30th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave- I wish to inform the Senate that this day Senator Baume was appointed Government Deputy Whip in this place.
– I present the following petition from 79 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, will take the most urgent steps to ensure:
That the Prime Minister and the Federal Government voice emphatic protest to the Vietnamese Government about the continued imprisonment of the Most Rev. Francis Nguen Van Thuan, Co-adjutor Archbishop of Saigon, and call for his immediate release.
We also call on the Federal Government to enquire into the whereabouts and wellbeing of Archbishop Thuan who has been under house arrest since15 August 1 975.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable 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 the 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:
Benefit Card will pay the Private Nursing Home no more than the statutory minimum patient contribution, which will allow six dollars per week to be retained by the pensioner patient for their personal use.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Carrick, Senator Douglas McClelland and Senator Cotton.
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Central Coast, New South Wales, respectfuly shows that:
The Central Coast Parents and Citizens’ Associations condemns the action of the Federal Government in issuing guidelines which effectively cut back funds to Government schools whilst increasing funds to private schools, in particular a few wealthy independent schools.
That we do not want education to revert to being used for political gain.
We call upon the Federal Govrnment to make urgent financial assistance to education throughout Australia.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Douglas McClelland.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Education. In the Minister’s reply to a question by Senator Martin last Wednesday, does he recall claiming that schools in certain States of Australia were approaching, and in some cases had achieved, standards set by the Karmel Committee in 1973? Is it not a fact that the Karmel report regarded these objectives as minimum acceptable targets’ and in no way suggested that the achievement of those targets would produce a satisfactory standard of education in Australia? In view of the Government’s decision to freeze expenditure on education this year and to effect cuts in certain areas, are we to assume that the Government has no intention of trying to improve Australian schools over and above the minimum targets set by Professor Karmel?
– I am quite sure that Senator Colston could not have been in the Senate when the question was asked and answered, otherwise he would not have asked that question.
Clearly, the message of my answer was that not only had the Government managed to reach the targets, but also it had exceeded the targets years ahead of time. So that Senator Colston will understand these things, I point out it is true that in 1973 the Karmel Committee set up some targets taking the year 1972 as a base of 100 and taking non-government schools as then having a factor of 77 at the primary level and of 87 at the secondary level as distinct from a factor of 100 for government schools. The Karmel Committee then set improvement targets of 40 per cent for primary schools and 35 per cent for secondary schools by 1979. The Schools Commission then set the targets revised for primary schools for 1980 and for secondary schools for 1982. What has happened is that four States- Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmaniahave already reached in the primary level the targets set for 1980. Tasmania has reached at least level 2. Three States- Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia- have reached their targets in the secondary level set for 1982, and the others are basically on target.
The message I was giving was that the goals and targets which the Australian Teachers Federation and the States schools organisations asked the Government to observe have been not only observed but also rapidly surpassed. Equally, instead of talking about cuts, as Senator Colston has done, I drew attention to the evidence in the Schools Commission report which showed the very contrary. In the two years of Fraser Federal Government the volume of funds that has flowed from the Federal level, through the Schools Commission and by tax reimbursement, into education has shown very real growth and for next year increased real growth. I showed that the schools Commission report, rather than talking about cuts indicated that the States had all been able to improve upon maintenance of effort and indeed had increased education expenditure as a percentage of their budgets. In fact, the story was one of a progress forward ahead of target. This is a matter, of course, of gratification for all.
-I wish to ask a supplementary question. By way of preface, I assure the Minister for Education that I was in the chamber when the question was asked. I recall it clearly because when the Minister -
– Order! Ask your supplementary question.
– In answering that question the Minister dodged it as he dodged my question.
– Order! Ask the question, please.
-Therefore, I ask: In having the current freeze on education spending this year and the cuts in some areas, does the Minister intend to stifle the target set by the 1 973 report?
– As I made clear, there are in fact no overall cuts. There is in fact very real growth, that is the answer to the first part of the question. Rather than stifling targets we are ahead of targets; in fact we are soaring ahead of them.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I draw her attention to a revolutionary advance in brain surgery which has been pioneered by Britain’s sole female neurosurgeon, Miss Cary Bannister, which has brought fresh hope to millions of people threatened by strokes. I understand that Miss Bannister uses minute needles, a microscope and watchmakers’ forceps and has devised a new system of supplying blood to the brain when it is threatened by clogging arteries. I also draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that this surgeon has published a paper concerning her work in the British Medical Journal.
– Do not give information. Please ask the question.
-Is the Minister aware whether this technique is being used or is under investigation in Australia for future use to bring fresh hope to the many Australians who may be threatened by this ailment?
– I will draw the attention of the Minister for Health to the honourable senator’s question. I will ascertain whether the Minister is aware of Dr Bannister’s advance in brain surgery technique and whether there is any information that I am able to give to the honourable senator.
-I direct a question to the Minister for Education. I ask: Is it not true that the capital requirements of the education systems in most States remain acute and that unless the Commonwealth is prepared to maintain the level of capital payments to the States at the level for the past few years their capital programs will start to decline?
-I have to acknowledge that the capital requirements of the States were severely set back in the 1975 Budget of the Whitlam Government when it cut back the capital provided for schools from $2 17m to $ 132m.
– Why do you not tell the truth?
– An honourable senator opposite said: ‘Why do you not tell the truth?’ I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard once again the departmentally prepared table from which I have read, which shows that in 1 976- that is, in the Budget for the last year of the Whitlam Government- the sum of $132m was set aside for capital for schools as distinct from the sum of $2 17m set aside in 1975. The facts show that the Whitlam Government caused the shrinkage of capital. Since I am on my feet may I draw attention to the fact that the capital ability of the States is demonstrated by the actions of the Wran Government when it showed in the budget it recently brought down a capacity to expand by 18 per cent on all capital, although it allocated only 8 per cent to schools. So it is a matter for the States themselves. I seek leave to have the document incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
-I ask a supplementary question of the Minister for Education. Is it not true that this year’s Budget Papers show that in the first and second years of office of the present Government capital expenditure on schools in Australia, both government and nongovernment, does not even reach the levels of 1974 and 1975? Is that not a correct statement? I also ask: Is it not a fact that the Schools Commission said in paragraph 3.9 of its latest report: in most States, capital needs remain acute as the States have not been able fully to make up their own funds diminished capital grants through the Commission since 1975.
Is the Minister saying that the Commission’s assessment of the needs of the States in respect of capital programs for education is wrong?
– What I am saying is that Senator Wriedt is wrong. He reads from, presumably, Commonwealth Budget Papers and, of course, cites about only one-sixth of the flow of funds that go to education.
– We are talking about capital.
– Even Senator Wriedt should know that 70 per cent of all the capital that goes to the government school system comes through the State budgets. So if he were to take the two streams together, for example, and if he were to look at the report of the Schools Commission from which I quote he would note that the only figures on capital are the ones that show that capital expenditure on a three year’s average for all States from 1969-70 to 1971-72 was $357.7m and from 1974-75 to 1976-77 was $863.3m.
– The bulk of which was under the previous administration.
-Part of it was under the previous administration; that is perfectly true. But the Leader of the Opposition cannot have it both ways. He cannot attempt to use a Commonwealth Budget Paper for a part of the fundingonesixth and then run away from the Schools Commission document which shows exactly the reverse. The fact of the matter is that the Whitlam Government did cut the capital programs of the State schools virtually in half. That has been a set back from which they have not recovered.
-I direct a question to the Minister for Social Security, she being responsible for the development of any national compensation proposals. I ask the Minister whether it has come to her notice that publicity has been given recently to a report by Judge Harris- apparently a report submitted to the Victorian Government on the subject of workers compensationrecommending, as far as I can gather from the report, that workers compensation payments be provided for on a pay-as-you-earn basis instead of on the present insurance basis. I ask the Minister whether this is an indication that Victoria is going it alone on one integral part of any national compensation scheme. Has she had an opportunity to make any assessment of the report and whether it indicates any discordance with a national compensation scheme?
– I have not yet had an opportunity to read the report of Judge Harris which was presented recently to the Victorian Government, but it is a fact that some months ago the Victorian Government sought the views of a committee on matters affecting compensation. The Federal Government is continuing to make progress in developing the framework of a scheme which could be discussed with State governments. I do not take the report as an indication that the Victorian Government intends to go it alone but rather a reflection of its concern at the level of workers compensation charges. I know that it expected some constructive recommendations from the report of the committee it set up. As soon as I have had an opportunity to have the report of Judge Harris investigated, I may have something to add to these comments; but at this stage I am awaiting a report from my Department on it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. The Schools Commission, in its report for 1 978, expressed the view that the full $4m cut across the services and development of special projects programs would have been so severe as to damage seriously their effectiveness. In view of the fact that the Government proposes to reject the Schools Commission’s advice, does it believe that cuts of that order will not damage the programs’ effectiveness? Secondly, if the Government rejects the Commission’s advice, on what authority is it doing so?
-Senator Ryan could not have read further; otherwise she would have read that the Schools Commission recommended that rather than a $4m cut a cut of $3. 5m would be sustainable in that program. I suggest that she read further.
- Mr President, I have a supplementary question. I ask the Minister Does he or does he not consider that a cut of $3. 5m to the special projects program will damage its effectiveness?
– In my judgment, any cut in education is a pity and a disappointment to myself and the Government. I do not believe that a cut of that size need damage the effectiveness of the innovation or special purpose programs; nor will it do so.
-Has the Minister for Industry and Commerce received a report from his Department following the visit of Commonwealth officials to South Australia for discussions with officers of the South Australian Premiers Department on Thursday, 22 September, concerning the infrastructure required for the construction of the proposed Redcliff petrochemical works? When will the Government be able to make a decision on this matter, which is so important to the Spencer Gulf area and South Australia generally?
-This is a very important matter indeed. It has been studied for quite a long time by relevant governments both in the
Commonwealth and South Australia. I have taken a substantial interest in the matter myself. I know of the discussions. I have not yet actually seen the written report of the discussions, although it is due in a few days. The Commonwealth has a very great interest in trying to see that this project becomes a reality. I cannot be any more precise than that, except to say that I would imagine that in a few days I shall see the written report. On that, I will be making a submission to the Government to see what it can do to help the project. Further talks will need to be held with industry. Honourable senators have my assurance that the Government and I are most anxious to see this project become a reality.
– In answer to a question from Senator Baume on 7 September this year, the Minister for Education said:
I now ask the Minister: In view of that statement, how does he justify providing no extra funds for level 6 schools but providing an extra $2m for levels 1 and 2 schools which are not seriously disadvantaged but are, in fact, already positively advantaged?
-Senator Robertson also has a short memory. He ought to know that in this current financial year we have done two things: We have provided an increase of, I think, $1.9m for level 6 schools above other categories. We have indexed all six categories to State schools. We have in fact uplifted level 6 this year and that will carry forward into next year and we have indexed them. I was asked how I justified providing an extra $2m for levels 1 and 2 schools. Since the Opposition is keen on the Schools Commission, I suggest that it looks at the Schools Commission’s former report which recommended that there should be a basic minimum per capita grant by both Commonwealth and States for all categories, without a means test being applied.
The Opposition also ought to remember that its policy in the two areas m which it had absolute command- the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory- was to provide a 20 per cent per capita grant without means test. It in fact was adopting the recommendations made in the past by the Schools Commission, the Whitlam Government policies and former policies. In equity, we have done this because one would not want the State schools themselves to get to a state of elitism. That would be wrong. I take it that that is implicit in the question. Let us examine this situation. The Schools Commission report says when dealing with secondary schools in the Government schools area that three States- Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia- have reached and have passed level 2, which is the naughty elitist level which the Opposition talks about. In Tasmania, whence Senator Wriedt comes, primary schools have reached 152 and passed level 2. Those 152 schools are on their way to level 1. We now have at the States level- again, I say thank goodnessschools reaching towards the highest levels in the State. I do not think any of us would begrudge the non-government schools having a little share as well.
– My question is directed to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs. I ask: Is it a fact that the Fraser Government’s new federalism policy has enabled all States in the last two years to cut State taxes, increase expenditure and balance their budgets? Is this pattern true of the Wran Budget, released by the New South Wales Premier to the media last night?
– I heard on television last night a preview of the State budget to be brought down in New South Wales. Of course, I also had the benefit of the capital budget that the New South Wales Government brought down about a week ago. In answer to Senator Scott, all six governments in the previous financial year more than balanced their budgets and substantially cut taxes by tens of millions of dollars. So far four States have brought down their budgets. New South Wales is to bring down its budget tonight; the South Australian budget is still to come. The four States that have brought down their budgets have brought down balanced budgets and have repeated substantial tax cuts. The Wran Government has brought down a capital budget with an 18 per cent increase, giving the lie to those who say it is short in the capital field. The Premier of New South Wales has indicated that there will be no increases in taxes or charges in the New South Wales budget, therefore indicating in fact an abundance of revenue to meet its case. I cannot tell until tonight the full nature of that budget, but it is true that apparently it is conforming with all the others, that is, demonstrating that under the new fiscal federalism the States have for the first time a flexibility and a supply of funds enabling them to take policy initiatives if they so desire.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Education and refers to his assertion last Thursday, in response to a question from my colleague Senator Sibraa, that the New South Wales Government has not failed to obtain full funds from the Federal Government for its adult education migrant service. I ask the Minister Did the New South Wales Government seek $5m in April of this year for its adult education migrant service and was that application rejected by the Federal Government? Did the New South Wales Government then seek a reduced amount, namely $3.4m, for its migrant education service to accord with the requirement that funding be maintained in real terms at 1976-77 levels, but did it receive only $3.09m? Is it a fact that in subsequent discussions the Minister for Education offered a further $150,000 to the adult education migrant service to bring the total level of Federal funds for the service to a mere $3. 19m? If so, how does the Minister explain his answer to Senator Sibraa that the Federal Government has funded the adult education migrant service in New South Wales at the same level in real terms as was provided in 1976-77?
-If Senator Douglas McClelland looks at my previous answers he will find the exact figures given. I repeat that the Government has funded the adult migrant service in real terms at the same level as last year. The reports in the Press were wrong because they failed to understand that under the supplementary Budget the normal cost escalation would apply and so the $3.09m will be subject to escalation. I think that compares with $2.7m in the previous year. So the answer is that I was correct in my previous statement. It is true that because the Wran Government set about a series of programs of a wider nature and because there are now emerging some special problems with migrants such as Vietnamese, Lebanese and Timorese, giving us some particular difficulties, I was able to seek amongst moneys and to detach an extra amount of $150,000 for New South Wales because I believe that the problem is an important one and deserves help. The fact that I was able to do so does not in any way alter the statements that have been made before that, up until that point, we were funding these programs in the same real terms as last year. Now, of course, we are slightly ahead.
-Is the Attorney-General aware that since the consolidated Commonwealth statutes were published in 1973 no annual volume of Acts passed in succeeding years has been published? Are there also considerable delays in the reprinting of amended statutes? Does the Attorney-General agree that the absence of annual volumes and reprints is a cause of considerable inconvenience and obstruction to the legal profession and to other sections of the community? Will the Minister inform the Senate what plans are in hand to update the publishing and increase the availability of the annual Acts of the Parliament and the reprints of amended Acts?
-There certainly have been delays in producing annual volumes of Acts and also in producing reprints of Acts as amended. While individual pamphlet copies of Acts, as passed, are readily available to courts, the legal profession and governments generally, I certainly regard it as important that bound annual volumes of Acts should also be available and even more important that reprints of Acts, as amended, should be available. There has not been such a printing since the last volume in 1973. 1 have directed that a concentrated effort be made to publish the outstanding annual volumes. My Department has completed its work on the 1974 volume and that is with the Government Printer. It is expected that this volume will be available by the end of the year. My Department also has sent to the Government Printer for revised proofs the 1975 Statutes and a large part of the 1976 Statutes and it is expected that the annual volumes for those years will be available at short intervals in the early part of next year. I should mention that the delay which has occurred has resulted, in part, from a change being made in the typesetting processes. It has taken time for the Statutes to be reset by the Government Printer on magnetic tape. The new process will also be used in connection with the legal and statutory information retrieval services, on which my Department is currently working.
– I direct a question to Senator Durack in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. I draw his attention to criticism made by Mr Addison, Federal Secretary of the Australasian Society of Engineers, that under the existing provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, where a merger is contemplated, as there is in this case, the Act insists that the vital component is unfinancial members, who often leave the industry without obtaining a clearance, thus making it impossible to obtain a 50 per cent participation in a ballot. Has the Minister read the criticism and what is the answer to this impasse?
– I assure the Senate that the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, whom I represent, has read the comments to which Senator Mulvihill has referred. The current provisions of the Act which require that at least 50 per cent of those on the roll of voters must cast a vote in an amalgamation ballot and that of those who vote, 50 per cent plus one must vote for the amalgamation, are based on the Government’s belief that before an amalgamation takes place every opportunity should be given for members of the organisation to exercise their democratic right to say whether they approve. The provisions are designed to avoid the possibility of the question of amalgamation being decided by a small minority of members of an organisation and of the majority of members finding that they had unwittingly allowed themselves to acquiesce and perhaps be disadvantaged. For a person to be entitled to vote in a ballot he must be a member of the organisaton on the day on which the registrar gives his approval for submission of the amalgamation and must have been financial at some stage within the previous 12 months. The problem faced by the Australasian Society of Engineers could be mitigated to some extent if the rules of the ASE were to provide for the purging from the register of the names of unfinancial members who could not be traced.
– My question is directed to Senator Carrick as Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. I ask: Could the Minister approach the Minister in the other place to determine whether there is any truth in recent allegations reported in the Press that the AlburyWodonga Development Corporation has spent between $60m and $90m on land acquisitions but has issued no balance sheet or statement of accounts since June 1974?
-I do not have the information. I am able to say that massive acquisitions of land were made years ahead of possible usage. I am not aware whether a balance sheet has been produced. I will seek the information and let the honourable senator have it.
– My question is directed to Senator Withers. It refers to recent statements by the Deputy Prime Minister concerning enrolments in electorates. When speaking about the partial amalgamation of the electorates of Riverina and Darling, in his electorate broadcast nine days ago, Mr Anthony said:
It is beyond me that anyone could reasonably suggest that it will be possible for one man to represent what will be virtually the two existing electorates rolled into one.
Did Mr Anthony’s Party, the National Country Party, submit to the Electoral Commissioners in Western Australia a proposal to do precisely that- that is, to double the area of the Moore division by adding to it most of the Canning division?
-I cannot recall the suggestions which were put in by all parties to the Electoral Commissioners in Western Australia. I doubt whether we will see those in full print until I table the report of the Commissioners in the Parliament shortly.
-I direct a question to Senator Withers as the Minister for Administrative Services and in his capacity as Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to an article in Tuesday’s Launceston Examiner in which it was reported that the National Country Party wants to increase the size of the Senate so that more seats can be allocated to the House of Representatives, remembering that the House of Representatives cannot have more than about twice the number of members in the Senate. Would such action not only seriously increase the cost of running government but also put Tasmania and the other smaller States at a further disadvantage in the House of Representatives as even if the number of members m the House of Representatives were increased by about thirty to some 150 members, Tasmania would not receive any more members? Does the Minister not agree that the result would be therefore that Melbourne and Sydney members of the House of Represenatives would even more control the other House outnumbering Tasmanian’s five members by an even greater amount than at present? As the Minister is a member from a smaller State, does he think that one -
-One of the smaller States. Does he think that that outnumbering would be a good thing?
-I think I should inform the honourable senator that I do not come from one of the smaller States; I come from one of the less populous States. That ought to be kept well in mind because even if my State were cut in half, Queensland would be then only the third biggest State. The Queensland members occasionally need reminding of that. I should not stir. The honourable senator at whom that remark was directed is absent from the chamber. It is for the Government to decide whether the Parliament ought to be increased in size. The Government has made no decision. I would have thought that in many ways it is not the numbers that count; it is the quality of the people. I think of the position in my State where the Government has nine out of ten Parliamentary representatives in the House of Representatives and this year has six out of the ten representatives in the Senate to illustrate that it is the quality of the candidates and the policies that we espoused at the last election that brought about this result.
-I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications a question which relates to a program called Starsky and Hutch. The program Starsky and Hutch which is scheduled as an adults only program is now being shown in Melbourne on Channel 9 in children’s television time. In view of previous questions which I have asked him about the administration of broadcasting program standards, if the Government is not able or prepared to do anything about the position will the Minister ask his colleague in the other place whether he is prepared to do something about it with the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal as it is a matter of great concern to many parents?
-I know nothing of the program. It is the first time I have heard its title. I do not know whether I would qualify to view it if it is so classified. It is true that if a program classified for adults only is being shown during children’s viewing time, it is a matter for some concern and some review by the Austraiian Broadcasting Tribunal. I would be happy to draw the attention of my colleague, the Minister for Post and Telecommunications in another place, to it and suggest that he seeks the facts from the Tribunal.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Possibly, part of the question should be directed to the Minister for Social Security. I refer to the Victorian power strike and ask the Minister whether he is m a position to indicate the number of people who are now unemployed because of the strike. What number of people have been paid unemployment benefits? What number of people unemployed through the strike action are ineligible to obtain unemployment benefits? What is the estimated cost of the strike to date to Australia and its people? Is it correct, as national newspapers have stated, that smaller employers within private enterprise are going bankrupt because of the backlash of the strike?
-As I understand the question, it is in four parts. The first and last parts, I think, would properly be for me and the second and third parts would, I think, be for my colleague, Senator Guilfoyle. The best information that I have is that as a consequence of this strike, which I think is about eight weeks old or slightly older, about 500,000 people are out of work and many more people are likely to be out of work if the strike is not concluded fairly soon. I know positively that small businesses have gone bankrupt or are facing very severe liquidity and financial problems. I do not know the actual number of such businesses but the Department is trying to find out. In passing one would observe almost totally about this scene that we hear in this chamber and elsewhere a great number of comments from members of the Opposition about what is wrong with the Government and what it ought to do to fix things. Here is a case where their association and their affiliations with the union movement surely would have allowed them to become much more positive in attempting to solve this strike than they appear to have done.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I preface the question by reminding the Minister that in the 1975 policy speech the Country Party stated that the people of Australia were entitled to transport that efficiently meets their freight and personal needs. I ask the Minister: Is it the intention of the Government to close the Woomera West railway siding in South Australia? If it is, can the Minister say whether the Government intends to provide adequate loading and unloading facilities at Pimba, which is the next nearest siding, so as to ensure that the
Woomera community is not disadvantaged both physically and financially?
– I am not aware of the Government’s intention in respect of either of the parts of the question which has been posed. I am not aware whether the Woomera West siding is to be closed or whether there is to be a development at Pimba. The question is of importance to the people who reside there, so I will bring it to the attention of my colleague in another place and seek information.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. In view of the community concern about the production and spread of drugs in Australia, most recently evidenced by the appointment of two State royal commissions and a Commonwealth royal commission, and the widely held suspicion that marihuana is grown undetected in certain areas of Australia, will the Government offer to State Government drug detection authorities the services of Royal Australian Air Force helicopters and crews so that effective search and discovery may be carried out from the air?
-The honourable senator puts forward a very interesting suggestion which will certainly take up with my colleague the Minister for Defence, but I think that my colleague the Minister for Science is in charge of Landsat. I think the information gathered off that, if it is properly programmed, may well give the sort of information which would point up whether or not such crops- I do not know whether this relates only to crops of a substantial size- are being grown. I am quite certain that if the State police need any assistance it will always be forthcoming from the Commonwealth. I will pursue the honourable senator’s suggestion with Mr Killen.
-I direct to the Minister for Science a question which particularly concerns his area of responsibility for the Antarctic. Is the Government aware of a proposal by a Dr Lewis to fit out a small sailing vessel to undertake an expedition to the Antarctic? What is the purpose of this expedition which must be an extremely hazardous venture? What is the Government s involvement, if any, both physically and financially in this expedition? If the journey is being undertaken for scientific purposes, what areas of science beyond those currently being studied by the Antarctic Division of the Department of Science will Dr Lewis be studying? Finally, if the Government is involved, what requirements will be insisted upon to ensure the safety of all persons on the vessel?
– I believe that ensuing years will probably see greatly increased interest by private citizens and private groups in making their way to the Antarctic continent. Anyone involved must recognise the great dangers and accept responsibility for their own actions when they go to that territory. No journey to such a harsh land can be without risk. Indeed, the outcome of voyages by boat or otherwise must certainly be equally unpredictable. Several groups have advised the Government of their interest in going to Antarctic territory, whether by air or, as in the case mentioned by the honourable senator, by private boat. I think it was in the first few months of this year that a Mr Courtney, who was the executive director of the Oceanographic Research Foundation, advised me that a group was anxious to sail a vessel to the Antarctic. Subsequently, he and Dr David Lewis came to see me in Canberra. They put to me some proposals which I asked them to verify in writing. They did write and have subsequently been in contact with me on a number of occasions. The proposals that they have in mind are full of adventure. What they intend to attempt is quite exciting. There is considerable risk in what they intend to do. However, my understanding is that Dr David Lewis is a most experienced adventurer. On one occasion single handed he sailed a 30-foot vessel to circumnavigate the Antarctic continent. His book, Ice Bird, which is a most interesting story, describes how the vessel capsized and righted itself and Lewis was able to complete his voyage. So Lewis is a most experienced man.
On behalf of the Government I pointed out to members of the group that there was not a great deal that the Government could do to guarantee their security but that I would attempt to assist wherever possible. I have offered on behalf of the Government and on behalf of the Antarctic Division to assist them with planning and the relaying of messages from the various stations that we have. I even offered that our ships carry some of the heavy equipment they might wish to get down to the continent. Subject to the loading itineraries of our vessels, we would be anxious to do all we could. I suggest they would be free to call in at our stations if we were able to accommodate them.
The last part of the honourable senator’s question related to the type of research they intended to carry out. From a printed document they have sent me, it appears that it is much in line with those things that can be done in the Antarctic, namely, studies of the weather, studies of oceanography and geophysical studies which they intend to carryout once they get to the mainland. Apparently they intend to keep logs on birds, seals and penguins. I understand that they also want to study icebergs; I hope they do not study them too close at hand. They also intend to do some echo soundings to get depths. All this information will be very helpful, provided they recognise that there is an international obligation on Australia to have research of a particularly high standard and that any citizen undertaking this type of work must attempt to maintain the standard that has been established.
– I ask the Minister for Education: Is it a fact that in 1976-77 the Tasmanian Minister for Education, Mr Batt, underspent the loan funds appropriation for primary schools by $1.7m; that in respect of the Consolidated Revenue appropriation for 1976-77, out of 39 items, in 22 cases the Minister for Education spent less than the estimated amounts appropriated by the Tasmanian Parliament in the 1976 Budget; and that one of those items cut was the State’s contribution towards the cost of meals for children at special schools? In the light of the above facts is there any truth in Mr Batt s assertion that in some way Tasmanian education has been disadvantaged by any decision of the Federal Government?
-To respond to the last part of the honourable senator’s question first, let me say that the only disadvantaging of the Tasmanian people by way of education is due to the Tasmanian Labor Government. I want to make these points perfectly clear The Tasmanian Government was the only government in the years 1975-76 and 1976-77 not to increase the percentage that education occupied in its Budget. Education expenditure in the whole of Australia otherwise went up one per cent. The figures I think tell the story and show who are the guilty people. In 1975-76 the proportion of the total budget devoted to schools in Tasmania was 27.3 per cent. In 1976-77 it was 25.2 per cent. In one year the amount was downgraded 2.1 per cent. In a revenue budget of something like $396m that means that the revenue for education was sold short by at least $8.5m. I correct myself: As the State budgets come down I have them examined. I hold here the estimated expenditure from the Loan Fund for Tasmania. I see that the proposed amount of expenditure for primary schools last year was $6,972,839. Actual expenditure was $5,271,966. Senator Walters is quite correct in indicating that there is an underspending in primary schools of about $ 1 .7m. The documents indicate a similar pattern.
If there is to be a demonstration of whether the Commonwealth has increased its funds, it is perfectly clear, as the report of the Schools Commission shows, that the States were all more than able to meet maintenance. The Budget of the Tasmanian Government shows that it had 15.2 per cent more by way of recurrent expenditure from revenue sharing. It had an increase of 32. 1 per cent in its loan figures. The Tasmanian Minister is constantly reviling the Federal Government for neglect. To test what has happened in the last two years I go to the report of the Schools Commission. The primary schools in Tasmania which were to reach a target of 140 by 1980 have reached a target of 152 by 1977, and are now almost level one. Here is the full impact of federal funding. The secondary schools which were to reach a target of 135 in 1982- some five years’ time- are 133 now, some two points away. They are clearly virtually on target, showing the full impact of Federal Government funding. Let me put this to the test once and for all. The only people who are failing to provide money for education in Tasmania are Neilson and Batt in the Tasmanian Labor Government. The fact is that that Government has decided of its own free will to make education a lesser and lesser thing inside the State budget. It has reduced the content by 2. 1 per cent in one year. No other State has done so. Education occupies a very low percentage of the State budget. Education, obviously to Mr Batt and to the Neilson Government, is a lesser thing.
-Seeing that Senator Walters is so interested in appropriations, I have a question for her colleague, Senator Durack, in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. Is the Minister aware of reports that the Government plans to spend Sim on an advertising campaign promoting the Government’s policies relating to employment assistance schemes? Given that the total provision for expenditure on information services in the estimates of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations for the 1977-78 financial year is only $478,000, will the Minister advise the Senate from where the Government intends obtaining the additional $522,000 to finance this publicity scheme and where it will appear in the appropriations which are now before the Parliament for consideration?
-As to the amount that may be spent on publicity for the Government’s manpower and training procedures, I will ask my colleague to indicate the actual figure that he has in mind. The campaign is being launched because of reports that employers and job seekers are not always fully aware of the range of the Government’s manpower and training programs. The campaign is timed to coincide with the usual peak demand for jobs at the end and beginning of each year. I can assure the Senate, however, that any funds set aside in the Budget for the Government’s manpower and training programs will in no way be diverted to the publicity campaign.
-I address a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Minister seen the speech of Mr Dunstan, the South Australian Premier, when introducing the South Australian Government’s Budget last Thursday, in which he claimed that the Federal Budget predicates an inflation rate this year of some 12 per cent? Is the Minister aware that Mr Dunstan bases this claim on the statement in the Federal Budget that award wage growth will be 10.5 per cent and that the Treasury assumes that partial wage indexation will occur this year? Is it a fact that the 10.5 per cent increase in award wages represents a significantly lower rate of increase in total actual wages? By Mr Dunstan ‘s logic, does this indicate a far lower rate of inflation this financial year than 12 per cent? Is this supported by recent statements by W. D. Scott and Co. Pty Ltd and Philip Shrapnel and Co. Pty Ltd? Is this further evidence of the continual flow of deliberately misleading statements emanating from Mr Dunstan for cheap political purposes?
-Mr Dunstan is not particularly strong on logic and perhaps has a tendency from time to time to issue misleading statements, particularly at election time and Budget time. I also do not think he is a very hot shot on economic forecasting. I think his estimation of the figures is quite wrong. He has misconstrued what the Budget really says. He ought to look at the actual facts as they are disclosed by the consumer price index increases. If we wait a little while I think we will find that Mr Dunstan is once again wrong, as he is so often.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I remind the Minister of several questions asked of her in the autumn session relating to a visa application by Mr Chris Santos and his family. As I have not received any reply to my questions relating to the Santos family, I now ask: What stage of consideration has the case reached? Is the Minister aware that Mr Santos’s visa expired on 30 April 1977 and that Mrs Santos has been refused a tertiary education assistance scheme application on the basis of not having a current visa? When will the Government make a decision on this case and end the months of concern of the Santos family due to the delay?
-I recall the questions that were asked with regard to the Santos family. I will refer the question that has now been raised to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs to see what information is available at this stage. I will ensure that the honourable senator is advised accordingly.
-I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. In view of an increase of 1 8H per cent in the door-to-door price of Tasmanian timber delivered to Victoria resulting from increases in Australian National Line freights, can the Minister inform me whether the freight subsidy rates for timber are under review and whether an adjustment is being considered? If so, when can an announcement be expected?
– I have information relating to reviews of freights in an extensive brief on that matter. I am advised that when the freight equalisation scheme was introduced last year it was appreciated that increases would occur from time to time in mainland road and rail charges and in Tasmanian sea freight rates. Rather than there being a continual series of small adjustments upwards and downwards, it was announced that a reassessment of the levels of assistance would be undertaken at the end of 1 977 to ensure that the relationship between the Tasmanian freight rates and mainland rates was preserved. The review is to be undertaken by the Bureau of Transport Economics, and its officers have already commenced their investigations. Timber is an item receiving particular attention.
I take this opportunity to point out that the purpose of the review will be to adjust the rates of assistance to take account of relative changes in Bass Strait and mainland freight rates, not to provide Tasmanian producers with the same net freight rates in January 1978 as they paid in July 1976. It should not be assumed that because there has been an increase in the sealine haul charges there will necessarily be a case for increasing the rates of assistance under the freight equalisation scheme. Since the scheme was introduced there have been increases in mainland road and rail freight rates, and it is conceivable that the present rates of assistance could be adequate to enable the relationship between the Tasmanian rates and the mainland rates on a door-to-door basis to be maintained. Depending on the extent of mainland increases, in some instances a reduction in the amount of freight equalisation assistance may be warranted. I believe it is important to make this point to avoid any expectation in Tasmania that the rate of assistance will increase just because the sea freight rate has increased.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Is it a fact that overseas owned and controlled petroleum companies will gain approximately $150m from the Government’s decision to raise the price of indigenous crude oil? Is the Government aware that these companies propose to use this windfall to buy into Australian owned coal companies? What steps does the Government propose to take to protect Australian equity in such Australian enterprises? Does the Government contemplate a resources tax on these excessive profits?
-I think that Mr Anthony has made some comments on the resources tax, and I shall look up the exact form of his words and let the honourable senator have them. The Government is well aware of the situation. The honourable senator knows that there is a Foreign Investment Review Board. He knows that applications by people from overseas to buy a stake in Australian companies are carefully scrutinised. That will continue to be the case.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Education. I understand that the Government has introduced a scheme to give further education to unemployed young people through technical schools. Can the Minister inform the Senate of the purpose of the scheme and the progress being made?
-If I understand Senator Thomas’s question correctly, he would be referring to the scheme known by the acronym EPUY-the education program for unemployed youth. It remains a pilot scheme although, at any one time, about 1,200 young people are involved under it. Under the scheme young people who are under 2 1 years of age and who have been more than four months unemployed are invited to come together in groups of about 1 5 in technical colleges to be assessed as to aptitudes and basic skills defects. They receive several months or more of warning. I have now been able to see some three or four groups who have graduated from this scheme. As late as last Friday I was privileged to be at Granville to see them. The scheme has exciting potential. It has a potential to teach the educators the defects of the education system. All of those undertaking study under the scheme had a great need for increase in motivation but, above everything else, for increase in their own self-esteem. They had tended to undervalue themselves. They had tended to feel, as low achievers, that they were inadequate. In many cases they were wrong in their undervaluation. In all cases, their presentation was bad. They are all finding the scheme, I think, one of very great use. Most of those who were in the early batches that have gone through have achieved jobs. I am happy to say that the retention rate is very high indeed. For the moment it is promising although it is still in its experimental stage. For my part, I hope we will be able to expand it because it is the one way in which we can generate very genuine concern for those people who are under privileged and, at the same time, learn ourselves where the community, the family and the education system are in defect.
– Pursuant to section 36 of the Canned Fruits Exporting Marketing Act 1963, 1 present the annual report of accounts of the Australian Canned Fruits Board for 1976.
-by leave- I move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the annual report of the Australian Council on Awards in Advanced Education for 1976.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the annual report and financial statements of the Australian Film Commission for the year ended 30 June 1 976.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on selfpropelled harvesters (by-law).
-I bring up the fifty-eighth report of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Withers) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Honourable senators will be aware that on 5 May 1977, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) announced certain decisions that the Government had taken in relation to the organisation of intelligence and security arrangements. Those decisions followed the Government’s study of one of the reports of the Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security. One of the most important findings of the Royal Commissioner, Mr Justice Hope, was that Australia needs intelligence of quality, timeliness and relevance and that existing intelligence assessments do not meet these tests as well as they should.
In his statement on 5 May, the Prime Minister said that in the light of the Royal Commissioner’s findings, the Government had decided to introduce legislation to establish an Office of National Assessments. This Bill is designed to give effect to the Government’s decisions in so far as they concern the Office of National Assessments. The Office of National Assessments will be a separate statutory authority independent of any government department or authority, and it will be free from any external direction or control as to the contents and conclusions of its reports and assessments. The Office will be concerned with assessing intelligence about international developments and not with domestic situations.
The Bill provides that from time to time as circumstances require the Office will make assessments in relation to those international matters which are of ‘national’ importance. As the Prime Minister mentioned in his statement of 5 May, matters of national importance will be regarded as including matters affecting the responsibility of more than one Minister, department or authority, or being of a level of importance warranting Cabinet reference, or being of importance to basic government policy, or having major implications for the basic premises of departmental policy or programs. The Office will not be organised to collect intelligence by clandestine or other means.
Those departments, the defence organisation and established intelligence agencies which at present collect and collate intelligence will continue to fulfil their present functions. They will not be precluded from engaging in research, analysis and assessment essential to the discharge of statutory responsibilities, or of functions derived from ministerial responsibilities.
The Office will make objective reports and assessments, drawing both on intelligence and on other sources of information and expertise. The Office will avoid comment or advice regarding policy, although its assessments should obviously have relevance to, and assist in, policy formation. The Office will be subject to policy control and managerial oversight through the Committee of Ministers on Intelligence and Security, assisted by a committee of permanent heads, as the Prime Minister announced on 5 May.
The Office will include seconded officers from departments, the defence force and other authorities, as well as a permanent core of career officers professionally qualified in the assessment of intelligence on international developments in the political, strategic and economic fields. Subject matters of national interest will include international economic as well as international political and strategic questions. This reflects the Government’s concern to have the best possible intelligence assessments on matters in the economic and resources fields which will be of increasing relevance.
The Office will be assisted by a National Assessments Board and an Economic Assessments Board. There boards will be chaired by the Director-General and consist of officers drawn from relevant departments who will provide expert comment on the subjects under assessment. The Government intends that the National Assessments Board will include a senior officer from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the senior civilian and the senior military officer from the Joint Intelligence Organisation and senior officers from the economic departments as appropriate.
Similarly, the Economic Assessments Board will include senior officers drawn from the Department or the Treasury or the Department of Finance, along with officers from the Department of Foreign Affairs and from other economic departments and the civilian element of JIO as appropriate. For both boards, senior officers may also be co-opted, as appropriate, from other departments and authorities with a contribution to make to the subject under assessment.
The Director-General will issue reports and assessments from the Office on his own authority but will, wherever possible, consult the appropriate Assessment Board before doing so. In the event of there being a significant difference of opinion in relation to an assessment between the Director-General and one of the assessments boards on which agreement cannot be reached, the Director-General will furnish with his assessment a statement on the difference of opinion. The Government intends that the DirectorGeneral should have access to all relevant information and expert advice necessary for him to make his assessments.
The Bill provides that subject to any legal provisions on the limitation of access to certain categories of information and to compliance with any conditions specified by the Minister, the Director-General shall have access to all government information and material relevant to a matter being assessed. It has been agreed, however, that the Office will not duplicate specialist departmental capabilities including existing data banks. As the Prime Minister foreshadowed in his statement of 5 May, the Government has already taken steps to establish the Office. The first Director-General, Mr R. W. Furlonger, has been appointed by the Executive Council and has taken up office. Recruitment of staff and establishment of support facilities are well advanced and it is expected that the Office can commence producing reports and assessments by the end of the year.
The Government views the establishment of this office as an event of considerable importance. It is a step towards implementing some of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security. Decisions on the other recommendations will be taken and announced in the course of the current session. The availability to the Government of objective assessments on matters of external concern to Australia should greatly assist the determination of policies and priorities in the whole field of our external relations. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wriedt) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 6 October.
– On the last occasion on which this Bill was debated, the Opposition through Senator Wriedt, after brief discussion tabled in Hansard some questions on this Loan Bill that it would like to have answered. I sent those questions to the Treasury and the answers only came back to me just before lunch. The Treasurer (Mr Lynch) has been overseas and I need to talk to him about his views on these questions and answers. Accordingly, it is not appropriate for me to present them to the Senate today. I will need to look at them myself and I will need to have the Treasurer’s opinion on them. I expect, therefore, to be able to present them to the Senate tomorrow. It seems to me that is a better process. It will allow Senator Wriedt and myself a little time to look at these things.
Debate resumed from 6 October 1977 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;
will increase unemployment;
will have little impact on inflation;
will make regressive changes in the tax system; and
will reduce living standards”.
– On Thursday last I was addressing myself to the Budget Papers. I then sought leave to continue my remarks. There are quite a few more things to which I want to refer. In his comments on the Budget Papers, Senator Tehan mentioned that the present Government had decided not to continue the grant to the Murray Valley Development League, a grant which had been initiated by the Whitlam Labor Government to the Murray Valley Development League to enable it to carry out the good work that it does. I join with Senator Tehan in criticising the Government for failing once again in this Budget to provide funds for the Murray Valley Development League to enable that body to cany out its necessary work. Although Senator Tehan has made a plea- and he is a Government supporterit appears that his plea has fallen on deaf ears, as have many other pleas from various bodies around the country. Senator Tehan referred also in his speech to the Dartmouth Dam. He expressed some concern as to the irrigation problems that might be caused to people lower down from the spillway due to the rush of water that would come down. I am not going to become involved in that matter.
I am pleased to see Senator Hall in the chamber because he was the Premier of South Australia who signed the agreement with the then Premier of Victoria, Mr Bolte, to construct the Dartmouth Dam. What Senator Hall failed to do when he signed that agreement was to ensure that South Australia would obtain an adequate supply of good quality water. I checked again the other day with a person who is conversant with the River Murray and he assured me that there is no guarantee under the Dartmouth Dam agreement that South Australia will get any better quality water than it has ever obtained. Senator Tehan was quite right, when he referred in another part of his speech to the fact that the River Murray could become a drain. That is what we in South Australia are very much afraid of. It is just a sewer and it is getting worse every year because we have no control over the quality of water. While Senator Hall, when he was Premier, placed great emphasis on the wonderful achievement he had made by signing this agreement to construct the Dartmouth Dam, he made no safeguards for South Australia as to the quality of water we would obtain. Another thing that Senator Hall failed to tell the electorate at large when he signed that agreement was that Mr Bolte wanted the Dartmouth Dam so that he could construct a small hydro-electric scheme in the wall of the dam to benefit Victoria.
We were not told about that. It took me some years, when I came into the Senate, to get the government of the day to admit that there had been a feasibility study carried out as to the feasibility of constructing a hydro-electric scheme at Dartmouth. Eventually I got the feasibility study. It was news to many people in South Australia. I do not say that Senator Hall was aware of it at the time but if he was not it only emphasises my point that he went into the signing of the agreement with his eyes shut. I well remember that at one stage Senator Hall was a great champion of Chowilla. He is on record as saying that South Australia would get Chowilla if he had to dig it himself. He even went to the extent of publishing a pamphlet pointing out the 14 good facts why Chowilla should be constructed. Then, out of the blue, he went to Victoria. That wily old fox, Mr Bolte, pulled the wool over his eyes and the next thing we knew we had lost Chowilla and we were going to have Dartmouth.
I wanted to point out those things because Senator Tehan, a Country Party member from Victoria, has expressed concern as to the great benefits of Dartmouth, in particular that nothing has been done to control the surge of water that will come down if they had to release water. If I remember rightly- and I have not looked at the agreement for some time- I think the only time South Australia will be entitled to any water out of Dartmouth is in times of drought. If this is so, we will be even worse off because in times of drought, when South Australia will need water, there will be a drought further up river and we will get very much poorer quality water than that to which we are entitled. People in South Australia find themselves in the same position with the Dartmouth Dam as with the Snowy Mountains scheme. Mr Playford complained many dmes that South Australia received no benefit, in the main, from the Snowy Mountains scheme because it is only Victoria and New South Wales that get all the massive benefits of the hydro-electric scheme. That is what I was referring to with regard to the hydro-electric scheme at Dartmouth. It is a supplement for the Kiewa scheme and Victoria is the only State which will benefit from it.
I was very concerned to hear Senator Scott, in his usual manner, criticising the Labor Government and the Labor Party in the way he always does and saying that the Labor Party, when in Government and out of it, has no concern for country people. He went on to mention in his speech some of the things the Liberal-Country Party coalition has done for farmers. He said:
The national rural bank is practically here. People may well say: ‘Well, it has taken long enough .
He went on to say:
But it is an extremely difficult institution to establish, and it warrants the greatest care and responsibility in producing something that is to be of real value to the whole of the rural industries.
The Labor Party is well aware that it is a very difficult body to establish.
But honourable senators opposite did not tell the people that during the 1975 election campaign. They did not tell the people- in the main, the farmers in the country areas- that it would be very difficult to establish a rural bank, so much so that nearly two years has passed and the Government has not introduced legislation to establish the bank. I understand it is having great difficulty trying to draft legislation to establish the rural bank. Even when that is done, there is a great deal of doubt about whether it will be a legal entity and whether its legality will not come under challenge in the High Court of Australia.
The Government fooled the farmers of this country into thinking that if it was successful in establishing a rural bank, they would have easy access to money and that they would get that money at a cheaper rate of interest. Honourable senators opposite know full well that that is not so. Money will not be more plentiful. It will not be available to farmers at a cheaper rate of interest than it is today. We already have institutions in this country such as the Commonwealth Development Bank that can cater for farmers in need. It is a lending office of last resort. It has been established to help people, such as the farmers/who are in desperate need today. Why does the Government want duplication? Where will we get the expertise to staff the national rural bank which the farmers have been promised? Where will the Government obtain this staff? Will it take it away from the Commonwealth Development Bank and denude that body of the necessary expertise in order to prop up a national rural bank? I will be very interested to see what happens in that regard.
I have had some experience of the Commonwealth Development Bank in one way or another. I know that it has the necessary expertise. The Bank knows what it is about when it comes to providing for the needs of desperate farmers. This Government needs only to make more funds available to the Commonwealth Development Bank to enable it to supply the necessary expertise and the funds needed to get the farmers over the problems they have today. There is no need for a national rural bank. I am sure that when the farmers finally are confronted with the legislation to establish a rural bank, they will be made aware of the fact that the bank will not provide the solution to their problems.
Senator Scott in his speech went on to talk about how the Government within the first few months of its election increased the first advance payment for wheat by 20 per cent. Of course, the wheat growers of this country know full well that for 15 years prior to the election of the Labor Government in 1972 there was no increase in the first advance payment. It took a Labor government to give the farmers an increase of about 10 per cent in the first advance payment for wheat although Liberal and National Country Party coalition governments had been asked by the Australian Wheat Board on many occasions in years gone by to give the growers an increase. Those governments turned a blind eye to the requests and did nothing. When the Whitlam Labor Government came to office, it immediately gave the farmers that increase. It was the first government for at least 15 years prior to 1972 that saw the need for an increase in the first advance payment for wheat and granted that increase. Now, we have Senator Scott saying that because this Government has granted another 10 per cent increase in that payment it has done something which no other government has done- something in particular which the Labor Government would not do. Senator Scott used that argument to bolster up his statements that the Labor Party is not concerned with the plight of primary producers.
I want to refer to a statement that was made by Senator Wriedt during the 1974 election campaign for the double dissolution of the Parliament. Senator Wriedt went to great pains in his rural policy speech to point out to farmers that the Labor Government had not only given the first increase for 15 years in their first advance payment. During its term in office, we also saw the opening up of new markets for farmers. We went to the Soviet Union and to China to seek new markets for wheat. Because those efforts met with good results, in conjunction with the States we were able to abolish wheat quotas. Senator Scott did not give us any credit for that. Previously, farmers operated under a quota system because Australia did not have the necessary overseas markets. It could not sell all the wheat that farmers might have been able to grow in good seasons. The Liberal-National Country Party government under Mr McMahon introduced wheat quotas. It was a Labor Government, under Whitlam, that removed those wheat quotas in conjunction with the States. There again, we gave a service to the farmers. As Senator Wriedt pointed out, in the first year Labor was in office, he increased the basic rate of quotas to about 514 million bushels, with a special pool of 74 million bushels. Of course, we also increased the first advance payment.
The other matter about which Senator Scott made great play was what his government had done to increase the floor price for wool. Who introduced a floor price scheme for the selling of wool? It was not a Liberal-National Country Party government. Previous Liberal and National Country Party Governments had been asked on many occasions by the wool grower organisations of this country to introduce a floor price for wool and would not do so. It took a Labor government to do that. When the Labor Government came to power, it established the floor price for wool at 250c a kilogram for clean micron wool. Now, the way Senator Scott’s speech reads, it appears he is practically claiming that the Liberal-National Country Party gave this benefit to the farmers when, in fact, both of those matters about which I have talked were brought in by the Labor Government. I want to go back a little further in regard to what happened in the wheat industry. Which government introduced the wheat stabilisation scheme? It was the Labor Government of 1946 when Mr Reg Pollard was Minister for Agriculture. He introduced the scheme. I am sure that if any of the honourable senators presently sitting opposite me asked the farmers whether they wanted that scheme abolished like they are trying to abolish so many other Labor schemes, they would be beheaded. I have outlined some of the magnificent things done under the Labor Government that have been of benefit to primary producers. Yet daily we hear honourable senators and members in another place criticising the Labor Party and saying that we are not concerned with the welfare of primary producers. Of course, we are concerned. We have shown our concern by the legislation that we have introduced into the Parliament. This Government has not seen fit to repeal that legislation because it knows it is good legislation. The Labor Government was prepared to take the initiative to introduce those measures.
Let us look further to how the wool growers and wheat growers have benefited under a Labor government. The interim annual report for 1976-77 of the Australian Wool Corporation tabled in the Senate some days ago shows the quantity of wool that has been sold in the previous two years. 1 want to refer to the quantity of wool that has been sold to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In 1975-76 the USSR purchased 57,935,000 kilograms of wool. In other words, that country’s purchases represented 10.1 per cent of our overseas market. This year the estimate on the 11 month actual figures is that we will sell 96,549,000 kilograms of wool to the USSR, representing 13.9 per cent of the Australian wool clip. That has been brought about by the good offices which were put in train by the Whitlam Labor Government. But now we find the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the people who sit behind him continually lambasting the Soviet Union and saying that it is a threat to this country. Not so long ago, we heard the Prime Minister severely criticising the Soviet Union because of some activities taking place in the Indian Ocean. Within a few days, we heard the Minister for Defence, Mr Killen, repudiating those statements. Honourable senators opposite use countries such as the Soviet Union and China for local political purposes. Yet they do not refuse to trade with them because they know that Russia is our second best customer after Japan for Australian wool. Russia buys more Australian wool than any country after Japan.
I will now deal with wheat exports. The annual report and financial statements of the Australian Wheat Board for the year ended 30 November 1976 were tabled in the Parliament a few days ago. Let us see who is our best customer for wheat. In 1974-75 China bought 1,401,460 tonnes of wheat and last year it purchased 946,309 tonnes of wheat. In that instance, Japan was the biggest customer for Australian wheat after China. But let us look at the position of the Soviet Union. In 1974-75 the Soviet Union bought 1,122,861 tonnes of wheat. In the last financial year, it purchased 1,288,727 tonnes of wheat. There again, the two biggest purchasers of wheat from this country are the two countries which are held up to ridicule and criticised most by honourable senators opposite, and particularly by the Prime Minister. I refer to the Soviet Union and the massive country of China. They are our two best customers for these products. As I have said in this Parliament on many occasions, when shopkeepers open their doors for business first thing in the morning they do not go out and offend their best customers. That is the very thing that this Government does. We are trying to sell more beef. We have a crisis in the beef industry. If this Government had any sense it would be going on a friendly basis to both of those countries in an endeavour to find markets for our beef just as we did when we were in office to sell our wheat and wool. I am afraid that if this Government continues the way it is going we will see a further deterioration in our sales to those two countries and I would not blame them if they did not buy from us in view of the methods adopted by this Government for purely local political purposes of using them as a red herring to hoodwink the people of Australia. It is not so many years ago when the Democratic Labor Party was in this place. Its representatives supported Robert Menzies in Government. Every election we used to see massive advertisements in newspapers with big red arrows pointing down to the words *Be Careful-These People Will Take Australia’. Of course, it was just a myth.
I want to mention a matter that was raised in the other place last Thursday. This conclusively proves what I have been saying- that LiberalCountry Party coalition supporters, particularly the Country Party supporters, will make statements ridiculing the Labor Party and State Labor governments. Last Thursday in the other place a question was asked. I am sure it was a Dorothy Dix-er like some of those that are asked in this place because it comprised about eight or nine lines and the answer comprised about a column and a half. The question was from Mr Giles. He asked what the South Australian Government had done to assist farmers in that State who were suffering from the present drought. Mr Sinclair gave an answer. I will not quote it all, but on page 1712 of the House of Representatives Hansard for 6 October it reads:
As I understand that South Australia up to this stage has not expended $1.5m- its minimal contribution level from its own resources- it could apply a number of measures which perhaps it has not applied -
That is a completely erroneous statement and it was made on a day when the proceedings were being broadcast. He went on to say:
The Commonwealth stands prepared to assist the South Australian Government to provide help to those affected by the drought, in accordance with those existing arrangements.
The Minister of Agriculture in South Australia, Mr Brian Chatterton, was made aware of that statement by Mr Sinclair and Mr Chatterton put out a Press release from which I want to quote. It completely refutes what Mr Sinclair said. When I read out the Press statement honourable senators opposite will understand why everywhere Mr Sinclair has been since he has been the Minister for Primary Industry he has had a pretty hot time from primary producers. We well know- I have spoken about this in this Parliament in debate on the legislation for the canned fruits industry- of the hot reception he got around Shepparton and Mooroopna, some months ago and the hot reception he got at Berri. Recently he attended a cattlemen’s meeting in Queensland where a resolution was passed calling on him to resign because of his very lethargic efforts in helping primary producers, particularly in the beef industry. Yet he now goes further to make statements, which do not have a grain of truth in them, criticising the South Austraiian Labor Government because it has not carried out its obligation to give assistance to South Australian farmers under the drought relief scheme. This is the Press release from which I want to quote. It was put out by the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Brian Chatterton, and it is dated 7 October 1977. It reads:
State Not Tardy on Drought Aid
The State Government has exceeded by $600,000 the amount of money it had to pay out for drought relief before getting matching grants from the Commonwealth Government.
Although the figure has been well exceeded, money from the Commonwealth has not been given’, the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Brian Chatterton, said today.
Instead, the Commonwealth Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Sinclair, is suggesting the States have been tardy in providing funds.’
Mr Chatterton said that Mr Sinclair only yesterday claimed that South Australia was less than half way towards meeting the target it had to reach before earning the ‘right’ to Commonwealth money.
The truth is that this State acted quickly when the assistance measures were announced and applicants for assistance have already been allocated $2,092,000 in the form of carry-on finance ‘, Mr Chatterton said.
Of this, nearly $900,000 has already been received by farmers. The rest is in the pipeline for other successful applicants under our State scheme. ‘
Mr Chatterton said other money paid out included $236,000 in freight rebates and $35,000 for slaughter schemes.
Yet we find Mr Sinclair saying in his answer to that Dorthy Dix question from’ Mr Giles that South Australia could apply a number of measures which perhaps it had not applied, including the slaughter of aged stock or drought affected stock. Mr Chatterton is now saying that
South Australia has provided $35,000 for that very thing which we are told South Australia is not doing. So we have a Country Party Minister for Primary Industry at real loggerheads with the people whom he is supposed to represent and going to the extreme measure of getting up in this Parliament and accusing the South Australian Labor Government and its Minister of not carrying out their responsibility under the drought relief scheme. Mr Chatterton has replied and I hope that the Press takes some note of this because it again proves that Mr Sinclair is prepared to say anything to get back into favour with the primary producers.
I now want to mention a matter that comes up in this Parliament almost daily at Question Time. We find Senator Carrick, the Minister for Education, standing in this place time and time again, and also when he goes around the country talking to educationists and everybody who is interested in education, claiming that the Labor Government reduced expenditure on education. That is a complete fallacy because the Labor Government did not reduce it. I am going to prove that. It may have reduced it in one instance. I am going to show- and this is what Senator Carrick never tells anybody- what the Labor Government did when it came into office in 1972. 1 am looking at page 15 of the 1974-75 Budget Papers which gives the actual figures. The total amount spent on education by the Federal Government in 1972-73 was $442.6m. That was the amount that was allocated under the McMahon Budget. In 1973-74-the first year of the Whitlam Government- actual expenditure was $860. lm, which is very near a doubling of expenditure on education in the first year of the Labor Government. Let us have a look at education expenditure in 1974-75. The estimated expenditure for that year was $ 1,534.7m, nearly double the amount of expenditure.
– It is very near a doubling of the expenditure for the previous year. I do not say it is an actual doubling, but it is very near a doubling. As Senator Cormack has just come into the chamber I will give him the exact figures. In the last year in office of the Government which Senator Cormack supported expenditure on education was $442.6m. The next year expenditure on education, under Labor, was $860. lm. For the next year the estimated expenditure was $ 1,534.7m.
– That is not double.
– Nearly double, I said. That was the estimated expenditure for 1974-75. Let us look at the 1975-76 Budget. Senator Cormack will be interested in these figures. Have a look at the actual expenditure for 1974-75. The total actual expenditure for education was $1,67 1.6m. So there you have it, Senator Cormack. Expenditure was getting very near to twice the actual expenditure on education in the first year of the Labor Government. We went out of office in 1975-76, the year in which we estimated in our Budget that we would expend $ 1,908.2m on education. So there you are. You can have a look at the figures, Senator Cormack. When the Government you supported was last in office actual expenditure was $442. 6m and when we went out of office our estimate in the Budget was $ 1,908.2m, which is nearly four dmes the amount of expenditure in 1972-73. Yet we find Senator Carrick getting up here day after day and saying to Senator Wriedt that he is twisting the figures, that he is not being truthful about expenditure on education and he has not been able to prove it except perhaps in only one area of education where there may have been a slight decrease. The figures speak for themselves. In the first instance I quoted from the McMahon Budget the amounts allocated by that Government. So it is no good Senator Carrick getting up in this place, and going around the hustings as he might be doing in two or three weeks’ time if the pundits are right, claiming that we reduced expenditure because he will not fool the people who are closely associated with education. They know full well who gave the large increases in expenditure for education- the Labor Government. Actually this Government has increased its expenditure somewhat in this year’s Budget, but we set the standard. Of course the LiberalNational Country Party Government cannot go back to the amount to which it would like to go back.
– On what was it spent?
– It was spent on education. In 1976-77, under a Liberal-National Party Government, the actual expenditure on education was $2,160,000- an increase of approximately $3m. This financial year, 1977-78, the expenditure is estimated to be $2,371,000-to be exact, an increase of $2,1 10,900. So it is no good honourable senators opposite claiming, as Senator Carrick likes to do, that we neglected education, because we did not. The figures prove that over and over again. As I said here in a speech the other day, until we came to office it was always the philosophy of the Liberal Party that the children of the masses, of the working class, were not entitled to a decent education in this country. This Government’s expenditure on education m this Budget bears out what I said. A Liberal-National Country Party has never provided the necessary money for working class families to have an education. It has always been concerned that it should only be the silvertails and the bluebloods that get a decent education. But we set the standard for providing a decent education. Now no longer can this Government back off. If it does, if it gets back to what it used to do years ago, it will be to its detriment and to its electoral crucifixion. The people of this country well realise that we are concerned with giving every person in this community who desires an education the opportunity to have it.
I wish to refer to another matter which I raised during the Estimates committee hearings. I am fortunate in that I have received several answers. I raised a question about the fate of a property in Adelaide owned by the Commonwealth. It is known as the John Bull Hotel. It was bought in 1957 under a Liberal government. The building has become derelict. At present it is used as a car park. This is the answer I got back some days ago:
There has been some confusion caused by the use of differing terminology for the same site. The ‘Currie Street’ site -
As I referred to it- is in fact the site listed on page 7 of the explanations as the John Bull Hotel, Adelaide, South Australia’. This property is expected to be sold in 1977-78 and for this reason it is not intended to provide any funds for upgrading the surface of the area used as a car park.
Now why is this Government going to dispose of that very valuable property right in the heart of Adelaide? That property adjoins the Commonwealth Electoral Office further down the street. Probably back in 1957 when, in its wisdom a Liberal-Country Party government bought it, the site was necessary. Why is this Government going to dispose of it? It is going to dispose of it to some insurance company to build a massive office block so that the company can lease the premises to the Commonwealth Government, in the same way as the AMP leases premises to the Commonwealth Government? Why does this Government not go ahead and construct its own complex so that we will have something that belongs to the people and not to an insurance company? One of the reasons why we have this high level of unemployment today is that this Government is not carrying out capital works.
This is a perfect illustration of how this Government can set in train a capital work that will be of great value to the Commonwealth Government and to the city of Adelaide. It will be something owned by the Australian taxpayers for the benefit and use of the taxpayers. Yet I get back an answer that this property is going to be sold. I will be very interested to see who the purchasers are because that is something in which a lot of people in Australia, particularly those in Adelaide, will be vitally interested. The place has lain dormant for 20 years. Nothing has been done to it. Then all of a sudden, with a high rate of unemployment, this Government decides it is going to sell it instead of getting on and constructing something of real value.
Let us look at this year’s Budget and see where massive cuts have been made. We have heard speaker after speaker on the Government side say what a wonderful Budget this is. Yet when we look at the Budget and see where the Government has made cuts, we find that they are in areas where the Government should be spending money- in areas of need. If we look at housing we find that in 1975-76 an amount of $562.3m was spent on housing. In the next financial year, under a Liberal-National Country Party government, there was an allocation of $548m- a reduction. In this year’s Budget we find an allocation of $495.8m- again a reduction, this time of $53m. Yet there are people in their thousands who have not a roof over their heads. I have them coming into my office every day at Murray Bridge, a country town, wanting to know what I can do to get them a house in which to live. Of course, when I ring up the South Austraiian Housing Trust I am told that it is impossible to provide housing because of the cuts made in the funding for housing by this Government. There it is in the Government’s own Budget- a cut of $53m in the allocation of housing. Yet we find people on the Government side getting up and saying that they are concerned about the small man and what a wonderful Budget this is.
Let us look at urban and regional development. In 1975-76, actual expenditure in this area was $407. 8m. In the next financial year, under a Liberal-National Country Party government, it was $250.6m. In this Budget there is the massive sum of $ 167.9m! That is a cut of $82.7m. But what do we find? The cities are overcrowded while the Government is cutting down on funds for complexes like Albury-Wodonga. The Government talks about trying to prop up private enterprise but how many of the construction companies and people who use heavy machinery in development work in the Albury-Wodonga area have been severely financially embarrassed because the Government has cut down on funds and those people have had to pull out? And the Government talks about helping small business! As I have said, there has been a reduction of $82.7m in urban and regional development.
Let us look at transport and communication. In 1975-76, in our Budget, though the government of honourable senators opposite had to carry it out, the actual expenditure in this area was $ 1 ,329. 1 m. Last financial year the allocation was $989m. This financial year there has been a further cut; the Government has brought the figure down to $844m. So there has been a decrease of $ 144.8m in the allocation for transport and communication. Yet as I pointed out here only the other day, and I referred to it again today when I asked a question about the closure of the Woomera West railway siding, according to Mr Anthony’s speech, one of the things a Liberal-National Country Party government would do in office would be to ensure an efficient transport service so that people would have transport and freight facilities at an efficient level. But we find m.the Budget a reduction of $ 144.8m in transport funds. So we have four areas with which people are vitally concernedthe three main ones being housing, transport and communication and urban and regional developmentall of which have suffered massive cuts. How do honourable senators opposite explain that away? The other area which is of vital importance comes within the ambit of urban and regional development. In the 1975-76 Budget the actual expenditure on sewerage and garbage was $1 13.1m. In this Government’s first year of office that expenditure was cut to $49.3m. This year an allocation of only $0.3m will be made to the States for the completion of some studies. There has been an effective reduction of $49.6m on the 1976-77 expenditure. How many areas of Australia do not yet have a sewerage system? One of our main objectives on coming to office was to provide people in areas that had a night service- a pan service, as we know it- with some decent sewerage system. But what do we find under this Government? This Government is going to put people back to the night cart days because it has allowed only $0.3m for sewerage schemes right throughout Australia. That is the only assistance it is going to give to the State governments. Of course when the States are unable to provide these services because they have very limited ways of raising revenue, Senator Carrick is going to say: ‘Oh! That is the State’s responsibility. Under our new federalism they are falling down on the job. They are not giving you the services to which people are entitled. You cannot blame Malcolm Fraser’. Honourable senators opposite have to blame Mr Dunstan, Mr Wran or Mr Nielson in the three Labor States for these things. They will not hear any criticism if the services are not provided in Victoria by Mr Hamer or in Queensland by Mr Petersen. They will be silent about what happens in those areas. If a Labor State is involved they will go out- probably in a few weeks dme when questions are asked at election rallies- and say to people who ask why the States are not getting money for sewerage schemes that that is the responsibility of the State governments. The people will be told that the State governments balance their Budgets and that they are not spending money. They will be told that the only way the States balance their Budgets is by not spending money.
As I pointed out the other day, this Government makes great claims as to how it is reducing its deficit. Any housewife can reduce her deficit if she is running up a bill at her local shop if she cuts down on food, clothing and whatever she might need to provide for her husband and her children. Of course she can cut her deficit if she does not spend money on the essentials. It is clearly stated in the Budget that the way the Government is pruning its deficit is by not spending money on essentials. The people of this country would far sooner have a deficit Budget and be provided with the essentials of life, something that is there for all time and something which they, their children and their children’s children can use. These are things that should be paid for not only by the present generation. They will be there for future generations, and future generations should contribute. This Government makes great play about reducing the deficit and getting the inflation rate down, but does so at the expense of the jobs of the workers. It does not mind how many people are unemployed so long as it can go out and say that it has reduced the deficit and has reduced inflation. That is no good to a person who does not have a job. That is no good to private enterprise which is not selling commodities to people who do not have work or have money in their pockets. The Government is going about the problem in the reverse way.
– Go and preach to Mr Halfpenny in Victoria for a change.
- Senator Cormack is a great one to blame Mr Halfpenny. Senator Cormack is like all the rest on his side. Whenever anything goes wrong there is only one group of people to blame. They blame the trade unionists. They never blame the bosses. I am pleased that the honourable senator raised that question. Let me refer to the interim annual report of the Australian Wool Corporation which I was quoting a while ago. Senator Cormack will be very interested in this. It shows that Mr Hamer ought to be doing the same thing as the wool industry was able to do. The report at page 67 reads:
In contrast to 1975-76 -
The industry was having some industrial trouble then-
AWTA operations were not disrupted at any stage during 1976-77 as a result of industrial disputation within the wool industry. The improved relationship which has developed between the Federated Storemen and Packers’ Union and AWTA since the end of 197S enabled a number of difficult issues to be resolved without industrial action and within the wage indexation guidelines.
I have no doubt that the dispute in Queensland with Utah could be resolved if Petersen would allow Utah to sit in consultation with the Seamen’s Union. I have no doubt at all that the problems in the La Trobe Valley could be settled if Hamer and Fraser would allow representatives of the State Electricity Commission to sit down and talk in a conciliatory manner with the people down there. The Government does not want that to happen. Senator Cormack knows very well that he does not want a settlement. He wants to be able to go out in a few weeks ‘ time and ask the people of this country: Who is running the countrythe trade unions or the Government?
As I pointed out the other day, this Government has the numbers to run the country but it is incapable of doing so. It has a massive majority in the House of Representatives. It has a big majority here. It has brought in repressive legislation to control the trade unions. It has everything at its fingertips to run the country. It is not capable of doing so. It is not capable of sitting down and talking to representatives of trade unions about their problems. All Senator Cormack has ever thought about is confrontation. He has never sat down in a conciliatory manner and discussed the problems.
I have been a working man all of my life. No working man goes on strike unless there is good reason. If his wage standard is not such as to give him a decent standard of living of course he will ask for a better deal- more wages in his pocket. The working man is not the only one who benefits when he gets an increase in wages. Unlike the silvertails and the people who come from Burnside, Toorak- where Senator Cormack lives- and up on the North Shore, who go overseas for a trip and send their daughters to finishing school whenever they have some surplus money, the working man spends his surplus money on getting a decent house to live in and a better education for his children, something that is of lasting benefit to the community. He spends the money within the shores of Australia. The silvertails spend it in other countries, and this is of no benefit to Australia. As soon as I mention some of the problems honourable senators opposite come back with the old story. They are like parrots. They blame the trade unions. The trade union movement is the backbone of this country. If it were not for the work put in by trade unions some of the people opposite could not survive. It would have been no good Senator Cormack producing pigs if the trade union member did not have money in his pocket to buy pork or bacon. Each side relies on the other, and Senator Cormack well knows it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman)- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
-I remind the Senate that we are talking about the Budget Papers of 1977. We are not talking about the South Australian Budget. We heard for some considerable time about the South Australian problems. We are talking about the Budget, and this is where, I am afraid, Senator McLaren came to such grief. He followed the same old familiar pattern and said that apparently this side of the chamber does not like the working class and that Senator McLaren’s side of the chamber defends it.
– We need the eggs, though.
-We do, do we? We will not get many eggs from Senator McLaren these days- although he may drop an occasional brick. What this Government does will be to the greatest protection and the continuing protection of the working people of this country who were sent to near disaster by the operations of a previous government, allegedly but not really, the government of the working people.
Let me in a few words make reference to one of the few remarks made by Senator McLaren about the Budget. He took the trouble to quote from page 39 of Budget Paper No. 1. He used a little selective quotation to suggest that in some areas there are reductions in payments this year. He carefully jumped from one item to another. He left out such items as education, where the increase this year is $2 10m, and health, where the increase this year is $27 lm. He cited figures in relation to housing which is the fifth item on the list but left out item four which deals with social security and welfare, the expenditure on which jumped this year by $8 17m. If honourable senators look at the two years during which this Government has been in office they will see that the total Budget allocation- I am comparing this with the Hayden Budget- for social security and welfare has risen by $2, 170m. When one considers what this Government has been doing in its period in office in increasing family allowances, in helping people with large families, in helping people who are really in need and in helping people to pay rent and provide them with housing and so forth, one realises the enormous increases.
– I spoke about that on Thursday last.
-Senator McLaren left that out on purpose.
– I spoke about it on Thursday last.
-Senator McLaren says that he spoke about this on Thursday. He speaks so often in this Parliament that one cannot follow every speech he makes. I think that the honourable senator when referring to that Budget Paper could draw attention to the enormous increases that have come under this Government and which are substantially to the benefit of the working people of this country. I do not want to say very much more about the speech of Senator McLaren who has retired in confusion.
I want to point out one thing about the Budget. Before the Budget was delivered there were all kinds of gloomy prognostications as to what would be cut. All these things of course did not come to pass. It is worth while in view of the fact that the debate on the Budget has taken some time to point out that before the Budget- this is to give one example- there was a reference that the interpreter services for immigrants were to be cut severely. One newspaper, which for these purposes will remain anonymous, went on to say that the interpreter service for immigrants was to be diminished. The article continued:
Social Security Department sources deny that the reduction will be as much as 75 per cent as feared; they do not deny that cuts are imminent.
They did not say they would be cut either. When the Budget came down- I use this as one particular example- there were increases. In a statement after the introduction of the Budget, Senator Guilfoyle said:
The Government has increased funds for the telephone interpreter service. The total allocation is in excess o m, which is more than $150,000 above the 1976-77 expenditure. The rumours recently published suggesting that the Government is abandoning the telephone interpreter service have no foundation.
That is just one example. Taking the example of this very important area in regard to migrants a step further, an announcement was then made by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, the Honourable Michael MacKellar, on the establishment of a new body to boost translating and interpreting. A Press release at that time stated:
The setting up of a body to control the training and accreditation of translators and interpreters in Australia would give the profession a major boost.
The Minister . . . said this today when he announced the formation of the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters.
A national body of this kind will ensure that Australia’s translating and interpreting will match world standards.
Taking just that one example, which relates to an area in which gloomy ideas were spread before the Budget, we find that the Budget has in fact moved forward and the Government has moved on in practical terms to assist migrants.
The basic thrust of this Budget is a useful one. It is consistent with last year’s Budget and it tackles the problems which have been with us for some time and which need the concentration of government. One ought to remind the Senate that at the beginning of his Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) said:
Our first goal is to maintain the underlying trend to lower inflation.
Our second goal, which is dependent upon the achievement of the first, is to promote moderate and noninflationary growth in order to create jobs and reduce unemployment.
This Budget will move Australia further towards achieving those goals, and in so doing, it will build on the foundations laid by last year’s Budget.
I think that it can rightly be said that the Budget, and its main attributes, follow in that line while concentrating on the first objective of getting down the level of inflation, which is so ruinous to us in international terms, in terms of our trade and in terms of jobs which can be available for people in this country. Other measures that are contained in this Budget, including the important initiatives in regard to tax reform, are of vital importance to this country. The effects of those measures will be seen in a long term way.
It has been said by honourable senators op- posite during the last week or so, and even today y Senator McLaren, that there is to be an election and that this is an election Budget. Statements of that sort have been made. I do not see the Budget in such terms. I see its basic thrust and its basic changes as being ones that will take some little time to develop. The income tax measure is an example. It is to operate from
February of next year. I know that some people and organisations, including the Australian in a recent editorial, have suggested that perhaps the tax reforms ought to operate from an earlier date. Whether that can be done is another matter. The value of the incentive that the income tax changes will bring about is one that obviously will operate into the new year and will be of great value to this country.
Honourable senators opposite constantly tell us that there is to be an election this year. I think Senator Mulvihill put it in the terms of our being on the verge of a law and order election. We do not have elections in Australia in that sense. Every election in this country in recent times basically has been about the government of the country, about the running of the economy and about those who are most able to develop the country. We have had elections that perhaps were thought would be elections on other issues, but basically the Australian people are concerned with what group of men and women is best capable of continuing to operate the economy of this country. I put aside the suggestions about an early election as quite useless rumours. I think that they are as useless as the idea that we should have a referendum to determine a matter on which a policy has been announced- the uranium issue. The idea is that we should have premature votes on subjects which are unnecessary and which are polarising so far as the community is concerned.
I draw attention again to the editorial that I mentioned in the Australian of 4 October 1977. At the same time as it made a suggestion in regard to income tax it had other things to say that I think are worth recording and worth thinking about. The editorial, which was a signed editorial and which appeared on the front page of the Australian, went on to say:
We also need an end to the damaging speculation about an early election. To have a House of Representatives election in December just as we are beginning to get inflation down would bring about a deep, self-inflicted wound. A lot of blood would be left on the floor. We would be in for a bout of self-recrimination in which half the politicians would be trying to tell the country and the rest of the world that Australia is in a disastrous state. This at a time when we are trying to woo overseas investment to get employmentproducing projects off the ground.
Never have we been so much in need of leadership at all levels. The Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, should end the election speculation now and get on with the job of improving the economy. The ACTU President, Mr Hawke, should show leadership by trying to end damaging industrial disputes that are reducing job opportunities and wasting millions of dollars. The Leader-designate of the Federal Opposition, Mr Hayden, should stop bad-mouthing the economy and the currency.
I suggest that those words, which are a balanced criticism, ought to be carefully considered by all in this country. There is no doubt that there is an enormous amount of work to be done. I think that those on this side of the Parliament who were elected to improve the economy and to do a job ought to get on with it. Many of us went up and down the countryside in May of this year arguing in the referendum campaign against the highly undesirable situation whereby governments and parliaments in the past have come to an early end because of the need to bring the two Houses together in an election. This nas happened on a number of occasions over the years. I think that it is fairly undesirable insofar as the community is concerned. I think that the community expects to have lengthy Parliaments and expects governments at times to have to carry out unpleasant tasks in putting the economy into proper shape. I was also interested to read certain comments by Mr Whitlam in the Age of this day about election speculation. Mr Whitlam said that if he were in Mr Fraser’s place- thank goodness he is not- he would kill the election speculation. Mr Whitlam went on to say:
This is bad for everyone- this constant talk.
Nobody is more of an expert on constant talk than Mr Whitlam. He went on to say:
It’s like the speculation on the value of the dollar.
I found that last remark to be very amusing and perhaps even sad. We in this chamber know, as do the members of the other House, that there has been a constant hammering away at the value of the dollar by members of the Opposition from the Leader of the Opposition down and that there have been constant attacks upon the credit- worthiness of this country and the borrowing strength of this country. Mr Whitlam is at least right in saying that those things should come to an end. I believe that results will be seen from this Budget as time goes on. I hope that there will be plenty of opportunity to do so. I do not think that we ought to take too much notice of what Mr Whitlam has to say. In his case it is like Satan reproving sin when he talks in the terms that I have quoted. But I think it is desirable that we should have less of the election fever that has been and is around the place and that we should concentrate on developing the courage of industry and the courage of those people who alone can make the future of this country successful in an economic sense.
I draw the attention of honourable senators also to the comments made by the National Bank in its monthly summary of August 1977 about the Budget and the policies that it expresses. The Bank states:
Reaction to the 1977-78 Australian Budget has been mixed, but few would disagree that it represents a continuation and consolidation of the policies adopted during the past two years. The prime objectives remain those of reducing the demands of the government sector on the nation’s economic and financial resources, reversing the imbalances which have previously developed between business profits and labour costs and combating inflation. The problem of unemployment is not overlooked, but it is felt that any significant and lasting improvement in this area can best be achieved through the restoration of a stable economic environment. In other words the Budget, unlike many of its predecessors, focuses on a longer term horizon.
In the main we believe the strategy and priorities of the Budget to be correct and responsible insofar as the difficulties that currently beset Australia cannot be overcome by a government engaged in short term pump-priming of the economy.
I believe that is a good summary of the general effectiveness of the Budget.
I turn to what is unquestionably the greatest problem outside the long term objectives in respect to inflation and the work that is being done there. I refer to the very great problem of unemployment, which continues to cause worry throughout the country. Although this may be a temporary phenomenon, we recognise, and I think the policies which the Government espouses help, that the most crucial area is youth unemployment. People leaving school cannot get a job. Of course, that is a problem that will be with us for a little time. One looks at the Budget and one recognises that very substantial efforts have been made. What is interesting about this area of the Budget is that the Treasurer has said that the Government has made a open-ended commitment. It does not propose to restrict the amount of money spent on training programs and developing efforts to overcome unemployment, especially among young people. Under the heading ‘Training Programs in the Budget Speech the Treasurer points out that such programs include the recently introduced community youth support scheme, the education program for unemployed youth and the special youth employment training program, all of which are proving their worth. The Government has extended the youth employment training program to young people under 25 years of age. This took effect immediately after it was announced in the Budget. All told, the Budget provides $ 102.7m for employment training programs this year, an increase of 33 per cent over last year. Even that large increase will be surpassed (f it is necessary to do so.
The Government is obviously conscious of the problem and a great deal of money is being spent. Expenditure on the National Employment and Training scheme has gone from $31m to $54m. There has been a very considerable increase in payments which have gone to local government authorities so that they can make provision for further employment in their areas. I have before me a letter from the Acting Town Clerk of Swan Hill in Victoria, an area which I know has a considerable problem. It has had a problem for some dme because of the level of unemployment there. The number of unemployed registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service there is 305, which represents 10.36 per cent of the work force. That is a fairly large percentage and above the national average. The shire council has put to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) proposals which it thinks will be useful in expanding the youth employment training service. It hopes, and I hope, that further efforts may be made in this area to increase employment. One should bear in mind that the payments to local government have gone up by 18 per cent this year. This is an increase well above the rate of inflation. This should assist in developing training programs.
I believe that some States are doing better than others in the co-operation which they are giving to the Commonwealth Government in improving employment, particularly youth employment. I should like to refer to my own State of Victoria, where I believe the Hamer Government has taken fine initiatives in a co-operative way, particularly in regard to the special youth employment training system. Mr Hamer, in a speech he made on 18 September, pointed out that since the Federal Government has widened the scheme by reducing the qualifying period to one month to cope with school leavers, Victoria in last week’s Budget doubled its commitment. He further said that the Commonwealth had made the scheme work by making it attractive to employers. Each employer receives a subsidy, which is a far more satisfactory use of Commonwealth funds than paying unemployment benefits. The Victorian Government has taken this up in its own departments and is paying the difference between the Commonwealth subsidy and the award wage.
He pointed out that in Victoria the number of apprentices has increased very considerably in many trades. In fact, there are more apprentices in training this year in Victoria than ever before in the State’s history, namely, some 36,000. The number of new apprenticeships is running 18 per cent ahead of last year. This is an interesting example of co-operation between Victoria and the Commonwealth doing something very practical to increase apprenticeships not only because they give employment but because this country is short of trained people. Statistics provided by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) show that the various categories of people who will be admitted to this country comprise mainly people with training. We are short of tradesmen here. Obviously an increase in apprenticeships is desirable not only for the present purpose of relieving youth unemployment but for the long term purposes of this country. Mr Hamer drew attention to another program called the work experience program instituted by his Government. Through the co-operation of 226 schools and more than 5,500 employers, almost 11,500 students gained work experience last year. That has given youths an opportunity to be of some value to an employer because they are getting work experience before they actually leave school.
One of my colleagues in the State Parliament, Mr Morris Williams, the member for Doncaster, issued a detailed Press statement in which he drew attention to the area he represents, where the student work experience program has been a great success. He says that more than 11,500 students have found vacation jobs. He points out that at one school, Templestowe Technical School, the number of students in work experience programs has doubled to more than 120 this year. He says that Victoria is leading the field in work experience and providing a model for similar schemes in other States. I hope we will see more of this co-operation and that these sorts of experiences will be useful. I hope that such programs will be used by other States.
On this subject of unemployment and the concern it has caused, I make a reference to the report on unemployment benefits which was brought down by Dr David Myers early this year. I know that one of its recommendations in respect of the payment of unemployment relief was acted on. On the other hand, many other recommendations in the report deserve very deep consideration. I hope that the Government will not be over-impressed by the costs of the scheme, which are considerable but which would be offset by a number of other savings which Dr Myers recommended. The philosophy of the report was that he could see a dual role in unemployment benefit administration- to offer a welfare payment to the unemployed while at the same time working to reduce unemployment. The latter part of the scheme involved job creation schemes and counselling the unemployed in an attempt to remove impediments to their employment. A great many problems must be looked into in this way, and I nope that as much as possible of this scheme will be adopted as time goes on. I believe that we will have a very grave social problem in our community if unemployment continues for any great length of time.
I direct the Senate ‘s attention to some remarks made in an article by Dr Geoffrey Sambell, Anglican Archbishop of Perth, as reported in the Australian of 22 August 1977. Dr Sambell drew attention to the fact that retraining schemes have some value and said that he did not believe we had tackled retraining yet. He said that in Sweden 2 per cent of the work force was being retrained, whilst in Australia it was 0.2 per cent. With all the schemes we have, we have a long way to go. Sweden, which has a problem of changes in structure needs, which is a problem we have also, has gone further than we have in this regard. The striking figures relating to Sweden might suggest that we have certainly not yet gone as far as we could. Dr Sambell went on to point to the great difficulties which are to be found when perhaps both parents are working but a teenage son or daughter is not employed but is drawing unemployment benefits. He stated:
The reason, of course, is the right of every person to independence.
He talked about the responsibility which he felt the family should share in and said, I repeat:
The reason, of course, is the right of every person to independence … we need to determine a basic philosophy concerning the nuclear family or a society of individuals . . . 1 often ask would one of the parents make way in the employment market for their teenage son or daughter, as there is not room for all. In asking that question, I am not suggesting that automatically the wife should stay home.
But maybe one parent should- either to care for the younger members of the family and/or to make way for the younger person in the workforce. Suggestions are made that the retirement age should be reduced to 50.
That may seem a rather revolutionary suggestion. I think we have a long term problem in regard to employment. Whatever happens, I do not think we will easily get back to the situation where there is full employment in this country. I think we must look at other ways whereby people will be able to carry out constructive and useful work in the community, be paid a proper amount by the community and not be in a position where they have to accept payments but feel that they are not contributing to society.
– Reduce the working week: Did he mention that?
-I do not think reducing the working week at this stage would help us to be more economic or to be more efficient. I do not think that reducing the working week will help, although that may come in due course. I do not think that we want people to work less. We want people to perform socially valuable work outside the present employments which we know and for which the community will, of course, have to pay. In regard to this area, I believe that we have to recognise that, whilst unemployment is great, it is partially contributed to by the greediness and by the demands which are being made by some sections of the community and, particularly, by some of the extraordinary demands that are made by some union leaders who do not care how many people they put out of work provided that it gives to members of their unions some immediate advantage. As an example, I will refer to a log of claims which I have before me. It has been made by the Federated Furnishing Trades Society of Australasia. It is signed by Mr Ken Carr who is, of course, a well known left wing member and important unionist in Victoria. He has put down this claim. It is an extraordinary claim. The amounts are quite staggering. I believe that in the past this union has had some success in getting its way because it deals with a lot of firmssome of which are fairly small- and it has been able to bully into submission firms forced to accept the outrageous demands in the past. I will indicate some of these demands to the Senate now. I think honourable senators will recognise how extraordinary those claims are and will recognise also that they are a danger to the economic situation in this country. Among other things, the Society claims for furniture makers grade A a rate of $1,000 a week- an extraordinary rate.
– But that is the normal procedure. There is nothing unusual about that.
– There is nothing unusual about that to Senator Mcintosh.
– Do your homework. That is the usual type of claim.
-Senator Mcintosh does not think that is unusual but I will refer to some of the other claims to see whether he finds them unusual. To me, that seems to be a very extraordinary amount. I will refer to a glass processor -not grade A or grade Al but grade B. The log of claims is seeking an amount of $650 a week for this category of worker. So it goes on throughout the claims. When one comes to holidays and matters of that sort, one finds another set of extraordinary -
-But doctors and lawyers get that much.
– I am quite happy for Senator Wriedt to look to examine this document later. He might drool at the suggestions. He might want to get out of the Senate and become employed in the furnishing trades. When the log of claims deals with overtime, it states:
All time worked outside ordinary hours of a day or shift shall be overtime and shall be paid for at the rate of quadruple time.
That is four times the normal rate. It continues:
Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-clause (a) of this clause all work performed on days other than ordinary working days shall be paid for quintuple ordinary time.
That is five time the normal rate. That is pretty good going when one considers what the normal rate will be. In this Parliament, we may think that the rate payable for meals would be an ordinary figure but it is not. When referring to mealtime, the log of claims states:
An employee required to work overtime shall be paid an allowance of $20.00 for each meal taken during such period of overtime.
That will buy a lot of sandwiches. I think it would be a pretty heavy meal for them. I turn now to the claims in connection with annual leave. It states:
All employees after 12 months service-
That is a long period of service- with an employer shall be granted 10 weeks annual leave and employees with five years service shall receive IS weeks leave.
That is a considerable part of the year taken up with leave. It has been calculated by people who have read this document and worked out the figures that to employ a normal glass cutter under the award and under the claims that their union has made would cost $65 an hour. What expensive glass that must be! Is it any wonder that claims like this, if they were to succeed, would help to put people out of business. These are the forms of idiocy which are to be found now in this country by people who are putting other people out of a job by many of their excessive claims.
I turn now to other matters. One naturally reads the Budget and notes, perhaps with some concern, areas in which one would like to see an increase in expenditure. I realise that there is a very large deficit. I remind Senator McLaren who spoke earlier in the debate that, despite the increases in the areas about which I have spoken, the deficit has been considerably cut. Therefore, fortunately we are told by the Government that there will be no need for further cuts. There are some matters that are of concern to me. I hope that soon they will be on the receiving end of some further consideration. I am concerned about many of the matters that are involved in city life in this country. I know there are many problems for people in rural areas but I think too little is said and too little defence is offered of the need for improvements in city life. The cities are rowing and the transport problems and so onecome very great. Federal expenditure on the sewerage program this year has been discontinued. I hope that this is only a temporary measure. If in fact we do not continue with the program- I do not suppose that the States themselves will take up the slack- and if no attempt is made to deal with the great backlog in sewerage undertakings we will have other problems. We have problems of pollution in the rivers and other troubles as the cities grow. I hope that this is only a temporary setback and that we will be able to assist m this area in the future. I note that despite some of the representations which honourable senators on this side of the chamber made during the year no further contribution was made by the Government to the Australian Assistance Plan or to any alternative program that might have developed. I think the AAP, which was supported, of course, on this side of the chamber for a number of years, did a great deal to increase community awareness and interest. I think it was a most valuable program. Fortunately, in my State of Victoria, there has been created in its place a family and community services program which is now getting under way.
– Created by whom?
– It was created, of course, by the Hamer Government in Victoria. Mr Brian Dixon, the Minister for Social Welfare, has been most zealous in promoting this program and seeing that it gets under way. This year, about $2m is to be spent on developing and expanding in a decentralised way and working with local government, while enabling people in voluntary organisations to be elected to regional councils and to be active in the determination of expenditure on various family and community projects. I think that is desirable. I hope it will stand as a good example to other States. I hope that, in due course, the Federal Government- of course, the Federal Government still has many responsibilities and programs with which it is concernedwill help Victoria and other States in the development of these programs.
I note with some regret the vast reduction in the expenditure for the ambitious AlburyWodonga scheme. I realise that, in the past, some mistakes have been made and over-buying of land has occurred. Having seen the progress and having talked about it, I believe that the development of Albury-Wodonga should go ahead as quickly as possible. I am sorry to see that reduction. I hope that there will be opportunities later to increase the speed of development and to encourage more industries to move into that area. Another matter which I regret is that single fathers have not gained recognition in this Budget. I know that the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) has been very active and zealous in promoting this cause.
– She has not delivered yet.
-I do not suppose that any of us succeed in everything and we do not always succeed at the earliest possible time we would like, but this matter is one of basic injustice and I hope that it will not be long before a just solution is arrived at.
I want to say a word about education, although basically I am not speaking on that subject. Day after day we hear complaints from the Opposition in an attempt to indicate that developments in education are not good, but we know that there has been a continuing and steady development of education. It is regrettable that there has not been an increase of 2 per cent in real terms this year, and perhaps it is unfortunate that the provision of a very just rise to non-government schools coincided with this particular year and therefore made it appear that money was being transferred from one group to the other. That is the way in which it was put by some people, but unquestionably the nongovernment schools have suffered a great deal of disadvantage, and in many places their position is getting worse and worse.
– That is how it was put by the Schools Commission, not by some people.
– I think the Government is continuing to carry out a good program, but I hope once again that the turn-around in the economy of this country will make it possible to return to a 2 per cent real increase each year which we have had previously. Let us remember that in this Budget very desirable improvements have been made in the schools area. Let us remember that a record 167,000 students are expected to benefit this year by increased allowances and a relaxation of the means test for Commonwealth assistance schemes. The total estimated spending under the schemes this year is $224.8m, an increase of $37.8m over the amount provided in 1976-77. Let us recall also that the Government has decided to increase the additional boarding allowance for isolated children from $450 to $500 a year in 1978. The Government has also relaxed the means test by increasing the marginally adjusted family income for tertiary education and related schemes and for the additional boarding allowance for isolated children from $8,200 to $8,700 in 1978. Consequently, in a number of important areas, areas where people are greatly endangered in their efforts to obtain education for their children, there have been increases even in a year when the belt-tightening will have to continue.
It seems to me that in this country, particularly in the focus of the Senate in recent months in the moans that we have heard and the constant negative growling that has gone on from members of the Opposition, there has been no attempt to find the solutions that are needed. That is a matter in which not only the Government but also the Opposition ought to be involved. We find that in the committee system of this Parliament, when we get down to it we manage to find practical and sensible solutions. The rhetoric which goes on in this place without stoppingthere is certainly plenty of inflation in it- has led us to more and more polarisation. If we believe in the democratic system, we have to provide in the community an opportunity to find solutions to the problems of society. Those solutions are not all to be found on one side. Wisdom can be found on both sides. We must find those solutions if we are not to fall to the dangers to which Britain has fallen to some extent, and I am not one of those people who strongly criticise the British. I am a great admirer of the British people and I wish them every success. With the assistance it is getting from the North Sea oil, I hope that Britain will come back even further.
– They may show us the way.
– They may show us the way, as my colleague says. I want to refer very briefly to an article which appeared in Quadrant in July this year. It is entitled ‘The British Form of Decline ‘ and was written by Stephen Hasseler, who is a Labour member of the House of Commons. The basis of his argument is an attack on what he describes as the socialist generation which in Britain has set out to damage and not to support the development of Britain. The article states:
So, Britain’s ‘Socialist Generation’, having wreaked so much havoc at home by its passion for levelling, its search for power and by its upper class guilt, ends up by blurring the historical distinction between social democracy and marxism.
He goes on to point out the strength which exists in the Labour Party today, and continues: . . if the representative system is to survive then we can no longer order our politics so that those of us who share basic under-lying assumptions about freedoms, about the supremacy of the individual over the state, continuously light each other in essentially mock adversorial political battles … We must also have the courage to call a halt to the increasing growth of those institutions, the state, the unions, the bureaucracies which are weakening our resistance to incursions on liberty.
If we can do this then the issues which still divide all free peoples whether they be conservatives, liberals or social democrats will become increasingly narrow and the gulf which separates us from the unfree slave societies all the more apparent.
We have to recognise that we are fighting battles and that unfortunately there are growing slave societies in this world. In fact it is our duty not to seek constantly for areas of polarisation and difference but to try to do something constructive. We have not heard so far in this debate a
Seat deal of constructive suggestion from the Opposition. There is a gloomy opposition amendment before the Senate which complains that the Budget is going to intensify and prolong the recession, increase unemployment, have little impact on inflation, make regressive changes in the tax system- that is a curious one- and reduce living standards. Those are five ridiculous propositions, but it will be noted that they are five completely negative propositions. No practical suggestion has been put forward in the amendment. I urge the Opposition during the remaining stages of the debate on the Budget to try to put forward something practical which will be helpful to the Government. The Government represents the people. The people in this country have elected the Government, but the Opposition still has a job to do. It also represents the people. We all represent the people. We all have to find a way out of the economic problems of this country. We should not damage the country with the criticisms we make, and I hope that the Opposition will put forward something better than the negative approach to the Budget it has adopted so far.
-The Senate is debating the Budget appropriations for the current financial year. I do not wish to dwell at any great length on what the previous speaker said, but I was somewhat taken aback by his remarks in relation to an ambit claim which he said had been lodged by Mr Carr, the Secretary of the Federated Furnishing Trades Society of Australasia. Senator Missen seemed to express some abhorrence at the fact that a trade union secretary would have the cheek to do that sort of thing, and some thoughts went through my mind as I heard him express his views. I am sure that they were expressed in a political way and that Senator Missen is far too experienced and far too honest to have me accept what he said in anything other than a political way. I sat here and watched Senator Missen speaking and I heard a lawyer saying those things, with a doctor sitting alongside him. For a glass cutter even to suggest a salary of $65 a day would be fairly extreme to a lawyer espousing Senator Missen ‘s cause. Goodness me, one would not get through a lawyer’s door for $65 or even talk to his secretary to get an appointment. As for doctors, the great Australian Medical Association roared and bellowed the whole time that Mr Hayden was seeking to introduce Medibank. It claimed that Medibank would turn us into a nation of hypochondriacs, with all the little old ladies, the pensioners and the workers of this country going to see the doctor five or six times a day and asking for pills and prescriptions to keep them alive. The AMA said that the end result would be that they would break the scheme. Who are the people who have been tickling the peter? They are the doctors.
– Hands caught in the till.
-The doctors have had their hands in the till ever since Medibank was set up. Perhaps I should say that it is some of the doctors. A lot of them have dishonoured their profession. I suppose in a capitalist society, where competition is the keynote, it is not unexpected. Of course, it is in the same light that Mr Carr, that famous leftist from Victoria, knowing how the capitalist system works, decided to use it to the best advantage he can for the workers he represents. But it is a crime if he does it. Doctors and lawyers can rip off. Everybody else can get in on the act. They can jack up prices and do what they like. That is conceded in the capitalist system but not for the workers.
I return to the Budget itself. It is a document which received no great accolades from the Press. We have seen the spectacle of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) going on television and admitting that the figures were somewhat rubbery. That statement will be interesting in view of the report of the Auditor-General for last year’s Budget which showed that the Fraser Government underspent more than $539m. If there is an admission by the Treasurer that this year’s figures are rubbery, one can expect to see a vast increase in the amount underspent by the time 12 months have passed. An amount of $5 3 9m was underspent in the last Budget, a not insignificant amount. One other Budget document which is of interest is Budget Paper No. 1. 1 refer particularly to page 164 of that document.
It is on that page that one gets a picture for the past decade of total Budget outlays to the various functions of government. For example, the pro- portion of the total Budget allocated for defence as declined from 17.1 per cent in 1967-68 to 8.8 per cent, which is the estimated expenditure in the current year. This is a decline of almost SO per cent as a proportion of the total Budget allocation. Education expenditure, as all honourable senators know, has risen- largely due to the efforts of the Labor Government between 1973 and 1975- from 2.8 per cent of total government outlays in 1967-68 to 8.9 per cent, which is the estimated expenditure in the current Budget.
Expenditure on health, as one previous speaker mentioned, has doubled from 5.8 per cent to 10.6 per cent of total Budget outlays. Social security and welfare expenditure- I note that the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) is present in the chamber- has risen from 16.7 per cent of the total Budget outlay in 1967-68 to 27.2 per cent in the current year. I refer to expenditure on housing. As Senator McLaren mentioned, this area is rather difficult to understand, in view of the dire shortage of homes, particularly for low income earners in this country. Expenditure on housing as a proportion of the total Budget outlay in 1967-68 was 2.6 per cent. It went through a rising phase during the years of the Whitlam Labor Government and this year has gone into a decline to 1.9 per cent of the total Budget allocation. This is a rather shocking state of affairs in view, as I said earlier, of the shortage of homes for citizens of Australia. One other rather interesting area is the expenditure on culture and recreation. This appropriation represented 1.1 per cent of the total Budget allocation in 1967-68. Again, like expenditure on housing, it went through a rising phase during the Labor years and has declined in the current Budget estimates to one per cent. Less is being spent on culture and recreation in Australia today than was spent 10 years ago. In my opinion that is a rather strange position, in view of the fact that the average Australian today has more time to spend at leisure. He is seeking to do more things. This is perceived by the fact that a very large industry has built up around recreation and leisure in this country. One has only to go to any sports meeting or surf lifesaving club carnival to see the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars on leisure. At one time, in my youth which is not all that long ago, people’s recreation in my area consisted largely of a bag of rabbit nets and a box of ferrets. That is about all we had to spend on culture and recreation in those days.
Mr President, I am sure that you would agree that what I have said is true. Today, a giant industry is built up around the areas of culture and recreation in this country. It seems strange to me that this Government should be cutting expenditure at this time. One could continue through that page of the document and point up these factors but finally I point to the area of primary industry. In 1967-68 primary industry received 2.6 per cent of total Budget expenditure. In the current Budget expenditure on primary industry has declined to 0.5 per cent. That is a rather strange attitude from a government which pretends to be the farmers’ friend. The facts are there for all to see. They are very strange facts.
– Half of one per cent.
– Primary industry receives only 0.5 per cent of the total allocation. At the conclusion of my remarks I shall be seeking permission to have that document from which I have quoted incorporated in Hansard. In the same document at page 114 there is a rather strange paragraph, under the heading ‘Assistance Additional to Aid Payments ‘, which states:
Although Australia’s Defence Co-operation program ($25.9 million in 1977-78) represents an extension of our own defence effort, it also supplements the Government’s overseas economic aid programs to the extent that it releases for development purposes resources that recipient Governments would otherwise have set aside for defence purposes.
In my opinion that is a rather strange way to excuse military aid to another country. Surely, if the purpose of that military aid is to allow the countries to which we donate to release funds for development, would it not be better to keep our hands free of blood and give the money as aid in other forms, rather than going through the form that we do? I am particularly concerned that of that $25.9m allocated in this year’s Budget, $7.2m is allocated to the Government of Indonesia. That country is currently engaged in repressive wars in East Timor and West Irian. The people of East Timor are continuing to hold out. Despite all the efforts of the Government of Indonesia and despite a Press blackout by the Government of Indonesia, we are still able to get word from East Timor about the state of the war in that country. This is the case even though the Indonesian Government has gone to the point of not even allowing the International Red Cross on the island to make a report upon or give succour to those people who may be harmed in any way by that war. The same position does not apply in the continuing war in West Irian. The Government of Indonesia has fairly successfully put a clamp or form of blanket censorship on the war in West Irian and the Australian Press, with one exception, is not giving Press coverage to the continuing war in that country.
On 18 August this year I was treated with some scorn by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers), when I asked a question relating to the crash of an Australian Army helicopter in West Irian. The Leader of the Government suggested that I was shifting my and-Indonesian campaign from East Timor to West Irian. I want to assure him that I am not in any way opposed to the people of Indonesia in their past or current political situation. In fact, I hold a great amount of sympathy for them. However, I do not hold any respect for their leaders and armed forces which periodically carry out purges and naked aggression such as the aggression currently being displayed. Their tactics, first in 1963 in West Irian and a couple of years ago in East Timor, remind me of Adolf Hitler’s tactics of the late 1930s of picking them off one at a time. I ask myself: Where will Indonesia strike next? Will it be in Papua New Guinea? Will it become east Irian? At what stage does this Government cut off defence aid to an aggressor? At least the Australian Labor Party has made clear its attitude to Indonesian aggression in East Timor. At the Perth conference of the Party, the following resolution was carried:
Conference condemns the Indonesian invasion of East Timor which was in direct violation of the assurances given to the Labor Government that force would not be used and
calls on Indonesia to withdraw from East Timor immediately in conformity with United Nations resolutions;
notes the establishment of the Democratic Republic of East Timor on 28 November 197S;
calls for an international endeavour to resume humanitarian aid to all parts of East Timor through the international Committee of the Red Cross,
calls for free and unimpeded communications with the national independence forces of East Timor
A future Labor Government will-
suspend Australian military aid to Indonesia until all troops are withdrawn from East Timor
recognise the Government of East Timor if independence is shown to be the choice of the East Timorese people after a genuine act of self-determination.
Re-open Australian communication facilities to the Representatives of the Democratic Republic of East Timor.
This Government is not prepared to do that. In fact, it compounds its felony. I note a recent Press report about co-operation with the Indonesian navy in the holding of joint exercises off the coast of Queensland later this month. Let me come back to deal with West Irian. Frankly, I believe that our acquiscence in the Indonesian takeover of West Irian in 1963 was a mistake. Undoubtedly, it was taken, I believe, as a result of influence fron big brother America. It was obvious that there was no such thing as a free choice for the indigenous people of West Irian. Anyone who opposed was gaoled or exciled and the gun was the power used to complete the job. So we had an island people who had been split on colonial boundaries for years still split. The continuing fight for liberation by the people of West Irian to a large extent has gone unnoticed due, I believe, to a couple of factors: Firstly, the attempted Indonesian blackout of the area; and secondly, because of our ignorance of the aspirations of our neighbours whom we still see to some extent as fuzzy wuzzys or primitive tribesmen.
I want to quote now from a letter that I received two weeks ago apparently as a result of my questions on the use of Australian Army survey troops in West Irian. The letter is headed: Republic of West Papua New Guinea- Department of Information and Political Affairs’ and is dated 14 September 1977. It reads:
We are writing to thank you for your concern about the presence of Australian troops in our country. Without friends like yourself it is very difficult to bring these things to the attention of the public because of the news ban which the Indonesian government has imposed upon us.
We will send you our press releases so that you can be informed of the progress of our struggle, and we will be appreciative if you can help let people know our news. One of the great difficulties we have to confront is the distortions which are printed in the capitalist press- for example descriptions of our struggle as ‘tribal fighting’. Once again, I thank you on behalf of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of West Papua New Guinea.
The letter is signed by Agnes Tan; news officer, South Pacific news service information section. So someone else in this wide world is also concerned about the presence of Australian Army troops in another country who may or may not be participating in a war that is going on there at the present time. From material which I have been able to read recently, there is no doubt that a great deal of grassroots support exists in Papua New Guinea for their cultural brothers, as they are referred to, across the border in West Irian. We know from recent events in Papua New Guinea that Brigadier-General Diro is reported to have been reprimanded by the Papua New Guinea Cabinet for having engaged in talks with West Irianese leaders. We have seen also Press reports of the same indignation expressed at a local level by citizens of Papua New Guinea over Indonesian action which has forced refugees across the border into Papua New Guinea.
As I have said, there is an extreme amount of support in Papua New Guinea for their
Melanesian brothers across the border. Such support in Papua New Guinea is making it extremely difficult for the government of Mr Somare, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea. It places him in a terrible situation in that while he is trying to put himself in a standback position with his Indonesian neighbours, the Indonesians are murdering his blood brothers across the border and chasing them into Papua New Guinea thereby causing him embarrassment which makes life for him extremely difficult. It is not a problem that will go away tomorrow. It is a problem about which more Australians should be aware. I hope that this Government will do its utmost to overcome the problem, particularly by way of having some quite extensive talks with the Government of Indonesia and, in the final result, telling that country to back off and leave things alone in that part of the world.
As I said earlier, we now have the left-overs of European colonialism. They are remaining there to haunt us. That has been the case and will continue to be the case because our once great mentors and protectors have retreated and are continuing to retreat from the area. We are left with the legacies of colonialism which Australia must, I believe, play a large part in resolving. I want to quote now an extract from the book “The Last Domino’ by Malcolm Booker. He wrote:
If it is wise for the countries of South East Asia to avoid dependence on any great power it is doubly so for Australia. In order to ensure our own political and economic freedom we will need the greatest possible flexibility and skill. Since our essential interest is the maintenance of an equilibrium between the major powers in the region we will have to be sure of our own weight- which although not large could in some situations be important- is not used to endanger the equilibrium. We should therefore move towards the fullest possible disengagement from our present strategic ties and towards a position of neutrality in relation to the competition between the great powers.
As I perceive the areas to the north of this country in an arc from New Caledonia to East Timor, people are questioning their past and their present positions and relationship thereto. The area will be, I believe, one of turmoil for decades to come as indigenous people strive for independence. It has been our wont in the past unfortunately to write down the chances for independence of some of the smaller communities in our neighbourhood largely because I think we have seen them as not being economically viable. Economic viability seems to be the number one criterion that we have laid down for independence. If a community or a country was not perceived to be economically viable then we held that it could never be independent. It is interesting to note that some people are starting to question this criterion. I would like to quote from a recent publication The Rule of the Sword by Nonie Sharp. She had this to say:
Yet changed circumstances have arisen which provide a new context for movements of liberation and which made actions like that of the East Timorese possible. It is these circumstances which also give rise to support campaigns in the capitalist states and to the firm belief that such movements can be victorious. Central here is a quite fundamental process which goes back into the movements of opposition of the sixties and which involves the loss of belief in Western civilisation itself by substantial sections of the population and the partly spontaneous and half-defined search for a critical, conscious revolutionary culture. The centrality of this impulse and the incapacity of US technological and material superiority to determine the outcome of the Vietnam war stimulated a deep probing of the theory and practice of democracy ‘ in the imperialist heartlands.
Within the ‘new states’ frequently born ‘from the meagre remains of an exhausted colonial regime’, that same crisis of confidence is expressed in the collapse of the old ‘ nationalist ‘ appeal-of modernisation, high-level, capital-intensive technology, of Gross National Product and the ‘ take-off mentality of the sixties. A central manifestation of this process has been the emergence within the new states of forms of cultural consciousness and practice which rejects not only the specifically capitalist forms of social relationships and values but technocratic developmentalism as well. In so doing they extend the politics of class struggle towards a cultural mode of politics.
I think the next part is perhaps the most pertinent. It reads:
Socially based on kinship relationship, projects relating to cultural identity spontaneously seek a form of social change which retains some continuity with the communitarian values associated with pre-colonial traditions. Such movements immediately bring in question the assumption of nationalism- of cultural homogeneity of nationalism’s claim to represent the entire populace in its demand for independence’, of the supremacy of the centralised state and the non-viability of states based on small populations of villagers or peasants.
I believe that East Timor and West Irian represent two of those movements that Nonie Sharp refers to in that book. Ever since East Timor has come into focus it has been said that it was a country that was not economically viable and therefore it could never aspire to independence. As far as I am aware, I have not read of any person who has been prepared to say that West Irian was an economically viable state. Sure, it has some wealth and possibly more that is untapped but again to me it fits the bill as expressed by the author whom I have just quoted that independence movements are strong and viable and will, given a reasonable chance at all, attain for its people independence. For that reason, of course, we in Australia are going to have problems on our doorstep for a long time.
One could go on but I may have spoken for long enough. I can hear someone making noises on the other side. One could go on to talk about the mismanagement of Government expenditure in the State of Victoria, my own State, in relation to the land deals which is becoming a more sorry spectacle for the Liberal Party as each day of the inquiry unfolds the story. One could go on to talk about the increasing unemployment in the community and I suppose that is something which has been done fairly well by many people. Undoubtedly unemployment will rise before the next two months are out and will continue to rise through into the new year. One could go on to talk about the strike in Victoria, but 1 think that has been overdone too except that I would confirm what my colleague, Senator McLaren, had to say about the matter and that is that it is London to a brick that the Hamer Government has instructed the State Electricity Commission in Victoria not to negotiate. It serves two purposes. It gets the land deals off the front pages of the Melbourne papers, and it has done that very successfully, and it is a medium to try to carry the Hamer Government through the by-election for Greensborough which I think is on in a fortnight’s time. It also gives the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) at the federal level another stick with which to beat the unions. Exactly the same situation prevails in Queensland where again it is London to a brick that the Utah Mining Company has been instructed by the Premier of Queensland not to come to an agreement in order to give him his law and order issue for the forthcoming elections in Queensland. In conclusion, I seek the leave of the Senate to have incorporated in Hansard the table which appears on page 164 of Budget Paper No. 1.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The table read as follows-
Sitting suspended from 5.43 to 8.0 p.m.
Government Business, Notice of Motion No. 1, taking precedence at 8 p.m.-
That the Senate approves 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.
The Government has considered the report of the Distribution Commissioners for Tasmania. It is the view of the Government that the report should be adopted. We therefore recommend to the Parliament that the report be approved. This is the first report presented since the current redistribution process began earlier this year. I conclude my remarks by saying that the Commissioners for all States have faced a difficult and complex task. I hope that the Senate will join with me in expressing appreciation for the manner in which they have carried out their duties. I commend the motion to the Senate.
-The Federal Parliamentary Labor Party has considered the report that has been brought down by Messrs Lennard, Butler and Windsor. Having considered the recommendations of the Distribution Commissioners for the State of Tasmania we, too, believe that the report should be adopted. Therefore we agree with the recommendation of the Government that the proposed redistribution for this State should be approved. After all is said and done, Tasmania is the State which is particularly covered by section 24 of the Constitution which provides that a minimum of five members of the House of Representatives should be elected to represent any State.
Whilst we believe that the distribution should be approved by the Parliament, nonetheless, on behalf of the Labor Party I take advantage of the motion that is before the Senate- I understand that there is at the same time a similar motion before the House of Representatives- to make some remarks about certain statements that have been made in recent times by the Leader of the National Country Party, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) concerning the general redistribution. Last week the Deputy Prime Minister, the leader of the party which is in the minority in the coalition, made statements in his own electorate blaming members of the Liberal Party of Australia for refusing to change from the ten per cent variant from quota back to the old 20 per cent variant. He suggested that the National Country Party of Australia would not let the matter rest there. Having made that statement in his electorate last week and after I had asked questions of the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) on the subject in this Senate last week, at a meeting of the National Country Party Council held in Canberra last weekend the Deputy Prime Minister went on record as blaming the Liberal Party for failing to restore the 20 per cent tolerance factor to electoral redistribution. He said that he and other National Country Party Ministers refused to support a call for the party to be prepared to quit the coalition government on the issue. A report on this matter states:
The tension between the coalition partners over the 20 per cent factor surfaced at the annual Federal Council Meeting of the National Country Party held in Canberra at the weekend.
Might I say that I compliment the members of the Liberal Party whohave stood firmly by the opinion that the 10 per cent variant should be the maximum tolerated. After all is said and done, the Government itself introduced amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act in February this year. I assume, as I mentioned in my question to the Minister for Administrative Services last Thursday, that that decision to seek amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act was made after a consideration and determination by Cabinet.
We would automatically assume that that Cabinet decision was a collective decision of members of the Cabinet. For the Deputy Prime Minister subsequently, not once but at least twice, to make public utterances in condemnation of that Cabinet decision, notwithstanding the fact that his Party in both the House of Representatives and the Senate had approved of the recommendation of Cabinet and had voted for it in the Parliament, is contrary to the principle of Cabinet solidarity. Incidentally, there have been instances in the past where Ministers who, having failed to agree publicly with the collective recommendations of Cabinet, have decided to tender their resignations from the Cabinet. I recollect the case of a former Minister for Air, the Honourable Leslie Bury, who disagreed with the then Government’s decision concerning the establishment of the European Economic Community. He tendered his resignation from the Ministry after he was invited to do so by the then Prime Minister. In about 1971 a former Minister for Defence, now the Right Honourable Sir John Gorton, tendered his resignation from the McMahon Ministry because of his disagreement with attitudes adopted by that Government.
– What about Malcolm Fraser?
-My colleague, Senator Grimes, says: ‘What about Malcolm Fraser?’ We of the Labor Party believe that the redistribution of electorates is of great importance. The fear that we have is that the Deputy Prime Minister, occupying not only that position but also the position of Leader of the National Country Party, by making such utterances at this stage, before the final recommendations of the Distribution Commissioners are received in this Parliament, might be making a last minute attempt to influence those final recommendations. Therefore we suggest that if the Deputy Prime Minister genuinely feels disenchanted with the attitude of the Government on this matter- and he has publicly gone on record on two occasions, once in his own electorate and once at a meeting of the National Country Party in Canberra, as being disenchanted with the present Government’s attitude- in view of the precedents he has no alternative but to offer his resignation as a member of the existing coalition government. The Labor Party offers no objection to the proposals of the Distribution Commissioners in regard to Tasmania. We are prepared to support the proposal put forward by the Minister for Administrative Services.
– in reply- I thank the Opposition for its co-operation in support of the motion. As to the other matters adverted to by Senator Douglas McClelland, let me assure him that we can leave them to the members of the Ministry. We know what we are doing. If I were he I would not make too much out of the matter. He should not have great expectations. They will most likely end up,, as it is at the moment, in a Bleak House. I thank the Senate for its co-operation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the house of Representatives without amendment.
– I stand to support the 1977-78 Budget. Before I commence my remarks on it, I would like to answer one or two comments of Senator Primmer. I do not think that he put forward very convincingly the two points that I intend to discuss briefly- the excess demands on awards, and the Timor situation. I think we all realise these days that money does not grow on trees. If unions these days come forward with excess demands, as was instanced by the award that was read by Senator Missen, Australia will get deeper and deeper into the mire.
– Do you not know what an ambit claim is?
– I understand it. I have seen it myself. The unions have to keep their feet on the ground if they want to get anywhere. The next point is the Timor affair. I realise that Senator Primmer has quite a lot of emotion about this matter. I know that he believes in what he says. If he speaks on behalf of the Labor Party which outlined at the Perth conference what it had decided it would do when it came into government again to protect the Timorese, I ask him to go back just a few years to see how the Labor Party’s attitude stands up now to its attitude when in government. Like Senator Primmer I have very strong feelings about the matter. I suggest that he and anyone else in the Labor Parry does not fly the kite as high as it was suggested earlier.
I take honourable senators opposite back to the time when their Party was in government and when Timor was invaded. We know full well the charge against their leader, Mr Gough Whitlam, which has never been refuted, that he knew that Timor was to be invaded. It was repeated in the media and in the Press that he said then: ‘If you have to invade then make it quick’. The charge has never been refuted. The suggestion of course is that while the Timor people were battered and bruised first through a type of civil war and then by an invasion, Australia took absolutely no action. Australia’s inaction in those days was a disgrace. If the government of the day had taken some strong action I am sure that many more Timorese people would be alive today. Since then the situation has deteriorated. Of course that action was taken while we looked the other way. It is most difficult now to remedy the situation. As I have said before in this place, if action had been taken in those days and if a strong stand had been made as the Timorese expected of us, the invasion, I believe, would not have taken place. The bloodshed which started then and which I believe is still continuing would not have come about. 1 believe that the beginning of this debate was marred to some degree by the irresponsible point taking in regard to Standing Order 406 which states that a senator will not read his speech. It is rather ludicrous for the Senate to continue in the way it did at the beginning of this debate. There was a tit for tat situation. I believe that the sigificance of the debate and the problems that we are experiencing today were belittled by this action. Let us do something one way or the other. A little while ago we had a debate on whether honourable senators should be allowed to read their speeches. For mine, if a motion is passed saying that honourable senators can read speeches then let us read speeches. If a motion is passed that we will not read speeches and then if half the members of the Senate keep on reading their speeches and others take points of order to disrupt a person who may not be reading his speech, I think the whole thing is senseless. If this matter came to a vote again, in order to bring some sense into the situation, I would be prepared to vote for a change in Standing Orders so that senators may read their speeches. Before I voted for the motion that senators could not read their speeches. I think this is ludicrous; in fact I think it is childish for people to continue to take points of order in this matter.
– I am going to be childish. I am raising a point of order. It is obvious that the honourable senator is canvassing a decision from the Chair on this matter. If he wants to make remarks like that he ought to make them in a substantive motion dealing with the matter that he is discussing. If he does not intend doing that or if there is no motion before the Chair he ought not to be casting reflections on a decision which the Chair has made. That is what he is doing at the moment. If he makes statements such as people being childish he reflects on the Chair considerably and on the rest of us who took points of order at the time in question and had them sustained.
– I do not wish to get into a wrangle so early in the evening on the first night of our week. I am surprised at the moderation of Senator KilgarifFs language.
– What about my language?
– Oh yes, very moderate too. Senator Georges is a well known stirrer even though he uses only a small spoon. It is well known that in a Budget debate one can range over an enormous number of matters. I do not think that Senator Georges, if he has been listening to Senator Kilgariff with the careful attention that I have been paying to his speech, would imagine that Senator Kilgariff in fact is criticising a ruling from the Chair. He is criticising the practice in the Senate. As I understand the burden of his remarks, he was saying that the Standing Orders say one thing and the practice rules say another. I imagine, as a newish senator, that he is somewhat puzzled by this standard. I suggest that whilst Senator Georges has no doubt risen in good faith to put a point of view, Senator Kilgariff ought to be allowed to continue with his remarks.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Devitt)- I do not uphold the point of order. I do not accept what Senator Kilgariff said as a reflection on the Chair. I would not take it as such. I also support the view that has been alluded to by Senator Withers. During the Budget debate one ranges over a fairly wide field. I suggest that if Senator Kilgariff feels strongly about a particular matter, this is the occasion on which to express that point of view. For those reasons I do not uphold the point of order.
-It was not meant to be a reflection upon the Chair, Mr Acting Deputy President. I was merely discussing a point that I do not think I should continue to discuss. The subject of the discussion at this time is the 1977-78 Budget. I believe that in many instances the honourable senators who have preceded me in the debate have put forward very good arguments in support of the Budget. I refer in particular to the support given to it by Senator Tehan, who gave a very good explanation of the intentions of the Budget. It has been said that there has been criticism of the Budget in the media. Perhaps we should go back to before the introduction of the Budget and the suggestions being made in the media then by people that we could expect a horror Budget. I do not believe that this Budget could be described as a horror Budget.
This Budget has been presented to the Parliament at a time of great economic stress. The inflation rate has been brought down from over 17 per cent to just over 9 per cent. It is true to say that if Australia is to get on its feet economically it has first to bring down its inflation rate even further. The inflation rate is the first battle to overcome. Perhaps we can learn something from an examination of the economic troubles that Britain has had over the last few years and of what has happened there. I spent a few weeks in Britain some two or three years ago. I was there when Britain was in economic chaos. Britain was not in a recession; it was practically in a depression. It looked as if the country was finished. Day by day and hour by hour wildcat strikes were occurring. The whole country was split apart. I had it in mind that if Australia ever had to go through the stresses and strains that Britain was going through in those days Australia would be in a chaotic situation and very close to a depression.
Only about a week ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Britain said that the trials that Britain had gone through and was now coming out of were at least equal to those experienced during the Battle of Britain. I would say that that was very true. In the Battle of Britain that country was fighting for its life against the threat of German invasion. More recently Britain was going through an equally severe economic battle against the left wing forces that were endeavouring to destroy it and bring about a chaotic situation. That sort of situation exists in Australia today. I believe that too little is said about this situation. The left wing forces in this country have, like a parasite, entwined themselves with some of the unions. I have said before that I believe in having a trade union movement. I think it is a necessary thing. I think the trade union movement has been a very good thing for Australia. It has stood and spoken for the right of the worker. That to my mind, is essential. But something has happened to the trade union movement over the last few years. The trade union movement that we knew a few years ago- in the days of the great giants of the labour movement- has disappeared to quite an extent. It has done so because of the activities of the left wing forces- the socialists- who wish to bring Australia’s financial situation into a chaotic state and to reform the Australian life style as we know it to accord with that of a socialist state. The battles that the trade unions have ahead of them are immense because this parasite is entwined around the roots of the trade union movement.
One has only to look at the article entitled Anatomy of a Disaster’ in the Weekend Australian of 8 and 9 October and to consider the names of the people who are now at the helm of a lot of the industrial trouble in Victoria to get a very clear appreciation of the problems confronting the trade union movement. Let us look at the names and the background of the people who are at the helm of a lot of the present industrial trouble in Victoria. John Halfpenny is one of them. He is a member of the Communist Party’s industrial committee and a key figure in the crippling Victorian power workers’ dispute. Another is Elliot V. Elliott, who is a founding member of the pro-Moscow Socialist Party of Australia, which split from the Communist Party of Australia in the 1960s. Another is Mr Faure, who is a militant member of the socialist left faction of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party. Another is Mr Gallagher, who is a member of the pro-Peking Communist Party of AustraliaMarxistLeninist. Yet another is Mr Crawford, who is a key member of the socialist left faction of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party, of which he was once President. There before the people of Australia are the names of the ones who are endeavouring to bring Australia to financial disaster- the left wing and communist forces.
It surprises me that there is not a bigger move within the trade union movement to dispose of those people. Let us look at the situation brought about by the Victorian industrial dispute. Five hundred thousand people are unemployed; yet the left wing forces say that it is a government problem, that government is bringing about chaos through its mismanagement and that government is responsible for the unemployment. These wildcat strikes are hitting right at the roots of the family unit. The workers involved in this dispute are looking for a rise of $40 or $30 a week. They may settle for a rise of $20 a week. The average unionist- one of the 500,000 people we are talking about- has been out of work for several weeks and may not work for a while yet. All of that is over an extra $20 a week. What will happen if he goes back to work in the next few days or next few weeks and he gets an extra $20 a week less tax? How much will he have lost and how long will it take him to recover his losses? I would say that the family of such a trade unionist is in a destitute situation and is looking for money to buy a meal. This is all because of the action that has been taken by those half a dozen people at the head of the trade union movement- these communist and left wing forces- supposedly for the good of the trade union movement. If Australia is to get on its feet again it will require more than government to find the answer. Australia will have to settle down and the trade union movement will have to throw out these people and operate as part of the team.
– Why do you not stick to the Northern Territory? You know something about that.
– I will be talking about the Northern Territory very soon. The fact of the matter is that I have knocked around Australia and I suggest that I would know more about
Australia than would Senator Georges. I know more than Senator Georges because I have worked outside of Parliament for almost all of my life and I have done so both as an employee and an employer. The honourable senator cannot teach me a thing about the financial and economic situation in Australia. It surprises me that he should take such strong objection to my saying that these left wing forces are endeavouring intentionally to bring Australia’s financial situation into chaos out of which will arise a socialist state. See then what people think of Australialucky Australia, the land of milk and honey, as they describe it now. It is being lost rapidly. It will go right down and we will never see it again.
-‘ We will all be ruined ‘, said Hanrahan.
– We will not be ruined. Australia, like England, has come through wars. England is recovering now, and we will too. We need team work so that the people will settle down and become productive. Compare what the Government has done during the last few years with the actions taken in 1973 when Australia was thrown out of a quiet back water of conservative inflationary growth. By that I mean that prior to 1973 the growth rate was between 2Vi per cent and 3 per cent. Under a Labor Government money was thrown into the ring without regard to the consequences. There was intense competition for goods, services and labour. Like a bushfire, wages increased. Not only did wages increase but also prices, the cost of all items increased rapidly. There was rapid movement upward. Week by week the cost of an article would move upwards. Wages increased. What did it mean to the worker to get $5 or $ 10 a week more under the Labor Government and its taxation scale and standards? He paid more and more taxes as his wage went up. He received less and less of the rises in his pocket. He was chasing the price of goods and at the same time getting an increase in wages that meant absolutely nothing to him. The Government was receiving higher revenue. What did that mean to it? As I have said, it just threw money into the ring without due regard to what the country could stand. It increased the Public Service. The Public Service competed on the labour market. This created an inflationary strain. One well remembers that only two or three years ago Australia was indeed in a chaotic situation.
There were side effects. The people wanted to get rich quickly. This is one of the problems that has beset young people of today. Young apprentices saw the means of getting rich. They left their apprenticeship positions and went into the labour market where they got higher wages. They could have been trained personnel by now. Today there is a crying need for trained people, but they are not available. The people who looked for higher paying jobs are now unemployed. Today the job vacancies are for personnel with higher skills.
We hear much about the problems of the young unemployed. They have my complete sympathy. Why are they unemployed? It is because wages have been forced up so much in the last three years that the employer will not employ the school leaver because of his lack of experience and the fact that he has to be paid such a high salary. So, what happens? In comes the person who has another job or in comes the woman who does not need a job. I am not talking about the family person who needs a second position to bring more money into the family to keep it going. I am talking about the woman who wants something to do because she has idle time. She does not really need a job but because of her experience she gets a job very easily in the industrial sphere of our country. It is because of this that many young people who should be working today are finding that there are no opportunities for them. This can be rectified. We know damn well that the matter can be rectified, but at present all we are prepared to do is scream about the high percentage of unemployed and so on.
– How can it be rectified?
– It can be rectified as the Government is endeavouring to do now. First, because of the high wages that are being demanded for a person as soon as he leaves school, a subsidy scheme has been introduced. I suggest that under this subsidy the employer will then take into his workshop, into his company, into his employ, the young people so that they will get work experience. Gradually the subsidy will decrease as their skill increases. We still have the problem of the person within industry who insists on having a second job. Honourable senators opposite know of them and I know of them. We know darn well that there are people, the second wage earners in families, who could well be filling jobs.
As I have said we see ourselves in a rather strange situation. I refer briefly to the Australian of 3 1 August. It gives a very good example of where we are in industry today. It contains an excellent article entitled ‘When being best is still not enough’. It talks of Mr Rod Hartley, who is the Director of the Australian Cotton Textiles
Industries Ltd, better known as Actil. I quote very briefly that article. It states:
What do you do when you run a highly efficient cotton spinning and weaving factory, market your product properly, achieve all the optimum targets, employ 860 people, and still find that Australian wage rates fundamentally affect your competitiveness.
Our company has done everything the Government says it ought to do, and yet we still can’t compete with imports from Asia because the cost of labor in Australia is greater than any other country in the world I know, with the possible exception of Sweden’, he says.
Further, Australian labor is not as productive as our overseas competitors ‘ is.
That is why we have re-equipped to the extent of an $1 1 million investment in plant. Our labor content is much below the average for the industry here, or in other parts of the world.
And so we’ve been able to get greater efficiency from the labor we do employ.
If you take the corner-stone of our operation, which is weaving, our absolute weaving department efficiency is 95 per cent- which can be compared with 93 to 95 per cent with the most advanced American companies, 85 per cent in Hong Kong, and somewhere around 80 per cent in Taiwan and Korea.
But the thing is, there’s nothing we can do to bring down labor costs- the labor costs of our competitor countries, which already have 75 per cent of the market here, are between a fifth and a tenth of what ours are.
And there’s nothing more that can be done, because we’re in Australia.
And so the question is simply this: Should we be protected against that big disparity in labor costs, since we have done everything positive to minimise the difference and the disparity? Actil has done everything- but the dilemma remains, with us and with the IAC.
Which brings us to the present-where do we go now?’
Rod Hartley says he doesn’t have a solution to the problem he is posing.
I supose what’s really necessary is that we all take two years without a wage increase, but I can’t see that happening within the present Australian political environment.
The present Government has had trouble enough trying to keep indexation down a mere one per cent. So what chance is there of a freeze?
And yet that’s what happened in Britain and it’s beginning to work- I mean, I Ve lived through the so-called British disease, but with respect I see far stronger signs of it here than I ever saw in Manchester, and I think that because of it Australia is in for two or three years of very hard times. ‘
What is being said is that Australia has outpriced itself in manufacturing, rnining and other Australian products. These days the Australian market cannot compete with overseas markets. Unless we can achieve parity with costs in overseas countries, I suggest that we will experience extreme economic difficulties.
The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said two years ago when he took over the job of endeavouring to improve Australia’s economy that it may take three years. I suggest that, unless we can peg wages and prices, this inflationary spiral will continue. Australia will become an economic mess. It is not only the Government that has to put its weight to the wheel. I suggest that, if there are any honest workers or any honest trade unionists who want to assist in helping Australia out of this chaotic situation- I am referring also to the trade union leaders, particularly those five communists who are out to destroy Australia- they should put their weight to the wheel. Then we would all be much better off.
I turn now to deal as an honourable senator suggested earlier I should with the Northern Territory. I had every intention of speaking about the Northern Territory. The year 1978 will be a milestone in the progress and development of the Northern Territory. It is a milestone in constitutional reform. Reform has taken a long time. In 1900, at Federation, the people of the Northern Territory had as much say in the Federal Parliament as did their friends from the States. But in 1911 through a constitutional change- South Australia gave up the responsibility of the Northern Territory which became the responsibility of the Federal Government- all parliamentary franchise was taken away. It has taken from 1 9 1 1 -it has been a very slow trail over the years -for the Territory to get where it is today. For the first time in a Budget of the Federal Government, one sees that an amount of $50m is allocated for the Northern Territory. It is a one Une budget for the Northern Territory. We see that in the future there will be a continuing transfer of powers from the Federal Government to the Northern Territory. The Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Adermann) said:
It is proposed to establish a separate Government of the Northern Territory from 1 July 1978, with local ministers exercising control over and responsibility for its finance . . .
It is intended that the progressive transfer of functions commence on 1 July 1978, with many State-type functions being transferred on 1 July 1978 and the whole program being completed on 1 July 1979.
On that day, the Northern Territory Will have responsible government but not statehood. There will be ties still with the Federal sphere. The Federal Budget is a good one for the Northern Territory, despite the fact that economic restrictions have been placed on the Territory as they have been placed on the States. In the Budget there have been increases in expenditure for health, education and Aboriginal affairs in the Northern Territory. Despite the fact that Australia is going through a difficult economic period- there are many needs that the Northern Territory has- under the present Budget, I believe sufficient allocation has been made to ensure that the Territory continues to progress.
I turn now to Aboriginal affairs. Suggestions have been made in many areas that insufficient money has been allocated for Aboriginal affairs and that the appropriation for Aboriginal affairs has been cut. I suggest that there is no sign of this cut. When scrutinising the appropriation in the Budget for Aboriginal affairs in the Northern Territory one finds that there is an increase practically in every area. Despite this increase in moneys available for Aboriginal affairs in the Northern Territory, there is a continual cry that more and more money must be spent. I suggest that this cry for extra money is, to a considerable degree, a political cry. It is political because, if somebody says that $100m or $150m has been spent on Aboriginal people, that is an achievement. As I have said previously in this place, some people in Australia think that because the Labor Party spent so much money on the Aboriginal people- that amount certainly is being matched today- the allocation of that money in itself is the achievement. That is not the case. I can assure honourable senators that the money that has been spent in many areas for Aboriginal people has been wasted and that the unfortunate Aboriginal people have not received the benefit of this money. That money was skimmed off, first of all, under the housing proposals -
– Who skimmed it off? The Aborigines did not.
– No. It was skimmed off because there were no controls on the money that was made available. The unfortunate Aboriginal people who thought they were going to get houses found that they did not. This money disappeared. It was frittered away. This fact, of course, came out in the Hay report. If Australia and the Parliament are genuine in their concern for the advancement of the Aboriginal people, I suggest that many things need to be done. First, I compliment the Government on its new policy towards the Aboriginal people, specifically on its national Aboriginal employment policy. That means, of course, that money will be paid by the Government into the Aboriginal settlements and communities instead of the situation that has existed in the past and still exists to some degree- that is, giving the Aboriginal people unemployment benefits which they call ‘sit down money’. ‘Sit down money’ is something that they do not wish to receive. They do not want to receive money to sit down. They want money for their communities, many of which are isolated.
– They lived on goannas for 100 years.
-It is quite obvious that Senator O’Byrne lives on more than goannas. If not, I have never seen anyone so well filled from living on goannas. Whilst the honourable senator is living in a reasonable degree of comfort I suggest that he should give some thought to the people in the outback who are living in very poor circumstances.
– He knew them and worked with them before you were born.
-He might have worked with them, but I am suggesting that there is much more work to be done. I have continually visited the Aboriginal settlements, particularly over the last few weeks, to see what living conditions are like. It is surprising to me that despite a government policy of employment for the Abonginal people and no money dished out in unemployment benefits, that policy is not being carried out. At times I wonder why it is that a government sets down a policy but somewhere along the track it is misinterpreted, and that has been the case with the Abonginal people. However, I commend the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Viner, because, having ascertained that these situations exist, he has moved very quickly to ensure that Aboriginal people continue to have money paid into their communities.
One very big problem which is emerging and on which we have spoken at length in this chamber is the problem of unemployed youth. Honourable senators on both sides of the chamber are very concerned about the situation, and much is planned for our young people in regard to retraining, universities, apprenticeships, and subsidies so that they can be taught a trade and find employment. But very huie is said about Aboriginal children in isolated areas, and something has happened there over the last few years. Most of the Aboriginal people are not now living in the way in which they lived years ago, with the result that in many areas the population is increasing quite rapidly. No longer is control of the numbers in the tribe practised by the elders, the traditional owners, the old people of a tribe which lived in a particular area. They imposed a population limit to ensure that there were not too many Aboriginal people endeavouring to live off the land in their nomadic way. But the nomadic life has disappeared and the people are now living in settlements, missions and so on. Their way of life has changed and their population is increasing rapidly. There are more and more Aboriginal children, and the immense problem that I, Senator Carrick and others see is that of the young children coming forward with very few jobs available for them. In the Northern Territory they would now number several thousand, but the population of the Territory is such that very little opportunity is available for them.
Senator Keeffe and I, as well as other honourable senators, have continued to ask questions about the training of the Aboriginal people and Senator Carrick has indicated his intense desire to provide more teachers and teachers’ aides. However, that is not happening as much as I would like. It is my understanding that Public Service Board restrictions do not allow the new positions to be created, and I make the criticism that that is completely wrong. An Aboriginal teacher cannot replace a European teacher at the moment. The Aboriginal people have to be trained alongside European teachers and eventually the Aboriginal person will replace the European person. But that cannot be done overnight. New positions must be created in the Department of Health and other government departments to endeavour to absorb the Aboriginal people to some degree.
– You cannot do that if you keep taking the money from them.
– The honourable senator has come in a little late.
– Too soon.
-Too soon or too late, it does no matter much one way or the other. I suggest that all the honourable senator does when he comes to the Northern Territory and to the outback is stir things up. If he had an intense desire to see the right thing done by the Aboriginal people he would do something more than just talk. I want to refer now to the situation of the colleges in the Northern Territory, and this occurs also in Queensland, Western Australia and other places. There are now Aboriginal colleges at Dhupuma, Kormilda, Yirara and so on where a large number of Aboriginal children are being trained, and they have every right to be trained. They have no way of going back to their old nomadic life; they have to go forward. But the result will be that in the next few years many Aboriginal children will be without a position -
– There always have been.
– That is not quite right. We have not always had the population that exists today. Positions have to be found for those Aboriginal children. They have to be absorbed into our communities. I think it is probably too early for them to be totally absorbed in the eastern States, and so Australia has to be prepared to finance them, to put money into their communities, to ensure that positions will be available for them. If that does not happen, I warn the Senate that we will have large numbers of Aboriginal teenagers roaming around the cities.
– You are bringing it all on yourself. It is the fault of your Government. You did not continue the Labor program.
– The Labor program for Aboriginal people was a disaster because the Labor Party was patronising. It went around as if it were Father Christmas with a bag of toys. It made promises but a lot of its promises were not fulfilled. The Labor Government gave trucks, cars and that sort of thing which lasted a few weeks but it did nothing for the Aboriginal people.
– What did you do about Mr Ellicott ‘s promises?
– I have said before, and it is a pity you come in -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! You will address the Chair, Senator Kilgariff.
– Yes, Mr Acting Deputy President. I was saying before that it is all very well to wave your hands and your flags and say that $ 100m has been spent of Aboriginal people when the benefit has not really come to them. However, I wish to deal briefly with another problem relating to the setting up of national parks by the Federal Government, and I refer specifically to Ayres Rock. Ayres Rock is a very important tourist area.
-Why do you not talk about Alligator River?
– That is coming up and Kakadu is also coming up. Perhaps they have the same problem, perhaps not. At the moment I wish to refer to the management of the Ayers Rock-Mount Olga National Park and to the fourth report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation. The report suggests that various things should be done to bring the facilities in the park up to a point where they can cater efficiently for people from Australia and overseas who wish to visit the area. Another promise was made when the Commonwealth departments became involved in the Ayers Rock area and we had the dream of the new town, the new settlement. The future of Ayers Rock has floundered along from one interdepartmental committee to another, so much so that the pioneers of the Rock, who went out there many years ago and built various hostels, found themselves m a situation where the Government bought the hostels and other accommodation places and leased them for a period of five to seven years to those people who had pioneered the area while this new town outside the area of the national park was planned and established. Now it appears that this national park, this new town, is nothing more than a dream and it has been suggested that the leases held by these people who built the accommodation at Ayers Rock should be cancelled. How strange it is that there should be this misunderstanding, that these leases should be cancelled and that there should be no future progress at the Rock despite the fact that this new town has not been commenced. One criticism I have of the Budget, as it refers to the Northern Territory, is that despite the fact that there is a tremendous revenue coming in from the Rock from people who pay considerable fees to see it, the health facilities are not improved. If there is to be any empire building as far as Ayers Rock and perhaps Kakadu are concerned, we need a reasonable approach to the whole matter. There is one further point which relates to the people of the outback.
– I thought you were going to talk about Kakadu.
– Kakadu will come in another debate. I refer to the high prices of goods in the outback of Australia and on the north coast. Perhaps some time ago, when the fuel equalisation scheme was in existence and there were some freight subsidies, the people did fare a little better. But with current wages, which are no higher or very little higher than those of the people in the cities, and the fact that goods have to be brought to them in so many different ways, whether it be by truck or by barge, by the time the goods get to these people they are paying enormous prices. There are still people in Australia who, because of the area in which they live, receive subsidies. I believe that although we are talking of only a handfull of people in the outback- when I say a handful, it amounts to only a few thousand people- they should be given due consideration. If they are prepared to
Eve out there- indeed, they are still pioneering out there- the rest of Australia should recognise and support them. It was only a few years ago that they were encouraged to go into the outback and the north and to ensure that by developing the north, it would be safeguarded. Having done this, what has happened? The support they received from the Australian people has been taken away. It was not the Country Party which took it away. As I said two or three nights ago, it was the Labor Party which took away the fuel equalisation scheme. It took away the few subsidies that existed. The Labor Party has never considered the people of the north. It has been too busy looking after the large number of votes in the eastern States.
– You are walking on the camel pads now. You will not win on that.
– When I speak in that way I may be generalising. Before I conclude I would like to pay a compliment to a member of the Labor Party. This may surprise some honourable senators. I go back to the employment of Aboriginal people. I go back some three years to what some people considered an experiment but which has now become factual and which is probably an indication of what Aboriginal people can do for themselves. I refer to the Apatula people who live at the Finke. Some three years ago I went to Senator Cavanagh, who was then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, and suggested that a hotel in the area should be purchased by the Aboriginal people. It was purchased despite the fact that everyone thought it was probably the screwiest idea ever that a hotel should be bought by Aboriginal people.
– It is about time we bought the border store, too.
– This should apply not only to the border store; it should be a policy that in future all licences existing in Aboriginal lands should be taken over and run by the Aboriginal people themselves. At the time the hotel was purchased This Day Tonight and TV News said that the hotel would become run down and a brothel within six months. Two years later it is a different picture. The relevant balance sheets indicate that expenditure on food and clothing at the store has risen in direct proportion to the decline in spending at the hotel by the Aboriginal population. The Apatula make houses and sell them to various parts of the Territory. There is a 95 per cent record of attendance at work by the 28 Aboriginal people employed in the Finke community. Prior to the purchase of the hotel the men rarely worked more than two days a week. Since the hotel was purchased there has been only one arrest and no serious brawls which required evacuation of the patient by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Prior to the purchase of the hotel arrests for drunkenness and evacuation of patients as a result of drunken brawls caused by drinking rum and flagon wine were weekly occurrences. The hotel is controlled by a board of management in accordance with guidelines set down by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs at that time. I commend Senator Cavanagh for the action he took. It is a precedent for the future of the Northern Territory. The Aboriginal people are coming up. They are beginning to solve their drink problems but they cannot do it entirely by themselves. The time has come for the people of Australia to assist them realistically.
– I rise to speak to the Budget brought down by the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) on 16 August 1977. Before I speak on the Budget, I would like to take up a remark made by Senator Missen when he was talking about the log of claims. It is pretty obvious that he knows very little about the ambit in which trade unions have to work when they are placing a log of claims. I think his understanding of the trade union movement, like Senator Kilgariff’s, is appalling. Senator Kilgariff obviously knows nothing about the leadership of the trade union movement or what is going on in the trade union movement. Otherwise he would have realised that on many occasions and probably in the current dispute the rank and file set the pace and not the leaders. Senator Missen also mentioned sewerage works. I cannot quite remember his words but they were to the effect that he would be pleased to see sewerage works once again going ahead. Quite frankly, I think it is deplorable that money for sewerage work was stopped. The worst sewered cities in the English speaking world are here in Australia. What happened when the sewerage work was stopped? We had unemployed engineers, subcontractors and contractors right down to the man with the pick and shovel. Yet the Government wonders why the ranks of the unemployed are swelling.
I do not think anyone looking at this Budget could call it an imaginative Budget by any stretch of the imagination. It is not an imaginative Budget. It does not seem to be planned to attack unemployment and inflation in the slightest. In fact, I think that the only description that could be applied to this Budget is a ‘non-event’. The Government’s attitude is: Let us wait and see if things get better. Let us wait and see if private enterprise will get us out of the mire that we have put ourselves in. Instead of bringing down constructive policies, the Government seems to have concentrated on its bitter and vicious attacks upon the trade union movement. The Treasurer never even tried to look at alternative policies. In fact, instead of choosing a Budget which would create jobs, he has chosen a Budget that intends to swell the ranks of the unemployed. One would think the Government intends to fight the next election against an army of unemployed.
The first three or four pages of the Budget Speech continually harp on wages. Then, on the next page the Treasurer has the audacity to say that unemployment is a human problem, not just a question of statistics. A first-year student would know that unemployment is a human problem. The trouble is that we do not have any humanitarians in the Government who are willing to come out with a humanitarian-type Budget to alleviate the situation. On the next page, not only does the Treasurer attack wages, but also he takes a sideswipe at the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. He says:
The Commission must be prepared to face, with a greater degree of reality, the employment consequences of its decisions. It is obvious to me -
– What would you know?
-If the honourable senator wants to talk, he can get up and talk later on. It is obvious to me that the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission certainly is not a commission that has been generous in the granting of wage increases. It has never been generous in regard to wages. Therefore, I think that a sideswipe at the Commission, which has been the Government’s greatest ally during the years, is rather unkind. Let us look at what is also stated in the Budget Speech. This interested me. The Treasurer said:
It is now up to the private sector to respond to the brighter outlook which is in prospect.
As we have emphasised, a re-vitalised private sector is essential to increased productivity and more jobs.
Governments can only do so much; this Government has consistently pursued the course of making way for expansion of the private sector.
It is now up to the private sector to play its part in furthering the progress we have made towards establishing and building upon the pre-conditions for economic recovery.
I find the sentence ‘governments can only do so much’ quite pathetic. I ask honourable senators: Is this the voice of confidence? We are told that the governments can only do so much. Let us go back to the presentation of last year’s Budget. I quote from an article written by Tony Warton. The headline is: ‘Now it’s up to you, Fraser tells business’. This article was written after the presentation of the Budget last year. It reads:
Canberra: The Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, gave a plain warning to business yesterday that the Government had done all it could to stabilise the economy and that it was time for the private sector to get moving.
In a statement that described Tuesday’s Budget as an imaginative blueprint for national recovery and reform, he said: ‘It is a Budget that throws the ball fairly into the court of private enterprise.
Private enterprise now has unparalleled opportunities to realise its full potential.
It has its chance to demonstrate that the free enterprise system can restore the economic health . . .
Last year, the Prime Minister was telling business that the ball was at its feet. We saw the headlines such as: ‘Fraser now says it is up to business’, ‘It is up to big business’ and ‘It is time the private sector got moving’. It is a far cry from last year to this year when the Treasurer makes a pathetic statement that governments can only do so much. Is this inspiring? I am sure that the phrase ‘governments can only do so much’ must fill the nation with confidence.
Quite frankly, I think that this Government has done enough. It has done too much. As long as it continues to keep biting off the public sector as it is doing, there is no chance of the private sector responding because it is the public sector that provides the private sector with most of its work in any case. I am talking about small business and manufacturing business in particular.
Last year I was a member of a delegation that visited a number of cities throughout Asia. Senator Collard was part of that delegation and Mr Viner led it. I noticed in Asia that quite a number of factories were being set up with their home base here in Australia. We visited one particular factory in Kuala Lumpur- this was one of many such factories- at which this situation existed. I noticed that the machinery at the factory was highly sophisticated machinery. It was intended to export goods to Australia at the cost of perhaps 200 or 300 jobs at the home base factory in Australia. Even if the Australian worker worked for nothing in those factories, I doubt very much whether he could compete against the highly sophisticated machinery that was in South East Asia. There seems to have been no control over the outflow of capital from Australia to South East Asia. An amount of $11 5m has been invested in South East Asia in these manufacturing industries setting up a rather unfair trade between Australia and South East Asia. I am not against the development of South East Asia. I am not against development at all. But I am rather concerned about the direction that development is taking.
We travelled down the east coast of Malaysia and visited a number of kampongs. We found that the people in those kampongs were happy. They had good community lives. They were harvesting the sea for the fish and harvesting the land for vegetables and fruit. As I say, they had excellent community lives. Towards the south of the east coast a town called Kuantan was being built. The Malaysians intended to try to entice more manufacturing industries into Kuantan. If it was intended to employ the people in Kuala
Lumpur- the people who did not have any other means of livelihood-this would be fine. It might be all right. But it was intended to employ the people in the kampongs down the east coast of Malaysia. Who would be employed? It would be the strong and the able. What would happen to these communities? It is anyone’s guess what would happen to them. What I am trying to say is that I am concerned about the direction that this development takes.
Let me return to quote from the article written last year in the West Australian newspaper. It goes on to state:
His words -
That is the words of the Prime Minister- echoed a strong opinion among back bench members of the Government that it was time for the business sector to show more enterprise after all the concessions given to it since the change of government.
A prominent back bencher with wide business contacts said: ‘If business can not rake up some confidence after all we have done for it, then maybe it is time to do a bit of nationalising’.
Many a true word is spoken in jest. This Liberal Party back bencher said that the business sector does not respond-
– Which one?
– I am quoting from the West Australian of 1 9 August 1976.
– Which back bencher?
– The article does not say. I am only quoting from the newspaper. The honourable senator may take this up with the author of the article. As I say, many a true word is spoken in jest. I am not suggesting that the nationalisation of our inefficient industries will get us out of the morass the Government has put us into. We should not delude ourselves: The Government certainly has led us into a real morass so far as the industrial section of the nation is concerned. Honourable senators opposite talk about the responsibility of the trade union movement and about what its responsibilities should be. Honourable senators opposite keep blaming wage increases for all the ills that beset the nation and for their own inefficiency and inadequacies. What do we mean by ‘more responsible trade unions’? For what must the trade union movement be responsible? It has to be responsible for the wages and the conditions of its members so that they can live with dignity in 1977. This is the field of responsibility. I agree that that responsibility should go much further. That field of responsibility should extend into the decision-making area. Trade unions should make decisions at the point of production, management and control. Until the responsibility is extended into those fields, I am afraid there will always be strife in the manufacturing industries in general. At one dme the trade union could negotiate with an employer. It could come to some form of agreement with the employer. There was such a thing as loyalty- a misused word. The employee felt part of the firm. He had this feeling of belonging to it.
Now a feeling of alienation exists because the employer himself is only a sub-contractor of some other national or trans-national company. So the feeling of alienation grows. A disenchantment exists amongst the work force- a disenchantments that hire purchase companies cannot remove with motor cars, refrigerators and colour television sets. That disenchantment exists and it will always exist until more responsibility is put on the shoulders of employees- and that responsibility has to be in the decision-making and planning processes. I am not talking just about worker participation. I do not mean that the bosses make the decisions and the workers participate. I am talking about the democratisation of industry, and if honourable senators opposite do not believe that that is what the situation is going to be in this country, I am afraid I have nothing but pity for them because there is no way that they are going to screw down the trade union movement. This Government tells us that the responsibility of the trade union movement should be to screw down wages to the level that suits it and the employers. Well, they can forget that and they can forget it now. They will have to extend the area of responsibility into the decision-making field before they can get peace and harmony m industry. They are deluding themselves if they believe anything else. What is required is common sense, negotiation and a proper understanding of the trade union movement. I am sure the Government lacks these things very much.
– What are you talking about- the trade union movement or shop stewards?
– I am not talking to the honourable senator as an individual. If he does not like it, just keep quiet and listen in the meantime. Common sense is required. The fear of hell is a hangman’s whip to keep the wretch in order. Only a few months ago we had a situation in which Bjelke-Petersen, Charlie Court and Mai Fraser got together and decided to introduce some other form of repressive legislation to get the wretch in order. They can forget that one too. I think it is a sick joke when they believe that they can bring down repressive legislation in order to screw down people to a level at which they would desire them to be. They may as well forget it because there is no chance of it ever happening. They still have to use common sense and negotiation before they can make any advancement. We need a greater democratic state in industry and complete organisation of industry in this country before we will make any advancement. I am afraid that I can see the whole Budget only as a recipe for greater unemployment and there is no way whatsoever I could support a recipe for more unemployment in the country. It looks as though the Government wishes to fight the next election against an army of unemployed and so long as the Government has a lack of understanding in the industrial field and its supporters continue blindly to make the remarks about the trade union movement that have been uttered by the two previous Liberal speakers, I am afraid there is very little hope unless the Government resigns. If the Government is really concerned about the country I think it should resign, and that is about the most sensible course it can take.
-Senator Mcintosh has once again indicated and demonstrated the total failure of the members of the Opposition to appreciate that the main problem in Australia today continues to be inflation and that the main thrust of this Budget is directed at inflation. The Opposition has demonstrated throughout this debate that if it were returned to government it would inflate the economy. I hope that the people of Australia who have taken notice of this debate will take that into account at the next election, whenever that might occur.
I do not intend to canvass the Government’s initiatives in relation to this Budget. They have been well expressed by my colleagues in this chamber and in the other place. I believe that my colleagues have established beyond doubt that the Budget is sound and sensible and that its main thrust is against inflation, and that is where its thrust ought to be at the present moment. I intend to deal with only one matter which in fact is hardly touched upon in the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) but it is a matter which causes me grave concern.
Specifically, I would like to exclude from my remarks the one-parent family. I believe that the one-parent family falls into a special category which ought to be dealt with under the social welfare provisions. I intend my remarks to be about the one-income family, which is the most common arrangement in Australia under which dad works on a taxable income and mum works at home for no taxable income, caring for the home and the family. For taxation purposes she is classed as a ‘dependant’. In my view that is an arrangement which ought to be encouraged in Australia. Let me say quite clearly that I have no objection to wives working. However, for centuries the division of family labour in our world has been for mum to stay at home and care for the family while dad goes out to work. Many women like this sort of arrangement. They like looking after their kids and their husband. They do the job well and they take great pride in it. I believe that it is a desirable activity and I think, as I have said, that it ought to be encouraged. But today it seems to me that many forces within our community are endeavouring to discourage this form of family structure, and one of them happens to be our taxation legislation.
In Victoria this problem has been taken up by an organisation called the Women’s Action Alliance under a very capable president, Mrs Joan Adamson. I congratulate Mrs Adamson and the people in this organisation on their work in connection with this matter and other problems in respect of the one-income family. It is my Party’s philosophy to encourage family life. I read from our federal platform:
The family is a cohesive force in society and the Liberal Party recognises the necessity for strengthening its influence. Liberals acknowledge the vital contribution of the family in the development of the individual .
I believe that that philosophy could be encouraged in taxation legislation. Ideally I would like to see tax averaging of both the husband ‘s income and the wife’s income. That happens in business when family partnerships are created but that faculty is not available to the wage and salary earner. There are more expensive schemes which are designed to avoid taxation but they are, of course, very costly and again they are not available to the wage and salary earner. If my Party wishes actively to encourage this form of family life I believe it should treat marriage as a partnership for taxation purposes. For example, if a young couple married and at the time of their marriage the husband was on, say, $8,000 a year and the wife was on, say, $9,000 a year, under my proposal each would be taxed on $8,500 a year. When the wife has a child and decides to remain at home to care for that child the family income would be his income only which would be only $8,000. In that event each of them would then pay tax on $4,000 as though they were in a partnership, which in fact they are. Similar proposals have been considered by the Taxation Review Committee known as the Asprey Committee which submitted its report in
January 1975. That Committee examined the option of taxing families on what it called a unit basis. Unfortunately, ultimately it rejected that option for reasons with which I disagree and which some day I hope to debate. The Asprey Committee also looked at deductions for dependent spouses. If incomes for a married couple were not averaged, it would be possible to create a deduction for a non-working spouse which would be sufficiently large to bring about a similar result. The Asprey Committee, in its January 1975 report, said:
At present, . . . there is a deduction of $364 for a dependent spouse . . . There are two criticisms of the concession: the first that a poor man’s wife is worth less than a rich man’s, the second that the concession is in any case too modest.
Fortunately, under the new taxation system introduced in this Budget the first criticism is no longer valid. I commend the Government for correcting that situation. But the second criticism still is valid. I should like to read further what the Asprey report said about the second criticism:
The second criticism, that the concession is too modest, is sometimes expressed by saying that the reduction in tax liability to which it gives rise is far below the total ‘cost’ of the dependent spouse to the income earner. However, such cost considerations do not appear to lie behind the concession, which has never amounted to much more than a token recognition that husbands have a moral and legal duty to support their wives, when dependent . . .
Nonetheless, even as a token recognition the real value of the concession has declined significantly in recent years in the face of rapid inflation . . .
In January 1975 the deduction was $364. Now it is $555. 1 say that that is totally inadequate as a concession for a non-working spouse. In my view, far from offering wives any real advantage to stay at home, in fact it actively encourages them to go out to work, It would be bad enough in the normal family life if they were on a par, but on this basis they are way behind scratch.
If a wife works then both husband and wife can earn as much as $3,750 each, that is, a total of $7,500, before any tax is payable. But if the wife does not work then under the deduction system her husband’s income becomes taxable when it reaches a figure of $5,484. The difference between $7,500 and $5,484 is $2,016. So the inducement for a wife to go to work is $2,016. In my view the deduction under this provision should be such that there is no financial inducement for a married woman to seek employment at low rates. If the wife wants to work that is fine by me. In particular, if she has a special skill for which she would be well paid then that would induce her to go to work. In no way am I suggesting any discrimination against a working wife. All I am asking for is a fair go for the family which decides that Mum should stay home and bring up the kids. I should like to refer to something that Sir John Moore said when he was bringing down the decision on the national wage case in April of this yean
We are aware that many single-income families will not be fully compensated. But a wage adjustment is not an appropriate method of doing equal justice to the single person and the family.
Taxation and social service provisions allow a more satisfactory avenue.
Sir John Moore and the Commission recognised the problem and indicated that it was not to be solved with wages but should be solved in the fields of taxation and social service. That is precisely what I am saying. In fact, the taxation legislation could actively discourage wives from working. A deduction could be made sufficiently worthwhile to induce an unskilled married woman to stay out of the work force. One consequence of that would be to soak up much of the present unemployed, unskilled work force. These examples are being cited daily in the Press. I instance an article by Ted Knez in the Australian last Wednesday, which reads:
Jobs for the young will remain scarce years after the economy recovers because of the number of married women in the work force, a top employers’ spokesman warned yesterday.
The director of the Australian Council of Employers Federations, Mr George Polites, said the present youth unemployment crises was largely a result of the increasing proportion of married women in the labor force.
Now that is a most desirable consequence of my suggestion. But I urge this proposal for the sake of the family, not so much for the sake of soaking up the work force. I urge this for the sake of enabling a woman who wants to stay at home to bring up her kids, to feel proud to adopt that work. In my view it is an occupation worthy of the most able in the community. I should like to repeat that so that it is clearly understood: The bunging up of children is perhaps the most important job that any person can undertake. It is a job that should be adopted by both husband and wife in a family. In particular, the consequences to a child being brought up with both parents out working have been demonstrated in many countries to be most unreasonable for the child. As I said, in my review, in Australia it is an occupation worthy of the most able in our community.
Under the present legislation a wife and mother may feel some pride in her occupation but she will have the lingering worry that while she is not earning a separate income she is a financial burden to her family. The publicity which has been given to women’s libbers and equal pay provisions for women have brought some married to feel inferior, to think that they are not making a worthwhile contribution. Those thoughts are, of course, nonsense. The concern of the non-income earning married is most understandable but it is also most undesirable. In my view, no Liberal government should suffer it and I shall continue to put those views to the Government. In all other aspects I shall support the Bills. I spoke during an urgency debate earlier in the year and I expressed then my view generally about the Budget. I should just like to repeat what I said at that stage:
It offers initiative to people who are prepared to work, but at the same time it attacks inflation, it cuts back the deficit, it reduces the Government’s own expenditure and certainly it will lead to a recovery in the economy.
– I, too, intend to speak fairly briefly in the debate this evening as there have been so many speakers in the last few weeks. Senator Lewis brought up a subject which has been of some controversy in the Parliament and in the community for some time. He mentioned the concern of the Women’s Action Alliance for this matter but I notice that he was fairly careful not to go on and advocate the proposal put by the Women’s Action Alliance for a housewife’s wage to be taken out of the husband’s salary, which would involve the setting up of a bureaucracy and the active discouragement of women to go into the work force. The problems about which Senator Lewis talks involve, as he said, anomalies in our taxation system. The two income family has a considerable tax advantage. There are inequities in the taxation system involving partnerships between husbands and wives and others. In some situations they are allowed and in others they are not.
I point out to Senator Lewis, although he was not in the Parliament at the time, that the Party to which he belongs was strongly in favour of the present system of advantages to the two-income family when we debated the Medibank levy as it was originally proposed by the Labor Party. This problem will be solved I believe by a reformation of the taxation system, by a resolution of the problems in this community and an acceptance of the views of the community as to who is dependent and who is not dependent in the family set-up. This will probably involve the establishment of a guaranteed minimum income scheme in the form suggested by Professor Henderson rather than by way of legislation which I believe, in the case of Senator Lewis’ suggestion, will in fact actively discourage women from working. One wonders why women should not be allowed to use their skills and get the same satisfaction as men in the community if that is what they wish to do. One wonders why they should not make contributions to the community consistent with their skills and education if that is the best way to make them happy.
I do not believe families, including children, will be happy if women who have skills and expertise are discriminated against in the work force as used to be the case in the 1950s and 1960s before we had equal pay. Women were actively encouraged to enter the work force in the 1950s and 1960s by the government of the day and by industry of the day because they were a source of cheap labour in a growing economy. I believe that to attribute the present unemployment problems to married women in the work force, as Senator Lewis did, or to people having two jobs, as Senator Kilgariff did earlier, or to the left wing unionists, whoever they may be- we could talk about that at length- is getting away from the whole basis of the problem. If we took the arguments of Senator Kilgariff and Senator Lewis concerning married women to the extreme, I do not believe Senator Walters, Senator Martin or Senator Coleman would be very impressed when we insisted that they stay home rather than have incomes.
– They have special skills.
– Women who sew in factories have special skills that are needed in the community. They should not be forced to stay at home. Senator Kilgariff suggested that everyone with two jobs should be forced to give up one. I suggest that would also deplete both parties in this place. I believe he may be under some difficulties in the circumstances. Similarly, blaming the problems of the community on the left wing unions, the Industries Assistance Commission or anyone else except the Government gets us nowhere and will get us nowhere.
The Budget we are discussing I believe can be described as a typical budget for the present Government- the most conservative government, I suggest, that this country has seen since World War II. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) points up the deficiencies of this Budget, and I therefore support it. The aims of the Budget are fairly typical for this Government They are to redistribute wealth and income to the more wealthy members of the community who in fact need it least; and to divide society both by this method of redistribution of income and by the continuing denigration of the unemployed which the present Government parties started before they came to office and by the sort of industrial confrontation that we have seen recently and that we are seeing now and are obviously going to see more of in the next few days. The Budget, as Mr Wentworth, who has just resigned from the Liberal Party, believes, puts far too much of a burden on the lower and middle income groups in this misguided attempt to get over the economic problems of this country. It continues the tactics which were started in this Government’s first Budget of neglecting the unemployed as people, of using the unemployed as pawns in an economic chess game and not being concerned about the effects of unemployment on these people and their families.
The Government’s intention to refuse benefits to those who are out of work in the present industrial difficulties in Victoria, even though they may not be directly involved, is, I believe, typical of this tactic of the Government. These people will be used as pawns in this game of industrial relations confrontation. I do not believe that is fair under any circumstances. I do not believe it is a sensible way to go about attempting to cure this country’s economic problems. There is not much hope for the unemployed in this Budget. The Treasurer (Mr Lynch) in Budget Paper No. 2 says of the unemployment situation in the coming year:
On the balance the likelihood is for little oi no change over this period.
Let us remember that last year the same gentleman predicted a steady decrease in unemployment over the financial year. When we look at the results that followed that statement we see that the outlook is pretty grim. Professor Warren Hogan, who is the Government’s economic guru and its chief supporter in academia, said that unemployment may be 6.7 per cent in the new year and that he would not be surprised if it reached 8 per cent. I suggest there is very little joy for the unemployed, despite the claims of the Treasurer and the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) that this Budget will somehow increase employment. When we consider the statistics on employment rates in the community which are prepared by the Austraiian Bureau of Statistics we get a clear picture. The statistics on the unemployed do not contain thousands of married women who once they have lost their jobs, do not bother to register for employment. When we consider that for the period December to February last year and this year the figures do not include school leavers who were actively discouraged from registering for employment, we realise that unemployment is much more serious than the figures suggest. The employment figures produced by the Bureau of Statistics add to the gloom. The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, comparing June 1976 with June 1977, are more than disturbing. In fact overall there was a drop of some 13,400 people in the civilian work force, a drop from 4.739 million odd to 4.72 5 million odd. In manufacturing industry there was a drop of 40,700. In the construction industry the drop was 10,000, from 371,000 to 36 1,000. The only places where there were gains in employment were the service and government industries, the non-productive areas. This must be of considerable disturbance. When we hear Government spokesmen say that 122,000 new jobs were created in the last year, we wonder where the figures come from. The fact of the matter is that the $ 1,000m that was made available for the investment allowance did nothing. All it did was make an unexpected grant to those who made replacements of machinery which were in fact unavoidable. Industry was working and is still working at 70 per cent to 80 per cent capacity. An investment allowance of this type has no effect on unemployment. These type of tight fisted across the board cuts in capital expenditure had a devastating effect on the construction and manufacturing industries in this country. Across the board cuts in the Public Service, for that matter, had an effect because they were without consideration for need in the various departments and caused a lack of morale and in fact inefficiency, and their clients therefore suffered.
The disturbing unemployment situation and the disquieting financial situation in this country according to the Government has nothing to do with it. The Government continually looks for scapegoats. It continually blames scapegoats. The first scapegoat is usually the trade unions, despite the fact that there has been a vast improvement in the figures for time lost through strikes and industrial disputes and despite the fact that real wages have dropped in the last year. We get speeches like the one by Senator Kilgariff tonight in which he blamed everyone from Halfpenny and Faure to every other trade unionist in the country, whom he described as left wing, socialist left or communist, for all this country ‘s economic problems.
Of course, one can add to the list of people and organisations who are blamed. The Industries Assistance Commission has been blamed and roundly castigated for destroying the economic climate in this community. The Australian Labor Party has been consistently blamed, particularly Mr Bill Hayden, who is in an extraordinary situation. According to Government spokesmen, Mr Hayden has such an effect upon the hard-headed financial operators in this country and overseas that he had only to point to the outward flow of money from this country and he had only to point out that the Government was not doing enough to defend the currency of this country to cause a devaluation in 1976 and to cause the Government to borrow $ 1,700m overseas in 1977 to defend the currency. If Mr Hayden is such a powerful man, if Mr Hayden can by himself in a couple of speeches affect so easily and so much the international monetary situation as it concerns this country and if Government spokesmen give him credit for being able to do that, I suggest that the best thing the Government can do is resign and hand over the Treasury of this country to Mr Hayden because such a powerful man could obviously quickly solve our problems. Of course, it is nonsense to say that one man on the front bench of an Opposition in a country like . this can affect those hard-headed, shrewd operators in such a way. He was just pointing out what was happening. He was not causing what was happening.
Other people and organisations are also blamed. The National Country Party of AustraliaMr Sinclair in particular- has blamed the Pommy shop stewards. The Prime Minister seems at times to be blaming our Japanese customers. We had the recent phenomenon in this place of speakers like Senator Scott and others blaming our lack of national will and saying that we should somehow develop a national will to go out and do unspecified things, apart from working hard, that will get this country out of its problems- to have a sort of Uri Geller effect on the economy- and thereby turn this economy in the right direction. That sort of preaching from the mountain- that sort of exhortation of the people- has been going on in the two years in which this Government has been in office and it has not succeeded. What is happening in this country is that we have high unemployment for the simple reason that no jobs are available, that job opportunities are decreasing and that there is no likelihood of jobs becoming available in the community.
When people are in the situation that some are in now of needing jobs the Government spends small amounts of money on support schemes and training schemes for the unemployed, which we did not oppose but which we have pointed out do not supply jobs and which we have pointed out are very much band aid measures. We have been frequently told that the people of this country are expected to lead an economic recovery by spending more money but they are finding that their disposable incomes have dropped. It is no wonder they are not responding. I wonder why the Government cannot see that.
The simplest example in this Budget of the Government’s inability to manage the scene at the moment is to be found in the new tax proposals. When the new tax system was introduced it was trumpeted in this place and in other places as a great reform and as the start of a new Utopia in which everybody was going to get more money and in which the whole community was suddenly going to recover because df vastly increased amounts of money in its pocket. It was not long- in fact, it was only a couple of daysbefore disquietening noises were made in the Parliament, in the community and in the Press about the new scheme not being all it was set out to be. The editorialists in this country were particularly severe on it. The financial writers of our conservative newspapers were quite harsh in their criticism of it. One remembers Mr Risstrom of the Taxpayers Association, who is certainly not a supporter of the Opposition, pointing out the fraudulent nature of the changes. About 10 days later the Country Party woke up to the fact that the new scheme would disadvantage the farmers under the tax averaging scheme. In fact, changes to the new scheme were announced two weeks later, which was before the Budget even passed through this place.
The best example of the confusion, the contradiction and the difficulty with the tax changes was seen in the two Houses of this Parliament. We had contradictory statements being made in both House of the Parliament. We had contradictory documents from the Treasurer and the Prime Minister pointing out what the new taxation system would do. We had an absolute inability in this House of Ministers to answer questions about the effects of the changes. In fact,
Senator Wriedt and I are still awaiting answers to questions which we were unable to get answered when we were asking at Question Time just what was happening.
A comparison of the new tax system with the old tax system on an indexed basis shows that people earning $25,000 a year and $30,000 a year will pay up to 1 1 per cent and 13.5 per cent less tax now than they would have under the old system. Those on $6,000 and $7,000 a year will pay 0.4 per cent or 0.2 per cent more tax. A comparison of the after tax income of families with two to five children and incomes between $120 and $200 a week was produced by the statistical service of the Parliamentary Library. It demonstrates that if one compares the systems introduced by this Government since coming to power with the Hayden Budget introduced in 1975 and indexed one will find that all but two groups of people are considerably worse off and in fact will have a lower disposable income, they will be unable to lead the consumer-led recovery that, according to the Government, was apparently need in this country. It is in this group that the vast majority of taxpayers lie. I trunk that the best thing I can do is to seek leave to have the table to which I am referring incorporated in Hansard. I have spoken about it to the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton), who has kindly agreed to its incorporation in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Devitt)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The table read as follows-
– But the changes to the taxation system are not the only reason why people in this area have a lower disposable income now than they would have had under the old system. Another reason is the introduction of the Medibank levy. A third reason is the failure to increase the family allowances under the new scheme.
The introduction of the new family allowances scheme was hailed in this House and other places as the greatest triumph of the last Budget. The Opposition agreed with these changes. It certainly did not oppose the reform. But it pointed out repeatedly that unless regular increases were made m the new family allowances to cope with inflation many people- those people with children- would suffer. We voiced our suspicions, and our suspicions have been confirmed, that one of the reasons that the new allowances were introduced was to avoid the consequences of having indexed children’s rebates under the previous system. Such indexed rebates would have cut the Government’s income. The failure to increase the family allowances has resulted in those people having a lower disposable income. When the responsible Minister was asked why the family allowances were not increased to cope with indexation his only reply was that it was not a Government promise to increase these allowances when they were introduced. This is a strange argument, perhaps a surprising argument, from a government which, when it came to power, ignored the promises it had made. Now it implies that unless it promised something it will not do it at all.
The failure to update the family allowances may cause problems. It certainly has, as the table I have asked to be incorporated in Hansard demonstrates. The failure to increase other allowances will cause more problems. The Government has failed to increase allowances for dependants of pensioners and the supplementary rent allowance for the poorest of pensioners- those who earn very little income apart from their pension and who live in rented accommodation.. They have remained the same since May 1975. This is a direct blow at those who are less able to take it. Supplementary benefits affect 14 per cent of old age pensioners, 43 per cent of invalid pensioners and 60 per cent of supporting mothers. To add to this the dependants’ allowances that are paid to those on unemployment and sickness benefit and the supplementary benefits that are paid to sickness beneficiaries are now to be taxed. They were not previously taxed and they are not taxed when paid to other beneficiaries. This is another example of the failure in this Budget to care for the disadvantaged.
Beneficiaries and pensioners have suffered from this lack of concern, but they have suffered indirectly from another lack of concern by the Government. The Government caused to be set up inquiries by Mr Norgard and Dr Myers into the system of unemployment benefits in this country and the operation of the Commonwealth Employment Service. These men have made reports with suggestions for changes in the administration of benefits and they have been ignored or dismissed out of hand. In one instance the Government claimed to have taken note of Dr Myers’ recommendations, and in that instance the Government deliberately distorted the situation. Dr Myers suggested that payment of unemployment benefit two weeks in arrears would in fact be a good thing, but he suggested another change which, as he put it, would have to go hand in glove with it. He suggested that to avoid injustice the scrubbing of the seven day waiting period was essential. Dr Myers is not the only one to have suggested the scrubbing of the seven day waiting period. Everyone, including the Commissioners of the Commission of Inquiry into Poverty and every other group which has been interested in this subject, has urged that the seven day waiting period should be scrubbed. The first part of Dr Myers’ suggestion was taken up, and it was proclaimed as a suggestion of Dr Myers. The second was ignored. In the words of Dr Myers, this will create injustice. Potentially it will throw the 67 per cent of unemployed who have cash savings of less than $50 on to the already overworked voluntary welfare agencies, or on to their friends or families. So in this area of social security, as in the area of the taxation system, the Government, by using carefully phrased words and careful phrases proclaiming great changes, has not done what it proclaimed it would do. Certainly it has not done what it seems to be doing.
One can go on and on through the Budget finding areas like this where one thing is said and where, on close investigation, it can be seen that another thing is in fact done. Many people are greatly disturbed about the future of the Government system of assistance to aged persons’ accommodation. One year ago the Government proclaimed a triennium of funding and announced who would be funded under this system. That funding was to amount to some $220m in the first year, the Government spent $45 m. This year in the Budget the Government expects to spend $50m. This means that even to keep up with the proposal for the triennium and not accounting for inflation at all, the Government will have to find $130m, some three times what it has found this year. Finding that amount of money will involve a radical turnaround in the Government ‘s economic policies. The Government’s ability to spend that sort of money will involve an extraordinary improvement in the country’s economic situation. The people who are involved in trying to provide accommodation to aged people in this country- accommodation which is in short supply, accommodation which in some places is desperate- are very concerned. There is no hope of anyone who did not apply at the start of last year getting any funds at all.
As the amendment suggests and as many other speakers on this side of the chamber have pointed out, the Government, by its budgetary policies and its restrictive and contracting policies on the economy, will intensify and prolong the present recession. By the Treasurer’s admission, the unemployment situation will not improve. On every other commentator’s word, on the Government’s own adviser’s word, unemployment must increase. This Budget, like the last Budget, will have little impact on inflation.
All the fiddling of the inflationary figures and trying to remove things like the Medibank levy from the consumer price index figures will not have very much effect on inflation. The tax system is regressive. Those on high incomes of $40,000 a year will save some $3,500 a year in tax. Those on middle incomes or low incomes will save very little- in some instances $140 a year- in income tax. The result of this, together with the Government’s system of industrial confrontation, its determination to cut real wages, its failure to increase payments to those who are in real need such as pensioners with children, and its failure to increase the family allowances in fact will reduce the living standard. This is dealt with in the last part of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. It is for these reasons and the reasons that have been given by my colleagues previously in this debate that I support the amendment.
– I rise to speak for the motion. To me this Budget will continue to constrain inflation, restore another further measure of stability to business and family groups, and provide an incentive to the production areas to benefit from some inducements. At the same time it will continue to distribute large amounts of money to areas of great need and offer fresh incentives, particularly in the housing area. My main interests are in the areas of industry- primary, secondary and tertiaryand in particular items in the rural, manufacturing and housing sections and the related areas. In the rural area the beef cattle section has had much publicity of late and in my opinion rightly so. The beef cattle industry now deserves much discussion, thought and help in a variety of ways. First and foremost, when considering the beef industry we cannot overlook the fact that in 1964 there were 14 million cattle in Australia. By 1969 there were 20 million and by 1976 there were 33 million. We have to consider what effect this has had on the industry as it remains and as it stands right now. Whatever discussions are held, this aspect should and must not be overlooked. When we start to consider this matter, we must look as such aspects as the places where this growth has occurred and why it has occurred at all, particularly in these areas. We must look at whether it is a growth of the industry itself or whether it is a transfer from other industries. In particular, we must acertain where the market is, if in fact there ever was a market.
What concerns me greatly is that I have found out, on current reading, that there are still various representatives of the industry who are talking at the moment about a further expansion to a level of 40 million. Can we cope with such an expansion, particularly bearing in mind that we must accept the Fact that we have a commodity which is in substantial supply and that we are selling it on a buyers’ market? If we are to achieve a market for our meat, it has to be on the basis that it provides exactly what our customers want. We must take much more trouble to present whatever it is that our customers seek. Australia has seasonal and climatic problems. I think we all admit that there is no such industry as the cattle industry but rather there is a collection of industries spread throughout Australia. They are all different but they are dealing in a somewhat similar commodity. These variations make marketing very difficult and assistance to the industry nearly impossible, especially to be fair all round.
The growth of our export industry has been remarkably good. Whilst the Australian Meat Board, the Government and the industry have received a great deal of abuse in the last few years about cattle prices and surplus cattle, the fact must not be overlooked that, in 1974-75, 517,000 tons of meat was exported. In 1975-76, there was an increase of 37 per cent in exports to 708,000 tons. By 1976-77, there was an increase ‘ of a further 20 per cent to 857,000 tons. In other words, there was an increase of 50 per cent over two years. That is a remarkable increase.
Unfortunately, we are finding that our continued success will be dependent more and more on disasters in other places. Our markets must aim at places where there may be droughts, famines, floods or failures of one sort or another. For our industry to keep abreast of the marketing situation, we will have to depend on exporting large quantities of meat to various places on a casual basis. While we are doing that, we must . remember that Australia itself is subject to a range of problems. Right now we seem to be going into the teeth of a fairly big drought. The effect of this drought is difficult to assess. It is only early in the season yet but it has affected the big cattle producing areas. Many people are starting to try to assess the numbers of cattle that, they believe, are excess to our requirements. In one State alone, it is being mentioned that there is probably a surplus of four million cattle. If the drought does not break and is as severe as appears possible, I think we may lose most of those four million surplus in that State.
As I said, in Australia at the moment we have about 32 million to 33 million cattle, and we are experiencing these sorts of problems. When we compare the Australian cattle population with the cattle population of other countries, we find that it is not very great. The United States of America currently has a cattle population of about 123 million and that number is falling. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has a cattle population of about 1 10 million and that number also is falling; Brazil has about 96 million and that number is rising; and India has about 75 million and that is fairly stable. Although Australia has a cattle population of 32 million to 33 million, it is the biggest exporter of beef on the world market. Australia is a nation trading in manufactured goods and in the products of its primary industries.
The position of our beef market is extremely important. We have to be careful. We must plan carefully. We have to investigate fully all the assessments that are made from all the different sources. Assessments come from many sources. In this regard, I think we would have to admit that our assessment of the industry in the last few years has not been good. I think that the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation will be a better equipped body to check out those assessments. For instance, when subsidies are being propounded for assistance to the industry, including for the spaying of heifers, Baden Cameron, the Executive Director of the Australian National Cattlemen’s Council, who has just come back from a trip to Europe, North America and Asia, states:
There is little doubt in the minds of market experts that the decline phase of the beef cycle is well and truly established, and several are ready to predict a beef boom within the next two or three years.
He follows this by stating:
Australia had nothing to gain from cutting its own herd numbers or by spaying females, as it constituted such a small proportion of the universal cattle numbers. Our chief task must be to break with the world cattle cycle, to grow when it shrinks and shrink when it grows.
From what he has observed, he is of the opinion that, to match the downturn that will be experienced in some of the other areas, we would be better to try to retain our breeding stocks at this stage. The industry must be able to depend on the advice it receives from top authorities. It must be able to depend on the information that comes from the Meat and Live-stock Corporation, the Department of Primary Industry and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics.
A need will still exist for a large number of adjustments to be made in the industry. I think we all feel great sorrow for people who are unsuccessful in any ventures they undertake, whether in primary or secondary industries. I believe that, to have the opportunity to engage in one ‘s own enterprise, is one of the great aims that are left to us. This does not always mean that we are automatically successful. The Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics in January made a couple of points that I believe are well worth noting. At page 49, it stated:
Importantly, many producers who are currently under severe financial pressures are the same producers who were on low income farms during the boom conditions of 1973-74. For example, during 1973-74, some 52.9 per cent of beef specialist producers had net cash incomes of less than $5,000, including 15.9 per cent who had negative cash incomes.
At page 58 of the same edition, this theme was followed through:
Beef producers can be sub-divided into two groups:
the majority of producers who will survive the current depressed prices, and
b) the substantial core of producers who cannot survive, and, therefore, may adjust from the industry.
That is important, and I think it is one of the items that is being overlooked at the moment. A great number of people who are in financial trouble now have in fact been in financial trouble for probably five years. The vast majority of people in financial trouble are people who have come into the industry within the last 10 years and many within the last five years. A great number of them were able to adjust into the beef industry from something else but they have got into financial difficulties through lack of business ability, lack of knowledge of the industry, buying poor stock or over-priced stock, and buying properties with the wrong improvements or insufficient improvements. In almost every case they have had a faulty debt structure which was taken up at a time when they believed the beef industry was very profitable. That has brought them a fresh range of troubles now and all the things that they did wrong at that time have finally caught up with them.
In many areas 1977 has been a far better year than the previous two or three years, but that has not stopped these people running out of money and it has not stopped their creditors from moving in to try to collect money that has been owing for three or four years. Although we are receiving a lot of complaints from all sectors about the financial plight of the beef producer, in the main that plight is not one of 1977. The article to which I have just alluded mentioned that the first group were survivors and the second group were not. A lot of people- we have seen them in most rural areas of Australia- have a remarkable capacity to survive, and great numbers of them will continue. A lot of Australia has never had the boom farming conditions that have applied in other areas. Parts of Australia have never had highly prosperous farm industries, and the people in these areas have always been able to continue, whatever happened. Most of them will continue now, but the new developing areas and the in-between areas are the ones which will have the most difficulty.
The construction of a scheme that is going to be of real assistance to the beef industry is a most difficult operation. The country now is different and the conditions are different. Farmers in some places can stand on their back verandahs and whistle their cows and they will all come but in another place if a farmer whistles he would not reach the first beast. Any scheme of assistance has first of all got to be equitable to all farmers. It has to benefit the maximum number of people. It has to be of assistance to both breeders and fat.teners wherever they are. It has to do what it can to enhance the demand for beef, as well as being administratively practical. It must be able to get money out quickly and not prejudice market recovery from that point on. That is the basis on which the Government has currently taken on the beef relief programs. I think some of them are going to be quite difficult, but months of work have gone into the consideration of a tremendous range of alternative schemes and if we can get people of goodwill to continue to look at these and work on them I am sure considerable benefits will flow to the industry we are trying to help.
All of the schemes that have been put forward have been thoroughly investigated. Most of them have been lodged with the best of intentions but very few have been feasible or practical for a variety of reasons, one in particular being that conditions which apply in one area do not apply in others. I believe that has been the biggest difficulty in trying to get any assistance to the beef growers. However, we are sure that changes are going to be necessary and the Government will have to play its part. The Meat and Livestock Corporation will have to play its part, the public its part and the growers their part. The Government will have to develop a climate for satisfactory recovery of the industry. It will have to control inflation and contain the cost mechanisms. It will have to go into a legislative program to provide some assistance where it is absolutely necessary. The Meat and Live-stock Corporation is the body that really has a big job. Its main operation is going to be to sell. It has to find markets and work those markets very carefully. It will have to co-ordinate all the people involved in the industry and take on board the views and aspirations and abilities of all the growers and processors throughout Australia. It will have to e the eyes and ears of the Government and the industry. It will have to be reliable and sure enough of what it is doing so that the Government and industry will be able to depend completely on what it says. It will have to promote a product to the people and promote the producer to the people.
The public will also have to play its part and give support to the industry and an understanding of its plight. We have to learn to live with the industrial issues involved. The industrial people have to remember that the beef people exist, and vice versa. A couple of weeks ago I heard a certain gentleman make a statement that we walk the same road. I accept that we walk the same road, but I am not sure who built the road and who is going to maintain it. Do we walk the same road with one person dragging a cow by a halter and another person coming along behind with a shotgun? I hope that is not the case. The producer will have to play his part and increase his efficiency. He will have to work to the standards that are required by the customers. He will have to study to ensure that as a cattle producer he is producing exactly what the world markets require.
In the Stock and Land of 8 September Baden Cameron mentioned that in Australia the producer gets about one-third of the retail price of the meat; in the United States the figure is about two-thirds; in Canada it is about three-quarters. I think the producers in Australia would be very happy with two-thirds and they would be delighted with three-quarters. It is necessary that we consider why this happens and how we can go about ensuring that the producer gets a share of the total price commensurate with the investment he makes and the effort that he puts into production. One of the things we have to consider is that in 1973 boners in a meat works earned $102 a week. In 1977 they earn $302, an increase of 196 per cent. In 1973 the average wage was $101.50 and the figure in 1977 is $198.70, an increase of 95 per cent. The rates for boners have more than doubled in that period when compared with the average weekly wage. It is also reported that in central Queensland the costs of industrial disputes alone averaged between $20 and $30 a head of all cattle slaughtered, and that $20 or $30 a head comes directly from the producer’s cost.
– What is your authority for that figure?
– That came from the secretary of the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Order! It being 10.30 p.m., in conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 26 May 1977:
– The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question.
There have been important exceptions; for example a few migrant sub-groups ( such as unattached males, arriving as refugees, and living in inner city locations) do have a very high incidence of mental illness. However, native born Australians with a similar lifestyle also have a high incidence of mental illness. Differences can be accounted for, in large part, by experiences prior to migrating and to the general problems of uprooting.
In addition, single persons, have in the absence of family or community support here, developed mental illness requiring hospitalisation.
So far as those who develop mental illness following their arrival in Australia are concerned, there are two broad approaches:
The Minister has taken initiatives which will be aimed both at establishing satisfactory professional standards for translators and interpreters and assisting those seeking suitable qualified persons from overseas.
It is one of the particular responsibilities of the new Ethnic Affairs Branch of the Department, for which staff is now being recruited, to give effect to the Minister’s initiatives. This includes close and continuing liaison with the Department of Health, in addition to the close operational liaison in
Australia and overseas which has been built up over the years.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
Has the Australian Federation of Air Pilots asked the Federal Government to approve the construction of at least one new runway at Brisbane Airport as a matter of urgency; if so, has the Government agreed to the request.
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I am not aware of any recent direct approach to the Government by the Australian Federation of Air Pilots for the provision of a new runway at Brisbane as a matter of urgency. However there have been discussions on a number of occasions between the Australian Federation of Air Pilots and the Department of Transport on the future development of the airport. Senator Colston can be assured that in the current review by the Government on the strategy for the future development of Brisbane Airport the views of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots are being taken into account.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
– The Acting Minister for National Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government’s decision on uranium mining in Australia was announced on Thursday, 25 August 1 977. Full details were provided in the ministerial statements issued at that time.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
– The Acting Minister for National Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government’s decision on uranium mining in Australia was announced on Thursday, 25 August 1 977. Full details were provided in the ministerial statements issued at that time.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
– The Acting Minister for National Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government’s decision on uranium mining in Australia was announced on Thursday, 25 August 1977. Full details were provided in the ministerial statements issued at that time.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
The Government’s decision on uranium mining in Australia was announced on Thursday, 25 August 1977. Full details were provided in the ministerial statements issued at that time.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
The Government’s decision on uranium mining in Australia was announced on Thursday, 25 August 1977. Full details were provided in the ministerial statements issued at that time.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
Has the Government decided its policy on uranium.
Have the Government and its interdepartmental committees finished their study of the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry Second Report (Fox Report); if so, when is the Government likely to implement the following recommendation made in the Fox Report: ‘Legislative action to be taken to enable the Director and the Northern Land Council to enforce environment protection provisions ‘.
If the Government is not going to implement this recommendation, what are the reasons for not doing so.
If this recommendation is not to be implemented, does this not negate this Government’s promise that all possible safeguards in the nuclear industry will be enforced in the event of a go-ahead for the industry in Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
Did any Minister, Government official, or any agent of a Minister or Government official, at any time guarantee a cheque used by Mr Wylie Fancher to purchase a ticket for overseas travel, with a departure date of January 1976, from the Cairns office of an Australian airline; if so, what are the details.
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Neither Trans-Australia Airlines nor Ansett Airlines has any record of Mr Wylie Fancher purchasing an overseas ticket in Cairns for travel in January 1976. However, Mr Fancher did purchase a ticket from TAA in Cairns in January 1976 for travel to Brisbane and return, for which he paid cash. TAA is Qantas ‘s general sales agent.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 17 August 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
In view of the Standing Order providing that a question shall not ask for a legal opinion, I do not propose to answer the honourable senator’s question beyond malting the following comments in relation to part ( 1 ).
Section 6 of the Family Law Act deems polygamous unions in the nature of marriages that have been entered into outside Australia to be marriages only for the purposes of proceedings under the Act The intention was to enable parties to such unions who have the required jurisdictional connection with Australia to be able to obtain matrimonial relief under the Act. The section, which was enacted after the case referred to in the question was decided, is assumed to be a valid enactment.
Indonesia: Political Prisoners on the Island of Bum (Question No. 1214)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs upon notice, on 17 August 1977:
– The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Indonesian Government believes that the question of its policy towards political prisoners is an internal matter. The Australian Government cannot ignore this aspect of the matter in considering how best to make its views known to the Indonesian Government in the most effective way.
The Government has and will continue to take opportunities as they arise to keep the Indonesian Government informed of Australian opinion on this question.
Commonwealth Funds allocated to Queensland Government (Question No. 1272)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer upon notice, on 6 September 1977:
– The Acting Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
General purpose payments to the States- for example, the States’ income tax-snaring grants- are provided to the States for use by them as they see fit. The question of any repayments to the Commonwealth or other recovery action because of shortfalls in State spending does not, therefore, arise in the case of such payments.
In the case of specific purpose payments, Commonwealth payments to the States are administered in such a way that they be neither significantly in advance nor significantly in arrears of the State expenditures to which they relate. Any overpayments which may be made are recovered as they are identified, usually by means of reduced payments in a later period.
The comprehensive information sought by the honourable senator could not be obtained without extensive extraction of data from source documents relating to each particular program or project for which Commonwealth assistance was provided to Queensland since 1972-73. Moreover, it is expected that the results of such a task would show that any unspent Commonwealth specific purpose funds held by Queensland at the dates specified by the honourable senator would in general have been restricted to amounts necessary to finance short-term expenditure requirements of the relevant projects and programs.
In these circumstances it is considered that the very considerable amount of work that would be required to provide the information sought in relation to all programs/projects for which Commonwealth financial assistance has been provided to Queensland is not warranted. However, should the honourable senator have any particular programs/projects in mind it is suggested that he approach the responsible Minister for relevant information in relation to those programs/projects.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice, on 7 September 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Nutt and Muddle and Sons: Alleged breaches of Trade Practices Act (Question No. 1316)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 8 September 1977:
– The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
International Year of the Child (Question No. 1355)
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 22 September 1977:
United Nations resolution relating to the Year of the Child; if so, who are the members.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Government has made a decision to work with both State Governments and voluntary organisations in the celebrations of this Year of the Child.
An announcement will be made on the co-operative arrangements with the States following the negotiations between the Prime Minister and the Premiers. I have also announced that I will make funds available for a secretariat to assist and co-ordinate the effort of voluntary organisations throughout Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 22 September 1977:
What distance can an F-III aircraft fly at speed Mach 2 on a full fuel load.
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I am not prepared to disclose publicly the details of the operational capability of the F-III needed to answer this question fully.
However, some considerations affecting the range of the aircraft follow. The altitude flown and the external weapons load are two of the factors which significantly influence the high speed range of the F-1 1 1. For maximum distance the aircraft is flown at high altitude at subsonic speed. This would give the aircraft a ferry range in excess of 2,500 miles.
During operational employment with external weapons, a high level subsonic cruise with a low level supersonic dash would be a considered profile. The supersonic dash phase could be in excess of 200 miles.
Sugar: Contract with Japan
-On 21 September, 1977, Senator Keeffe asked me a question without notice concerning the long-term sugar contract with Japan. In providing information to the honourable senator, I undertook to ascertain when negotiations might be finalised. It is uncertain how long the negotiations will continue. The Government hopes that a solution, equitable to both parties to the contract, will be found and the negotiations brought to a satisfactory conclusion in the near future.
-On 22 September 1977 Senator Missen asked me the following question without notice:
I refer to a report in the Age of 7 September 1977 which details some confusion regarding the access of the International Red Cross to East Timor. Is the Minister aware that the return of International Red Cross is delayed by reason of the failure of the Indonesian Government to approve the conditions for entry? Has the Minister made any recent representations to the Indonesian Government on the subject and can the Minister disclose any information as to when the International Red Cross will be allowed access to East Timor?
The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I believe that in mid-July a representative of the ICRC talked with the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Mr Malik, in Jakarta.
I understand that despite this meeting the Indonesian Government’s position continued to be that any relief for East Timor must be channelled through and distributed by the Indonesian Red Cross and it has not, therefore, approved the entry of ICRC personnel into East Timor.
The Government’s concern at the suffering and distress in East Timor and its efforts to get the ICRC back into East Timor are a matter of record.
Military Activity in Irian Jaya
-on 22 September 1977 Senator Mcintosh asked me the following question without notice:
Has the Australian Government received reports about increased military activities in Irian Jaya. Is the Papua New Guinea Government or the Indonesian Government informing the Australian Government what is happening. Are reports correct that up to 1,500 people have crossed the border from Irian Jaya into the Sepik River district. Can the Minister advise the Senate of the current position.
The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s question:
West Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. On 22 September the Acting Secretary of Papua New Guinea’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a statement in which he said that the news report concerning the crossing of 1,200 to 1,500 West Irianese into Papua New Guinea during the past few weeks ‘was totally false and misleading’. He said that his Government had looked into the report and had concluded that the report ‘could not be confirmed because there were no such crossings involving that large number of Irianese’. He said that, besides the isolated case of three Irianese crossing the border near Wutung ‘there had been no other reported crossings in the last few weeks’.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 October 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1977/19771011_senate_30_s75/>.