leading for the Opposition and surveying the circumstances of the industry. I do not pretend to have the solutions for the industry’s many difficulties, but lest it be thought that one speaks superficially, I conducted the first royal commission into the industry on behalf of a section of the industry in 1931. 1 conducted the second royal commission in 1953, and I was in the Cabinet in 1970 when the stabilisation scheme was introduced. It was the first industry assistance given to apples and pears in the history of the industry. It went on for 5 years, was extended for one year in 1976, and now we are discussing a proposal to extend it for a second year.
Might I say in passing that the work done on the industry in the 1930s produced the first Australian legislation on the subject, resulting in the setting up of the Apple and Pear Board in 1938, which was a purely regulatory board and which in my opinion should have paid much closer attention to the industry. Then during the War- so far from the psychology of tree pull at that time, even despite the fact that there was a World War going on- all sections of political thought combined to give a subsidy to the industry, to buy the whole of its produce, for the purpose of preserving the industry so that it would be available as a viable industry at the end of the War.
I want to begin my contribution to this debate by saying that the scheme that we introduced in 1970 was introduced because of the obvious signs that distress was overtaking the industry due to the costs which we then thought were undue but which were threatening the market. I propose to refer to apples only because it simplifies the matter. We then provided for a scheme which gave a maximum of 80c per bushel. That scheme was not worked out in a day. My colleague Mr Falkinder, who represented the apply growing district of the Huon, worked for 5 years or 7 years together with me. The architect of that scheme was Mr A. C. B. Maiden, who was then Secretary of the Department of Primary Industry and who has since risen to great fame because of his efficiency in relation to the Wool Board. I perpetually pay tribute to his architecture of that scheme based upon the idea that it was the export section of the industry that needed stabilising due to the absolute lack of control we had over the markets and due to the relatively excessive costs.
We had to provide a scheme where different varieties produced different prices. Mr Maiden worked it out and, of course, those who put it forward saw that Tasmania, at that time producing one-third of the apples of Australia, exported two-thirds of the apples of Australia. There were none so blind then as did not see that if Tasmania continued to be induced to keep up that quantity of exports it would make the domestic markets of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane much more economical for the growers of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. The consequence is that by that scheme from Tasmania, until the last 2 years- after the mortal blow that we received in inflation in the Labor years- we have maintained our interest in the export market. Of course, the consequence has been that the Tasmanian crop has been reduced- I speak in round figures- by about 50 per cent, while the New South Wales crop has been increased probably by 80 per cent or 90 per cent. It is enjoying the riches of Sydney market and, therefore, when we speak of a subsidy for exports, of which Tasmania mainly is the recipient, the beneficiaries are the growers on the mainland.
This is an Australian scheme to maintain exports, to prevent undue losses on the export market and to improve the domestic market to the growers who are near the metropolitan centres. I look with shame, dismay and despair upon any Government that thinks that tree pull in relation to orcharding is any remedy at all. It takes one 12 years to grow a decent productive orchard and the idea of the destructive element, of paying to have trees pulled out in a world where we get messages today of endeavours abroad to organise food is, to me, calamitous and a matter of despair. Of course assistance should be given to rework trees and replant with more favourable varieties so as to get down the number of varieties in the island and therefore conduce to simplicity of export. But to say to a grower ‘We will pay you so much to pull out a tree’, defies evey instinct and every idea of sense that one can have. If we have an industry like this we have to work to market its product, and if we allow the cost system to grow so that the market beyond present unsupported prices is uneconomical we should take responsibility for that. We should not fatten one section of the community because we are afeard to resist it. We should assist those who are the victims of undue cost. If paralysis in government is going to mean that an industry like this is to go to the wall, the Government will find that the growers will know where culpability lies.
We come to the situation where in 1973 the Labor Government turned out the old board and created a corporation in the modern fashion of its ideas. First and foremost, it was a regulatory advisory body, but there is power in that Act for the Board, with the permission of the Minister, to buy and sell. I should like to refer to the reason why a socialist or any other government does not buy or sell. New Zealand does buy and sell. When I passed through New Zealand 2 years ago it was exporting, it was increasing its acreage. Even though the board in New Zealand that year had made, I think, a loss of $4m, it was so habituated to the very circumstances of trading tht it did not look upon the Treasury simply to avalanche money out to the social services, indexed as they are, because most modern politicians think that this is where the vote comes from today. We will have no money for social services unless producers are going to produce and shown a profit with which to provide taxation.
In 1973, although the new corporation was equipped with power to buy and sell with the permission of the Minister, the Government was not prepared to put its money at the risk of trade, whether organised or under the idea that Senator Grimes has, or not on the basis of Adam Smith but on the basis of private enterprise with all the Government assistance, modern communications and transport available today. So, no Commonwealth corporation is operating in this market and, therefore, the private agents have carried it on- not with a multiplicity of labels so far as Tasmania is concerned, for the last 3 years; it is one label for one organisation, Tasfruit Pty Ltd. Last year it met a market in England that was absolutely neutral and the quality of fruit was subject to some criticism. That was the first year in which the new corporation had operated and its job was, in the main, to supervise. The consequence was that this year the importing agents in the United Kingdom simply said: ‘We are broke. We cannot make money out of your Australian apples and therefore we are not providing the guaranteed advances- advances that enabled the apples to get across the 12 000 miles to market previously. The Tasmanian Government had hurriedly to bring in legislation last week- with the agreement of all parties, I understandto set up an emergency marketing authority guaranteed to an extent by the Tasmanian Government. We are contemplating the Bill before us which gives an extension for one year of this scheme. The function of the Corporation is to advise the Government. The report of the Corporation issued in September 1976 told the Government what was wanted. It stated: the Corporation proposals for future industry assistance are as follows:
A new Stabilisation Scheme covering the 3 years 1977, 1978 and 1979.
Fancy the idea of a person carrying on a business of any responsibility at all on a year to year basis. I am quoting the Corporation’s report; not speaking as an individual senator from Tasmania to whom all the reproaches can be offered with absolute impervious reaction so far as I am concerned. The report continues:
Maximum support of $3 per box -
That is not Reg Wright’s idea; this is the Corporation that is presided over by the great merchant Mr Leckie. He recommends maximum support of 3 bucks a case indexed for 1978 and 1979. He then says:
Maximum quantity covering all ‘risk’ markets to be: 1977-2 million boxes; 1978-1.5 million boxes; 1979-1.0 million boxes.
I think that is a melancholy outlook on the part of the Corporation but still it is infinitely better than the Government’s Bill.
– You will support our amendment then, Senator?
-I certainly would if the Opposition were not asking for the Bill to be withdrawn. The substance of the amendment is the same as mine. I support it. The honourable senator knows that I would. I have supported such an idea for the last year. I am glad that, for whatever reason, the honourable senator has an interest. I am pleased that he has come to the support of the industry. Furthermore we have another government organisation here. I refer to Senator Grimes’ idea that government boards and so forth are the panacea for agriculture. I live by the faith of an American constitutionalist I cannot recall his name; he was a red haired fellow from Philadephia. He said: ‘If you wait on Washington to tell you when you sew and when you shall reap you will have poverty throughout the land’. I say that the same thing will happen if we wait for Canberra boards to tell us what to do.
I have no doubt that the Industries Assistance Commission with the best intention wanted regulation in industry as well as government control. The Labor Party promoted the Industries Assistance Commission. Anybody who reads the IAC report on the subject will simply weep. How much acquaintance have a couple of bureaucrats here in Canberra with the industry? How much do they understand it? They simply say there is no future in this industry, therefore phase it out. They cannot see the dollars returning above the cost. They say that the industry is about to be destroyed. They do not look at the responsibility of the cost of waterside work and tariffs. All they can see is whether on a net cost basis the industry can show a profit. After saying a few things quite erroneously as to the level of cost what do they do? They suggest for 1976 support of $2 a case. So as to make the going harder for the grower and to squeeze him out they have had the genius of an idea to reduce the stabilisation to a dollar a case. I think we ought to weep and be ashamed of ourselves that such reports can be put to us.
These things do not come from my own opinion. I would rarely be so emphatic if I were unsupported by other opinion. That applies in this as in most instances. When I have a view I will be emphatic. On this occasion I will read to the Senate what the Corporation, which was constituted to supervise this industry, has said in its report with regard to the IAC report. It states:
The Corporation ‘s main objection to the findings was centred on the recommendations for the virtually immediate withdrawal of ‘product based support . . . Briefly, the IAC has proposed the termination of stabilisation after the 1977 season … For the future, (beyond 1977), the IAC has recommended a number of welfare measures . . .
This is 35 years after Lord Beveridge came along to bring the plight of welfare into the apple industry. God forbid! The Corporation continues:
This program involves the establishment of ‘Area Redevelopment Authorities’ and the training of ‘Counsellors’ to assist in the rehabilitation of people in an assumed non-viable export industry.
Apart from any disputation as to the validity of the IAC’s findings on the future viability of the export trade, the social welfare or ‘people oriented assistance’ approach has been strongly opposed -
I emphasise ‘strongly opposed ‘- by both the Corporation and the Australian Apple and Pear Growers Association on the grounds that it is essentially negative and ultimately more costly than a continuation of a reasonable level of ‘product support’-
We who participated in the inquiry into the impending collapse of the copper industry at Mount Lyell saw how obvious it is that we spend much more money completely wastefully if we go into welfare than we do by supporting, on a product based subsidy, an industry which for the time being is not making its costs and cannot be viable without some government assistance. Quite obviously if 2000 people are working in an apple industry and producing economic goods, even though they want 10 per cent or more assistance, it is much better to have them as product units in the community, producing with the aid of assistance, than it is to push them off their orchards, gather them in the cities and increase the ever-growing army of unemployed.
Honourable senators should take a look at Kelsall and Kemp (Tasmania) Ltd, an industry which has been weaving wool in Launceston for upwards of 50 years. Costs have enveloped the industry and forced it out. What are the people in that industry to do? Surely to goodness the reduction of tariffs by 25 per cent, exposing that industry to an unduly competitive market from imports, dealt a death blow. The silly idea of equal pay for equal work throughout the country so virulently led to its destruction. Would not the families dependent upon an industry like that make a much better community by working than by queuing for the dole week by week? So too would people dependent upon the apple industry. Politics that has the other point of view has no appeal for me at all. I will assist the worker, whether he is a producer or a worker, when he wants assistance to work but I think that the idea of continuing from year to year with a stabilisation scheme on a scurvy basis of $2 per case when $2 was the amount proper last year beggars the real solution.
The export of apples from Hobart to London was a stroke of genius on the part of the commercial people who pioneered it 70 years ago. I have no time to tell the exciting story of how the trade was built up. To export our apples over a distance of 12 000 miles to England during the 3 months when that country was not producing apples and then gear a whole shipping program to support it, was simply a work of commercial genius. Tasmania founded its shipping space allotment on a different basis from any other capital in the country, thereby maintaining an equity and encouraging the industry to grow. No other
State did that. The space in the Tasmanian ships belonged to the orchardists. But if monopolies are allowed to grow on the wharf, whether they be combines of ship owners or monopolies of waterfront labour, equity will not be maintained by those who put their products through the ports. Then are we aquitted of the responsibility to give assistance to growers? As Senator Douglas McClelland implied, even the domestic growers of apples are receiving little more than $ 1 a case as the net profit for their product. To get a case of apples from the wharf shed into the ship, the waterside workers in Hobart, the dearest port in the world in respect of fruit transport, charge over $1.20. If the grower received that amount he would need no assistance.
Last year redundancy on the wharves cost industry $8.9m. This year, to get another 830 waterside workers out of the industry, redundancy payments of $1 1.935m and long service leave payments of $2.226m have been made. The largest individual redundancy payment was $30,455. The largest individual payment for long service leave was $5,324. The average payment to get a man out of this privileged monopolistic force was $14,555 for redundancy and $2,960 for long service leave. Those are the costs which have to be met by the freight charges on apples which have consequently risen from about $2 a case to about $5.50 a case this year. I would not for one day renounce the opportunity of standing here to demand on behalf of those growers an increased payment from $2 to $3 a case this year. It is imperative that this assistance be available not merely to those growers who export to the European market but especially to those growers who export to the relatively new markets where development has to take place. It is entirely fallacious to withdraw support at this time. Why? The industry has almost come to collapse.
Reference has also been made to export figures. In the year to which Senator Grimes referred, which was 1967, the year of the fire in Tasmania, Australia’s exports of applies totalled 6.8 million cases. In 1973 they still totalled 7 million cases. Next year they totalled 4. 1 million. In the following year they totalled 4.6 million. Last year, 1976, they totalled 3.2 million. The winds of change came on them very coldly that year. Tasmania’s share, instead of being about 4 million to 5 million cases was down to 1.9 million cases last year. I ask the Senate to back its interest in this industry. On all considerations of good business, as well as fairness, those who are responsible for the waterside workers’ costs and excessive freights have a responsibility to save the apple grower. By little purposeful negotiation we could gain entry into Japan which would give up an apple market within the next 5 years more attractive than we have ever developed over the last 70 years in London and Europe. To think that, with this prospect, we should let an industry as productive and labour intensive as the apple industry, employing people in one of the most satisfying occupations, be governed by an Industries Assistance Commission which talks simply of the industry in terms of pips, peel and dollars!
I agree entirely with what was said the other night by, I think, Senator Gietzelt. In these matters one has to consider the combination of human labour with the product. What we are about is not making dollars; it is making a community. The IAC brought out a report stating that each individual grower farm received $13,500. If that is worked out on the Tasmanian basis over the relevant years, the amount is $3,400. If it is worked out as it properly should be on farms throughout Australia- as I have said it is the Tasmanian farm that receives the direct benefit and the Australian farm that receives the real benefit- the cost to industry is not more than $1,800. If one reads the report of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics on this subject one will find that the cost of this stabilisation does no more than offset the cost which the orchardists pay for the tariff. It does nothing more than pay the tariff that the orchardist must pay. So, secondary industry is getting a percentage of assistance right across the board infinitely more relative than I am asking for the apple industry.
The annual report of the Industries Assistance Commission for 1973-74 shows that in 1972-73 the rate of assistance for rural products was: Butter, 74 per cent; cheese, 53 per cent; tobacco, 63 per cent; dried vines fruit, 50 per cent; wheat, 7 per cent; rice, 5 per cent; sugar, 5 per cent; and apples and pears, 4.6 per cent. I put my arguments forward now that there is a reawakened interest in the industry in the hope that the Senate will pass my amendment and that the Government will take it into consideration because it has not yet had to consider the collapsed situation which comes in the wake of the creation of the State body last week. That has to consider supplementary assistance. I am hoping that with these considerations in its mind it will give assistance of not less than $3 a case. I have circulated my proposed amendment to honourable senators. I am informed that this is not the appropriate stage at which to move it.
-The aim of the 3 Bills now before the Senate is to extend the provisions of the Apple and Pear
Stabilization Amendment Act 1976 to the 1977 season. Its provisions are the same as those in that Bill debated here last year. When I say that they are the same, that is exactly what I mean. The Bill provides for a $2 a case subsidy for the 2 million cases of apples and 80 cents a case for the 1.4 million cases of pears. In the last 12 months, we have seen tremendous rises in costs. The average weekly wage increased from $165 in March 1976 to $193.50 in December 1976, which is the latest period for which figures are available. That is only a 9 months period showing an increase of $28.50. Overseas freights have risen by 22.6 per cent. Many other additional costs might be mentioned affecting production. They include an 8 per cent increase in packing, for instance, not to mention the increased spraying charges among those additional production costs faced by orchardists.
The average income of the Huon orchardist last year was estimated at $3,000. These people have had to contend with all these additional increases when receiving an income that is now well below the unemployment benefit. The yearly unemployment benefit is now in excess of $4,000. The Huon orchardists receive $3,000 a year for a 70 to 80 hour week. There is little hope that their product will earn for them an income anywhere near the unemployment benefit this year.
There is little I can add to the speech which I made when debating this legislation last year. Figures which I gave then demonstrated that Australia is the best fed and cheapest fed community in the world. Either we must pay for our food from the supermarket or we must pay for it by subsidy; we cannot continue to be the best fed and, by far, the cheapest fed community in the world at the expense of our farmers.
Last year, the Industries Assistance Commission presented a report recommending that assistance to the apple industry be phased out. That assistance was to be $2 in 1976, $1 this year and nothing in 1978. Justifiably, our Government would have absolutely nothing to do with that proposal. As I said last year, assistance must be provided to help to establish new markets. The sooner that assistance is given, the sooner the subsidy can be reduced.
We must enter the Japanese market which is the most important to Australia. With the new relationship with Japan since our Government came to power, I believe that this is likely in the 1978 season. We have entered the Asian markets. The annual report of the Apple and Pear Corporation reveals that our markets in
Malaysia and Hong Kong increased in 1976 compared with 1975 and 1974.
Last year in Tasmania we had people with enough confidence in our marketing to ask the Australian people to support them for a few more years until we could become established in the Japanese market. I believe that this is something that the apple industry is capable of doing and something which the Apple and Pear Corporation should certainly investigate now.
Last year Senator Gietzelt said-and this year he has corrected himself- that it would be best if the apple industry were phased out as we were having the farmers on and that it was cruel to keep dangling them on the end of a string. With that in mind, I turn to look at the amendment moved by the Labor Party. It reads:
That the Bills be withdrawn with a view to bringing forward Bills which
Increase the rate of stabilisation payments of $3 per box of apples and $ 1.20 per box of pears and/or
I emphasise that phrase ‘and/or’:
Proposal a. is quite all right. But following the and/or’ we find reference to ‘supplementary assistance measures’, but no mention of the amount of that assistance, ‘to facilitate adjustments’, but with no mention of what adjustments. No information is given as to what adjustments would be necessary for this supplementary assistance. The amendment does not specify the type of assistance. I ask: What sort of assistance is the Opposition suggesting? Is it the unemployment benefit? The form of assistance is not stated.
In the course of the debate today, Senator Gietzelt said that he really loved the apple growers all along but that he had just not understood what the matter was all about. Having listened to Senator Wright, Senator Gietzelt in the Christmas recess did his homework. I ask: What type of behaviour is that for a shadow minister for agriculture?
Mr President, I do not intend to speak at length on this Bill as I really said all that there is for me to say in the debate last year. I suggested then to the Government that it would be of far more use to the industry to subsidise it in a greater way at that time so that it could seek to enter other markets-I was referring specifically to the Asian markets- so that it could get out of the European markets. This was not done. We find that, while the Labor Government in 1975 had reduced the subsidy to $1.60 a box, it now proposes by its amendment to increase the rate of stabilisation payment on apples to $3 a box. We must view that amendment with suspicion. I reject the Labor Party’s amendment. The Opposition has deliberately made it vague. I view its action as a political exercise, and nothing more. I will support the amendment foreshadowed by Senator Wright. I plead with the Government to increase the subsidy for apple growers in our State. It is an industry that can play a big part in primary production and which can come back into its own with assistance to enable it to get into the Asian markets.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting for dinner Senator Walters made her contribution to this debate on the apple and pear stabilisation legislation which is now before the Senate. That must have been one of the shortest speeches that Senator Walters has ever made in this Parliament when we have been dealing with apples and pears. Usually we get a lengthy lecture from Senator Walters on the quality of apples, particularly the Geeveston-Fannie variety. All honourable senators remember a lengthy speech she made here in reply to Senator Wriedt on one occasion. She referred to all the different qualities and varieties. I want to refer to 2 remarks she made about me on 10 December last year when the apple and pear legislation was before the Parliament. In her speech on that legislation Senator Walters said:
We heard Senator McLaren objecting to the Tasmanian freight equalisation scheme, saying that it would ruin the mainland markets.
Further on she said:
Just because Senator McLaren says that a Labor Government would terminate the industry, there is no reason for this Government to agree with that.
I do not know where Senator Walters got both those ideas because on that particular occasion I had not spoken about the legislation. Yet it is on record in Hansard that Senator Walters said that I was objecting to the Tasmanian freight equalisation scheme, although I was not doing so, and as saying that I said a Labor Government would terminate the industry. I did not make either of those remarks. No doubt Senator Walters has distributed copies of that speech far and wide in the apple growing areas of Tasmania and people there would be misinformed about my thinking on the apple and pear industry and, what is more important, misinformed about the Labor Party’s policy with regard to the industry, particularly as it applies to Tasmania. I wanted to take this opportunity to correct those statements by Senator Walters.
The other thing I want to mention is the fact that Senator Tehan said in his speech today that the Government must ensure that it gets value for money expended. He went on to say that the money it allocates has to go where it gets the best value for it. Senator Tehan does not agree in every instance that the Government should do those 2 things he mentioned. I refer, for instance, to the superphosphate bounty. The Government did not ensure, when it reintroduced that legislation, that it would get value for money expended on the superphosphate bounty. Furthermore it did not ensure that the money it allocated would go to the areas where it would get best value for that money. The people who really needed assistance by way of superphosphate bounty got very little, as has been proved in this Parliament on many occasions. We find that it was received by very wealthy people like the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). We know that he got at least $5,000 which he did not need, and that is the minimum he would have got. I dare say he got at least double that in the last year that the subsidy operated under the Whitlam Government. So Senator Tehan is not consistent when he argues that the Government should ensure that it gets value for money expended, when it gives handouts or subsidies to primary industry, and that the money it allocates should go to the area where it is most needed.
Senator Thomas made his speech on this apple and pear legislation on 24 March and in it he said:
Most of the problems in the industry were created by the previous Government and I refer in particular to inflation . . .
He went on to blame the previous Government for all the problems that the industry now faces. But I went back over this legislation and referred back to Senate Hansard of 13 October 1971 when Senator Wright was speaking on similar legislation when it was first introduced into this Parliament. At page 1330 of Senate Hansard of 13 October 1971, Senator Wright was reported as having said this:
I want to say that the first Bill that I had the privilege of piloting through the Tasmanian Parliament, from the Opposition of the day, was a Bill for the support of the apple and pear industry. That is just an indication that the industry always is poised upon such precarious trading contingencies that it gives rise to anxieties, and those anxieties were never more acute than they are today.
-That was before Labor was in government.
– That is what I am coming to. He continued:
Therefore it is a matter of inestimable pleasure that I was privileged to be of the Ministry and to take part in the consultations that decided to accept, in the Federal sphere, this stabilisation scheme that we are now urging the Parliament to adopt.
That was back in 1971 and Labor had not been in office in this Parliament since 1949. He went on to say:
Today there have developed in the industry, firstly, freight demands that are very critical; secondly, internal production costs have dwarfed the economy of this primary industry in comparison with the economies of other industries of Australia so as to reduce the apple and pear producer to a level of economy that is not respectable from the point of view of parliamentary performance in relation to other strata of our people; thirdly, the industry is beset with unsurpassed marketing difficulties, accentuated by the probable advent of the United Kingdom into the European economic community.
Senator Wright said all those things in this Parliament on 13 October 1971 when we had a Liberal-Country Party Government. He then told the Parliament of all the traumas and problems that the industry was facing. Yet last Thursday Senator Thomas said that most of the problems in the industry were created by the previous Government. To which Government was Senator Thomas referring? He could not have been referring to the Labor Government because, if he was, Senator Wright’s statements were not true. If Senator Wright’s statements were correct then Senator Thomas’s statements were not true. They cannot both be right. Yet they are both reported in Senate Hansard as having made the statements I referred to.
The situation now is that Senator Wright rose to his feet and endeavoured to blame the Labor Government for all the problems faced by the fruit industry in Tasmania. He came into this place and foreshadowed an amendment, a pious amendment in which there is no substance. He well knows, because of the way his foreshadowed amendment is worded, that no action will be taken by the Government which he complained about as having done nothing to help the industry. He blamed his own Prime Minister here earlier today. By way of interjection, when I asked him if he would support our amendment, he said he would support it if it did not mean the withdrawal of the Bill. Senator Wright has been a government Minister and still has some influence and some respect in his Party. He knows of the parlous state of the industry in Tasmania and he is on record as having said on 10 December last year that the subsidy ought to be $3 a case for apples. I would say that he would have sufficient strength in his Party room to be able to move that the Bill be withdrawn and then bring a new Bill forward providing for a subsidy of $3 instead of one of $2 as this present legislation envisages.
Senator Wright well knows that the only delay that would be involved would be a matter of 3 weeks. The Bill could be brought back into this Senate or into the House of Representatives the first week after the Easter recess. It could be brought in here and passed and he would be able to say; ‘I agree with a subsidy of $3 and I was a party to having got it’. But no, he would far prefer to move an amendment saying that the Senate is of the opinion that certain things should be done, knowing full well that the Government will not do them. Why does he not be honest and support our amendment in the first place. It was the first amendment envisaged in respect of this legislation. It was put forward in the House of Representatives by the honourable member for Blaxland, Mr Keating, speaking on behalf of the shadow Minister for Agriculture, Senator Gietzelt.
Senator Wright has had plenty of time to study the Opposition amendment. He well knows that he and some of his colleagues on that side of the House were able to convince the Government that it should not abolish the funeral benefits for pensioners. By threatening to cross the floor they forced the Government to do away with that proposition that it had put forward. Senator Wright and his colleagues in this place have the numbers. He would have all the Liberal senators from Tasmania and Senator Harradine with him if he was prepared to cross the floor and support our amendment. By doing so he would give some justice to the apple growers in Tasmania. You will do the very thing which, back on 10 December 1 976, you suggested ought to be done. I shall quote you, Senator Wright, as recorded on page 3057 of the Senate Hansard of 10 December. You had this to say -
- Senator McLaren, please direct your remarks through the Chair.
-Yes, Mr President. I am sorry. I intended to direct them through you, Mr President. This is what Senator Wright had to say:
Therefore, I want the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton) to hear me say that at the beginning of next year I shall be moving very strongly for an acceptance by the Government of the Corporation’s proposals for the stabilisation of this industry.
Senator Wright has not moved very strongly for anything. We saw a great act before the suspension of the sitting for dinner. I wondered whether Senator Wright was a member of Actors ‘ Equity because of the way he performed. He put on a great show. But there was no substance to it. The only very strong move he has made to have the Government accept the Corporation’s porposals to stabilise the industry is to propose this amendment:
At end of motion add ‘, but the Senate is of the opinion that-
the recommendations of the Industries Assistance Commission report failed to take into account the necessity of assisting the industry to develop nonEuropean markets; and
the industry should be assisted to a level of not less than $3 per case’.
He is consistent in that part, but he knows full well that that amendment is not worth the paper it is written on because, on the same page of Hansard to which I have just referred, we find that Senator Wright has this to say:
We want the maximum support under the scheme to be $3 a case and we want it to be indexed.
Why did Senator Wright not move that way in a very definite amendment and get some action taken instead of foreshadowing his pious amendment. One of his fellow Tasmanians in the other place gave notice of a pious notice of motion knowing full well that it would never be debated, that it would be buried on the notice paper. In the Parliament we are quite accustomed to Liberal members of Parliament, when they find themselves caught up in some problem with primary industry, particularly in the fruit growing industry, moving a notice of motion. In relation to the wine tax Mr Giles put a motion on the notice paper calling on the government of the day to repeal the wine excise. But he did not move on the matter. When Dr Patterson was shadow Minister for Agriculture he moved for the suspension of Standing Orders to allow the notice to be brought on for debate. But what did we find? We found Mr Giles voting against his own notice of motion. He did not want to debate it. It was just a smokescreen to fool the growers as was Mr Goodluck ‘s motion, about which he spoke in the House of Representatives on 17 March. There was no substance in it whatever.
Yet such members take copies of speeches back to their electorates and peddle them around. No doubt Senator Wright’s proposed amendment will be peddled all around Tasmania to the fruitgrowers in an effort to fool them into believing that this is what Senator Wright wanted to do. There is no substance in the foreshadowed amendment. The only way in which honourable senators from Tasmania can give any credence to the claims that they support the apple and pear growers in Tasmania, and particularly the apple growers of the Huon Valley, is to support the amendment which was put down by Senator Gietzelt, the shadow Minister for Primary Industry. That is the test of the whole argument. If those honourable senators do not support that amendment the fruit growers will know full well that they are not dinkum in the proposition which they are putting forward. Senator Wright, in his criticism of the legislation and of his own Government, talked about the scurvy basis of $2 a case. We agree with Senator Wright.
We on this side have moved an amendment in all good faith to try to give some assistance to the apple growers in Tasmania. But, Senator Wright, I am afraid from what you said in answer to my interjection tonight that you will not support the amendment. You used the argument that you would support it if it did not mean the withdrawal of the Bill. I say to you, Senator Wright through you Mr President, that the withdrawal of the Bill will create a delay of only 3 weeks, if Senator Wright is prepared to support our amendment. Surely the apple growers in the Huon Valley of Tasmania are quite prepared to wait for 3 weeks in order to get an extra $ 1 a case for this year’s crop instead of accepting Senator Wright’s proposed amendment and getting absolutely nothing. That is what the amendments mean, as Senator Wright well knows. He has been in this Parliament a long time. He has criticised us, on this side, for some of the amendments we have moved in years gone by. He has accused us of moving pious amendments which were not worth anything. That is the very criticism which is being shot back at him now. His proposed amendment is not worth anything. The only way by which Senator Wright can assist the apple growers in Tasmania is for him to encourage the Liberal and independent senators from Tasmania to cross the floor and support us in our amendment. Then he will get the message through to the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Sinclair, that senators on the Government side are prepared to do something concrete to help the industry.
The apple industry is not the only fruit growing industry which is in trouble. We find that the canning fruit industry in my State of South Australia is in trouble. I have spoken on this matter on several occasions in the Senate on behalf of the Riverland Fruit Cannery in South Australia. The South Australian Labor Government was prepared to convert its share of a government loan to a grant to the tune of 272,000 to help the fruitgrowers in the
Riverland area of South Australia. Yet the Federal Government, through its Minister, Mr Sinclair, is hiding behind the smokescreen that the only way that can be done is by introducing an amendment to the Act. As I said here last year, the Australian Labor Party will support an amendment to the Act to convert the Federal Government’s share of that loan to a direct grant to the cannery. As yet there has been no move from the Government side. The Minister for Primary Industry in the present coalition Government makes great play of the suggestion that the Labor Party never does anything to help country people and, in particular primary producers, yet when we put up propositions to assist these people we cannot get the support of the Government. I think that is conclusive proof to primary producers in the main that the Government of the day is not dinkum in its claims that it will help the industry and that the Labor Party will not help the industry.
I well recall an Australian Labor Party member for Wilmot in the Parliament for many years, Mr Gil Duthie, who was the secretary of the Parliamentary Labor Party’s resources committeeof which I am now the secretary- being a great fighter for the Tasmanian apple industry. He was a great spokesman and fighter for the Tasmanian apple industry in every way. I shall relate a story which went around the Parliament about Gil Duthie. He went out of his way in the Parliament to assist the industry with both marketing and consumption. The story I am about to tell relates to consumption. The Parliamentary Labor Party’s resources committee always meets over dinner, that is between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. We have refreshments. While Gil Duthie was secretary of that committee we always found that the drinks on the menu were either apple cider or apple juice. This happened so often that in this Parliament apple juice and apple cider got the name of the Duthie vodka. I am sure that Gil Duthie converted a lot of people to drinking apple cider and apple juice.
– You cannot blame alcohol as an excuse, can you?
– No, alcohol was not an excuse. A lot of people enjoyed the apple juice or apple cider. I enjoy the apple juice which is manufactured in South Australia from the surplus apple production. I was very interested to read the debate of 17 March in which the honourable member for Wills, Mr Gordon Bryant, participated. I shall quote what he said because his remarks are pertinent to some of the problems the industry faces. Tonight we are talking about legislation to assist the apple industry in the export market. But there is a great possibility of disposing of a lot of the apple production on the local market, which is the best market. I recall Senator Melzer showing me an article in the Melbourne Herald last week. It pointed out that 82 per cent of the children in schools in some industrial suburbs of Melbourne never see an apple to eat. That is a breakdown of the local market. I am not saying that if all those children had access to apples at a cheap and reasonable price that would soak up any of the surplus of the Tasmanian market. It would have some effect but most of the Tasmanian surplus is sold on the export market. Senator Wright has travelled extensively overseas and he has told us of the enormous price being asked for apples on the overseas market.
Yesterday I was talking about Indonesia with a person from Mount Gambier who used to operate a sawmill in that country. He said it cost up to 40c for an apple in Indonesia. There is a potential market, very close to Australia, if the market authorities like to explore it. We also find from a report in the Melbourne Herald last week that some apple and pear growers, in particular in the Goulburn Valley, have exploited a market in the Melbourne metropolitan area. They are selling a great percentage of their crop this year as fresh fruit. One of the reasons why they can do so is that they are able to put first quality fruit on the local market, whereas in the main our best quality fruit is packed for the overseas market and our rejects go onto the local market. Unfortunately, when my wife has come home with a bag of apples which looked all right on the outside they have been found to be rotten when cut open. This is what is killing the local market for fresh fruit. I am not laying the blame at the feet of anyone. All I am suggesting is that our marketing authorities should look at the quality of fruit which is put on our local market. If we can consume more of this fruit on the local market it will be so much less for which we have to find an export market.
The honourable member for Wills, Mr Bryant, had this to say when talking about marketing apples and their by-products:
When I went to the dining room in the Tasmanian Parliament- a very pleasant dining room with the best of company- I was asked: ‘What will you have to drink, Sir?’ Of course, eschewing alcohol- I feel that all other honourable members should do that too- I said: ‘I will have apple juice, please’. There was a stunned silence and then there was a drifting off. The very apologetic reply came back: ‘lam sorry, Sir, we have none’. 1 have asked for apple juice pretty continuously since on aircraft, in hotels, in restaurants and in parliamentary dining rooms.
He went on to say that he had done so without much luck, except to say that it is available in this parliamentary dining room. As I said earlier, the reason why it is available here is that Mr Duthie, a previous member for Wilmot in the other place who pressed the problems of the apple industry most vigorously, was able to get a lot of people in this Parliament very interested in drinking either apple cider or apple juice. We favourably knew it as ‘Duthie vodka’.
Senator Wright referred extensively to the Industries Assistance Commission report on fruit growing. Ever since I came to this Parliamentnigh on 6 years ago- he has claimed to be an authority on the apple industry. I have taken great care to look through the IAC report to see who appeared before the Commission to give evidence on the problems of the industry- the names of the witnesses, the capacity in which they appeared and the organisations which were represented. Nowhere in that document could I see any record of Senator Wright having given evidence to the Commission. As Senator Wright has claimed year in year out to be an authority on the apple industry in Tasmania and as he is well aware of the problems that industry faces, I ask him in all sincerity why did he not come forward and give evidence to the IAC. He is quite prepared to stand up in this Parliament and criticise the recommendations and conclusions contained in that report, but he was not prepared to go along and give evidence and give the people who sat on that Commission the benefit of his knowledge of the industry. I wonder whether he can tell us why he did not do so. I note that a couple of Wrights gave evidence to the Commission. I do not know whether they are relatives of Senator Wright; that is not stated. But 2 persons by the name of Wright in Tasmania were prepared to go along and give evidence before the Commission.
It is of no good people from Tasmania, particularly members of Parliament, coming into this place and putting themselves up as experts on an industry when the Industries Assistance Commission is given a reference to inquire into the problems of the apple industry and the socalled experts do not go forward and put up a proposition for that industry and do not tell the commissioners of all the problems of which they claim to have a first hand knowledge and give them the benefit of their expertise. As I said, it is very easy to come into this Parliament and criticise the recommendations brought down by the Industries Assistance Commission; but if any honourable senator claims to be an expert on anything that the Industries Assistance Commission inquires into and fails to give evidence before that inquiry, I do not think he ought to come into this chamber and criticise the report prepared by the Commission. We on this side of the chamber have people who are prepared to go forward and give evidence before the Industries Assistance Commission on matters which are of vital importance to the consumers and producers in this country. I cite as an example the inquiry by the Industries Assistance Commission into the superphosphate bounty. Senator Walsh made an extensive submission to the Commission.
– What a great expert!
-Whether Senator Walters agrees with Senator Walsh or not, he had the courage to go along and put his proposition to the Commission. But no honourable senator from her side of the Parliament, including herself, was prepared to do so. On her own admission, Senator Walters is a first class expert on the apple Geeveston Fanny. She has given us a very extensive lecture in this Parliament on the Geeveston Fannie- on the speckled ones, the sweet ones, the juicy ones and all the other sorts. But neither she nor Senator Wright went to the Industries Assistance Commission and assisted the Commission with expert knowledge so that the Commission could arrive at a different conclusion from the one for which it is now being criticised.
In my remarks tonight I think I have exploded some of the myths that have been put forward by honourable senators opposite. We support the legislation which is before the Parliament. We again seek the assistance of the Tasmanian honourable senators opposite in supporting our proposed amendment. Support of this amendment is the only way by which the apple growers in Tasmania can be assured of some real assistance. The pious amendment that has been put forward by Senator Wright is just a smokescreen, as was the notice of motion put forward by the honourable member for Franklin, Mr Goodluck, in the other place. We all recall the war that went on over the other side of Kings Hall about 10 days ago when, according to newspaper reports, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) even referred to Mr Goodluck as some sort of a grub. I do not know whether he was referring to him as a coddling moth or what he was doing. But Mr Fraser could see through the pious notice of motion that was put up by Mr Goodluck and no doubt he will see through the pious amendment that has been put up by Senator Wright. I say to Senator Wright, through you, Mr President: If you are prepared to encourage your supporters to come over here and vote with us on this amendment the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Sinclair, and the Treasurer, Mr Lynch, will get the message that they have to do something to assist the people in Tasmania this year until we can have a further look at the apple and pear industry. I am sure that in making those remarks I have pricked the conscience of Senator Wright. I can see from the way he is smiling at me that he has changed his mind, that he is going to forget about his proposed amendment and will support ours.
-We are dealing with the Apple and Pear Stabilization Amendment Bill, the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Amendment Bill and the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Collection Amendment Bill. The Government had before it a recommendation by the Industries Assistance Commission for the payment of $1 a box for apples for the 1977 export season. The current legislation is to extend the existing stabilisation scheme for the export of apples and pears during the 1 977 season. It is not my purpose to canvass all the issues involved in providing support for the fruit growing industry or, more importantly, for the decentralised areas. All of the issues involved in that have been canvassed at length during the debate in this chamber, as well as the debate in the other place previously. No one has done so more forcibly that Senator Wright. If I were to canvass those issues I would only be repeating what has been said already. It is my intention only to declare myself as to where my vote will be on this particular subject.
I have considered both the amendment proposed by Senator Gietzelt and the amendment foreshadowed by Senator Wright. Having attended meetings of fruit growers, I believe that the recommendations of the IAC are absolutely untenable if consideration is given to the need, as Senator Wright put is, to assist people to work in these decentralised areas. The Bills only continue the existing stabilisation scheme. That is not satisfactory. Even taking into account the increase in the cost of living, that is not satisfactory. One or the other of the amendments should be supported. The question is: Which one should be supported and which has the most chance of giving benefit to the people in the fruit growing industry.
My concern with the proposal put forward by Senator Gietzelt is that if it were carried it would be used simply as a political football; it would delay the scheme and could even jeopardise it. I say that because already supporters of the fruit growers within the Liberal-National Country Party coalition Government have cast doubt upon the genuineness of that type of amendment. I am not making a judgment about its genuineness one way or the other. But I point to the fact that supporters of the fruit growers within the Government have pointed out that such an amendment is not genuine. I wish to quote what was said by one of the supporters, Mr Hodgman, the honourable member for Denison in another place. He said, as reported in the House of Representatives Hansard on 17 March 1977:
That is the honourable member for Blaxland- is not the only member of the Opposition who claims to be a friend of primary industry. Senator Gietzelt, the Opposition spokesman on primary industry matters in the Senate, made a magnificent contribution to the welfare of the fruit industry when last year he said that the Opposition would not oppose the legislation- not that it supported it, but that it would not oppose it- then went on to say that this ‘support is not unequivocal, and not without some basis of criticism’. Then he castigated the Fraser Government for not in strict terms acting on the recommendations of the IAC which was that a subsidy of $ 1 a box be paid.
The point is that within the Government there are those who are very strongly in support of a fair deal for the fruit growers, a fair deal being that they will continue to be able to live in the decentralised areas and not be thrown into the ranks of the unemployed in the large cities. But if the amendment moved by Senator Gietzelt were carried, many of these supporters would be taunted by their colleagues and the issue would become a political football. Thus it is my intention to support the emendment foreshadowed by Senator Wright which states:
At end of motion add ‘, but the Senate is of the opinion that-
the recommendations of the Industries Assistance Commission report failed to take into account the necessity of assisting the industry to develop nonEuropean markets; and
the industry should be assisted to a level of not less than three dollars per case’.
Mr Acting Deputy President, I will support that amendment when it is moved. In doing so I hope that the Government will take note of the extensive feeling that has been expressed in support of the fruit growers in the decentralised areas, that it will take heed of the comments that have been made and come forward with a further proposal for assistance to the fruit growers.
-The Senate is dealing with 3 Bills which deal with stabilisation in the apple and pear industry. An amendment has been moved already on behalf of the Australian Labor Party Opposition and one has been foreshadowed by Senator Wright, It is obvious to all Tasmanians that apple growers need additional assistance and that they need long term assistance. The assistance should not be provided on a yearly basis. That point was made very well by Senator Wright in another of his unanswerable speeches. The honourable senator made an unanswerable speech a couple of weeks ago on another matter and he made one tonight. I believe it is only socially just that we give some assistance to the apple and pear industry. As Senator Harradine has just said, it is no solution to the problems of the industry to allow apple growers to go broke, go on the unemployment benefits and join the queues of unemployed people in the cities.
We heard earlier in the debate from Senator Walters that last year the average income of the apple growers in the Huon Valley was about $3,000. If that income is allowed to fall any more in relation to costs, obviously these growers would be better off receiving unemployment benefits. There are few opportunities for alternative employment in Tasmania even if the growers leave their farms. So we must help this industry to survive. Therefore, it will be my pleasure to support Senator Wright’s foreshadowed amendment. I hope as he does that it will spur the Government to action with regard to this industry. The industry is in extreme distress. Over the years we have seen schemes such as the tree pull scheme. That scheme has never seemed to me to provide a remedy to the problems of the industry. In a world so short of food it seems morally wrong that we should cut down one source of food. All the arguments have been canvassed over and over again. My attitude is that the Government has a responsibility to save this industry. I will support Senator Wright’s amendment in the hope that it will help towards the end.
– How will that save it?
-Go and have an eggnog.
-The difficulty of adopting a sane approach to this problem has just been demonstrated by the interjection from Senator McLaren to what was an intelligent, if brief, contribution by Senator Townley. Senator Townley ‘s contribution was in marked contrast to the contribution from Senator McLaren which, if it were not perhaps regarded as being outside the proprieties of the Senate, could be called a load of garbage. Certainly it could be regarded as being something akin to the product which sells for the lower price from the place where a large number of birds are kept. I can only say that it seemed to me that the honourable senator’s speech could be likened to one of the waste products.
To withdraw the Bills, as has been argued by Senator McLaren, is a move which rather reminds me of what can best be described as substituting the substance for the shadow. It is important that the growers obtain confirmation of the continuation of the scheme. It is important that assistance be given at least at the existing rate. It is important also that the views of a majority of honourable senators be expressed to the Government so that it knows the strength of feeling and attitude which has been voiced from all sections of the Senate with regard to the plight of this industry, the importance of the industry and the importance of the people involved in it. As Senator Wright has said, in a speech upon which I should like to compliment him and which I endorse but, for the sake of brevity, will not repeat, at a time when there has been an increase in the number of orchards in some part of Australia we find a decrease in Tasmania. For instance, in the municipality of Kingborough in Tasmania, where the were 165 orchards in 1961 there are now 40 left. In the Cygnet area of Tasmania, where there were 265 orchards in 1961 there are now 57 left. If that is not the decimation of an industry I do not know what is. But it is not only the industry that is important, it is the people associated with it, the individuals who have been pushed out of what was a successful and worthwhile occupation into various other areas of activity or into fields of unemployment and social welfare. How much better, as has been said, that we should concentrate on taking steps to restore the position of this industry, which does produce a valuable product, a sought-after product, and one which I believe can be marketed both in Australia and overseas.
It is important that we develop the new markets. It is important that steps be taken to preserve the industry while new markets are developed. Therefore, I certainly support the foreshadowed motion of Senator Wright that the recommendations of the Industries Assistance Commission report failed to take into account the necessity of assisting the industry to develop non-European markets. There is no doubt at all that markets are available which can be and are being developed. Markets in Australia can be and are being developed. Tasmanian fruit producers, through the freight equalisation scheme introduced by the Liberal-National Country Parties, now have an opportunity to compete on the domestic market. But when we are talking about the plight of the apple growers and about assisting Tasmania, it is not just Tasmania which is being assisted by this export scheme, it is the whole of the apple and pear growing industry in Australia. If the Tasmanians do not export the majority of their produce then undoubtedly they will put it onto a market which in the past they have been somewhat prevented from entering but which increasingly they can enter on a competitive basis. It will not be only the growers in Tasmania who will find competition a difficulty; some of the other growers who, because they have been nearer to the large markets around Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, will find competition a great difficulty. There is an incentive for every apple grower in Australia to ensure that as much as possible of the produce is exported overseas on a sound basis, on a basis which gives some reasonable return to the grower. I wish to make that point because it is not only Tasmanians who are involved in this proposition, it is growers in all States of Australia.
As I said before, I certainly endorse what Senator Wright said in an excellent speech. It was to express a clear and strong opinion of the Senate, and as I think Senator McLaren’s Party found when it was in government, governments which just ignore the strongly held feelings and expressed views of the Senate may rue the day that they ignored those views. I suggest only that if the motion foreshadowed by Senator Wright is carried I feel sure that, having learned the lesson, having noted what happens, the Government will pay due heed to the strongly expressed views coming from this chamber. I am sorry he is not here at the moment because I am sure he would recall it with me, but I know that Senator Withers, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, well remembers the battle we had in 1968 and 1969 to get certain aspects of marketing schemes changed. For a period of time things which a majority of the Senate regarded as wrong in the organisation of those schemes were pursued by those who prepared the legislation, and it was not until the matter had been raised on a number of occasions that the Senate made it quite clear that it was not prepared to approve in the future legislation which contained that type of provision. No such legislation has ever been trundled up to this place since. I think that that again is an example of the sort of things this chamber has done and can do. I am sure the Government Leader well remembers the attitude he adopted at that time as one of the senators who strongly expressed the view that what was being done by the Executive of the day was not being done in the best way possible. It did not protect the interests of individuals as it should, and it was the Senate which had that changed. For Senator McLaren to equate the present position with the position in relation to pensioner funeral benefits shows his continuing ignorance of this place. The real point, and the point which I think it is important to remember, is that the Senate cannot increase the charge on the revenue. We cannot of our own volition change the legislation to increase the amount to $3 per case for apples or $ 1 .20 per case for pears.
– That is the whole basis of our amendment- to withdraw the Bill and bring in another one.
– I did not interject upon Senator McLaren. It was all I could do to listen to him. I would be quite happy if he either did not bother listening or did not bother to interject. Senator McLaren’s argument was quite faulty. What he appeared to do was suggest that we cannot do something positive by way of changing the legislation but we can make a request. In another form, that is precisely what we are doing. That is what Senator Wright is proposing, except that he is doing it in. clear and strong and firm terms which do not in any way put the passage of the Bill at risk. That seems do be the best way of having your apple and eating it too, if I can put it that way. I draw a great distinction between the action taken by a number of people in this chamber in relation to something else that they thought needed attention, that is, the pensioner funeral benefits, where it was possible to prevent the withdrawal of something, and the action being impliedly requested by Senator McLaren that we take positive action to increase the amount of the base level of the support in relation to fruit. That cannot be done. What we have proposed as an alternative is something clear and positive which I feel confident will be fully taken into account by the Government.
In conclusion, I can say only that Senator McLaren’s consistent attack on Senator Wright I thought was unbecoming even for him. If at the time he concludes his service in this chamber he has served one-tenth as well in representing the people of his own State and the people of Australia as Senator Wright has done then 1 think he will die a much happier man than I believe he will.
-Listening to Senator Rae, I was not quite sure whether he was arguing in support of the Tasmanian apple and pear industry or against the forthcoming referenda, or at least one of the four of them. Obviously he is determined to make the point that the power of the Senate in some way has to be preserved, or at least that is the argument that some of the people on the Government side are using.
– Hear, hear, if I may say so.
– Yes, I sensed that that was what Senator Rae was really on about tonight. Of all the times that we have debated this matter in the Senate over the last few years, I suppose that this debate has been the coolest and the calmest of the lot. It has been quite a change from what has happened in the past when feelings have run very high on attitudes towards the apple and pear industry. I can never quite understand why this industry excites so much emotion. There are so many other rural industries which are in equal difficulty, but for some reason apples and pears seem to be very dear to the hearts of all of us.
I think it should be said that there is in the Opposition ‘s amendment a very clear intention to assist the industry in a manner which the Government itself is not prepared at this stage to do. Although Senator Wright has not actually moved his amendment yet, I believe it is quite clear that in his amendment there is also an intent to try to alert the Government to the fact that the industry deserves greater assistance than it has been getting and greater assistance than the legislation provides. It is no doubt extremely unlikely that if, for example, Senator Wright’s amendment is carried, the Government will take the slightest notice of it. It would, of course, be compelled to take notice if the Opposition’s amendment were carried. That, as Senator McLaren has pointed out, is the reason for the Opposition’s amendment being worded in the way that it is- so that the Government would, in fact, be obliged to withdraw the legislation and to recognise the problems that the fruit industry will be experiencing this coming season. Many honourable senators, especially Government supporters, will be caught in a dilemma as to what they should do. Should they support the attitude of a government which obviously is not concerned about what happens to the apple and pear industry in many States, particularly Tasmania, or will their consciences require them to take a stand? When Senator Wright moves his amendment we will examine it.
As all the arguments have been canvassed in this debate, I deal with only one matter that has been raised. Reference has been made to the Industries Assistance Commission. The Opposition, for its part, as Senator Gietzelt made quite clear in his contribution to the debate, does not support the recommendations made by the Commission for reasons which he set out. I remember him saying that there is a tendency on the part of the Commission to be perhaps over-rational and to appear to consider mainly the economic aspects of these industries. It should be borne in mind that the Commission is empowered under Part III of the Act to perform certain functions and the Act gave it certain policy guidelines. When that Act was drawn up it was very much in the mind of the government of the day that the Commission should have regard to the general objectives of national, economic and social policy, urban and regional development, and to improving and promoting the wellbeing of the people of Australia with full employment, stability in the general level of prices and so on. So it should be remembered that the Commission ought not to be the target of continuing attack which has been prevalent in the last year or two in this country, particularly from Government sources. I would hope that the rumours that have circulated over that time suggesting that the Act will be amended in order to make a tame cat of the Commission will be proven incorrect because section 22 of the Act requires the Commission to do certain things. I will not read them all but the first requirement is to:
The Commission, of course, is obliged to take it into account whenever it makes a report on any industry. I wanted to make the point that the Commission ought not to be the target of attack simply because it comes up with proposals which, to many of us, are not acceptable. There seems to be an over-emphasis on economic efficiency, rationality of economic processes and soon.
I turn now to the amendment of the Opposition which Senator Gietzelt has moved. Naturally we will be supporting it because we believe that it is the only effective way whereby we can impress on the government the very great difficulties that face this industry. We, as a Senate, are in a position to cause the Government to re-think its position. If, of course, those honourable senators opposite who indicated their support for Senator Wright are not prepared to support our amendment obviously nothing will happen because when Senator Wright’s amendment is put, even if it is carried, it will have no effect on the Government’s thinking. Only the Opposition’s amendment can have any such effect. I ask those honourable senators who have indicated their support for Senator Wright’s amendment to think seriously now about supporting the Opposition’s amendment because that is the real means whereby the Government can be forced into taking some positive action.
– I have heard, I think, a fairly large part of this debate. I have not heard all of it because it has not been possible. The debate has been going on for quite a long time. It has been most interesting and I think that one can fairly say that the people who have taken part in it have expressed genuine concern and one can understand that. One understands equally the detailed knowledge that many people have displayed of the industry- a knowledge that I do not possess myself. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) made some observations about the Industries Assistance Commission. I think one can find oneself in the broad agreeing with his general proposition about the job of the IAC. When matters are referred to the IAC from the Government, its job is to ascertain the facts, to sort out evidence, to hear evidence, to come to judgments and to make recommendations. Once that is done it is a job of government to act on recommendationsto accept them, change them, or not to act upon them. They are clear policy issues. Like Senator Wriedt, I do not engage in what I call ‘IAC bashing’. I never have. I have a view that the IAC has a function to perform and it should perform that function. The Government has a function to perform and government should perform its function.
In regard to this matter, it seems that there is no real need for me to speak at great length. A tremendous amount of material has been entered into the debate. The facts, I think, have been clearly and fairly forcefully laid down. The issue with which we are dealing concerns the export part of the crop. In this particular area the Government believes that it has gone as far as it can go at the present time, having regard to its overall position in the overall economic circumstances. It has seen to it- I think this has been referred to by other honourable senators- that the IAC recommendation of $ 1 a case has, in effect, been held to double that at $2 a case. I listened to Senator Wright- fortunately at that time I was present in the chamber- who has had long experience in this field and who has had experience on royal commissions. I listened to his genuine concern and his knowledge. After listening to his remarks and other comments I thought to myself that my adviser from the Department, who has been present during this debate, would certainly analyse the speeches that have been made and examine any suggestions that may be helpful later in policy-making decisions and in other deliberations, particularly in the areas of promotion and marketing. I do not think that the apple crop is an easy crop to market. It has suffered from fluctuations in the export market as, indeed, have so many other crops.
Senator Douglas McClelland recited some figures on the amount that is taken out per case for handling, transport and brokerage. I will commend to my Department later a study of some of those figures to ascertain what it costs a primary producer to get his product into the hands of the consumer. Quite apart from this particular matter, it has always seemed to me that there is great scope in Australia for improvement in handling and charging methods, particularly from the farm gate into the consumer’s hands. But that is a separate issue. All I say about that is that in the Department with which I am involved a new bureau has been set up and I intend to see that some work is done on handling and transport charges as part of the general Australian cost to make and sell.
The Government is not able to accept either the amendment of Senator Gietzelt or, in due course, the amendment of Senator Wright. The extension of this scheme about which we are talking has been based on government consideration of the IAC report and on the scheme as it operated for the years 1971 to 1975. A basic conclusion of the IAC was that the market prospects for exports of apples and pears to Europe and North America are such that the continued provision of product based support would delay necessary and inevitable adjustment. The IAC saw no improvement likely in the situation in traditional export markets in the United Kingdom and Europe in the long term. In fact, it considered that the weight of evidence suggested a continuing decline, which is rather a sad thing to observe. The IAC recommendations were, therefore, for a relatively abrupt termination of the support. The Commission proposed a continuation of support at a maximum of $2 per box for apples in 1976, reducing to $1 per box in 1977, and thence to be terminated. For pears, it proposed support at a maximum of 80c a box in 1976 and again in 1977, and thence termination. The Government has not accepted these recommendations. It does not have to accept the recommendations of the IAC. It can vary them, reject them or accept them. In this case it did not accept them. Through this legislation the Government is maintaining the 1977 support of $2 a box for apples and continuing the 80c a box for pears.
As was mentioned in the second reading speech, the Government will be looking at the industry situation and considering the appropriate support level which might apply in 1978. On the adjustment side significant assistance has been provided to the industry in recent years. The fruit growing reconstruction scheme has been of substantial benefit to apple growers, particularly in Tasmania, who have faced problems of adjustment. The application period under the fruit growing reconstruction scheme expired on 31 December 1976, but following the passage last year of the States Grants (Rural Adjustment) Act 1976 the rural adjustment scheme commenced on 1 January 1977. This scheme is applicable to all agricultural, horticultural and pastoral industries. Assistance available under the scheme includes the following kinds: Debt reconstruction assistance; farm build-up assistance; farm improvement assistance; rehabilitation assistance; carry-on advances; and household support assistance. There has been some suggestion that assistance should be provided under the stabilisation scheme to develop nonEuropean markets. These markets principally are in South East Asia, the Middle East and North America. A large amount of attention is being paid in fact to these markets by the industry through the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation. As to suggestions for subsidy assistance, it should be noted that the IAC specifically concluded that new markets should be developed on an unsubsidised basis as is presently the case with South East Asian and Middle Eastern markets.
Finally some reference should be made to assistance provided for the Tasmanian export sector under the Tasmanian freight equalisation scheme. The scheme provides a subsidy on the export of a range of commodities from Tasmania to the mainland. Apples and pears are included in this scheme. As honourable senators know the Department of Industry and Commerce is conducting an inquiry, under the chairmanship of Sir Bede Callaghan, into Tasmanian affairs. We are hoping that something useful for the island State will come out of that, As I mentioned earlier, the Government is not able to accept the amendment of the Labor Party or the foreshadowed amendment of Senator Wright.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Gietzelt’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move:
-Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
-The matter has been sufficiently debated from my point of view. I ask the Senate to accept it.
– The Opposition agrees to support the amendment moved by Senator Wright, not because we believe it goes far enough in determining the vexatious problem of the apple and pear industry but because, from my own experience in the 6 years I have been a member of the Senate, I think if one piece of legislation stands aside from all other pieces of legislation, it is the annual debate that takes place about the apple and pear industry. In the thousands of words which have been uttered in this place I think we have narrowed to a great degree the differences that might otherwise have existed about the steps that ought to be taken to alleviate the very serious problem that faces the industry. Over the last year or two that the Senate has debated the apple and pear industry we have reached a point where the Government has to be clearly shown that the Senate does not accept the ad hoc and piecemeal type of legislation which has been put before it. It is true that when we discussed this matter last year various points of view were expressed which indicated that the Labor Party was prepared to look at this matter in a nonpolitical way.
The original legislation was put before the Senate for its consideration in 1970. When we review the passage of time since then we have to come to the conclusion that the industry has not made any significant progress and, in point of fact, in 1 977 when we are considering this piece of legislation, the industry has continued to decline.
– Order! There is far too much audible conversation.
– The industry has not made progress. It is in a grave state. If there is to be any meaning in parliamentary debate I suggest that the amendment that has been put forward by Senator Wright be supported by the Senate. I think it is a matter of regret that the Senate did not give serious consideration to the amendment which I moved a week ago. That amendment took into account 2 points of view. If we could have a little order from the drunken honourable senators on the other side -
– Order! That remark is out of order. I said a moment ago that there is far too much audible conversation in the chamber. I ask honourable senators to desist.
– One of the difficulties in trying to debate a matter of some consequence in the Senate after 8 o’clock in the evening is having the sort of audible conversation which does not take into account an endeavour -
– I rise to take a point of order. I do not think those remarks do any credit to the honourable senator who uttered them. They do no credit to his side of the Senate. They are not true. They should be withdrawn.
– The accusation has been taken up by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I feel that it should be withdrawn.
– Without any hesitation I withdraw my remarks, but I am sick of one or two honourable senators on the other side who, when I am endeavouring to discuss a matter of some consequence and seriousness, carry on audible conversation which has no relevance to the debate. We are concerned with the plight of the apple and pear industry. In all seriousness the Opposition put forward an amendment which took into account the general views of the Senate. I want that to penetrate the consciousness of the Senate. We were prepared to consider the view that was expressed on the last occasion we debated this matter that there should be some account of the increase in costs in the industry. I indicated during the second reading debate that the costs involved in the industry required an increase of some 50 per cent in the assistance from $2 to $3 a case. With the assistance of my colleagues from Tasmania I was able to persuade my Party to go beyond that and take into account the views that Senator Thomas raised in his contribution to the debate. I think he was one of the few honourable senators, other than those from Tasmania, who contributed to the debate. He pointed out the absurdity of commodity based subsidies. He drew attention to the fact that the Industries Assistance Commission had correctly shown that approximately $ 14,000 was being paid out to every producer in the form of direct subsidies and that this was an anomaly that ought to be taken into consideration. He also pointed out the reason why the Government is pursuing its present policy in respect of this piece of legislation
We took it that we ought to give the Government an option either to consider the viewpoint so ably expressed by all the Tasmanian senators who spoke in the debate last year and this year, that is to increase the subsidy from $2 to $3 a case, or take into account the view that was so strongly held by the majority of Government senators in this place, that is, that that sort of subsidy is not a satisfactory form of subsidy and that some other avenue ought to be explored. That is what the Industries Assistance Commission has recommended. In our amendment we proposed that the Bill be withdrawn for the purpose of giving the government of the day the opportunity to take into account the views of the Senate. As an
Opposition, we did not believe that it was our responsibility to amend the Bill. It is not the Opposition’s responsibility to do this. The responsibility rests with the Government in bringing forward its legislation. Of course, Senator Wright’s amendment expresses only a point of view as distinct from the amendment we moved which called for the withdrawal of the legislation and consideration of the 2 principles expressed in the amendment. If there is to be any sense of the Senate existing as a House of review, a parliamentary debate on this legislation should produce a result which will have some accountability to the fruitgrowing industry.
Senator Douglas McClelland and others who have spoken in the debate have drawn attention to the very difficult conditions which face the industry. Senator Douglas McClelland spoke of the inefficiency of marketing. I am pleased that the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Cotton) referred to this in his contribution. But I draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that when I spoke on this matter almost a year ago and again in December of last year I drew attention to the deficiency that exists in the marketing of agricultural products in Australia and the need, therefore, for the Government to carry out some investigation into marketing. That survey has not taken place. Senator Wright is correct in drawing attention to the fact that we cannot afford this time lag or to leave in an area of indecision and hesitancy the future of this industry.
If one examines the debates held in 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1976 together with this debate one sees that they were the same in content dealing with the same issue. Even though Senator Wright referred to the problems associated with the industry and the costs involved, the fact is that it would not matter if the cost of apples and pears to the domestic market or overseas was half the present price because it is the denial of access to world markets which is the problem that the Government must face up to. Apples could be given away but still there would be the problems of the denial of access to many of the markets that hitherto were available to Australia.
A matter of some consequence and importance is the degree of unanimity amongst the Tasmanian representatives in this place and their concern about the fate of the industry. Senator Wright’s amendment expresses a point of view only. It expresses the point of view that we have failed to take into account the necessity to assist the industry to develop non-European markets. That matter was raised in the debate in
December last year. No initiatives have been taken by this Government to improve access to non-European markets. It seems to me that those concerned about the industry together with those engaged in it do not want to allow this debate to develop into a slanging match between the Opposition and the Government. What we wish to see happen is an understanding of the problem and a narrowing of the differences in order to be able to express a common point of view to the government of the day.
As an Opposition we are concerned about the parlous state of those engaged in this industry many of whom are earning less than $3,000 per annum. In fact, they are the ‘Aunt Sallies’ of agriculture. They are the lowest paid section of those engaged in agriculture today. Yet, that is what was said in the speeches in 1970 and 1971. It is about time that governments- and I do not care what their political views are- grappled with the problem.
I wish to put on record that Senator Walters has completely misrepresented my point of view in her contribution to this debate. I refer her to the debates of 2 and 10 December of last year in which I drew attention to the fact that the fate of the apple and the pear industry in Australia was deserving of compassionate treatment. I reject completely any suggestion that the Opposition has not a feeling for those in the industry or has not a feeling for those sectors of agriculture in Australia to which export markets have been denied. It is about time that this matter was moved out of the area of suspicion and of party politics and was moved into the area where this Senate expresses a point of view which will make a tangible advance in the solution of the problems facing the apple and pear industry. In the light of that desire, we are prepared to support the amendment moved by Senator Wright.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Wright’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 17 March on motion by Senator Withers:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 17 March on motion by Senator Withers:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to obtain parliamentary approval for Australia to take up an increase of $US346.1m in its capital subscription to the Asian Development Bank, of which $US34.6m is to be paid in, and the remainder to be on call.
Honourable senators will be aware that the Asian Development Bank is a regional development finance institution which was established in 1966, with its headquarters in Manila, for the purpose of lending funds, promoting investment and providing technical assistance to developing member countries with a view to generally fostering economic growth and co-operation in the Asian and Pacific regions. To the end of December 1976, the Bank had lent about SUS3.4 billion to its developing member countries for projects covering all the major sectors of economic development with emphasis on the development of infrastructure facilities in the transport and communications, industry and electric power sectors as well as projects for agriculture, education, water supply and urban development.
The Bank’s lending activities are divided into ordinary operations’ and ‘special operations’. Ordinary operations’ are financed on the basis of the Bank’s capital resources either directly or through borrowings in the world’s capital markets. ‘Special operations’ involve loans made on highly concessional terms to the Bank’s poorest and least developed member countries and are now provided from direct contributions by developed member countries to the Asian Development Fund. In 1976, the Bank approved loans totalling $US776m of which $US236m came from these ‘special operations’ resources. To date Australia has made commitments of about $US70m to the concessional funds of the Bank. The authorised capital of the Bank is $US3,707m and the subscribed capital, from which the Bank derives the funds for its ‘ordinary operations’, to date amounts to about $US3,688m. Australia’s present subscription of $US256m, of which $US82m is paid-in and the balance callable, is exceeded only by those of the United States of America, Japan and India.
In April 1975, the Board of Governors of the Bank adopted a resolution requesting the Bank’s Board of Directors to undertake a detailed examination of the resource position of the Bank. The Board of Directors recommended in a report to the Board of Governors that, on the basis of the projected lending program of the Bank for the period 1976-81, the authorised and subscribed capital of the Bank should be increased by 135 per cent before the end of 1977. Australia voted in favour of a resolution adopted by the Board of Governors in October 1976 authorising the Bank to accept from its member countries the increased subscriptions proposed in the directors’ report. Members, including Australia, are entitled, but not obligated, to subscribe to this authorised increase.
The approved proposal provides that the authorised capital stock of the Bank be increased by $US5,004m, of which 10 per cent is to be paid in while the balance is to remain on call as backing for the Bank’s borrowings in the world capital markets. Of the paid-in portion, 40 per cent is payable in convertible currency and 60 per cent in the currency of the member country concerned. I have an attached statement which I ask leave of the Senate to have incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The statement read as follows-
– The statement sets out the number of shares to which each member is entitled to subscribe under the capital increase and shows the split up between paid-in and callable shares. I might point out to honourable senators that each share is valued at $12,063.50 in terms of current United States dollars. Under the terms of the governors’ resolution, the capital increase will become effective only when member countries have subscribed a minimum of 240 000 shares of the total number of 414 800 new shares involved. The tentative deadline set is 30 September 1977, but this may be extended up to 3 1 December 1977. As I have already mentioned, the proposal involves a total increase of SUS346. lm in Australia’s existing capital subscription. Of this amount, however, $US3 1 1.5m will take the form of callable capital and only $US34.6m will actually be paid in over a period of 4 years commencing in 1977-78. Of this latter amount, $US 13.8m will be payable in convertible currency and $US20.8m in local currency in the form of promissory notes.
As honourable senators are aware, Australia has been a strong and active supporter of the Asian Development Bank in the past as we have regarded it to be an effective and efficient vehicle for regional co-operation and development. I believe it to be in Australia’s interest to continue this policy of support for the Bank by taking up in full the increase in our capital subscription to which we are entitled. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Keeffe) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 17 March, on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
-When the statement on the National Aboriginal Education Committee was made by the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) a few days ago we reached agreement that further debate would take place late last week or this week. I realise that there were some problems in getting it on late last week so I am pleased that we now have the opportunity to have a short discussion on the contents of the statement. I suggest that the operative paragraphs in the statement are contained on page 1 and they are the first 2 major paragraphs. The Minister stated:
It is now almost 10 years since the 1967 referendum widened the Commonwealth Government’s responsibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands people. This period has seen the growth of more interest and activity in Aboriginal education than ever before with Commonwealth funds developing programs and helping education authorities throughout the country to make special efforts for Aboriginal people at all levels of education. In all these activities there has been some consultation and involvement of Aboriginal people.
One of the big problems until comparatively recent years was the fact that there was no consultation and no involvement of Aboriginal people in working out education programs. In the second major paragraph the Minister stated:
In 1974 the Schools Commission appointed an Aboriginal Consultative Group to assist it in obtaining representative views from Aboriginal groups and communities. Later, in October 1 975, my Department -
That was in the time of the Labor Government- the Depanment of Aboriginal Affairs, and the Schools Commission agreed that a permanent advisory group should be set up. Consultations between them, and with the Aboriginal
Consultative Group, led to a proposal for establishment of a National Aboriginal Education Committee, with a wholly Aboriginal membership. The Government has accepted that proposal.
I am pleased that the Government at long last and after a lengthy period of waiting- some 18 months- has now settled down and appointed the advisory committee. The Minister- I do not say this in any nasty way- will remember that when the Australian Labor Party occupied the government side of the chamber no matter what we put up in relation to educational proposals, not only for Aboriginals but also in other areas, the Minister used to take the opportunity to indulge in political karate. In other words, he felt that whatever we suggested was wrong and ought to be knocked out. I told the Minister in an informal, friendly conversation the other day that I would utter some criticism when I spoke. Nevertheless the Opposition does not oppose the setting up of the Committee. It was born in the mind of the Labor Government but because of the famous events of 1 1 November 1975 it was not able to proceed with the Committee. The regret I have is that it has taken so long to get this advisory committee operating.
I have examined the names of the personnel on the Committee. Many of the people I know. Many of them will make very worthy representatives of the Aboriginal people. But I think if there had been less political karate when the Government occupied this side of the chamber, a lot more things would have been done in those 3 harassed years of Labor Government. Generally speaking, the Committee will be responsible for advising the Education Department on informed Aboriginal views regarding the educational needs and priorities- that latter word is a very important word-for the Aboriginal people. I suppose, equally appropriately, it will advise on methods which will be needed to cope with some of those problems. I hope that this is not just political window dressing, that it is not a black decoration and that the advisory committee will be given very wide powers, even if only at the recommendatory level. I hope it will be given virtual responsibility for recommending to the Government those things which will become a matter of policy as far as Aboriginal education is concerned.
The Australian people do not have a pretty record as far as Aboriginals are concerned. Over a long time we have taken away their cultures. There are minority groups, of course, around Australia which still retain all or some of their culture. But, basically speaking, we have taken away the great proportion of the things to which the Aborigines were dedicated and which held up their culture, their religion and everything associated with them. I hope that this advisory committee will not only look at the formal methods of education but also that it will be able to make recommendations in a whole lot of other areas. The problems of Aboriginal education have been widely canvassed and debated over recent years. It is worth noting that until recently very little debate and discussion actually took into account what the Aboriginal people wanted. In fact, before 1972 there were areas where bilingual education was required in Aboriginal communities. In my State of Queensland this was not allowed. Only one settlement indulged, to a limited degree, in bilingual education in the early 1970s. That was done virtually secretly because of the opposition of the State Government. It was not until the early 1970s, after the December elections of 1972, that bilingual education became an accepted part of government policy. Today there are fairly wide experimental areasthey are still experimental areas- in the Northern Territory because this is the only area in which the Commonwealth Government can exercise its authority.
The Senate Select Committee on Social Environment in its second interim report of April 1974 and in its final report which was published in August 1976 stated:
To date, the school system has failed Aborigines very badly by its inappropriateness and inadequacy.
They are just a few words from that particular report. That Committee investigated in depth and over a long period the educational problems of the Aborigines throughout this country.
I deviate to say that there are serious educational deficiencies in those parts of Australia where Aborigines have gone back to their homelands. These are areas in which we must have greater consultation because the clans themselves have decided that they need particular assistance in certain areas of education. They are not worried about whether they are taught in a school in classes held in a building of white man’s construction, or whether they are taught under the trees. There are teachers who are prepared to teach in these circumstances but we are not making those facilities available. Facilities are being made available to some of the homeland communities in various parts of the Northern Territory and in the north-west reserve in the Kimberleys, but not in Queensland where in some areas we do not care but just give them second class teachers and keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. There are other parts of
Australia where Aborigines need and seek consultation and where they need some sort of formal education for their children. I believe that this advisory committee has a very great role to play in this particular area. I hope the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner) will take some notice of the fact that that is probably one of the areas in which the Government should be able to give considerable assistance.
Aborigines have indicated that the greatest immediate need is for Aborigines of appropriate ability to attain placement at the highest policy making levels. This, of course, bears out what I said a few moments ago. Too many white man’s decisions and not enough Aborigines’ decisions have been made. Let us hope that this Committee will play an important role in this area. The functions and responsibilities of the National Aboriginal Education Committee will be as follows: To be responsible for providing the Minister and the Department of Education with a reliable expression of informed Aboriginal views on the educational needs of Aboriginal people, appropriate methods of meeting these needs, the suitability of particular Aboriginal education proposals as required, the effectiveness of particular Aboriginal education projects and programs as required; to consult with various elements of the Education portfolio, other Australian Government agencies and education authorities in the States and Territories, as necessary; to assist the Department of Education and other agencies in monitoring existing programs and in developing new programs and policies; and to undertake or promote investigations, studies and projects relevant to these responsibilities. That is a pretty wide set of terms of reference. I hope that the Committee will be given all the assistance possible by the Department of Education, by the Minister and by other people who are associated with the Committee.
One of the great problems we have always had at all levels of government, whether State or national, is that we do not have the Aboriginal people to fill these positions. I say that this is so much poppycock. There are Aboriginal people well fitted to serve, not only in an advisory capacity but also in a teaching capacity. To do that they do not necessarily have to have an Arts degree, a master’s degree or a doctorate. There are people taught in tribal cultures who would leave a lot of us for dead if appropriate guidelines could be set down for an examination which they could pass. You, Mr Acting Deputy President, would know that there are people on the Institute of Aboriginal Studies council who have no formal education but who, when it comes to a discussion on many matters, leave the white councillors well behind. I hope that one of the things that the advisory committee will recommend will be that people qualified in these areas should be allowed to be part of the decision making process and not, as I said earlier tonight, merely pan of the decoration for the sake of satisfying the United Nations or the do-gooders in Australian society.
In addition to soliciting the advice of Aborigines at the policy making level, it is vitally important also to ensure that the parents of Aboriginal school children are involved in their children ‘s education. So far we have had a very much ad hoc arrangement. We see places like Bamyili where, over a period of time- I am not sure what it it like this year- some attempt has been made to get parents interested in what is happening. The people involved with the preschool at Normanton also set out to get the parents involved in decision making. This has been the case in a very limited number of Aboriginal communities. In other places white people make the decisions and the blacks are expected to follow those decisions. The Van Leer program testifies to the importance of this, and the Senate Standing Committee on Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders has remarked on this in its final report. That Committee made certain recommendations in that report, which I shall quote in a few moments.
In case you are worried, Mr Acting Deputy President, I do not propose to speak for a full hour, but I want a number of points that I think are pertinent to go into the record so that in times to come, whether it be under this Government or a government of another political persuasion, as it almost certainly will be after 1978, we will be able to look back and say that these things have to be done. I quote from the report:
Many people mistakenly relate under-achievement at school to lack of intelligence. Under-achievement is due in the first instance to poverty and cultural deprivation. As long as there are large numbers of families living in camps and makeshift accommodation, as long as families are trying to live in housing without adequate sanitary or ablution facilities, and as long as they are living in overcrowded homesfor so long will there be large numbers of children unable to cope with the demands of the school curriculum.
The report further states that the grave health problems arising from lack of housing and low income render it virtually impossible for a chronically sick child to do well at school. Members of the Committee were painfully aware of the difficulties existing in many areas. I think it was at Jigalong some years ago that a teacher wanted to stay on as part of the teaching program as he and his wife were committed to the on-going education of the Aboriginal people. He was told at that time that he could not stay there because it was unhealthy for white people to stay in an Aboriginal community for longer than 2 years. Yet the Aboriginal people are expected to live their lifetime in those communities, as are their children and their grandchildren. On Palm Island 2 teachers decided to live with the Aboriginal people in one of the shacks but that was considered to be unhealthy; so they were transferred to a place many miles away from that particular area. This is the attitude that has been adopted over a long period of years by white government. It is considered to be very well for black people to put up with anything but white people must have certain standards- they must live in conditions which meet certain health requirements and so on. So it is not healthy for them to live in an Aboriginal reserve for more than 2 years.
There are dedicated teachers and dedicated white staff in Aboriginal communities. At places like Puta Puta and in other parts of that little triangle that goes into the north-western reserve many people are prepared to spend their lifetime in Aboriginal communities. They do not do so with the zeal of missionaries- I do not say this in a derogatory manner- who are prepared to teach children about God until they reach matriculation standard but only take them to about second grade in the material things in education. There are exceptions to that and I know, Mr Acting Deputy President, that you have certain views on this that contradict mine. In addition, the curriculum taught at schools is often biased against Aborigines in more ways than one. The Senate Standing Committee on Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders said this:
The majority of social studies and history textbooks used in our schools present a completely erroneous and derogatory picture of traditional Aboriginal society, and a mendacious and propagandistic version of European settlement in this country. The use of such materials is in violation of Article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to which Australia is a party . . .
During the 3 years preceding 30 December 1975 Australia had never produced legislation against discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin. Much of the legislation which has been produced has not yet been tested. I think probably the first test case relating to the freedom to move was taken out recently in the courts in Cairns. The case is still to be heard. One of the most striking inadequacies of the present education system from the view point of the Aboriginal people is that the system operates against the child from the start of his or her education. This results in under-achievement, not to be confused with nonintelligence, and hence the high rate of nonattendance at education facilities.
Many of us in the community who are not members of the indigenous ethnic minority are fully aware of precisely what is happening. There is a real attempt in some schools to hold back Aboriginal students. I recall one case that came to the attention of the Senate Select Committee on Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. Up in Cape York we found in a local hostel a whole group of disadvantaged white school children who travelled long distances to the hostel in the town to receive their education. I discovered there one small Aboriginal boy who was also a member of that hostel. I asked the matron where his quarters were. She said, ‘We do not have a bed for him. He sleeps on a mattress over in the corner’. That is what people do with their pet dog or pet cat. Apparently, this is what is done with pet Aboriginal children also. They are put on a mattress in the corner. This is not good enough. I hope that the Advisory Committee will look at this sort of discriminatory hostel accommodation. There are second rate hostels for Aboriginal children and first rate hostels for white children. The matter has to be looked at because it is all part of the European orientated educational system. I go on to quote from the Committee ‘s report:
Approximately one-quarter of all Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders aged 15 years and over have never attended school.
Twenty-five per cent of the black population has never attended school. The report continues:
The following table gives an indication of the education systems low rate of retention of Aborigines and Islanders above the compulsory school age:
The table cites the participation rates for 1971 which at the time of the publication of this report were the latest figures available. I seek leave to have those figures incorporated in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bonner) -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The table read as follows-
Source: Australian Department of Education.
– Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. Thus the vicious circle of literacy and non-job opportunities continues. The Aboriginal children are then brought up in near poverty conditions and the cycle continues. Quite recently, several newspapers featured the result of a survey which had been carried out. It showed that Aboriginal youngsters without any hope of going on to higher education finished up in what the Government calls the queues of dole bludgers. I read into the Senate record the other day correspondence from the people in the Armidale district. Aboriginal teaching aides there have done a tremendous job in a pilot scheme over a period of time aimed at keeping Aboriginal children at school and keeping them interested in their studies. Because this nation is bankrupt, that money has been withdrawn and those aides have been dismissed. On that occasion I read also the facts from another letter which stated that in excess of 100 people had been refused help, again because the nation is totally bankrupt, particularly when it comes to teaching black kids. This is the area in which many of the Government’s greatest and most savage expenditure cuts have been made because the black people have nobody to speak for them.
This is what is happening: The Government is taking away grants, particularly in the secondary education area. I know of one person who is passing all his examinations in his law course. He has about 1 year to go to finish a law degree. Yet he is living on a subsistence income and keeping a wife and three or four kids. His income would be less than the unemployment benefit he could receive. Yet the Government expects him to leave university as a black lawyer. He is not even getting a fair go because this Government is totally bankrupt. This is another area in which the Government can take away money from a group of people who have no-one to speak for them. I hope that the Minister will take cognisance of these statements I make. They are true. They can be backed up by documentary evidence. I hope he will give this Advisory Committee the responsibility to look at all these areas so that there will be some correction of the position, some restoration of the things that have been taken away from the Aboriginal people and so perhaps they will be given some of the things they have not yet received.
I wish to quote again from the report of the Senate Select Committee on Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. I hope that some day a government will say, ‘Let us debate this report’. I know that there have been a couple of” quite brave instances when honourable senators on the other side of the Senate have endeavoured to have the report brought before the Senate fur discussion. But it still has not been debated. It states:
That is Aborigines- for secondary learning experiences. Consequently children are leaving schools ill-equipped to pursue further education or to enter the work force.
The 1 97 1 census data revealed that very few Aborigines were employed at the clerical, administrative, professional or technical levels.
I pause there briefly for a moment. From the day the expenditure cuts started in February 1976, the first people to lose their jobs in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs were Aboriginal people. It was not the white staff in the hierarchy. They retained their jobs. Because the Aborigines did not have the technical experience or the academic professionalism, they were the first to lose their jobs. That was one of the tragedies brought about by the change of government. In spite of that famous telegram which Mr Ellicott, its sender, chews every morning with his Weet-bix the report states:
The frequency rates for these categories for the Australian population as a whole were almost 12 times greater than for Aborigines. It is a matter for serious concern that the pool of potential Aboriginal personnel with skills and experience to provide administrative leadership for Aboriginal communities is so small.
At a place like Pipylatjara honourable senators can find an Aboriginal man who is totally prepared, totally equipped and totally educated to be able to carry on. It is one of the few Aboriginal communities in which he is allowed to do this. The same remarks apply to Kenneth Ken at Puta Puta. He is also more than capable of doing the job. The report goes on to state:
There is also cause for concern in the greater susceptibility of Aborigines to unemployment -
These are the Committee’s figures-
About 27 per cent, compared with the general Australian rate of 4.9 per cent to 30 June 1 976.
I challenge those figures because I think the percentage is nearer to 80 per cent in most parts of
Australia, including the fringe areas, the traditional Aboriginal areas. I hope that the Minister will allow this Advisory Committee a fairly free rein. I hope that it will be allowed to do some of the decision making and that its members will not be told to sit down and be a group of good, careful little black boys and girls who may be seen as part of the overall picture but not allowed to make any decisions and not allowed to make concrete recommendations which will be of some value for their brothers and sisters.
In the remainder of the time available to me I want to quote again what the Select Committee said. It stated:
The Committee is aware of the complex difficulties besetting Aboriginal education programs. The problem is, of course, how to assess priorities in education. What criteria should be used? Which should have priority for attentionlow achievement, low motivation, parental and home influences, or other environmental influences affecting child development? Or should other factors receive priority? There is no simple answer.
What is occurring is a dynamic interplay of a multitude of factors whose importance, relevance and influence are everchanging . . . The most important priority is that the school system be flexible enough to establish and maintain rapport, and to serve as a point of identification with the student.
Mr Acting Deputy President, I will dwell on that for a few seconds. Problems are created in this area because of the inability of the people who run the Australian education system to be able to interact with all sections of the community. This happens also in the white community. Great problems arise because people have not been trained to teach students. In many instances, qualifying as a school teacher is very much like becoming a sociologist. One becomes a trained social worker and is able to pass all the book exams but is not able to transfer that knowledge into relations with ordinary people. Many teachers face that difficulty. Very few schools, universities or colleges of advanced education in Australia provide any special teaching methods for those who are involved in teaching Aboriginals. That is not humorous. Like the old Australian saying, it is not funny ha-ha, it is funny peculiar. We have not faced up to our responsibilities, and if we do not face up to them we will have a continuing worry. Many of the text books published over the last century or so are racist in attitude, racist in origin and racist in interpretation. I think it was the New South Wales Teachers Federation which was the first group to go out and do something about changing text books, and they did it in a very thorough way. But we have not yet succeeded because there are still plenty of childhood nursery rhymes which talk about catching a nigger by the toe.
Many of them extend even further than that. They are totally racist.
I hope that this Committee will carry out one of the great pioneering jobs in altering the education system for our ethnic minority. I hope that the Minister will not look upon it with a jaundiced eye or use the political karate of which I accused him a few minutes ago. If the Committee does something wrong I hope he will be tolerant of it. I hope that he will be prepared to listen and to consult with other groups in the community who might be able to make a substantial contribution towards the worthwhile activities of this Committee. I am sorry that I have spoken for so long. The Senate thought that I was going to speak for an hour, but I will not. I hope that this Committee is successful and I wish it all the success that it can achieve. I can assure the Government that the Opposition is not opposed to the establishment of this Committee.
– In speaking to the paper on the National Aboriginal Education Committee, firstly I should like to make some brief comments on the matters raised by Senator Keeffe. In the first part of his speech I believe he was quite objective in his approach to the matter, but in the latter part of his speech I thought he was quite unfair and did an injustice to the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) when he labelled him with using political karate and said that little black boys and girls would be used in this showcase. Let us be fair. The Minister for Education has been done an injustice if that is what Senator Keeffe thinks of him. Quite obviously, the Minister is a sincere man, and the paper he has produced relating to the setting up of the National Aboriginal Education Committee I believe is a major milestone in the education of Aboriginal people in Australia.
The paper indicates that the role the Committee will play is a very important one and an all-embracing one. It will have much influence on the Minister for Education and on government, and I believe that the reponsibilities which will be given to these people will ensure that many of the faults which have occurred in Aboriginal education over the years, possibly through ignorance, will be corrected. I say that the establishment of the Committee is a major milestone in Aboriginal education because for the first time we will have a permanent committee consisting purely of Aboriginal people to advise the Government. There is one particular point for which I am very thankful and about which I feel very strongly. Many of the people on the Committeelike Senator Keeffe, I know many of them- are people from tribal backgrounds, the traditional people about whom I speak quite often in this Senate.
There is a long story of Aboriginal education extending over many years, but I am not one of those people who attack what has been done in the past. Admittedly, mistakes have been made, but if one attacks what has been done in the past for Aboriginal people in relation to education, it serves as a slap in the face for the very many dedicated people who have worked with Aboriginal people over the last few decades. Going back to 1900 or possible earlier, we know that that was probably the time when a lot of the missionaries started to give attention to the education of the Aboriginal people. Over the years the church authorities have produced many dedicated people who have devoted their lives to the Aborigines. Because I live in the Northern Territory, it would be wrong for me in a debate such as this not to mention and at least pay some homage to the work those people have done.
One thinks of the missionaries in Arnhem Land who went there in the early 1900s under conditions of extreme hardship. Some went by horse, some came in by boat, and they battled their way through a very inhospitable country. Some of them gave their lives there; some of them are still there. Admittedly their living conditions have improved, but in the days when they went there they lived in extreme hardship. On many occasions the women did not see another white woman for perhaps 6 months or a year, but at least they had friends among the Aboriginal people. That is obvious today when one sees the many Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory who are in their fifties and sixties. When one sees the way that they are able to carry themselves in a white man’s society one can understand the education they must have had over the years. As an example, I mention Silas Roberts, who is a leader today. In the southern part of the Territory we see Aboriginal people who have been educated by the Lutheran mission. We see Aboriginal pastors, some 14 to 16 of them, who live in various parts of Central Australia. They are very dignified, wise old men who could live anywhere. One can understand what the Lutheran mission people did in those days.
Over the last few years many of the people in the departments in the Northern Territory have dedicated their lives to the Aborigines. One thinks of Mr Jim Gallagher, a well-known person in the Department of Education, who has written reports and has worked amongst the Aboriginal people and done much for them. One thinks of Mr Harry Giese who was previously
Director of Aboriginal Welfare, and the amount of work he did in the development of settlements and of Aboriginal education. We are most fortunate in the Northern Territory to have Dr Jim Eedle as Director of Education. He has not been with us for very long but is obviously a dedicated and interested person. Aboriginal education is now in the hands of these people and, because of that, I believe that we can look to the future with considerable optimism. Nevertheless, we have had a missing link. The missing link is this Consultative Committee of all Aboriginal people. I have known Stephen Albert, who is now the permanent Chairman of this Committee, for some time. He comes from Western Australia and is a tribal member of the Bardi people. I have known him in Alice Springs when he was working amongst the Aboriginal people and I have known him since he has come south, doing various work to further his education. I have met him here in Parliament House. I believe that the authorities and the Minister, in choosing Stephen Albert as the first Chairman of this Consultative Committee, have made a very good choice and they are to be commended.
As I said earlier, I am most interested in seeing the make-up of this Committee. I particularly commend the Government on the people it has appointed. I know many of the people from the various tribes in the Northern Territory. I know Mr Stewart who is the education officer for the out-stations. Of course, many honourable senators here such as Senator Cavanagh and Senator Robertson would know Ms Margaret Valadian who is described as a consultant social worker. We know from her work that she is a most intelligent young woman. We know of the work that she has done amongst the Aboriginal people and the interest that she has indicated in them, particularly in the Borroloola area. We no doubt will see from her a great contribution to this Committee.
I am particularly thankful that we are seeing at last some recognition of the Aboriginal peoplethe tribal people themselves; the traditional people. I believe that over the last few years the tribal people and traditional people have felt that they have been overshadowed by the Aboriginal activists. All honourable senators are aware that there are many Aboriginal activists in Australia today. Many of them are genuine but many are not. Many of these Aboriginal activists work for themselves. As an example, I refer to a recent article in the Bulletin dated 19 March 1977 at page 44. When one reads this article on the tribal people bossed around by Jabani Lalara one sees the expression of the tribal people, the traditional owners, coming through most strongly. They want their voices to be heard; they do not wish to be told what to do and they do not wish to be represented by other people. Once again I commend the Government for what it has done in forming this Committee. It has formed the Committee on the right lines. It recognises the Aboriginal people of the outback, the tribal Aboriginal people, the Aborigines who live amongst the Aboriginal people- the type of people who know what is right for the Aborigines and so can advise the Government.
In the past many mistakes have been made, even though the intentions were good. Many mistakes have been made by the policies that have been laid down over the years. One can look back to a policy made not too many years ago- the policy of assimilation. One presumes that in those days the policy of assimilation was designed to absorb the Aboriginal person to the degree that he would lose his culture and his character and would no longer be known as an Aboriginal person but would become a part of the Australian community. I believe that this is when many of the mistakes were made. Many mistakes were made in the formation and the construction of the settlements in those days because people did not understand and did not try, with few exceptions, to understand the background to the thinking of the Aboriginal people. This is where many of the mistakes were made.
Mistakes were made in funding but even though such mistakes were made, tens of hundreds of millions of dollars were poured into projects for the good of the Aboriginal people. Unfortunately, many of those tens of hundreds of millions of dollars have been wasted. In the field of education this Committee will have the ability to point out problems to Government, to advise it and to ensure that in the future the moneys that are spent on Aboriginal education are not wasted and will be to the benefit of the Aboriginal people. Looking past the area of assimilation, it was abruptly decided that the Aboriginal people would have self determination. The pendulum swung rapidly from one side to the other and that in itself caused problems. On day we adopted a paternalistic attitude and told the Aboriginal people what was good for them and many things were done for them, but suddenly the pendulum swung to the other side and they were left to a large degree to carry out self determination on their own. This caused hardship for them. It caused hardship because we, as white people with our way of life and in our civilisation these days, have difficulty competing and combating the strains and stresses of our social structure. One can imagine how it affects the Aboriginal people who have never had the grounding that we have had. They experienced great difficulties in endeavouring to live the way of life that we have created.
As far as I am concerned the future for the Aboriginal people- once again, I speak about the Northern Territory- and the Europeans, the white people, is one of co-existence. When I say co-existence’ it is not meant to be taken as a racist statement- far from it. Co-existence means the encouragement of the Aboriginal people to join in the way of life of the white people. We recognise that there is a future for the Aboriginal people. I recognise that the Aboriginal people in Australia will not disappear, as some people think. Some people think that in three or four decades the Aboriginal people will disappear. This will not happen. The Aboriginal people will develop, their numbers will increase and they will take a rightful place in our way of life. Once again, I state that this Committee can assist with this.
Aboriginal education faces immense problems, particularly when they are compared to the problems of general education of the white children in Australia. During the next few minutes I wish to outline the problems that will confront Aboriginal education in the future. I will outline some of the ways to alleviate these problems over the years. We must understand that no matter what this Government may do, what a Labor government may do, or what any authority may do in the next few years, it cannot be done overnight. We must recognise that there are many problems that will take years to cure. There will be many restrictions that cannot be corrected, overcome or removed overnight. I refer particularly to the provision of schools and facilities for the Aboriginal people. This is an immense problem and it will require time and a considerable amount of money. But we do not have a huge barrel out of which funds can be taken in large amounts overnight.
– Order! It being 10.30 p.m., in accordance with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– The concern of the Senate in relation to the definition of political refugees has been a recurring feature in the last 6 weeks. I think we all know that in the various continents of the world where people have been in an hour of need Australia and Canada have been in the forefront in lending a helping hand. My purpose in rising tonight is to say that I want to see an even balance between such categories of people from various pans of the world. I make the plea that the wants, needs or desires of people of Latin America who are subject to political suppression will be treated on the same level as perhaps those of people from South Vietnam and other areas. In this connection I have received a letter from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Andrew Peacock. On one occasion I referred to a quotation from that letter to further my representations which are directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Andrew Peacock, and to the Honourable Michael MacKellar, Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I will seek leave shortly to have incorporated in Hansard the letter from the Minister for Foreign Affairs which stated the Government’s policy. The letter is about a month old. People are entitled to know what is going on. I noticed that in the last fortnight there seemed to be considerable pressure on the Government Parties about increasing the intake of people from South Vietnam.
Last Saturday night I attended a big function at the Sydney Town Hall. A leading Latin American instrumental group was there and presented music typical of the music of most of the South American countries. The theme running right through the music related to the political oppression that has been suffered in those countries. An eloquent appeal was made by Tas. Bull, the Assistant National Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, that Australia should not neglect people from those countries. I know that my colleague in the other place, representative Albert James, has had the same representations made to him. Let me summarise the matter. People like the Honourable Barney French, MLC, who is the Secretary of the Federated Rubber and Allied Workers Union of Australia, and Mr John Garland, the National Secretary of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, have been in the forefront of this appeal. They have been buttressed up very strongly by Mr Sharkey of the N.S.W. Branch of the Australian Building and Construction Workers’ Federation, Mr Henderson of the Firemen and Deckhands Union of New South Wales and Mr John Glebe of the Water and Sewerage Employees Union.
I make that point because the members of some of the unions, if not all the unions that I have mentioned, have had relatives involved. Some people connected with the union are here on tourist visas and are reluctant to go home to latin America. International Labour Organisation reports equate Chile with Uruguay, and I know that the position Argentina is not much better. I make a plea to both Ministers concerned, via Senator Guilfoyle, that this policy of even-handedness apply. I know that the Government has to deal with these matters in an ad hoc fashion, but probably we need a quota system to deal with the situation when there is a constant recurrence of political oppression as there has been in many countries. Honourable senators do not have to look merely at ILO reports; they can look at Amnesty International and other world wide bodies. I ask leave for the letter from the Honourable Andrew Peacock, which I would say denned the situation as it applied some weeks ago, to be incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The letter read as follows-
Minister for Foreign Affairs
You wrote to me on 3 February about the position of Latin American refugees and asked in particular about Mr Rafael Copelo, a Uruguayan who is at present in Australia.
I note that you have submitted Mr Copelo ‘s case to my colleague the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and since I received your letter, I have had my Department discuss Mr Copelo ‘s case with the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I understand that arrangements have now been made to interview Mr Copelo in relation to his desire to remain in Australia. As you know, decisions on entry and stay in Australia are the responsibility of my colleague, but my Department will naturally be making available to the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs information which it holds on the situation in Uruguay, to assist in determining Mr Copelo ‘s case.
I have noted your comments on the relative claims for refuge in Australia of people from South America and those from other areas such as Indo-China. While I would not pretend to make generalised judgments on the claims of people in widely differing refugee situations, I should point out that the Government seeks to assess refugee claims in terms of internationally accepted criteria, and to take guidance wherever possible from the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Apart from the case of Mr Copelo who is a Uruguayan, you made general mention of the situation in Chile. In respect to that country, you should know that during the two years 1975-1976 Australia admitted about 650 Chilean residents who were either suffering political duress within Chile or had travelled to nearby countries and been given mandated status. Australia has accepted more than -1000 Chilean refugees to date. I would not accept that, in proportion to their numbers, refugees from Chile have received less favourable treatment than those from South East Asia.
On a more general plane, the Government has made clear the importance which it attaches to the promotion of universal respect for human rights. In the case of Chile, you will be aware of the support that the Australian Government has given to United Nations’ action to protect human rights. At the last session of the General Assembly , Australia helped to draft and supported a resolution calling for the Chilean Government to restore and safeguard basic human rights, to put an end to the practice of arbitary arrest, torture and other forms of cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment of prisoners and to guarantee the rights of habeas corpus.
Senator J. A. Mulvihill, Australian Parliament Offices, Australian Government Centre, Chifley Square, Sydney, N.S.W.2000
– As a sort of a corollary to this I ask for the incorporation in Hansard of a section of a document that emanated from the Committee for Solidarity with the Chilean People in Sydney. The reason I ask for it to be incorporated is that it lists the names of 1 1 persons active in the Chilean trade union movement who are, to use a term used by our own Department of Foreign Affairs, ‘subject to political duress’. Senator Guilfoyle nods apparently in agreement that that is the term that is used. I hope that in the succeeding months the 2 Ministers concerned, difficult though our economic position is, will give consideration to allowing some of these people to come to the land of the Southern Cross because our connections with South American countries go back a long, long way. I hope that in this era of persecution all over the world our brothers in Latin American countries will get the same priorities as apparently are accorded to people from South Vietnam and, for that matter, Thailand. I ask that part of the document be incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
The Australian Solidarity Movement with Chile invites participation in a world-wide campaign to gain the release of political prisoners, many of whom are ‘ missing persons ‘.
Having been condemned by the United Nations for gross violations of human rights the junta sought to give the impression that prisoners were being released. In fact the arrests continue but often the junta denies that particular prisoners are held. Sometimes the bodies of ‘missing persons’ are found dumped. In several cases it has been obvious that the victims had suffered massive torture.
The international movement for solidarity has published a list of prisoners and missing persons. From this we have chosen the following to be ‘adopted ‘ in Australia:
Carlos Mario Vizcarra Jofre, a former official of CUT and worker at Fiat;
Mario Plovares Perez, imprisoned since 17.9.73; mechanic;
Ernesto Bravo Fernandez, imprisoned since 12.9.74; carpenter
Ceron Saez Fuentes, imprisoned since 3. 10.73; driver
Maria Gutierrez Martinez, imprisoned since 24.7.75; geographer
Victor Ivan Macaya Molina, imprisoned since 16.7.76, a secretary of the Textile Union;
Edgardo Morales Chaparro, imprisoned since 13.8.74; gasfitter
Horacio Capeda Marinbcovic, imprisoned since 16.12.76, former Director of State Transport ( 1 972 ) and Director of Sanitation in the Public Works Department;
Eugenio Cordero Donoso, President of the Wharflabourers Union in the port of Antofagasta;
Dario Miranda Godoy, imprisoned 30.7.76, secretary for cultural matters in the Metal Workers Union;
Alan Bruce Catalan (see below).
We appeal to organisations to ‘adopt’ these people by writing to the Interior Ministry in Chile and inquiring about them, by writing to the Australian Government asking that Australia intervene and provide asylum for these people, by informing our Committee of your actions and of any responses.
– That outlines the structure of my argument. I hope that the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs will give me a feedback. I know that in recent times there has been an economy drive. I have dealt with political refugees but I know that many Latin American women who have acquired Australian citizenship and gone back home and married there have been subjected to considerable delays. I am not altogether satisfied that our Embassy in Santiago is able to deal adequately with the flow of people from Ecuador, Paraguay, the Argentine and Uruguay. It is for that reason that I believe we should look at this matter closely to ascertain whether the processing of applications can be speeded up. I have never felt that the United Nations refugee organisation was as efficient as it might be. I think that it has imposed unduly at times on Canada and Australia, but let us hope that in the light of the support of the unions I have enumerated justice will be done to those people across the Pacific.
– I thank Senator Mulvihill for raising these matters. I will draw the attention of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) and the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) to the matters that have been incorporated in Hansard and the subject of discussion this evening. I undertake to ensure that the honourable senator gets a response from those Ministers on the matters that he has drawn to our attention.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.38 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 8 March 1977:
Did the former Prime Minister write to the Premier of Queensland on 5 June 1974 proposing that the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the Queensland Government, undertake an examination of the ways and means of increasing efficiency and reducing costs within the power system with a view to lowering the price of electrical energy in Queensland. If so, (a) what was the full text of that letter, and (b) what action has been taken on this matter since the despatch of the letter concerned.
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
and (b) As is normal practice, it is not proposed to disclose the text of correspondence of this nature between heads of government. I can only say that there was an exchange of correspondence but no conclusive result.
World Health Organization: Research Program on Tropical Diseases (Question No. 47)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 9 March 1977:
Has Australia refused to donate funds to the World Health Organisation research program on tropical diseases. If so, why?
– The Acting Foreign Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Australia has not refused to contribute to the Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases jointly sponsored by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Development Program. A decision on whether or not to contribute to the program was deferred until the content and direction of the program was more clearly defined. It is expected that a decision on this matter will be reached in the context of the 1977-78 Budget.
asked the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs, upon notice, on 8 March 1977:
With respect to statements made in recent months by Ministers of the Queensland Government that Queensland is desperately in need of Federal funds, has the Prime Minister been able to determine how the Queensland Government was able to announce on 1 1 February 1977 that it would be spending $35, 100,000 on labor-intensive public works projects. If so, what details can the Minister provide as to the source of the funds concerned.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The decision to spend $35,100,000 on labour intensive works is, of course, quite properly one for the State to make in the light of its own priorities and the funds available to it. According to a report on this matter which appeared in the Courier Mail on 12 February 1977, the money has become available because the inflation rate is less than was allowed for and through tight budgetary and administrative control by the Queensland Government.
It is also relevant that the funds which the States and their authorities derive from Commonwealth Budget sources in 1976-77 are estimated to increase by about 15 per cent (after adjustment for hospital funds for 1976-77 paid in late June 1976 and excluding non-recurring grants for unemployment relief)- This increase is particularly generous given the present economic circumstances and the constraints on the Commonwealth’s own Budget and following as it does the massive increases in those funds of the preceding two years (of the order of 50 per cent in 1974-75 and 30 per cent in 1975-76).
Significantly, the Commonwealth has also placed special emphasis on ‘untied’ funds for the States and their authorities, particularly through the tax sharing arrangements with the States and local government, thus enhancing the independence and flexibility of the States and their authorities in financial matters.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 8 March 1977:
Has the Queensland Government presented a formal submission seeking Federal assistance for areas of north Queensland affected by Cyclone Ted. If so, (a) what are the details of the submission, and (b) when does the Federal Government expect to be able to reply to the Queensland Government.
– The Prime Minister has provided the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Commonwealth agreed to support the State on a dollar for dollar basis on the cost of provision of immediate relief of personal hardship and distress to those affected by the disaster. The Treasurer informed the Premier of these details by telex on 21 December 1976.
The Commonwealth offered, subject to the usual terms and conditions relating to natural disaster relief, to support the cost of restoration of public assets damaged or destroyed by the cyclone, and to consider supporting any further measures which the State might propose within the established natural disaster assistance arrangements.
The Commonwealth also agreed to support the following relief measures introduced by the Queensland Government: carry-on, restocking, equipment repairs, replacement and rebuilding loans, to be administered by the Agricultural Bank and to be made available to producers in working occupation of their properties who do not have the capacity to secure finance through normal channels.
The terms and conditions attaching to the loans are as follows: maximum advance to be $60,000 rate of interest 3 per cent up to $15,000 and 6 per cent thereafter, with a maximum term of 7 years if necessary repayment of capital to be deferred for up to 3 years and the loan to be repaid over the balance of the approved term securities to be similar to those taken in respect of the 1 974 and 1976 flood damage assistance schemes.
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 9 March 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 9 March 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 10 March 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 8 March 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The cost of this service in Tasmania is not readily available as the accounting system in that State does not automatically provide separate costs of the various operations.
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 8 March 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
My Department is responsible for providing official car transport in the States. Car transport in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory is the responsibility of the Ministers for Capital Territory and Northern Territory respectively.
1 ) Details of the number of sedans and their respective engine types operated by my Department on ‘car with driver’ services (excluding ‘self-drive’ vehicles) in each capital city are as follows:
In addition, a total of 2324 cars and station sedans of various types are on hire to departments and authorities on a self-drive basis.
The total number of bookings for Commonwealth pool cars with driver in these periods was: 306 91 1 and 179 301 respectively. In addition, a substantial volume of work was done by Commonwealth cars on weekly hire with driver (see Question 128).
1.7.76 to 3 1.7.77-$ 1,388,556
This does not include the cost of Hobart hirings as the accounting system in Tasmania does not distinguish between the various operations.
Car bookings beyond the capacity of Commonwealth cars (when working reasonable overtime) are placed with supplementary taxi and hire contractors in each State.
Commonwealth cars could not be used to meet all transport requirements without extensive uneconomic periods of idle time by drivers during off-peak periods.
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 9 March 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
With regard to the wider question of assisting the Banabans to secure their economic future the Australian Government is considering the matter in conjunction with the British and New Zealand Governments.
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 9 March 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
British Phosphate Commission: Legal Action by Banaban Community (Question No. 133)
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 9 March 1977.
What was the cost to Australia as a member of the British Phosphate Commission of the action taken in the English High Court by the Banaban community.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Legal costs incurred by the Commissioners representing the three partner governments on the action against the Commissioners have been charged against accumulated revenue earned from activities not directly associated with the phosphate operations on Ocean Island. These costs as at 30 June 1976 totalled $1,093,620 and costs incurred since then amount to approximately $50,000.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 9 March 1977:
– The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Australia did not become a party to the following four listed treaties during 1976:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 9 March 1977:
– The Acting Foreign Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
Department of Primary Industry: Apprentices (Question No. ISO)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 9 March 1977:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
The Department of Primary Industry has not employed any apprentices during the period in question.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 8 March 1977:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Safeguards Provisions under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (Question No. 206)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 8 March 1977:
What safeguards are provided for in the non-proliferation treaty for all nuclear fuel cycle facilities in non-nuclear weapon countries.
– The Acting Foreign Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Article III of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons provides that each non-nuclear weapon state party to the Treaty undertake to accept safeguards for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfilment of its obligations assumed under the Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. The detailed safeguards arrangements to be undertaken by non-nuclear weapon states party to the Treaty are set out in the International Atomic Energy Agency document known as INFCIRC/153.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 11 March 1977:
– The Acting Foreign Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 10 March 1977:
– The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 10 March 1977:
How many ministerial staff have (a) resigned, (b) had their appointments terminated, or (c) as permanent public servants, returned to their departments, since 1 1 November 1975.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Individual Ministers have the discretion to terminate the services or accept the resignation of members of their personal staff. There is in general no requirement that my Department be informed of the reason for the termination of an appointment.
The information given below is based on records held in my Department. Normal staffing arrangements did not apply during the Caretaker period and, for this reason, the number of Ministerial staff who ceased employment during or at the end of this period is shown separately.
Caretaker Ministry (11 November 1975 to 22 December 1975)
Fourteen members of ministerial staff who were permanent public servants returned to their departments and thirteen temporary employees ceased duty during or at the end of the caretaker period.
Second Fraser Ministry (from 22 December 1975)
Between 22 December 1975 and 10 March 1977, 21 permanent public servants seconded to ministerial staff returned to their Departments and 33 temporary employees ceased duty.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 17 March 1977:
When does the Minister expect to be able to announce details of the Government’s proposals for a National Rural Bank.
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
For the honourable senator’s convenience I am restating my answer to his earlier Question No. 1 84 1 .
I think I can best assist the honourable senator by repeating for him some relevant observations I made in an address in early February:
At the moment the Government is developing a number of alternative propositions. In conjunction with the Treasurer, I am hopeful that we can get a practical and simple proposition for public comment within the next few months ‘. (Hansard: Senate 25.2.77, page 512).
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 23 March 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Adelaide by a committee comprising representatives of the Department and the Public Service Board. The procedures observed in the selection process were consistent with normal Public Service practice. No ethnic groups were consulted prior to the selection of Mr Browne.
Following the announcement of Mr Browne’s selection and the receipt of representation from a number of interested bodies, discussions were held in Adelaide with representatives of a multi-national group. As these discussions did not bring to light any significant new factors, the Department decided to proceed with the promotion of Mr Browne to the position.
Three officers of the Public Service have lodged appeals, as provided by section 50 of the Public Service Act, against Mr Browne’s provisional promotion. These are still awaiting resolution.
-On 10 March 1977 (Hansard, page 77), Senator Mulvihill asked me, as Minister representing the Prime Minister, a question without notice asking whether the Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security has made a recommendation for the establishment of a tribunal which can hear appeals from people who have been denied citizenship. The Prime Minister has now supplied the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security being conducted by Mr Justice Hope is presenting a series of reports to the Government. Reports received are under study. These reports concern matters of very great significance for Australia and will require careful consideration by the Government before final decisions are taken. The issue raised by the honourable senator is an important one and the Government will announce a decision based on the recommendations of the Royal Commission as soon as possible.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 March 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1977/19770329_senate_30_s72/>.