30th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 1459 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
Telephone users outside major metropolitan telephone districts, particularly those conducting businesses outside those districts, suffer an unfair burden for fees charged for calls.
The system of charging fees for calls based on the distance between non-adjoining zones instead of for the time of the call is archaic and unreasonable.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should require Telecom Australia to standardise all telephone fees for calls on a time basis so that the fee for calls of equal time be the same throughout Australia.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 40 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That many pensioners who are holders of the Pensioners Health Benefit Card, have suffered undue hardship as inmates of private nursing homes, because the Federal Government subsidy was insufficient to meet the charges as laid down.
Many pensioners whose spouse was an inmate of the private nursing homes suffered poverty in an endeavour to sustain their partner while in the nursing home.
Only in rare cases was the statutory minimum patient contribution as laid down adhered to.
That the telephone was a matter of life and death to many pensioners, but because of the cost of installation of the telephone many are unable to afford the installation.
That those pensioners who have only their pension and very little else to live on and are forced to pay high rents, are in many cases living in extreme poverty.
The foregoing facts impel your petitioners to ask the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to:
Make sure that subsidies paid to private nursing homes are such that each pensioner holding a Pensioners Health Benefit Card will pay the private nursing home no more than the statutory minimum patient contribution, which will allow $6 per week to be retained by the pensioner patient for their personal use.
That a pensioner holding a Pensioner Health Benefit Card shall have a telephone installed free of charge, or at a very nominal charge.
That those pensioners who have only their pension and very little else to live on, shall receive a subsidy to assist them. The subsidy to be governed by a means test.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 20 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate of the Commonwealth in Parliament assembled, the humble Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That where whole or part of a deceased estate passes to the surviving spouse it should be free from federal estate duty.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate, assembled, the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That many pensioners who are holders of the Pensioners Health Benefit Card, have suffered undue hardship as inmates of Private Nursing Homes, because the Federal Government subsidy was insufficient to meet the charges as laid down.
Many pensioners whose spouse was an inmate of the Private Nursing Homes suffered poverty in an endeavour to sustain their partner while in the nursing home.
Only in rare cases was the statutory minimum patient contribution as laid down adhered to.
That the telephone was a matter of life and death to many pensioners, but because of the cost of installation of the telephone many are unable to afford the installation.
That those pensioners who have only their pension and very little else to live on and are forced to pay high rents, are in many cases living in extreme poverty.
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 Scott
To the President and Members of the Senate assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens (students, parents, teachers) of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the decision by the Government to withdraw all forms of financial assistance to students of Non-state Tertiary Institutions is in total conflict with stated Government education policy.
The decision will result in a shortage of places for training secretarial and clerical students and an inordinate demand upon the State Government education systems.
At a time of severe economic disruption, this action must lead to a serious worsening of the current employment situation, particularly school leavers.
Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that the Federal Government will act immediately to reverse its decision.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Lajovic, Senator Scott and Senator Baume.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate of the Commonwealth in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That where whole or part of a deceased estate passes to the surviving spouse it should be free from Federal estate duty.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Douglas McClelland.
- Mr President, I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Senate approve of the redistribution of the State of Tasmania into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs J. R. Lennard, C. C. A. Butler and J. M. Windsor, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before the Senate on the 21st day of September 1977, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, be adopted.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. The Minister would be aware that Credit Suisse, the Deutsche Bank and the Amsterdam-Rotterdam Bank act for Australia in raising overseas loans. Is the Minister aware that the Euro-Pacific Finance Corporation Ltd, a partly owned subsidiary of two of the three banks I have just named, during the first weeks of September was advising, amongst others, Nestles Co. (Aus.) Ltd and Ciba-Geigy Aust. Ltd which are Swiss controlled companies in which Credit Suisse has a financial involvement that they should remove funds from Australia in anticipation of the devaluation of the Australian dollar? Will the Minister advise the Parliament whether he regards it as proper that the very banks which are raising loans for Australia should be using their subsidiaries to advise people to remove funds from Australia? What action will the Government take to avoid continuation of this practice?
-Standing Order 99 states that questions shall not contain inferences and imputations. They cannot ask for expressions of opinion. The question will have to be placed on the Notice Paper until I can obtain some information to guarantee whether what is asked in the question has some validity.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. The Minister will be aware of my interest in the restructuring of industry at Whyalla due to the downturn in the shipbuilding industry. Is the Minister aware of the suggestion that has been promoted in the Press that the Australian National Railways is considering using the facilities at the Whyalla works of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd to produce rolling stock for the Australian National Railways? Is this correct? Has the ANR carried out a study to assess the feasibility of this scheme? If so, can the Minister say what job opportunities would be presented?
– I am very much aware of Senator Jessop’s continuing interest in Whyalla and in the need for viable employment in that area.
– The people in Whyalla are not aware of his interest in it.
-I am, as always, delighted with the help I receive from honourable senators opposite. Of course the Whitlam Government, of which Senator Cavanagh was a Minister for a time, distinguished itself by not providing that help and by in fact creating the conditions in the shipbuilding industry which caused the rundown. The people of Whyalla are very well aware of that. As I understand it, the Australian National Railways, whilst not having plans to have rolling stock manufactured at Whyalla, is giving consideration to having rolling stock reconditioned there. I think that is a very important situation. My understanding is that any reconditioning would be by tender. It is understood that the work would be within the present capabilities of Whyalla. Therefore, what the honourable senator is putting forward is a distinct possibility for providing gainful employment.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I ask him whether he is aware that the well respected financial journal, the Economist, in an article on 24 September entitled: ‘Fraser takes the muddle way’, claimed:
Currency speculators are encouraged both by the Fraser Government’s consistently poor timing on exchange-rate changes and its impressive record for caving in under pressure.
In view of the widespread circulation of this journal in international financial circles, does it now appear that the Prime Minister’s procrastination and indecision have contributed most to uncertainty about the strength of the Australian dollar and are diminishing our standing amongst international financial circles?
– I should point out that you are asking for an opinion, Senator McAuliffe, but I will allow the question to go to the Minister.
– I will not engage in speculation. I never have and I do not wish to do so now. If others wish to speculate, they must be guardians of their own consciences. I have not read the Economist for a very long time. I used to read it. It had a fair track record of being right about half of the time. I will try to get a copy of the issue that has been mentioned and I will read it with great interest. I should think that in this case it would be wrong. As I said, it is wrong about half the time.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations aware that builders labourers working on Melbourne’s $5 5m State Bank building project, and who have been on strike since 5 July, on Monday last voted by 44 votes to 16 to return to work? The vote was the result of a secret ballot ordered by Mr Justice Alley on 8 September. Following on the result of the ballot, the secretary of the Builders Labourers Federation, Mr Norm Gallagher, said that a union organiser would be on the site from 7.30 a.m. on Tuesday to ensure that no work was done. In fact an organiser, a Mr Mick Lewis- I hope he is not a relative of Senator Lewis- attended the site yesterday morning, and as a result the builders labourers who turned up for work went home without commencing work. Can the Minister say whether there is any procedure under the industrial legislation to enforce the decision to return to work, duly arrived at by secret ballot?
-I think it was most heartening that when a secret ballot was ordered and taken there was such an overwhelming vote to return to work on the State Bank site.
– Does that mean you were heartened by yesterday’s vote?
– I am saying that here was a clear indication- whether it is maintained in all respects and by other people is another matterthat there are rank and file members of the Builders Labourers Federation who are heartily sick of this campaign of guerrilla tactics which has been going on for so long. It is no wonder that there has been such a reaction. I have some interesting statistics here of the effect on employment in the Melbourne metropolitan area as a result of this campaign.
– You were not asked that. You were asked about the industrial legislation.
– The question raises the whole issue. I thought Senator Cavanagh might have been interested in some of the statistics. In the Collins Place complex there is a peak employment figure of 1,850 and the complex has been idle for 7 weeks. At the State Bank office block- this is where there was the vote to return to work- there is a peak employment figure of 1,150 for this $50m project and that has been idle for 1 1 weeks.
On the Knox City shopping centre project, which has been all but idle for four weeks, there is a peak employment of 525 jobs. On the Collins- Wales office block complex, which is a $34m project, there is a peak employment of 940 jobs, and that site has been closed for seven weeks. So, more than 4,000 jobs have been lost as a result of this sort of guerrilla tactic. It is no wonder that rank and file members of the organisation are heartily sick of the so-called leadership that is being given to them by the union leaders.
Senator Tehan has asked me whether there is any procedure under the conciliation and arbitration legislation for enforcing decisions taken at a secret ballot. Unfortunately there is no direct prodecure. It is not really contemplated that a secret ballot decision should be directly enforced under the legislation. It is simply that a procedure may be ordered by a conciliation commissioner or in this case by a deputy president of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. But it is a procedure which is of great importance in subsequent conciliation or arbitration processes and, indeed, it is a matter which undoubtedly will carry great weight in subsequent proceedings which take place. There is, in fact, before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission an application by the Master Builders Association for the insertion of bans clauses. There is an elaborate procedure which at present is being followed under the sections of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act dealing with that matter. No doubt the attitude that the rank and file members have expressed in the secret ballot will be of great weight in the consideration of the proceedings which will be taking place.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer. Is the Minister aware that on Friday, 23 September, a senior Treasury official advised the Acting Treasurer that the Treasury was seriously concerned that subsidiaries of major banks acting for Australia in raising overseas loans were advising clients in Australia to remove funds in anticipation of devaluation and that the Treasury official advised the Acting Treasurer that it would be desirable for the names of these companies to be published? Why has the Government not acted on this advice? If the Government is interested in economic subversion, why have the names of these companies not been published?
-Once again we have an imputation and an assertion and we are asked to respond to what is apparently a piece of fantasy. I cannot help the honourable senator.
-My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. I refer to newspaper reports that legal aid officers have been instructed to apply strictly the means test guidelines governing the granting of legal aid. Has there been any reduction in the funding of legal aid? What action is being taken by the Government to ensure that legal aid is available to those in need?
– There has been some publicity in the last day or so along the lines that l egal aid officers have been told to tighten up on aid tests. I therefore have been giving consideration to the matter which Senator Chaney has raised. The fact of the matter is that the Government has been committing $lm a month for the allocation of legal aid work to private practitioners. The sum of $ 12m a year has been increased in the present Budget to $ 12,600,000 a year. I am pleased to advise that the Treasurer has agreed that the actual commitment should be increased by $50,000 a month. I should like to point out that the provision of $lm a month to matters assigned to the private legal profession is by no means the total provision made for legal aid. In the present Budget there is a provision of $ 19.6m for legal aid, that is, in addition to Aboriginal legal aid. It is an increase of $ 1.5m on the allocation for last year.
I think that what has given rise to some of these Press reports is the fact that in the last couple of months there has been a small increase in the monthly commitment. Some fairly careful administration and budgeting by the Director of Legal Aid and his deputy-directors in the States is required to make sure that as far as possible they keep within this allocation. However it is not always possible for that to be done and in the last couple of months there has been a small increase in the allocation. The Director, as part of his administrative responsibilities, has been obliged to draw the attention of the deputy-directors in the States to this fact and to ask them to observe the policy which is to be followed within the Budget f ramework.
That is the only justification I can see for the matters which have been aired recently in the Press. The means and needs guidelines were first laid down on 8 March 1976. They have not been tightened; they are still the guidelines that are being operated on. These guidelines do not prevent the exercise of discretion in certain cases where applicants may be outside the monetary limits. Of course such cases also have to be looked at closely because we have to live within the Budget allocation to which I have already referred.
– I ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether his attention has been drawn to reports that the Victorian Chambers of Commerce and Industry have requested his removal from his portfolio because, to use their words, ‘his performance has been tragically disappointing to the small business sector’. Will the Minister confirm that approximately 190,000 enterprises that could be described as small businesses are presently operating in Australia and that they employ more than one million people or some 40 per cent of the work force? Will the Minister also confirm the reports of Victoria’s Small Business Development Corporation that small businesses are now failing at a rate of more than 12,000 a year and that the number of failings is steadily increasing? In view of the claims by the Victorian Chambers of Commerce and Industry that small businesses urgently require improved access to loan funds, does the Minister agree that the charter for the Commonwealth Development Bank should be broadened to include small business as a special lending category?
-The small business field does concern me very greatly indeed; the Victorian Chambers of Commerce and Industry do not. I am very worried about the situation and have been for quite a while. I should like to say in response to a very long question- one could not write it all down- that I am very close to being able to make a positive announcement to the Parliament on small business and various methods by which I think we can help it. It has taken a long time- longer than I would have liked. It is a matter of great concern. The honourable senator might commend that thought to the Victorian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Is the Minister aware of recent criticisms- I think they were initiated in his own State- of Commonwealth Government tendering procedures relating to defence purchases? Can the Minister say whether proper tendering procedures have been carried out in relation to the purchase of patrol boats and work boats for the Royal Australian Navy? Is there any truth in suggestions that the purchases have been politically motivated?
-My attention has been drawn to some criticisms made in Western Australia about arrangements which have been made for the purchase of both patrol boats and work boats for the Royal Australian Navy.
– Who made the criticisms?
-It was the ex-member for Tangey. In respect of the patrol boat contract, the simple fact is that the Western Austraiian tenderer’s price was $ 11.4m higher than the lowest tenderer. I repeat that: It was $ 11.4m higher than the lowest tenderer. In respect of the work boat proposal, the two Western Australian tenders were unsuitable for the Navy’s requirements. The successful tenderer was the lowest tenderer for the type of boat the Defence Department considered necessary for Navy requirements. I believe it is important to point out that in neither case were geographic considerations of any importance. The only criteria in letting contracts have been those of cost and suitability. I put it to the Senate that any suggestion of political influence or consideration is completely unjustified and an improper slur on the integrity of the public servants who deal with these matters.
– We were not talking about the public servants.
-I said that it was an inproper slur on the public servants who deal with these matters.
– We were not talking about public servants.
-I was not even talking to you. The only ground for criticism would be if the reverse had applied. I believe all honourable senators, including the Opposition Whip, would agree- I hope he would- that it would be intolerable if contracts were let on the basis not of competitiveness but of geographical considerations. It would be a shame if anybody in this place were to argue that special preference should be given at the cost of the taxpayers to any geographic location in Australia.
– At all times?
-At all times.
– We will keep you to that.
-I understand Senator Georges’ great desire to stand in my place and answer questions. He has a sort of Freudian frustration. He has a total incapacity to let people get on with their own work. I suggest that he gets on with his own work and lets me get on with mine.
– I address my question to the Minister for Administrative Services. I ask: Is it a fact that the Australian Information Service office in Darwin is to close down on 3 1 December this year? If this is a fact, will the Minister indicate what arrangements will be made to cover the north of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and northern Queensland, the area at present covered by the Darwin office? If no arrangements have been made, will the Minister give consideration to transferring staff from one of the other offices in Australia so that information about this vital and developing area can continue to be given exposure through local and overseas publications?
-On 15 September Dr Stack, the Mayor of Darwin, wrote to me on this matter. The honourable senator may be interested to know that I replied to Dr Stack on this matter some days ago. Yes, it is correct that the Australian Information Service office in Darwin will be closing down. The Australian Information Service is quite convinced that it will be able to give better coverage to the Northern Territory by having visiting groups from the AIS visit the area for specific purposes at regular intervals. In fact, as an example of how this can be done, recently there was a very extensive overseas television coverage of those areas in the Northern Territory involved in the Government’s recent announcement of its uranium policy. All that was achieved, not by the local AIS office, but by a short term visit to the Territory by a team from Canberra. As the honourable senator would know, the AIS grouping in Darwin is not very large, lt is the belief of the AIS, and I concur m its belief, that a far better coverage will be given to the northern parts of Australia by special task forces visiting on a regular basis.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. The Canberra Times of today- Wednesday, 5 October- has reported on its front page under the heading ‘Aborigines Protest at Mine Start’ that the Ranger uranium mining project in the Northern Territory plans to have the construction of a dam, road works, et cetera, commenced shortly and before the wet season begins. It is reported that traditional Aboriginal land owners of the Alligator River region have protested, through the Northern Land Council, to the Prime Minister that there has been no consultation and that no agreement has been made nor any national park plan initiated, ls the report correct? If so, what action is being taken to bring about better communication and fewer misunderstandings? Will the Government consider the appointment of a person on the spot who will be responsible for close liaison and understanding between government, the uranium miners and the Aboriginal people?
-I can inform the honourable senator that the Government is presently having discussions with the Northern Land Council regarding the development of the Ranger project. These discussions began in Darwin this week. It is the responsibility of the
Northern Land Council to represent the traditional owners and negotiations must- I repeat, must- be between the Northern Land Council and the Commonwealth, as provided in the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act. In these circumstances and having regard to the fact that discussions are presently under way with the Northern Land Council, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on attitudes that have been expressed by individual traditional owners. One would only hope that what views they have they will put to the Northern Land Council, because that is the group that the Commonwealth is obliged to negotiate with as a result of an Act passed by this Parliament.
– I ask the Minister for Administrative Services: Is it a fact that as recently as February this year the Government introduced amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act? Is it also a fact that when introducing those amendments the Government did not see fit to alter the 10 per cent variation allowable in the number of electors for each division? Was that decision a collective decision of Cabinet? If so, can the Minister explain the statements now attributed to the Deputy Prime Minister, who has blamed members of the Liberal Party of Australia for refusing to change the rules and who has said that the National Country Party of Australia would not let the matter rest there? Does the Minister regard the Deputy Prime Minister’s statement as one which indicates that the Country Party might oppose the present redistribution proposals when they eventually come before this Parliament or does he merely regard the statement of the Deputy Prime Minister as being a side swipe by the Leader of the County Party at the Minister himself and his Liberal Party colleagues?
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is seeking an opinion from the Minister in asking that question. I call upon the Minister to reply to those parts of the question to which he wishes to reply.
-I shall answer the question in reverse order. As to the last part of the question, I refuse to comment. As to the previous two parts of the question the answers are no and no. The answer to the other part of the question is yes.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Health tell us whether it was stated in the Medical Journal of Australia of 10 September last that as recently as 1966 the Northern Territory of Australia had the highest rate in the world of endemic Hansen’s disease or leprosy? What are the latest figures available for the Northern Territory? Is there any reason to believe that the endemic rate of leprosy in Australia is now substantially improved?
– I understand from the Minister for Health that in Australia, once diagnosed, leprosy patients, whatever their racial origin and regardless of cure, remain on the leprosy register for life. As at 31 December 1972, the date for which the latest revised figures are available, the total number of living person registered as leprosy patients in Australia was 1,791. Let me give the figures for the Northern Territory and the number of new cases for the following four years. In the Northern Territory in 1972 there were 851 on the register. The new cases in 1972 were 17; in 1973, 14; in 1974, 16; in 1975, six; and in 1976, six. Therefore it will be seen that the prevalence and incidence of leprosy in the Northern Territory are declining and that the number of active cases in the community at any one time is very small.
– But it is higher in Victoria now, is it not?
– Yes. In the Northern Territory the number of new cases in 1975, for example, fell to six, which is less than one-tenth of the incidence recorded in the early 1950s. The prevalence of active cases has fallen from a rate of 13 in 1,000 in 195 1 to 0.4 in 1,000 in 1975, and the total number of cases has fallen from 44 in 1,000 in 1951 to 26 in 1,000 in 1975.
-I ask Senator Webster, in his capacity as Leader of the National Country Parry in this place, whether he agrees with the answer just given by Senator Withers to the question asked by Senator Douglas McClelland?
– I note the honourable senator’s question. I will look at Hansard and consider a reply.
-Has the attention of the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs been drawn to the terms of the Tasmanian State Budget brought down by the retiring Premier and Treasurer, Mr Neilson, on 1 September 1977? Can the Minister inform the Senate of the reasons why the Tasmanian Premier was able to achieve a surplus in 1976-77 which he described as a wholly satisfying and gratifying result? Is the 1977-78 Tasmanian Budget further evidence of the wholly satisfying and gratifying result of the Fraser Government’s new federalism policy?
-I think that the unrest which is being displayed by the Opposition gives a satisfactory answer to this question. The Opposition is thoroughly unhappy when some satisfactory results occur. The simple fact is that what members of the Opposition are deriding is, for the second year, a successful financial result in Tasmania. In the first year the State had a surplus Budget and a considerable cutting of taxes and this year a small deficit Budget and a continued cutting of taxes. That is clearly the result of the overall federalism policies which have increased very considerably the funds available to Tasmania. Honourable senators opposite will know that during the Whitlam Government’s term of office it was not possible for the States to have funds with which to reduce taxes. In fact, they will be very well aware that the Labor policies forced taxes up in the States.
It is good to note that in the recent Budget in Tasmania there is the abolition of tax on the Hydro-Electric Commission costing $2m a year, the average home owner is to be exempt from land tax, probate duty exemptions are indexed by 13 per cent, there is complete exemption in respect of real estate acquired on or after 1 September 1977, standing timber is excluded from tax and there is an extension of payroll tax exemption to aid small businesses. This is a pretty good story, when on top of that -
– Why do you not tell the whole story instead of picking out individual things?
– It is a pretty good show when the Opposition gives the right amount of applause for these things. If I heard the Leader of the Opposition aright, he asked why I do not tell the whole story. The whole story is this: All States in the first year of federalism balanced their budgets, cut taxes and increased significant programs. All States which have brought down their budgets for this financial year have shown that they have done the same. The whole story is, of course, an immensely useful one. If I told it I would say that under the Whitlam Government the income tax take was nearly trebled; a doubling occurred of customs duty sales tax -
– Tell us about Tasmania. You were asked about Tasmania.
– Of course, honourable senators opposite do not want to hear what happened to taxation revenue. The States were forced to put up their taxes. Under two years of federalism, the Commonwealth and all States have been able to cut taxes and balance their budgets. If any State shows it can significantly cut its taxes it demonstrates that it has the choice freely to increase policies or to cut taxes. It has that luxury. It did not have that luxury under three years of Whitlam Government. That is the whole story.
-Will the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations confirm that the Government intends to amalgamate the two series of unemployment figures now published, that is, the quarterly labour force survey prepared by the Bureau of Statistics and the monthly figures of registrations with the Commonwealth Employment Service? If so, will the Minister advise whether this will mean the end of monthly figures on unemployment levels or will the Bureau of Statistics begin to publish monthly figures in its new series on unemployment?
– The question asks for a detailed reply. I will pass the question on to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and endeavour to get a detailed answer for the honourable senator.
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General. The Courier-Mail of 1 October carried a statement quoting the Secretary of the Cattlemen’s Union, Mr Barry Cassell, as saying that he had received threats concerning his current position from big beef industry interests with international links. As I expect that the Minister would view such reports very seriously, as I do, will the Minister undertake to set up an investigation into the allegation to report back to the Senate on: Firstly, who made the phone calls to Mr Cassell; secondly, which beef industry interests such caller represented; thirdly, with which country were the international links; and, fourthly, what action the Minister can take against the person or organisation making such threats? Should any of the information requested not be available, can the Attorney-General have Mr Cassell advise the basis of his assertions?
– I was shown just before Question Time the report in the Courier-Mail to which Senator Archer refers. I have not had any advice given to me from Mr Cassell who I think perhaps would be the one most likely to act if he wanted the type of investigation referred to by Senator Archer. At all events, I would have thought that there are appropriate organs in the community for investigation of this type of threat. No inquiries can really be undertaken unless the people who allege that there has been commission of offences to their knowledge or against them co-operate.
– He has reported it.
-Unless they report it -
– He did.
– I do not know whether that has been done. All I can say is that I have not had- and would not expect to have- a report of that nature made directly to me. There are p roper channels through which these matters can b e reported and investigated. If Mr Cassell has gone through the proper channels, I am sure the investigations will be made. At this stage I cannot see why there is any need for me to initiate any special inquiries into the matter.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. As a result of the Budget cutbacks in Federal funds available for State hospital systems, is it true that at least in one State, namely the Minister’s own State and mine, Victoria, home dialysis treatment for kidney disease sufferers is in jeopardy?
As the cost to the community is approximately $ 1 8 a day to provide a patient with home dialysis treatment compared with a hospital admission minimum cost of $140 a day, should not the Government be channelling more, not less, funds into this economical method of health care? Is it not true that this Government changed the Labor Government’s initiatives in this area which had involved full federal funding of home dialysis treatment? If so, can the Minister explain how reducing Federal Government spending on hospitals, which forces hospitals to cut back on such services, will save the community money?
-Several questions are raised by the honourable senator. I will refer them to the Minister for Health for his considered reply.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is the Minister aware that a number of measures are undertaken by State governments in the United States of America in support of the development and commercial utilisation of solar energy to the extent that it is expected that 7 per cent of that country’s energy needs will be met by solar energy by the year 2000? Is the Minister aware that income tax credits and deductions ranging from 10 per cent to 100 per cent are allowed by various United States State governments and that the United States Congress is considering a Bill to allow income tax credits of 40 per cent on the first $1,000 expenditure with a $2,000 limit to the allowance? Will the Government consider a similar range of deductions in Australia to conserve Australia’s fossil fuels by the maximum encouragement of the use of solar energy.
-I know of the intense interest in solar energy in the United States of America. I know that it is part of President Carter’s energy policy aimed at trying to overcome the American energy problem. We have had a sustained interest in this country in solar energy. I was not aware of the fine details of the incentives which the honourable senator has mentioned. It is certainly a matter worth taking up. I will do so. I thank the honourable senator for the question.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister which refers to the urging by the Prime Minister last week of State governments to force the fuel companies to sell petrol at uniform prices. Does the Minister know which company or companies, if any, would sell petrol at a heavy loss at a place such as Normanton? Does the Government envisage quota entitlements to sell petrol in the cities which would be earned only by selling petrol at Normanton or other places in the country? Should this initiative be taken as another demonstration of the Prime Minister’s firm commitment to small government and to free enterprise?
-I do not know whether any other honourable senator understood the question.
– I did.
- Mr President, perhaps you should call on Senator Georges to answer the question because I find it impossible to follow.
– Has the Minister for Education seen the September-October edition of the Queensland P. & C. Guide which in its editorial claims that the Government has moved against children in State schools with a cynicism that must shock all thinking people in Australia? Can the Minister tell me whether the claim in the editorial is correct that the net result of the nonindexing of funds is that schools will be worse off this year and State schools particularly will be the recipients of massive cuts unless the State governments can be induced to pick up the shortfall? Is it also true, as claimed in the editorial, that what is not commonly known is that Australian schools generally and Queensland schools in particular are far below acceptable minimum standards and the funds presently being spent on schools will not even maintain the existing standards?
– I was shown a copy of that Queensland P. & C. Guide. The editorial is entirely incorrect. The obvious proof of its incorrectness lies in the recent Schools Commission report. Since all honourable senators are interested in the progress of State schools let me say to them that the Schools Commission report draws attention to the targets set by the Karmel Committee and then by the Schools Commission and outlines what has happened in those terms. The targets were set in Australian terms. Originally, the aim was that there should be progress of a factor of 40 for primary schools and a factor of 35 on a base of 100 for secondary schools, using the base year of 1972 and reaching the goals by 1979. It was then altered to 1980 for primary schools and 1 982 for secondary schools.
The progress that has been made is that four States- Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania- have already met the target set for 1980. So three years ahead of 1980 they have already reached the target. Two other States are progressing towards the target at a faster rate than planned. In fact, the progress made by State schools in the primary sector in Australia is faster than target. Indeed, Tasmania has now as an average ofits primary schools, level 2. So many, if not most of its primary schools are level one, which is the despised category for non- government schools in the eyes of the Labor P arty. The Labor Party, of course, consistently puts this viewpoint. I am delighted to say that progress has been made in Tasmania.
In the secondary schools, in three States- Victoria, South Australia and Western Australiathey have reached the target set for 1982. They are five years ahead of target or, according to Karmel ‘s earlier target of 1979, two years ahead. Three of those States have reached approximately level 2. I think that is a pretty good story. The Schools Commission was able to say that all States are moving faster than target and all States are moving faster than maintenance of effort, and was able to demonstrate that the
States themselves, in the first year of the Fraser Government, were able to increase the percentage that education represents of State budgets by a factor of 1 per cent. It was increased from 28.4 per cent to 29.4 per cent. The short answer to Senator Martin’s question is that Queensland’s primary schools already have surpassed the target set for some three years’ time, and secondary schools are at least on target. This, I think, is a good result.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Will the Minister identify to the Senate the advantages which the Government believes have resulted from its introduction in November 1976 of the managed float system currently used to determine the value of the Australian dollar? Does the Minister agree that the persistent outflow of capital, as shown by a continuing decline in our holdings of foreign exchangedespite the Government’s announced borrowings last week-serves to illustrate the lack of confidence the business community has in the Government’s intention to ensure that a devaluation is not imminent?
-I suggest to the honourable senator that part of the problem of capital outflow is the unwise speculation engaged in by people about Australian currency. I do not think, and I have never thought that such speculation helps anybody. The managed float has been a success but it has been related to the various variations in the trading basket with Australia’s main trading partners. What ought to be understood is that it is affected by the change in value of the yen and by the change in value of the United States dollar. Australia is, after all, a small country responsive to changes in the currencies of its major trading partners. We have to take longer to adjust than would normally be the case if we were operating in a big way in the world of trade and finance, which we are not. Other than that, I would not wish to comment except to indicate that I will ask the Treasury to supply more information which will explain the matter more clearly to the honourable senator. I will do that for him.
-I direct a question to the Minister for Education. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the report in this morning’s Australian in which Mr George Polites, Director of the Australian Council of Employers Federation, is reported as saying that the rate of unemployment amongst young people aged between 15 and 19 years increased from 3.7 per cent to almost 15 per cent between 1964 and 1976? Can the Minister inform the Senate what steps have been taken by the Government in recent months to reduce the high rate of youth unemployment and to increase the motivation and self” confidence of those young people who have been out of work for extended periods?
– The Government has not taken any steps.
-Wait till the end of the year.
– The answer, of course, to the interjections is that there was no unemployment amongst juveniles in the two decades of the 1950s and 1960s when Liberal-Country Party governments were in power. The phenomenon of juvenile unemployment occurred in 1973, 1974 and 1975. The impetus of that was carried forward disastrously under a Whitlam Government which set out to cost Australia out of world markets and Australian markets. The interjections fall hollowly because the question is of profound importance. I did see the report of Mr Polites’ statement. It is in fact an accurate reflection of what has happened. It is a phenomenon that has emerged in Austrafia in the past four years. It shows a chronic state which one would want to dissipate rapidly so as to give not only jobs but also a choice of jobs and career opportunities. It is true, as Senator Messner has said, that along with this there has emerged in some people- this is no reflection at all upon them- an attitudinal factor of low motivation.
– Of course; but you cannot blame the previous Government.
– Order! Senator Georges, you interject too often.
– The cause of this low motivation of course, is the endemic unemployment of juveniles invented by the Whitlam Labor Government. Senator Messner asked what we have done. Quite a number of the schemes, as I am reminded by my colleagues on my right, are properly within the responsibility of the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Mr Street. There is the National Employment and Training scheme.
– Was that yours?
-There is the Commonwealth Rebate for Apprentice Full-time Training scheme.
– Order! The Minister has been asked a question. He is replying to that question. Interjections are disorderly; so honourable senators will cease interjecting. I call the Minister to reply to the question asked of him.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. Today on a number of occasions you have pointed out that Opposition senators have been seeking opinions m their questions. I draw your attention to Standing Order 100, which reads:
In answering any such Question, a Senator shall not debate the matter to which the same refers.
I suggest that the Minister, in his reply, is debating the question, and indeed this has had a very serious effect on Senator Sheil.
– Order! It is highly desirable and necessary that questions seeking information be put and that they be replied to as directly as possible and without any suggestion of debating the matter.
-I remind the Senate that I was asked what schemes the Government was undertaking in respect of unemployed youth. I was in fact itemising those schemes and not debating them in any way at all. I remind the Senate that I said that my colleague, Mr Street, was involved in very important schemes such as the NEAT scheme, which has something like 20,000 persons in it, the CRAFT scheme and the Community Youth Support scheme, and in my own much smaller scope there is the education program for unemployed youth. One should comment that this is the most important and most intractable problem that confronts the Australian nation today- this endemic disease of unemployed youth and the protracted unemployment which denies them the opportunities for a career and career choice. The Government is taking all possible steps to overcome this problem. Basically, of course, the important thing to do is to get inflation down, to get interest rates down and to get commerce and industry reactivated so that there can be better job creation and therefore more job choice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Earlier this year, Mrs Molly Dyer, an employee of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, was informed by an officer of the Victorian branch of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs that a sum of approximately $25,000 had been allocated to provide for the support of an Aboriginal child care agency in Victoria. Mrs Dyer was voluntarily to maintain this important service. She has subsequently been advised that funding for this service has been withdrawn as a result of government cuts in Aboriginal affairs expenditure. Can the Minister advise why this important project was not funded and when it can expect to receive financial support from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs?
– I shall draw the matter of funds for the Aboriginal child care agency to the attention of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I am unaware whether any application has been made to my own Office of Child Care with regard to support for this service. If no application has been made I suggest that that is another avenue where some support might be provided.
– I ask the Minister for Education whether he can say what stage has been reached with the appointment of ancillary staff, particularly 40 additional staff, in schools in the Australian Capital Territory.
– Honourable senators, and particularly Senator Knight, will know that earlier this year the Public Service Board carried out a review of ancillary staff in Australian Capital Territory schools. It recommended that some 40 additional staff be provided. The total number of ancillary staff in the Australian Capital Territory schools system is approximately 520 at this moment. Action has been in hand for some time to fill 40 new positions in addition to 30 to 35 other vacancies which have occurred during the year. That action is now almost complete. Fifteen positions were filled some two wee ago. Of the other 25, offers have been made or are about to be made by the Authority. Unhappily, I have to report that the delay in doing this was due to the large number of applications. There were some 1,500 applications for the positions.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. The Minister, in answer to a question asked by Senator Douglas McClelland on Thursday 22 September, indicated that in his view it was desirable to use 12-month periods when attempting to gauge an accurate measure of the annual level of inflation. Can the Minister therefore explain why the Prime Minister chose to use quarterly data to measure the implicit price deflator when speaking to his electorate on 18 September about the current annual rate of inflation? Will the Minister request the Treasurer to ensure that henceforth only data collected over 12-month periods will be used when statements are made by Ministers concerning annual inflation rates and not indices like the implicit price deflator based on quarterly statistics?
-The Prime Minister is entitled to use the latest figures available to him. Honourable senators on both sides of the Senate are accustomed to giving daily economic forecasts, sometimes three times a day. This usually follows the morning Press and sometimes the evening television. Those of us who are trying to see a steady path for our country suggest that when you are trying to be objective, as I hope the honourable senator is, it is also useful to look at the long run trends which are more clearly discernible at 12-monthly intervals and less clearly at six-monthly intervals. Nevertheless, the situation always has to be watched regularly. I suggest that the Prime Minister is fully entitled to use figures whenever they are made available to him; so am I and so are honourable senators opposite.
-Is the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications aware that in the recently issued 1977 Melbourne Telephone Directory, no telephone numbers are given for the Broadcasting Tribunal in Melbourne, nor is there any direct reference to ways in which the public can complain about television or radio programs or in which they can alert the Tribunal to deficiencies? What action does the Minister intend to take to promote better communications between concerned members of the public and the Tribunal?
– I do have a note on this matter which has been raised before. My instructions are that it is true that the Broadcasting Tribunal is not listed in the new Melbourne Telephone Directory. Honourable senators will be aware that the Broadcasting Control Board was abolished on 31 December 1976 and the Tribunal was established on 1 January 1977. At that time there was a deal of uncertainty about the location of the staff of the new Tribunal. All the staff of the old Board were initially transferred to the Postal and Telecommunications Department. Staffing of the Tribunal and the location of its operation in Melbourne were determined in
February. Unfortunately, the closing date for entries to the 1977 issue of the Melbourne Telephone Directory was 13 January. The telephone number of the Tribunal in Melbourne is the same as that of the former Control Board, that is, 602 0151. There was, however, more efficiency at that level and the Control Board’s number was taken out of the new book. So we achieved the worst of all worlds.
– That is right. That is typical of your Government.
– Order! The Minister is replying.
– The phenomenon of the brain fever birds has come to non-tropical Australia. With regard to the second part of the question, I draw the attention of the honourable senator to the recent report of the Tribunal on self-regulation which I tabled in the Senate on 23 August. The Government is currently considering the recommendations made in that report for the establishment of broadcasting information offices in all States which will seek to promote communication with and involvement of the public in broadcasting matters. I am advised further that the Tribunal has a proposal before the Public Service Board for staffing appointments that will help to overcome in the immediate future the problem raised by the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I refer to the fact that an increasing number of members of the New South Wales Branch of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union are being rejected as blood donors by the blood transfusion service due to the rapidly increasing number of diseases associated with cattle slaughtering. What role is the Commonwealth Government playing in this vital area of industrial hygiene?
– I am advised by the Minister for Health that he has an advisory role, through both the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Department of Health in the field of industrial health. The National Health and Medical Research Council’s Occupational Health Committee and its subordinate sub-committees and working parties consider a wide variety of matters concerning the health of persons occupied in industry. The recommendations of that Committee, after adoption by the Council, are referred to the States and Territories for incorporation into relevant legislation. The matter that the honourable senator has raised concerning a specific problem I believe should be referred to the Minister for Health. I will seek further information from him on this matter.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. Do I interpret the Minister’s answer correctly as meaning that she will arrange for a delegation of the New South Wales branch of the Meat Employees Union to meet the Minister for Health and cut through a lot of the bureaucracy that is part of these FederalState committees? Could I have that assurance that Mr Hunt will see a delegation led by Mr Schofield of the meat workers in Sydney?
– I certainly will direct to the Minister for Health the honourable senator’s request concerning a deputation. As I said, the matter of industrial health and related matters are of great importance to the Minister for Health. I feel sure he will be most receptive to any request that is made through Senator Mulvihill.
– I inform the Senate that I have received the following letter dated 5 October from Senator Button:
Dear Mr President,
In accordance with Standing Order 64,I give notice that today I shall move that, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:
The Government’s disregard of increasing unemployment’.
Yours sincerely, J.N. BUTTON
Is the motion supported?
More than the number of Senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-
– I move:
The Opposition regards this matter as important for a number of reasons. It is important in terms of the tragic consequences for people who are currently unemployed and it is important in terms of the tragic long term consequences for this country of some of the rhetoric which goes on in the Senate and which has gone on in the course of the Budget debate about the need to have a sense of purpose and endeavour which is now lacking in this country. The importance and urgency of this matter arise first of all because of Government inactivity in the face of a continuing and increasing level of unemployment. Its importance relates, too, to the repeated attempts by Government spokesmen to blame other forces in society for the unemployment level which we now have and to write down the consequences of unemployment as they now affect society.
That was no better illustrated than during question time in the Senate today when Senator Messner- I might say somewhat foolishlyasked Senator Carrick a question about unemployment amongst young people. If anything was quite apparent to anybody listening to question time today it was simply that the Minister who was asked the question had no idea about how to answer it, and in trying to avoid having to answer the question he retreated into a diatribe about past events and totally ignored the substance of the question until he was assisted by the passing to him of a note by another Minister. T hat illustrates most graphically and recentlywithin the last few minutes- the attitude of the Government to this subject, which Senator Carrick ultimately described in his answer as the endemic disease of unemployed youth that grips Australia. So there is no doubt about the importance of the matter, even in the mind of Senator Carrick, although he has never bothered to try to find out the answer to the sort of question that Senator Messner asked.
The third aspect of the urgency of this matter is, of course, the harshness, insensitivity and lack of compassion that the Government has shown in dealing with those who are presently unemployed. I ask the Senate to look at the facts in the light of Senator Carrick ‘s answer to a question a few moments ago. The fact is that, according to the figures of the Commonwealth Employment Service in August 1977 there were 333,978 people unemployed in Australia, which represents 5.4 per cent of the work force. That is double the unemployment rate of 1975; yet Senator Carrick went on about what happened in the time of the Whitlam Government. Over one-quarter of a million Australians are in receipt of unemployment benefit. Over one-quarter of a million people have to go each week to collect a dole cheque. Over one-quarter of a million people are frustrated and disillusioned by their inability to take part in the creative life of this country, in the work life of this country. Over one-quarter of a million people are blighted by the prospect of an uncertain future.
Within the overall figure of 333,000 people unemployed there are certain groups of people amongst whom unemployment is particularly high. As at May 1977, 14.6 per cent of the recipients of unemployment benefit are migrants from non-British countries. They comprise a group of people in the community who are least able to cope with the difficulties, the frustrations and the bureaucratic effects of being in receipt of unemployment benefit. Persons under 25 years of age constitute nearly 60 per cent of the overall group of unemployed people but constitute only 27 per cent of the work force. Eighty per cent of those people who are teenagers and unemployed have not completed secondary schooling. They comprise a disadvantaged education group. Again they are a group of people in society who are least able to cope with the consequences of unemployment.
It is significant that 20 per cent of those who are under 25 years of age and unemployed hold a university degree, a diploma or a trade qualification. Twenty per cent of them- one in every five- have completed tertiary qualifications and are still not able to obtain jobs. The unemployment which is represented by those figures reaches into every segment of Australian society, potentially into every home in Austraiian society, and occurs amongst people who have been encouraged to adopt a degree of aspiration which may never be fulfilled unless something is done about the present level of unemployment. One might add that 17,000 of those who left school in November 1976 are still out of work. One might add to that the chronic degree of discrimination against Aboriginals in employment and the fact that a very high percentage of unemployment occurs amongst Aboriginals. One might add the fact that one vacancy exists for every 17 unemployed persons in Australia. One might add to those bald unemployment figures the fact that a survey done by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in May 1977 showed that in Australia there were 72,500 people working part time who were anxious to obtain full time employment but could not do so, and that there were another 200,000 women in Australia who wanted to obtain employment but could not do so. Of course, they do not show up in the unemployment benefit statistics. That is another quarter of a million Australians looking for full time employment added to the more than a quarter of a million Australians already unemployed. It adds up to a very serious problem that affects all sections of Australian society. I am grateful to see that Senator Messner is perhaps the first senator on the Government side to show some interest in the question.
What has been the Government’s record in relation to this problem which it used in 1975 to defeat the Labor Government? What has been its response since then? First of all, let us look at the promises which were made by Mr Fraser in his policy speech in November 1975 and the sorts of things which he said. He said:
We will provide jobs for all’.
Only under a Liberal-National Country Party Government will there be jobs for all who want to work.
In December 1975 he became a bit bolder. He did not make those general promises. He was more specific. He said: ‘Unemployment will be slashed by 200,000 if a Liberal-Country Party government is elected’. Mr Street, his Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, said:
We will have a five-point plan to cure unemployment in Australia.
None of those things has happened. One of the consequences, one of the things which flowed from those glib promises of November and December 1975, was a pledge to encourage investment in the private sector, with the expected consequence of increasing employment. So we got the investment allowance promise which is costing $450m a year. Yet in the last national wage case, earlier this year, employer advocates were saying to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission: ‘One of the problems about unemployment in Australia is that people are putting in a lot of new machinery and equipment, following from the investment allowance. That is one of the causes of unemployment’. That, of course, is one response which in 1975 the Government indicated it would make. Let us look at some of the other elements in the Government’s economic strategy relating to this question of unemployment. The conclusion of all commentators about the 1976 Budget was summarised very well by the Melbourne Age. It said: The unemployed will have to wait another year. In spite of clear identification of the problem of areas of chronic unemployment in the construction industry, in the manufacturing industry and in rural towns already identified in 1976 quite clearly, the unemployed will have to wait another year’.
Earlier this year we had the wage-price freeze, which Opposition members told the Government at the time would not work because it was a piece of economic ad hockery straight off the top of the head of the Premier of Victoria and straight into the left ear of the Prime Minister of Australia. What happened? Now we can see some of the consequences of the wage-price freeze which was introduced by the Government at the instigation of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and in response to which honourable senators on the Government side said: ‘Whoopee! We have an idea at last’. They rushed into this chamber to tell us what a good idea it was. Let us see what the Victorian Chamber of Manufacturers had to say about the wage-price freeze and its effect on unemployment. It said this in its September 1977 newsletter:
We are concerned also at the number of smaller suppliers, who complained that retailers who put their prices up on or before the first day of the freeze had refused to honour previous commitments to accept price increases themselves.
The Chamber goes on to deal with the question of suppliers. Then it sets out some graphs and points to a very sharp increase in unemployment in May 1977. It continues:
This represents an increase in the unemployment rate from 1.33 per cent to 5.2 per cent of the estimated labour force.
That is between 1974 and 1977. The Chamber goes on:
Of particular interest is the sharp increase in unemployment that occurred in June and July, 1977, which was considerably greater than that experienced in the same period in the two previous years. The Chamber believes this abnormal increase may have resulted from the April 1 3-May 24 wagesprices freeze. Almost from the day of the announcement of the freeze the VCM Index of Factory Employment started to show a fall in employment levels. This was a particularly disturbing trend as manufacturing employment was showing signs of stabilising early in 1977.
That is before the wages-prices freeze. This shows another initiative which the Government took. In the Budget of 1977 the conclusion from commentators was the same as the conclusion which was drawn as a result of the 1976 Budget. No end to unemployment; it will get worse’ were the conclusions of the commentators. That, in macro terms, has been the Government’s response to unemployment. It leads one to the inevitable conclusion- if I can put it in words more eloquent than I can use myself; the words of President Roosevelt- that this is a Government frozen in the ice of its own indifference regarding unemployment which is a problem which will not go away. Worse than that, the Government has resorted to a variety of quite devious practices to suggest that unemployment is not the problem which it really is. One Minister has described unemployment as a myth. Other Ministers have described the unemployed as dole bludgers. We have had a variety of suggested specific reasons for unemployment continuing- other than that of government policy. It is, of course, open to the Government to suggest reasons other than that of government policy, but it is not what the Government suggested were its intentions in 1975. It is not what the Government was suggesting in the Senate throughout the early part of 1 976.
Let us look at some of the efforts, other than real efforts in terms of job creation progams and so on, which have been made to cure the problem of unemployment. Quite obvious attempts have been made to reduce employment figures artificially. The more positive achievements of the Government in that direction can be summarised in this way: What has the Government done in relation to reducing figures for unemployment? For example, in the course of its administration of the unemployment problem the Government has provided first of all that there will be no unemployment benefits for school leavers in vacations. There will be no unemployment benefits for people who voluntarily leave their jobs. So much for Liberal Party notions of individual freedom in a free society! People have no freedom to leave their jobs. There will be no unemployment benefits for people who are sacked for misconduct. So much for Liberal Party views of the freedom of contract which exists between employer and employee! Against the advice of committees established by this Government- the Norgard Committee and the Myers Committee- the Government has transferred to the Commonwealth Employment Service all responsibility for work testing. This was done against the advice of committees which the Government set up and which it hoped would produce a solution different from that which those committees produced. Professor Myers and Mr Norgard both said that the CES should be free from this responsibility to concentrate on the important question of placing people in jobs.
Next the Government changed the work test so that social security benefits cannot be paid to anybody who has failed the work test. The result of this is a positive discrimination against people who are functionally illiterate, against itinerant Aboriginals and against people who are mentally retarded in some way or another. These are the people who can least cope with the bureaucracy and who can least cope with the social consequences of unemployment. I ask honourable senators to compare that position with what the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) had to say in November 1 975. He said:
We will be generous to those who cannot get a job and want to work. We will not use the earnings of Australian families to finance Gold Coast holidays for those who do not want to work.
He said that his Government would be generous. If this is an example of the Fraser Government’s generosity to people in society who properly should be the recipients of Government generosity, to people who are least able to cope with the situation to which I have referred, it is not a very inspiring example to the people of Australia. However, the Prime Minister drew the distinction in that statement between people who wanted to work and people who wanted to be on the Gold Coast. Of course, this reminds me coincidentally of another very important socially divisive effect of the current level of unemployment. In this country at the moment we have a Treasurer (Mr Lynch) who can buy a $100,000 penthouse on the Gold Coast while people in this country are being denied unemployment benefits because they may be mentally deficient, because they do not speak the language well or because they are not well-educated. But we have a Treasurer who buys a penthouse. We have a Prime Minister whose wife can indulge in $ 1 ,500 trips to the opera while people in Australia- a quarter of a million of them- are unemployed and while others are not even able to receive unemployment benefits for the reasons I have outlined. We have a Prime Minister who can order expensive motor cars for himself and a Government which can order specially protected motor cars for politicians while people in this society- as I have said, a quarter of a million of them- are on the dole.
– That is good emotive stuff.
-We do all these things like refurbishing the Lodge, something closer to Senator Walters’ heart and intellect, no doubt, than the problem about which I am talking. We can have all these things for Ministers and politicians in the Government. We can spend $2m for people in Mr Fraser ‘s electorate who want better television reception but we cannot do anything for people who are migrants, who are women, who are unemployed, who are educationally handicapped and so on. That is a very socially divisive effect.
– Remember Blue Poles’!
-I will remember Blue Poles and the honourable senator may remember Nazi Germany. He will remember that in Nazi Germany steps were taken to divide society in exactly the same way as is being done here -
– And the Soviet Union, too.
-Yes, and the Soviet Union.
– Do not forget that, too.
– Let me continue my remarks. One would hope, Senator Lajovic, that this Government might have learnt from many conclusions it might have liked to draw about the purchase of the Blue Poles painting. But it has not. It is not Blue Poles now; it is the things that I have mentioned such as Gold Coast apartments. These things are devisive in this nation and they amount to a form of moral bankruptcy in the Government, a government of yes men who are pulled by the nose by a totally arrogant and insensitive Prime Minister- a totally insensitive person in relation to these problems, a person about whom the Financial Review said yesterday:
The second main feature of the Fraser Cabinet is a preoccupation with short term political considerations, minimal attention being paid to governing. The reason Mr Fraser wants an early election is that he feels he can get himself another threee years by going now. He has absolutely nothing else in mind, no long term economic strategy, no major issue on which he is seeking a genuine mandate.
The article goes on to say that he got into power by accident and manipulation. That is a very subjective sort of view put by the Financial Review. I would not necessarily go along with that. But the point I wanted to make is that the comment that the Government has no long term economic strategy and no major issue on which to seek a mandate is perfectly true. We have this Government of accountants, lawyers, graziers and business rejects who concentrate on glib talk about national unity. Senator Scott, who is to speak in this debate later today, spent a lot of time last night telling us about national unity and national purpose. The very foundations of any possible national unity or national purpose are being undermined by the economic policies of the Government, its failure to manage the economy and the consequences of unemployment which result from sheer ad hockery in government and no plans for the future.
It has made no plans for the future. These are the sorts of problems with which the Government ought to be concerned but which are endemic and symptomatic of this Governmenta total absence of any long term planning; ad hoc remedies; measures to cope with the unemployment statistics by a bit of jiggery-pokery here and there. This is the sort of thing we have seen but we have not seen any truly compassionate consideration of the real problem. The social and political consequences of this situation are, I believe, enormous for this country. We have honourable senators in this chamber who cross the floor about the price of apples and pears but no government senator will cross the floor about the unemployed in Australia. No government senator will cross the floor because they are not concerned about the 330,000 people unemployed in this country. They are concerned about the price of apples and pears or, in the case of Senator Wood, the price of bananas but they are not concerned about these more fundamental issues. It is for that reason that we keep moving motions pointing to the urgency and importance of this situation and, as I said earlier, its social and political consequences. They are very important. We live in a society in which people are anxious and concerned about all sorts of problems. They are concerned about the problems of families and family relationships; the problems of living in big cities; the problems of crime and, more particularly, the problems of drugs.
I have referred to youth unemployment. If any honourable senator on the government side likes to take the trouble to check with social workers who have been concerned with drug problems, they will find that there is a distinct correlation between unemployment and drug addiction. I make no particular moral judgment about that, but I do make the judgment that the social consequences both now and in the long term of this sort of problem are quite enormous for this country. They follow, of course, from a sense of disillusionment, a lack of security in the future and a feeling of inferiority in a situation of being unable to obtain employment. These problems of personal insecurity are very great, and traditionally have been very great in association with unemployment. They are problems which cause stress to families. They are problems which cause anxiety to parents who have children leaving school, to the parents of some 200,000 children who will leave school in November and December this year- many of them, perhaps, with not great academic records. But even if they had great academic records they could well be destined to be included in the 20 per cent of people with tertiary education who cannot get employment.
These things cause chronic anxiety. The lack of job opportunities causes concern to parents of children leaving school, and they cause a concern and disillusionment amongst young people themselves. There is a sense of frustration, a sense of inferiority and a sense of incapacity to cope with the promised country- the rugged society we were promised in November 1975. We see not only that but also particular problems of those such as migrants, under educated, unachievers in one way or another, and who have particular social problems which relate to this. There are also the very severe problems of anxiety for people who are now in jobs because they are entitled to ask: ‘What is my future in my employment, having regard to the way in which unemployment is going and having regard to the sorts of predictions which are being made about unemployment by people outside the Government, by big companies in this country?’ These predictions are not very palatable, I suppose, to the Government and the Government does not refer to them very often but projections are that half a million people will be unemployed next year.
What are the people to make of those sorts of comments? What sense of purpose, what desire to work hard for a job must be engendered by these sorts of projections and the current situation? What is the point of somebody working hard in employment at the moment, as some cynics have put it, in order to work yourself out of a job? If that is true, there can be no sense of purpose in the terms used by Senator Scott in the Budget debate last night. The problem in unemployment is a difficult and intractable problem. But the real problem for the Government and the reason the Opposition has moved this urgency motion is simply this: What confidence can people have in the promises of this Government in relation to unemployment in view of its record of broken promises on the issue? What confidence can they have after two years of this Government, having regard to its record? What confidence can there be in the future of this country amongst people unemployed or people who fear unemployment? What confidence can they have in building the sort of society which I believe honourable senators on both sides of the chamber would like to see in terms of the security of every Australian? What confidence can there be in a government which is the direct lineal descendant of the governments of the 1960s when the structural unemployment which now exists in this country had all its seeds sown and when there was a complete absence of any manpower policy or manpower training schemes in Australia? They were just unheard of in Australia in the days of the lucky country. The consequences of the absence of such policies is demonstrated in the level of unemployment we are seeing now.
When one adds the failures of the past and the inability to plan or look to the future to the sorts of comments which the Australian Financial Review made yesterday about a government which has no plans for the future, no long term economic strategy and no major issue on which it is seeking a mandate, then one can see the very clear connection in terms of short term ad hoc solutions and no long term planning. It is only when these long term problems are being tackled that people in Australia can have confidence in this Government and in the future. It is only when those long term problems show some sign of being appreciated by the Government and perhaps tackled, although that may be too much to expect, we will stop moving urgency motions on this question in the Senate. I commend the motion to the Senate.
-The Opposition certainly has a strange sense of timing in choosing this subject as a matter of urgency today. Unemployment certainly is a subject of great topical interest today but it is the terms in which the matter is brought to the attention of the Senate which I find quite extraordinary. Senator Button, speaking on behalf of the Opposition, asks the Senate to consider as a matter of urgency The Government’s disregard of increasing unemployment’. Later in my speech I will show the very great regard- not the disregard- which the Government, of which I am a member, has had for this problem of unemployment. Indeed, looking at the matter positively, I will show the Government’s regard for the problems of employment and its concern for those who have been unemployed. I find it extraordinary that on this day, of all days, the Opposition should move this motion to emphasise what it says is the Government’s disregard for or alleged inactivity in regard to these matters.
In Victoria today 400,000 people have been stood down and are unemployed as a result of the intransigent actions of a few irresponsible union leaders who are preventing vital work being carried on by the State Electricity Commission of Victoria. The La Trobe Valley has been brought to a halt and so has the rest of Victoria, and possibly there will be great ramifications and repercussions around Australia. That is the urgent problem for debate today. The urgent problem for debate today- I would have liked to have heard Senator Button’s views and the Opposition’s views on this- is the situation which has arisen in Victoria as a result of irresponsible and intransigent union leaders. Their actions have resulted, as I have said, in 400,000 people in Victoria being stood down and therefore being unemployed today. I would have thought that that was the subject for urgent debate and consideration in this Senate today of all days.
I had occasion at Question Time today to refer to the loss of jobs as a result of the guerrilla tactics which have been used by the Builders Labourers Federation under the leadership of Mr Norman Gallagher. The leaders of that union have been irresponsible and intransigent in repudiating the authority and advice of the conciliation and arbitration system, as indeed has occurred in the case of the State Electricity Commission strike. This morning at Question Time I cited the numbers of jobs that have been lost in the Melbourne metropolitan area in recent weeks because of the actions of these union leaders. I will repeat the figures because I think it is important that everyone in Australia should know that these are some of the reasons for the unemployment in this country today. In the Melbourne metropolitan area, the Collins Place complex, which has a peak employment figure of 1,850 jobs, has been idle for seven weeks. The State Office block project, which has a peak employment figure of 1,150 jobs, has been idle for 1 1 weeks. The Knox City shopping centre project, which has a peak employment of 525 jobs, has been all but idle for four weeks. The CollinsWales office block complex, with a peak employment figure of 940 jobs, has been closed for seven weeks. More than 4,000 jobs have been lost in the Melbourne metropolitan area alone on those four building projects in recent weeks.
I would have thought that the Opposition, in taking a decision to debate unemployment, would have had very serious regard for the most topical reason why unemployment has been created in this nation today and in recent weeks, namely, the irresponsible and intransigent attitude of a few union leaders which has resulted in an enormous loss of jobs for so many members of the community. This situation has caused the loss of jobs for hundreds of thousands of people in Victoria and is threatening to snowball not only throughout Victoria but also throughout a large part of Australia. This is a subject which I would have thought Senator Button, with all his knowledge and experience in the field of industrial law, would want to debate. I would have welcomed the initiation by him of a debate on this subject in the Senate today because I would have thought that he of all people, and certainly the Opposition, might have had something positive to contribute and so assist the Government.
– That is your job.
– With all the abdication of responsibility of this Opposition, an Opposition which apparently is presenting itself as the alternative government, what does Senator Button say on the most vital problem facing the nation today? He says: ‘That is your problem. We do not need to have any views at all’. The people who sit in opposition are the people who are aspiring to form the government of this country. Senator Button is aspiring to become a
Minister in that government. Yet he shelves responsibility in this cavalier way, by saying: ‘That is your problem’. As I said, I would have hoped that the Opposition would have taken a responsible and positive attitude and endeavoured to give some assistance to the Government on a matter such as this. But what has the Opposition done? It has introduced into this place todayallegedly as a matter of urgency- the Government’s disregard of unemployment.
The problem of unemployment was created for Australia by the Labor Government. It was created very directly by the policies which that Government pursued in its three years in office. When we came into government in December 1975 we inherited from that Government this major problem of unemployment. In the last days of the Labor Government and in the election campaign it certainly was a matter of great debate and concern by us. We came into government with a very clear program and policies on how the economic ills of Australia, which we had inherited, could be dealt with. The policies of this Government over the last two years have been directed overwhelmingly to overcoming the problems of inflation and unemployment.
Let us look at some statistics on the magnitude of the problem which has faced this Government. I have some statistics on unemployment going back to 1970, 1971 and 1972-the last three years of the 23 years the coalition Government was in office, until December 1972. It is striking to see the low levels of unemployment during those years. Indeed, at times in 1970 the level was even below one per cent. In December 1972 the unemployment level was 2.4 per cent. But in December 1975, when Labor went out of office and when we came in, we inherited a level of unemployment of 5.4 per cent, which was more than double the rate of unemployment when we were in office previously. There was a major increase in unemployment during Labor’s three years in office.
– Will you read those figures again?
-The figures are: In December 1974 the level of unemployment was 2.4 per cent. In December 1977 the level of unemployment was 5.4 per cent.
– That is wrong.
– December 1977?
– Come on!
– Send them back to the Department and get them done again.
– What do you say the percentages were?
– They are that now. They are 5.4 per cent now.
-I agree that they are now -
– The figure has doubled since December 1975. It is that now. It is 5.4 per cent now.
-Are you implying that unemployment has doubled since 1 975?
– It is 5.4 per cent now.
-I think Senator Button is the one who needs to look at the figures again. It is interesting to note that over the years preceding the Labor Government, and indeed for the first year or so of the Labor Government, unemployment was at those low levels. It was substantially below two per cent. It had been below that figure of two per cent for many years. It was towards the end of 1974 that there was a sudden jump in the level of unemployment, and regrettably unemployment has stayed at a high level. Admittedly the level has remained high in the period we have been in office.
A new situation developed in our economy during the Labor Government’s years in office. We believe the reason was largely the rapid increase in the level of wages, particularly during 1974. I think the connection is clear when one remembers that is was also in 1 974 that this great and rapid increase in unemployment occurred. It was in 1974, under the Labor Government, that we had this great wage explosion. Indeed, the situation was of concern to some members of that Government, particularly the then Treasurer, Mr Frank Crean. He made what has become one of the best known and certainly one of the wisest comments that have ever been made on this subject. He said that one man’s wage increase represented another man’s job. He could foresee the loss of jobs as a result of the high level of increase in wages. Coupled with this explosion in wages was the rapid increase in the rate of inflation. Inflation rose from about 4 per cent in December 1972 to 14 per cent to 16 per cent in December 1975.
On coming to office, we were faced with a greatly increased level of wages, a greatly increased level of umemployment and of course a rapidly accelerating rate of inflation. Therefore the Government’s policies- those policies on which we were elected in December 1975- were designed to tackle the root causes of the economic problems of the community and the unemployment in the community, the root causes being inflation and the high levels of wage rises. It was towards those problems that the major activity of this Government’s economic policy has been directed. Quarter after quarter we have gone before the Full Bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and argued in the national wage case for wage restraint. We have not had the success before the Commission which we believe is required to tackle the level of wage increases really effectively.
– You have not had much success anywhere.
– We had some success. Had we let the matter go ahead on the sort of claims that were being made, I can assure Senator Wheeldon and the Senate that the problems of unemployment and inflation would be far worse than they are now. We have tackled the major problem of inflationary pressures and the problem of the deficit we inherited from the Labor Government. This, of course, has been one reason why it has been necessary to restrict some programs which may have had some temporary and beneficial effect on the level of unemployment. Were we to have pursued such schemes, in the end they would have had a counter-productive effect because they simply would have increased the deficit, increased the inflationary pressures and increased the fundamental ills and fundamental problems which have led to the unemployment levels we have been experiencing. The Labor Government itself realised this in relation to its Regional Employment Development scheme. It introduced the RED scheme to provide some temporary alleviation of the high levels of unemployment which, as I said, it had created, and which I understand Senator Button is now denying. If Senator Button looks at the figures, he will see that at the end of 1974 and throughout 1975 the unemployment level was above 4 per cent and rose, as I have said, to as high as 5 per cent at the end of 1 975.
– You have it continually over 5 per cent now, Senator, if you look at the figures.
-I agree that it reached over 5 per cent in December 1976 and that it has stayed up over 5 per cent. I am not denying that. It is a matter of great concern to the Government. But what I am saying is that by and large, as a result of the Government’s following a policy of restraint in its own spending and of wage restraint, we have been broadly able to contain the level of unemployment. We have not had the explosion of unemployment which was a characteristic of the Labor Government’s administration, in particular in its last year in office. We have been able to reduce the level of inflation from about 15 per cent or 16 per cent to about 10 per cent. We have been able to substantially contain unemployment. As I have said, this is a result of the policies of restraint and control and the advocacy of wage restraint which we have maintained solidly and consistently since we came to government.
I tura to some of the programs which the Government has maintained or improved, or introduced, since we came to office specifically in relation to this problem of unemployment. Senator Button came into the Senate today and criticised the Government for inactivity in connection with a problem which he himself conceded was difficult and, to use his word, intractable. I should have thought that Senator Button would be one of the first to concede the problems that the Government has had with regard to unemployment and in providing some relief for unemployment. As I have indicated, we believe that the long term solution to unemployment is not to be found in temporary schemes of alleviation, temporary schemes of providing some employment for some of those who are unemployed from time to time. We believe that the only way in which to reduce unemployment in the long term is to reduce the rate of inflation and to get it back to the reasonable level at which it was running during the 20-odd years we were previously in government. Indeed that remedy has been accepted by the great majority of economists and the great majority of the governments of the Western industrialised nations. I do not wish to give the slightest impression, though, that while unemployment is running at unacceptable levels the Government will in any way be satisfied. The Government is most disappointed that it has not been able more rapidly to reduce the level of unemployment over the period it has been in office. The Government agrees with Senator Button that it is proving to be- as it is throughout the Western world- a very difficult and to some extent intractable problem. The level of unemployment, for instance, in Canada is 7.7 per cent; in the United States it is 6.4 per cent; in West Germany it is 4.1 per cent; and in the United Kingdom it is 5.6 per cent. It is an intractable problem and one for which there is no short term solution but only long term solutions.
– You would not own up to that when we were in government.
-As I have said, the policies pursued by the Labor Government, the policies of allowing wage explosions to occur in 1974 and allowing government expenditure and deficits to soar as far as Australia is concerned created this particular problem. I turn now to some of the schemes that the Government has introduced, particularly in relation to youth unemployment. The Government agrees with Senator Button that one of the major and most serious aspects of unemployment is the effect on the youth of the country who have difficulty in obtaining jobs. Senator Button referred to the numbers of school leavers. A number of the programs that the Government has instituted have been directed to young people, particularly those who are leaving school. This year’s Budget provides $ 102.7m for training programs, which is an increase of 33 per cent over the provision in last year’s Budget.
In the time left to me I would like briefly to run through the schemes that are afoot and the numbers of people who will benefit from them. The National Employment and Training scheme provides vocational training for persons and onthejob training as well as training in institutions. This year $54m is provided for the NEAT scheme. There were 1 9,300 persons in training at the end of June under this scheme and 40,000 people have been assisted in 1976-77. The Special Youth Employment Training scheme has been expanded and now extends to people from 15 to 25 years of age who have not obtained stable employment since leaving school. There are 7,500 persons in training under that scheme and 15,000 have been assisted during its first nine months. There is, of course, a major change and improvement in the new apprenticeship support scheme, known as the Commonwealth Rebate Apprenticeship Fulltime Training scheme, to support apprenticeship training through reimbursing employers for wages paid to apprentices attending basic technical education; subsidising additional off-the-job training to raise skills; and training additional apprentices by use of facilities in government departments. The sum of $42m is provided in this Budget for that scheme. Under the heading of reimbursing employers for wages paid, the apprentice intake during 1 976-77 has risen by 9 per cent. There are 4 1 ,000 apprentices receiving assistance under that scheme.
Another scheme which I have time to mention is the Community Youth Support scheme. This is to encourage community organisations to provide programs aimed at supporting unemployed young persons and improving their capacity to find jobs. An amount of $4m is set aside in this year’s Budget for that scheme. Two hundred and twelve programs have been approved and about 20,000 young persons are receiving assistance under those programs. Those are examples of the Government’s clear understanding of its responsibilities to the unemployed, particularly the unemployed youth, in the community. As I have said, the Government’s major policies and programs to alleviate unemployment are policies which will reduce the rate of inflation, will continue to maintain wage increases at levels which are not beyond the productive capacity of the nation and which will not be inflationary.
It is that type of lack of restraint by all sections of the community, that lack of restraint by government itself in its own spending, which is the major cause of unemployment reaching these levels which the Government itself finds as unacceptable as does the Opposition. The Government will pursue those policies because it believes they are the only ways in which the problem of unemployment in this nation will be solved. The Government rejects entirely the assumption of this urgency motion that the Government disregards the problem. I hope that what I have said in the course of my remarks this afternoon will indicate the Government’s very great regard for the problem and its efforts to find a solution to it.
– I do not think that anything could more clearly indicate the Government’s lack of concern about the problem of unemployment in Australia than the opening half of Senator Durack ‘s address to the Senate in which he did not attend in any manner whatsoever to the real problems of the economy but led us through one of those tired old tirades about the communists in the trade unions in Victoria. However important that may be, and I would not deny the importance of the present industrial disputes in Victoria, it is totally irrelevant to the endemic inflation and unemployment which Australia is suffering at present. It is of no use Senator Durack talking about what a terrible thing it is that is happening in Victoria at the bank bunding in Collins Street, or wherever else it may be. It is no use talking about that because the answer still is that Senator Durack is a member of the Federal Government and Mr Hamer and the Liberal Party are the Government in Victoria. If that is the problem, what do they propose to do about it? What are they doing about it?
We have heard Senator Sim this afternoon again displaying this tendency which is possessed by members of the Liberal Party to fly in all directions with the old cliches of the 1950s that the strikes in Victoria are being led by the Moscow line communists. Does this refer to Mr Norm Gallagher, vice chairman of the MarxistLeninist Communist Party of Australia who would spend, I think, more time denouncing the revisionist, Zionist imperialists of the Soviet Union than he would denouncing the Master Builders’ Association? Does it refer to Mr Halfpenny of the Communist Party of Australia, who is locked in bitter battles with the Soviet Union and its supporters in the Socialist Party of Australia? Not only is the Government not prepared to debate unemployment as the problem that it is; it is back in the days of Dulles and back in Mr Bill Wentworth ‘s better years telling us about the menace of the Soviet Union and how Russian spies have caused the strikes in Melbourne. I do not think that will impress the Australian people. I know it will not impress the Senate. The Australian people are concerned about the steadily increasing rate of unemployment within this country. It ought to be remembered that this Government was elected in the most extraordinary circumstances in 1975 on an undertaking that it would bring down inflation, reduce unemployment, stimulate business and get the economy going. The economy is certainly going. It is going right out of Australia up to Hong Kong.
What has the Government done in that time? The rate of inflation for the year ending June 1977 was 13.4 per cent, compared with a rate of 12.3 per cent for the previous financial year. This Government has been in office for two years. In its second year in office it has been able to excel its efforts in its first year in office in regard to the rate of inflation. The Government says that it is fighting inflation in order to bring down the level of unemployment, but while the rate of inflation is going up what is happening to the level of unemployment? Despite the rather curious figures quoted by Senator Durack, which, as suggested by Senator Button, he should send back to his Department and have them redone, the level of unemployment in July of this year was 5.4 per cent- 20 per cent worse than it was in the same month in 1976. This is happening under the Government which is going to fight inflation and reduce unemployment.
The Government is now claiming, of course, that the present situation is not its fault; that it was brought about by the Labor Government. Senator Durack was acting as if he were still fighting the 1955 election when he told us how wonderful things were back in 1952. 1 am afraid that that is not going to impress the Australian people. The further we get away from December 1975 the harder it will be to convince the Australian people that what is now happening is the result of anything that the Labor Government did. Indeed, if one examines what happened under the Labor Government and what is happening now one will find not only that there are an additional 87,000 unemployed people now than there were last year but also that, despite the fact that there was unemployment while the Labor Government was in office, as there was in all Western capitalist countries or Western countries with mixed economies, during the period of office of the Labor Government 275,000 jobs were created in Australia. From December 1972 to November 1975, 275,000 jobs were created. Not only has the unemployment rate increased under the present Government but also there are now 1 3,000 fewer people in work in Australia. In absolute figures- not in relative figures- 13,000 fewer people are now holding jobs in Australia, despite the increase that has occurred in the population since then, than there were when the Labor Government was put out of office in November 1975.
The Australian Labor Party put forward proposals as recently as August this year in statements by Mr Whitlam and Mr Hayden on its behalf, about what the Labor Party believes ought be done. We said that two steps would have to be taken. The first involved attacking the present crisis. The second involved looking at the long term structural changes that are needed in the Australian economy. There are many sicknesses in the Australian economy at the present time that can be corrected only by a long term approach. As far as attacking the problem on a short term basis is concerned, we said that we ought to lower interest rates, that we ought to forgo any further increase in personal taxes, particularly for those in the lower income bracket who, when they receive the benefit of reduced taxation, tend to convert at a much higher rate the increased incomes they have received into the purchase of goods, which stimulates the economy, than an equivalent reduction in the rates of income tax imposed upon the people in the higher rate of income, and that we ought to defend the Australian currency against another devaluation. That is essential to fight both inflation and, in the long term, unemployment in Australia. So far we have heard nothing from the Government about what it proposes to do to protect the Australian dollar, other than a few partisan snipings at Mr Hayden because of the fact that he has drawn attention to the serious position in which the Australian dollar is at the present time.
We intend over the long run to see that there is a general scheme of retraining of the work force in Australia, that there is a restructuring of manufacturing industry and that there is a reassessment of the whole problem of tariffs and protection of industry in Australia. They are long term projects. They are long term projects about which we have heard nothing useful from anybody speaking for the Government. What is probably even more important, at least for the time being because of the dire situation in which we find ourselves, is that we have heard nothing from the Government about what it intends to do in the short term. I do not believe that anybody can exaggerate the effects of unemployment. Of course the weakening of the currency of any country and the losing of faith in the monetary system of any country is serious to the morale of the country. It is obviously serious to the economy of the country. But nothing can be more destructive of the moral fibre of the country, of the standards of the country and of the peace, order and good government of the country than unemployment. Yet the unemployment rate is continuing to grow and there seems to be no sign whatsoever of abatement of that growth in unemployment which is taking place under the present Government, a government which has a casual attitude towards this very important subject.
Of all those who are unemployed in Australia the young people are the ones who are worst hit. Young people, within the normal understanding of that expression, constitute 12 per cent of the work force but 40 per cent of the unemployed. I shall repeat that: The 12 per cent of the work force who comprise its youngest members constitute at the same time 40 per cent of the unemployed.
– That is teenagers alone.
– Yes, teenagers alone. One in every five of the youth unemployed is a school leaver. Many of them are still looking for work eight months after leaving school. Particular localities are being affected. I think all of us will have heard of, if not remember, the terrible blighted areas that existed to some extent in this country and certainly in other parts of the world during the Great Depression. I instance the hunger march from Jarrow, for example, and the unemployment in the Ruhr which ultimately led to the dreadful convulsions which afflicted Germany. We are finding the same sort of thing developing in Australia itself. At Kwinana, which is a much vaunted area of industrial expansion in my own State of Western Australia, the unemployment rate at the present time stands at 13.2 per cent of the work force. The unemployed are very largely immigrants to this country. All of those figures and all of those facts show that, in the words of the motion which has been moved on behalf of the Labor Party, the Government disregards the increasing unemployment within this country. All the Government can do is talk about communists in trade unions in Victoria and what the Labor Government did or did not do. We want to know what the Government intends to do now and what is its approach to this subject, which is having a devastating effect upon our country.
I think that something else ought to be said about what the Government is trying to do about the unemployment situation. Rumours are going about now that are causing much unease m all circles- particularly the business circles which are bothered about the economic future of this country- that the Government will be calling an early election and that it will be going to the polls in December of this year. I think everybody knows why the Government is talking about going to the polls this year. The Government has an overwhelming majority in both Houses of the Parliament. It was elected on an undertaking that it would stay in office for three years in order to carry out the policies that were so essential after the three years of office of the Labor Government that this Government did so much to disrupt. There is no constitutional pressure or other form of pressure that would stop the Government governing for another year, but it is talking about going to an early election and will not deny that. What is the only reason which could take the Government to an election? The only reason is an admission by the Government that both the unemployment situation and the inflation situation will be much worse next year than they are now. That is the only reason. There is not one other.
– Rot. Absolute rot.
-Senator Walters from Tasmania says that that is rot. I would like the honourable senator to tell us later if she gets the opportunity to do so- if the Government Whip has been sufficiently negligent to have put her on the speakers’ list- why it is that the Government is talking about having an election this year, one year before its time, if it is not because of the Government’s fear about the dreadful condition in which the economy will be next year.
– Who is talking about it?
-The Government is talking about it; the Press is talking about it; Mr Nixon is talking about it and the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is undertaking an election campaign. If Senator Archer is now going to give a categorical denial that there will be an election this year I would like to hear him do so. If he is not to do it, other members of the Liberal Party, seeing that they seem to be concerned at the suggestion that there should be an election this year, will have the opportunity in a few moments to stand up and give a categorical denial to scotch these malicious rumours. I am glad to see that Senator Archer at least, for one, has said that he is firmly opposed to an election this year and has said that he believes that only a slanderous person would make such a suggestion. I think he should be commended.
I go on to say that despite Senator Archer’s strong opposition to the holding of an election there are many people within the Liberal Party who are in favour of it. Certainly the Prime Minister is doing everything he can not to close his options, as it is termed. Why would he do that? For no other reason than the fear of the wrath of the Australian people if the Government waited to go to an election at the appropriate time. I know- there has been a hint of it today by Senator Durack- that an effort will be made to say that the Moscow-line communists, the Pekingline communists or some other people in Melbourne are an election issue. But I think the question still has to be asked: If they are an election issue, how does it come about? What is it that the Government could do after an election which it cannot do before an election? What powers is it lacking, with a majority in both Houses of the Federal Parliament, that it would have after an election?
– You know that we have to have a Senate election.
-Can the honourable senator leave his analysis until later? He can put it in writing perhaps, and then I will see whether I will read it. This Government is talking of an election. It is setting the stage for an election because of its admission of its total failure economically. That is the only reason, and I think the people of Australia recognise it. If the Government does scurry to the polls with perhaps the permission of the Governor-General, who may well feel that the best time for an election is always the time that suits the Liberal Party best, whoever is in government, I believe that the people will give the proper answer to it when it takes this reckless and unprincipled step.
– I rise to oppose the allegation that the Opposition brings of the Government’s disregard of increasing unemployment. Before I say a few words that hopefully will be constructive in some measure, let me say that if thoughts of an election are not generating much excitement in many fields they certainly are generating an extraordinary measure of excitement in Senator Wheeldon, who left his seat and paraded around the aisle as he became more and more enthralled in the question whether there should or should not be an election. Indeed, Senator Wheeldon ‘s contribution was one of eloquent entertainment. Senator Button, who led for the Opposition, somewhat uncharacteristically seemed to provide for us today something of a noisy venom. But neither really got down to the proposition which they promote. They allege that there is a disregard by the Government of increasing unemployment.
It is most appropriate that the Opposition should follow this matter of unemployment through to the ultimate conclusion and hopefully, I believe, to the ultimate solution. Opposition members having created this monster themselves with great keenness and great capacity, it is only logical to assume that they will continue to follow it through. Indeed, that is what they are doing. They have talked about it as a matter of urgency on two occasions in three weeks. So I presume that they are extraordinarily anxious about the welfare and progress, or whatever, of this monster of their own creation. I commend them for having recognised that this is what they produced and for being determined to see whether it prospers. The Government has a quite contrary determination to see that it is brought under control- indeed, it is being brought under control- and finally reduced significantly.
To me, it is totally ridiculous to assume- I do not believe that members of the Opposition seriously assume- that we as a government, or even they as a government, would disregard continuing and increasing unemployment. No government in a free, democratic society is likely ever to disregard unemployment. It is a pathetic assertion. I am somewhat surprised that the Opposition should bring this matter into the Senate twice in three weeks. I believe that it is an insult to the intelligence of the Austraiian people to think that they would assume that a government of their choice would totally disregard an unemployment situation in their midst. Of course, this is not the case. Maybe it is another ploy to add confusion and distortion to the circumstances that surround the efforts of this Government to bring this economy or this society out of the trough into which it had fallen. If there is one certain way of delaying recovery in this country, if there is one certain way of delaying the reemployment of people, I believe that it is to confuse the Australian society continually about what is going on, what are the real measures, what are the real values and what are the real things which we seek.
If confusion is the aim, then of course by producing this mass of statistics Opposition senators can succeed in some measure in eroding the confidence which alone will solve the unemployment problem. That sort of erosion has been evidenced not only today during Question Time but also certainly on a number of occasions in recent days by what I suppose we could call the Hayden dollar value episode. If ever an irresponsible proposition was put to the Australian people, it is the constant questioning by a pseudo-economist and pseudo-Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this country and his casting doubt on the value of the Australian currency. That is a great contribution to re-employment. That is a great contribution to recovery in this country!
Let me turn very briefly to why unemployment is with us today. Quite clearly, no one can deny that it increased from 2 per cent in round figures to 5 per cent in the three years of socialist operation. Quite clearly, it must be referable in some way to the main characteristic of that period, which was an expansion of wages, an escalation of wages, never seen before in this country’s history and totally unaccompanied by an increase in productivity. This is the basic cause of unemployment. So basic and so real is it that Mr Whitlam himself finally in January of 1975, in a long speech in Adelaide to the Young Labor Association, admitted that wages and wages alone were the basic cause of inflation and unemployment in this country. Not only did Mr Whitlam say this; he recognised -
– That is wrong, anyhow. How can you be so stupid as to accept that proposition?
-If the honourable senator thinks that Mr Whitlam is wrong, he would not be alone. Of course, Mr Whitlam said this and the proposition was supported by Mr Cameron, one of his senior Ministers, who said that one man’s pay rise was another man’s job. So it is pretty clear that the cause of the present unemployment was basically an irresponsible escalation of the wage rates in the Australian economy. Mr Whitlam should know, because he was the man, along with his team, who nurtured the monster that he created. In trying to find temporary and desperate solutions he introduced the Regional Employment Development scheme; but within a few months of introducing it he found that that scheme was bankrupt. This Government , on a contrary course and a responsible course, has sought to restrain wage rises and public expenditure. It has done so most effectively. It is concerned to increase, by bringing some measure of reward to initiative, the operation of productivity in the private sector. In the private sector occurs 75 per cent plus of employment in this country. That is the responsible attitude to take to the unemployment circumstance with which we are faced. There are interim schemes and superficial solutions, but they will not suffice. The unemployment solution which this Government clearly understandsand I believe at base the whole Australian population understands- is related to the establishment of an economic and social circumstance in which industry and commerce generated by productivity literally go out to seek labour.
There is a real expansionary stability and confidence in an economy. Until we succeed in establishing that sort of economy in Australia, we cannot succeed in dramatically changing the unemployment circumstance. We have arrested its rate of increase. Its rate of increase for 12 months was 0.2 of one per cent which compares to an average just in excess of one per cent per annum during the Whitlam years. We have arrested the rate of increase. We are certainly not happy with that alone. We are not happy with an unemployment situation at all. We are responsible enough to recognise that the solution lies not in temporary bits and pieces but in bringing the economy back to a realisation that only in a successful, developing and productive private sector in particular lies ultimate employment for all the people in this country.
I recall that Senator Button in one of his cynical moments had something to say about the price of apples and pears. He said that we were more concerned about the price of apples and pears than we were about unemployment. That is a pretty silly statement. The price of apples and pears is far more relevant to employment of people than the sort of windy venom that was expressed by Senator Button in this chamber this afternoon. The sooner people recognise that the price of apples and pears and the situation of industry and commerce across the board are relevant to re-employment and to continuing employment in this country the sooner we will find a solution to the unemployment problem.
To the end which leads to re-employment- to a greater measure of productivity and developmentthis Budget and the previous Budget have indeed contributed a great deal. We have introduced tax indexation which, incidentally, Mr Whitlam refused to introduce and consequently grabbed in private personal income tax an increase of 89 per cent in three years. We introduced tax indexation. In this Budget we have introduced the most significant personal income tax cuts and reforms that have yet been introduced into a Parliament. These will be basic, along with the investment allowance, income equalisation deposits and the many other legislative measures, to the development of a situation in which initiative once again receives a proper reward, in which people are able to take home more of the money they earn and in which people are able to use and exploit the choices that they may have. That is what a free society is all about.
In the few moments left, I ask the Senate to consider another factor in the causes of unemployment. I believe that the causes of unemployment in this country, in spite of the remarks of Senator Wheeldon and Senator Button, are certainly related to the small radical element of trade union leadership. That is what unemployment is related too. The socialist Government took no cognizance of that fact and certainly took no action on it. The small section of the trade union movement has sought, over the last three, four or five years in particular, extreme wage rises. It has associated that seeking with industrial unrest of tremendous proportions. We see today, as has been instanced in this debate, the Victorian situation where literally half a million people are unemployed because of industrial disruption alone. The people responsible have exported jobs from this country. They have exported developmental capital. They have hastened the introduction of sophisticated mechanised equipment which of itself must reduce the rate of re-employment. They have priced Australia out of export markets, and in many cases of industrial unrest have threatened our established markets and our establishing markets. That sort of circumstance can do nothing but make an unemployment situation in this country infinitely worse.
I do not want to cover the ground that has been so ably covered by Senator Durack when he instanced the constructive measures that have been taken to help the employment situation. As I conclude my remarks, let me say that this Government is aware of the unemployment situation. The Government is grappling with it to control it on a proper and permanent basis. The Government will overcome the problem despite the Opposition’s contributions which seem basically to be concerned with nurturing the child it reared.
– I rise to support my colleagues in condemning the Government’s disregard of increasing unemployment. I do so for two reasons. The first is that I grew up in that other unemployment situation that was called the Depression. I saw the suffering that went on at that time. I saw the families which broke up. I witnessed the soup kitchens. I witnessed men fighting virtually for the opportunity to do a day’s work. The picture is not one that is easy to forget. I appreciate of course that, thanks to the enlightened policies of governments which have come to office since that time, this is not likely to happen again. Nevertheless the disaster which faces us at present in its own way is just as bad as that which occurred in 1929-1939.
My second reason for rising is the particular relevance to the Northern Territory of this debate. It will be known that the Northern Territory, as a unit, has the highest unemployment rate in Australia. The unemployment rate is 9.8 per cent. It may be interesting to look at the figures for the Northern Territory over the last three years. In August 1975, the total unemployment figure for the Territory was 1,722. In August 1976, it had risen to 2,150. In August 1 977, it has risen to 4,002. One shudders to think what the figure might be in August 1978, but it certainly will not be better. We recall what Mr Street said last year. The Age reported Mr Street as saying:
Australia’s level of unemployment is unlikely to change dramatically in the next 12 months . . .
I ask honourable senators to note that the figures which I have cited do not include many of the Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. There is a high rate of unemployment amongst the Aboriginal people. In some settlements the figure is as high as 86 per cent. These figures are not included in the ones we are using. The figures we are using do not include what people often call the hidden factor, the women who comprise 3.8 per cent of the adult work force, who do not normally apply to the Commonwealth Employment Service and therefore are not registered. The figures do not include- this is particularly relevant to the Northern Territory- those many people who will not apply for unemployment benefits because they do not meet the cosmetic standards of the Commonwealth Employment Service. They may have long hair or beards or they may dress in an unusual way. The figure which is given must be regarded as a minimum figure. We can look at it in another way by saying that there are 16 unemployed people for every vacancy in the Northern Territory at present.
If we go on to break down these figures they become interesting. In Alice Springs in 1976, the number of unemployed was 690. In 1977, it was 1,160. In Katherine in 1976 289 people were unemployed. In 1977 the figure had risen to 375 people. In Darwin in 1976 1,088 people were unemployed and in 1977 the figure had risen to 2,409 people. That represents an increase in the unemployment rate of 1 12 per cent in 12 months. Mr Acting Deputy President, you can appreciate my concern. My concern is not just with the figures themselves but with the people these figures represent. The obvious question to ask is: Why are the figures so high in the Northern Territory. It is clearly so for two very obvious reasons- Government action on the one hand and lack of Government action on the other hand. We have seen the Government’s action in cutting back government expenditure in the Northern Territory, cutting back on the building, repair and maintenance of schools and other buildings, cutting back the road program, cutting back the railway program, the deferring of major programs- putting them in the Budget in the first place so that things looked good and then deferring them to next year by the late calling of tenders and other devices.
The third area is the savage across-the-board cuts in the Public Service which I mentioned before. We all know that Darwin is a government town. If government expenditure is cut the economy slows down gradually. Small businesses, shops, garages and the professional people all feel the effect of the government cutbacks. The Government has been inactive in a number of areas. It has failed to stimulate the economy. In fact, it has allowed it to grind down when a small injection of finance, a small injection of government money, could have saved the situation. It has failed to implement any sort of regional employment scheme. It has failed to find markets for most of the products of the Northern Territory. I refer here particularly to beef. It has failed to create job opportunities within the community, especially within the Aboriginal communities. It has failed to recruit to its own departments cadets, apprentices and junior officers. What has the result been? It is what someone called some time ago the tragedy of unemployment. I will read this quotation:
The tragedy of unemployment is the personal hardship involved; indeed, the complete destruction of a family’s living standards as jobs become harder to get.
Who made that comment? It was not a Labor Minister, not even a Labor member of Parliament. It was the present Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, who made that comment when speaking in 1974. It is interesting to note that he went on to say:
I believe that principle to be valid -
He was speaking here about the principle of the Myers report- and governments need to make a concerted effort so that unemployment does not remain the complete and absolute disaster that it has so often been in the past.
The principle involved in this is all the more valid when unemployment, as it is now, is the result of the government’s mishandling of the Australian economy . . .
They are the words of the present Prime Minister when he was speaking in 1974. The situation seems very similar at the present time. I would like to comment briefly on the Darwin scene before coming back to the Australia-wide scene. I mentioned earlier that the economy has ground to a halt. I have mentioned in the Senate the situation within the building trades in which, out of the 18 builders in Alice Springs, only four can find work. Services that ought to be provided for the community- health and dental services and through government offices, including social serviceshave all deteriorated in the last 12 months to two years. I want to make it clear at this stage that I am not knocking the Public Service. Many of the people working in the Public Service are dedicated officers. It is the system that has produced the situation that we find at the present time and about which I want to complain. We know that the size of the Public Service has been decreased by the so-called natural wastage. This means that as people get old or resign they move out. So we are left with a staff that is out of balance. Instead of people leaving the Service across the board, we have people doing work for which they are not trained. We have professional people doing work that support staff ought to do. In the private sector, because of the inverse multiplier I mentioned earlier, small businesses are closing down. We have had complaints from the master builders. So there is unemployment in both sectors.
It is a fallacy to believe, as the Government appeared to believe earlier, that a cut in the Australian Public Service would mean a lift in the private sector. In the last 12 months on the wider Australian scene in manufacturing industry there has been a drop from 1.2 million employees to 1.15 million employees. In the construction industry there has been a drop from 375,000 employees to 361,000 employees. What are the consequences of the Government’s actions and inactions? Firstly, there are the social consequences which the Government chooses to ignore and to its great discredit refuses to do any research into. It refuses to investigate the effect on crime and the effect on health-community health generally and the health of the individual. It refuses to investigate the effect on family relationships, the attitude of school leavers and so on. The Brotherhood of St Laurence which moved ahead of the Government here did some work in this area. I commend its report entitled Workers Without Jobs’ to the Government. The Brotherhood found that unemployed people had feelings of boredom. What did this lead to? I do not think there is much doubt about what boredom in young people is very likely to lead to. The Brotherhood found frustration in people not being able to get work. It found mounting concern about their financial position. The research of the Brotherhood and other research clearly indicated an increasing death rate through suicide among young people who could not get employment.
The Government’s inactivity and activity result in a high correlation between unemployment and wife bashing, unemployment and child abuse and a range of mental and physical disorders. The Government does not appear to realise that high unemployment also means high unemployment benefits and high sickness benefits. Last year $600m was spent on the payment of unemployment and sickness benefits. There is no doubt that much more will be spent this year. Bill Hayden’s Blind Freddie surely could see far more effective ways of using this money to remedy the situation. What has the Government done about this? It has set up training schemes. We have been told this. Those schemes have been set up in two areas of trainingAboriginal training and training in the wider community. A committee has been set up to look into Aboriginal training. We know that committees often are used to quieten the critics and that they often lead to inactivity. I do not think it is fair to say that this will happen with the present committee. The Minister for Education Senator Carrick) is committed to training and employment for Aboriginal people. Many of the members on that committee are dedicated and are trying to do a good job. But the answer does not lie in the training of the Aboriginal people.
The solution to the problem lies in the creation of employment opportunities.
Many of the people out of work at the present time are trained. They are just sitting down with nothing to do. We all know that Aboriginal people will learn quickly when the opportunities are there for them to get employment. The lack of employment is ruining the education program in the Northern Territory. The Aboriginal children are rejecting school because it does not lead anywhere. Once we were able to say to Aboriginal children: ‘Come to school, get a good education and you will be able to leave school and get a good job’. This no longer applies. The children have rejected this idea and they have rejected school with it. In the wider community the Government has encouraged employers to take on apprentices but is not creating work for these people to do. Obviously there is little point in encouraging people to take on apprentices if there is no work to be done. It is no training to sweep the floor and it is developing pretty poor attitudes towards work if people are not learning and actually working. The Government itself is not taking on apprentices. We were told during the hearing of Senate Estimates Committee E that in 1975 the Department of Construction took on 213 apprentices. In 1977 it is taking on only 121 apprentices. This moved the chairman of the Committee to comment:
It must appear ludicrous that we are instituting all sorts of training schemes to induce private employers to increase their trainees when the Government, by the contraction of its capital programs and this attitude to cadets and apprenticeships, is not straining every nerve to give training opportunities within its own Department of Construction.
Obviously, as I said before, training is pointless without employment opportunities. At present many trained people are out of work. On a wide spectrum professional people, skilled people, unskilled people and others are out of work. They do not need training. They need employment opportunities. My concern is for the young people. As Senator Wheeldon said, they compose the largest group of unemployed people in the community-40 per cent of all unemployed. What prospects do those young people at school have when they leave school? What incentives do these younger children at school have to study hard? I am concerned about the long term effects of this attitude.
It is clear that the Government has not accepted responsibility for the unemployment situation. It has tried to blame everyone but itself. The Government must sheet back the responsibility to itself. It must accept responsibility for the situation before us. It has allowed the chimera of single digit inflation to cloud its view. It has allowed its obsession with a smaller deficit to assume unnecessary proportions. It has slavishly followed ideological concepts of less government involvement and allowed that to override other considerations at the cost of loss of dignity and happiness and the cost of what Mr Fraser earlier called the tragedy of unemployment. Clearly the situation, like the economy, is out of control but something can still be done. I am suggesting to the Government that it might take the step of stimulating the economy by government expenditure. Again, I refer to a former Minister for Construction, who at a Senate Estimates Committee meeting, made this comment:
It is appalling to me that the capital works program that the Commonwealth Department of Construction is undertaking is on a shrinking basis . . .
He had many more telling comments to make to which I do not have time to refer. The Government must appreciate, so far as the Northern Territory is concerned, that the multiplier will have its effect and it will get business going again, such as the small businesses that the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton) was worried about. The side effect of this will be confidence in the economy. People will open their purses and money will get moving. It is not enough to ask people to spend; some positive action is needed. The Government should re- assess its attitude to the Australian Public Service. It should remove this ridiculous staff ceiling concept and make it efficient and operative.
The Government must recruit more apprentices and provide projects on which they can work. It must really, in effect, introduce an effective manpower policy. Basically, what we are saying is that the Government should reconsider its basic approach to this problem. It should put dignity and happiness before ideology, and it should restore confidence to the community as a whole, particularly the young people. I commend the motion to the Senate.
-We are debating the motion that ‘The Government’s disregard of increasing unemployment’, is a matter of urgency. This is political action by the Opposition, and it certainly lacks sincerity. Let us look at the history of unemployment. In January 1974 when the present Opposition was in power there were 121,082 people unemployed, 2.1 per cent of the work force. A year later, in January 1975, that number had risen from 121,082 to 3 1 1,000 which was 5.2 percent of the work force. A year later, in January 1976, it had gone up to 5.6 per cent of the work force which meant that nearly 350,000 people were unemployed. The Opposition is telling us that we are disregarding the increase in unemployment. In the last two years of the Opposition’s reign the number of unemployed people increased by 222,857. It had increased by 3.5 per cent and had reached 5.6 per cent of the work force; and the Opposition is now telling us that we are disregarding unemployment. Since we came into power the number of persons unemployed has gone up by 0.2 per cent.
– It has gone up more than that.
– It has not increased more than that.
– It has.
– If you got your figures from the Parliamentary Library -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Devitt)- Order! Senator Walters, you should address the Chair.
– You will find, Mr Acting Deputy President that unemployment has increased by 0.2 per cent since we have been in office. Unemployment has increased under this Government by 10,550 in one year compared to 222,857 in the last two years of the Labor Government’s reign.
– There are 2,000 in the Territory alone. What about the rest of them?
-Let us look at this in perspective. These are the figures I have just quoted clearly, and they are quite accurate. Yet, the Opposition is saying that we are disregarding unemployment. Let us look at the reasons for that tremendous increase in those last two years. Firstly, inflation went up. It rose sky high. Wages went up and, as has already been stated here today, even Mr Cameron then said: ‘Well, if they go up much more, every time there is an increase in wages, one man’s pay rise is another man’s job’.
The Labor Government also cut tariffs. Tariffs were reduced right across the board and this threw thousands of people out of work. It is no wonder that unemployment figures increased by 222,857 in two years. I repeat that tariffs were reduced right across the board. I am not referring to overseas countries. The Opposition cannot blame overseas trends for this increase in unemployment. It was a direct result of the actions of the Labor Government. If honourable senators examine Mr Cameron ‘s speech in Hansard of 1 7 October 1974 they will find that he admits this. When referring to the National Employment and Training scheme that the Labor Government set up he pointed out that it was set up for persons rendered redundant by the Government’s actions, such as tariffs cuts. He pointed out very clearly that the actions of the Labor Government of that day, in relation to tariff cuts was one of the major reasons for the NEAT scheme coming into being. The major reason for the Labor Government bringing in a NEAT scheme was to try to put some of these people back into a job.
I should like to examine that NEAT scheme because there were only two schemes that the Labor Government brought in for all those unemployed people and one of them was the NEAT scheme. At that stage the Government was paying people $96.80 a week under the NEAT scheme. This was supposed to be the average adult award wage. It was assisting about 10,600 people. Out of that additional number of unemployed people of about 222,000 the Labor Government was assisting only 10,658 people in 1975-76. It provided assistance only for those people who could really work the system- the intelligent people in our society. The people who could work the system got the greatest advantage out of it. We find that out of those accepted for the scheme 5,000 were professional or semiprofessional people and 188 were unskilled people. The NEAT scheme was a rip-off for those who could work the system.
I believe that when Mr Cameron realised the damage he was causing he tried valiantly to overcome the problems with guidelines but they did not work. In March 1976, after we came into power only 25 per cent of the people training under the NEAT scheme were being trained in in-plant operations. The rest were being trained in all sorts of professional and semi-professional occupations. In November of that year, just a few months after we had been in power, 68 per cent of people in the NEAT scheme were then employed in in-plant training. By August of this year it had increased to 80 per cent. In other words, 80 per cent of the people in the NEAT scheme are now employed in in-plant training.
– What is the total figure? You might only have 100 people employed.
– I am asked what the figure is. The figure when we came -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Devitt)-Order!
– You were talking about percentages.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! I called for order and when I do that I expect to be respected.
-Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. I have been asked what the figure is. I will be very happy to answer that question because when we came into office, as I said earlier, 10,658 people were being helped. Only 25 per cent of those were being helped with in-plant training; all the rest were being helped in a professional or semi-professional way. Now some 40,000 people are being assisted.
– Some 400 per cent.
– Yes, it has increased to 400 per cent. Four times as many people are being helped. Of those 40,000 people, 80 per cent are receiving in-plant training. So, let us not quibble about who really is concerned about the unemployed and the less advantaged of the unemployed, because it is very obvious. The other scheme that the Labor Party introduced was the RED scheme which cost $2 10m and which the Labor Party itself decided was such a debacle that it closed it down. It closed it down in October 1975. Senator James McClelland, in answering a question Senator Rae asked about the closing down of the scheme in Tasmania, said:
The position is that because of the budgetary situation no new schemes are being approved. Some of the sponsors of the schemes which had been approved prior to 30 June have been told that the approval has been withdrawn.
So, the RED scheme- the scheme that was meant to help the unemployed during the Labor era- was withdrawn because of budgetary considerations. As I have said, there were only two schemes- the RED scheme, which was withdrawn, and the NEAT scheme which helped professional and semi-professional people, not the unskilled- that the Labor Party introduced to overcome the tremendous unemployment it had created for 222,000-odd people in just two years.
But there is more than that. That period of a couple of years changed the whole philosophy of the people- the whole philosophy of how people look upon the unemployment benefit and how they look upon assisting themselves. When we left office in 1972, 30 per cent of the Australian people who were registered as unemployed actually sought the benefit; but when we came back into office that 30 per cent had increased to 70 per cent. In four short years the whole philosophy of the Australian people had changed from putting some money away for a rainy day and looking after themselves to putting out their hands as soon as they are unemployed and claiming the benefit.
I can give the Senate a pretty good example. I was asked about this the other day. The mother of a nurse who had just finished her three-year course complained to me. The nurse had been earning for three years what all of us would consider a fairly good wage in certainly a very reliable job. She had to wait two months before goinginto her higher training in obstetrics. That mother complained to me that her daughter had trouble in getting the unemployment benefit for those two months.
– She was entitled to it.
- Senator Georges says that she was entitled to it. That is exactly what I am saying and pointing out. The whole philosophy of the Australian people is being undermined and ruined by the Opposition. In a normal situation before we went out of office it would never have occurred to any nurse who had worked for three years and been paid a reasonable salary not to be prepared to look after herself for two months without going on to the unemployment benefit and putting her hand out for that benefit for two months until she went into another equally well paid job for another nine months of training. But for two months benefit the whole philosophy of that person changed. This is a result of the Labor era. It really points out the damage that the Opposition did during its time in office.
As I said, in my opinion and in the opinion of the public- this is why we are in office nowLabor acted very irresponsibly regarding the unemployed. Wages went up, inflation went up, there were across the board tariff cuts, unemployment rose and there was just complete and utter irresponsibility. Labor introduced two schemes, as I said. We have not completely covered this area; I admit that. We still have a long way to go, but at least we have stopped the rise in unemployment and we have schemes that are acclaimed by the whole of the population. We have an apprentice scheme that is encouraging people to go into apprenticeships. My time has expired, and I now move:
That the question by now put.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. As the honourable senator said, her time had expired. How then can she move the gag?
– No. The question is: That the question be now put.
– I have put the point of order to you, Mr President. She did say, did she not, that her time had expired? What she is trying to do now is prevent any other speaker from entering the debate. This is becoming -
– Order! The question is: That the question be now put’.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Senator Button’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the 1977 Inquiry on Medical Fees for Medical Benefit Purposes by Mr Justice J. T. Ludeke. Mr President, I seek leave to make a statement relating to the report.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I point out to honourable senators that when I use the first person singular pronoun, I refer to the Minister for Health (Mr Hunt). On 13 April 1977, I announced the appointment of Mr Justice J. T. Ludeke, Deputy President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, to conduct an inquiry to determine fees for medical benefit purposes to apply from 1 January 1978 to 31 December 1978. As background to the inquiry honourable senators will recall that a Medical Fees Tribunal had been convened in 1973, also under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Ludeke, to determine fees for fixing medical benefits. The establishment of the Tribunal followed a protracted period of disagreement with the medical profession over the level and nature of the most common fees then in existence.
As a result of the Tribunal’s determinations, amendments to the Medical Benefits Schedule were made in November 1973 and April 1974. During the term of the Whitlam Government, there were three private inquiries- one in 1974 and two in 1975-to update those fee levels gen- / erally on the basis of increases in the costs of conducting medical practice and increases in the net income component. These inquiries resulted in total increases of 58.9 per cent, except for pathology, over a two and half year period. Pathology fees increased by 38.6 per cent over the same period. At this point, I seek leave to have a table of movements in Medical Benefits Schedule fees incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The table read as follows-
There has been no increase in Pathology fees since 1 . 1.76.
Changes in Pathology from 1.10.76 would mean a reduction in overall utilisation and cost The 1.8.77 Pathology Schedule was completely re-drafted.
Increases in 1978 for Pathology fees have been deferred by the 1977 Enquiry. An Enquiry may be reconstituted, following a request from the AMA to the Minister for Health, to determine increases (if any) in Pathology fees to apply in 1978.
-There was no inquiry held in 1976. Instead, the Government negotiated an overall increase with the Australian Medical Association. The increase of 7.5 per cent applied from 1 January 1977. In announcing the Government’s acceptance of this proposal on 8
September last year, I indicated that the overall increase was restrained and represented real progress towards the Government’s objective in containing health care costs in Australia. I also indicated last year that as a prelude to a detailed inquiry in 1977 to determine medical benefits fees from 1 January 1978, there would be continuing discussions with the AMA on ways of modifying and improving the mechanism by which fees for medical benefit purposes were periodically adjusted.
The Determination of the 1977 Inquiry was received on 22 September 1977 and in accordance with a prior undertaking by the Government to accept the Determination for medical benefit purposes, the Government will take steps to implement it from 1 January 1978. The Determination provides for increases in medical fees for medical benefit purposes which are restrained and consistent with current Government economic policy. The overall increase is 7.3 per cent excluding pathology, which is less than the underlying rate of inflation. This represents a further major step in containing increases in health care costs in Australia. The Inquiry deferred an increase in pathology fees. If there is no increase in pathology fees in 1978, the overall increase would be about 6.7 per cent. In contrast with previous inquiries, there were a number of participants in the proceedings of the Inquiry in addition to the Australian Medical Association and my Department. Other participants were Senator Shirley Walters, the New South Wales Health Commission, the Australian Association of Neurologists and the Society of Pathologists in Private Practice. The Determination provides that there should be increases in fees for medical benefit purposes from 1 January 1 978 to provide for increases in the gross income derived by medical practitioners from Medical Benefits Schedule services. The increases in the gross Schedule fee income determined by the Inquiry are: 8.2 per cent for general practitioners and consultant physicians; and 6.1 per cent for all other specialties, except pathology, where there was no increase.
These increases were determined to cover increases in practice costs and to allow for an increase in net income. I need hardly emphasise at this point that doctors’ gross incomes have to cover practice costs before a net income is produced. The component increases of the 8.2 per cent increase determined by the Inquiry in the gross Schedule fee income of general practitioners and consultant physicians comprises a 12 per cent increase in practice costs and a 5.2 per cent increase in net income. The increase of 5.2 per cent in net income was determined on the basis that it does not exceed increases over the last year received by persons in similar income brackets as a result of wage indexation. A lower increase in gross Schedule fee income for other specialties, except pathology, was determined by the Inquiry. An analysis of this increase indicates that after allowing for increases in practice costs, the increase allowed in respect of net income was 2.2 per cent.
The overall effect of the Determination for all doctors, except pathologists is to allow increases in gross Schedule fee income of 7.3 per cent. After allowing for practice cost increases of 12 per cent, the increase in net income is 3.8 per cent for the whole year. This compares with an estimated increase of about 9-10 per cent in the average weekly earnings in the community, which can largely be attributed to wage indexation increases over the year. Pathology fees were not increased by the Inquiry. The part of the Schedule relating to pathology fees was revised on 1 October 1976, and then completely revised again from 1 August 1977 following the report of the Pathology Services Working Party in March 1977. Honourable senators will recall that these changes were introduced to curb over-utilisation and abuse of pathology services. Due to lack of information at this stage on the results of the 1 August changes, the Inquiry deferred any increase to pathology fees. However, the Inquiry recommended that, on a request from the Australian Medical Association to the Minister for Health, a further inquiry should be convened to determine increases, if any, to such fees. This is an area of particular interest to the Government and we will be watching all developments closely.
The Inquiry determined that the increases in Schedule fees be made differentially, that is, that the increases in Schedule fees for items vary but will provide, overall, the determined increase in Gross Schedule fee income by specialty. This method, which is a departure from previous methods of adjusting Schedule fees, was developed by my Department in consultation with the AMA, on the basis that it provides a more equitable approach in apportioning increases. As an example of the increase in Schedule fees from 1 January 1978, a standard general practitioner surgery consultation, in hours, would rise from $8.20 to $8.90 in New South Wales, an increase of 70 cents. Medical benefits would rise from $7.00 to $7.60, an increase of 60c. Other important features of the Determination are that:
The Inquiry declined the recommendation of the AMA and of other participants in the proceedings of the Inquiry to take any across the board steps towards uniform national fees in the Determination. The Inquiry found that there was little evidence to support the move but there was information sufficient to raise questions about the grounds on which claims for uniform fees are based.
Three new items should be introduced into the Medical Benefits Schedule, and there will be amendments to two items, for services covering consultations at nursing homes and hospitals.
The fees in Tasmania for consultations by consultant physicians in psychiatry will be raised to the level of the fees in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. A similar adjustment should be made to items covering interview by a consultant physician in psychiatry of a person other than the patient.
Medical benefits should be payable for a consultation and for a radiotherapy treatment when rendered on the occasion of the initial referred attendance.
Preliminary estimates made by my Department indicate that, excluding pathology, the overall increase of 7.3 per cent would increase Medical Benefits Schedule fees by some $67m in a full year. Increase in benefits would cost Medibank and private medical benefits organisations about $59m in a full year. The increases in benefits flowing from the fees increases determined by Mr Justice Ludeke should result in increases in family contribution rates of up to 35 cents per week. However, the actual increase in contribution rates is a matter for each individual organisation to assess in the light of its particular financial experience. The organisations will be advised as soon as possible of the increased benefits so that they can assess what increase in contribution rates will be necessary. Action will be taken shortly to prepare regulations under the Health Insurance Act to implement the Determination, and to re-print the Medical Benefits Schedule book for use by medical benefits organisations and doctors. In conclusion, I would like to thank the Australian Medical Association for its goodwill and co-operation which were evident throughout this Inquiry. I would also like to express the Government’s appreciation to Mr Justice Ludeke for the manner in which he conducted the 1977 Inquiry and for his timely presentation of this comprehensive Determination.
-by leave- I move:
The Opposition welcomes the tabling of the report by Mr Justice Ludeke on medical fees in this country. This is the second or third such report determining fees for medical benefit purposes and the co-operation that was given Mr Justice Ludeke by the Australian Medical Association on this occasion I believe demonstrates that we have come a long way. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– by leave- I am making this statement to the Senate on behalf of the Hon. M. J. R. MacKellar, M.P., Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. It should be understood that when I use the first person singular pronoun I am referring to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs.
A study of the economic costs and benefits of immigration was one of three projects commissioned by the Commonwealth Government in 1970. Two of these- the National Population Inquiry, headed by Professor W. D. Borrie, O.B.E., and the 1973 immigration survey- were completed in good time and produced valuable results. The first report of the National Population Inquiry was tabled in Parliament in February 1975 and was the first major study to identify, and publicly comment upon, the national decline in fertility and its implications for the future growth and development of Australia. The report showed that the demographic scenario of the future is likely to be substantially different from that which formed the background for economic development in the 1950s and 1960s. The report of the 1973 immigration survey, which was entitled ‘A Decade of Migrant Settlement’, was tabled in Parliament in September 1976. This was the first comprehensive study of migrants’ experiences in Australia and covered such areas as employment, accommodation, language and recognition of qualifications. In addition to listing the major problems experienced by migrants in Australia, the report also identified the migrant groups most seriously affected by problems in these areas. These two reports provide a valuable data base for the formulation of Australia’s future population and immigration policies. Their findings are also of immediate relevance to other areas of government, both State and Federal, and to the private sector.
I now refer to the report on the third project, the cost-benefit study of immigration. Associate Professor J. R. Wilson, of the University of Sydney, in 1970 undertook to carry out a costbenefit study of immigration. His appointment was recommended by the then Immigration Planning Council and the project was subsequently placed under its general supervision. Over the period 1970-71 to 1972-73 a total of $39,000 was provided for the study, mainly for computer processing and research assistance for Associate Professor Wilson’s work on this project. Progress was, for reasons I am not informed about, unsatisfactory. The Council made assiduous efforts to have the study completed, including the use of a special committee to discuss future action on the study with Associate Professor Wilson. Successive Ministers for Immigration pressed to have the study completed as did I. The final report was received in June 1977. 1 believe that I will, in expressing some regret about the apparent quality of the report, speak not only for myself and the Government but also for previous Ministers for Immigration who, like me, had hoped for a greater contribution to an understanding of the economic impact of the post-war immigration program than this report offers. I do not propose formally to table the document. However, copies have been placed in the Parliamentary Library for honourable members and honourable senators to examine.
– by leave- I journeyed to the Parliamentary Library to study a copy of the report on the cost-benefit study of immigration. I must admit that we have not got much value for the $39,000 that was mentioned. I speak with some interest in and some authority on this subject because I know that during the term of the previous Government the Minister then responsible for immigration, Mr Clyde Cameron, and the immigration committee of the era, of which I was the Chairman, were very anxious to get something worthwhile out of this project. The product of an expenditure of $39,000 and seven years work is a welter of statistics, but there is no decisive conclusion. As a matter of fact, I think that it almost develops some dangerous thinking. By that I mean that it almost advances the chicken and the egg syndrome as to whether one should have labour intensive industries in the rubber, textiles and motor car industries and whether the high migrant intake in the 1960s and, to a lesser degree, the 1970s created a demand for those goods or conversely that the industries are there only to absorb that migrant work force.
I do not think that the report is at all decisive. It may well be, to be a little charitable, that attempts were made to get a comprehensive assessment of the Australian work force. I did notice that on one page of the report- I think it was page 58 -it is stated that it was difficult at times to do that because it occurred during a period when people from Commonwealth countries were not subject to the same statistical control when coming into and going out of the country. Associate Professor Wilson did make reference to the free interplay of people between Australia and New Zealand. I would rather say that, in view of the fact that there was a lot of controversy about this subject and there was perhaps a justifiable desire to get an effective assessment of the cost-benefit of immigration, it is a rather dismal document. In fact, it might have been better if one or two of the conclusions had not been attempted to be arrived at or if they had been brought to a more decisive point of view or decision.
There is one point about which I was a little curious. I noticed that the Minister for Science (Senator Webster), who today in this chamber is representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Mackellar), did give the impression that his counterpart in the other place was not in a position to say why there was such a delay in the presentation of the report. There may have been sound reasons. I have held the view over the life of successive governments that the machinery in the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations may not be sufficiently tooled up to enable one to try to assess the manpower demands in industry in the face of automation. Perhaps that is something that Associate Professor Wilson wanted. All I can say is that for seven years work and an expenditure of $39,000 I think he could have done something better. Perhaps he may not have meant to imply a playing down of the position of people from overseas. I must say that I think that there is something in the Chinese concept of sending all academics out to the farms for six months to get a more proletariat attitude on things. Frankly all I can say is that if, after seven years work, the production of people in industry were something like this report I know that Senator Walters would be proposing in an adjournment debate that they be sent to the stocks. I conclude by saying that this document is not a document that one can form any firm conclusions about. I would say that I do not think that the question of how far our manufacturing industries should develop in the light of competition from overseas should be used as a stick with which to belt the big post-war migrant populations in the highly industrialised States of New South Wales and Victoria. All I would say is that if we have to pronounce a requiem on this report, the less said about it the better. I leave it at that.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) by leave- I am pleased to be able to inform the Senate that the Government has decided to establish a National Royal Commission into Drugs. The Royal Commission will be constituted by Mr Justice E. S. Williams of the Queensland Supreme Court and will commence its hearings as soon as possible. Since the Commonwealth first announced the proposal to establish a national drug inquiry, there have been a series of meetings between the Commonwealth and the States at officer and ministerial level to settle the terms of reference and mode of operation of the inquiry and to discuss cooperation and co-ordination with the two existing drug inquiries in New South Wales and South Australia. Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland have agreed to the establishment of a National Royal Commission and to the terms of reference of such a commission. These States have also indicated their willingness to give any legal support necessary for the establishment and operation of the National Royal Commission. Negotiations are still proceeding with New South Wales and South Australia. The procedure will be that the Commonwealth will establish a Commonwealth royal commission and those States agreeing to support the National Royal Commission will take steps to appoint the Commonwealth royal commissioner to head identical inquiries under State legislation.
The Government believes this to be a most important step as it is clear from all accounts that the drug problem extends right across Australia and is not confined to any one particular State. Because of this, the Government believes that a national royal commission is needed to investigate the total position. After the National Royal Commission has been established I feel sure that a workable relationship will be arrived at with the New South Wales and South Australian royal commissions. The Government has been very conscious of the need to minimise as much as possible any overlapping or duplication between the roles of the various commissions. To this end the terms of reference of the National Royal Commission have been adjusted to minimise any such overlapping, particularly with the South Australian inquiry. I now table the proposed terms of reference, which I believe represent a satisfactory and comprehensive basis for a national inquiry.
-by leave- I move:
The Opposition welcomes the establishment of this commission. Even though it means that three inquiries into the drug problem will be operating at the same time, the statement made by the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) has indicated that close co-operation will be sought and will be given by the two States, New South Wales and South Australia, that already have their own inquiries. In 1967 and 1968 the Senate established a select committee to investigate drug trafficking and drug abuse and that committee brought down a very comprehensive report to the Senate. It is obvious that, although the problem at the time was proved to be very serious, drug trafficking, drug addiction and drug abuse in Australia have reached frightening proportions. So any inquiry that is established will prove useful in determining what means have to be taken to limit and hopefully to eradicate the problem in some way. Therefore, the Opposition accepts the inquiry and hopes that it will look at the Senate report because it was a comprehensive one. It opened up many areas of investigation. Honourable senators will recall that the then Senator Marriott chaired that committee.
However, the terms of reference of the proposed royal commission might be considered to be restrictive, and they may be discussed at a later stage if we have an opportunity to debate the establishment of this commission. It seems to me, from looking at the terms of reference, that the commission will be inquiring into the illegal use of the exotic drugs. Since I was a member of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse, I can say from experience that it will be very difficult to establish how to restrict and, hopefully, to eliminate the illegal use of drugs unless we are aware of and inquire into the misuse of all drugs of addiction. The terms of reference tabled by the Minister have limited the inquiry, and the royal commission will not inquire into the area of abuse of the addictive drug of alcohol, which is the greatest drug of abuse in this country, as was proven by the Senate inquiry, and will not inquire into the abuse of analgesics and barbiturates or the abuse of nicotine in cigarette smoking.
The point I am making is that to isolate the inquiry to the drugs of addition that are referred toin the terms of reference would be to isolate the investigation from the general problem of drug abuse. We are a society which overuses drugs of abuse and the overuse of the accepted drugs is related in some way to the abuse of the illegal drugs. It seems to me that an inquiry of this sort, a royal commission, should be looking at the general area of abuse in order to see the root problem of misuse of the more dangerous drugs, the drugs that are causing such horrific consequences in the community. I can understand that unless the terms of reference are restricted in some way the inquiry may range much too far, and the emergent nature of illegal use of the exotic drugs is such that it needs immediate legislation by this Parliament. I believe that the royal commission will come fairly quickly to making recommendations after searching out the problems and searching out those people who engage in the terrifying trade in the types of drugs which are referred to in the terms of reference.
I am certain that the two State inquiries have covered some very useful ground. I do not know their terms of reference. Perhaps they are a little wider. Perhaps they cover the areas of which I have spoken, but again I say that I do not doubt that the States that have their own inquiries will co-operate. I take it that this commission will look at the inquiries that the Senate undertook as well as the evidence which has been given already before the two State inquiries. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Senator Durack)- by leaveagreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the questions with regard to the several stages of the passage through the Senate of the Bills being put in one motion at each stage and the consideration of such Bills together in the Committee of the Whole.
Ordered that the Bills be taken through all their stages without delay.
Motion (by Senator Durack) proposed:
That the Bills be now read a first time.
– I rise tonight on the first reading of these tax Bills to raise two matters. The first concerns criticism by Senator Carrick on 22 September last of remarks made in the Senate by me on the same day. The subject of my remarks was Mr David McNicol, a journalist attached to the Bulletin, a weekly publication, and in particular the actions by Mr McNicol in 1965 when he falsified a news report which appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of which he was then editor in order to secure political advantage for the Liberal Party in New South Wales in the State election which was then pending. Senator Carrick claimed that I, in what he said was my normal fashion, indulged in what he regarded as very offensive and continually offensive words. Senator Carrick said:
I have never believed that the privilege of abuse of others in this Parliament should go to the extent that a person can do something here that he would not be willing to do outside.
He also said:
I have a couple of comments to make on those remarks. Firstly, I would have thought that Senator Carrick would have been well aware of the fact that truth is not necessarily an effective legal defence in an action for defamation. There is no reasonable doubt whatsoever- I will demonstrate this later- that the allegations I made about Mr McNicol are true.
My second point relates to a proverb popular with Senator Carrick himself: Physician heal thyself. Few people have a record of using the Parliament to denigrate other persons and to accuse people of dishonesty and corruption without offering any proof whatsoever which equals that of Senator Carrick. Let me quote from Senator Carrick ‘s speech in the Senate on 22 October 1975 on a motion to defer consideration of the 1975 Budget. Senator Carrick said-
– Order! Senator Walsh, you must not deprecate an honourable senator in this place.
– I am about to quote what Senator Carrick said.
– I am telling you not to deprecate an honourable senator in this place. Carry on.
- Senator Carrick said:
The Commonwealth Constitution specifically and deliberately provides the means whereby a dishonest, corrupt and disastrously inefficient government may be removed from office . . .
They are Senator Carrick ‘s words. He then continued: this Government is the worst government since Federation, because it is dishonest . . .
A couple of minutes later lie said:
Now we are talking about corruption, dishonesty and disastrous inefficiency.
Those words were spoken by Senator Carrick in the Senate just over two years ago. He was describing Ministers in the Whitlam Government. He described them as dishonest and corrupt. If Senator Carrick has the courage of his own convictions, I suggest that he repeat outside the Senate allegations of dishonesty and corruption against Ministers in the Whitlam Government. If he fails to do so, I suggest that he refrains in future from criticising other people who have used the privilege of this Parliament to inform the public on matters about which the public is entitled to be informed. That is precisely what I did when I first raised on 22 September 1977 the question of Mr McNicol’s corruption as a journalist. Senator Carrick, of course, produced absolutely no evidence to support his allegations of dishonesty and corruption levelled against Ministers in the Whitlam Government.
The evidence supporting the allegations of journalistic corruption against David McNicol was published in an article in Nation Review in August of 1 976 and for more than five weeks was unchallenged by David McNicol or anyone else. Mr McNicol developed an interest in this matter only after I had given it wider publicity in this chamber, including the broadcast of our proceedings. Suddenly he developed an interest in the matter. I can, I suppose, understand Senator Carrick ‘s particular sensitivity in this matter since Mr McNicol in 1965, when these events took place, acted in collusion with the then Liberal Party Leader in the New South Wales Parliament, Mr Askin. Senator Carrick at that time was the General Secretary of the New South Wales Liberal Party; he was the generalissimo of what I understand was known as the Ash Street junta. Senator Carrick has been upset before by some of my statements in this House about other members of the Liberal Party. In particular I know he is most upset and annoyed that I have used this Parliament to expose one simple fact. The former Liberal Party Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, stood in the House of Representatives on 29 April 1 965 and used these words:
The Government is in receipt of a request from the Government of South Vietnam for further military assistance.
A letter tabled by a subsequent Liberal Prime Minister, then Mr McMahon, on 22 June 1971 and also the revelations in the Pentagon Papers leaked to the New York Times in 1971 showed that when Sir Robert Menzies made that statement he was lying. No such request was received by the Government at that time or since. In fact, the Pentagon Papers revealed that the Australian Government had been endeavouring to secure an invitation from the Government of South Vietnam in the three weeks prior to Sir Robert Menzies’ false assertion, which is a euphemism for a deliberate lie, that the Government was in fact in receipt of a request at that time for troops. Pursuant to that lie deliberately told by the Liberal Party guru, the then Prime Minister, in 1965, 492 Australians and an unknown number of Vietnamese were killed in Vietnam.
The second point I wish to raise concerns the speculation about an early election. It is, of course, quite apparent that this Government and the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in particular are desperate to conduct an election this year instead of next year. As everybody knows, despite the Prime Minister’s facile promises in 1975 to provide the jobs that Australians needed, the unemployment rate is 65,000 higher than it was a year ago. The Budget forecasts admit that on average unemployment will be 70,000 higher in this financial r.-J than it was in the previous financial year. This Government has failed miserably to fulfil its promise to provide the jobs Australians need. Not only has it failed to fulfil that promise but also has it seriously exacerbated the unemployment situation. Of course the Prime Minister and the Government know that the situation will continue to deteriorate next year. The Reserve Bank reportthe official forecast- which was leaked a couple of weeks ago demonstrated, contrary to the claims that are being made by senior Ministers of this Government, that the economic indicators are that the economy will drift deeper into recession.
This Government is desperate to have an election this year because it fears the wrath of the electors next year. All it is seeking is an excuse. Originally it was apparent that the Prime Minister was going to use uranium as an excuse. The Liberal Party has since discovered that its uranium policy is not as popular with the public as the Liberal Party believed it would be. In particular another confidential document published in the Australian Financial Review a couple of weeks ago showed that the Liberal Party in fact has decided not to mention the alleged economic benefits of uranium mining at all because it is terrified of a public backlash against the implication that the Liberal Party is prepared to jeopardise the entire global environment for a grubby dollar. The Government will play down the alleged economic benefits.
The Prime Minister clearly was preparing to hold an election on the uranium issue until he became aware of the relative unpopularity of the Government’s view on this issue and particularly its unpopularity with one of its traditionally strong areas of support, the female voters. The logic of the situation, had the Government proceeded with this plan and even had it survived an election and lost 25 seats, is interesting to say the least. One must speculate what the Government’s reaction would have been, having lost 25 seats in a uranium election. Would the Government have claimed that the loss of 25 seats constituted a massive public endorsement of its uranium policy? Of course, if the Government was really interested in testing public opinion on this issue, it would have taken up the offer, challenge or invitation of the Australian Council of Trade Unions to conduct a referendum specifically on this issue. Regardless of what one’s personal views may be on whether questions like this should or should not be decided by referendum, if the Government really wanted to test public opinion on uranium, that clearly was the most effective way to do it.
The other more recent excuse to hold an election is industrial unrest which is deliberately exacerbated by this Government and by Liberal and National Party governments in Victoria and Queensland. It is apparent, having found that the uranium issue was likely to be counterproductive, that the Government is now paving the way for an election on the question of industrial unrest. Again this question arises: Let us suppose the Government holds an election on this issue and survives the election but loses 20 or 25 seats. Will that be interpreted as an endorsement by the public of the Government’s policies? Whether or not it is interpreted that way, having lost 20 or 25 seats, what will the Government then be able to do in the Parliament on the question of industrial unrest or industrial law which it cannot do already? It has a clear command of both Houses of this Parliament. It has the numbers to take any action it wishes to take, to introduce any legislation it wishes to put through the Parliament on industrial relations. There is absolutely no need or justification for a premature election being called on the issue of industrial unrest. The situation was summed up succinctly in the editorial of the Australian Financial Review yesterday, 4 October, The editorial stated:
The reason Mr Fraser wants an election is that he feels he can get himself another three years by going now. He has absolutely nothing else in mind- no long-term economic strategy, no major issue on which he is seeking a genuine mandate.
The editorial continued:
Mr Fraser is not the embodiment of Australian Liberalism. He is a most idiosyncratic politician who has arrived where he has by a process of accidents and manipulation.
You do not have to go far to find examples of Mr Fraser’s day-by-day political battlefield style. Only last week he was quite seriously postulating the proposition that one oil company was failing in its national duty by locating its petrol outlets only where business was best.
If anyone else had said that he would have been dismissed as some sort of socialist economic crank.
Instead such sentiments come from a Liberal Prime Minister of Australia.
I digress here for a moment to mention that I asked a question of Senator Withers earlier today on this very issue, that is, the Prime Minister’s attempt to coerce State governments to legislate to force fuel companies to sell petrol at uniform prices. The question I asked was in two parts. I asked whether the Government believed that any company, and if so which company, would supply petrol at, say, Normanton on Cape York Peninsula for the same price that the company supplied petrol in Brisbane even though it may cost the company 10c or 15c a litre to freight it to Normanton. The company would then have to sell the petrol at 16c a litre. So the more petrol that company sells at Normanton, the more money it loses. I asked whether the Minister could tell us on behalf of the Government which company, if any, he thought would be willing to supply the market on the basis that the more petrol it sold the more money it lost, or whether the Prime Minister envisaged that there would be some sort of quota system under which a company would earn the right to sell petrol in the cities where the profits were highest by selling some stipulated quantity of petrol in the country or at places like Normanton. Finally, I asked whether that initiative or suggestion of the Prime Minister should be regarded as another demonstration of his firm commitment to small government and free enterprise.
Senator Withers said that he did not understand the question. If that is correct, I suggest that it is a very sorry reflection upon this Government and upon the Liberal Party of Australia. If the person whom the Liberal Party elects as its leader- presumably he is regarded as being one of the more astute and perspicacious members of the Liberal Party- cannot understand that question, either Senator Withers is lacking in perspicacity, to say the least, or he does not want to answer questions in the Senate. His record over the last 18 months or so suggests very strongly that he is not interested in answering questions.
The Prime Minister talks of economic treason, of allegedly reprehensible attempts by people in the Australian Labor Party and outside the Australian Labor Party to destabilise the economy by speculating about the value of the Australian dollar. We heard pleas from Senator Scott last night and from a number of other members of the Liberal and National Country parties that we really ought to get together and say that the economy is recovering, that business is booming and that will become self-fulfilling belief. It is ironic, to say the least, that that notion should be postulated by the Prime Minister, the man who during the latter part of 1975 continually talked about the alleged disastrous condition of the Australian economy and its alleged inevitable deterioration as long as socialist centralists remained in government, the man who held the threat of the withholding of supply or the deferral of the Budget as a sort of sword of Damocles over the then government. It is ironic, to say the least, that the man who engineered all that has the audacity to condemn others for allegedly destabilising the economy.
Of course, when Mr Fraser was in opposition sabotaging the economy or attempting to sabotage the economy, it was no empty threat. His party which took its orders from him had the numbers in the Senate to reject the Budget or to defer the Budget which it ultimately did. Everybody knew that. Mr Fraser ‘s threats were not empty threats. He had the political power to implement them. On the other hand, of course, everyone knows that whatever statement is made by a person in the present Opposition, there is no way that person has any effective political power, at least until after the next election. All these attempts to obtain a premature election are transparently cynical. To borrow a phrase, they ought to be regarded as reprehensible and extraordinary. It seems to have been accepted, virtually without question, that if the Government decides to have an election there will be an election. That view ignores what I believe is the very important role of the Governor-General, should Mr Fraser officially decide to ask for an election. The words I am about to quote have been quoted before but they bear repeating. In a speech in
New Delhi in February 1975, the present Governor-General said:
It is of course not sufficient for him -
That is the Prime Minister- to seek a dissolution of Parliament simply because he would like to have an election long before it is due . . .
The essential question is whether the Governor-General can be satisfied that Parliament has in fact become unworkable.
With an absolute majority of eight in the Senate and something like 64 in the House of Representatives for the Liberal and National Country Partiesthe Liberal Party has an absolute majority in the House of Representatives in its own rightwho could say that the Parliament has become unworkable? Precedents were set in 1904, 1905 and 1909 when Governors-General rejected requests by the Prime Ministers of the day for premature elections. There are precedents for a Governor-General refusing to accede to a request from a Prime Minister for an election. There was, of course, no precedent for the action taken by the Governor-General- the same Governor-General- on 11 November 1975. Of course, people might say that what happened in 1904, 1905 and 1909 may not be particularly relevant today. That view, again, is untenable to anyone who supported the action taken in November 1975. The whole case put by the supporters of that action rested on a literal interpretation of the words that are written in the Constitution, and they are the same words with respect to these sections today that were applicable in 1904, 1905 and 1909.
I do not believe that the Governor-General will accede to a request from the Prime Minister for an election should such a request be made because the Governor-General knows very well that if he grants an election for no better reason than that the Prime Minister wants one, he will have tacitly admitted that the function of the Governor-General as perceived by him is to grant the Liberal Party an election whenever it believes it can win, irrespective of whether it is in government or in opposition. I do not believe that the Governor-General will grant a request for a premature election, given that knowledge, with one possible exception which I will mention later. He will have far more respect for history’s verdict upon himself than to so clearly identify himself- in taking that action he would- as someone who does the bidding of the Liberal Party, whether the Liberal Party is in government or in opposition. If he should grant such a request he knows very well, of course, that his position would be indefensible and he would be judged by history accordingly. The one exceptionI do not accept this either- is that it has been said, indeed it has been written and published, that if one catches the GovernorGeneral at the right time of the day he will sign anything that is put in front of him.
– Order! I refer to Standing Order 417 which states that an honourable senator must not refer disrespectfully to Her Majesty or to any of Her Majesty’s representatives in this Commonwealth.
– I am very well aware of Standing Order 417. I was not referring disrespectfully to the Governor-General.
– I raise a point of order, Mr President. I think the honourable senator should withdraw that remark.
- Mr President, I should like to speak to the point of order. I raise the question of what is disrespectful. What Senator Walsh said was it has been rumoured that if one presents a document to the Governor-General at a particular time of the day he will sign it. That is not a reflection on the Governor-General. It is not a derogatory remark about him. It may be a reflection of the fact that sometimes he is in a happier mood than at other times. Sometimes a man may be more appreciative of nature than at other times. If it is suggested that a man may be persuaded to take certain action at a particular time of the day, it does not necessarily imply that he is acting improperly. I do not know whether people react differently at different times of the day or on different days. Someone believes that the Governor-General may. I do not think it is a derogatory comment about the GovernorGeneral to say that if one catches him at the right time of the day he may take certain action thinking there may be justification for taking such action. I think we will restrict the ability of honourable senators to speak in this chamber if we put a narrow interpretation on what are defined as derogatory remarks about the Governor-General. I do not think honourable senators should be condemned or pulled up for speaking on this particular question unless it is justified.
– Order! I have made reference to the strictures in Standing Order 417 which refer to remarks made about the representative of Her Majesty in any of her Commonwealth countries. I ask Senator Walsh to continue his speech.
– I withdraw any imputations which may have been wrongly ascribed to my remarks or my views about the GovernorGeneral. The point I was making was that that remark had been said, had been written and in fact had been published. I do not believe that it is true. So far from reflecting or casting imputations upon the Sovereign’s representative, I am defending the Sovereign’s representative against imputations cast and published more than a year ago by other people against the Sovereign’s representative. I hold to that view that it is not correct that the Governor-General, if approached at the right time of day, would sign anything that was put in front of him. That was an imputation made by other people which I reject. I also reject the belief, which seems to have been accepted by the Press and public generally, that the Governor-General will comply with any request of the present Prime Minister to grant a premature election because the GovernorGeneral knows very well what history’s verdict of him will be, should he do so. I believe he will be far too concerned about history’s verdict of himself to comply with such a request.
– I take the opportunity to make a few remarks in the first reading debate on the Customs Tariff (Coal Export Duty) Amendment Bill. I think the Senate is indebted to Senator Walsh for revealing some things which have appeared to go on and on in this Parliament. When members of the present Opposition utter certain words they are hauled over the coals, as the saying goes, yet during our reign in office the members of the now Government were quite prepared to utter those words and, in fact, to move amendments to Appropriation Bills and, as I have pointed out in this chamber on more than one occasion, have even voted on such amendments. There are quite a few honourable senators opposite in this chamber tonight whose remarks are on record and I will refer to them later if I am stopped from saying what I intended to say, using the same words as appear in Hansard. The amendments were voted on by the present government senators when in Opposition. As Senator Walsh pointed out, such words were used by the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) who now takes umbrage whenever honourable senators on this side of the chamber cany on a precedent which was created by members of the present Government, that is, using certain derogatory words about members of the then Labor Government and, in particular, about the Prime Minister of that time, Mr Whitlam. It was all right for members of the present Government to make those remarks when they were in opposition. They thought they were gaining some mileage. But when we endeavour to throw such comments back in the Government’s face, it is all wrong. A precedent has been set and I have come to learn, over the years that I have been here, that once a precedent has been set it is very hard to get away from it.
As I have said, Senator Walsh has done a great service to the Senate, to the people who maybe listening to the broadcast of the Senate proceedings this evening and to the people who may read the Hansard record. He has done a great service to them by pointing out that the present Government has two standards- one when it is in Opposition and another when it is in government. When in government it tries to set a high standard. There is another point for which Senator Walsh should be thanked. He has drawn to the attention of this Parliament and many other people the reasons for the story doing the rounds today that we possibly will have an election before the end of the year.
– What has that to do with coal? It is dirty and black.
-Senator Kilgariff has not been here long enough to know that a member of the Senate may speak on any matter he chooses on the motion for the first reading of a money Bill. That is what Senator Walsh did, and that is what I am doing now; so I ask Senator Kilgariff to read the Standing Orders and to familiarise himself with them. Perhaps he ought to go back and read history also. He then might regret that he raised a point of order while Senator Walsh was speaking because of some remarks that he made. If Senator Kilgariff reads history he might see that on a certain day in a certain month in 1975 certain things took place; that his leader happened to be at a certain place with his car parked around the back so that the general public would not know that he was there. What was he doing? Senator Kilgariff knows very well what he was doing. He was up to some mischief and the honourable senator knows it. I will get back to what I was talking about.
Senator Walsh should be thanked for what he has exposed here in relation to the proposed actions of the Prime Minister, who goes around the country dropping little syllables here and there- Mr Nixon does it; Mr Anthony does it; and I think one of the other Cabinet Minister did it the other day in a certain place, I think it was the Minister for Defence, Mr Killen- trying to put the people on edge by hinting that there may be an election in the offing in the very near future. Why do the Liberal and National
Country Parties want an election? As Senator Walsh has pointed out, they have record numbers in both Houses. If they want to take certain action to put the economy back on the rails they have the numbers now. It is guaranteed, of course, that if the Prime Minister goes to an election he will come back with fewer seats. Even if he comes back in government he will come back with fewer seats. He has the numbers now; so there is no need for him to go to an election- except, as I will point out, for one thing.
I will quote Senator Hall on this. I do not always agree with him, but I agree with certain remarks that he made in this place on 3 March last year when he was speaking on the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s Speech. They were very truthful words and of course he hit the nail on the head. I would not know whether Senator Hall is still of the same opinion, now that he has rejoined the Liberal Party of which he was so critical for a couple of years; but I propose to quote him. This is the main reason why the Prime Minister will go to the polls; he well knows, as Senator Hall has pointed out, that even if he is defeated at the election a Labor Government, which is the alternative, would not be allowed to govern because we would not have the numbers in this place. Senator Hall has told the nation at large why, and I will quote him. I quote from page 394 of the Senate Hansard for 3 March when Senator Hall was speaking on the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech. He said:
One fact looms quite largely in political thinking in Australia immediately as a result of the manner of the dismissal of the Labor Government by the Governor-General. That is, that we cannot have a successful and democratic trial of this Government at the next House of Representatives election. It will be a no-election. Twice in the last several years the Liberal-National Country Parties have shown that they will not allow the Labor Party to govern unless it has a majority in this chamber. The Labor Party will be unable to obtain a majority in this chamber at the next Senate election. Therefore there will be no democratic test by the Australian people for at least 5!6 years. This is a direct consequence of the manner in which the Labor Government was dismissed. It immediately destroys any argument that to refer to such an important aspect of Australian political life is simply a personal vendetta by members of the Labor Party.
Of course, what we were saying and what led Senator Hall to make those remarks was that the Liberal Party did in fact conduct a personal vendetta against the then Labor Government. As Senator Walsh has pointed out tonight, the present Leader of the Government is on record in the Senate Hansard as saying on more than one occasion that immediately after the election of 1972 he and others in the Liberal Party set about destroying the Labor Government despite the fact that the Labor Party had been elected by a majority of the people. We had to sit in this chamber for 17 months and suffer frustration with our legislation- legislation which had been put to the people in a policy speech and agreed to. Because of the method of election of the Senate- with half the members of the Senate going to the people every three years- we were not able to get the numbers to pass legislation in this place. As Senator Hall has pointed out, the Liberal Party, running true to form, although it could not be in government itself, was going to prevent the properly elected government from governing the way the people wanted it to govern, and so much so that we were forced to go to the people again in 1974. What was the result? We were returned to office again and we added to our numbers in this place. We added to our numbers to such an extent that the people of Australia decided that no longer could the Liberal and National Country Parties combine in this chamber to frustrate and amend any legislation that was brought in by the Labor Government.
What happened then? There was a series of events. When a person was democratically appointed to another place- which the Liberals had done on quite a few occasions- what did we find? We found the Liberal Premier of New South Wales replacing that man with a political neuter so that we would not have the numbers to carry out the task that we were given by the electors of Australia. But, worse than that, when one of our collegues passed away what did we find? What did the Premier of Queensland, who is to go to the people on the 12th of next month and put himself forward as a democratic Premier, do?
– What is his name?
-Mr Bjelke-Petersen. What did he do? He broke all the conventions. He did not replace our esteemed colleague Senator Milliner with another member of the Labor Party. He decided that, because the Labor Party would not submit a panel of names from which he could select a person to send to this place, he would not send a Labor man. He picked out a rebel- a person about whom I will not talk because I think enough has been said about him and from now until his dying day he must feel ashamed of himself.
If we cast our minds back a little further we will recall that when Dame Annabelle Rankin, the then Minister for Housing, was appointed to a high position in New Zealand a choice had to be made. That was during the time of the McMahon Government. Did Bjelke-Petersen then call for a panel of names from the Liberal Party? Of course he did not. He appointed Senator Bonner. He did not want a panel of names from which to choose. He put Senator Bonner in here. It is a different kettle of fish when it suits him. When the Labor Party was going to lose the numbers in this place after being democratically elected, a person in Queensland went to the depths of despair because he did not want a Labor government in Canberra. So he used all the dirty tricks he could think of in an endeavour- and he was successful- to prevent the Labor Government which had been elected on a second occasion in May 1974 from carrying out the policy which it was elected to carry out. From then on Senator Withers and the people who sit behind him used every device possible again to frustrate the Government.
So, when we look back in history we see that, although the Labor Government was elected on two occasions within three years to carry out a policy with which the people agreed, we were not allowed to carry it out because the Liberals had the numbers in this place. As Senator Hall has rightly pointed out- it now looks almost certain because of the way the present Government has got the country into an economic mess, with rising unemployment which is the worst since the last Depression- even if Mr Fraser holds an election in December and is the loser he will still ride roughshod over the democratically elected government because he will have the numbers in this place. As Senator Hall has pointed out, it will be five and a half years before the electors of Australia can elect a democratic government which will have the numbers in both places to carry out the wishes of the people.
I can understand Senator Hall’s concern because he was the victim of the same sort of thing when he was the Premier of South Australia, when he had to contend with a person named Mr Renfrey De Garis who even though he was in the same party- he was the Leader of the upper House- went on record as saying: ‘Why do you want a democratic election for the Legislative Council in South Australia? I know the permanent will of the people’. Of course, that is the same thing as Senator Withers and Mr Fraser -
– Born to rule.
-We well know- I thank Senator O’Byrne for reminding me- that the present Prime Minister’s mother is on record as saying: ‘Malcolm was born to rule’. There is no doubt that he has that job now, but I do not think any person could sleep soundly in his bed at night after coming into the prime ministership of the country in the circumstances in which that man came into it. When he has time to reflectperhaps in some of his weaker moments when he is getting older and he looks back- he will remember and he will be ashamed of the dastardly thing that he did to the people.
– If he has a conscience it will catch up with him.
– He has no conscience now, but as people become older their consciences seem to come out a bit. Those are some of the reasons why the Prime Minister wants an election.
There is one other important reason: He wants to extend the life of his Government by a further two years. We all know that his Government’s term of office does not expire until December 1978. By going to the people early, not only would he extend his government’s term of office by two years, if re-elected. He would get rid of some of that massive surplus he has in the other place. We all know it is an embarrassment to him. Day after day we see statements about him in the newspapers. First we had the statement by Mr Ellicott who resigned as Attorney-General and who said that he could not serve under Mr Fraser because of his actions. We then find a Western Australian Liberal member saying that he will not stand for election again because he cannot stand the methods used by the present Prime Minister.
All these things are going on and they are coming to the boil. If the present Prime Minister has to wait another IS months for an election the pot will boil over and he will be in real trouble. There are a lot of people on the other side who have not forgotten the meeting that took place in Toorak when Mr Snedden was the Leader of the Liberal Party. They have not forgotten the methods that were used to dispose of him. It may happen that history will repeat itself. It is already being said that the Prime Minister’s most faithful friend, Mr Street, is being groomed to take over the Prime Minister’s job. If the Prime Minister does not hold an election before Christmas we well may live to see the day, in the not too distant future, when that will eventuate.
– But who is talking about an election? You are.
– I am talking about an election because the hints are being dropped every day. We have seen the present Prime Minister touring the outback of Queensland trying to whip up support. I would be happy if Senator Kilgariff could tell this Senate that there is not going to be an election and put the people’s minds at rest. We do not mind.
– You are proposing it.
-We would like to have an election because we know from looking at the gallup polls and the rising unemployment figures, to which I shall refer in a few moments, that we would be returned to office. If Senator Kilgariff has any power in the coalition parties, he might propose to the Prime Minister that he should go to the people. We would welcome an election, because we are ready whenever he is.
– You sound worried.
-I am not the least bit worried. I was elected in the first place for a term of six years but, because of the unsatisfactory way in which this Senate operates, I had to face two more elections even before my first six-year term finished. But I got back each time and I suppose I can say to Senator Kilgariff that there is more certainty that I will be back here after the next election, whenever it is, than that he will be back.
I shall return to the matter I started on and which Senator Walsh raised earlier. He referred to the statements made by the Minister for Education, Senator Carrick, and other members on the other side who are now Ministers. One person concerned is the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Withers. I wish to refer to a document put out by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) by way of a policy statement. I have referred to it before and it bears repeating because you cannot remind people too often of the deceit of the present Government and its leading lights in some of their policy speeches. They have deceived the people in these deceitful statements; that has been proved to be the case. The document in question is entitled ‘National Country Party of Australia Policy Speech: 1975 Election, delivered by Right Honourable J. D. Anthony, M.P., Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the National Country Party of Australia at Festival Hall, Brisbane, 26 November 1975’.
– A good speech.
– The honourable senator might not think so when I read it out. You would really think it was a Labor Party speech before an election, because the wheel has turned and history is repeating itself. Mr Anthony said:
The great goal of this election is to put Australia back on its feet.
Well, we were also told that the Libs were going to turn on the lights. Apparently they have not found the fuse yet because there are no lights. What did he say were the goals of the coalition parties? They were:
To restore good management.
To repair a damaged nation.
To put men and women back to work.
I want to cite some figures shortly in regard to that before my time runs out. He deceived the nation by saying that employment was one of their goals. He made a promise he knew he could not carry out. The present Attorney-General (Senator Durack), in his remarks today, proved that they knew they were making statements which they could not carry out. Senator Durack, in his defence of the high unemployment figures today, was saying: ‘Oh, you cannot blame the present Government because the situation was a world-wide phenomenon’. But when we were in government the then Opposition would not say the situation was a world-wide phenomenon. Whilst we were in government from 1972 to 1975 there was higher unemployment in all other countries than in Australia. But while this Government has been in office, from 1975 to 1977, that has not been the case. Although we claimed that there was higher unemployment in all other countries, no credence was given to our claim by Senator Durack and members opposite. They said it was a myth and that it was all our own fault that we had a rising unemployment figure. Now they are caught up in that situation and the unemployment figures are rising rapidly. It is not the fault of the Fraser Government, Senator Durack said today, but the fault of overseas countries, because it is a world-wide phenomenon and the Australian Government cannot do anything about it. So he is caught out. He is hoist with his own petard. The rest of the goals were:
To remove stagnation.
To rebuild confidence.
To revive national growth.
They have done none of these things. Mr Anthony went on to say:
The people of this nation have seen their dollar devalued, their money watered down, till its almost counterfeit.
It is a lot more counterfeit now than it was when he made that statement. The Government has devalued, it has revalued and revalued and revalued. Last week the Government devalued one day and revalued the next day. The Government does not know where it is. It is treating the economy of this country as a yo-yo. On page 4 of his policy speech, Mr Anthony went on to say:
We can’t afford to destroy the hopes of our youth by educating them, then denying them expression.
What is the Government doing now? Not only has it brought in legislation in this Parliament, but we find Mr Bjelke-Petersen bringing in legislation in his Parliament which prevents the young people in Brisbane or any other major city in Queensland from holding a democratic protest march. Yet here is Mr Anthony, who belongs to the same party as Mr Bjelke-Petersen, saying in his policy speech:
We can’t afford to destroy the hopes of our youth by educating them, then denying them expression.
He claimed that we denied them expression. We never did any such thing. As long as it was a democratic march and a democratic protest, we felt they were entitled to hold that march. We still feel that way, but Mr Bjelke-Petersen does not. He must have collaborated with Mr Anthony on this legislation; they both belong to the same party.
We had very oppressive legislation put through this Parliament some months ago in the form of the Commonwealth Employees (Employment Provisions) Bill to prevent Commonwealth employees from even protesting about the conditions under which they have to work. Yet we find the Deputy Prime Minister deceiving the electors in 1975 with these printed statements. He went on to say:
A once fully-employed community suffers unemployment on a scale not seen for 40 years, with worse to come.
They were very true words because worse was to come. The Bureau of Statistics proved that he was quite right, because the unemployment figures have risen astronomically since the Fraser Government came to office. So we cannot criticise the Deputy Prime Minister for telling people that worse was to come in regard to the unemployment figures. He was quite right. But what he was trying to get across to the people was that if they returned the Whitlam Government things would get worse. He was not saying that if the coalition parties were elected to government things would get worse, but that is the very thing that happened. Mr Anthony went on:
Industries have been sapped of their productiveness and robbed of their profitability.
Industries, not only manufacturing industries but primary industries, are complaining bitterly today. We witness the situation regarding the beef industry. What has this Government done to the beef industry? It provided no remedial measures in the Budget to help the beef industry or the people connected with primary industry. It was not until force was brought to bear by the Cattlemen’s Union that the Government came out with the statement on the beef industry which, when you analyse it, is not worth the paper it is written on. The beef producers will find this out when they start to look for the benefits.
– It is a lot of bull.
-Of course it is. The Government is going to give the beef producers $10 a head to spey their young heifers of up to two years. There is nothing in the statement to show how the system will be policed. The Government would not know whether the producers were claiming for speying a steer or what they were doing. Perhaps it is going to have people from the Auditor-General’s office standing at every cattle gate checking the sex of the animal to see that people are not claiming wrongfully. I do not mean the small people because they deserve assistance: I mean the big wealthy combines who are going to perpetrate a rort under this scheme just as the doctors have perpetrated a rort under the Medibank scheme. During the Estimates Committee hearings I questioned a Commonwealth Police report which showed a massive increase in Commonwealth Police work in South Australia and the Northern Territory. Over 3,000 of the cases involved doctors- three doctors in the main- who perpetrated a rort under the Medibank scheme, robbing the taxpayers of this country. Yet we hear people opposite saying that people who are getting the dole are robbing the taxpayers. Honourable senators opposite are talking through the top of their hats. Mr Anthony goes on to say:
Businesses, large and small, have been driven to the wall.
Small businesses and their association are on record as saying that since this Government was elected 12,000 small businesses a year are going to the wall. That is why I asked Senator Cotton today what he is going to do about it. Mr Anthony continued:
As they have faltered, jobs have been destroyed.
If we can blame faltering for increased unemployment how much more can we lay that type of blame at the door of the present Government with the way unemployment figures are increasing. Mr Anthony said also:
Better economic management will enhance the value of both. We want industry to move again, to produce again, to employ again.
Industry, of course, is not employing again. I think Senator Walters today made great play of the apprentice training scheme. What is the good of training people when they cannot find an outlet for their skills after they have been trained? What is the Government going to do with them? There are no jobs available and there are fewer jobs every day of the week. In his policy speech Mr Anthony also said:
The people of Australia are entitled to transport that efficiently meets their freight and personal needs.
What was one of the first actions of this Government? What was the first action of Mr Nixon, a member of the party to which Senator Kilgariff belongs? Mr Nixon closed down the railway in the Northern Territory. Yet Mr Anthony, the Leader of the National Country Party, talks about the need for efficient transport. What did the Government do when it first came to office? It closed down the only railway line in the Northern Territory. It was a lifeline but it closed it down.
– On the recommendation of Mr Charles Jones, then Minister for Transport.
-I have yet to have proved to me that this Government has ever acted on any recommendation of a Minister in the previous Government. It has done the reverse. Because Senator Kilgariff’s party is the culprit for closing down this Une, he tries to say that it was on the recommendation of the Whitlam Government.
– You ruined the outback.
- Mr Anthony went on to say that they would put the nation to work. Of course, we know that they are putting the nation out of work day by day. I heard some comment that the Labor Government ruined the outback. The Labor Party was criticised when it was in government because of actions that it took on the petrol differential. It was said that the Labor Government ruined the country. What is happening now? This Government-I am sure that Senator Kilgariff is not going to cross the floor and vote against that particular part of the Budgetis going to increase the price of petrol this year by 1 lc a gallon. What will that do to the outback of Australia? Senator Kilgariff is a party to it. He supports it. He is going to vote for it and he should not say that the Labor Government ruined the outback. If the Labor Government ruined the outback with an increase of 3.5c a gallon for petrol, this Government will ruin it three times more by putting on an imposition of 1 lc a gallon. Senator Kilgariff supports this. If he does not support it I will be happy to see him cross the floor and oppose that measure when it is introduced. When speaking about Mr Whitlam, Mr Anthony said:
That is a deliberate lie to deceive the people. I have produced charts in the Parliament which I have obtained from the statistical section of the Parliamentary Library- they have been incorporated in Hansard on more than one occasionwhich show that in 195 1 the inflation rate in this country under the then Mr Robert Menzies was 25 per cent. Yet Government supporters have the audacity to go to the people, thinking they have short memories, and say that the Labor Government had the highest inflation rate in living memory. It did not. The highest inflation rate was under a Liberal-Country Party Government under the leadership of Robert Menzies. In the short time left to me I want to quote some figures to prove once and for all that this Government, despite what Senator Walters tried to do today to manipulate the figures, has a high rate of unemployment. I want to refer to the monthly figures for 1975. In January 1975 the unemployment rate was 5.20 per cent of the work force. That was the highest rate under the Labor Government. It reached 5 per cent only once, then it gradually came down until in December 1975, after this Government had been in office for six weeks, it rose to 5.41 per cent of the work force.
– That is your fault.
– I am pleased Senator Jessop said that. I set a trap for him. When the Labor Government came to office in December 1972 the rate was 2.39 per cent. Senator Jessop claims that the previous coalition government was responsible for that rate. But in January, under the Labor Government, it was 2.37 per cent. The Labor Government reduced it and this Government increased it. It is in the table which I have obtained from the Parliamentary Library. Let us compare the figures month by month in 1976 and 1977 with 1975. In January 1976, the first year of office of this Government, the rate was 5.62 per cent. In January 1977, 5.83 per cent of the work force was out of work. Let us look at February. Under the Labor Government it was 4.97 per cent and under this Government in 1976 it was the same figure. In January 1977 the figure was 5.70 per cent, an increase of nearly 1 per cent. In March 1975 the figure was 4.52 per cent. In March 1976 it was 4.55 per cent. In March 1977, despite Senator Walters’ assurances that this Government is bringing down unemployment, it was 5.37 per cent of the work force.
Let us look at the magnificent reduction for the month of April, the only comparable month where the Government can rightfully claim that it reduced unemployment from the rate applying during the Labor Government’s term. In April 1975, under the Labor Government, it was 4.45 per cent and under the Liberal-National Country Party coalition it was 4.40 per cent. We had a magnificent reduction of .05 per cent. That is the only reduction we had. When we look at the figures month by month on the chart, we find that unemployment figures are rising rapidly. I refer to the month of May 1975, when the rate was 4.16 per cent under the Labor Government. It was 4.25 per cent the following year under this Government and 5.17 per cent this year. In June it was 5.37 per cent and in July 5.44 per cent. The latest figures available show that the percentage of unemployed in the work force is 5.39 per cent.
These figures cannot be denied. Senator Walters used them today but she twisted them around to suit her own argument. I have used them only in their proper perspective. Let us look at the figure for August 1975, the last August in which the Labor Party was in government. There were 248,229 people unemployed. In August this year there were 333,978 people unemployed, an increase in the actual figures of 85,749 in two years. That is the increase that has occurred under this Government. It is a massive increase. Yet honourable senators opposite try to say that unemployment is not an issue. Unemployment was an issue in the State election in South Australia on 17 September. Mr Tonkin, the Leader of the Opposition, made it a real issue and the people soon gave him an answer, particularly when he said that he was going to curtail the unemployment relief scheme which had been instigated by the Dunstan Government to provide an amount of $100m to look after the unemployed people in South Australia. Mr Tonkin made a foolish statement that he was going to cut it out. The people gave him the answer. They cut him out. He is now on the Opposition benches and in the view of quite a few political commentators in South Australia he will be there for a number of years. Mr President, I am watching the red light because I have in mind how a previous speaker beat the clock in an earlier debate.
– I want to say but a few words in reply to that provocative jumble of fact and fancy that Senator McLaren presented to the Senate, the purpose of which is hard to discern. We could hardly find an object among the miscellaneous set of fact and fancy that he gave us.
– A word salad.
-As my colleague Senator Baume rightly said, it was a word salad. I was drawn to say just a few words because Senator McLaren mentioned my views, which I have stated quite clearly, in relation to double dissolutions and the like. I have no more reason now to alter in any way my views on double dissolutions than I have had in the past. I am not ashamed to stand by those remarks. However, they have no bearing on the general theme that one could find in Senator McLaren’s remarks in that he seems to maintain that in some way the Labor Party was more effective in its term of government than is this Government in its existing term. This is something to wonder at and to regard as an incredible and, in fact, unsupported statement.
The honourable senator in no way made any case for the actions of his party in office, which have produced the base for the present economic difficulties in Australia. In no way can he present and develop an argument as to the election and unseating of governments that in any way will justify the uncontrollable attitude that his party adopted towards Australian finances when it was in office. The essence of the result of the 1975 election is simply that the Australian Labor Party, despite the method by which it confronted the Australian people, was found wanting by the Austraiian people. They clearly gave an economic judgment on the Labor Government. They said: ‘We no longer trust the Australian Labor Party to manage the financial affairs of our country’. They expressed that opinion quite clearly. It exists today in the form of the majority as it stands in the lower House of the Australian Parliament.
I simply wanted to say, as I have said before, that the standard of economic management of the Australian Labor Party in office is best seen and judged by the increase in the Budget of, I think, 1975, which involved an increase in expenditure of 43 per cent on the previous year’s Budget. A great deal can be read into that percentage. It means simply that to fuel the fires of its ideology, to create instantly in Australia the picture of a socialised or a socialising community that the Labor Party wanted, it was willing to mortgage every Australian’s future to achieve the almost instant availability of its policy in this country. To provide for an increase of 43 per cent in Budget expenditure is to do nothing more than to mortgage every Australian’s future. That mortgage is being paid for now in some of the economic difficulties in this country. The readjustment to match the extreme extravagance of the Labor Party in government still goes on. It is clear that, no matter what the argument may be about how this Government goes to the people in the future, nothing will detract from the judgment that the people will know, knowing full well that they still remember the Labor Party’s three years in office.
Who leads the Labor Party? Can anyone really say who leads the Labor Party? Whose personal stamp will be put on a future Labor Party government? Will it be a Whitlam? Can honourable senators say confidently that the present Leader of the Opposition will lead for a full term in a future Labor government? Will it be Mr Hawke? Can any honourable senator opposite say that it will not be Mr Hawke following his gaining of a seat in the Parliament and gaining ascendency in the Labor Party in all the turmoils and turbulences that occupy the internal affairs that are so public of the Labor Party in Australia? Will it be Mr Hayden, who has been so prominent recently in economic predictions and who has stood against his leader for leadership in recent times and failed? Will it be any of those three? Will it be Hawke, Hayden or Whitlam? No one can say whose stamp will be put on Australia’s policy for everyone to see after a few months in office by the Labor Party. Senator McLaren knows that he cannot confidently say to any Australian elector ‘Vote for the Labor Party. This will be our leader in continuity’. There is no security of leadership.
I have risen basically to add to this important question of leadership by saying that one of the stones-seemingly well based- being told in my State today is that the South Australian Premier is soon to enter national politics in Australia. It would appear that none of the people I have mentioned is good enough. It would appear that no one here is assumed and judged to be sufficiently able to lead the Labor Party, firstly, to victory and then through a period in office. In South Australia today an apparently well based story is being told that the seat of Bonython is to be allocated, over the already existing candidature of a Labor Party member, to the Premier of South Australia, Mr Dunstan, to enable him to come to Canberra to try to rescue the Labor Party from its deficiencies of leadership. I will be very interested to find out whether the members of the Labor Party opposite can so confidently deny that report. I wonder whether they can so confidently deny it. Indeed it is an interesting conjecture. It is interesting not simply because of the advent of that gentleman in the lower House of this Parliament but also because of the fact that he is at all needed here; that it could be considered that there is no leadership here which is attractive to the Australian public and someone has to be imported. I will be interested in seeing whether there is any valid basis for that report from South Australia today, which is indeed a reflection upon the current leadership in Canberra. Should it occur- I say this without vindictiveness the deficiencies of the fourth person I have mentioned soon will be found out by the Australian public.
In general, in answer to Senator McLaren, I would say that no fulminations and no causes of election can hide the fact that the members of the public have tested the Labor Party and found it to be wanting. They will do so in the future on the basis that it appears that the Labor Party will always mortgage the future to achieve its ideological aims in the present, and that is something the Australian public and the Australian nation cannot afford.
– I am aware that I do occasionally dream in technicolour but that tirade from Senator Steele Hall could only be described as a supersonic nightmare. The matters I want to raise tonight are of extreme importance. They are important not only to me but also to a large number of Australian people. I want to talk about an organisation known as the Aboriginal Medical Service which was set up in Sydney in 1971. I will refer to the Redfern branch of the Service in a moment, but I want to talk firstly about what applies to the Service in Western Australia. I want to look at a rather incredible document dated 9 September from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in that State. Together with that document is to be found a suggested scale of wages to be paid to the professional and non-professional staff employed by the Aboriginal Medical Service.
The thing that disturbs me is that some of the scales are not only below the levels acceptable to people who have worked hard and long to obtain degrees, but also that some are even below the scales accepted by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs since the inception of the Aboriginal Medical Service. For a typical example one has only to look at the figure for a social worker in the 1974-75 Budget, which was then $15,000. The Department acknowledged the need for having either a Grade 2 or Grade 3 social worker by admitting that a social worker would require that amount of money. But what do we find in this document? In column 3 of this document, which denotes the salary approved by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs on 10 March 1977 as a per annum salary, we find the amount of $14,247. In column 4 the payroll in September 1977 is shown as $14,247- in other words, the amount approved by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs back in March. But when we come to column 5, which shows the suggested scales, what do we find? We find that the scales range from $9,617 to $12,759- the salary of a social worker class 1. A little note underneath sets a degree minimum of $10,148.
I ask the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to justify how it can suggest to a social worker that he or she should be quite prepared to take a drop in salary to the extent of $2,500 a year. That is not the only one. For instance, the nursing sisters’ salary, which was approved at $10,000 in March this year, is now to range between $8,697 and $9,987. We find, for instance, that the approved rate for a welfare assistant of $8,500 m March is now reduced to $7,165 or $7,432. Very few of the amounts approved by the Department in March 1977 are supposed to be applying now.
Another problem is that I have not been able to find any of the professional staff or even the non-professional staff at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Perth- I visit it quite frequently-who have even been asked just what their duties entail. They have not even been consulted as to the hours they work, the number of patients they see or just what their duties are. So I then have to ask the Department how it assesses the worth of a worker if no one bothers to find out just what work that worker does. We have to look at the other aspects of this document too. The suggestion is being made to the Chairman of the Board of Management of the Aboriginal Medical Servicethat is the person to whom the correspondence is addressed- that all of the staff and in particular the white professional staff are being paid at a rate which is much higher than they could expect to be paid in any other position outside the Aboriginal Medical Service. That is just not so. It is an imputation that is demonstrably untrue in a number of cases amongst both the professional and the non-professional staff. I believe that imputations of that nature can have serious effects on the good relations which have been established between the Aboriginal governing council and the paid staff of the Aboriginal Medical Service in Perth.
Let us look at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. We all have read the newspapers over the last few months and know that it has been suggested to the members of the professional medical staff that they might find it necessary to accept a lowering of their salaries or even not to collect any salaries at all in order to provide an essential service to the Aboriginal people in Sydney. I know that even more people, people throughout Australia, were concerned to learn that $ 16.6m of the 1976-77 Budget was not spent by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and that actually $13m was returned to Consolidated Revenue. Perhaps the person who knows most of all what goes on in the area of the Aboriginal Medical Service in New South Wales is Naomi Mayers. She is the Administrator of the Aboriginal Medical Service. This is what she had to say in a letter published in the Canberra Times on 16 September 1977 under the heading Budget Underspent’:
Sir,- A deep sense of anger, disillusionment and concern is the response of the Aboriginal community to the report that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs had underspent its budget for the 1976-77 financial year by $16.6 million and that $ 1 3 million will go back into consolidated revenue.
The $ 1 3 million which was meant for desperately-needed programs will now be denied the Aboriginal community. The implications of this action are devastating- they will be best measured in terms of the grave human suffering that will result.
Aborigines have the tragic distinction of experiencing the highest death rate, the worst health and housing and the lowest educational, occupational, economic, social and legal status of any section of the Australian population. The Government s latest decision further denies them the opportunity of improvement. In a time when action is urgently needed the Government has chosen to reduce its involvement.
An explanation by Mr Viner, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, is urgently needed.
I notice that we have not got it yet, but it is still urgently needed. The letter goes on:
First, why did such a large underspending of funds take place?
Second, why did his department reduce funding and refuse to fund many desperately needed programs throughout 1976-77 on the basis that there were insufficient funds available?
Third, what steps have been taken to retain the remaining $ 1 3 million of the unspent funds for spending on projects in the 1977-78 financial year?
Fourth, what steps has he taken to ensure that such a situation will not occur again?
On National Aborigines Day the Minister stated ‘On the administrative side of Aboriginal Affairs I am determined that the credibility of my department should be restored and raised ‘.
In view of his Department’s recent actions the words of Mr Viner who is also the Minister Assisting the Treasurer, are irresponsible and hypocritical.
NAOMI MAYERS Administrator, Aboriginal Medical Service.
– They could say the same about your crowd.
-No. They could not say that in the area of Aboriginal affairs. That is one area about which they could not say it. There was never any concern about Senator Cavanagh or any of the other Labor Ministers for Aboriginal Affairs.
- Senator Cavanagh cut down funds for Aborigines.
-I do not intend to stand here and defend Senator Cavanagh. He is quite capable of doing that himself, if he so desires, at a later stage. Senator Jessop is only intent on taking up the time of the Senate on inanities. It is also important that we look at another document.
-I put $13m in their pocket.
-I am quite sure that if Senator Cavanagh had $ 13m in his pocket one area in which he would be quite intent on spending it would be the area of Aboriginal Affairs. Let us look at a ministerial briefing document from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs dated 27 September 1976. After going through the preliminaries of giving the background of the Service in 1971 and the number of employees, it goes on to discuss the nitty gritty, that is, the money required to operate the Service. It shows in some detail that there was a request for $602,013 for 1976-77. Taking into consideration the returns from Medibank, which are estimated to be something like $75,000, it is still a reasonably small amount to provide a much warranted and much needed service. Would Senator Jessop agree?
– You have not told me.
-Good. This is what the people running the Service saw as their desperate need, their absolute minimum requirement. In fact what did they get? They did not get the $602,013 that they required. They got $302,000, which is just slightly over half of what they asked for. If we look at this rather momentous document for just a moment we see a delightful statement at the bottom of the second page- delightful in that it was made by a member of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs discussing Ms Naomi Mayers’ representations to the Minister in 1976-77. Obviously, her representations were made on behalf of the Aboriginal Medical Service to obtain funds. Under the general heading Ms Mayer ‘s Representations ‘ it says:
Incidentally Ms Mayers discovered the programmed allocation for the AMS during the course of the Eastern Area programming conference -
As a matter of interest to the four Government senators who are on the benches in this chamber at the moment, I mention that these people have since boycotted the eastern area programming conferences because they realise that they are a waste of time while this Government is in office. The document continues: but was unwilling at that stage to suggest cuts to other projects to increase the AMS allocation . . .
I think that is one of the most audacious statements I have ever seen in a ministerial briefing document. It is audacious that a person in a department should assume that an administrator of the Aboriginal Medical Service would be prepared to nominate areas for cutting expenditure on vital projects so that more money could be made available to her particular service. I think it is more than audacious, and I would hope that that would be the one and only time I would have evidence of such an occurrence.
What do we find for this year? This year will be a very interesting year in the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. This year it asked for $565,000. 1 will repeat the figure it received last year. It was $302,000. This year it asked for $565,000, with an additional $60,000 for a nutritional program. What did it receive this time? It received $360,000, or just fractionally over half of what it needed. If we take into consideration the fact that $ 100,000 of that belongs to the building program, actually it has received less than half of its requirements. It has been told that the $60,000- in other words, the nutritional program, a most vital area for the health of all Aboriginal people- is under consideration. There is no country service any more. There is not likely to be a country service while this Government is in office. There is no way that it will give any consideration to the needs of the Aboriginal people in the cities, let alone in the country areas. We know that Aboriginals in country areas suffer the worst health problems.
– The Labor Party has never been interested in the country. It has always been interested in the metropolitan areas.
- Senator Jessop may have his problems in the country. Let me assure the honourable senator that I am always welcome in the country areas.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Order! Senator Jessop will have his turn later.
-The Aboriginal Medical Service in Perth has had letters from Aboriginal people in the north of Western Australia almost begging it to set up some type of Aboriginal health service and to make it available to Aboriginal people in towns in that area. There is no way that the Service will be able to do so because it does not have enough money to run its services this year either. This Government is getting away with not spending the funds that have been appropriated through this Parliament. When the Estimates come up for consideration we appropriate money to be spent on a specific project. Yet we allow this Government to get away with not spending money in vital areas of need. This Government has made promises to the people of Australia. It has broken those promises. We have a right and a responsibility to make people aware that the Government is breaking those promises.
I will take a few minutes to say some final words for my part on the subject of Aboriginals. I do not know what other people speaking on the first reading of these two money Bills will discuss. My final words on Aboriginals are that I am disturbed at a report that was given to me on the telephone from Perth this morning that the Aboriginal fringe dwellers who travelled across the Nullarbor to Canberra a few weeks ago specifically to see the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner) have now had their social security benefits taken away from them. I am given to understand that the benefits have been taken away because the people were not available during two particular weeks at a particular point. As I said, this information was given to me on the telephone this morning.
– Is it correct?
-The person who told me is a reasonable authority on this matter. Today is Wednesday. It is becoming traditional that in Parliament House on a Wednesday we do not get the Western Australian newspapers delivered. I may get mine some time tomorrow afternoon. I am not even sure that will happen. I am hoping that, sooner or later, Wednesday’s papers will come to light and I will be able to establish whether the Press in Western Australia saw fit to run the story. The AM program certainly ran it together with an interview this morning in Western Australia. The information was given to me because of my concern about the Aboriginal problem in Western Australia and in all other States in our great nation. Whilst I was concerned that perhaps the time was not opportune for those fringe dwellers to travel across Australia and whilst I was concerned that perhaps they may not have made sufficient -
– What do you mean by fringe dwellers’?
– These are the people who have gradually been usurped from thenland. If the honourable senator does not know what fringe dwellers are let me explain. They are people who live around the fringes of the metropolitan areas, because the Government does not see fit to give them land or housing.
-And used politically.
-Oh, yes. That is a very apt comment coming from the senator from the N orthern Territory. He would have a great knowledge of the Aboriginal problem in Western Australia. He would have a great knowledge of the problem of Aboriginals, full stop. I may not have necessarily agreed with the fringe dwellers’ journey across the Nullarbor. I may not have necessarily agreed that they had to travel at that time. Because that was the time that they had decided to travel, and it was their intention to come to Canberra, I fully supported their trip. I fully support them now. I will continue to support them until I make sure that they will not be subjected to all kinds of indignities because of the failure of this Government to meet promises that were made. We all know of the infamous telegram that was -
– Or even to comply with the law.
– Or even to comply with the law. That would be sufficient. Unfortunately where Aborigines are concerned it is not always necessary in the eyes of a lot of people that the law be applied.
I wish to talk also about the Press and its irresponsibility in not reporting events as they happen. I will give two particular instances. One is in relation to a Press release made in Queensland. We can only blame Queensland newspapers here. We know what the State of Queensland is like. We cannot really pretend that its newspapers are any better than the Government. Let me tell honourable senators about a little happening. It is rather like a round robin sequence. Last night I am given to understand that the Minister for Education in that great State of Queensland got on the telephone to the Director of Education who then got on the telephonepresumably they were frightened to commit anything to paper in case someone leaked it- to regional directors of education, who in turn got on the telephone to various principals of high schools and I presume tertiary education institutions who were given instructions that the building society problem was not to be discussed within the ambit of the school. That is dictatorship at its worst. When a Minister determines what will be discussed inside classrooms, we are inhibiting people from knowing exactly what goes on. But the Press in adopting this attitude that it will tell us what it thinks we should know, did not even bother to run the story.
This brings me to another point- the subject of the unemployed. I spoke at great length yesterday. Senator Jessop should have been in the chamber. He would have enjoyed my hour long speech on the Budget. I had a lot to say about unemployment.
– You would have driven me out after 5 minutes.
– If Senator Jessop had been here during my speech, I am quite positive that he would have requested that I be given an extension of time because of his concern with the matters that I was discussing. Let us talk about the unemployed. Let us talk about the attitude of the Press to the unemployed. The only time the unemployed are mentioned in the Press is when the statistics come out on how many people are unemployed in this country or when someone calls them dole bludgers or some equally unflattering term. I want to talk about a small group of people who were observed in the streets of Perth some two or three weeks ago. They were genuinely unemployed. They were clean. They were tidy. They were genuinely concerned that they were unemployed. Almost spontaneously they had hand drawn placards and they had proceeded to walk around the streets of Perth asking people, almost begging people, to help them find work. We do not even give consideration perhaps to the fact that 98 per cent and perhaps even 100 per cent of the unemployed are genuinely unemployed.
– Rubbish. That is an absolutely stupid statement.
– In that figure of course there would be some who were unemployed -
– It is an absolutely stupid statement.
- Senator Jessop, would you mind shutting up? There are only three Government supporters in the chamber now. I have obviously managed to frighten one off.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Coleman, will you address the Chair please?
– I would be delighted to, except that Senator Jessop endeavours to distract my attention. He knows that I have only 8 minutes left. He does not want me to complete what I have to say. I thought it rather a marvellous idea that these people had found it necessary to make their own placards to demonstrate that they were genuinely concerned about being unemployed and that they were intent to get work. I would like to think that all unemployed throughout Australia would demonstrate to the people of Australia that they are genuinely unemployed because of the policies of this Government. This Government will not spend money in the public sector.
We are still hearing about this mad private sector recovery. I was able to provide figures in the chamber yesterday to prove that the private sector does not even know it has to accept this responsibility. It does not even know how to accept this responsibility. I do not even recall the West Australian running anything about this group of protesters. Obviously the newspaper thought that that was something we did not want to know about. I would hope that if in actual fact the unemployed in country towns and in major cities throughout Australia decide to demonstrate in this way perhaps the Press will realise that the unemployed are not dole bludgers and that they are genuinely concerned with finding work. Then perhaps we will get the Press to cover the full story, the true story, of the unemployed.
While I am talking about demonstrations- I have a few minutes left and I intend to take my full time- let me talk about what will take place in Perth on 21 October. We will give the people of Perth the opportunity to demonstrate their wishes with regard to a very important issue. That is the issue of uranium. The ‘Be active today, not radioactive tomorrow’ march will take place at 5. 1 5 from the Esplanade in Perth. A permit to hold the march has been applied for and I am quite sure there will not be any problems in Western Australia. We conduct peaceful demonstrations wherever we go.
In Queensland we do not have to worry about being allowed to march. We know that on 22 October a rally will be held in Queensland. We know that the same people have applied for permission to march. We know that they will not receive permission to march but we know that they will conduct a very peaceful stroll through the streets of Brisbane and eventually will form up at a rally. I will be there to tell the people what I dislike most about the uranium issue. I will encourage the people to demonstrate peacefully so that governments have to acknowledge the needs and wishes of people.
Perhaps Queensland could be called the most dictator-like State in Australia. Western Australia runs a pretty close second but I would say that Queensland is on top at the moment. Of course, Charlie Court, the Western Australian Premier, has not had much time since he brought down his marvellous surplus Budget last week to turn his attention to such mundane things as controlling the people. He is busy union bashing over there in Western Australia and doing all sorts of nice things to people he considers to be nasty. His Minister for Labour and Industry is not doing a bad job, either. He is getting stuck into a few people.
– That is Mr Grayden, is it not?
-This is the Honourable. Bill Grayden, yes, Senator Mulvihill.
– He is an odd man, that one.
– He found himself in a little hot water the other day but perhaps that is best not discussed here as I was not present at the actual event. As I said, there are ample opportunities for the people of Australia to demonstrate their needs, to demonstrate their wishes and to demonstrate their concern not only on the issue of uranium and unemployment but also on the vital issue of broken promises, promises that were made prior to, during and after the election of this Government in December 1 975.
We heard Senator Hall say a few minutes ago that the people of Australia would reject a Labor government in the near future. The people will not reject a Labor government in the near future. I have admitted to the Senate and I have admit’ ted in other public places that perhaps the Labor Party did err in some ways whilst it was in government. I am not ashamed to admit that. I do not think anybody in my party is ashamed to admit it. But we learnt in the three years we were in government that we are capable of governing Australia. We are capable of fulfilling our promises. We intend to do exactly that when next we are elected to govern Australia.
– Tonight the Senate is debating the Customs Tariff (Coal Export Duty) Amendment Bill 1 977. Of course, it will be very difficult for people within the Senate chamber and the people of Australia to recognise that this is a debate on coal export duty. Of course, talking about coal, as I interjected a little while ago, has something to do with being black and dirty. Let me explain that. I think members of parliament, whether they be members of the Senate or any other parliamentary body in Australia, have the right to enter the parliament to do and say things for the good of the country. But I do not think that gives senators the privilege of saying things inside the Senate chamber against the good name of people outside the chamber. I say that that is an abuse of a privilege.
Despite the fact that I have been in the Senate for only about two years-sometimes I wonder when I listen to debates like the debate tonight whether I should be proud of being a senator- I was a member of another legislature for some 1 6 years. There it is recognised that privilege means that members speak on behalf of the country and speak for the good of the country. But members do not abuse that privilege. I suggest that tonight Senator Walsh, m his wild meanderings- his attacks on people- should have had the courage not to say the things he said in the Senate chamber but to go outside the chamber to say them.
– Do not be silly. You know what this Parliament is for.
– The honourable senator says to me, ‘Do not be silly. You do not know what this Parliament is for’. I have indicated that members should use the right of privilege for the good of the country.
- Mr Deputy President, I rise to order. Senator Kilgariff referred to some remarks that I made but he referred to them incorrectly. I think that if he refers to remarks that I made he should refer to them correctly. I quite clearly said -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Order! There is no substance in the point of order. If the honourable senator wants to make a personal explanation he may do so at a later stage.
- Mr Deputy President, I wish to explain the situation. If I used the honourable senator’s name, I did it unintentionally. It was my thought that I named Senator Walsh from Western Australia.
- Senator Colston was referring to his interjection.
- Mr Deputy President, I am explaining the position. I certainly did not imply anything against Senator Colston. But I more than implied something against Senator Walsh. I said that Senator Walsh from Western Australia abused the privilege that he should enjoy in this House. The next point I wish to make relates to black people. Very briefly, I wish to touch on the situation of Aboriginals. I am doing so briefly because I intend to speak on the subject tomorrow. Whilst I do not include Senator Cavanagh in this criticism-I knew him as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs when I was in the Northern Territory- I think that it is very wrong -
– He has never referred to them as black.
– He has never referred to Aborigines as black and while we had differences of opinion whilst he was Minister with the responsibility for Aboriginal affairs, I still have respect for his judgment. I am not criticising him. But what I am saying is that other honourable senators tonight have drawn various inferences regarding the black people. Perhaps I should call them the Aboriginal people if we are not going to use the word ‘black’. The day the Aboriginal people are properly recognised in Australia will be the day when senators do not use and abuse them for political purposes. I say that it is about time in the Senate and in other parliaments of Australia that parliamentarians did not use the Aboriginal people and abuse them for political benefit. This is what is happening today. I resent this for one reason. I come from the Northern Territory. I represent black people and white people. I hope that the future of the Northern Territory will be such that we will be able to join in a coexistence and enjoy each other’s company. But I am afraid this will be very difficult to achieve when I see the way in which Aborigines are used within this chamber.
I wish to go further on this matter. I interjected when Senator McLaren was speaking earlier in the evening. He was carrying on in his usual form. In this case he was talking about the Northern Territory and why the north Australia railway line was closed. He said that this line closed because of the Liberal-National Country Party Government. Let us go back a little further than that. Let us go back to the early 1970s when the people of the outback were recognised not only as pioneers but also as people developing the country- the north. The Government of that day, because of the high costs that were developing in the area, brought in a fuel equalisation scheme which meant that the people of the outback, no matter where they were, paid not more than 3c to 4c a gallon above the capital city price for their petrol. But with the change of government in 1972, Dr Coombs was asked by the Leader of the Labor Government, Mr Whitlam, to look into means of saving money within Australia. Dr Coombs, in many instances, looked to the people of the outback. What did happen? First of all, the people along the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory lost their freight assistance, little as it was. When the people who lived in isolated areas were receiving this freight assistance they paid no more for freight than did the people in Alice Springs. But this was lost. Worse than that, what happened then was that the
Labor Government abolished the fuel equalisation scheme.
– Why has the great helmsman not restored it?
- Senator Mulvihill, this will come. The Coombs recommendation which the Labor Government picked up brought chaos. It abolished the fuel equalisation scheme and so the cost of fuel escalated rapidly in the Northern Territory. The first result was that the cost of the diesel fuel for the north Australia railway line increased to such an extent that the Railways Commission reviewed its cost and freight rates went up. The iron ore company at Frances Creek was the railway’s main customer. It was using the railway line from Frances Creek and Pine Creek to Darwin. The freight rates increased so much that it was uneconomic for the company and it went out of business.
– We always hear that from private enterprise mining companies.
-The private enterprise mining company was put out of business at Frances Creek and that meant that the business of the main client of the north Australia railway was lost. What happened then was that Mr Jones, the Labor Minister in charge of transport in that particular area, asked for a review of the whole situation. It is a fact that the recommendation that came out of that review was that because the Labor Government had abolished the fuel equalisation scheme- it had pushed up costs to all the people of the Northern Territory, to the north Australia railways, to the company at Frances Creek and had put the company out of business- the line should close, and so it was closed. Let it be said no more that this was the action of the present Government. This was the action of the Labor Government which rejected the people of the outback. The Labor Government did that on many occasions, yet here honourable senators opposite champion the people of the outback. What do they care about the people of the outback? It has been proved that the Labor Government increased the costs of the people of the outback and that it had no regard for those people because it supported the multitude that lived on the eastern coast where the votes were. So far as the Labor Party is concerned, the people is the Northern Territory do not exist.
– I rise to take the opportunity presented by the debate on the motion for the first reading of a money Bill to draw the attention of the Senate and members of the media- to those who are here present- and of the listening public to a particular area of disadvantage in the work force which has been neglected consistently by the Fraser Government. Earlier today in the Senate there was a debate on a motion by the Opposition that the plight of the unemployed in Australia and that the failure of the Government to take any positive steps towards a solution to the problem facing the very many unemployed throughout Australia was a matter of urgency. Much was said during that debate about unemployment amongst youth, about unemployment generally and about the plight of families who have had their livelihood taken from them because of the ineptness, the prejudices and the failures of the Fraser Government and the Lynch economic strategies.
A very large group of the Australian work force has suffered a particular disadvantage and it seems, continues to suffer not only the disadvantage of unemployment, the lack of training schemes or retraining schemes or of being almost totally ignored by the Press; there are those who suffer the disadvantage of not being the subject of serious discussion or debate by persons who are in a position to do something about it. I refer to the very large number- in fact the unmeasured number- of unemployed married women workers in our community. It is probably known, even to honourable senators on the government side, that women in recent years have comprised about one-third of the work force. It is probably acknowledged by them that women workers contributed significantly to the growth of Australia during the boom period. However, what is not acknowledged by the Government or by anyone else, it would seem, is the circumstances facing women, particularly married women, who have lost their employment and their livelihood because of the current economic recession.
I find it sadly ironical that we are being governed, in a manner of speaking, by a government which adheres to a philosophy of individualism and a philosophy of free choice. We constantly hear from the Government sentiments about the importance of people being able to choose what they do and the importance of people being able to get out and do things for themselves, to have incentive, to have motivation to improve their circumstances and so forth. We hear these sentiments repeated day in and day out in this chamber and in other places. Members of the public hear them too. Yet, if we look at what has happened to women in our community who have exercised the choice to be part of the work force, who have shown the incentive to go out to work for the improvement of their families or for thenself fulfilment, who have had the motivation to be constructive and energetic about their community and about their families, we find that the Government has totally ignored what has happened to them when they face unemployment.
We also have a government that likes to indulge in discussion about the protection of individual rights and liberties and, indeed, a government which has gone so far as to present in the Parliament a Bill for the establishment of what it calls a human rights commission. We were told by the then Attorney-General, Mr Ellicott, that the main purpose of the human rights commission would be to investigate and report on the extent to which legislation in Australia conformed with international conventions purporting to protect individual liberties, particularly in the area of freedom from exploitation and so on. Let us examine some of those international covenants and compare what is contained in them with what is the real situation in Australia today, specifically in regard to unemployed women workers and what the Government has done, or to be more accurate, has failed to do about them. The International Labour Organisation Declaration, Article 3 states:
All measures shall be taken to guarantee women’s right to work as the inalienable right of every human being and to revise, as necessary, existing laws, collective agreements, practices or customs which limit the integration of women in the workforce on a footing of equality with men.
The United Nations draft convention Article 1 1 states:
The State Parties shall undertake to adopt all appropriate measures to ensure to women, married or unmarried, equal rights with men in the field of economic social life and, in particular
The right, equally with men to social security; particularly in case of retirement, unemployment, sickness, invalidity and old age or other incapacity to work, as well as the right to paid leave.
Those conventions state quite admirable principles. What is unfortunate is that those principles are very far from being implemented in Australia in the current economic situation. What is even more unfortunate is that the government of the day, the Fraser Government, has taken absolutely no steps to ensure anything approximating the implementation of those principles of equality in the Australian situation. Despite the fact that women have constituted one-third of the work force until very recently, the unemployment rate for women as measured is higher than the rate for men in every category, and this is despite the fact that the mechanisms for recording the number of unemployed women are quite unsatisfactory. By that I mean that the recording of the unemployed takes place when unemployed persons go to the Commonwealth Employment Service office and register themselves as looking for employment. Those registers are the method by which unemployment in Australia is measured.
The position in Australia is that the current practice in regard to the payment of the unemployment benefit, for which being registered as seeking employment is a necessary prerequisite, discriminates quite disastrously against married persons. I say ‘married persons’, not ‘married women’, because the Act does not discriminate on the basis of sex. However, it does discriminate against spouses whose partners are in employment to the extent that if persons who are married lose employment they are ineligible for the unemployment benefit if their spouse earns in excess of $6 a week. That situation prevails regardless of how many dependants the partners have to support. Because of that extremely discriminatory situation, most married women who lose their jobs and whose husbands remain in employment simply do not go to a Commonwealth Employment Service office to register as unemployed. They are discouraged from doing so. There are many reports to that effect. The overworked and understaffed staff at the Commonweath Employment Service offices do discourage women in these circumstances from registering as unemployed because they recognise that those women, or men if that happens to be the case, are not eligible for the unemployment benefit and indeed their chances of finding employment through the Commonwealth Employment Service are very small indeed. So these people do not register. Generally speaking, married women do not register as unemployed and therefore they are not counted in the unemployment statistics which are measured regularly by the Commonwealth Employment Service.
Despite the fact that so many women do not register, for the reasons that I have just explained, the unemployment statistics still show a higher rate of unemployment amongst women than amongst men in every category and in some categories it is quite disastrously higher. The Australian Bureau of Statistics, which of course surveys unemployment in a different way from the Commonwealth Employment Service- it generally conducts surveys based on random sampling of persons in houses rather than people who come along to Commonwealth Employment Service offices- recently carried out a survey of the work force called ‘The Labour Force, May 1977 ‘. It shows that the unemployment rate amongst females generally was 6.5 per cent in
May and amongst males it was 4.3 per cent. For junior females- we have heard a lot about the extent of unemployment amongst youth- registered as unemployed in May 1977 the rate was 16.7 per cent, as opposed to 14 per cent for males.
If we look at a group which I think can fairly be labelled as disadvantaged in the current economic situation- that is, the migrant workers- we find a higher rate again. For female migrants there is a 7.3 per cent unemployment rate, compared with a male rate of 4.5 per cent. The junior migrant female unemployment rate is 19.5 per cent, compared with 14.8 per cent for males. That means that nearly one-fifth of young migrant girls looking for employment cannot find it. That is really a very disturbing statistic. It is very disturbing when one considers that those girls are at the beginning of their working life and they have to try to find some means of supporting themselves in the years to come. Yet onefifth of them, as detected through the Australian Bureau of Statistics survey, are without employment.
Despite the difficulty of measuring the extent of unemployment amongst women, an Australian Bureau of Statistics survey called ‘Persons not in the Work Force’ which was published recently claims that at least 200,000 women- that is nearly a quarter of a million women- are looking for jobs but cannot enter the work force either because there are not any jobs available or because child minding facilities are totally inadequate. So, over and above the general statistics on unemployment there are almost another quarter of a million Australian workers genuinely unemployed.
When we look at that survey to see what the reasons are for this scandalous level of unemployment we find a variety of reasons, all of which could be ameliorated by a government which was serious about creating equality of opportunities for employment and all of which could be ameliorated by a government which was prepared to spend some time and some money on programs designed to create opportunities for employment for persons in the Australian work force. It shows that 17,500 women had insufficient work experience to gain work. Yet, of course, this Government has failed totally to establish proper retraining or work training facilities for women in this circumstance. It shows that 15,900 unemployed women are considered by employers to be too young or too old for work, whatever that may mean. I think one of the things it means is that sexist concepts are still alive and well in employer attitudes in Australia.
So, in a way that is quite different from that for men and in a way that shows that they are much more disadvantaged than men, women often are judged to be too young or too old for work which they would be qualified to do. Yet I understand that this Government has done nothing by way of education programs to improve employer attitudes in this area.
We find- I think this is particularly significant 11,000 unemployed women giving unsuitable hours- that is, shift work- as the reason why they cannot take employment. There again is highlighted the failure of the Government to provide an adequate child care service throughout Australia. It is the case, of course, that the Government has maintained in a way the child care program which was initiated by the Labor Government, but it certainly has not been prepared to put resources or planning into it so that the majority of women needing child care facilities to enable them to take employment would be in a position to do so. The child care allocation in the recently introduced Budget is of course no improvement on the amount of money that was made available least year and will not allow for any new child care projects. So, those 11,000 women who are unable to take employment, even if they could find it, because of a lack of child care services will continue to experience a lack of child care service in the forthcoming year.
The survey shows that 19,000 unemployed women seeking employment found that there were no vacancies in the sort of work for which they were qualified. Again that is a very obvious indication of the need for proper manpower planning policies to be adopted by the Government, and for proper training and retraining schemes to train workers suffering unemployment to meet particular needs. We have, of course, no manpower planning scheme at all from the present Government. The Government’s only response to unemployment seems to be ad hoc assistance to certain areas of private enterprise in the hope that somehow or other work will be created. There has been no attempt on the Government’s part actually to train people for employment and no attempt on its part to search out markets and find viable areas of activity in which a national investment could be made.
In the same survey we find that 7,400 single mothers with dependent children were looking for work and were unable to find it, probably for the variety of reasons I have already stated. What honourable senators may be aware of is that if women with dependent children are looking for work and cannot find it their fate, of course, is to be relegated to the supporting mothers’ benefit. The supporting mothers’ benefit is a pittance; it is barely enough to survive on. Depending on the supporting mother’s commitment for rent, in some cases it is not enough to survive on. Yet that is the fate facing 7,400 women with the care of dependent children who are unable to find work. Again, there are no retraining schemes. There are no attempts to assist these women towards economic independence. They are relegated to the pittance of the supporting mothers’ benefit.
– Their children are assisted though, Senator.
- Senator Walters interjects to say that their children are assisted. I think the assistance to the children of supporting mothers amounts to about $7.50 a week which Senator Walters, who I understand is a parent herself, may realise is a hopelessly inadequate proportion of what it actually costs to support a child.
– They also get family allowance. But what you are referring to, Senator, is that children -
- Mr President, Senator Walters seems inclined to join this debate.
– Order! Senator Walters, your interjections are too long. You are not making a speech. I call Senator Ryan.
– Thank you, Mr President. For the sake of people listening to this debate, I should like-to clarify the claim that somehow the family allowance should satisfy supporting mothers who are seeking to rear children alone. Any mothers who are listening to the debate will be aware that the family allowance in the case of a mother with two children amounts to the princely sum of $8.50 a week. I do not think that even Senator Walters would have the hide to claim that $8.50 a week represents anything approximating what it costs to rear two children. What has happened in the current economic circumstances is that women who were welcomed by employers in the late 1950s and the 1960s because they were prepared to do the unskilled, the unpleasant, the low paid, the low status jobs- the production-line jobs in factories, the cleaning jobs in hospitals and so forth- are no longer wanted. As has been very ably demonstrated, I think, by members of the Opposition in this chamber the economic strategies of the Government have actually created unemployment, particularly in the areas of unskilled labour. By strategies like giving a capital investment allowance to company owners, the
Government has actually encouraged employers to invest in expensive machinery which does away with the need for labour. So the employers get their taxation rebates and their investment allowance and all the rest of it and the workers lose their jobs. Many of the workers who have lost those sorts of jobs are women and, having lost their jobs, they are faced with permanent unemployment, with no support at all from the present Government.
I find the response of the conservative government to this situation, or rather the complete lack of response to this situation, particularly cynical since it was during the period of a LiberalCountry Party government in this country that the whole movement of consumerism was advanced, that the whole advertising boom burst upon the Australian community and the whole materialistic objective of this society was created. It was during the period of the 1950s and the 1960s when the Liberals were in office that we were suddenly told that we had to have two cars, that we had to consume more and more, that we had to be constant consumers of the products of the factories of this country and of other countries. No longer was one income enough for one family; there had to be a two income family in order to keep pace with the incredible materialism that was inflicted on this community during the 23 years of Liberal- Country Party rule. At that time the employers were glad to have the unskilled, low paid labourer women, particularly migrant women. I see my colleague, Senator Mulvihill, nodding his head in agreement. Senator Mulvihill has often raised in this chamber the plight of women, particularly migrant women in factories.
– Bill Ford did a very good paper on it, Senator.
– An excellent study was done of women, particularly migrant women in these circumstances who, not even speaking the language, were not in a position to claim decent wages and decent conditions and were not in a position to enlist the support of their union officials to fight for justice for them. The employers were very happy to ignore what was happening to their female work force and simply to use them and exploit them mercilessly in order to make profits. Now the situation has changed. The economic strategy of the Fraser Government has meant a complete collapse of manufacturing industry. Employers no longer want labour; they would rather have the capital equipment. So these women are thrown onto the unemployment market with no assistance whatsoever. What happened in the meantime was that many of these families, particularly migrant families who came to Australia to establish themselves, to get themselves a home- which perhaps was one of their main objectives in leaving the country of their birth- during the period of the 1950s and 1960s committed themselves to large mortgage repayments and to education expenses for their children and so forth. Suddenly they were deprived, in some cases of two incomes, but certainly in very many cases of one income. What happens when a two-income family, a low income family, is deprived of one income?
– The hire purchase people move in.
- Senator Mulvihill points out that the hire purchase people move in. Indeed they do, although it is heartening to see that the Labor Government in New South Wales is taking some steps to prevent this particular kind of exploitation of women.
– They have a good Attorney-General- Frank Walker.
- Senator Mulvihill is making very constructive additions to my intervention in this debate. What I find most appalling is that this Government, which is so pleased to spout constantly sentiments about the importance of the family unit, the importance of the family home and so forth, does not recognise the difficulties when a dual low income family is deprived of one income. In many cases known to me in the Austraiian Capital Territory, let alone cases known to other honourable senators who have a higher proportion of working class migrants in their electorates, these people are reduced to circumstances in which they lose their home, they cannot maintain the mortgage payments and they cannot maintain their hire purchase commitments. Of course they get no assistance from the Government, not even unemployment benefit for the unemployed spouse.
– This also started under the Labor Government, Senator.
– It has been suggested that the Labor Governments is partly responsible for the current situation. Certainly we would admit that unemployment started to rise for a number of reasons during the period of the Labor Government. But the Labor Government had a very positive response to this. For example, it introduced the National Employment and Training scheme- the NEAT scheme. All unemployed persons who wished to acquire a skill by which they could subsequently gain employment were eligible for assistance under that scheme. They were paid a very substantial amount, $97.50 a week, which is more or less equivalent to what a woman worker would have been earning in a factory at that time. During the Labor Administration, if a migrant woman worker with a lot of family commitments or mortgage commitments lost her job, she could move into a training scheme and earn much the same sort of income from that training scheme. It was to be hoped that she would then move on to employment after that. One of the first acts of the Fraser Government was virtually to dismantle the NEAT retraining scheme and to reduce the basic ayment allowance to about $27- a reduction of 70 a week. I hope honourable senators on the opposite side can imagine what that would mean to a low income household. The Government also reduced the number of places available under the scheme. The figures for April this year showed that of the 17,500 persons currently training under the NEAT scheme, only 7,100 were women; 2,171 were women training onthejob; 1,250 were women in full-time training, a very low figure; and 230 were women in parttime training. Compared to the estimated figure of the Australian Bureau of Statistics of 200,000 women unemployed, the 7,000 who have some sort of training available to them under the NEAT scheme is a mere drop in the ocean.
I raise this subject tonight because it seems to me that this particular group of unemployed married women, in most cases with dependants, has been totally neglected by the Fraser Government. The plight of unemployed school leavers has received a great deal of publicity and a number of band-aid schemes have been proffered by the Government because the Government recognises the serious political liability of a large number of unemployed school leavers coming on the market. We in the Opposition cannot express too seriously the concern with which we view the plight of unemployed school leavers. It seems to me that the plight of unemployed married women, whose families are dependent on their incomes, is at least as serious as the plight of unemployed school leavers and for that group of unemployed no schemes have been proffered. There has been no talk of inquiries, investigations, employer subsidy schemes or anything of that kind. It seems to me that it is the ultimate hypocrisy by a Government which professes the philosophy of individual choice and persons having the right to pursue employment if they so choose to ignore completely the fact that at least 200,000 women throughout Australia have been deprived of that very basic right; that is, the right to earn a living.
It is outrageous that most of those women have suffered in financial terms and in personal terms. Their families have suffered disastrously. Most of their unemployment has been brought about by the inept economic management of the Fraser Government and yet nothing at all has been done. I have raised this matter in the Senate tonight and quoted these statistics in the hope that if not the Government, then the general community, may come to some understanding of this particularly serious manifestation of the economic recession and may join with me and other members of the Opposition in calling on the Government to take some steps to do something for that proportion of the work force, that potential one third of the work force, which at the moment is being neglected totally in their circumstances of unemployment by the Fraser Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of the Excise Tariff Amendment Bill 1977 is to enact excise tariff alterations introduced into the Parliament on 16 August 1977 by Excise Tariffproposals numbers 1 and 2. Clause 4 of the Bill increases the rate of excise duty on coal from 4.3 cents to 10 cents per tonne, with effect from 1 July 1977 in accordance with a notice pursuant to section 160B of the Excise Act 1901 published in the Gazette of 30 June 1977. Excise duty collected on coal is applied to the Coal Mining Industry Long Service Leave Fund established under the States Grants (Coal Mining Industry Long Service Leave) Act 1949 and the increase proposed is necessary to preserve the viability of the Fund.
Clause 5 of the Bill, in conjunction with clause 3 and the Schedule, proposes enactment of the alterations in excise duty which were referred to by the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton) when he outlined the Budget proposals to the Senate on 16 August 1977. The alterations proposed, which are set out in detail in the notes on clauses, increase by SO per cent the duty applicable to crude oil and condensate, with the exception of condensate marketed separately from crude oil, and increase by one quarter of a cent per litre the duty applicable to refined petroleum products. In relation to condensate marketed separately from crude oil the
Bill proposes the removal of the present duty of 1 .26 cents per litre. I commend the Bill.
The purpose of the Customs Tariff (Coal Export Duty) Amendment Bill 1977 is to reduce the export duty on high-quality coking coal from $4.50 to $3.50 per tonne and on other coking coal from $1.50 to $1.00 per tonne. Honourable senators will recall that these changes were referred to by the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton) when he outlined the Budget proposals to the Senate on 16 August 1977.
The reductions proposed by this Bill represent a further step by the Government towards achieving the intention stated in 1976 of phasing out the export duty on coal over 3 years. It is the Government’s intention to remove the remaining duty next year in accordance with the undertaking to which I have referred. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mulvihill) adjourned.
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 provide legislative authority needed to meet the prospective deficit in the Consolidated Revenue Fund in 1977-78. At the same time, the borrowing authority it will provide will, together with borrowing authority expected to be available under other legislation, enable the amount of borrowing needed to finance the estimated overall Budget deficit for the financial year to be undertaken. Honourable senators will be aware, that for many years there has been legislation for these purposes in the legislative programs of successive governments. In his Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) announced that the prospective overall budget deficit for 1977-78 is estimated to be $2,2 17m.
Except in so far as funds are available from accumulated cash balances or other miscellaneous financing transactions, this deficit must be financed by net borrowings. Such net borrowings must, of course, be within proper authority from the Parliament. The overall Budget deficit takes into account all relevant transactions of the three separate funds used to record the Commonwealth’s receipts and expenditures. These funds are the Consolidated Revenue Fund, the Loan Fund and the Trust Fund. The amounts which may be paid from each fund are limited to the amounts legally available to it.
Underlying the overall deficit for 1977-78 is an estimated deficit in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of $90 lm. Details of the current estimate of the Consolidated Revenue Fund transactions are set out, for the information of honourable senators, in table 3 of Budget Paper No. 4- Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the Year Ending 30 June 1978. The prospective deficit is the item Amount Chargeable to Loan Fund’. As payments from the Consolidated Revenue Fund cannot exceed moneys available in it, it is necessary either to reduce payments from the Consolidated Revenue Fund by charging to another part of the Commonwealth’s accounts some of the expenditures normally met from it or, alternatively, to supplement the receipts of the fund from some other source. Appropriate legislative authority is needed for such transfers.
The simplest and traditional means of providing appropriate legislative authority is a loan Bill of the type I am now presenting. This Bill will authorise borrowings for defence purposes in order that defence expenditures, which would normally be met from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, may instead be met from the Loan Fund. The Bill authorises borrowing for defence purposes but it does not authorise any additional defence expenditures, lt will simply allow reallocations between the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the Loan Fund of defence expenditures to be made during the remainder of the financial year, following the enactment of this legislation, defence expenditures which have already been authorised by Parliament in Supply Act (No. 1 ) 1977-78 or which will subsequently be authorised in appropriation acts for this financial year.
In this regard I draw honourable senators’ attention to clause 8 of Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1977-78, introduced into the House of Representatives on 16 August, which makes that Bill subject to the provisions of the proposed loan Act. I should also mention that, as borrowings under this legislation will be for the purpose of financing defence expenditure, those borrowings will not require approval from the Australian Loan Council. However, the Bill includes a specific limit to the amount of such borrowings that may be undertaken.
I am sure that I do not have to elaborate on the point that, at this early stage, the estimate of the Consolidated Revenue Fund deficit is inevitably a qualified one. The actual figure for the year will be affected by presently unforeseen developments during the year which will cause departures from current estimates of receipts and payments of the fund. In setting a limit on borrowings for inclusion in the Bill these inherent uncertainties need to be recognised. The limit that has been included is $ 1 , 1 00m. This provides a relatively small margin over the estimated Consolidated Revenue Fund deficit of $90 lm. Borrowings under this proposed legislation will be undertaken within the framework of the monetary policy objectives, to which the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) referred in his Budget Speech. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mulvihill) adjourned.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Debate resumed from 4 October on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the senate take note of the papers.
Upon which Senator Wriedt had moved by way of an amendment:
At end of motion add ‘, but the Senate is of the opinion that the Budget:
will intensify and prolong the recession;
b ) will increase unemployment;
will have little impact on inflation;
d ) will make regressive changes in the tax system; and
will reduce living standards’.
– Last night I commenced to speak about the Budget Papers and I was interrupted at the point at which I was discussing the problems of small businesses and outlining the steps that have been taken to assist them by the Fraser Government since coming to power. I mentioned at that time Division 7 of the Income Tax Assessment Act, which has been one of the bones of contention in respect of small companies over a long period of time. I also mentioned that in the 1976 Budget the Fraser Government increased the retention allowance from 50 per cent of after tax profits to 60 per cent. I believe that is extremely welcome to small businesses within the community as it does in fact assist them to keep more of their earnings for investment in new developments and in making sure that their plant is kept up to date and also so that they can expand the stocks on their shelves. It is very important to recognise that factor.
The real problem of small businesses during and since the Labor Government’s period of office is that they have been unable to retain earnings in order to provide for their own development. That has been because of the impact of taxation calculated artificially on profits that are themselves calculated according to artificial principles. Real sums of money are going out of the control of these businesses and to the Taxation Office because of inflation, thereby reducing the capacity of businesses to remain viable. The Fraser Government, recognising that in respect of Division 7, has taken a very sound step forward. In other areas we have also seen major steps forward in both the 1976 Budget and this Budget. In 1976 we saw the introduction of the trading stock valuation adjustment, which has added significantly to the benefits of small business. That in effect provides that people correct as to SO per cent the artificial calculation of profit that has been applying for some time. That means that less tax is paid out. Consequently more money is retained in the business for expansion and to keep stock on the shelves, which is a very important recognition of that accounting principle.
Secondly, the introduction of the investment allowance has proved worthwhile in the reduction of the cost of new assets and is in fact, if you like, in the case of a small company a reduction in the cost of new assets to the extent of 18 per cent. That is to say, that new plant purchased by businesses is in effect discounted to the extent of 1 8 per cent. Furthermore in the case of unincorporated businesses, we have seen introduction of personal tax indexation from 1 July 1976. In effect this has provided for tax cuts of the order of 1 3 per cent in 1 976 and a further 1 1 per cent in 1977. In those ways considerable assistance has been provided to small businesses to allow them to remain more viable and to increase their development. Those things generally have not impinged directly upon most small businesses, mainly because of the lags that occur because companies, small or otherwise, do not have to pay their taxation for many months after the end of a financial year for which they lodge their returns. The first financial year in that regard has only just concluded. That is the year ended 30 June 1977. Most small businesses and companies will be paying their taxation in February, March or April of 1978 and will be then recognising the great benefits that have arisen through the introduction of these measures by the Fraser Government.
All in all those amounts will raise the savings on income tax by businesses and individuals by some $2,000m. That is a very significant reform. But those things occurred chiefly in the 1976 Budget. In the 1977 Budget the Fraser Government has proceeded even further with dramatic reforms in respect of income tax. We find in the Budget which we are now discussing, the introduction of the radical new standard tax system. A basic rate of tax of 32 per cent has been introduced. It has been represented by the Opposition-quite falsely, of course- that that 32 per cent rate applies to all incomes up to $ 1 6,000. Of course, it needs to be made clear to everybody that the first $3,750 of taxable income is not subject to tax. Consequently people who are earning a taxable income of, say, $8,000 and who are single will find that their average rate of tax will be only 17 per cent. This has reduced the impact of taxation on those people by one-third, which is a significant reform. Because of the introduction of the new scheme even people on an income of $ 1 6,000 will pay an average rate of tax of only about 24 per cent, compared with something in excess of 30 per cent that they paid previously. These reforms are significant reforms. They will dramatically change the face of the taxation system in the years to come.
– It is not helping the small businesses very much, is it?
– It is indeed, which the Leader of the Opposition should well recognise. The issue before us in respect of taxation is that this reform is going to be of benefit to some 90 per cent of the taxpayers in the community. Consequently it is not a reform designed merely to help the rich; it will help 90 per cent of the taxpayers in the community. It is well recognised that on incomes between $16,000 and $32,000 there will be a surcharge of 14 per cent on top of the 32 per cent. That is in line with the Government’s well recognised principle that those who are able to afford it will contribute relatively more to the community. On incomes above $32,000 there will be a further surcharge of 14 percent.
But all in all, the maximum rate of tax that will be charged is only 60 per cent, which is 5 per cent less than the maximum rate charged under the previous Hayden scales. Because of that reduction we find that, instead of the 65 per cent maximum rate applying at $24,000 of income, the new maximum rate applies at $32,000 of income. That will assist many small businesses to retain more after-tax earnings in their businesses for use in keeping stocks on their shelves and buying new plant. That is a significant step forward. Certainly it will assist taxpayers who are in the position of having to pay provisional tax. It will relieve the cash drain on their businesses when tax time comes. I congratulate the Fraser Government on taking those intiatives. We will feel the benefits of them as from 1 February 1978.
Let me mention one or two other aspects of the Fraser Government’s Budget this year. I refer particularly to the question of industry generally. Over the last three or four years we have seen a downturn in the manufacturing sector in particular. Of course, this has been well canvassed in the past. It has been due to irresponsible Labor Government management in the areas of the value of the Australia dollar, the outrageous cost increases imposed on businesses and the introdution of the 25 per cent tariff cut in 1973. These things have affected businesses to such an extent that we need some major changes in the structure of Australian industry in order to get ready for the next upswing. I am pleased to see that the Government is thinking in these terms. Before the Budget came down it introduced a White Paper on manufacturing industry which is the blueprint for the future of Australia’s industry. It is very heartening to recognise the value of that to industry leaders these days and to recognise that they are making favourable comments upon it as they think more deeply about the issues involved.
In that context, the situation in my State of South Australia is worth noting. Industry in that State is very highly oriented towards consumer durables- chiefly motor vehicles and household appliances. Those areas have been under a great deal of pressure from imported goods over the last five years or so, and consequently perhaps they need some special consideration. It is interesting to note that the changes in those industries will have major effects upon the distribution of labour in South Australia and, consequently, emphasis needs to be given to the development of skills and the retraining of people who previously were occupied in other jobs, suiting them more particularly for new jobs in the community.
I notice that the State Government of South Australia perhaps is prepared to consider a rundown of the motor vehicle industry in that State and is prepared to act more directly and to retrain people for placement in other areas. In this context, I quote from a transcript of evidence given at an Industries Assistance Commission hearing on motor vehicles by Mr Barry Earl Orr, who is Assistant Director of the Planning and Research Division of the South Australian Department of Economic Development. Mr Conran, one of the commissioners, asked:
The only question I have got relates to the second sentence in the concluding statement, where you say: ‘In the present economic climate and in the absence of a fully functioning program of structural adjustment assistance, a significant decline in employment in this industry - meaning the motor vehicle industry- is totally unacceptable. ‘
Does that imply that if there were to be a program of structural adjustment assistance the South Australian government would be prepared to contemplate a run-down in employment in the motor industry in its State?
Mr Orr replied:
I think I would have to say ‘ Yes ‘. I can ‘t commit the South Australian Government, but that is the implication.
The point is that, even though some of the statements emanating from the State Government of South Australia are to the contrary, Mr Orr, one of the chief advisers to the State Government in South Australia, recognises that there may be some need to rationalise industry in that State. In fact, I am rather amazed to have found this item because it highlights the fact that, contrary to all previous opinions, the South Australian Government in effect is contemplating the rundown of industry as it currently is organised in South Australia. I would like to hear from the South Australian Government eventually about whether it means to apply those principles to other sectors of South Australian industry. I believe that they tend to run contrary to the general understanding of businessmen in that State as to the future development of industry in South Australia. Indeed, it is a most disturbing factor. I hope that the South Australian Government will be prepared to make some statement on that in the near future.
The final area I should like to canvass briefly concerns the Schools Commission report which was handed down a few days after the introduction of the Budget in August. There are two main areas that are pf concern to people in my State and certainly of concern to me. First of all, a rather significant campaign has been run by people with political interests along the lines that the Government’s setting down of guidelines for the Schools Commission in some way interferes with the independence of the Schools Commission. I fail to see that the Government’s setting of the broad areas and parameters by which the Schools Commission can consider the guidelines for determining the expenditure on education is interfering in any way with the Commission, when it is known that only a certain amount of money is available in the coffers to meet the commitments. It has been stated that somehow this is imposing political controls upon the Schools Commission and, in effect, is transferring the political liability from the Government to the Schools Commission. Nothing could be further from the truth, because it is quite obvious that the Government will still bear the responsibility for whatever decision it makes in regard to the total amount of money spent on education. So, I believe that argument to be entirely specious. Certainly it has no regard for the actualities of the situation.
My next point concerns independent schools. There has been a great deal of discussion in connection with the amount set aside for classes 1 and 2 in the independent schools area. In my State for some years the State Government has been making contributions to schools in categories 1 and 2 which have been greater than the amount set aside under the previous guidelines given to the Schools Commission. In fact, the steps which the Federal Government has taken in this regard have been adopted already by the Labor Government in South Australia, thereby ensuring that, in effect, the Federal Government is matching those grants.
– Order! It being 1 1 p.m., in conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on IS March:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
The figures for New South Wales include the cost of vessel charter for research undertaken in waters off Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. The figures for Tasmania refer to the expenditure of the Food Research Unit in Hoban. The figure for New South Wales in 1 97 1 -72 includes an estimate; remaining figures give actual expenditure.
Note- Details of grants relevant to Tasmania, listed in 1(e) above are not available; however the figures listed refer to expenditure of funds by the CSIRO Food Research Unit in Hobart.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 16 March 1977:
When does the Minister expect to be able to announce details of the Government’s proposals for a Young Farmers’ Establishment Scheme.
-The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is not yet possible to say exactly when details might be available. I can, however, inform the honourable Senator that the proposal is being examined by the Government Members Rural Committee as well as by officers of my Department. The Government will consider possible alternatives and I will make an announcement when its consideration is concluded.
asked the Minister for Science the following question, upon notice, on 3 1 March 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
This question has been answered by the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources (Question No. 447 Senate Hansard, 16 August 1977, page 99).
Ethanol: Use as Motor Fuel (Question No. 614)
asked the Minister for Science the following question, upon notice, on 23 August 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I refer you to parts (1) to (3) of question No. 613 answered by Senator Withers representing the Minister for National Resources (Hansard 14.9.77 page 825).
Cyclone Damage to Rice and Banana Crops in North Queensland (Question No. 619)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 2 1 April 1977:
Following the disastrous cyclone season in North Queensland this year, will the Minister indicate the damages and crop losses suffered by the rice industry and the banana industry in North Queensland.
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The quantity of rice produced in Queensland in 1976-77 was not significantly reduced by cyclone damage. However, cyclone associated rains did have the effect of reducing the quality of about 20 per cent of the crop. The Queensland Department of Primary Industries has estimated that the value of the crop was reduced by about $30,000.
In respect to bananas, information provided by the Queensland Department of Primary Industries indicates that the cyclone caused the following damage to the North Queensland banana industry- 750,000 cartons ( 13kg) of bananas were lost 36 growers were affected in the Innisfail, East Palmerston, Mission Beach and Bingil Bay areas damage covered 158 hectares of plantations of which 38 hectares were completely uprooted the 158 hectares damaged represent 50 per cent of the total area of bananas grown in the Mission Beach, Bingil Bay, Innisfail and East Palmerston areas.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, upon notice, on 26 April 1 977:
– The Minister for National Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, upon notice, on 26 April 1977:
– The Minister for National Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, in which countries the material will be processed to uranium hexafluoride, are parties to the NPT and require stringent safeguards on the material processed. Furthermore, in this regard as the Australian uranium will be finally processed into enriched uranium in the United States it will attract the full force of the safeguards policy recently announced by President Carter. Japan, the country of destination is, of course, also a party to the NPT.
In addition, the Australian Safeguards Office prescribes necessary physical security measures to apply until the material leaves Australian jurisdiction. The transport and packaging arrangements are made having regard to all relevant requirements of the ‘Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Materials prepared by the International Atomic Energy Agency and Commonwealth and State government regulations and requirements. The Australian Safeguards Office also advises other national nuclear material control authorities to ensure continuing application of national safeguarding measures, including physical security, after the material leaves Australian jurisdiction.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice, on 27 April 1977:
What is the total number of public servants, by divisions, employed in the Northern Territory in (a) the Northern Territory Public Service, and (b) the Commonwealth Public Service.
– The Minister for the Northern Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Northern Territory Public Service Commissioner and the Commonwealth Public Service Board have provided the following details in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Northern Territory Public Service Ordinance does not provide for a divisional structure similar to that existing in the Commonwealth Public Service. However, as at 30 June 1977, there were 1,277 fulltime employees in the Northern Territory Public Service.
As at 30 June 1977, the total number of Commonwealth public servants by divisions in the Northern Territory was:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice, on 27 April 1977:
– The Minister for the Northern Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I am advised however that all trips undertaken were on business associated with Assembly, Executive and normal parliamentary functions.
The total cost of these trips for the period 9 January 1975 to 30 June 1 977 was $ 1 7,260.54.
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly: Trips by Members (Question No. 711)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice, on 27 April 1977:
– The Minister for the Northern Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I am advised however that during 1976-77, 1 13 trips were undertaken by members of the Legislative Assembly for the purposes stated in (2) above.
asked the Minister for Science the following question, upon notice, on 28 April 1977:
Are there any research and development projects being currently undertaken in Australia in (a) coal gasification, (b) in situ coal gasification, (c) high temperature solar heating, (d) low temperature solar heating, (e) use of plants for the production of alcohols and oils, (f) use of algae for the production of alcohols and oils, (g) use of waste for the production of alcohols and oils, (h) wave energy, (i) tidal energy, (j) ocean thermal currents and gradients, (k) wind energy, (1) energy conservation, (m) photobiological generation of hydrogen, (n) photo-chemical generation of hydrogen, and (o) hydro-electric energy; if so, where is this research being carried out, who is involved, and what level of funding have they received for each of the past five years.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I refer the honourable senator to the answer to question No. 715 (Senate Hansard, 13 September 1977, page 749).
asked the Minister for Science the following question, upon notice, on 28 April 1977:
Are any research and development projects being currently undertaken in Australia in coal liquefaction; if so, where is this research being carried out, who is involved, and what level of funding have they received for each of the past 5 years.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I refer the honourable senator to the answer to question No. 7 1 7 (Senate Hansard, 1 3 September 1 977, page 750).
Minister for Foreign Affairs: Speeches and Statements in ASEAN Countries (Question No. 807)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 4 May 1977:
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Statutory Authorities responsible to Minister for Primary Industry (Question No. 875)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 2 5 May 1977:
Are there statutory authorities responsible to the Minister, if so:
what are they,
b) who are the bankers for each authority, and
which, if any, of the authorities may be termed ‘Statutory authorities of a business nature ‘.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The following statutory authorities are responsible to the Minister for Primary Industry:
Australian Apple and Pear Corporation; Australian Canned Fruits Board; Australian Dairy Corporation; Australian Dried Fruits Control Board; Australian Egg Board; Australian Honey Board; Australian Meat Board; Australian Tobacco Board; Australian Wheat Board; Australian Wine Board; Australian Wool Corporation; Australian Wool Testing Authority; (Although the Authority is a statutory body in its own right it operates as a division of the Australian Wool Corporation).
b) The bankers for each authority are as follows:
Australian Apple and Pear Corporation- Commonwealth Trading Bank,
Australian Canned Fruits Board-Reserve Bank of Australia
Australian Dairy Corporation-Reserve Bank of Australia, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, London, Sanwa Bank, Kobe, Japan
Australian Dried Fruits Control Board- Commonwealth Trading Bank
Australian Egg Board- Reserve Bank of Australia
Australian Honey Board- Reserve Bank of Australia, Bank of New South Wales, Bank of America, USA
Australian Meat Board- Reserve Bank of Australia, Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia, London, Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Tokyo, Bank of Iran and Middle East, Tehran
Australian Tobacco Board- Reserve Bank of Australia
Australian Wheat Board- Reserve Bank of Australia
Australian Wine Board- Commonwealth Trading Bank
Australian Wool Corporation- Commonwealth Trading Bank, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, Bank of New South Wales, National Bank of Australasia Limited, Reserve Bank of Australia, The Bank of Adelaide, The Commercial Bank of Australia Limited, The Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited, First National City Bank (New York), Union Bank of Switzerland
Australian Wool Testing Authority- Commonwealth Trading Bank, National Bank of Australasia Limited.
Using the definition that ‘statutory authorities of a business nature’ are those which earn or aim to earn revenue sufficient to cover a substantial proportion of their costs, the Australian Wheat Board and the Australian Wool Testing Authority are the only ‘statutory authorities of a business nature ‘ responsible to the Minister for Primary Industry.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 24 May 1977:
How many (a) permanent employees, (b) temporary employees and (c) other employees were there in the Minister’s department for each month since and including November 1975.
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer the honourable senator to the answer to question No. 949.
Qualifications of Members of Tertiary Education Councils (Question No. HOO)
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Science the following question, upon notice, on 17 August 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I refer the honourable senator to the answer of the Minister for National Resources to question No. 1172 (Hansard page 754, 13 September 1977).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The honourable senator is referred to the ministerial statement on crude oil policy made to the House of Representatives on 16 August 1977.
Cancer: Availability of Radiotherapy in the Australian Capital Territory (Question No. 1188)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
What radiotherapy service, if any, is available to cancer patients in the Australian Capital Territory; if not, what is the estimated cost of establishing such a service in one of the Australian Capital Territory hospitals.
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 17 August 1977:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
However, pursuant to Article 3 of the 1966 agreement, subsidiary technical and administrative arrangements have been concluded at various times. These arrangements are classified and are not published.
Transit Establishment at Smithfield, South Australia (Question No. 1203)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 17 August 1977:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The equipment was mounted originally in 1961 to receive signals from US Navy navigational satellites known as Transit’, but became redundant to the US Navy program towards the end of the 1960s. Rather than see the installation closed down, the Australian Government in 1971 took over its operation because the position-fixing signals it could receive from remaining Transit and other satellites were useful to geodetic and other survey and mapping work. Both the Division of National Mapping and the Australian Army Survey Corps had and have retained an interest in this data.
Consideration was given earlier this year to closing the installation down for budgetary reasons, but it has been decided to keep it operating for the time being.
Customs Duty and Sales Tax Applicable to Motor Vehicles from Christmas Island (Question No. 1213)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 17 August 1977:
– The following information is provided in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
An Australian made vehicle will be admitted free of Customs duty providing satisfactory evidence is produced that: the vehicle in question is the produce or manufacture of Australia; and the vehicle in question is part of the passenger’s personal effects. (Sales Tax at a rate of 2714 per cent is payable unless it can be proved that the sales tax borne upon sale in Australia prior to exportation, has not been refunded).
A vehicle which does not meet the above requirements would be dutiable at a rate of 45 per cent. Sales tax at a rate of 21Vi per cent is also payable and would be assessed on an amount equal to one and one-fifth times the sum of the value of the vehicle plus the duty.
An import licence is currently required in respect of abovementioned vehicles.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 17 August 1977:
Are evaluation reviews, carried out by the Priorities and Evaluation Division of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, ever made public when completed; if so, can the Prime Minister advise of any evaluations in the area of health or welfare programs which have been completed in the Department and the results of which can be made public.
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Priorities and Evaluation Division is one of the operating Divisions of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Evaluation reviews of Government programs are not the exclusive concern of the Division, or indeed of the Department. In the sense that the honourable senator asks his question, however, I can inform him that the Priorities and Evaluation Division and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet have been associated with evaluations in the area of health and welfare programs as set out below:
The Task Force Report on Welfare and Health (Bailey Report)- First Report
Care of the Aged and Infirm (Holmes Report)
Review of Delivery of Services Financed by Department of Aboriginal Affairs (Hay Report)
Report of the Study Group on Youth Affairs.
Reports of evaluation reviews are not necessarily made public. The particular reports referred to above have been made public.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 18 August 1977:
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government consistently made known its opposition to the use of force as a means of bringing about a peaceful settlement of the Timor dispute.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 18 August 1977:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Commonwealth assistance. However, as part of the new program it will support in 1977-78, the Commonwealth Government has offered to contribute $60,000 as the Commonwealth’s share of expected expenditure of $90,000 to be incurred in 1977-78 towards the ‘acquisition of these rail cars.
As the current Urban Public Transport Agreement expires on 30 June 1978 my State colleagues and I are currently considering the issue of subsequent arrangements. The question of any further Commonwealth commitment for rail cars will be considered in that context.
Uranium: Programs by Australian Broadcasting Commission (Question No. 1247)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 23 August 1977:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Science, upon notice, on 25 August 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I ) Following the completion of a pilot study of CSIRO energy research programs last year, the Organization is now carrying out a more comprehensive review for inclusion in a national survey of energy research and development by the Department of National Resources; the results of this national survey will be released in due course. I have arranged for the honourable senator to receive a summary statement of the Organization’s activities in energy research which contains broad details of funding.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 6 September 1977:
-The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 6 September 1977:
With respect to the Minister’s reply to Senate question No. 1085 (Hansard, 17 August 1977, p. 208) concerning procedures within the Department of Transport, (a) which divisions of the Department are currently being subjected to a review of procedures; and (b) by whom is the review being carried out in each case.
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
As my reply to Senate question No. 1085 indicated, the review of procedures in the Department of Transport is a continual process. The reviews take place in all divisions, as required, and are carried out by staff of the Department.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 7 September 1977:
Does the Government plan to sell the Maryport Rehabilitation Centre at Mount Martha, Victoria; if so, why.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Department of Social Security closed the Maryport Rehabilitation Centre in 1972 and in January 1973 opened the Glen Waverley Centre which was designed to provide an improved and enlarged service for handicapped people in Victoria.
The Department of Administrative Services has subsequently assumed full responsibility for the control and management of the site of the Rehabilitation Centre at Mount Martha.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 7 September 1977:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 8 September 1977:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question.
Prior to 1 July 1977, records were kept only for total wastage of female officers and other ranks, thus there are no separate statistics available on the resignation of female officers or separation of female other ranks at own request. The following tables therefore refer to male separations only.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade, upon notice, on 14 September 1977:
– The Minister for Overseas Trade has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Parliamentary Delegation to the Middle East: Issue of Second Passports
-On 16 August 1977 Senator Wheeldon asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the following question without notice:
Is it a fact that members of the recent parliamentary delegation to the Middle East were each issued with two passports, one for use in Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon and the other for use in Israel? Is it a fact that separate passports were issued because of pressure that it was felt would be applied by the relevant Arab countries if it were known that members of the Australian delegation were travelling to Israel? If this is the case does it not indicate a servile piece of conduct by the Australian Government towards foreign powers? In future will the Government take steps to ensure that Australia’s national sovereignty and dignity are maintained in such circumstances?
The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
Members of the recent parliamentary delegation which travelled to the Middle East were issued with two passports at their request. As suggested in the initial reply, the issue of two passports was made to facilitate the delegation’s travel. Israel, which was amongst the states the delegation visited, is not recognised by the governments of Arab countries which, in varying degrees, place restrictions on the entry of the holders of passports in which an Israeli visa or entry stamp has been placed.
Because of this problem many other countries issue second passports to those citizens who wish to travel to the Middle East. In issuing the delegation with second passports, the Government was not taking a position on the Middle East dispute. It was a practical measure designed to facilitate the Delegation’s travel without hindrance. It is recognised in international law that each sovereign state has the right to determine its own entry requirements.
East Timorese: Family Reunion
-On 25 August 1977, Senator Robertson asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, the following question, without notice:
The question refers to the proposed East Timorese family reunion operation. In answer to a question last week the Minister indicated that negotiations were proceeding to allow a party of four officers from his Department and a medical officer to visit Timor some time later. A precise date could not be given. I now ask: Has the decision been taken not to send a number of Timorese people with the party, as was originally proposed and, if so, why was that decision taken? Will the Minister give consideration to arranging for a small party of members and senators to accompany the party at least for some of the time they plan to be in East Timor? In view of the reply given to Senator Kilgariff, I should explain that I am seeking the Minister’s attitude to such a proposal.
The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
A proposal for a member of the Timorese Committee for Permanent Residence to accompany the Immigration team to East Timor was received. As negotiations with the Indonesian authorities for the entry of an Australian Immigration team are proceeding the Committee’s proposal is not one which could be accepted because of the risk that the inclusion of persons other than officials might jeopardise further progress. The Committee has been informed accordingly.
The humanitarian purpose which we all support of reuniting divided families might unwittingly be put in jeopardy by seeking to include political representations in the proposed team. That is a risk I would prefer not to court.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, without notice, on 6 September 1977:
I refer to a Press release issued by the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria alleging that a confidential interdepartmental report on ethnic broadcasting formed the basis of the Government’s decision to terminate broadcasting by radio station 3ZZ. Does that report in fact exist? Was the report used as the basis for the Government’s decision? Can the report be made available to members of parliament?
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government’s decision to provide no further funds for station 3ZZ was not based upon a confidential interdepartmental report on ethnic broadcasting. The comment may be a reference to the Report of the Consultative Committee on Ethnic Broadcasting, which reported to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and the Minister for Post and Telecommunications in July 1976. That report made recommendations upon the permanent structure to be established for ethnic broadcasting, but did not recommend that 3ZZ be closed. It is not the Government’s intention to table the report.
Kampuchea: Human Rights
– On 13 September, Senator Sir Magnus Cormack asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the following question without notice:
Will the Minister for Foreign Affairs consider making a statement so as to inform the Parliament and the pro- Vietnam lobby of other days of (a) the scale of genocide in the former kingdom of Cambodia, (b) what action noncommunist nations propose to take in the United Nations, and (c) what action the United Nations can be expected to take under the Declaration of Human Rights, (d) Further will the Minister add to his statement a willingness to identify the communist nations which in the past 30 years also have engaged in genocide?
The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
Zimbabwe: Peacekeeping Mission
-On 15 September 1977, Senator Sibraa asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the following question without notice:
Has the Government been approached by either the United Nations or individual powers such as the United States and Britain with a view to Australia’s providing troops for a peacekeeping mission in Zimbabwe during the transition to majority rule? If so, what has the Government’s response been to such approaches? If not, will the Government consider the possibility of making available Australian troops for such a mission?
The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government has been informed that the new AngloAmerican proposals envisage a United Nations peacekeeping force in Zimbabwe during the transition to majority rule. The establishment of such a force would be contingent on an appropriate resolution being passed in the United Nations Security Council.
The Government has not received any formal approach, including specific proposals, for it to provide an Australian contribution to such a force. Without pre-judging the matter, if an approach were received the Government would be prepared to give it careful consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 5 May 1977:
-The Acting Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 1 June 1977:
– The Acting Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The answer to parts (2) to (9) of the question have been provided by the managing director of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation.
1 ) Staff joining the Commonwealth Banking Corporation are required to give written acknowledgment that they will serve anywhere. Apart from the Reserve Bank, which has a similar requirement, I am not aware of any other Australian Government instrumentality whose staff rules require such an acknowledgment. However, I am advised that various instrumentalities are empowered to promote or transfer an officer to a position in another locality, with the officer in some cases having a right of appeal against such a relocation. The Commonwealth Banking Corporation’s requirement is considered essential because it has a statutory responsibility to provide and make available to the three Commonwealth Banks such staff as is necessary for efficiently conducting the business of those banks. This business is spread throughout Australia at almost 1,000 branches.
Corporation staff are encouraged to make known preferences they may have for service in any particular locality or section of the Corporation’s activities and factors of a domestic or personal nature they would like taken into consideration. Extensive use is made of this facility by Corporation staff and appropriate endeavour is made by the Corporation to meet expressed preferences and needs. Through processes of expressed preferences and consultation it has very rarely been necessary to direct an officer to accept a transfer.
No; (a) to (c)- not applicable.
The Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act has application to all Corporation employees. This Act requires that proper notice be given to employees as to their rights and this requirement is followed by the Corporation.
The Corporation’s instructions to staff make it clear that the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act applies to employees injured on duty.
The Corporation’s instructions to staff make no mention of restriction of claims by effluxion of time. They do, however, request that the Corporation be notified as soon as possible when an officer is injured or becomes aware of symptoms of a disease in circumstances in which it is considered compensation may apply.
It is correct, as implied in the question, that where the Corporation transfers an officer at his or her own request the Corporation is not liable for any removal expenses. Any payments in this regard are at the Corporation’s discretion. Where such a transfer suits the Corporation’s staffing arrangements, it is usual practice to reimburse transfer expenses. If the transfer does not suit the Corporation, any claim for reimbursement of expenses is considered on a case by case basis. Where an officer is transferred by the Corporation, transfer expenses are met by the Corporation.
If an officer required specialised medical treatment other than at a point at which he is stationed, the Corporation would not regard this fact by itself as an application for transfer.
In the event of a transfer taking place in the circumstances outlined, reimbursement for any travelling or living expenses incurred in the transfer or in obtaining medical treatment before the transfer took place would be sympathetically considered by the Corporation in the light of the circumstances of the individual case.
Except in the case of branches in very isolated areas, managerial appointments are not on a fixed term basis. The Corporation’s expectation is that an officer will remain in a branch management posting for a reasonable time before he is considered for movement elsewhere. The normal expectation of the banking public, along with the business needs of the Corporation, dictate that a branch manager should be able to give appropriate continuity of service in each of his managements. For other senior officers at branches, somewhat similar considerations are relevant but they do not have corresponding relevance in the case of junior officers.
Yes, in those cases where staff members request such an interview.
It is a Corporation requirement that inspecting officers discuss with managers all relevant aspects stemming from their visits to branches.
Premises Leased by the Commonwealth (Question No. 1115)
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 17 August 1977:
– A complete answer to the honourable senator’s question would necessitate a heavy commitment of the resources of my Department. At this time, I do not propose to commit those resources to answering this question. However, as some of the information sought is readily available, the following answers have been compiled:
Question ( 1 )-a list of premises leased for use by civil and defence departments has been supplied to Senate Estimates Committee ‘A’. A listing of buildings leased by statutory authorities is still being compiled and will be forwarded separately to that Committee. These schedules do not include residential premises leased for civil and defence departments.
Questions (2) and (5)- to provide information on ownership of all buildings leased would be a major task. Furthermore, that information is regarded as part of the details, terms and conditions of lease between my Department and individual lessors and generally has not been made available in the past. I see no reason to vary this arrangement.
Question (4)-with the exception of the Island Territories, these details are incorporated in the list referred to in my answer to Question ( 1 ). The Commonwealth owns office and related accommodation which it occupies in the Island Territories. However, 49 residences on Christmas Island are rented from the British Phosphate Commission.
-On 17 August 1977, as recorded in Hansard at page 120, Senator Townley asked me, as Minister representing the Treasurer, a question without notice concerning the present range and size of coins and the possible introduction of either a $2 or $3 coin. The Acting Treasurer has provided the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
As the Treasurer has indicated in answer to previous questions (see Senate Hansard, page 1297-1298 of 27 April 1976) the general question of Australia’s coinage requirements is under continuous review. The Treasurer has also indicated (see Senate Hansard, page 495 of 25 February 1977) that the possibility of introducing a dollar coin is under study. This study will cover the question of what would be a suitable size for a dollar coin, and will have regard to the possibility that the issuing of even higher denomination coins could be appropriate at a later stage. It is not considered desirable to alter the size of any existing coin denomination as this could lead to confusion in the mind of the public and in particular cause inconvenience and increased costs in the vending machine industry.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 October 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1977/19771005_senate_30_s74/>.