30th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.55 p.m., and read prayers.
-I present the following petition from 20 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That it has come to our knowledge that Mrs Joan Kirner, a member of the Schools Commission, has been subjected to grossly unfair and unfounded criticism for carrying out her duties as a member of that Commission.
That this criticism has been aimed at forcing Mrs Kirner to remain silent when we believe it is her duty to speak out.
That Mrs Kirner has the complete confidence of the Australian Council of State Schools Organisations which body she represents, as well as that of your humble petitioners.
We therefore ask that the Government and the Minister for Education take notice of the splendid work done by Mrs Joan Kirner in her capacity as part-time member of the Schools Commission.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 374 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth that:
We are the fringe dwellers of the metropolitan area asking for your support in our fight for existence as Aboriginal people on the Continent of Australia.
We would like you to sign this petition which will be taken on this journey of ours from the west coast of Australia to Parliament House, Canberra to the Minister for the Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Viner.
This petition is for a fair deal and better living conditions on land of our own. That is our desires.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
-I present the following petition from 5 1 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate assembled, the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That many pensioners who are holders of the Pensioners Health Benefit Card, have suffered undue hardship as inmates of Private Nursing Homes, because the Federal Government subsidy was insufficient to meet the charges as laid down.
Many pensioners whose spouse was an inmate of the Private Nursing Homes suffered poverty in an endeavour to sustain their partner while in the nursing home.
Only in rare cases was the statutory minimum patient contribution as laid down adhered to.
That the telephone was a matter of life and death to many pensioners, but because of the cost of installation of the telephone many are unable to afford the installation.
That those pensioners who have only their pension and very little else to live on and are forced to pay high rents, are in many cases living in extreme poverty.
The foregoing facts impel your petitioners to ask the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to:
. Make sure that subsidies paid to Private Nursing Homes are such that each pensioner holding a Pensioners Health Benefit Card will pay the Private Nursing Home no more than the statutory minimum patient contribution, which will allow six dollars per week to be retained by the pensioner patient for their personal use.
That a pensioner holding a Pensioner Health Benefit Card shall have a telephone installed free of charge, or at a very nominal charge.
That those pensioners who have only their pension and very little else to live on, shall receive a subsidy to assist them. The subsidy to be governed by a means test.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 84 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the delays between the announcements of each quarterly movement in the Consumer-Price Index and their application as a percentage increase in age and invalid pensions is excessive, unnecessary, discriminatory and a cause of economic distress.
That proposals to amend the Consumer Price Index by eliminating particular items from the Index could adversely affect the value of future increases in aged and invalid pensions and thus be a cause of additional economic hardship to pensioners.
The foregoing facts impel your petitioners to ask the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to:
Require each quarterly percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index to be applied to age and invalid and similar pensions as from the pension pay day nearest following the date of announcement of the CPI movement.
Give an open assurance to all aged and invalid pensioners that any revision of the items comprising the Consumer Price Index will in no way result in reductions in the value of any future entitlements to pensioners.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 17 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:
Technical and Further Education has been a neglected area of education for many years. Inadequate funds over many years has prevented improvement and renewal of obsolete and decaying buildings. For example in the Newcastle Technical College the buildings at the Wood Street and at the Hunter Street sites are a far cry from the generally good standard found at the Tighes Hill campus. Shortages of funds have precluded reasonable maintenance programs on buildings that are otherwise quite satisfactory.
We recognise the urgent need to develop the technology and training of sufficient skilled persons to meet Australia’s future needs and call upon the Federal Government to make urgent immediate action by providing a massive injection of funds into the TAFE area to improve both student accommodation and to provide much needed modern training equipment.
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 in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Objection to the Metric system and request the Government to restore the Imperial system.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Missen and Senator Sim.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That many pensioners who are holders of the Pensioners Health Benefit Card, have suffered undue hardship as inmates of Private Nursing Homes, because the Federal Government subsidy was insufficient to meet the charges as laid down.
Many pensioners whose spouse was an inmate of the Private Nursing Homes suffered poverty in an endeavour to sustain their partner while in the nursing home.
Only in rare cases was the statutory minimum patient contribution as laid down adhered to.
That the telephone was a matter of life and death to many pensioners, but because of the cost of installation of the telephone many are unable to afford the installation.
That those pensioners who have only their pension and very little else to live on and are forced to pay high rents, are in many cases living in extreme poverty.
The foregoing facts impel your petitioners to ask the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Lajovic, Senator Gietzelt and Senator Bishop.
Notice of Motion
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to the admissibility of business records in evidence in proceedings in Federal courts.
– Do you wish to ask that question now?
-In the context of the business of the Senate.
– Will you please seek leave now?
– I ask for leave to make a statement relating to the business of the Senate.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
- Mr President, I rise to my feet for one reason and one reason only, and that is to ask that you might provide the Senate with the answer to the question I propose to ask, or perhaps the Leader of the Government in the Senate should assume the responsibility of answering or responding to the matters that I now propose to raise. The sessional orders lay down when the Senate shall meet. A great number of senators, including myself, who were engaged in other business returned to the Parliament in order to attend upon our duties as senators sitting in this place in accordance with sessional orders. We discovered when we arrived here that in fact the business of the Senate was not to proceed as scheduled because of other arrangements that apparently had been made. I therefore ask whether an explanation should be given of how the sessional orders of the Senate were suspended to enable this to be carried out.
– I must indicate to Senator Sir Magnus Cormack and all honourable senators that the deferment of the ringing of the bells today was due to the time taken in a reception given to a very important visiting dignitary and his party. His Royal Highness Prince Hassan of Jordan and his party were our guests. In the process of serving there were some delays because of a fault in a lift. That led to the deferring of the calling together of the Senate. It was a situation which was embarrassing to me personally and I seek the indulgence of honourable senators for the deferment, which I felt was unavoidable. I must point out that it has happened in the past. It is not desired that it happen often. On this occasion I felt that it was quite within reason to defer temporarily the calling together of the Senate.
-Mr President, with your permission and with the permission of honourable senators, may I say that I do not wish in any way to cast any aspersions on the decision which, in the circumstances in which you found yourself, you were forced to make. However, I point out, and I do so with the greatest of respect, that the Senate is master of its own business and produces its own sessional orders by which it can conduct its own business. I suggest with great humbleness, as a man who once occupied your chair, that no Presiding Officer can suspend the business of the Senate simply because of the reasons and requirements of Ministers of State who are involved inside the parliamentary area in offering hospitality, which I have not the slightest doubt was quite appropriate but which interferes with the business of the Parliament. The business of the Parliament is paramount, and I suggest with great respect that no action of the nature you found yourself forced to accede to should take place without the consent of honourable senators sitting in their places.
– I must say that Presiding Officers for many years have used a discretion in respect of the calling together of this place. This has happened before, and in circumstances such as this which are most unusual. However, I must point out that the discretion has been exercised through the years by Presiding Officers in this and in the other place.
-I ask the Minister for Social Security: Will she tell the Parliament, and in fact the people of this country, the Government’s intentions with regard to the payment of unemployment benefit to workers stood down because of industrial action in Victoria, the payment of unemployment benefit to school leavers during the coming Christmas holidays, whether legislation will be introduced to exclude school leavers, and on what date school leavers will become eligible for unemployment benefit, if that is to be the case?
– The Government has been giving consideration to the eligibility of persons claiming unemployment benefit as a result of industrial action in Victoria. At present my colleague the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations is in a meeting with the National Labour Consultative Council. When he returns from that meeting I expect that the Government will be able to make an announcement with regard to unemployment arising from the Victorian dispute. As far as unemployment benefit for school leavers is concerned, I expect to be able to make an announcement shortly about that matter also.
– I address my question to the Minister for Education and refer to comments made today on the AM program in which the author of a book on finding a job blamed the schools for, I think the words were, churning out people who have no idea how to seek employment, and claimed that many of them were illequipped and unrealistic. I ask the Minister: Has his office done any research on this matter, which seems to be associated with deficiencies in the literacy and numeracy area? If not, can his Ministry initiate moves to close this serious gap in our very expensive education program? Wm” the Minister confer with appropriate authorities to ensure that students and other people who are furnished with certificates and degrees at least have some capacity in communication, practical ideals, and a responsible idea of what they want to do?
-Significant evidence is emerging to suggest that schools and colleges do not sufficiently equip students to present themselves in the important transition from school or college to work. There is evidence of insufficient career advice and vocational guidance throughout the education system and of a growing need for such counselling and advice. There is evidence of a need for an increase in work experience projects and work observation projects. Senator Davidson asked what has been done. The Senate will be aware that the Commonwealth Government invited the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to make a study in Australia on the subject of transition from school to work. That was done and the report is now under study. The Australian Education Council set up a working party on the same subject of transition from school to work. That matter has been under study and will be the subject of discussion by the six State Education Ministers and myself when we meet in Canberra in early November. I repeat that Senator Davidson’s question is a profoundly important one. It is a matter that we will need to study and consider, at both State and Commonwealth levels, to see how better we can provide career or vocational guidance services at schools, but even more importantly, how we can train young people to present themselves when seeking a job.
– My question is directed to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs. Is it a fact that the success of Mr Wran’s Budget brought down last night is due mainly to Mr Wran’s preparedness to use $2 30m worth of idle reserves which were being held by various statutory authorities in New South Wales? Is it also a fact that those reserves, plus the $110m worth of reserves used in the New South Wales Budget last year, were accumulated by statutory authorities in New South Wales in the years 1974 and 1975, when the Federal Labor Government increased payments to that State by 50 per cent and 30 per cent respectively?
-Senator Wriedt makes the statement that Mr Wran’s Budget is a success. Let me simply say that those unemployed teachers who were given an election promise that all unemployed teachers would get a job would regard it as a great non-success, seeing that Mr Wran falls short by several thousand of keeping that promise. It may be judged by a number of bench marks. For example, the Budget reveals that there is a cut of some 20 per cent in the intake of student trainees. Those who want to be trainee teachers would regard it as being a nonsuccess.
If we direct ourselves to the overall picture, we find that the capacity of Mr Wran to balance his Budget is the same as that of the Premiers of the other five States. I am happy to say that the media universally throughout Australia are now focussing on the real solution to this matter. This morning the newspapers drew attention to the fact that the capacity of the Wran Government and other governments to balance their Budgets, to increase their programs as they have done, is due in no small measure, indeed in large measure, to the success of the federalism policies of the Commonwealth Government. That is not merely my statement; it is the commentary of the main media in Australia today.
As to whether or not reserves have been accumulated, the fact is that all State governments accumulate reserves. Willingness or otherwise to use those reserves is a matter for the governments themselves. I do not believe that the availability of those reserves is any indication at all of the abundance of funds in the Whitlam Government days. If that were so, one would have to say that throughout Australia the State governments which were all forced to put up taxes heavily during the Whitlam regime were doing so while possessing an abundance of funds. It is a matter for Senator Wriedt to tell the Senate whether that is what he is saying. The fact is that over the three years of the Whitlam Government the State governments all said, and said very vocally, that they were so starved of revenue funds that they were forced to double or even treble their taxes and charges. That does not indicate that any surplus lay around during the three years of the Whitlam Government.
- Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question. I ask Senator Carrick as a first question whether he would deny that payments to the States during the Whitlam era were two and three times their present level. I also ask him whether he will deny stories we have heard from him in this Senate for weeks and months about increases in general purpose payments to the States- that increases in general purpose payments to New South Wales this year are one per cent of the New South Wales Budget over the amount New South Wales would have received under the old formula under the Labor Government? Is the Minister suggesting that one per cent of the New South Wales Budget would be a significant amount towards helping Mr Wran balance his Budget? I also ask him, in view of his comments about the Press, whether he read the editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald which said this:
With the Commonwealth firmly holding back the growth of its general purpose capital grants -
– Order! Senator Wriedt, I would be grateful if you would confine your question to an immediate extension of information based on your first question.
- Mr President, with respect to you, I have asked a question, as I have done on many occasions here, on a matter which I think is important to the Commonwealth and to the States. On every occasion the Minister uses my question as a vehicle to get onto other subjects. With respect, he is allowed to do so. I repeat my question: Has the Minister seen the editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald which has this to say:
With the Commonwealth firmly holding back the growth of its general purpose grants and making big cuts in some of its specific purpose capital grants, the task has not been easy.
This economic silk purse -
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. My point of order is that it is long-standing Senate practice that an honourable senator who is asking a question and quoting from a newspaper article must vouch for the accuracy of that quotation. I suggest that you ask Senator Wriedt whether he can vouch for the accuracy of his quotation.
- Mr President, I wish to speak to the point of order. I had no intention of quoting from a newspaper. The Minister invited the Senate to look at newspaper editorials. I am doing so for his benefit.
– I point out that in asking questions it is very desirable not to quote directly from any newspaper.
-Senator Wriedt has asked what he says are supplementary questions. I am bound to point out in my reply that his supplementary questions bear no relationship whatsoever to his primary questions. I can happily vouch for the accuracy of the newspaper editorials from which I will now read. The first is from the Australian of today’s date. It says:
This, surely, puts in question the validity of their - that is, the States- continued complaints that the Federal Government is starving them of funds.
In other words, that editorial shows that the balanced Budgets and the excess revenues are due to federalism itself. Senator Wriedt invited me to direct my attention to the Sydney Morning Herald. I direct my attention to the finance section of the Sydney Morning Herald of Monday of this week, which stated that the Fraser Government’s new federalism is ‘quite generous’. I point out these things: No matter how much the Labor Opposition in the Senate may cavil, the fact that for two years in succession now- the first two years of the Fraser Government- every State government has been able to cut its taxes substantially, balance its Budget and increase its programs is evidence of the success of federalism.
The fact that during the three years of intense centralism by the Whitlam Government the States were not able to cut taxes, in fact were forced to double and treble taxes, and the Commonwealth trebled its take in personal income tax indicates the failure of centralism. Incidentally, underlying the whole of what Senator Wriedt is saying must be one thing, namely, that the Labor Party in government would abolish today’s federalism and return to centralism. It is important that the people of Australia understand the implications of what Senator Wriedt is saying, both in this respect and in respect of local government. A Federal Labor government would return to the bad old days of Whitlam centralism and Whitlam ‘s grabbing at the powers of the States.
– My question is directed to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs. It relates to the question asked by Senator Wriedt. Did the New South Wales Budget brought in last night in fact increase State expenditure while allegedly easing some State taxes? Did the Budget in fact reduce or enlarge the tax base in New South Wales? Can the Minister clarify for the Senate where the extra funds which New South Wales has enjoyed have come from in the last year?
– The Wran Government has said that it has not increased taxes. However, the take from stamp duty has risen by 13 per cent; from payroll tax by 10 per cent and from land tax by 1 1 per cent. If I understand Senator Baume’s question to be whether the effect has been to increase the take of taxes, the answer is abundantly yes. There are a number of presentational problems in claiming that it is a successful Budget. It is a successful Budget in that it has brought out, as has Senator Wriedt, the fact that there was an abundance of finance available to the State. Senator Wriedt has been helpful in revealing that that amount of money was around. Mr Wran’s Budget is presentationally inaccurate in a number of its points.
– Is the Minister for Administrative Services aware that there is growing concern within the community, particularly in provincial, regional and rural centres, about the failure of the Government to make a policy statement on its attitude to any of the recommendations of the Horton Committee of Inquiry into Public Libraries which tendered its report to the Government as long ago as February 1976? Did that Committee recommend to the Government that in the first instance an amount of over $19m should be spent in the first half of the last financial year as a start towards bringing libraries in Australia up to an accepted international standard? Is it a fact that no money was made available by the Government last financial year and again this financial year for that purpose and that no statement has been made yet by the Minister or by the Government? When can we expect some action by the Government on this nationally important question, one that is of great concern to a growing number of Australians?
-The honourable senator will be informed of the Government’s decisions on this matter when the Government has made its decisions and not before. It is very easy for governments to set up committees and for committees then to tell governments how to spend large lumps of money. But what has always interested me is that the committees bear no responsibility for raising that money. They seem to have some interesting philosophy- I suppose they are like the Australian Labor Party- that somehow or other money either grows on trees or there is a great big chest of it over in the Treasury.
– Bill Wentworth thinks there is money around.
– There are a number of people around who have very peculiar financial attitudes. That is why honourable senators opposite employed Khemlani, for instance. They thought that he would get money out of monkey nuts and potato chips. Honourable senators opposite have always been interested in funny money men, Iraqi breakfasts, Khemlani kickbacks and all sorts of things. Therefore they have a great deal of interest and knowledge about this matter. I must say that my knowledge about these sorts of people is very limited.
I repeat that it is terribly easy to set up committees of inquiries which will always advise governments that anything can be cured by spending vast amounts of somebody else’s money, but those committees never seem to grasp the nettle and tell governments how to get that money without compulsorily taking it from the taxpayers. The honourable senator says that no money is provided this year and that none was provided last year. That is quite correct. But the honourable senator should know by now that this Government does not make those brilliant, rapid decisions which were so much a feature of the Whitlam Government- made overnight in kitchen cabinets and all sorts of interesting places. It takes a little longer to make decisions. But when we do things, we do them thoroughly and properly and in the best interests of the nation. That is what we intend to do about this report.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Is it a fact that Scotland’s most famous export, Scotch whisky, is subject to quotas in Australia? If that is correct, is the reason for the imposition of the quotas to protect Australian whisky producers? Is it also a fact that Australian whisky producers are largely owned by overseas liquor interests? Does the Minister, from his personal expert knowledge, believe that Australian whisky is a suitable equivalent to Scotch whisky?
-The first three parts of the question are factually quite correct. I do not need to repeat them. The last part of the question in which the honourable senator talked about my personal knowledge of Scotch whisky is really directed to me in the most complimentary way. I am not really a great expert on Scotch whisky. I have not drunk great quantities of it, nor have I drunk great quantities of Australian whisky. I tend to be a beer drinker. I have a little experience of whisky, both Scotch and Australian. It is interesting to note that Senator Button has shrunk in size from drinking Australian whisky throughout his life. When I was in Thailand in 1966 I had a drink of a whisky called Golden Kangaroo, and I have to tell honourable senators that without any doubt it is the worst whisky. I cannot vouch for the best, but it is certainly the worst. My grandfather, who lived to the age of 88, drank a bottle of whisky a day and ate a lettuce a day. I recommend the same course of action to everbody.
– I think my question would be appropriately directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is the Federal Government taking an active interest in the inquiry being conducted by Sir Gregory Gowans, Q.C., into the several extraordinary land deals between the Victorian Housing Commission and other persons? If not, why not, having regard to the fact that a large proportion, if not the whole of the money which has changed hands, involving astronomical commissions to some individuals, would be money from Commonwealth Government grants to the State Government of Victoria for urgent public housing?
-It is an interesting suggestion by the honourable senator. As I understand it, most of those land deals were made with money- if it was Commonwealth money- supplied by the Government of which the honourable senator was a supporter. It would therefore appear that if there is any negligence or incompetence, if that is what the honourable senator is alleging, it ought to come back to the previous Federal Government which was giving money away and not knowing what it was doing. If the honourable senator has some information or knowledge that Commonwealth funds have been improperly spent I would be pleased to receive it and I am quite certain that the Prime Minister would be pleased to receive it, but as I understand it, none of the deals in question were made during the life of this Government.
I can, of course, understand why the honourable senator is raising the matter. It must be a great disappointment to the honourable senator that in spite of all the actions of the Opposition Labor Party in the State of Victoria through all of the wild allegations which it has made against the Hamer Government, none of them so far have been able to stick. Now that the Labor Party is in such a terrible mess over bringing the whole of Victoria to a standstill over an industrial issue which should not exist, and Labor supporters are being terribly hurt both financially and otherwise, it is quite obvious that this question is being asked again today to try to put a smokescreen over the problems and difficulties which the trade union movement is causing the citizens of Victoria.
-Mr President, I seek permission to ask a supplementary question.
-May I say, Mr President, and I say this with respect to the Minister, that my question was asked in good faith. I do not appreciate the politicking that was involved in the answer to a genuine question. Will the Minister be good enough to allow me to place the question on notice so that an appropriate answer can be given to a genuine question?
-I accept the honourable senator’s explanation that the question was asked in good faith. If I said anything that offended turn personally, I apologise. If the honourable senator places the question on notice I will endeavour to get him the best information that I can.
- Mr President, my question is directed to you. I ask whether it has been drawn to your attention that a Cattlemen’s Union memorandum was placed in the Press boxes yesterday and that it read as follows:
Australian Labor Party Rural Committee has invited Cattlemen’s Union of Australia to hold discussions with Committee this evening. Union’s National Director Mr Barry Cassell would be available 8.00 p.m.; Senate Committee Room No. 4 should the discussions be of any interest.
I do not for a moment, of course, suggest that there might have been any interest. Nevertheless, could you, Mr President, inform honourable senators whether permission was sought to hold such interviews, with whom and at what place and time any interviews took place? Could you also confirm that it is still the practice, as indicated to me by your predecessor in this chamber on 22 October 1975, that when requests of this nature have been made for interviews with persons other than parliamentarians within Parliament House, such requests be refused?
– I will look into the question which has been raised by the honourable senator and bring down a reply. I am not aware of the details of the matter at all but I will reply to the question.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Government has seen fit to supply all primary and secondary schools in Victoria with sets of the papers put out as the Government’s uranium decision and tabled as such in this Parliament. I ask, therefore: Are all schools in Australia being supplied with this material? What is the cost to the Government in supplying such material which gives its side of the uranium question?
-I have no direct knowledge whether schools are being supplied with the material. I accept the honourable senator’s assurance that the material is being supplied to all schools in Victoria, I take it.
– I know of Victoria only.
-Yes. I will have inquiries made on that matter. I will inquire from my Department as to the cost of the whole of the exercise.
-I will certainly take this matter up with the Prime Minister. If what the honourable senator says is happening, certainly some action will be taken. I invite the honourable senator, after Question Time, to give me details of this matter. I also isue an open invitation to any other honourable senator who has been treated in this manner to let me know about it. It really is part of the Government’s policy that Ministers are here to be helpful to honourable senators. I would hope that not only Ministers but all Ministerial staff in this Government would always extend courtesy, help and assistance to any honourable senator or honourable member in this place who applies for it. I hope that telephones are being answered promptly and courteously. Therefore, I invite not only the honourable senator who asked the question but also any other honourable senator who may have complaints in this area to let me know about them. They will certainly be followed up.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the Government has made a submission for consideration at the Borroloola land rights hearing which commenced in Darwin recently. Is it a fact that the submission is similar to that lodged by Mount Isa Mines Ltd and in direct opposition to the case for land rights made out by the Aborigines concerned? Was the submission drafted by the Minister for Aboriginal
Affairs, Mr Viner, or was this action taken without Mr Viner’s knowledge? Is the Minister prepared to table a copy of the document to which I refer?
-I will have to refer that question to the Prime Minister. I have no personal knowledge of it. The honourable senator will understand that I cannot give an undertaking to table a document for which I do not have direct ministerial responsibility. I will seek the information for him.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce or perhaps the Minister representing the Minister ibr Foreign Affairs. I refer to a report this morning which announced a proposed exchange of personnel between Australia and Jordan to assist Jordan in agricultural industry and science. Is the Minister able to give more details on the matter to the Senate?
-I shall answer on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs. As I understand it, agreement has been reached but I am not quite certain that the agreement has been reduced to writing. I will make inquiries of my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, for the honourable senator and let him have the information as early as possible.
-I direct a question to the Minister for Social Security. The Minister is well aware that there is a great deal of concern among organisations and people who have read the Press this morning in respect of proposals that are being discussed today by the National Labour Consultative Council, including the South Australian Council of Social Service which has sent messages to members of the Opposition. Is it a fact that one of the proposals that presently are being discussed is a proposal to refuse to pay unemployment benefit to people who are stood down in any circumstances of industrial disputation, even though they are not directly involved in or connected with the dispute? The Minister would be aware of the discussions taking place with her colleague. I ask: Are the recommendations that will flow from the meeting of the Council again to be considered by the Government or has the Council been told to expect and to accept the recommendations that have been widely reported in the Press, which would further restrict the conditions now applying to the payment of unemployment benefit?
– I am aware of the widespread interest in the matter that is being discussed by Mr Street with the National Labour Consultative Council today. I will not be able to make any statement until his return from those discussions. As soon as I am able to do so I will make a statement with regard to the eligibility for unemployment benefit of those who have been affected by the industrial disputes in Victoria. I believe that for me to make any further statement at this stage would be improper, in view of the discussions which Mr Street is having and which he wished to have with the NLCC before any Government decision was announced.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I refer to the domestic air fare situation under which airlines charge an additional amount if a person stays overnight at any place. I ask: Is the Minister aware that the only way in which to make some connections is to stay overnight at an intermediate stopover point? Is the Minister aware that on occasions a person who is on his way from Sydney to Hobart may need to fly from Sydney to Melbourne with Trans-Australia Airlines and then from Melbourne to Hobart with Ansett Airlines of Australia as that is the only way of getting there on time and that that person will be charged an additional amount for doing so? That, added to bus fares, hotel costs and so on, makes an overnight stay, if such is required, most prohibitive to many people. Will the Minister suggest to the Minister for Transport that he ask the airlines and his Department to examine the possibility of the equalisation of air fares so that each segment of a flight bears the same cost irrespective of whether it is part of a longer trip or is completed on any one day?
– I must say in response to Senator Townley ‘s question that I was not aware of the phenomenon that he described. If I had thought of it I would have thought that a continuous fare was segmented for the whole journey. Accepting the basis of his question, I will direct a question to the Minister in another place regarding the possibility of achieving the equalisation that he described.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. I refer to the Minister’s answer to a question asked of him by me on 6 October, to which he referred yesterday in answering a question from Senator Douglas
McClelland and wherein he stated that refugees were the cause of the increased demand for English language instruction by the Adult Education Migrant Service. Is the Minister aware that 1,000 people are presently on the waiting lists of the Adult Education Migrant Service in New South Wales to learn English and that most of those people come from the traditional countries and have been in Australia for periods varying between five and ten years? Is the Minister aware that the number of refugees from countries such as Timor and Vietnam who are seeking to learn English is only a minor proportion of those presently on the waiting lists to learn English? In view of the Minister’s statements last Thursday and again yesterday, can he explain why an application for $250,000 for teaching equipment for the New South Wales Adult Education Migrant Service has been rejected by the Federal Government?
– From recollection, I said in answer to a series of questions some days ago that one of the factors was the new type of migrant, particularly the refugee migrant. I also said that, sadly, the growing unemployment which emerged from 1974 onwards had caused migrants to seek to find a way of entering this course. The backlag of migrants entering courses is no new phenomenon at all. There was a backlag during the time of the Whitlam Government. The numbers of migrants seeking to learn the English language through this course have always exceeded the capacity to accommodate them. What I have said and what I repeat is that the Commonwealth Government set out to provide in its current Budget a sum, in real money terms, equal at least to last year; that there was evidence that New South Wales in particular had embarked upon courses in excess of that; and that I had taken the initiative to make a small amount of additional money available. I am looking at the whole question. I am not aware of the specific application for $250,000. I accept Senator Sibraa ‘s statement that that is so. I have the matter under review at the moment. It is like every other item in a Budget which seeks to reduce to manageable non-inflationary terms a deficit which has soared in the past. It is subject, of course, to the relative inflexibility of cost control. To the extent that we can, we will provide finance.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Science. I refer to the increasing importance of oceanography to Australia, particularly since the extension of the ocean limit to 200 nautical miles. Can the Minister indicate whether the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation proposes taking an extended interest in physical oceanography? Will the Minister give urgent consideration to the advantages of establishing an Australian institute of physical oceanography or, alternatively, extending the Australian Institute of Marine Science to include a special department of physical oceanography?
-The question is quite important. I believe it probably prompts Australia to take more action than it has in the past in this discipline of science. As the honourable senator indicated, with a declared 200- nautical mile limit the interest of oceanography for this country will become far greater than it is today. The answer to the honourable senator’s question is basically yes. For a number of years CSIRO has planned to increase its activities in oceanographic research. It is my belief and I understand it is that of CSIRO that the total Australian commitment to oceanography is far too small at present. As part of CSIRO ‘s plan it has sought to develop an open ocean research capability through the chartering of vessels. It has been proposed for some eight years now to build a vessel for oceanographic work.
It is of importance and interest that CSIRO is currently concluding arrangements for the charter of a 43-metre vessel for oceanographic purposes. That is quite a large vessel and will involve quite a large bill for the Australian people to pick up. We are extending our research in eastern Australian waters. The suggested establishment of an Australian institute of physical oceanography is quite responsible. I imagine that if it were adequately funded it would be one way to stimulate research in this area. The Australian Science and Technology Council is examining all aspects of marine science at present.
The honourable senator commented on the aims of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. As the honourable senator knows, that Institute has been established near Townsville and is working mainly on the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. I will take note of his request that its work be extended, but that is unlikely to occur for a few years.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. I refer to the headline in today’s Australian Financial Review which states: ‘Power Settlement Looms’, and similar headlines which have appeared today in all the daily newspapers. I ask the Minister. Is the looming power settlement the result of any rhetoric, threat, bluster, initiative or intervention by the Federal Government or is it in fact the result of the intervention by conciliation of the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, as was suggested by the Opposition ten days ago?
– I have not seen the headlines in the Australian Financial Review or any other newspaper this morning but I am very pleased to hear that there is some confidence that a settlement of this dispute is looming. That may or may not be a fair estimate. Certainly there has been some promising activity in the last day or so. Nevertheless, as I understand it, the final decision is yet to be made and is certainly some days away. The fact of the matter is that this dispute has been allowed to get out of control by a complete lack of leadership by trade union leaders, including Mr Hawke, who should have been principally responsible for taking charge of this dispute at a far earlier stage. Perhaps if he had done that, he would have been entitled to take some credit if in fact the dispute is settled in the near future, as has been suggested by Senator Button. However, it is only in the last few days, when the State Electricity Commission, the Victorian Government and the Commonwealth Government have indicated that they are not prepared to tolerate indefinitely the continuance of this type of activity, that it has been possible for people now to predict an early end to the strike.
-I ask a question of the Minister for Administrative Services relating to a report today that last year the number of public servants retiring through ill health doubled. Is the Minister aware of the reasons for that increase? If not, will he seek an explanation and report on it? In particular, will the Minister advise whether or not the current retirement provisions encourage early retirement if a medical certificate of poor health can be obtained?
-I have never believed that work killed anybody. Worry might, but I do not think anybody suffers -
– This Government is worrying them.
-I realise that members on the Opposition side of the Parliament cannot stand the idea of work. They have all got a ten till three mentality and that is about all it is. Questions were asked on this subject during the hearings of Estimates Committee A when representatives of the Public Service Board appeared before that Committee. If my memory serves me correctly, the Public Service Board undertook to obtain some figures. Whether or not they have been provided I cannot recall. However, the honourable senator has asked an interesting question and I will certainly attempt to get as detailed a reply as possible. I will ensure that the reply also takes up the honourable senator’s question as to whether or not the increase in retirement through ill health has occurred since the more generous retirement, provisions were inserted in the Act.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Has the Minister instituted any investigations into the allegations in the Sydney Sun on 6 October that the owners of a half-way house, a Balmain boarding house, Mr Ken Lane and his wife Kit, compelled some SO inmates to have blood tests against their will and would not make the results of the tests available? Was the purpose of the blood tests to enable a particular doctor to recover pathology fees from Medibank? What would such blood tests cost Medibank? Was that action a fraud under the Act relating to Medibank?
– I am unaware whether the Minister for Health has made investigations into the allegations that have been outlined in the question asked by Senator Cavanagh. I am also unaware whether the State Department of Health has some interest in some of the matters mentioned. However, I shall draw it to the attention of the Minister ibr Health to see whether some report can be provided. I think I can assure the honourable senator that fraud or things of the kind that were outlined in his question are not part of the Medibank arrangements under which assistance is given for medical services.
– I ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether he can indicate the current stage of the proposed legislation with regard to travel agents. Further, will the Minister indicate briefly the nature of the proposed legislation?
-The legislation was discussed at a meeting of Tourist Ministers quite recently. At that meeting we agreed that draft legislation would be submitted first of all to our State colleagues for their general view as to how it ought to proceed. That is now taking place. Once that is concluded I can show the draft legislation in general form to people in the Federal Parliament who are concerned with the tourist industry.
– I address a question to the Minister for Administrative Services, Senator Withers, as one of those humble senators who are here shortly after 8 o’clock in the morning. I ask the Minister to refresh his memory on an assurance he gave me as to publicising the electoral rights of people from the 35 countries that make up the British Commonwealth of Nations. I ask the Minister whether he can update the information as to what effort has been made to alert such people, particularly Cypriots, who are potential voters in the coming byelection on Saturday?
-I have been looking through my brief but I cannot find a poster which has been designed in co-operation with the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I understand that an initial poster has gone up. It is now regarded as not being sufficiently eyecatching and noticeable. I think it is being redesigned in a more colourful style than in the black and white Government Printer style. I shall have a copy delivered to Senator Mulvihill’s office soon after Question Time to give him an idea of the layout of the information we are giving. I have looked at the poster. I think it is to be printed not only in English but also in a certain number of other languages. I will check as to the languages in which it is to be printed. I think that as a result of the question which he has asked, Senator Mulvihill has done a lot of migrants in Australia a great service in alerting them to their electoral rights. I certainly thank him for bringing this matter to our attention.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations whether he can say what action the Government is taking regarding the new rules introduced by the Builders Labourers Federation to prohibit right wing members from standing for union office.
-At the moment I have no advice about the new rules to which Senator Walters has referred. I am aware that there was a recent election to the position of Federal Secretary of the Builders Labourers Federation, that some dispute has now arisen about that election and that proceedings have been instituted in the
Federal court regarding alleged irregularities. As the matter is now sub judice I do not think I should add anything further.
-Is the Minister for Social Security aware of reports circulating in Victoria of the serious financial plight of sheltered workshops for the handicapped? Is it a fact that due to the economic downturn these workshops are having difficulty in attracting paying contracts and that some are in danger of having to close down?
– I have not had drawn to my attention any difficulties in sheltered workshops because of lack of contracts. I shall make urgent inquiries into this matter to see what assistance is required and whether any assistance is able to be given by the Government to the sheltered workshops if they are in difficult circumstances. I regard the work done in the sheltered workshops as one of the most important aspects of our work. They enable handicapped persons to undertake gainful employment. In conjunction with my colleague, Senator Withers, we have looked at ways in which government contracts may be able to be directed to sheltered workshops to assist them in the variety and diversity of work that is obtainable. I certainly shall institute urgent inquiries, following Senator Primmer ‘s question to me today.
– I address my question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I draw his attention to a draft report published last month by the Industries Assistance Commission on ball bearings, which states:
Sheltered from import competition for most of the postwar period, local manufacturers have generally failed to match the increasing efficiency of overseas producers.
Will the Minister ensure that future tariff protection for ball bearing manufacturers will be available only on condition that this mainly overseas owned industry is upgraded in efficiency and investment to overseas standards?
– I read the Industries Assistance Commission report and also various comments on it. I think the Commission observed that it might be better to assist the industry with some form of subsidy than with a tariff arrangement. That is being taken into account by the Government in considering the report. Draft reports are designed to enable the situation to be commented upon by people in general, the industry in particular, consumers, importers and the unions concerned. When that process has taken place the final report is concluded and is then considered by the Government to determine what its position should be. That will be done in regard to ball bearings. The points Senator Hall has raised will be taken seriously, as they would have been anyway. Whatever the IAC recommends in the way of assistance or change or adjustment the Government takes seriously, reserving to itself the final right to make the judgment.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. It is based upon a number of years’ research on this subject. For the purposes of my question it is necessary to point out that the current Australian $5 note shows a picture of a two-masted sailing brig named Waverley. It also shows a picture of the great social worker, Caroline Chisholm, and a number of people with whom she was associated during the convict era. Is the Minister aware that the picture of the ship Waverley appearing on the $5 note shows the brig Waverley of 216 tons launched at Yarmouth in 1863 and wrecked at the Don Heads at Devonport in 1880, whereas it was intended to be the barque Waverley of 436 tons built in Whitby in 1838 and closely associated with the work of Caroline Chisholm in bringing to Australia the wives of convicts during the 1840s? Because it is important that we take the first opportunity to avoid errors and distortions in recording our history, particularly when it relates to currency in daily use, will the Minister urge the Treasurer to take immediate steps to ensure that the three-masted barque Waverley replaces on the $5 note the two-masted brig Waverley which had no association with the convict era or the work of Caroline Chisholm?
-That piece of nautical history and information about our early forebears was really very interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was sorry when the honourable senator stopped. I certainly shall direct that matter to the Treasurer. If the honourable senator has any particular problem with his $5 notes, I will buy them now for $3 each.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. If the note is tabled, as was suggested by some honourable senators, is the honourable senator tabling the note able to retrieve it or does it remain the property of the Senate?
– I assure honourable senators that the Senate retains its papers.
-I direct a question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Is it a fact that the Federal Government intends to set up a travel and tourist industry advisory council within his Department? If so, what Will be the role of this council? Will members of the council be Commonwealth public servants or will they be drawn from the travel industry?
-The formation of such a travel, accommodation and tourist advisory council was discussed at the meeting held recently with representatives from the whole industry and the Tourism Ministers including the Northern Territory Minister who was a great help in the discussions. I think I said then that it would consist of people from the industry, people from the unions and people who came from the department concerned, which is my Department. As always, the people from the Department will be in the minority compared with those people who will come from the industry, the unions and other areas associated with the industry. That practice will be the same as in the past.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I ask: Is the Minister aware of a statement that the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, Mr Eric Robinson, made last Monday at a seminar in Brisbane on the future of the Australian manufacturing industry to the effect that most major investments in Australia are decided upon by foreigners, and that the Government needs to restrain its public sector spending to reassure these potential foreign investors of its policy of fiscal restraint? In view of the very high and rising unemployment in Australia, is what the Minister’s colleague said correct, namely, that the Government is containing its Budget deficit to please foreign investors rather than taking positive stimulatory steps in the public sector in order to reduce the Government’s 5.4 per cent unemployment rate?
-I think it is a fair rule in Parliament- it has applied in the past- that when a Minister sees in writing what a colleague has said he can answer questions on it. One cannot respond to innuendoes or assumptions which have arisen out of reports read or fancied.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. Has the Minister seen a reported statement by Professor Wilfred Borrie given in evidence before a standing committee of the House of Representatives recently to the effect that Australia would have a low population growth for the next 20 years with its population reaching only 16 million by the year 2000? This figure would appear to confirm the projection in the original report by Professor Borrie in 1975. Can the Minister say whether the forward planning in his Department in relation to all activities in the education field, including, particularly, planning for future buildings and teacher training, gives due weight to this projected figure? Can the Minister indicate any major changes involved in future planning because of this projected population figure?
-Whilst I do not recall having seen the particular statement made by Professor Borrie to which Senator Tehan refers, I have been a student of Professor Borrie ‘s commentaries and writings for many years. He is a recognised world authority on demography. His comments are to be taken as having real authority. I am aware that he has predicted that there will be virtually a slow-down in the Australian population growth. The demographic figures have been available to my Department and to the State Ministers of Education now for some time. Part of the projection of those figures has been taken into account by the working party of the Australian Education Council in trying to find a projection for the supply and demand of teachers for the future. Indeed, one of the bases for the conclusion that there will be a substantial and growing surplus of teachers in the years immediately ahead is the assumption of the Borrie report. The answer to the first part of the honourable senator’s question is yes. We are taking that into account.
The Williams Committee of Inquiry into Education and Training will have the wider perspective of looking to the needs of education both in institutions and in terms of student population for the decades ahead and into the year 2000. Those were the actual words used in launching the Williams Committee of Inquiry. Therefore it will be looking at buildings and institutions. For my part, this is a matter that is constantly before us and I want to be sure that we have a proper flow- a sufficiency at least- of highly trained good teachers. I do not want to create undue expectations on that basis. On that basis, both for last year and for this year, in our guidelines and our indications to colleges and universities we have suggested that the intake of student trainees should be no more than for the year before.
-I direct a question to the Minister for Education and refer to the Minister’s reply to Senator Ryan’s question yesterday when, in relation to the services and development program and special projects program he said:
The Schools Commission recommended that rather than a $4m cut a cut of $3.5m would be sustainable in that program.
Is it a fact that Government guidelines to the Schools Commission in June 1977 said in part:
The Government suggests that the Commission seeks to achieve savings of the order of $4m on the programs for services and development and for special projects.
Is it a fact that the Commission reported that it believed that this guideline was, in fact, a direction? Further, did the Commission report that the full $4m cut would have been so severe as to damage seriously the program’s effectiveness? Did the Commission report that the two programs should sustain $3.5m of the cuts which were required to provide funds for nongovernment schools? Is there not a vast difference between the meaning of the words of the Commission ‘should sustain $3.5m of the cuts’ and the Minister’s reply yesterday when he said ‘a cut of $3.5m would be sustainable’?
– I for one do not arbitrate on whether there is any difference between the words ‘should sustain’ and ‘would be sustainable’. Frankly, I would think they mean the same thing, whether in semantics or in any other way. It is a fact that in the guidelines the Fraser Goverment indicated to the Schools Commission that in furtherance of a series of projects, each of which had been indicated one way of another by the Schools Commission, there would need to be an absorption of more funds to the nongovernment school sector. For example, this included $8m arising out of Schools Commission recommendations that there be a percentage link between the per capita cost in a non-government school and the average cost in a State school; $3m in our judgment responding to the earlier indication by the Schools Commission that there was need for more capital in new growth areas and that capital to be applied through the State planning committees, and $2m for levels one and two schools in furtherance of our own mandate and election policies and in the spirit of the Schools Commission’s recommendations that there should be basic per capita grants, Federal and State.
Let me turn to the guidelines. We said that in equity if there were to be a need for the money in transfer to be shared, it would best be that the $4m should come from the joint programs so that they be jointly borne by government and non-government schools. That seemed highly equitable and was done. The answer to the remainder of the question is as the Schools Commission has indicated. It is true that the Schools Commission felt that $4m would be too much. It is true that the Commission indicated that $3.5m would be capable of being sustained-if my recollection of the actual words is correct. But overall, this argument tends to look at only one area of education funding. The importance of the Schools Commission report is that it shows that the total amount of funds going to government schools in the current year and in the year ahead will show progressive real growth. The Commission indicated that the amount of money being made available to the States through tax sharing has increased substantially, that the States are not only maintaining effort but also increasing it. Therefore, the capacity of the States themselves to apply more money whether to general recurrent capital programs or innovation or special purposes is considerably greater this year than it was last year and will be considerably greater next year than this year. In point of fact, there will not be any cutback in education. There will be increases.
– I inform the Senate that I have received the following letter dated 12 October from Senator Douglas McClelland:
Dear Mr President
In accordance with Standing Order 64,I give notice that today I shall move that, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:
The social and economic implications of youth unemployment.’
Yours sincerely douglas McClelland
Is the motion supported?
More than the number of Senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-
-On behalf of the Parliamentary Labor Party I move:
Unemployment has increased by 35 per cent since the Fraser Government came to office with 5.89 per cent of the work force unemployed. The policies that are being pursued by this Government have produced great social and economic implications for many unfortunate Australian citizens who are victims of the Government’s policies, particularly the youth of our nation. It is predicted that 7 per cent of the total labour force or 427,000 Australians will be unemployed by early next year. Practically every city, town, hamlet, village and farm have been economically affected by the Government’s policies. While the Government remains in office, the position deteriorates every day. Unemployment is widespread, particularly in the State I represent, the great industrial State of New South Wales. But unfortunately, regional unemployment is far worse on a percentage basis than the level of unemployment in the city. For instance, in the last three or four weeks I have visited the regional areas of Grafton and Coffs Harbour, Cooma and Bega and Young in New South Wales. Unemployment in the Grafton- Coffs Harbour area is running at the staggering rate of 13.2 per cent. In the Cooma area it is running at the rate of 9.3 per cent and in the Young area it is running at the rate of 7.9 per cent. In comparison, the New South Wales average level of unemployment is 5.98 per cent. All I can say is: Thank goodness for the rational and sensible policies of the Wran Labor Government. If that Government were not in office the position in New South Wales would be very much worse and very seriously aggravated.
– New South Wales has the worst unemployment rate in Australia.
– It would be much worse had the Labor Government not been in office. The pattern I have mentioned in respect to Grafton and Coffs Harbour, Cooma and Young is repeated in most of the regional centres in the State. But the most severely affected group of unemployed people in the community is the young generation of Australia. I will use June 1977 figures to illustrate my point, the latest overall figures available to me for New South Wales, the State that I have the honour to represent in the Parliament. In the Sydney metropolitan area, 3 1 per cent of persons seeking work were under the age of 20 years. In the New South Wales non-metropolitan areas, 42 per cent of persons seeking work were under the age of 20 years.
– You could include Wollongong in that.
-Some rural regions are particularly hard hit. I speak in particular of the Hunter Valley region which, on the June 1977 figures has a 46 per cent youth unemployment problem. In the great city of Sydney, youth unemployment is shared disproportionately with the lower income areas bearing the brunt of such unemployment. For instance, in the outer western suburb of Blacktown, 49 per cent of those who are unemployed are under 20 years of age. In the outer suburb of Liverpool, 52 per cent of those unemployed are under 20 years of age. In the non-metropolitan industrial centres- Newcastle and Wollongong- the position is the same. In Newcastle, 46 per cent of the people unemployed are under the age of 20 years. In Wollongong, the June 1977 figures show that 48 per cent of the people unemployed are under 20 years of age. The rate of unemployment amongst young people is presently three times the average rate of unemployment for the labour force as a whole. The percentage rates are disproportionately shared between males and females. Young men are facing a 14.6 per cent unemployment rate. Young women are facing a 19.1 per cent unemployment rate. The severe effects of unemployment on women generally are evidenced by the fact that two-thirds of those who are unemployed in the clerical and administrative category in New South Wales- which comprises some 25,500 people- are females and the clerical and administrative category represents more than 25 per cent of total unemployment in New South Wales.
My good friend Senator Wriedt, the Leader of the Opposition, interjected earlier about the problems that exist in Wollongong. Let us look at Wollongong specifically. Sixty-two per cent of the total female unemployment comprised women under 20 years of age. Thirty-six per cent of the total male unemployment in that great city comprised men under 20 years of age. In numerical terms, 1,259 young women were looking for jobs in Wollongong in September- last monthand registered job vacancies totalled a mere 27. For the 1,073 young men looking for work in that city there were only 17 registered vacant positions.
The situation is critical everywhere but more especially in places such as the great industrial and provincial city of Wollongong. As a result of obtaining figures as at September- last monthfrom the Commonwealth Employment Service in respect of unemployment in the Wollongong and Warilla areas I have had prepared a table setting out the number of unemployed awaiting placement, the number of unfilled vacancies, the applicant-to-vacancy ratio, estimates of the number of school leavers registering with the local CES office in December next and the percentage increase in unemployed implied by new school leavers. I have shown the table to the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) and I seek leave to have it incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The table read as follows-
-Let me cite just one or two of the figures. According to the CES, in the Warilla area last month there were 507 unemployed junior males awaiting placement, compared with seven unfilled vacancies. In that area there were 450 unemployed junior females awaiting placement but there were only five unfilled vacancies.
– Where was that?
-Those are the figures for September, last month, and they relate to Warilla, one of the suburbs of the great city of Wollongong. The estimated number pf school leavers registering with the local CES office in December next is 2,900 for Wollongong and 800 for Warilla and the percentage increase in unemployed implied by new school leavers coming into the work force in those cities is 57.5 per cent in Wollongong and 40.2 per cent in the Warilla area. So honourable senators can appreciate the seriousness of the situation in that great industrial city of Wollongong in the State of New South Wales.
Young women are the most seriously affected group in what one must describe as an appalling situation. The registered figures do not expose the entire problem. There is a hidden ingredient made up by those who will not register the fact that they are unable to find work, because of personal reasons, be they reasons of personal integrity, pride, embarrassment or whatever it may be. Studies undertaken by the United Kingdom Department of Labour indicate that the great percentage of this hidden ingredient are women. In these circumstances one must conclude that the true position for young women seeking employment is worse than the statistics indicate.
Volumes have been written on the psychological effects of enforced idleness on young men and women. The affects include: The problems of depression resulting from long periods of idleness; the feeling of worthlessness, perhaps the loss of integrity and personal pride; and problems of alcoholism, drugs and eventually -
– My colleague Senator Primmer interjects and adds the unpleasant subject of suicide. These effects lead eventually to a loss of enthusiasm and indeed motivation to gain employment. These problems are of concern and are of growing concern. In a young nation, unless the problem is tackled expeditiously and efficiently there can be nothing but traumatic and catastrophic results.
There can be no doubt that the Government’s present economic strategy is contributing to the contraction of the level of economic activity, which in turn is positively contributing to the increasing levels of unemployment. The Labor movement says that the Government must change its economic strategy and lead business out of its present malaise. Only then can sustainable recovery in the employment situation, as it affects young people and others in the community, occur. The education system must be continually examined and monitored to ensure that those preparing for entry into the work force are suitably equipped. There are too many reports tending to suggest that the products of our education system are completely unsuitable for gainful employment in today’s economic climate. Certainly the Williams Committee of
Inquiry into Education and Training Needs is a useful start in formulating an overall approach to meaningful manpower planning because well developed manpower plans are a fundamental element in any serious long term strategy to alleviate youth unemployment. Governments must commit themselves to implementing long range manpower plans.
The Chairman of the Tertiary Education Commission, Professor Karmel, has emphasised the growing academic concern over the problem of youth unemployment. He sees it as the greatest social problem which Australia has to face in the next 25 years. He has highlighted a number of reasons for it. Let me mention some of them. He has mentioned the inadequacy of basic education programs; the low productivity of early school leavers; the changes in the structure of industry which have reduced the number of unskilled occupations; and as a general consequence, as I mentioned earlier, the growing disillusionment of the young. The time has come for government to come to grips seriously with these problems.
The Labor movement sees the problem of unemployment as the first priority to be tackled by government. In government we will take every step possible to alleviate the dire situation in which young men and young women are now finding themselves. That has been evidenced, might I suggest, by the Wran Labor Government’s Budget introduced in the New South Wales Parliament last night. The cynical attitude of the Fraser Government towards assistance for the unemployed can be gauged by the level of per capita assistance it has devoted to retraining and adjustment schemes. Under the last Labor Government, $754 was made available per head of employed persons for unemployment assistance schemes. The Fraser Government allocated only $240 a head in 1 976-77 and on conservative estimates of growth rates relating to average unemployment this figure rose to a paltry $257 a head for 1977-78; in other words, $5 per week per head for schemes supposedly intended to assist those out of work because of the Government’s policies. Assistance at these niggardly levels represents the actions of a government which is arrogant, elitist and incompetent.
This urgency motion, I suggest, should be supported by all members of the Senate. It certainly will be seen to be supported next Saturday by the electors, particularly the young people, in Wollongong when the Cunningham by-election results become known. I have moved this motion on behalf of the Labor movement.
- Senator Douglas McClelland has moved:
That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:
The social and economic implications of youth unemployment’.
Last Wednesday in this Senate, Senator Button led for the Opposition when he introduced for discussion as a matter of urgency the subject of unemployment generally.
We had a very wide and full debate on the problem of unemployment. In supporting the Government I, and other speakers on this side, indicated the number of measures that the Government had undertaken to alleviate the problem of youth unemployment. In the course of the debate today, further reference will again be made to those matters.
At the outset of this debate, I emphasise on behalf of the Government that the problem of youth unemployment is a problem of unemployment itself. We will not be able to solve on its own the problem of youth unemployment without a solution to the problem of unemployment. Last week in this debate I indicated what the Government’s policies generally were and its approach to the major problem of unemployment. It is a matter about which the Government is most concerned. It is a matter which the Government’s policies are directed to alleviate. As I said last week, the Government’s policies are directed to the overall economic problem and to maintaining the trends which we have been able to get in the direction of recovery of the economy. Overall, they are directed to tackling the problem of inflation and increases in wages are way beyond productivity in the community and restraining government expenditures which have such a major effect on inflation. These are the major policies being pursued by the Government. The policies have already led to a marked improvement in the rate of inflation which was created by the Labor Government and which we inherited from the Labor Government. Although we have not reduced unemployment to the extent we would have liked, at least we have been able to contain the rate of increase in unemployment.
In regard to unemployment generally, as I said last week we inherited a major increase in unemployment which had been created during the years of the previous Labor Government. The figures which I then cited were in fact challenged by Senator Button who was leading for the Opposition and by other Labor senators. I will now table statistics provided by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library Statistical Service showing the unemployment levels as a percentage of the labour force from January 1969 to September 1977. 1 am tabling them to substantiate the figures I quoted last week, namely, that in December 1975 when we came into government unemployment was then 5.4 per cent. Three years previously, in December 1972, when we went out of government and when Labor came into government, unemployment was only 2.39 per cent. In fact today the latest figures for September 1977 show unemployment at 5.3 per cent, which is in fact lower than the figure for December 1975 when we came into government. I seek leave to table that document.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-The same story applies to youth unemployment. In December 1972, youth unemployment-that is those under 21 yearstotalled 80,395. When Labor left office in December 1975 youth umemployment totalled 152,543. The statistics show that one of the major contributors to youth unemployment is in fact the level of unemployment generally in the community. However, the Government recognises that there are some special problems in regard to youth unemployment. There are some special causes. Certainly the Government agrees that there are serious social and economic implications for young people and indeed for the community generally as a result of high levels of unemployed youth.
What the Government challenges- this is why the Government is opposed to the motion moved by the Opposition this afternoon- is the very clear statement made by Senator Douglas McClelland, leading for the Opposition, that in fact the Government is at fault for the level of youth unemployment today and the Government is at fault for not doing anything about it. It is because of those statements that the Government strongly opposes the motion. We will seek in response to show that we are taking definite and positive actions in regard to the problem.
It has also I think to be noted that youth unemployment is a problem which has been developing over a number of years. In June 1967, for instance, the percentage of total registered unemployed who were under 2 1 years was 29.7 per cent. In June 1972, the figure was 33.1 per cent. In June 1977, the figure was 38.1 per cent. I cite those figures to give some general indication that a situation in which a fairly high proportion of the unemployed labour force is under 2 1 years is not new. As I said, back in 1967 the figure was 29 per cent. That percentage of the total has been increasing over the years. There are some special problems certainly relating to youth unemployment and some special reasons for it. It certainly is a complex problem. It has its roots in aspects of our modern economic and social life. Some of the problems stem from the education system itself. They follow from changing attitudes to work by young people. They come from changes in the composition of the work force and particularly of course in recent years from the increased participation of married women. There are then, of course, the fundamental technological and structural changes which have occurred which have made a considerable difference to the type of jobs that are available. Other factors that impinge on the problem are the level and availability of unemployment benefits and last, but certainly not least, changes in the relationship between wage rates for adults and juniors.
I had occasion last week to emphasise the great and grave importance to unemployment of the explosion in wage rates that occurred during the time of the previous Labor Government of which Senator Douglas McClelland was a member. In 1974, there was that tremendous increase in wage rates which directly caused the inflation levels and unemployment levels to increase rapidly in the latter years of that Government, and which we as a government inherited. These wage rates had particular significance as well on the wages of juniors and the relationship between the rates for juniors and adults. These are many of the factors involved.
I turn now to the approach of the Government to the problem. First of all, I emphasise some positive aspects of the problem. Senator Douglas McClelland quoted statistics here this afternoon. We often hear of statistics showing the numbers of people who are in fact unemployed and particularly the numbers of school leavers. The latest statistics indicate that there are some 16,289 unemployed school leavers in Australia. That is a high figure. It is too high as far as the Government is concerned. I point out that annually there are approximately 250,000 school leavers. Only 16,000 of those school leavers have not yet obtained a job. So let us look at the positive aspect as well. The fact of the matter is that something like 94 per cent or 95 per cent of the school leavers have obtained jobs. That was the pattern in the previous year as well as this year. In the previous year of our term in office something like 95 per cent of the school leavers in fact obtained a job.
I want to deal briefly with the programs which the Government has introduced or improved and which are directed at the problem of youth unemployment. In total the Budget this year provides $ 102m for various forms of training, which is an increase of 33 per cent on the previous year’s provision. In broad terms there are probably something like 100,000 young people benefiting from the various schemes at the present moment, apart from those who have already benefited from them. For instance, 40,000 were assisted under the National Employment and Training scheme last year and 25,000 are in training at the present moment. Fifteen thousand young people were assisted in the first nine months of operation of the special youth employment training program, which pays a subsidy of $65 a week to employers of youths under 25 years of age, 1 1,894 are in training at present. In the last financial year 41,000 apprenticeships were started under the improved apprenticeship scheme which was introduced by the Government and which is known as the CRAFT- the Commonwealth Rebate Apprenticeship Fulltime Training- scheme. That was a 9 per cent increase on the figure for the previous year.
At the moment there is also the Community Youth Support Scheme, which encourages community organisations to provide programs to support unemployed youth, to improve their capacity to find jobs and to help them to maintain a positive attitude to work. The sum of $4m has b een provided in this year’s Budget for that program and 20,000 young persons are expected to participate in it. In addition to those schemes the Government is already very conscious, as I have said, of the impact of the education system on the problem of youth unemployment and its contribution to youth unemployment. Only the other day the Minister for Education, Senator Carrick, announced a new scheme, which is to be known as the education program for unemployed youth and which hopes to give further education to unemployed young people through technical schools. It is a pilot scheme at this stage but it is one which may well be of great assistance to many young people. In September of last year the Government set up a committee of inquiry into education and training under Professor Bruce Williams. Its terms of reference included the co-ordination and rationalisation of existing types of post-secondary institutions, the relevance of new kinds of institutions and the capabilities of both existing and possible new structures to meet the educational needs and preferences of the individual.
I hope that in the short time that has been available to me I have been able to indicate that the Government is certainly most concerned about the social and economic implications of unemployment amongst the youth of our community. I hope that at the same time I have been able to establish that the Government is taking positive action and initiating positive programs to tackle the youth unemployment problem; furthermore, that its programs and policies are succeeding to such an extent that a vast majority of the school leavers in the last 12 months- something like 95 per cent of them- have in fact obtained work and that there are other programs and other methods of alleviating the problems of those who have not been fortunate enough to find work.
– I support the motion moved by the Opposition, which deals with the social and economic implications of youth unemployment. I must say that I am somewhat disappointed with the defence by Senator Durack in this matter. He did not deal with the basic philosophy under which we have submitted our motion for debate today. It is all right to say that the level of unemployment is at a certain point and, depending upon when and how one looks at the figures, to say that it is 5.3 per cent or 5.64 per cent, which are the figures that I have; nevertheless it represents a very serious challenge to governments and communities to solve the problem of unemployment. Whatever decisions have been taken by the Government are clearly not working because the Government is endeavouring on all occasions to try to deal with the effect and not the cause. Senator Durack made brief mention of the unemployment problem flowing from the effects of modern society but he did not acknowledge that it is the economic system and the deficiencies within the system which are creating the problem not only in Australia but also in most of the other countries in the Western world. The Government is not taking the essential steps and some of the options that otherwise would be open to it.
The fact of the matter is that it is an immoral situation to have 5 per cent of our work force unemployed and to have the biggest percentage of them- in excess of 50 per cent of them- under the age of 25 years. It is a waste of human resources to have the people who have been educated in the way in which we educate them in this country through many long years of schooling find when they come into the labour force that they are not able to be gainfully employed and all that that means. Surely honourable senators opposite will acknowledge the fact that we had a sick economy in the early 1970s and that the Labor Government inherited a situation which was unsatisfactory in 1972. When this Government was elected to office in 1975- almost two years ago- it was given an overwhelming mandate to reduce inflation, to reduce unemployment and to bring about stability in the Australian economy. The first Budget adopted the strategy of seeking a consumer led recovery. That did not take place. The second Budget set out to achieve an investment and consumer led recovery. That has not taken place. The Government also has not succeeded in achieving the single digit inflation level that it claimed was part of its basic economic strategy.
I think we ought to examine what Government spokesmen have said in this regard. Senator Cotton said in an address only last week that economic recovery has been just around the corner for far too long. He was speaking at a gathering in Queensland. He went on to say that he believed that it should be business and not government that takes the initiative in bringing forward the economic recovery that for far too long has been just around the corner. It is going to remain around the corner. No wonder we have a person of the standing in the Liberal Party of Australia of Mr Wentworth saying that his resignation from the Liberal Party is in challenge to the economic policies that have been pursued in the two years that this Government has been in office. It cannot be said that in any way any appreciable gains have been made with respect to any aspect of the Australian economy. In fact we now have a larger number of people out of work in the younger age group than we have had in Australia since the Great Depression.
Time will not permit me to do more than draw attention to one of the initiatives that this Government has taken. I refer to the investment allowance. How can this Government justify H. C. Sleigh Ltd receiving an investment allowance of $935,000 when its profits increased by more than 12.1 per cent last financial year to $6m? It was reported in yesterday’s newspaper that Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd, which had a vast increase in its profitability, accepts the fact that the trading stock valuation allowance has given it $546,000. How can that sort of assistance be channelled in the direction of solving the economic problems that face this country?
The plain facts are that unemployment in the Western industrialised countries is at an all time high. Some 15 million people are out of work in those countries. The International Labour Organisation, with which we are affiliated, has suggested that some seven million of them are under the age of 25 years. We have a very dismal situation and, in my view, a demoralised Government in terms of its responsibilities to the economy. This Government is pursuing policies which are largely aimless. They have no clear direction because they are not working. In many ways they can be likened to an iceberg floating around in the Red Sea. There is no way that the policies being pursued by this Government will solve the economic problems and the problems that face young people in this country. Look at the document given to members of Parliament in the last 24 hours. It is a report on youth affairs by a study group and is dated February 1977. It states:
The problem of youth unemployment and school/work transition confronts not only Australia but every developed Western country.
On page 21 of that document the group draws attention to the position that exists in this country and contradicts the speech that has just been given by Senator Durack. It states:
In August 1976 there was 107,092 young people aged 16-24 receiving unemployment benefits. These constituted 56 per cent of the total number of unemployment benefit recipients. In May 1977 this had increased to 120,926 recipients.
Dr Brian Scott is reported in today’s Canberra Times as saying:
By 1990 we could easily have serious echoes, at the political level, of the frustration of today’s young unemployed. Remember that many angry young men of the 1930s who walked the streets looking vainly for work in later life sought to introduce radical changes into a political system which they felt was heartless and unfair.
Several similar articles have been published in our newspapers. Newspapers are one of the sources from which governments and oppositions can draw information. I look particularly at the statements that have been made by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as reported in the Australian Financial Review of July this year. They refer to the problems facing countries associated with the OECD. In France 49 per cent of the estimated one million unemployed are under the age of 25 years. There is a very serious problem with young people in Italy. Despite the education of young people and attempts of the Government to bring about a very substantial increase in educational opportunities, the fact is that the great majority of the people walking the streets in Italy are suffering from the lack of employment.
The whole strategy of the Government is wrong in respect of its approach to the economy.
It is clear that that strategy is not bringing about the recovery that is essential. The Government is espousing policies that rely entirely upon the private sector to regenerate the economy. Today there are heavy international pressures for trade, a downturn in all the advanced countries of the world and growing unemployment. Even in the United States of America it is admitted that private investment capital is declining and has been for some time. How could any government suggest that the private sector will bring about the sort of investment-led recovery and the sort of private investment necessary to create more job opportunities? It is no wonder that the Sydney Morning Herald of 20 September in an editorial headed ‘Where to now?’ referred to Mr Fraser ‘s announcements that there were to be no further cuts in federal spending, and went on to say that Mr Fraser and his Government could not rest on their laurels and that the Government could not rely upon the policies that it had been espousing. Of course in this circumstance one is entitled to ask: Why all the speculation about an early election? Why are we not having a general public debate about the state of the economy? Why are we not talking about the unemployment position?
Although the veracity of gallup polls has been challenged sometimes in the past, it is interesting to note that all the polls that have been published over the last several weeks have shown that unemployment is now the issue that is worrying the Australian people. It is not inflation; it is unemployment. The latest gallup poll out today shows that 75 per cent of the Australian people believe that unemployment is the issue that should be the responsibility of governments. Inflation has receded in the thinking of the Australian people. I find it inconceivable that Senator Durack should take some consolation from the fact that the figures remain somewhat the same as they were between 1975 and 1977. We are not in a satisfactory position. We are part of the world system. Mr Lynch said in the Budget Speech that he expected that there would be some recovery on the world scene which would then assist us to a recovery on the domestic scene commensurate with the policies that were also being taken domestically by this Government. Last night’s Sydney Sun stated:
Given that economic recovery in Australia- and the rest of the world, for that matter-is so dependent on an upturn in the United States, a recent survey of American business economists makes gloomy reading.
They expect economic expansion in the US to be slower this year than last and predict that growth will probably halt and the economy then turn down by late 1 978 or early 1979.
In the few minutes left to me I want to refer to a breakdown of young people who are out of work in this country. It is very revealing that figures as at 1 April 1977 show that in rural Australia 2,528 people were receiving unemployment benefit. Recipients numbering 1967 were in the category of professionals, 55,387 were clerical and interestingly none had been employed in mining. Next come the skilled industries.
In building there were 3,884 in the metal trades 5,735 and in glass, furnishing, printing, and so on there were 2,084. In semi-skilled industries there were 26,399, in unskilled industries 23,109 and in service occupations, that is generally in the tertiary sector, something in excess of 10,712. That is a pretty disgraceful and distasteful situation.
This Government has had everything going for it to remedy the situation as it saw it m 1975 when it said it wanted three years to restore the economy. It has had a absolute majority in both Houses of Parliament. It has had every opportunity to present policies and legislation and take the sort of options that are necessary to get the economy back on to an even keel. The facts are that there are now more young people, about whom we are talking today, out of work than there were in 1975. It is most interesting that Government senators keep insisting that it is the unit labour cost in production that is so important to be realised in economic recovery. A Fortune article in August 1 976 lists the increase in unit costs in United States constant dollars in the period from 1970 to 1975 in various countries. In the United States there was a 35 per cent, increase, in Canada a 43 per cent increase in West Germany a 116 per cent increase and in Japan a 141 per cent increase.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order ! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The Senate is debating an Opposition motion that the following is a matter of urgency:
The social and economic implications of youth unemployment.
No responsible government would want to deny the importance or significance of unemployment, particularly the importance or significance of unemployment among youth. We regard it as a significant and major problem, and it is one to which this Government and governments such as ours have given a lot of attention. We recognise the extent of the problem. We know that, in 1977, 38 per cent of those registered as unemployed are under the age of 21 years. That is not and cannot be a satisfactory situation for any government. It is quite wrong, quite improper, for the Opposition to say that we are unaware of the problem. We are aware of the extent and importance of youth unemployment, and it is quite immoral to say that we are not doing anything about it. This Government is acting effectively and responsibly to intervene in the situation, which is so much a legacy of the wasted Labor years. My colleague Senator Tehan will speak later, and he will outline the way in which the unemployment situation developed inevitably as a result of the economic policies of the disgraced Government that we replaced.
We are acting in this area. We are aware of the large number of unemployed youth. We were sufficiently concerned to commission a report from a study group on youth affairs. That report, which was presented in February this year, made some very significant comments about unemployment as it is seen by youth, as it is understood by young people. On page 3 the report stated:
Youth unemployment was regarded as the most pressing problem affecting young people in all areas visited.
That is to say, young people in Australia see the capacity to get jobs as the most significant problem facing them. We understand that and we recognise it. The report went on to make some further analytical observations about youth and the opportunities for employment. It pointed out that youth unemployment is particularly concentrated amongst those who are disadvantaged for some reason. We know who those people are. They are the early school leavers, migrants, Aboriginals, young people in rural areas and in inner city areas- the people who one might say are at risk. They see unemployment as a particular problem. They are aware of some of the points that have been made, such as that they may be labelled incorrectly as failures because they cannot get jobs.
Young people are aware of the psychological effects of not having a job. They also are aware that there is something wrong with the system in that the employment opportunities which they seek are not there for them to take advantage of and to use. Let me make one point that is clear to this Government. We have no argument with the young Australians of today. They are as good a generation as one could find anywhere. We are keen to give them the opportunities they deserve and demand. It is difficult to understand the morality of an Opposition which, in presenting a matter of urgency such as this, will not acknowledge, will not set out, will not identify the positive contributions of the Government towards the alleviation of unemployment amongst youth. This Government has a record of which it can be proud. It has been active and effective. This year’s Budget puts into the area of employment opportunity for youth one-third more in dollar terms that was put into the programs last year. An amount of $ 103m has gone specifically into the area of job creation or job promotion for youth and about 100,000 young people will benefit from that allocation.
The various schemes have been mentioned previously, but they should be identified again because there may be people taking an interest in this debate to whom some of the programs are important. The National Employment and Training scheme- the NEAT scheme- provides vocational and on-the-job training and instruction. This year the Government has provided $S4.3m for the scheme, an increase of about $23m on the amount spent last year. That is an enormous increase by a Government determined to intervene effectively. At the end of September more that 25,000 young Australians were in training under the scheme. And the Opposition says that we are doing nothing! In 1976 and 1977 more than 40,000 young Australians passed through the NEAT scheme.
The Community Youth Support scheme is another Government program, another Government initiative, and it is an interesting one. It funds community organisations to provide support for young people who are out of work and to help them learn how to get a job. It provides counselling and tells young people how to go about winning the battle for jobs. The allocation this year is $4m; last year’s allocation was $0.6m. That represents a big increase. And the Opposition says that we do nothing! There are 277 different programs which have been funded under the scheme since 1 November last year and more than 2,000 young people have been provided with counselling and help through the scheme. I have seen the scheme in operation in my State of New South Wales, where young people in the Gosford area, for example, have taken advantage of it and found work.
Another scheme initiated, promoted, advanced and extended by the Government is the CRAFT scheme- the Commonwealth Rebate for Apprentice Full-time Training scheme. I prefer to call it CRAFT because at least I can remember that. The scheme provides support for employers to make it possible for them to take on apprentices and to give them an opportunity to receive training and instruction and to acquire a skilled trade. The Government has provided $42.2m under the CRAFT scheme. In Australia there are more than 41,000 apprentices, of whom more than 5,000 are being assisted under the scheme. One would have thought, listening to the Opposition, that we were doing nothing.
Another Government scheme is the Special Youth Employment Training scheme, which has just been expanded and extended. It now applies to people from 1 5 to 25 years of age- people who since leaving school have had no proper job, no suitable employment. At the end of September this year 1 1,894 people were being trained and receiving assistance under the progam. In the nine months since the scheme commenced more than 15,000 young people have been assisted and trained. The scheme provides a subsidy of $65 a week in respect of each young person assisted, with a total allocation this year of $ 18m. The interesting point is that of those who have been through the scheme and have been followed up, 70 per cent- seven out of ten- have been able to find employment once they received the training. They were people who on any reasonable grounds could not normally have expected to be employed.
Another scheme announced recently, the Education Program for Unemployed Youth, is the latest and perhaps in its way the most important of all the initiatives we are undertaking to assist in solving the problem of youth unemployment. It is a sad fact that the educational system in this country is a failure in certain ways. Any system that will send young Australians out from school, unable to read or write at a level that gives them an opportunity to find and hold a job, is an educational system which has failed. While that system lasts it is incumbent upon our educationists to re-examine the relevance of what they are doing and their competence as educators. After looking at a lot of youth who have no jobs, the Government has found it necessary to start training them again, giving them education to teach them to read, to count and to compete on the job market. This program already has more than 500 young people involved with many more to come in quickly.
Youth unemployment is serious, but it is world-wide. We are aware that other countries like ours have significant problems of youth unemployment. The Australian Financial Review of 1 1 July dealt with this at some length in an article entitled ‘Europe tackles a mountain of young jobless’. The article made the point that in Britain the many young who will be leaving school will remain jobless because their problems there are the same as ours. They expect that nine months after the school year ends they will still have almost half a million school leavers out of work. In France, about 49 per cent of their one million unemployed are under the age of 21 years. We have seen the recent riots in Italy by the young unemployed. In West Germany there are special levies on employers, all directed towards providing resources for youth who need jobs. The problems are world-wide.
Why is it that young people cannot get jobs? There is a structural component to what is going on which must be acknowledged and must be recognised by any responsible Opposition. There are more young people as the baby booms of the post-war years catch up with us. There is increasing technology and automation which is causing some simpler jobs to disappear, to be replaced. The post-industrial society is creeping up on us. Market forces are having their effect. The Labor Government was responsible for the upward pressure of wages for junior employees. They have been priced out of the market. What is the economic advantage of employing a junior in many industries if it costs more than it is worth, especially in view of the move in our society towards the increasing employment of married women. Married women may be better value economically. In 1964, 33.4 per cent of our work force consisted of married women. In 1975 it was already in excess of 40 per cent. There is nothing wrong with that. If they are able to hold jobs on a competitive market, then why should they not do so. Our interventions to date have reduced the number of young jobless. In July, articles in the Australian Financial Review carried these headings: ‘Youth job training programs a success’; CRAFT, NEAT, youth plans come up all smiles’, and ‘Young jobless down 6 per cent in 2 months’. We do care; otherwise we would not have responded with the vigour we have shown. We are concerned at the long term structural implications for young unemployed. It is a pity that the Australian Labor Party ignores the question. It is a moral abdication on its part. The case put by honourable senators opposite has done nothing to give one any comfort that they understand or seriously wish to attack the problem.
-Considering the welter of statistics cited by Senator Baume, I think I could do no better in my opening remarks than to cite the ratio of applicants to jobs in the Wollongong-Warilla area. The are: Adult males, 13: 1; females, 18: 1; junior males, 63:1; and female juniors 47:1. So I do think we would be a very poor Opposition if we did not raise this issue again and again. Senator Baume talked about and no doubt his colleagues who will follow me will do the same, the market trends and inflation. It was only at the latter part of Senator Baume ‘s speech that he conceded that the economic trends were world-wide. The honourable member for Hindmarsh, Mr Clyde Cameron, as the Minister for Labor and Immigration was the first Minister of recent years to do anything to try to redress the rapid diminution of apprentices. He pioneered that move and nobody can take that away from him.
Let us take factors a little bit further. Senator Gietzelt referred to the question of a consultant talking about the trade union role. It was pointed out by a representative of W.D. Scott and Company Ltd that the maturity being exhibited by the British Trade Union Congress came about because respective governments dealt with them in a fair manner. When we deal with the cost factor, it is quite correct to say in relation to holding the line, as it were, on wages that the trade union movement plan proposed by Bob Hawke for a common levy for Medibank would have resulted in a much lower cost increase than the plan instituted by this Government. It has had a disastrous effect on the cost of living. Whatever brick-bats may be thrown at the trade union movement, at every indexation quarter that goes by, they are being swindled because of the direct flowthrough of the cost of living under indexation. They have accepted it yet they are accused of being a combination of Ned Kelly and Dick Turpin. They know that Utah and other firms are making massive profits.
Let us be realistic about the question of job opportunity. A long-time Liberal in the other place referred to salvation by stagnation. That is the point. How can we accept all that the AttorneyGeneral, Senator Durack, and Senator Baume have to say about boys and girls in training when we know that when they become journeymen there has to be the expectancy of large scale recruitment. I put it this way: This large scale recruitment is not happening now. It is true that both parties have suggested that world economic trends hastened the problem. I can remember coming into the Senate with my colleague, Senator Bishop, in the middle 1960s. I pointed out then that I felt that with adequate forward training we could advance replicas of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric project. That would have involved an absorption of 7,000 operatives in a broad sense, carrying a welter of classificationstradesmen and non-tradesmen. Many firms throughout Australia were living off that project because of sub-contracts. Of course that suggestion was allowed to wither on the vine. For various reasons we did not have any other projects of that magnitude. Let us take the matter a little further and consider the engineering trades. Anybody who has read that very excellent book Mindful Militants: The Amalgamated
Engineering Union in Australia that dealt with the AEU in the period 1920 to 1940 will know that the table of apprentices in that book is a fair barometer of the state of Australia. This brings one back to the theories of the honourable member for Mackellar, Mr W. C. Wentworth. The fact is that unless big industries flourish- and many of them live off defence undertakings and our mercantile marine- and unless we keep dockyards open, we are not going to have a reservoir of trained apprentices or be able to absorb the journeymen who came from other areas.
Anybody who has the idea that with small time employers we are going to be another Switzerland or another Sweden will not achieve that expectation. There are many reasons for that. The point I emphasise- and I cannot do it too strongly- is that even if it means considerable stabilisation of our mercantile, marine and shipbuilding industries generally, what ever is lost on the swings will be picked up on the roundabouts. The United States insists on a protected shipbuilding industry. It insists, under the Jones Act, that a high percentage of American exports is carried on American flagships. The whole concept is that it protects American jobs. Whatever one might argue about over-protection, each of the people who are put back in jobs is a potential taxpayer. The main criticism I make of what has been expounded by Senator Durack, and to a lesser degree by Senator Baume, is that it is a band-aid operation. It may encourage a few small employers but the high ratio of apprentices to journeymen is in the big basic industries. That is where they are needed. As a matter of fact, the Government has compounded its felony. I think most honourable senators have been deluged by people in the electronics industry and telecommunications generally about how we have virtually placed ourselves in bondage to a Swedish firm, with possible disastrous results.
I want to make another point. I can fairly well read the mind of Senator Tehan in regard to excessive demands by the trade union movement. I do not say that a shorter week in itself is the complete solution but I think it would be as well if I could point out to honourable senators the history of the standard working week. In 1904 we worked a 70-hour week. In 1913 it was reduced to 48 hours. In 1927 it came down to 44 hours and on 8 September 1947 we had a 40-hour week. In other words, it is 30 years since Australia adjusted its standard working week. Honourable senators on the other side of the chamber can talk about industries and the cost factor of working overtime but I defy anybody here to go to a trade fair or a motor fair. In documentaries and in the steel industry we can see somebody operating a console that displaces many operatives. We can take it a little further. I can remember 10 or 12 years ago, as Senator Tehan will remember, that the metal trades employers fought with the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association to the death about whether they should use an operative on the floor with a string crane rather than using overhead travelling cranes. The employer had his way. He had his way again when we compressed the waterside work force handling sugar exports in the port of Mackay from 400 to 40. Let us have no more of this rubbish about the trade union movement adopting a Ned Ludd attitude opposing any of these reforms. The point is that industry wanted it and private enterprise wanted it. Then industry is caught with a diminishing demand.
I take up what Senator Baume said earlier about unskilled or semi-skilled junior wage rates. I do not know what some of Senator Baume ‘s activities are on a Sunday but if he stopped his car along the Hume Highway and went into McDonalds and bought some chicken he would find that when he was served there was a time and motion study. When the girl serves you, she presses a stop watch to indicate how long it takes to get your chicken in a box. If that is not exploitation I do not know what is. Senator Wright might say that it is industrial efficiency to get greater movement by the employee.
What happened with the award sought by the Australian Workers Union? It was for something like a couple of dollars. When we talk about costs I remind Senator Tehan of one of the famous cases concerning the Cinderellas of industry. This case concerned the girls in restaurants. About 12 years ago, perhaps a little longer, they finally obtained payment of double time for Sundays. What it meant, in effect, was that everybody paid a surcharge- I think it was one shilling and sixpence- on a meal. After the first 50 patrons the employer had the equivalent of what he was paying the operative for working on a Sunday. All above that was profit. I do not know of one occasion when some award variation has been passed on that the employer has not received at least the amount that he is required to pay for weekend work. He always gets a sizeable bonus on top of it. Whilst we hear all these mythical terms about cost factors, the plain fact, as I said earlier, is that it is 30 years since there has been any adjustment in the standard working week.
I could take this further. I entered this debate to be practical and offer solutions. I repeat that in the big industries, such as the shipbuilding industry, and in the engineering trades generally, there must be massive infusions. Honourable senators can call it protection if they like. During a recent hearing of the Estimates Committee on which I served I felt that Telecom Australia was not as certain as it has been in previous years that it would need the same intake of apprentices as future tele-technicians. If trade unions are extra vigilant, they are thinking in terms of people with a working life, say, from 21 years to about 60 years of age. This is the area we are looking at. The Opposition accepts the fact that people may need to have two or three re-trainings in that span. For a boy going into industry at a particular time there must be some job assurance. These are the things we are arguing about. Whatever honourable senators may say about these schemes and about trade union consultations, it is a fact that during its term of office the Whitlam Government sought powers on incomes and prices. It is true that some sections of the trade unions had distinct reservations. I never want to see the trade union movement surrender its independence to any government.
I remember Senator Carrick in full flight ridiculing a yes vote. I also remember saying to him: ‘Perhaps one day you will be in government and you will rue that’. That was the situation. At that stage it might have been possible for the trade union movement to accept with some reservations but now the trade union movement is the victim of an indexation system that will continue to erode wages. Do not give us that old canard about pricing someone out of a job. The fact of the matter is that prices are going up. A housewife knows that when her husband seeks another $5 it will barely meet some of the increases, whether they are for gas or bread or something like that. The Government will not get away with this Utopian idea. The Whitlam Government was aware of world trends. It sought additional powers. In a curious alliance and for political expediency the people voted no. Government supporters cannot say that the Labor Government did not have that foresight.
The Honourable Clyde Cameron laid the foundation in regard to beefing up our apprentice intake, but there are guilty men. I believe that from the middle 1960s- again I refer to this trade fair syndrome- there was very little done by the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations on forward planning. Anybody who travelled to Europe was aware of those things. I recall that about eight years ago a tripartite mission went to Europe, various Scandinavian countries, Britain, West Germany and Eastern Europe. That mission came back with recommendations but, of course, under this awful federal system in which we live it is very difficult to obtain unanimity. I wind up on this point. The Opposition moved this motion, not to throw scorn on some of the interim measures, but rather to suggest to the Government that unless it is prepared to resurrect and revive engineering generally, particularly the shipbuilding and telecommunications industries, at best, when some of these boys and girls come out of these schemes the journeymen who are ahead of them will be out of work. This is the situation. I would hate to think that Wollongong was like Jarrow in Britain. Anybody who has read Arlene Wilkinson’s story of of a town that was murdered would well know that situation.
I say very strongly that the purpose of this motion was to say to the Government that the problem is a basic one. Bill Wentworth said that it is not a question of salvation through stagnation. The Opposition wants to see more projects of the magnitude of the Snowy Mountains scheme. It wants to see a shipbuilding industry with the same zest that is shown in the United States. At this time President Carter is prepared to outlaw decrepit tankers. The Government could use the Navigation Act tomorrow to suggest to the big oil companies that if they do not build a few tankers in Australian shipyards the Government will put a black ban on them.
I know what would happen with all of these oil companies. They know what force is. Perhaps we could take the other attitude. The Utah Development Co. and Clutha Development Pty Ltd are very smug in their whole attitude. Those companies are not worried about unemployed youth. In fact, it would be very interesting for some later speaker in the debate to tell me how many apprentices Utah employs compared with the number of journeymen the company employs. The position would be the sarnie in respect to Clutha Development Pty Ltd. It is on those grounds that I stand four square with Senator Douglas McClelland in what might be called a rebuke to the Government.
-The subject of this matter of urgency is the social and economic implications of youth unemployment. No one disputes that there are very real social and economic implications involved in youth unemployment. Indeed, the effects of long term youth unemployment can be both drastic and soul destroying. But the debate really should be about the root causes of this unfortunate situation and the remedies that can be applied. My colleague, Senator Baume, has very ably spelt out the various initiatives which the Government has taken with a view to mitigating the effects of youth unemployment. He has pointed out also that this is not a problem which is confined to Australia alone. Indeed, it is a worldwide problem. He has indicated very clearly and concisely the various programs which the Government has set in train and adopted. These are beginning to show their effects in a number of areas. However, members of the Opposition in sponsoring this motion have not attempted to include the root causes of the youth unemployment problem which, as we all concede, brings with’ it very serious social and economic implications.
I propose during the course of my remarks to examine the causes of the problem and to indicate that it is quite wrong and unjust to lay the blame for the present situation solely at the feet of the Government or to blame the present Government to any major degree for the present problem. This is not a new problem. This can be ascertained from an examination of the figures for youth unemployment going as far back as June 1967. In 1967, the percentage of total registered unemployed persons who were under 21 years of age was 29.7 per cent; in 1968, it was 30.9 per cent; in 1971, it was 32.7 per cent; in June 1 972, it was 33.1 per cent and in 1 973 it was 37.4 per cent. When Labor came to office, youth unemployment- that is, people under 2 1 years of age-was 80,395 people. When Labor left office that number had increased to 152,543 people. It had almost doubled. So the problem which we are debating is not a novel or a new one. It has been with us for a number of years.
Figures in regard to this matter were cited by Senator Durack in a similar debate last week. Some of those figures were challenged and he confirmed them today. However, I think the figures are worth repeating. In December 1972, the total unemployment level was 2.4 per cent of the work force. In December 1975 when Labor went out of office and when we came into office, we inherited a 5.4 per cent level of unemployment. As Senator Durack pointed out, that was more than double the rate of unemployment when we were in office previously. Unemployment generally- not just youth unemploymentis not a new problem. One of the more discerning Treasurers of the Labor regime, Frank Crean, has achieved some fame for a statement he made when Labor was in office because it is quoted so often. He said that one man’s wage rise is another man’s job. Despite what Senator Mulvihill has said today, that is a statement which has now been proved to be correct.
We all know that in 1974 under Labor wages escalated by 10 per cent. It has been said that this sort of escalation in a normal period of economic activity in a country like Australia would take something like five years to achieve. Yet in Australia it occurred in one year. The effects of that on the number of unemployed persons were sensational. I have before me a table prepared by the Parliamentary Library which shows that at the end of July 1974, 94,000 persons in Australia were registered for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service. At the end of December of the same year, that number had escalated to 267,000 people- almost three times as many. In January 1975 the number was 3 12,000 people. The figures for registered unemployed in Australia are equally dramatic when taken as a percentage of the total labour force. In July 1974, 1.6 per cent of the labour force was unemployed. That escalated in December 1974 to 4.46 per cent. In January 1975, it had increased to 5.2 per cent. Thereis a definite relationship, as Frank Crean pointed out, between one man’s wage rise and another man’s job. It is quite definite that the escalation of wages contributed substantially to rising unemployment at that time.
I am glad that Senator Mulvihill had something to say about the high wage rates for juveniles. That happened during the period of the Labor Government also. We had young people starting at the bottom of the ladder at 16, 17 or 18 years of age receiving very substantial increases in wages. That was highlighted recently, again proving Frank Crean ‘s statement. I am sorry to have to quote a member of the Opposition in respect to this matter but it proves the point in relation to this debate. I wish to quote also from the Sydney Daily Mirror of September 1977. I do not think it can be said that the newspapermirrors the views of this Party. The article is headed ‘Big rise in food bill’ and states:
Thousands of school-children employed as casuals by supermarkets, are expected to be retrenched because of a new award announced by the State Industrial Commission.
The award brings all junior pay rates to the 19-year-old level of $4.20 an hour- more than twice what a 15-year-old earns now.
I do not want to be charged with saying that we should not have wage fixing bodies. I agree entirely with the principle of a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. A school leaver or even a child still at school should be able to get a bit of after hours work. We all did it when we were younger.
There is nothing wrong with that. But when the wage rate of a 15-year-old escalates to the wage rate of a 19-year-old- $4.20 an hour- of course the economy will not stand it. This is a very important point. I do not want to take up too much time with this but the Mirror goes on to say:
This ‘victory’ for short-sighted unionism will result only in the tightly-run operations which employ young people gettingrid of them rather than paying more in wages.
Forty per cent of the unemployed are under 20 and now we have a situation where young unskilled people are being costed off the job market.
That is a fact of life in Australia today. I will pass on very quickly to another matter because my time is running out. The problems of high workers compensation premiums and payroll tax payments of five per cent in Victoria all mitigate against the employment of young people. All these things mitigate against employment opportunities for young people; but, of course, the greatest factor of all, and the one that I want to mention particularly, is the unauthorised stoppages in the work force, be they in the government, semi- government or private enterprise sections.
Bob Hawke, of course, has taken great pleasure and pride and preens himself in citing the reduction in the number of working days lost through industrial disputes. The number of days lost has fallen by 30 per cent on the 1 976 figures; but that is only one aspect. It does not take into account- I and other senators on this side of the chamber have pointed this out already- the flow-on effects of the number of working days lost throughout the community which create a good deal of hardship and side effects. The guerrillatype activity, such as the embargoes on the delivery of materials to building sites, unauthorised smokoes, bans on sections of building jobs and stoppages during concrete pours, must be taken into consideration when the number of working days lost is assessed. Because time does not permit me to deal with this in detail, I would like to incorporate in Hansard an answer given by the Minister for Construction (Mr McLeay) in reply to a question in the House of Representatives on 25 August 1977. It appears on page 627 of the House of Representatatives Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson)- Senator Tehan, are you seeking leave to incorporate that in Hansard?
– I seek leave to incorporate that passage in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I take it, Senator, that the quotation is capable of incorporation in Hansard.
-I think so.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
Mr McLEAY; I have seen those reports and I think I have also heard the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions using the information. Unfortunately, the figures do not apply to the building and construction industry. The statistics which are gathered by the Bureau of Statistics, or whatever source gathers them, do not include time lost through the guerilla type action which currently is being conducted in the building and construction industry by the Builders Labourers Federation in particular. Industrial action such as embargoes on deliveries of material to building sites, unauthorised smokoes, bans on sections of building jobs, stoppages during concrete pours and the like is not taken into consideration when the numbers of man hours lost are assessed, and there is an enormous loss of work and employment as a direct result of such action. For example, around Australia there are 80 projects on which little or no work at all is being done. In South Australia, which is the area that I know best, no work is being done on any major project and has not been done for three months as a direct result of the action of the Builders Labourers Federation. The total value of projects of some size held up in South Australia is over $40m, and the peak job capacity for those works- about six are involved- is over 1,600 men. The latest unemployment figures- those for June- indicate that around 1,300 skilled and semi-skilled building workers are out of work in South Australia. If the Builders Labourers Federation would lift its bans and discontinue its guerrilla action, there would be employment opportunities for very many of the men who currently are unemployed.
There is no way in the world that anybody could possibly blame the Government or Government policies for the unemployment that exists in the construction industry. It is entirely the result of industrial action by building unions, and in particular by the Builders Labourers Federation. In fact, on one Commonwealth project in South Australia worth over $ 1 m there has been a ban- I believe it was lifted yesterdayfor three months. The cost of that ban to the taxpayers has been $40,000, on a job worth just over $1m. The peak number of workers who could be employed on that project is 100. So the effect of such bans goes right down the line. There is a ban on a very large private sector job worth $25m in Port Pirie. Port Pirie is relatively depressed. There is significant unemployment in the area. If this project were allowed to proceed peak employment opportunities there would be in excess of 800 jobs for skilled and semi-skilled building workers. The cost to the company over the three months the job has been embargoed is $90,000 and the cost per month as long as the embargo continued will be $10,000. That company is considering abandoning the project. I have prepared some tables which I would like to have incorporated in Hansard. In the event of not having this agreement from the Opposition -
– Is the honourable gentleman seeking leave to incorporate a table in Hansard?
Mr McLEAY; Yes.
Mr Uren; No.
– Leave is not granted.
Mr Uren; When anything is sought to be incorporated in Hansard the usual courtesy is for it to be shown to the Opposition- before the Dorothy Dix question is asked. As we have not been extended that courtesy we will not give leave.
-The honourable gentleman has made his point and will resume his seat. I ask the Minister for Construction to draw his answer to a conclusion.
Mr McLEAY; I make the point that one does not know when one will get a question in this place and, with the best of intentions, sometimes it takes a couple of weeks. I bow to your suggestion, Mr Speaker, and I shall not go through this very long list of more than 80 projects around the Commonwealth -
-Order! The honourable gentleman is entitled without leave to table a document if he chooses. He may wish to table this document rather than read it out.
Mr McLEAY; Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is my intention to table the document but I thought it appropriate to draw attention to a couple of very good examples of jobs that have been held up as a result of this action. The loss of man hours involved on these jobs does not appear in the official figures. Let me take one example in Victoria -
Mr Uren; I rise to order. The Minister has been replying for eight minutes now. Mr Speaker, this is an abuse of Question Time. I therefore draw your attention to your ruling that Ministers should keep their replies short.
-The Minister will draw his answer to a conclusion.
Mr McLEAY; In drawing my answer to a conclusion, I direct attention to a Victorian project, the State Savings Bank of Victoria project, which is worth $50m, which will employ 1,150 men at its peak and which has been closed down for nearly six weeks because of action taken by the Builders Labourers Federation. This is the pattern throughout Australia. I table the document.I trust that those who are interested will take the time to inspect it
– In the few minutes remaining to me in this debate I will deal with the position in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria, where we can see the indirect effect that strikes have. It is something like the air traffic controllers strike and the Redfern Mail Exchange strike. Hundreds of thousands of workers are laid off as a direct result of the power strike. Small businesses are going bankrupt. In my own small town of Kyabram there are about 5,500 people. We have three secondary industries. There is a fruit canning factory, a factory which makes cans and a textile factory. The three main industries in the town employ, in aggregate, some 500 people, and all of them have been laid off. That is the story throughout Victoria. The effect has spread interstate. I suggest that Opposition senators have their heads in the sand if they will not accept the proposition that this sort of unauthorised work stoppage causes drastic standdowns in essential industry and sends people bankrupt because not only are they unable to employ more labour but the labour that they do employ becomes unemployed. Unauthorised stoppages have a tremendous, drastic and decisive effect on job opportunities for young people.
I suggest that it is not the Government which is at fault. The Government has given details in this debate of the initiatives it has taken and the assistance that is available for people who are out of work. If we could reach a situation of stabilisation in industry and stabilisation in the industrial scene and be assured of a period during which there would be no strikes, no unauthorised stoppages, no unauthorised smokoes and no need to stand down people who are not on strike, there would be increased capital investment and reduction in unemployment. However, this will not occur while we have the sort of situation which at present exists in the building trade. For example, in the city of Melbourne recently the National Bank made a reasoned judgment not to erect a new building costing several million dollars but instead to buy an existing building because of the total uncertainly as to the work force- the members of the Builders Labourers Federation. That situation is multiplying throughout the nation. Until it is rectified the unemployment problem of young people will not be overcome.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise to support the motion which has been moved by Senator Douglas McClelland. In so doing I must say to the Government that I accept that it is concerned about the unemployment and it is concerned about the unemployment of young people in this country, as it has to be because unemployment of young people is creeping even into its ranks in that even in areas where people were always assured of jobs, such as in companies, family companies, firms or with friends, young people now are finding some difficulty in obtaining employment. I could not help thinking that the difference between the Government and the Opposition, when it comes to the unemployment of young people in this country, was summed up in a remark made by Senator Durack earlier in the debate when he said that the unemployment of youth has to be seen as just part of the general unemployment picture in this country. We in the Opposition see the unemployment of youth as being far different from the general run of unemployment in this country because of the far reaching consequences that can spring from that unemployment- the sorts of consequences that were referred to in the poverty and education report which stated:
As Commission research shows, people who are unemployed for long periods are prone to a sense of despair and defeat. Apart from the purely economic impact of unemployment, other effects included ‘disturbance of the person’s relationships with his family, other people and the community at large, and apparently severe effects on psychological and even physical well being’. These people saw themselves as being excluded not only from work but from society.
That is a terrible thing to say about any human being. It is a terrible future for those people to look forward to; but when one remembers that the human beings can be only 15 or 16 years old one starts to understand why the Opposition feels that this is a matter of great public importance and urgency. Those consequences of unemployment on youngsters can go much further, as was said in a seminar here in Canberra by Dr Brian Scott and reported in today’s Canberra Times. The newspaper report reads:
By 1990 we could easily have serious echoes, at the political level, of the frustration of today’s young unemployed ‘, he said.
Remember that many angry young men of the 1 930s who walked the streets looking vainly for work in later life sought to introduce radical changes into a political system which they felt was heartless and unfair.
That is exactly the feeling of youngsters who have left school or who are about to leave school today. We know what happened in Europe in the 1930s. We know how people were able to manipulate that feeling of despair, that feeling of anger with a society that they felt had left them out. There are many youngsters around today who feel exactly the same way- that society has by-passed them.
There is a generation of youngsters whose future worries me very much. There are kids who today have left school and who cannot get jobs, and as the weeks, the months and, it appears, the years go by and they still do not have jobs their chances of ever working again become slimmer because if the economy picks up and there are jobs available for youngsters the employers are not going to take on people aged 19, 20 or 22 years when they can take on youngsters aged 15, 16 or 17 years whom they do not have to pay so much. So, where is this generation that is unemployed today ever going to find work? What is its future going to be? Is it going to finish up- as did the generation in the 1930s in Europe- rebelling against society, hitting out against society and changing the society that left it behind? No matter what schemes are afoot at the moment or what plans the Government is talking about, nobody appears to be looking at the problem of these young people and what their future is to be.
When we talk about youngsters in our sort of society, knowing how bad it is for some of them in the areas in which we all move, imagine how bad it must be for Aboriginal children in society. Where are they going to find jobs? Another group in society that will be completely locked out or will finish up with all the filthy, low-paid jobs that nobody ever wants to do is the children who were bora outside Australia. As junior females in society are the worst hit of the lot, presumably the junior females in the migrant communities will be the worst hit of any. In May 1977, 19.5 per cent of the females between 15 and 19 years of age looking for jobs were born outside Australia. One wonders what their future will be. I have yet to see what plans the Government has to give them some sort of chance in life.
The children who are still at school have an apathy about them. Teachers tell us that the children do not try, that they are lazy and that they do not seem to care what happens to them. These are children who are tentative about life outside school walls. They have heard from older brothers and sisters and friends of the effort to get a job and of the 10, 17 and 42 jobs that people have applied for and still not been successful. One can imagine how much value those people put on themselves if they apply for 42 jobs and still do not get one. The children at school are still worried about what will happen to them in the future. No matter what their teachers say to them they cannot promise them a job any more. Teachers are saying to the children now: ‘It is no good thinking you will come back to school. We are not a child minding organisation. We are a school. You are supposed to learn. If you finish with learning- as many children of 16 and 17 years of age do- the place for you is in the community’. Those children do not have a place in the education system or in society. Their parents look at them and wonder why the children do not try to get a job. The parents do not understand how hard it is for the children to get jobs. I have heard of no government schemes to help these children.
Senator Durack said that one of the causes of unemployment was the changed attitude of young people. I do not believe that young people’s ideas have changed. From my observation, they have not. Young people today try as hard as or harder than young people in earlier generations tried. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has brought down a report which says that the young are not work shy. A newspaper article on the report states:
A major international study on youth unemployment demolishes many of the criticisms made of the young unemployed.
Claims that the young are less industrious and less willing to shoulder responsibility are challenged in the report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Surveys conducted around the world for the OECD showed that most young people had a fairly positive attitude towards work.
The problem arises when the young people cannot find that work. It is intensified by the fact that most of the unemployed and the new job seekers lack the specific skills needed for the new and different sorts of jobs that will come in a new society. Young people are not being trained for that. They may not be in the position to get the training.
The world has changed. There is not so much work around as there used to be. This Government does not seem to have taken cognisance of the fact nor has it dreamt up schemes to cope with that development. This Government has encouraged greater mechanisation by increasing the investment allowances and thus cutting out a great range of employment that used to be available to young people. Once industry wanted untrained people. It said that it wanted to get the people and train them in its own ways. Once it wanted people for apprenticeships. Now it does not. Once it could get a lot of cheap labour out of apprentices, but now it does not want apprentices. Once it liked to take people in and teach them on the job. Now the jobs do not exist in which such people can be trained. What is the Government doing about that?
Senator Walters last week suggested that in Tasmania jobs were available picking soft fruit or doing heavy labouring. That is not much of a future to look forward to. In any case, are those the sorts of jobs to give young girls? One in five young girls has no chance of getting a job in Australia at the moment. If those figures reflect the position in the cities, one can imagine what the situation is like in country towns. What hopes have these young girls? Yet the Government runs advertisements like this one I hold in my hand entitled ‘Helping Australia Work’. They are run by the Commonwealth Employment Service and state that employment vacancies are required for apprentices, process workers and sales girls. Where in any country town are jobs available for girls as apprentices? Where are the jobs for process workers or sales girls? Sales girls could once get jobs in places like Coles or Woolworths. Those companies now have one person sitting at a cash register at the exit from the store. Even that area of jobs has gone for young people and especially for young girls. Instead of spending the money on those sorts of advertisements that are blatant untruths, the Government could have put that money into some sort of scheme to create jobs for the children who have not them. It is not proper to suggest, as was once the case, that they stay at school and work hard, and that the world will be theirs. They stayed at school. It does not matter how well they did. It does not matter how hard they worked. It does not matter how good their qualifications. The jobs are not there.
This Government even cut the unemployment benefits for young workers. They do not get any increase whenever anybody else receiving a benefit gets an increase due to movements in the cost of living. Yet the OECD report stated scathingly that the payment of unemployment benefits must be looked upon as a ‘residual measure’ and as an ‘acknowledgement of society’s failure to provide either employment or a substitute activity with the potential of leading to employment’. The Government has immense numbers of schemes going. It has schemes for keeping children quiet. It has baby minding schemes. They are not schemes that will supply jobs for these children. That is what we have to do. We have to give not only training but also jobs for the people to go into when the training is completed. In so many areas, people do six months training, which is fine, and at the end of that period no jobs are available for them. Utter despair must set in when people have been trained and still society does not want them.
What is the future to be? What will the Government do about providing jobs? For instance, girls in country towns used to be able to get jobs in hospitals. City girls used to be able to get jobs in hospitals. This week a Victorian newspaper reported that most major public hospitals say that they will have to cut staff and reduce patient services to keep within their budgets. This is another area in which jobs are not now available for young girls. Why can this Government not use the muscle it has? Senator Cotton was quoted as saying:
Market forces must take account of the Government’s more recent ‘Put Australia First’ campaign, or the Government will intervene to see that they do.
Why can the Government not intervene to see that jobs are made available for the young people in this society? Why can there not be a greater increase in apprenticeships? We will need skilled tradesmen of all sorts in the future. Why can a scheme not be brought in actually to give children apprenticeships and not just pay employers to entice them to take on apprentices. The Government should put some of the responsibility back on the employers to take children in as apprentices. Why can the Government itself not expand its own schemes and its own works program to take in more apprentices than it does now? It should not just take in what it might require but should extend greatly the intake of apprentices in various areas.
The Government has to use the muscle it has- if, as Senator Cotton says, it has that muscle- to make sure that jobs are available and that there are not just job schemes dreamt up to keep children quiet. The support scheme that was brought in is supplying some sort of employment for children who have been unemployed for six months. What happens to those who do not get jobs and who do not attract the sort of subsidy for employers to give them jobs? Where are the schemes to supply jobs for them? What about the kids who have had a job and lost it, who were sacked or whose jobs went out of existence. The employers may decide that after six months they will sack the young person whose employment was subsidised and get another one and so attract another subsidy. What is happening about that? What sort of scheme is the Government bringing in to help those sort of children?
Government initiative has to be put into works programs that will provide jobs. It is no good the Government saying to us that it was the Labor Party that caused unemployment. It is no good saying that unemployment is world wide. These are our children. It is our future. We have to find jobs for them now. In six months, 12 months or two years it will be too late for many of them. The chance will have gone. The Government has to initiate works programs that will provide jobs so that we do not finish up with the sorts of problems facing us that we know now face these youngsters, including great despair, suicide- we have to face that development- drunkenness, drug taking. The future prospect is that of a vast untrained mass of people who have never worked and who, therefore, may never be able to work.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
-Prior to the suspension of the sitting we were debating an urgency motion moved by the Opposition on the subject of the social and economic implications of youth unemployment. The speaker immediately prior to the suspension of the sitting was Senator Melzer. I must say that I found Senator Melzer’s speech to be possibly the most interesting of all the Opposition speeches. She actually made a general statement of case in relation to the matter of urgency before us. All other Opposition speeches were directed solely to the Cunningham by-election. As such there really is not much to reply to in those speeches. That is a pity because the subject itself is an interesting one and a very urgent and important one. The solution of it has been advanced in no way by the Opposition in this debate.
A number of people have turned their attention to the problem of youth unemployment in recent times. I would like to quote briefly from a couple of articles in the newspapers of the last few days by people who ought to know a little bit about the subject. I refer firstly to an article in the Canberra Times of 10 October by Dr Richard Campbell, who in a senior lecturer and academic assistant at the Australian National University. In that article he said:
One thing is clean Australia is moving towards a situation in which our society simply will not have jobs for much of its under-20 population. That is, the current pool of unemployed school leavers, I suggest, will prove to be not a temporary phenomenon but a manifestation of a structural change.
In today’s Canberra Times there was a report on a speech given by Dr Brian Scott. Senator Melzer quoted part of his speech, but she quoted only the opening part. I would like to quote some further statements made by Dr Scott on the subject. He said:
Unemployment among the young is a significant problem today in most countries of the Western world.
Senator Baume, in particular, made that point in his speech. He pointed out that it is not an Australian phenomenon but a general problem in the Western world that many countries are having to face and grapple with, countries with varying types of government and very different economic situations.
The article states further:
Speaking on ‘The World Scene in 1990’, Dr Scott said it was a first priority to see Australia’s economy ‘back on the rails’ and stay there.
Until this happens it’s difficult to be confident about the prospects for the 1980s’, he said.
Of course, that has been the message of the Fraser Government. It has stated that after the three years of disastrous economic mismanagement by the Whitlam Government, it is essential to get the economy under control- back on the rails, as Dr Scott put it- so that we can meet the growing challenges in our community and start to move forward. Of course, the Government has not been totally inhibited by the mess it inherited from the Whitlam Government. It has done many things. It has certainly recognised the urgency of the problem of youth unemployment. In that connection I would like to outline to the Senate a number of things that the Government has either taken up from the Labor Government and advanced or introduced itself.
In the general area of youth employment programs, the current Budget provides $ 102.7m for training, which is a 33 per cent increase. That indicates that the Government places very high priority on this area. It has increased its expenditure by one third in this area, whereas in other areas it has found it necessary for the purposes of overall fiscal management to cut back on expenditure. Obviously the matter of youth unemployment is one of the highest priority with the Fraser Government.
I would like to mention briefly some of the programs that the Government is funding and to indicate the sort of funding that it is giving to them. I refer firstly to the National Employment and Training scheme. It is a program which was set up under the Whitlam Government and extended and supported by the Fraser Government. It provides employment for a number of categories of people, including those who are threatened with losing their jobs and those who lack employable skills. The second category is one that covers many people who are in the youth unemployment situation. Additionally a special rate of subsidy is available for employers who train young people of between 15 and 19 years of age who have left full time education for at least six months in the last 12 months, who have been unemployed for at least six months in the last 12 months and who are registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service. Thus the Government is trying to give those youngsters who are having genuine difficulty in finding jobs the sort of training that will fit them for the jobs that are available. In the current financial year the Government has allotted $54.3m for vocational training under the NEAT scheme, which contrasts with the $3 1.6m provided last year. In 1976-77 40,000 people were assisted. As at the end of September 1977 25,544 were in training. It is an extensive program.
It has another aspect, which is called the special assistance program under the NEAT scheme. This relates to some of the things that Senator Melzer was talking about. She had quite a bit to say about apprentices. This program relates to the situation where an apprentice’s employment is in jeopardy as a result of liquidity problems or a shortage of available work faced by the employer because of the general economic situation. NEAT in-plant training assistance may be offered to an employer to enable him to retain the apprentice. This form of assistance may also apply where an apprentice’s indenture is transferred to an employer who is better situated to take on him or her. In other words, the Government is trying to prevent the loss from apprenticeship of young apprentices who want to continue with their apprenticeships but who cannot because their employers are experiencing economic difficulties.
A further apprenticeship support program is the Commonwealth Rebate Apprenticeship Full-time Training scheme, or CRAFT scheme. Senator Baume also mentioned this program. It is very important in the apprenticeship area. It provides tax free rebates to employers for apprentices released to attend or study a trade for State-authorised full time basic technical education courses and for apprentices undertaking approved full time off-the-job training. Certain allowances are paid. I shall quote the figures to show the sort of money that is involved in this regard. Currently $42.2m is being provided. In 1976-77 apprenticeship intakes rose by 9 per cent, which gives some indication of the success of that program in assisting employers who were dismayed by the sort of wages that they had to pay to apprentices in recent years and who felt that that, combined with the time apprentices need to take off for their studies, meant that they were just not an economic proposition for the employers. That has been a very positive move by the Government- clearly it has been a successful one- to help the employment of young people as apprentices.
Another program is the Special Youth Employment Training Program, which is open only to those who have left school in the last year, who are under 25 years of age and who have been unemployed for more than 12 months. It provides a $65 a week subsidy, which is a very real one and which is available again in an area in which people are worried about paying high wages to untrained and inexperienced people. An amount of $ 18m is to be spent this year under this program. A review of the program in October of this year showed that 70 per cent of the youths who have gone through it have established themselves successfully in the work force, proving that with proper training that is directed towards those who are motivated to work and geared to the work place it is possible for these young people to find jobs and to succeed in the work force.
The Community Youth Support Scheme is one that is very well known by now. It provides financial assistance to community groups and recognised youth organisations for supportive programs and services to improve the ability of young people to find employment and to help young unemployed persons to maintain a sense of direction and purpose. In the current financial year the Government has allocated $4m to this scheme, which represents an increase on last year’s allocation which was $0.6 million. Last year it was a new program that was experimental. It has proved to be successful. The Government has therefore decided to increase sevenfold the sum of money that it will spend on that scheme.
In February of this year the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) and the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) together announced grants totalling $ 1 . 5m for 1 977 for the development and conduct of courses specially designed for the young unemployed who have educational qualifications that are low and inadequate for today’s labour market conditions. Wehave had many debates in this chamber on education and in a number of them the subject of literacy and numeracy amongst school leavers has been raised. It is too soon for us to say whether those standards are lower than they used to be, but without doubt the lack of skills in those two areas has been a major barrier to the employment of young people. The Government recognised that that was a problem with employers. Employers expect their employees to be able to read and write English and perform arithmetical calculations. The Government has made available to young people who are motivated to work a program that will enable them to master basic skills and gain employment. Of course it is a new program. There was no expenditure for it last year, but this year a total of $ 1.5m will be spent. Those are some of the notable programs that the Government has aimed at solving the problem of youth unemployment.
The Government has recognised that there is a very real problem and a very urgent one. It is a pity that Labor in government did not recognise it a little better itself. I should like to quote briefly a couple of extracts from the Budget Speech of the first Labor Treasurer on 21 August 1973 which show the way that the Labor Government misread the situation. He said:
The Labour market has reflected this resurgence -
The resurgence in economic activity-
Unemployment has receded markedly, job opportunities have broadened and the work force has grown rapidly.
For the year ahead, expansionary forces are powerful and likely to remain so. Personal incomes will continue buoyant and keep up consumer spending.
On the subject of tariffs he said:
When the year began we expected imports to increase by some$800m or 20 per cent in 1973-74; the decision to cut tariffs by one-quarter will add further to that increase. We can well afford a strong expansion in imports. By taking some pressure off domestic productive capacity, that will help to ease inflationary strains.
The Labor Government was told at the time it announced those across-the-board tariff cuts that they would be a disaster; that if it wanted to cut tariffs it should have done so selectively. Without a doubt, the result of the across-the-board cuts was an increase and a move towards really deep seated unemployment in certain areas of the work force. Quite a lot of statistics have been cited this evening. I have only a couple of minutes, so I can cite briefly only figures for the increase in unemployment that occurred under the Labor Government. A very simple example is in the area of youth unemployment, that is, unemployment among those under 2 1 years of age. When Labor came to office they numbered 80,395. When Labor left office they numbered 152,543, an increase of 100 per cent. There were enormous increases in unemployment during 1974 and 1975 when the Budget of Mr Crean was having its effect. From August 1974 the rate of increase moved from 50 per cent to 100 per cent to 150 per cent up to 250 per cent in December 1 974. By March 1975 it was in the 300 per cent range increase over the comparable rate of unemployment for March 1973. From March to July 1975 the rate of increase for each month was 300 per cent above the unemployment rate for the corresponding month of 1973, the first year of the Labor Government, a year when it was experiencing some of the benefits of the previous Liberal-National Country Party Government. From August 1975 the picture became steadily worse. Compared with August 1973 the increase was 355 per cent, for September 380 per cent, for October 390 per cent, and for November-December a small drop to 350 per cent. That was the record of Labor in office, its general position in relation to unemployment and particularly in relation to young unemployment. Many things have been advanced as factors which caused that situation, but without a doubt the economic policies of the Labor Government from its inception, and specifically from the time of the Crean Budget, were massive forces moving this country into a situation, it seems, of chronic high unemployment and a situation which will take some time yet to solve. We have spent several hours on the debate of this urgency motion. I think it is important that we resolve the issue. Therefore I move:
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President-Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question put
That the motion (Senator Douglas McClelland’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the report of the Tasmania Grants Commission on financial assistance to local government. Due to the limited number available, copies of this report have been placed in the Senate Records Office and the Parliamentary Library. The recommendations made in this report have already been made available to senators from Tasmania.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the monthly reports of the Darwin Cyclone Tracy Relief Trust Fund for May, June, July and August of 1977.
Senator ROBERTSON (Northern Territor) by leave- I move:
That the Senate take note of the papers.
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Report on Passenger Motor Vehicles
– On behalf of Senator Durack, for the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on passenger motor vehicles, together with the text of a joint statement by the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs relating to the report.
– by leave- I move:
That the Senate take note of the papers.
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Report on Polyethylene Coated Paper and Paperboard
– On behalf of Senator Durack, for the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on polyethylene coated paper and paperboard for the manufacture of containers (by-law).
Motion (by Senator Wood) agreed to:
That Business of the Senate Notices of Motion Nos. 1, 2 and 3 standing in my name for one sitting day hence be postponed until four sitting days after today.
Consideration resumed from 1 1 October.
– On the last occasion on which we were discussing this Bill the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) asked a number of questions which he was good enough to provide to me. The questions were then incorporated in Hansard and I undertook to obtain answers to them. As one would expect, I passed those questions to the Treasurer (Mr Lynch), who has obtained answers and provided them to me. I have them with me and rather than read them out I seek leave to incorporate them in Hansard. I have given a copy of the questions and answers to Senator Wriedt and he may well wish to make some comments on the matter.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator DrakeBrockman) Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
What was the total of unused cash balance at 30 June 1977?
At 30 June 1977 Australian Government cash balances stood at $442,044,45 1 as set out in the Statement of Fund and Public Account Balances at 30 June 1977 appearing on page 2 of the Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure for the year ended 30 June 1977. That Statement together with the Auditor General’s Report on it was presented in the Senate on 13 September 1977.
How were subscriptions to the last loan derived:
Cash subscriptions to the Commonwealth Government’s July loan amounted to $6 10 million, of which:
Note- The balance of approximately 10 per cent was subscribed by the savings banks.
How does the Government propose to fund or finance the deficit for the coming year now estimated at $2,2 1 7m?
The balance and details of the various areas outlined below would be a valuable help in analysing this position:
What the actual level of sales will be is difficult to predict because, in part, it will depend on general monetary conditions and expectations in the private sector which are influenced by a whole host of factors, many of which are outside the Government’s control. It will also depend on the future requirements of monetary policy over the course of the year. Subscriptions to the July Commonwealth loan totalled $610m, of which $375m was accounted for by the non-bank private sector. Net subscriptions to Australian Savings Bonds and Special Bonds totalled $233m over the 3 months to September 1 977.
Overall, I would emphasise the point that the prospective financing transactions which will go toward meeting a Budget deficit cannot be predicted with any degree of accuracy and that for some years it has not been the practice to attempt to include what purport to be estimates of prospective loan raisings from various sources, Treasury Notes issues etc. in the Budget papers.
At what stage of 1976 was the equivalent bill or bills introduced; what amount was finally transferred under the procedures outlined in those bills and what was the surplus or deficiency?
The equivalent Bill relating to the financial year 1976-77, the Loan Bill (No. 3) 1976, was introduced in the House of Representatives on 19 August 1976 and in the Senate on 26 August 1976. The Bill authorised the Treasurer to borrow up to a limit of $ 1 , 600,000,000. The amount finally transferred under the procedures outlined in the Bill, i.e. to achieve a balanced CRF, was $1,503,508,702.
This transaction achieved the intended aim of a balanced Consolidated Revenue Fund; thus there was no surplus or deficiency in that Fund.
Why is this borrowing being authorised outside the ambit of the Loan Council?
Clause 3 (8) of the Financial Agreement, inter alia, excludes loans for defence purposes from the provisions of the Agreement. Successive Commonwealth governments of both political persuasions have taken the view that borrowings to finance a Commonwealth deficit should not be subject to State government approval through Loan Council decisions. The simplest and traditional procedure to provide adequate legislative borrowing authority to finance a deficit is through a Loan Act, which authorizes borrowings for defence purposes so that defence expenditure already approved under an Appropriation Bill can be transferred out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and charged to the Loan Fund. Such borrowings are not subject to Loan Council approval.
What is the reason for the urgency of the Bill; why should it be passed before the Appropriation Acts for 1977-78?
Early introduction of a Loan Bill is not unusual where a need to charge a substantial proportion of defence expenditure to Loan Fund is anticipated. A Loan Act of the type proposed cannot be retrospective in its effect; it can only apply to defence spending from the date on which the Act receives Royal Assent. The Bill aims to meet a prospective deficit in the CRF by transferring defence expenditures from that Fund to the Loan Fund. On the basis of the estimates shown in Table 3 on page 10 of Budget Document No. 4, the currently estimated CRF deficit, in the absence of the proposed Act, is $901 million. This compares with total proposed appropriations for 1977-78 under the heading Department of Defence of $2, 1 86 million. A large proportion of
defence expenditure will, therefore need to be charged to Loan Fund. Given that the effect of the Act cannot be retrospective it needs to be enacted in time to permit charging of defence expenditure to Loan Fund to commence. It therefore needs to be passed in the Budget Session.
Clause 4 of the Bill envisages that the Loan Bill will be enacted before the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1977-78.
For 1976-77, what was the amount of defence expenditure transferred from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the Loan Fund; what were the other net transactions of the Loan Fund and net transactions of the Trust Fund?
The amount of defence expenditure transferred from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to Loan Fund in 1976-77 was $1,504 million.
Receipts of the Loan Fund were $3,644 million. Expenditure other than defence was $2 , 1 40 million.
The net transactions of the Trust Fund in 1976-77 were a credit of $1,094 million (i.e. the excess of receipts over expenditure).
What are the specific authorities under which expenditures have been charged to the Loan Fund from 1 976-77?
Under what authorities can Trust Fund moneys be used in the Loan Fund?
Moneys standing to the credit of the Trust Fund may be invested in Australian Government Securities and in that sense become available for use in the Loan Fund.
The more important authorities are:-
There are other authorities of lesser importance including investment provisions under the Wool Industry Act 1972 and the Wheat Industry Stabilization Act 1 974.
In addition, the transactions of the National Debt Sinking Fund are recorded, for accounting purposes, in the Trust Fund. This Fund does not, however, form pan of the Treasurer’s accounts. The investment powers are controlled by the National Debt Commission.
Can moneys currently in the Loan Fund and which were raised for other purposes be drawn on to meet Defence expenditures?
No, unless legislation were enacted to authorise such drawings. Also, regard would need to be had to any terms, in the arrangements Tor the borrowing of the moneys, limiting the purposes for which the moneys are to be expended.
To what extent do the July loan proceeds relate to longterm borrowings and short term monies?
How much long and short term monies were obtained from banks and other institutions?
In announcing on 27 July the result of the July loan, the Treasurer stated that cash subscriptions totalled $6 10m, comprising: 12 per cent subscribed to the one year 7 month (February 1979)stock; 15 per cent to the 5 year (July 1982) stock; and 73 per cent to the 9 year 10 month (May 1987) stock.
Banks subscribed about $235m, mainly to the 1987 stock. Subscriptions from the non-bank sector totalled about $375m. Details of the stocks taken up in the July loan by institutions, other than banks, are not available.
Does the Government confirm the overall target for the rate of growth in the volume of money (M3) announced in the Budget Speech?
If the overall target has been varied, what is the up-to-date figure?
The Budget Speech did not refer to a target for the rate of growth of the volume of money. It was said in the Budget Speech, that:
Despite the many hazards in such projections, the present outlook indicates future growth in the broadly defined measure of the volume of money, M3, in the range of 8- 10 per cent over the course of 1 977-78.
That range many change as circumstances unfold.
It may also be necessary, as in 1976-77, to adjust policy in response to changing circumstances.
With those qualifications, I indicate the Government’s present expectation that it will be appropriate for monetary growth in 1977-78 to be somewhat less than in 1976-77.
This would maintain the Government’s policy of providing adequate funds for sustainable recovery in private sector activity and employment, while continuing to bear down steadily on inflation and inflationary expectations.
The Government’s assessment has not since changed.
To what extent will overseas borrowings be used to finance the deficit?
See answer to questions 3 (a) and 3(b).
In view of the fact that the Government has raised approximately $2,900 million in overseas and domestic borrowings so far this financial year, why does the Government need further loan raisings to finance the deficit?
In the three months to the end of September 1977 net overseas and domestic loan raisings- including the issue of Treasury Notes- amounted to $1,455 million. Details are given in the Statement of Financial Transactions for S eptember.
The size of the deficit is not the sole determinant of the Government’s borrowing program. The general economic situation, and in particular monetary conditions and the balance of payments, are also relevant to the total borrowing program and its composition.
If the Government proposes to finance the deficit from the domestic market, what will be the position if the domestic market cannot finance that deficit?
As indicated in answers to previous questions the Government will be pursuing a monetary policy that provides adequate funds for sustainable recovery in private sector activity and employment, while continuing to bear down on inflation. The extent to which the deficit will be financed from the domestic market, and particularly the funds raised from the non-bank sector, will have regard to this policy. The Government is also raising funds overseas and considerations affecting those borrowings have been discussed in earlier answers.
The difference between the deficit (total financing transactions) and funds raised from these sources- which may be positive or negative- will be reflected in residual financing -i.e. use of cash balances and/or other residual financing arrangements with the Reserve Bank.
– I thank the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton) for providing the answers to these very complex questions. Of course they are equally complex answers, as we would all understand, as they deal with matters pertaining to the Government’s financial policy and Treasury matters. Because of their complexity I suggest that the Committee should report progress and seek leave to sit again in order to give the Opposition time to consider them. The answers of course have been available only to me. Naturally I would wish to discuss them with some of my colleagues. I would also indicate that, with the Minister’s approval, the Opposition would wish to discuss these answers with Treasury officials. Because of their complex nature it is important and desirable that the Opposition has the opportunity to be advised by those persons who are most conversant with these difficult areas. I trust the Minister will refer this request to his colleague, the Treasurer (Mr Lynch), so that probably next week we can again discuss these matters in more detail.
– I think it would be proper for me to respond to the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Wriedt, and indicate that I understand the situation quite well. As I indicated earlier and as I have indicated in earlier years, there is benefit in our understanding quite well these matters of public finance. We are all helped by discussions with officials who spend their lives looking at these matters. They have always been most cooperative and most helpful. I will communicate to the Treasurer my personal view that it would help us if he would let officials of the Treasury discuss these matters with the Opposition. It would be for me to take action tonight or tomorrow on the matter and to indicate that we will try to do what we can to help in this matter. As the Leader of the Opposition would understand quite clearly, the Government has the firm intention that this measure must pass. It will do all it needs to do to help the process of understanding, but of course will be expecting the measure to pass without undue delay.
Debate resumed from 1 1 October on motion by Senator Withers:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Opposition does not oppose this Bill although I think a number of members of the Opposition have some criticisms of particular contents of it. The Bill before the Senate, with its rather pompous and not entirely appropriate title ‘Office of National Assessments Bill 1977’ seeks to establish an Office of National Assessments under a Director-General. It is important to explain what the expression ‘national assessments’ means in this context because the essence of that expression in the title of the Bill is the assessment of intelligence information collected by Australian intelligence agencies concerned with international intelligence. As I have said, the title Office of National Assessments is somewhat verbose and pompous compared, for example, with the title of the equivalent body in the United States which, I think is the National Security Agency, which incidentally employs some 25,000 people. One hopes that the Public Service growth rate in this area will not be as large as it apparently has been in the United States, having regard to staff ceilings. This title is somewhat more verbose than the title suggested by His Honour Mr Justice Hope which was at least more specific. He referred to the Office of Australian Intelligence Assessments, which of course is what the Bui is all about and what the office is all about but which is not revealed by the proposed title.
This legislation had its genesis in the report of the Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security presided over by His Honour Mr Justice Hope. I should like to refer briefly to an abridged version of the third report, the findings of which were tabled in Parliament in April of this year. The Royal Commission was established by the Labor Government with quite wide terms of reference, having regard to some concern in the community at large regarding the apparent proliferation of Australian intelligence organisations, some confusion about their role and their function, and a very great degree of confusion and lack of confidence about their capability and their assessments. In the somewhat filleted report which the Parliament has had available to it since April of this year there is a quite thorough historical analysis by His Honour Mr Justice Hope of what the expression ‘intelligence’ means, what it has meant in various contexts and the history of it, and quite a lot of esoteric references to expert opinion about the role of intelligence collection and the assessment of intelligence in the international scene generally.
His Honour made a number of findings. I should like to refer to some paragraphs of his report because I think they are relevant to our consideration of this Bill. In paragraph 36 of the report, under the heading ‘The need for intelligence ‘, His Honour had this to say:
Australia cannot hope to know everything that is going on in every part of the world. But we can try to keep informed about what people are doing and planning in areas of specific significance to us. That requires us to be discriminating in choosing subjects for intelligence, collection and assessment.
A little further on, in paragraph 40, he went on with the same point but in a sense to a greater degree. He said:
None of this means, however, that Australia can dispense with its own collection and assessment activities. We need to be sure that the information coming to us is objective. For Australia to maintain a degree of self-reliance in its international posture, we must have our own information, our own intelligence. Moreover, it would be naive to imagine that overseas governments will always tell us everything they know about a particular matter. The position they take is quite natural and we should face up to it realistically. 1 mention that particular paragraph because the reference to Australia maintaining a degree of self-reliance in its international posture is almost something new in the international posturing of this country. For many years in the 1960s we in Australia suffered from governments which were not content to obtain any posture of self-reliance in international affairs but which, on the other hand, were quite disposed to adopt a totally supine posture to the United States in particular.
– Have you any evidence of that?
-I say to Senator Sir Magnus Cormack that we had the bizarre situation in 1972 when the then Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, attacked the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr E. G. Whitlam, for going to China. Senator Sir Magnus Cormack ‘s Prime Minister attacked Mr Whitlam for going to China in complete ignorance of the fact that President Nixon was going there too- something which Senator Sir Magnus Cormack might recall as a matter of embarrassment to the government of the day. That would seem to me to have been a matter which should have been of some concern to a government, even one which was not prepared to adopt a self-reliant posture in international affairs. There is probably more evidence of that proposition in relation to Australia’s role and involvement in the Vietnam war. As I have been invited to do so I will refer to that matter. I refer particularly to the publication tabled in the Parliament on 13 May 1975 entitled ‘Australia’s Military Commitment to Vietnam’. At page 2 of the document, in discussing the way in which Australia became involved in Vietnam, the paper states:
Australian military assistance to South Vietnam was not at any time in response to a request for defence aid from South Vietnam as a Protocol State to SEATO as a Treaty organisation. Although successive Australian Governments sought publicly to justify their actions as being ‘in the context of or flowing from’ Australia’s membership of SEATO and the theory of the Protocol State or on the ground that military assistance under SEATO could be on a bilateral as well as a collective basis, the commitment was in fact made as a projection of the forward defence policy to which they were committed.
When talking about Australian involvement in Vietnam, the document states at page 5:
The first Australian initiative came, however, from the Ambassador in Washington who reported on S December that demonstrable Australian support for the Republic of Vietnam would make a very favourable impression on the United States Administration and suggested that Australia might supply counter-insurgency training personnel, small arms and ammunition. These suggestions were discussed by representatives of the Departments of External Affairs, Defence, Navy, Army and Air on 14 December. It was clear from this meeting that the motivation for providing assistance was predominantly political and that the Services were unwilling, for manpower reasons, to make more than a token commitment to the Republic of Vietnam. Accordingly the Ambassador was informed on 19 December that while Australia could supply some small arms and ammunition it could make no more than a token contribution . . .
At page 6, the paper states:
Between February and May 1962 Australian policy moved towards military assistance to South Vietnam. On 16 February the Ambassador in Washington cabled a recommendation that any American request should be considered favourably because the provision of even a handful of instructors would help make Australia’s mark with the United States Administration,
It is for reasons like that that I find it refreshing to read in Mr Justice Hope’s report a reference to the need for Australia to maintain a degree of self-reliance in its international posture. His Honour went on to say:
We must have our own information, our own intelligence.
That, of course, is a view which has been put by sources as impeccably and implacably opposed to one another as the secretary of the MarxistLeninist Communist Party of Australia and Mr B. A. Santamaria, both of whom subscribe to that view, although for slightly different reasons. The recommendation which Mr Justice Hope made in relation to this matter is borne out by experience. One hopes that it is a new development and that future Australian intelligence gathering will be on the basis of the need for this country to maintain a self-reliant posture. In paragraph 42 of his report Mr Justice Hope again provided some degee of assurance to people concerned about the Australian intelligence community. He said:
The Australian intelligence community is fragmented, poorly co-ordinated and organised. The agencies lack proper guidance, direction and control. They do not have good or close relations with the system of government they should serve.
He went on to say that they lacked funds and that their activities were piecemeal. At paragraph 45 he returned to the point about other intelligence organisations of other countries. He said:
Australia’s intelligence interests do not, and cannot, coincide with those of any other country. Therefore, although we can and should benefit from exchange of information and views with friends and allies, we need our own intelligence collection and assessment capabilities. We also need constantly to re-assess the benefits to Australia from intelligence relationships with other countries against the costs.
There are a number of matters arising from His Honour’s observaion in that passage which are of concern. They really relate to the purpose of this Bill, which is to give a higher and, one would hope, more significant function to the assessment of intelligence information wherever it comes from. If there has been a failing in the past one would certainly assume that it related to assessment in the absence of any more detailed information than we now have about the method of gathering information and intelligence employed by various Austraiian governments. There is one other factor involved in this situation which, I suppose, is of interest to many people. It is the provision of an economic assessment board to assist the Office of National Assessments in addition to the board prescribed in clause 6 of the legislation which deals with what is called national assessment as distinct from economic assessment, which is dealt with in clause 7. It is in relation to both these areas that perhaps we should be a little more sceptical, a little more critical and a little more analytical in future about the sorts of assessments referred to in paragraph 45 of the report of the Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security when we are relying on information and views from what Mr Justice Hope terms friends and allies. Whatever the defence interests of Australia and the defence interests of our friends and allies may be there is no reasonable ground for suspecting for one moment that the economic interests of, for example, the United States of America and Australia will necessarily coincide at any time and will, in fact, be anything other than in direct conflict with each other on particular matters.
That is why one finds concern at the moment in certain areas of this country about the activities of satellites which may or may not make economic assessments in relation to the rural produce of this country and things of that kind. The sorts of assessments which are discussed in paragraph 45 cannot be subject to the old boy network arrangements which existed in the past and which, even by their own standards, appear never to have been particularly satisfactory. There are one or two specific comments which I would like to make about the legislation. As far as the Opposition is concerned, one of the things which seems to emerge about the Bill when one reads Mr Justice Hope’s report is that compared with what His Honour recommends it is a pretty sloppy piece of legislation, either by intention, design or just by sheer misadventure at the hands of the draftsmen and the Ministers responsible. For example, on 5 May this year the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) announced what was to be the Committee of Ministers dealing with the Office of National Assessments to whom this body would report. When referring to the Hope Royal Commission at page 1630 of the House of Representatives Hansard for 5 May the Prime Minister said:
The Commission also finds, however, that these services have not occupied an appropriate place within the machinery of government and that their activities have not been well enough co-ordinated. Accordingly, the Government has decided that there should be a special committee of Ministers comprising the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Treasurer, the Leader of the House, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Defence and the AttorneyGeneral to set overall policy and oversee the work of the intelligence community.
One can understand the composition of that committee of Ministers if it includes, for example, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) and the Treasurer (Mr Lynch), particularly having regard to the legislation now before the Senate. One has some difficulty in understanding why the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair), a position which I would have thought was peculiar to the Parliament and not a position intimately associated with the workings of a ministry, should be included in the committee of Ministers. One wonders whether that is a peculiar aberration of the current coalition Government which requires additional National Country Party representation on committees of Ministers dealing with security matters. Be that as it may, the other three Ministers mentioned are the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) and the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen), who traditionally have been associated with the assessment of intelligence information, and the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) who is, of course, the Minister responsible for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. He is accordingly included in that group. The legislation departs from the recommendations of Mr Justice Hope in one or two important particulars. It is quite clear that His Honour intended that the Office of National Assessments, as it is now being called in this legislation, would be one body which would make assessments without, as it were, the two Boards which have been referred to in clauses 6 and 7 of the Bill. In dealing with this, His Honour made this comment in paragraph 48 of his report:
At present, the intelligence assessment process suffers from too great control by the Defence Department and Defence Committee on the one hand, and the Department of Foreign Affairs, on the other. To other departments it is seen in this light. That is bound to affect, and is believed to affect, objectivity in the assessment process, and has tended to result in assessments which run the risk of compromise.
What His Honour is there saying in more polite terms is that intelligence assessment in the past has been too much in the hands of the foreign affairs- defence establishments in this country, as it has been in most countries of a similar kind, and that as a result of that assessment being in the hands of those two departments, both of which have vested interest of one kind or another in a particular view or interpretation of international events, the intelligence assessment process in this country has suffered. As I mentioned earlier, His Honour went to some pains to point to the need for economic assessments being made. In paragraph SS of his report he dealt with that specific question. He said:
Another effect of the present sharing of control by the Departments of Defence and Foreign Affairs is that other departments and agencies who, in other circumstances, might better see the need to use intelligence, do not do so. The lack of use made of the economic intelligence available in Australia, for example, is cause for some concern. Australia does not make full enough use of the materials available, perhaps because of lack of knowledge, or from prejudice; perhaps through some departments’ unwillingness to share information they have with JIO as at present constituted.
As I have said, that has clearly and manifestly been a result of notoriously blinkered assessments of intelligence information in the past. It is something which the Hope Commission sought to avoid in making its recommendations to the Government which have led to this legislation. What we now find in the actual legislation is, instead of one Office of National Assessments which would be responsible for assessing intelligence in relation to defence matters, foreign affairs matters and economic matters, a Director-General who is provided with two Boards with which he is to consult. The first Board is dealt with in clause 6 of the Bill. That is the National Assessments Board. The representatives on it are from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Defence, a member of the defence force and a member of the Australian Public Service with expertise in economics.
The other Board is called the Economic Assessments Board. Its membership is to include an officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and so on. The Director-General is enjoined by clause 8 to consult with both Boards and if he runs into difficulties in those consultations, a method is provided whereby he will attempt to resolve the difficulties. Instead of carrying out the recommendation of Mr Justice Hope, as it is obviously spelt out, we have a Director-General placed in the bizarre position of hovering like a well trained waiter between tables one of which is occupied by experts in the assessment of intelligence from the departments of Foreign Affairs and Defence and the other occupied by the experts on the Economic Assessments Board. There is no apparent correlation between the two as is clearly implicit as being necessary in the recommendations of the Royal Commission.
There are a number of matters in this legislation which seem to us to be deficient. My colleague, Senator Grimes, will be dealing with some of them. Of course, reference is made throughout the legislation to appropriate officers and appropriate Ministers being provided with information with no guidance as to the appropriate means by which this is to be done. One assumes this is to be either in the discretion of the Director-General or the Prime Minister. A number of those minor items of drafting which appear to us to be unsatisfactory are even more unsatisfactory in legislation of this kind which is appropriately a matter of concern to the Australian people, a matter which should be clear and specific in its intentions and not subject to the sort of ambiguities and vagaries which this Bill is. I again reiterate that I think it is regrettable that the title of the Bill should be so spooky as that of Office of National Assessments. I do not really see why we had to embark upon a title like that when the Americans and Mr Justice Hope found much simpler language or much more relevant language in which to describe the purpose of this Bill.
With those comments, I commend the Bill to the Senate with some hesitation because we think it is not quite as good as it ought to be, but we appreciate the fact that it does reflect in large part the recommendations of the Royal Commission and to that extent is worthwhile.
– I have been rather amazed at the comments made by Senator Button who led in the debate on behalf of the Opposition. I thought that he might have taken his cue from the Leader of the Opposition in the other place (Mr E. G. Whitlam), not from the younger Whitlam. The Leader of the Opposition in the other place made what I thought was a fairly statesmanlike speech in support of the legislation. The younger Whitlam engaged in the sort of pinpricking exercise we have heard from Senator Button. One wonders whose side he is on- whether the younger Whitlam is now heir to the throne. The National Assessments Bill is too important for us to engage in pinpricking exercises. One might argue justifiably with some of the provisions of the Bill. Perhaps some people will argue with some of the provisions of the Bill, but I think the important thing is that we have a Bill before the Parliament which represents the views of Mr Justice Hope.
– No, it does not. That is the point.
– Goodness me. Senator Button says that the Bill does not represent the views of Mr Justice Hope. Why then does he support it and commend it if it does not represent Mr Justice Hope’s views? I say to honourable senators opposite: Make up your stupid minds. Either it does or it does not represent the views of Mr Justice Hope. If it does not, then honourable senators opposite should oppose it. But they should not come out with this wishy-washy nonsense of saying that it does and does not- represent the views of Mr Justice Hope but we will commend it. Let us make up our minds where we stand on it. Mr E. G. Whitlam came out in full support of the legislation. He had no criticism of the Bill. The young Mr Whitlam did and Senator Button is following the young Mr Whitlam, the heirapparent to the new dynasty developing in Australia. With great respect to Senator Button, he also illustrated the backward thinking of the Labor Party. He went back to the Vietnamese war. He went way back into the past. I suppose that that is why the Labor Party is in Opposition. Surely it is time we had some forward thinking.
The Government has acted on the recommendations of Mr Justice Hope contained in a report which was commissioned- we give credit for this- by the former Government. Mr Justice Hope made a full inquiry into Australian intelligence. The fact is that the Government has accepted, to a great extent, as we understand it, the recommendations of Mr Justice Hope. It is true that the report is largely secret, which is should be, and that the Government has released those parts of the report which can be made public. We all accept the fact that much of it must remain confidential.
The Government has acted quickly in accepting the major recommendations of Mr Justice Hope. It has implemented already one of the most major recommendations that he made. I say at the outset that I commend the appointment of Mr Furlonger as the first DirectorGeneral of the Office of National Assessments. Mr Furlonger is a most distinguished Australian diplomat. He has served Australia with great distinction in many posts and is a former director of the Joint Intelligence Organisation. As Senator Button is grinning a little, I might say that his Leader, if he is his Leader, in the other place has commended the appointment of Mr Furlonger as being a most proper appointment. Knowing Mr
Furlonger, I do not think that the Government could have made a better appointment. I believe that this new Office is attracting applicants of the highest possible order and that when the final choices are made these men will carry out the functions which the legislation intends them to carry out in the manner in which we hope they will be carried out. I am quite sure that this will be done.
As is explained in the second reading speech, the organisation is to advise the Governmentnot to make policies, but to advise the Governmenton matters of economic and political strategy. These are areas in which I accept Senator Button’s comment that we have been weak- particularly the area of economic assessments. We hope that the Government now will have available to it expert intelligence information on those areas which are covered by the legislation. I think Senator Button oversimplified the matter when he said that it is something new for Australia to have self-reliance. I believe that to a great extent we always have had self-reliance in many areas of policy -
-What about ‘All the way with LBJ’?
– The honourable senator has so many hangups that it does not matter. He is like his party. It has so many hangups that it does not matter. Maybe Australia has not always had the ability to make assessments in all areas; but to argue that we have never had self-reliance is, I think, rather stupid. It indicates hangups rather than facts.
– Hangovers, you are talking about.
-‘ Hangups’, I said. Do not misrepresent me. Hangups are what the honourable senator has. The legislation clearly defines the responsibilities of this new organisation. It is to provide information of the highest order for policy formulation in strategic, economic and political areas so that when the assessments are made at least the Government will have the input to make informed and, one hopes, intelligent judgments. I suppose that we can look back and say that this is a sort of growing up process in Australia. I believe that in the past Australia has provided in many areas assessments which many friendly countries have accepted as being more expert than their assessments. Nevertheless, I think that this is a forward looking policy which is to be commended. After all, we live in a more complex world now. Foreign policy, economic policy and trade policy no longer can be compartmentalised. Foreign policy involves trade, resources, aid, investment and military considerations. Indeed, every department of state is involved in all these areas and not, as it was in the past to some extent, in just political considerations. Today in our relationships with other countries foreign policy encompasses a whole range of matters.
It is most important that the Office of National Assessments will be a statutory authority. It will not be dictated to by Prime Ministers or departments. It will not be subject to any external control. This is, of course, a radical departure from previous intelligence practices in Australia.
– Would it avoid a Bay of Pigs episode on the part of the Australian Government?
-Here we are getting into the Bay of Pigs incident. Goodness me, let us look forward, not backwards. I am amazed at the attitude the Opposition has to these things. Here we have an interjection about the Bay of Pigs. Goodness me, let us look forward.
– It was the sort of exercise in folly that we would want to avoid.
– Who am I to stand in judgment and who is the honourable senator to stand in judgment and say that assessments made by a statutory authority are going to avoid something? The assessments are made; government is advised of the assessments; and the decisions are made by the government. This independent statutory authority will provide the best assessment that it can make. Goodness me, Senator Mulvihill talks about the Bay of Pigs. I just said that Senator Button was looking backwards. He has hang-ups. Senator Mulvihill has the same sort of stupid hang-ups. I am terribly sorry; Senator Mulvihill is a nice bloke, but he really does have the hang-ups of the Labor Party.
It is important- I think the Opposition should take note of this- that there is a special provision in the legislation which does not allow the Office to collect intelligence by clandestine and other methods. I noticed that in the other place one or two people questioned the ‘other methods’, which I would have thought were quite simple. I commend to honourable senators, particularly those on the Opposition side in view of the speech by Senator Button and the interjections that were made by Senator Mulvihill, the speech made by Mr E. G. Whitlam-not the young Mr Whitlam, who engaged in the same sort of nitpicking as Senator Button. I also commend to honourable senators the speech made by Mr David Hamer, who has had a wide and detailed experience in intelligence.
– He was director of naval intelligence.
– Yes, he was director of naval intelligence. I think his speech is worth reading because it was constructive. There was some criticism of the legislation, but it was constructive criticism. I think we all welcome that, but not the sort of nit-picking criticism that we have had tonight. We and the Government should have a close look at the speech made by Mr David Hamer.
– The senator-to-be.
– Really; the honourable senator interjects with the words ‘the senator-to-be’. We are talking about what I think is a serious matter, but we get this sort of interjection.
– Is it not a confidence trick -
– We are getting this nit-picking and stupid comments from the Opposition such as ‘the senator-to-be’. I will say this: If Mr David Hamer becomes Senator Hamer he will be a jolly good senator. I cetainly would -
– If Senator Cormack resigns he can take his place.
– We now have Senator Keeffe getting into the act. Mr Hamer would make a jolly good senator and would do pride to this side of the chamber. I suggest to the Government that it has a close look at the observations made by Mr Hamer. I think they are deserving of study. I draw attention to a quote which Mr Hamer used in his speech from a report of Mr Justice Hope. It highlights the importance of this legislation. The quote appears at page 1746 of the House of Representatives Hansard and will please the Opposition. I think it is important. We have to realise that we are not a world power. We cannot hope to gain intelligence from all the events which happen in every part of the world. We should concentrate on those areas which are of significance to us. Mr Justice Hope stated in his report:
Australia cannot hope to know everything that is going on in every part of the world. But we can try to keep informed about what people are doing and planning in areas of special significance to us. That requires us to be discriminating in choosing subjects for intelligence, collection and assessment.
I think it is important to note those comments. Intelligence is a two-way business. We cannot hope to know what is going on in every part of the world, but we can have an input from our friends and allies who trust us. We ourselves can make an input in those areas of significance to us and in which we have special expertise to assist our friends and allies as long as it is understood, of course, that such intelligence information is confidential, which has not always been the case. I think if we recognise these factors the Bm despite some criticisms that can be made about certain of its provisions, in general follows very closely the recommendations by Mr Justice Hope. The Government has acted in a most commendable manner in picking upon what I suggest is one of the major recommendations of the report to ensure that Australian governments have before them the best possible assessments in the areas of strategy, economics and politics so that they can make judgments. Maybe in the past we have lacked these assessments. This is not a criticism of the efforts of our intelligence organisations. Rather the fact is that they have been tied into departments. This statutory body is completely independent. It can provide governments not with policy decisions but with assessments on which governments have the responsibility to make decisions.
I come to a point which Senator Button made and which I think is important. Now perhaps for the first time one hopes we will be provided-I believe this will occur- with proper economic assessments. I believe we have lacked in this area. A lot of our decisions on trade and economics have been made perhaps somewhat in ignorance and somewhat without proper assessments of what other countries think or do or how they will react. I think an important provision in the legislation concerning the Office of National Assessments is that it will be responsible for providing governments with economic assessments on which they can then make judgments.
As I said earlier, foreign policy and one’s relations with other countries cannot be compartmentalised. It covers the whole of those relationships. I am not quite sure that we in Australia have really begun to realise this. If this Office of National Assessment will provide the Government with information, as I believe it will, it is certainly a most forward step in our relationship with other countries. I think this Bill is of tremendous significance. The Government must be commended upon acting so quickly. The Bill is supported in the main by both sides of the House and certainly by the Leader of the Opposition in the other place whose speech I think was statesmanlike. The Bill I think will bring Australia into Une with world politics. We do not want to think that we are a major power but we are an important power particularly in the region in which we live. I commend the Bill.
– I rise, as have other members of the Opposition in both
Houses, to support the Office of National Assessments Bill 1977. I also say, although it is unnecessary to do so, that I, Uke every other member of the Opposition, welcome the appointment of the new Director-General. I am aware that the new Director-General does not consider it necessary for every speaker to praise his appointment. His appointment has been praised on behalf of the Opposition and will continue to be so praised. I am sure that he does not take the absence of one speaker’s reference to his appointment as being disapproval. I think it is unfortunate that Senator Sim took that attitude. I think it is also unfortunate that Senator Sim took the attitude that anyone who criticises any part of this Bill is nit-picking and is not in favour of it. One of the functions of this House and the other House is to look at legislation which comes forward. Though we may not oppose legislation we can surely make suggestions and point out what we see are deficiencies without being accused of nitpicking.
The main criticism I suppose that Senator Button made was the criticism that perhaps if we are not careful the assessments boards will be too dominated by officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs. That was exactly the criticism made by Mr David Hamer in his speech in the other place. Mr Hamer, as Senator Sim says, has experience in intelligence. I assume Senator Sim considers that Mr Hamer, who made the same sort of criticism as Senator Button in this regard, was also nit-picking. I do not believe that in discussing this sort of legislation we should indulge in that sort of slanging.
As has been said the BUI establishes the Office of National Assessments under the new DirectorGeneral. It has two boards, the National Assessments Board and the Economic Assessments Board. The aims of the Office are to provide assessments, to provide information, to provide analyses and reports on matters of national intelligence and also to review the activities of Australian agencies with international intelligence functions. In this regard I suggest that a reading of Mr Justice Hope’s report immediately demonstrates that the Bill is not in complete agreement with his recommendations, even though the Bill does arise out of the report of Mr Justice Hope. It is at variance in that it refers only to international intelligence operations. It seems to me that the new Board will have nothing to do with our own local intelligence organisation.
The Opposition does not oppose this Bill. We, like the Government, believe that any attempt to get some coherence into the areas of intelligence in this country and into assessment of our national interests, particularly the national economic interest, is worthy of support. We believe that the Office may not be as successful as it could have been. I believe and hope that it will be an evolutionary step. After observing how the Bill acts in operation future governments may find reason to amend it, as happens with all legislation. We welcome it for a start. The Bill will need changes we believe partly because of some of the vague references it contains and partly because of some of the difficulties which may arise from these references, One can quickly point to such vague references. The Director-General who, as honourable senators will be aware, has already been appointed works under the direction of a Minister but no specific Minister.
It is obvious from a previous statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), quoted by Senator Button and referred to by Senator Sim, that it will be a committee of Ministers and a committee of other people. It is to assemble. It is to correlate information on international matters. It is to report to the Ministers and to appropriate persons, whoever they may be. As I said, it is to review the activities of our international intelligence sources which apparently- to me anyhow- leaves the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation free from its field of review. I believe that is contrary to what Mr Justice Hope suggested. It will act on requests from a Minister or department for information but will in fact be free of direction as to any conclusions that are reached. I think that this is very important and I hope that it is adhered to. This provision, which is in clause 5 of the Bill, obviously is aimed at providing this independence that we believe it needs.
I repeat what Senator Button said: The National Assessment Board will be dominated by officers from the hierarchy of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Public Service Board and the Defence Forces who may in fact not be disposed to anything other than a rigid and traditional interpretation of international events. If history is our guide and such appointees are steeped in the traditions of assessments of international events in this country- the sorts of traditional assessments we have had in the last 20 or 30 years and the attitudes of the 1950s and 1960s- I would hope that any additional input into these boards which, I believe, is available under the legislation could be from nondepartmental sources or other departmental sources so that the range of opinions may be a little wider. The Economic Assessment Board is structured similarly to the National Assessment
Board with an economic emphasis. I believe that Mr Justice Hope found no need to split these boards. I must say that I find it difficult in a world when international events and policies are so intertwined and economic effects and policies are so inter- twined with these international events why such a dichotomy of function is necessary. But it may work well and it may be less cumbersome than if we had one board. I believe it has to be watched to ensure that the Director is not, as Senator Button said, wandering from board to board trying to sort out just what is purely economic, what is of national importance but apparently not of economic importance-
– That is not his function, though.
-I think it will be his function. His functions are pretty broadly established. I think we should go into that aspect at the Committee stage. He will go to both boards. He will have to decide which is which. I do not know who else will decide. Provision is made for differences of opinion and these, one hopes, will occur. I find it difficult to understand why it is necessary in clause 8 (2) to have the word ‘significant’. Who assesses what is a significant difference of opinion and what is not a significant difference of opinion? That will undoubtedly be called nit picking. One often wonders why these words are put into Bills. As I said, I do not believe the functions of the new Office are exactly what Mr Justice Hope suggested. I believe that the apparent exclusion of ASIO is contrary to what Mr Justice Hope suggested. I am not suggesting that we have to accept the views of Mr Justice Hope or anyone else who brings a report to this Government. But he also suggested that it should assist in the formulation of policy and plans. That does not seem to follow from the provisions of this Bill. Although I accept that the Government does not have to follow all his recommendations, I believe we deserve an explanation why they were not followed and why the Government thought otherwise.
Senator Sim chided Senator Button for referring to historical events which we believe- I think every person in this country believes- were affected by the sorts of intelligence services and intelligence assessments that we had in the past. I will refer to them and make no apology for doing so. I think that, if we cannot refer to the past and learn from what we believe are mistakes of the past, I fail to see why we are here. Of course the Bill looks to the future. Of course the Bill develops a new system. I believe that one of the reasons for the existence of the Bill and the reason for the existence of Mr Justice Hope’s commission of inquiry are what the previous Government saw to be the mistakes and deficiencies in our previous intelligence operations and certainly in our intelligence assessments. I cannot understand Senator Sim’s objections to Senator Button’s references of the past, unless they bring him unhappy memories. I believe they were wrong.
– But were they wrong? I do not believe they were; so we disagree.
-We may disagree but I hope I am allowed to stand here and say where I disagree on those assessments.
– And I say where I disagree with you. That is fair enough.
-Shortly in my speech I will quote an interjection from Mr Hamer in the other place which suggests that he may agree with me rather than you. The policies of previous governments which arose- I would hope- after consideration of our intelligence information and the assessment of our intelligence information, led to our refusal over many years to acknowledge the existence of the realities of the People’s Republic of China, and, in fact, led to our involvement in the Indo-China war. It led to our obsession with threats from the north which have, I believe, now been shown to be unreasonable. It certainly caused much distress to many families in this country and to families in IndoChina and were certainly at wide variance with most other countries in the Western World with which we were normally associated. One would have hoped that the decisions that were made were made in the light of the intelligence information we were receiving and the assessment of that information. In has speech in the other place, Mr Lionel Bowen made reference to the fact that he believed that we could not have been receiving proper intelligence or assessment of intelligence, because we were so obsessed with this threat that we saw, as demonstrated by our refusal to recognise China. Mr Hamer, who was an intelligence officer, said: ‘That was not our intelligence’, which suggests to me that Mr Hamer believed it was someone else’s intelligence and someone else’s assessment of intelligence.
– He suggested that it was a judgment which governments always make.
– Our intelligence interests should be and are very different to those of other countries, Senator Sim. This fact was recognised by Mr Justice Hope in his report and it has been quoted by several people on both sides of Parliament in the debate. At page 45 of his report, he said that Australian intelligence interests do not and cannot coincide with those of other countries. It seemed to us and it seems from the information contained in Mr Hamer ‘s interjections that in those days our intelligence assessments and our interests were considered to be exactly the same as those of the United States of America and that we were getting most of our intelligence information on the situation in IndoChina from the United States of America. Mr Justice Hope, in paragraph 40 of his report, said: it would be naive to imagine that overseas governments will always tell us everything they know about a particular matter.
This, of course, led- as Senator Button said- to Mr McMahon’s embarrassed hurried flight from Devonport in Tasmania where he had just made a speech criticising the Leader of the Opposition of the day, Mr Whitlam, for visiting China and he found that Mr Nixon was going there and that he had not been informed. It was obvious- it seemed obvious to us- that our interests were considered to be coincident with those of the United States, that their judgments were automatically our judgments and that their information was automatically our information. As Mr Justice Hope said, such a belief was naive and false. One could say that it was unfortunate. The development of an Office of National Assessments, as it is called, is important to make sure that in future we take a closer look at the intelligence we receive from all sources and make sure that we get a better result than we have in the past. But I raise the same query as Senator Button raised and as Mr Hamer raised in the other place.
If one looks at the make-up of the National Assessments Board and the Economic Assessments Board one has grounds for wondering whether sufficient critical assessment will be carried out by the people appointed to them. I know that the Bill leaves the way open for the appointment of other than the public servants suggested here. I do not wish to be critical of the senior public servants who may be appointed to the boards; nor do I wish to question their motives in the past or in the future. But the fact remains that such appointees inevitably will be people who are steeped in the tradition of 23 years of a conservative and narrow approach to our international affairs, of Cold War attitudes, of the Sinophobia that we had and of the domino theory. As I have said, I am not questioning their motives in those years; I am questioning the reality and the practicality of our international relations approach in those years and the unfortunate effects that resulted.
We are setting up an Office of National Assessments whose members that we know of will be predominantly from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Defence and who must, because of their seniority, have played a considerable part in the problems that we got ourselves into in the past. I should hope that there would be on these Boards and in the staff of the Office at least a leavening of independent people whose contributions would not be so steeped in our recent traditions. One remembers what happened in the late 1960s when we did not recognise the People’s Republic of China and we had no relationships with the Australian businessmen who were regularly going to Canton to trade with the Chinese. I knew two of those businessman in particular who did that regularly every year. They were certainly not in agreement with the policies of my party, but they could not understand Australia’s reluctance to recognise that country. Here we had a large country and a very great country which was certainly being governed by people whose political philosophy we did not believe in but which was making obvious advances to us; yet we chose to ignore its very existence.
I make one other suggestion about or possibly criticism of the establishment of this Office. I was disquieted to note that the appointment of the staff will be so much under the control of the Public Service Board, whose track record in staff distribution and appointments I suggest is being increasingly questioned on both sides of this chamber and in fact in the Public Service itself. I hope that unnecessary restrictions and unnecessary vetoes will not be placed on the DirectorGeneral and others who attempt to staff this Office with competent people and with people of great knowledge, of whom there are many in this country, who may not be members of the Public Service. The very existence of this Bill is a recognition that all was not well. Part of the recognition that all was not well comes from the mistakes that were made in the past, even if Senator Sim does not believe that any mistakes were made in the past. The findings of Mr Justice Hope confirm that.
I am a bit disappointed with Mr Justice Hope’s suggestion that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation should not be included in the ambit of this body. One would hope, as I said previously, that this is in fact an evolutionary step and that a continuing evaluation will be made of the performance of the new Office and the difficulties that the new Office may get into, and that eventually even a committee of this Parliament will be able to perform what I think is its rightful duty and keep an eye on the efficiency, effectiveness and legality of our intelligence operations, as exists in the United States of America and other countries. I hope that a repeat of the sort of problems that we had before and the sort of problems that the United States has had with its intelligence agencies will not occur in this country. I hope that this Office will prevent such difficulties arising. I am sure that all of us in the Parliament will watch this development carefully. I hope that in the future we will have a better opportunity to watch more closely such developments. I support the legislation.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) (9.35)- I do not think that there is very much argument in the Parliament about the necessity to set up an Office of National Assessments on the basis of intelligence gathering. It is inevitable in matters of this type that there will creep into the debate from time to time questions that are of some irrelevancy in the context of the BUI that we are debating. I think it is proper that I should make some observation on what has happened in the past. What has happened in the past has been canvassed but the problems facing Australia in the future have not been canvassed. That is the essence of the whole matter as I see it. I think honourable senators will permit me to make a short observation about what happened in my period of sentence when I could understand what was taking place in terms of government. I shall take 1 939 as the starting point.
In those days intelligence insofar as the Australian Government was concerned was dependent upon two sources. The Royal Australian Navy provided an intelligence service. Oddly enough the Australian Army not only provided an intelligence service in the context of what was thought to be happening in the other parts of the world but also was responsible for producing, for the information of government, intelligence that related to internal matters in Australia. That is something that was just an accident of history. The simple reason for that was that Australia was not required in the context in which it found itself at that time to provide the government of the day with a reasonable degree of external intelligence information because in those days there was an imperial intelligence gathering system. However, the Army had some responsibilities in the internal intelligence gathering system. Senator Grimes seemed to make some observations about internal intelligence, which is certainly not within the ambit of this Bill but which is the subject of a curious piece of history. A distinguished, well-known man from his own State who once sat in this chamber, and whose cover was blown was subsequently given the Lenin Peace Prize. His file had been embedded in the Australian Army intelligence system for at least 10 or IS years before he sat in this Parliament. I give that illustration not in any aggressive or malicious way, but merely to indicate that there are always problems with internal intelligence, as there are with external intelligence.
– I have a Jubilee Medal myself.
-It is not as valuable as the Lenin Peace Prize, which I understand was worth about ten thousand quid in hard currency before the Australian Labor Party’s inflationary policies overtook this country.
– You were going along all right before that.
-I will get back to the subject matter of the debate but I was tempted to say that. There must be some lightening of this debate. The national assessments operation with which we are confronted at the present time relates to the problem of judgment. I think that Senator Grimes, who is a man of some distinction in the medical field, would be the first to agree with me when I say that I consider one of the operative elements of the truncated report produced by Mr Justice Hope to be the following statement:
Is there a difference between intelligence and information?
We know that Senator Grimes is a man of high intelligence. Obviously he is. He would not be here if he were not. But when he gets a body in front of him in the northern Tasmania hospital he wants some information about that body. One cannot apply intelligence without having information. His Honour went on to say:
Intelligence is to some degree processed information.
That is the operative word. That is the whole essence of this Bill. His Honour went on to say:
Intelligence is, to some degree, processed information. It is processed information in the sense that a lot of different items of knowledge have to be put together, tested against each other for credibility and a judgment made on balance as to the truth, or at least the greatest degree of probability of the truth, about some particular situation. It is also assessed as relevant to the consumer; otherwise it would not be provided in ‘ finished ‘ form.
I do not think anyone will argue about that. That is the essence of the argument. The National Assessments Board not only will take hold of information but also will assess it and process it. Obviously it will not be the function of the Board to gather the raw material on which the information is put together. That will come from other echelons that are available to government, including the internal intelligence system.
Does an assessment system work? No matter how strong the will of man is in attempting to produce a filtering system, which is an assessment system, it does not always succeed. There have been interjections this evening, for example, about the Bay of Pigs. That Cuban operation is a very interesting illustration.
– The Country Party section was talking about pigs today.
-The pig market is a little subdued at the moment. I do not know what the intelligence element of it is. The United States of America has the equivalent of a National Assessments Board. It is known as the National Security Council. It draws information from the same sorts of sources as it is proposed the National Assessments Board in Australia should draw its information from. America has its armed forces intelligence systems of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force. It has its Central Intelligence Agency. It has its economic assessments and so forth and so on. Finally the information comes to the National Security Council.
In the Cuban missile crisis an interesting situation developed. Action was taken ultimately not as a result of the assessment by the National Security Council of whether there was or was not a threat to the United States of America, but simply because one of the important elements in the National Security Council ‘s analysis of what was happening in Cuba related to the then Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, who was not even in the United States of America. He happened to be in the French Riviera. He rejected the advice that his own department had proffered to the National Security Council. He rejected the advice of the National Security Council to President Kennedy, and from where he was he instructed a fly-over of Cuba by a high-flying U2 aircraft to take photographs. It was then discovered that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had missiles in place. The whole filtering process had been undergone. Assessments had been made. The belief had been arrived at that there was no danger, but in fact one man operating on a hunch said: ‘It does not matter what the information is. I suspect, as a subjective judgment, that the situation is not as described’.
I hope that honourable senators will permit me a personal reflection on a similar sort of event that took place within my own knowledge. I was a witness of the situation. In May 1943 or thereabouts General MacArthur had ordered two
Australian divisions to land, one by sea and one by air, and envelop the area of Lae. That twodivisional effort, plus the operation of all the other ancillary arms, was mounted on the basis that his own Chief of Intelligence, General Willoughby, had stated that the First Australian Corps, with its two divisions, was likely to be confronted by 60,000 Japanese in the area of Lae. I happened to be present when General MacArthur said to one of the Australian divisional commanders: ‘Don’t worry abour what Willoughby says. There are not 60,000 armed Japanese in Lae. Just push ahead and don’t take any notice’. There turned out to be 3,500 Japanese in Lae, not 60,000. Here was a supreme commander overriding all the collated intelligence information that had been built up into a mosaic.
The National Assessments Board is probably the best we can achieve to advise the government of the day on how to apply the information- the processed information, as Mr Justice Hope says- in the interests of our national security. We have problems in the Australian context of, firstly, getting the raw inputs of intelligence in order to form an opinion on what may happen in the context of our national security. Although some observations have been made from time to time- for example, that the armed forces cannot be relied upon to produce accurate intelligence information- it has been my experience during the period in which I have been in Parliament or in the area of government that information provided by the armed forces intelligence services is always far more effective, far more efficient and far more accurate than the information produced by the Department of Foreign Affairs. If we look at the history immediately prior to 1939 that led to the world conflagration, what we discover is that the hard raw intelligence information processed through the armed forces of Great Britain, for example, was far more accurate than the Foreign Office information. Sir Neville Henderson, the British Ambassador in Berlin, was constantly pushing forward into areas of government in Great Britain the view that Herr Hitler was a jolly nice fellow and that all the nonsense that was being produced by the armed forces was nothing but warmongering.
I do not blame the Department of Foreign Affairs in Australia for not producing hardgrained intelligence, for the simple reason that it is a department that has grown and expanded very quickly as a result of the changing circumstances in which Australia has found itself since at least 195 1. There is in the Department a great number of very able younger men who have had no training in assessing intelligence; yet the curiosity is that when an attempt was made some years ago to set up a new structure known as the Joint Intelligence Organisation, the JIO, the Department was powerful enough to insist that the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Organisation should be an officer from the Department of Foreign Affairs. What the reasoning was, I do not know. Now there is to be superimposed on the whole structure another intelligence assessment operation, in this instance headed by a director-general appointed without a Bill going through this Parliament but by the use of the Executive and prerogative power to make such appointments. I am glad to see that honourable senators and honourable members in another place have acknowledged that he is a man of first class ability. What will happen is that unless the hard raw inputs come from the intelligence services that are available now the National Assessments Board will not be worth twopennyworth of beer drips. That is what it amounts to.
What is the problem in the Australian national context of gathering hard raw material, the inputs- Senator Grimes used that jargon word -on which assessments can be made, on which in turn the Government can base its foreign affairs policy? One source of information is diplomatic posts abroad. They have ambassadors and ministers or counsellors. In some places they have Service attaches. In company with Senator Bishop and two members of the House of Representatives, I have just been through the Middle East, which is an area of focal conflict. I believe that it is the most dangerous area in the world today, and it is very dangerous for Australia. In that area are assembled the most powerful weapons one can possibly imagine to exist anywhere. There are something like 1 1,500 tanks within about 400 kilometres of Tel Aviv and one can drive from Suez to Cairo and pass nothing but observable missile sites, concreted and embedded in the desert. We have not one single military attache- Navy, Army or .Air Force- in the whole of that area to provide Australia with the hard raw material on which this National Assessments Board would be able to base conceptual assessments. We have to rely on information from other people, so we are back to square one.
Senator Grimes and Senator Button cast some doubts upon the reliability of the information we obtain. We cannot get it ourselves, without any shadow of doubt, and I say that with the best goodwill in the world to the officers of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, whom I like and admire. I think they are very capable and I do not deprecate them in any way. But how do they assess the military problems that relate to the Middle East and why does that relate to Australia? Of course it relates to Australia in the most vehement way. What sort of equipment is being used there? What happens to it when it is used in conditions of actual warfare? Without having to ask anyone, I know where we get the information. We have to rely on Great Britain to provide us with information on the value of the equipment, its capacity, its range, how effective it is. No one can provide us directly in Australia with that information. We can also get the information from the Americans, and I assume we could also get it from the Israeli Government, if it wished to divulge such information.
That is the essential problem mentioned inferentially by Senator Grimes and directly by Senator Button. If we have a foreign affairs problem in Australia in the context that we have moved from a dependent situation in the past in relation to strategy and intelligence and information and have assumed all the paraphernalia of a sovereign nation responsible for its own protectionand we are responsible for our own protectionno one is going to help us, or I do not see any indication of it. For example, I do not see the Indonesians one day making a statement on an attack by Papua New Guinea on Australia, saying that they will come to our aid. I do not see anything emanating from India, that great and powerful member of the Commonwealth of Nations, which has never given us support on anything. What is happening in India? Can anybody tell me what is happening in India? The Department of Foreign Affairs, having read the previous week’s Economist, can tell us that Mrs Ghandi is likely to be exculpated by the local magistrate but is in some trouble with the High Court. The Department of Foreign Affairs can tell us that and I can tell it too by getting the airmail edition of the Economist. That may be ungenerous but it is somewhere near the mark. What is the condition in India? What is the posture in India in relation to a lot of other matters? What is the capacity of its armed forces? It is fortunate that we have military attaches in Delhi who can give us some information. Having been in Bombay, I asked an air attache in New Delhi: I see that the Indian Government has an aircraft carrier in Bombay. Is it any good?’ He said ‘No’, I asked him why it was no good. He said: ‘They have sold themselves to Russia for equipment and the Russians do not have any aircraft that can fly on and off an aircraft carrier. ‘ That was it in a nutshell, and it is an illustration of the benefit of having attaches in various areas.
Australia spurns attaches. We regard them as brutal and licentious soldiers whose job it is to tread on the necks of Asian people, to go around drinking cocktails. On the other hand, they can produce hard-grained information. My brotherinlaw, who was an attache in Jakarta, once wrote to me and said that one of the most interesting aspects of living where he lived in Jakarta was that they could see President Sukarno’s cavalcade going to his mistress, who happened to be the wife of the Chief of Air Staff, with an escort of about 22 jeeps and trumpeters. It was very interesting. Obviously he and the Chief of Aix Staff had something in common- a wife shared between them. Of course, it was found that the Chief of Air Staff was the fellow who was producing the armed forces reinforcements to Sukarno when it came to the dreadful problem of October 1965. 1 mention that as an example of how raw information can be obtained, and that is raw if you like.
– How would you like them to talk about you after you are dead?
-They will. In the area of economic aid, there would not be an American company here which does not report to its head office once a month on what it thinks is happening in Australia. There would not be elements inside the Australian trade union movement who do not report to the Communist Party of Australia on what they think is happening.
Opposition senators- Oh!
-You do not believe that?
- Mr President. I think that is an offensive statement. Not only is it offensive but it is also quite untrue. It is childish for the honourable senator to make a statement like that. It does not happen and he knows it does not happen. If he wants to adopt such an attitude, I could say equally that members of the Liberal Party are reporting daily to members of the fascist element in the community. That too would be untrue. I suggest that the honourable senator withdraw his remark.
-If I have involved myself in any impropriety that offends Senator Keeffe, of course I withdraw it. However, I recollect saying that there were elements inside the Australian trade union movement who I have no doubt report to the Communist Party of Australia, which has a feedback to other areas.
– Some are members.
-I am not going to put it any further than that. I said that there would not be an American company in Australia which did not report in economic terms back to its head office in the United States. I then went on to say that there was nothing particularly strange about that because there would be elements in the Australian trade union movement who would report to the Communist Party of Australia, which in turn would feed that information to where it thought it would be most beneficial to the Communist Party. Is anyone going to deny that? Of course not. There is a system of economic information gathering going on in this country. There is also a system of information gathering on economic capacity by Australian companies who operate abroad and report back to their head offices in Australia. I have no doubt that there is a possibility of that information on economic levels seeping into area of government, but this Bill sets out to formalise the way in which that will be done.
I turn now to another area, which is the one that causes me the greatest disturbance. One can go to any book store at any airport in the world -in Australia if youlike- and buy books on spies. That is the great thing these days. I buy them myself to read because they put me to sleep or keep me awake or keep my concentration away from whether the engine is missing a beat or the pilot is making a muck of it up forward.
– Do you like Dick Carter of James Bond?
-I am not a James Bond man because I know enough about intelligence to realise that that is not how intelligence problems are solved. Intelligence problems are a mosaic into which every little piece is fitted until finally there is a flaw which indicates something. There is no brilliant man, except on the occasion I mentioned of Admiral McCain, who overrode the whole system, and General MacArthur, who also overrode the whole system. That is not how intelligence is gathered. It is a careful piecing together of a mosaic of information. What is now intervening is a system of intelligence gathering by technological means in which the human element is almost dispersed. For example, the United States of America can, from 600 miles up in the air with what it calls spy satellites or space satellites or this, that and the other, photograph a golf ball on a putting green in Russia- that is if the Russians have taken up golf, which I doubt. If they have not, I suggest they should. I mention that merely to illustrate that a large segment of hard information that flows into the United States of
America today is gathered by technological means.
If we in Australia want to set up and be in possession of a reasonable access to hard grained intelligence, we have to absorb and take some of the intelligence available to us from friendly people. One of the other peculiarities of this is that when nations serve their own national interests, they will only provide information to Australia on the basis of, to put it in its crudest form, a trade-off. We have capacities for special intelligence gathering. I recollect some time in September 1965, about 12 years ago, being asked by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations what was happening in Jakarta. I said to him: ‘Well, you have your own source of information, Mr Goldberg. Why don’t you ring up Washington and ask someone from the CIA to tell you what is happening there’. He said: Goodness gracious me, I do not know. We have hundreds of CIA fellows in Jakarta but they are so busy gathering information that no one can tell what they are gathering. On the other hand, we know that hard grained, quick and accurate information is available from Australia’. I said: Well, I do not know what that is. Get someone to ring up our Ambassador in Washington and he will tell you’.
I mention that to illustrate to honourable senators that we have a specialty in the gathering of information. In some areas we are quite good at it, either covertly or overtly. But we are not going to get information from other people unless we have something to offer. That is the nature of the game. So whether members of the Opposition ike it or not, the fact of life is that we cannot fulfil a total frame of intelligence in the context of our own national needs, as regards both information and the intelligence that is derived from it, unless we exchange information and subsequently intelligence with people who are friendly to us.
I add this final observation and comment: I do not quite agree with this Office of National Assessments in the sense of its propositions. I am quite happy to see the National Assessments Board established. I am quite happy to see that its first Director-General should be Mr Furlonger. I am happy with the concept. I am happy that the information gathering agencies are not going to come under the Board’s direct control. I am not very happy about some of the accompanying information that is being put forward. Certain wise monkeys, namely Ministers, are going to be a sort of supercommittee to sit on top of the Board. I have been in Parliament sufficiently long to know that Ministers of State are very powerful and important people, but in my experience they have not always been wise. I except the right honourable gentleman who is sitting in front of me. I am glad this legislation is getting unanimous support in the Senate, except for the sensitivity that Senator Keeffe has displayed. I hope it will go through without too much contumely or aggressiveness.
– You almost convinced me otherwise over the last 10 or 1 5 minutes.
-Well, I am doing the best I can to enlarge your mind.
– Well, you have enlarged my mind to take another look at the Bill.
-That is the whole basis of my argument. I am glad that I found an intelligent listener sitting opposite in the Senate chamber. I conclude my remarks on an acrimonious note. I am not going to have my reputation destroyed by saying that I am always totally conciliatory, because I am not.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– in reply- I thank honourable senators for the speeches they have made tonight. It has been a good tempered and very interesting debate in which quite a large number of issues have been canvassed by the four speakers. Naturally the Government is pleased that the Bill is receiving the support of honourable senators from both sides of the chamber. I think it is fair to say that there is general acceptance of the basic findings of Mr Justice Hope. I suppose they could best be summed up by saying that His Honour found that Australia’s intelligence community was fragmented, poorly co-ordinated and lacked proper guidance. I think that would be a fair, reasonable and accurate condensation of what he said in his report. His Honour then set out to give advice to governmnent as to how those defects in the Australian intelligence community ought to be remedied. I think it is fair to say that on balance the great majority of the learned judge’s recommendations have been adopted. I know that even amongst some members of the Parliament, certainly in the media and far too often in the community, royal commissions are looked upon somewhat as a joke. It is generally said: What is the use of having a royal commission? No matter what sort of report the royal commission brings down it will either be pigeonholed, ignored or done away with. I think the fact that the Government has moved so early in the presentation of His Honour’s report indicates that those criticisms of royal commissions are quite often very much unjustified.
– They get some very good witnesses before them.
-That is right. My friend and colleague, Senator Mulvihill, both before and after his appearance before the Royal Commission, has pursued his interest in a number of areas with a great deal of keenness. I know that he will await further matters concerning which the Government is working bit by bit through the various reports of His Honour. As quickly as we get through those reports and as decisions are made, we hope to announce them.
Some fears have been expressed by the four honourable senators who spoke on this legislation tonight as to whether or not the scheme recommended to Parliament by this legislation will really be as effective as the four honourable would like. This is a matter of judgment. Everybody who has spoken has lauded the appointment of the first Director-General. That is but some part of the solution. To a large extent, the success or failure of this new statutory corporation will revolve not only around the qualities of the Director-General, but the capacity and skills of the people who are recruited into this new organisation. I believe, as does my colleague Senator Sim, that the work of this new statutory authority is of such importance that it will attract to it persons of the highest skills, competence and dedication. We know that we are but human beings. One cannot always guarantee that everything will work as man proposes. I was interested in Senator Grimes’ remark that he hoped the approach to this whole question would be evolutionary. That is a fair comment to be made about virtually any legislation put before either House of the Parliament. We as members of the national Parliament know that each year quite a large number of Acts are amended as governments find defects in legislation. I, too, share to some extent Senator Grimes’ attitude. The Government is launching legislation into a totally new area. The Government believes it will work but I think I can say to the Senate that the Government’s approach to it will also be evolutionary. I put it to the Senate that defects in the quality of its working or whether it has insufficient powers or whether the legislation has defects will be discovered only as a result of the evolutionary process rather than by parliamentary scrutiny which might be done in committee.
The Senate can be assured that the Government will not be afraid to make amendments. The Government is committed to bringing about what Mr Justice Hope desired to be brought about, that is, to have an Office of National Assessments which will be effective and properly serve the national interest. There were some criticisms offered of various aspects of the Bill. I do not think my friend Senator Sir Magnus Cormack quite understood the role of the seven Ministers. He described them as seven monkeys. I do not know whether he classified us as wise or otherwise. It is not the duty or the role of the Ministers to second guess the authority of the Office of National Assessments. As I understand it, it is their role to make decisions on the assessments put before them. That is the proper function of government. I do not think any honourable senator would accept the proposition that Parliament should create a statutory authority to take over the functions of government and make decisions for government. As I understand it, the role of this authority is to make assessments and offer advice to government. Eventually, under our system- the Westminster system- the Ministers must make decisions and be accountable both to the Parliament and to the electorate for those decisions. I think we would all recoil from the proposition that decisions affecting the nation should be made other than by Ministers who are responsible to the Parliament and to the electors.
I thank the four senators who spoke in the debate. I will draw the Government’s attention to the matters raised in those speeches. They were thoughtful and they were put forward by all four speakers with great sincerity in spite of the somewhat partisan debate which occasionally took place. I am convinced that the four senators have a desire to see that this authority operates in the national interest because they have the nation’s interests at heart. They might have slightly different approaches to the achievement of that but their aim is one and the same. For that I thank them and I thank honourable senators for their support of the motion for the second reading of this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I have a few questions. I did not enter into the second reading debate because there is a lot to understand about this matter. Despite the enthusiasm with which I support the Bill I am very doubtful about it at the moment until we get some replies to the questions which I seek to ask. As honourable senators will know, I have certain reservations about security and the misuse of security. I was for many years a victim of it. I do not think I have become more respectable or less dangerous to the Commonwealth today. The views that made me suspect at one time I still hold, and the action that I would have taken in 1948 when I was not allowed on a defence project I would take today under the same circumstances and conditions. There was a security dossier on me which made me suspect but when I entered Parliament I became respectable. I do not know whether it was the change in environment but there was an alteration.
While listening to Senator Sir Magnus Cormack I realised that while there is a need for the defence of Australia and the physical security of Australia, this Bill goes beyond that. It is designed to set up a tribunal. Clause 5 of the Bill states:
The functions of the Office are-
As it relates to international matters, I think the Bill is deficient insofar as it does not interpret what is meant by many of the words used. With regard to international matters, a point which was raised by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, there are elements in the trade union movement which report every day to a central agency of the Communist Party. Do the political activities of someone in Australia become an international matter with Security snooping everywhere into the domestic politics of elements of the trade unions in Australia? This is dangerous. A security officer in Western Australia complained to me that when he is asked for a report on someone in the north-west of Western Australia they send for the local police sergeant who is not trained in assessing security information. Because a particular individual has expressed opposition to existing governments and possibly to all politicians, the police sergeant sends back a report that the individual concerned is a communist and always making trouble. There is then on record a prohibition against him which he carries for the rest of his life. This is serious. Is it a matter of international security because he may be opposed to Australia’s participation in Vietnam? Clause 5 (b) deals with the matter raised by Senator Button as to who are appropriate persons. It states:
The functions of the Office are-
There is no definition of ‘appropriate persons’. Does it include persons outside government service? When Senator Sir Magnus Cormack identifies an element in the trade union movement which is making reports to the Communist Party, does it justify the Office reporting that to the officials of the union or to other elements of the union? There is no definition of ‘appropriate persons’. If there is not to be a definition, the Opposition thinks that some narrowing of the description of ‘appropriate persons’ should be given in the Minister’s reply.
Clause 5 (2) speaks about ‘A Minister, or a prescribed Commonwealth officer’. I point out that the definition of ‘a prescribed Commonwealth officer’ is restricted in the Bill as follows:
Clauses (2) states:
A Minister, or a prescribed Commonwealth officer, may, for the purpose of obtaining assistance in the formation of policies or plans by the Commonwealth Government, request the Director-General to prepare a report or make an assessment -
I point out that the use of the disjunctive ‘or’ - in accordance with paragraph (l)(a) and, where such a request is made, the Director-General shall endeavour to comply with the request.
Clause S (4) states:
Subject to sub-section (2), the Director-General is not subject to direction in respect of the content of, or any conclusions to be reached in, any report or assessment under this Act.
The provisions of sub-clause (4) are subject to the provisions of sub-clause (2). Under subclause (4), the Director-General is not under a direction in respect of the content of any report he makes; but in sub-clause (2) it is stated that he can be subject to direction if a Minister or a prescribed Commonwealth officer directs him to make a report on the activities of some individual or some nation. The fact is that when he makes such a report he is under direction. The direction could include the type of report that he should make. That seems to take away the freedom of the Director-General if the request is made by a Minister or a prescribed Commonwealth officer. It would seem that then the Director-General has to bring in the report he is requested to bring in. That is the responsibility he nas. Clause 5(3) states:
The Director-General may make arrangements with appropriate persons for the making of contributions by them ….
Again, I ask: Who is an appropriate person? Does the Director-General make arrangements, for example, with Senator Sir Magnus Cormack who tells us a tale about elements within the trade union movement reporting to the Communist Party? Does the Director-General make arrangements with people who hold the extreme political view of Senator Sim to report on the activities of someone in regard to international relationships? Surely we should have some definition of the term ‘appropriate persons’. We are told that the Office of National Assessments Act is for the assessment of and reporting on matters of political, strategic or economic significance to Australia. The Bill makes the following provision in clause 6 (2):
The National Assessments Board shall include-
an officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs;
an officer of the Department of Defence;
a member of the Defence Force; and
an officer of the Australian Public Service, not being an officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Department of Defence, who has expertise in economics.
Honourable senators will see that that subclause is concerned mostly with defence. The defence chiefs will make an assessment on matters of political interest to Australia. But, while we have included on the Board a person with expertise in economics for the economic assessments, from where can we obtain the political intelligence? Where on the National Assessments Board is the capability or the expertise to make a political assessment on particular questions? Clause 6 states that the Board must have on it an officer of the Public Service, not being an officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Department of Defence, who has expertise in economics. Clause 7 (2) deals with the setting up of the Economic Assessments Board. It states:
The Economic Assessments Board shall include-
an officer or officers of the Australian Public Service (not being an officer or officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs) who has or have expertise in economics; and
b) an officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
It is stated that there must be expertise in economics on the Economic Assessments Board. Why we must include the Department of Foreign Affairs on a board with economic expertise is another matter that is difficult to understand. Clause 8(1) states:
The Director-General shall consult the appropriate Assessment Board in relation to each assessment made by him and shall, if practicable, seek to hold the consultation before furnishing the assessment.
If it is not practicable, he makes the assessment without the consultation. I again ask: In the event of a significant difference of opinion between the Director-General and the appropriate Assessments Board, what is the extent of the difference of opinion upon which the Director-General shall then endeavour to reach agreement? Clause 8 (3) states:
If the Director-General and the Board are unable to reach agreement, the Director-General shall forward to each person to whom the assessment is furnished a statement setting out the matter or matters in respect of which the difference of opinion has arisen.
Therefore, a Minister or whoever wants the assessment receives two versions on the whole question. The Bill contains no provision for the Board to make a majority decision or for the Director-General to make the decision. Clause 9 concerns me somewhat. Sub-clause ( 1 ) states:
Subject to sub-section (2), and to compliance with any conditions, requirements or procedures from time to time specified by the Minister, the Director-General is entitled to full access of all information relating to international matters that are of political, strategic or economic significance to Australia, being information in the possession of any Department, Commonwealth authority or arm of the Defence Force.
The Bill gives the Director-General a wide power to obtain all the information it is possible to obtain. Naturally, we think that the justification for obtaining such information is for the purpose of making an assessment. But clause 9(2) states:
Sub-section ( 1 ) does not apply in relation to any information where the furnishing of the information would contravene the provisions of any law of the Commonwealth or any law of a Territory.
I do not know how far that sub-clause reaches. I am concerned about whether there are strict laws of secrecy under the Atomic Energy Act and the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act. On these matters, where a man has to advise a Minister -
The . CHAIRMAN (Senator DrakeBrockman) Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
- Mr Chairman, I wish to make a couple of comments in respect of the Office of National Assessments Bill. I do not share the enthusiasm of some of my colleagues for this legislation. I hope that it evolves, as the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) said it would, into something worthwhile. I trust that it will not mutate into something we do not expect. I want to ask a simple question in the Committee stage:
Will this statutory authority come under the scrutiny of the Parliament, in particular at the time of the consideration of the Estimates -
-Or are we likely to be faced with the general answer we receive when we ask questions on intelligence, that is, that the Government does not answer?
– I hope that when the Minister makes his speech in reply he will put that on the record so that we can refer to it in the future.
-There is one matter to which I would like to refer. It arises out of an interjection by Senator Mulvihill when Senator Sim was speaking. Senator Mulvihill referred to the Bay of Pigs and of course the implication there was that in some way this legislation might authorise someone to take action outside Australia or even within Australia. I want to draw attention to clause 5 of the Bill which sets out the functions of the Office of National Assessments. One can see from that clause- and I would like the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) to confirm this-that so far as that sort of action is concerned the Bill in no way authorises outside Australia or even within Australia any action of the nature implied in the interjection by Senator Mulvihill. I draw attention to the particular sub-clauses. Clause 5 (1) reads:
I have the view that in no way does this Bill give anybody power to act clandestinely anywhere and I would ask the Minister to confirm that.
I would also like to mention in passing in reference to the interjection about the Bay of Pigs that it does raise the question of Central Intelligence Agency activity and I would like to refer to the problem of disinformation, as it is called. Earlier this year the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) found it necessary to make a public statement about efforts in Australia to expose some of Australia’s most closely held secrets and to publicise allegations based on hearsay, or worse, to the embarrassment of Australia’s relations with the United States, our closest ally. There is no doubt that in Australia we are subjected to disinformation. Politicians are not the only ones who persuade by means of propaganda. Others within Australia make clever use of the media and what is wanted is careful analytical assessment. I trust that this Bill will provide that sort of assessment for our Government.
– I want to intervene before the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) replies so that I can correct a mistaken impression that I gather Senator Sim formed of my interjection. I hold certain inner fears in respect of even this organisation because its evaluations will not be infallible. I think Senator Sir Magnus Cormack confirmed that point. My fears are based on several publications in respect of interviews which were held with Senator Robert Kennedy when he was the United States Attorney-General. The view which I shared was that you can be snowed as a Minister even by the most effective evaluators. That was the point I made and I think Senator Sir Magnus Cormack shares my view that that will still happen. The Minister will need at times a gut reaction to get a proper assessment as apparently General Douglas MacArthur did, according to the reminisces of Senator Sir Magnus Cormack.
– I think honourable senators would be assisted in trying to understand this Bill if they would turn to paragraph 71 on page 26 of the third report, the abridged report of the Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security. As I understand the Bill and as I read the Bill it gives effect to the functions of the Office of National Assessments. A lot of the fears which have been expressed here tonight arise, I would put to honourable senators, as a result of imagination and not as a result of a proper reading of the Bill before the Parliament. It is not the function of this authority, and it will not be the function as I understand it, to collect assessments on individuals. That seemed to be the thing that was worrying Senator Cavanagh. That is not the function of this type of agency. Its function is to receive reports, make assessments and report on those assessments to governments which will make decisions. If one looks at the Royal Commissioner’s report one will see that the functions of the Office are:
I cannot see how an assessment of an individual is going to help a department in the formation of national policy and plans. They are in fact international. The organisation will gather information basically overseas. The functions of the Office include:
This is the judge ‘s own language- authorities overseas, who are capable of assisting the new agency in performing its functions.
Honourable senators will see that that is forbidden in the Bill.
-I am trying to pick it up. It is not in the Bill, but it is an instruction to the Office that it is not to use clandestine methods.
– You laugh. Paragraph (e) reads:
To perform any other task (not including the clandestine collection of intelligence) as the Intelligence and Security Committee may assign to the Office of the Australian Intelligence Assessments.
I have always believed that the man who has no secrets has no fears.
– Oh, come on, that is what Hitler said: ‘If you have got no fears, you have got nothing to fear from me ‘.
-I said that a man who has no secrets has no fears. I cannot understand why you people opposite are so touchy about these things.
– You are setting up a Gestapo.
-Now they react. I do not know why they did not have this fight in their Caucus or if they did why did they not leave it there instead of bringing it in here to fight with me? I do not want to get mixed up in their brawls. As I understand it, this Bill went before the Labor Party Caucus and it was agreed to, so do not come in here and row with me about it. I try to be as reasonable as I can. As to clandestine activities, may I just say this to the Senate. In my second reading speech on 1 1 October I stated:
The Office will not be organised to collect intelligence by clandestine or other methods.
The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made the same statement in the House of Representatives on S May in a statement on the new intelligence arrangements because that is in keeping with the report.
– The Attorney-General’s Department would not tell the Attorney-General what was going on.
-If your misunderstanding of this Bill is such that you think it has any relationship with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation then I am afraid you have neither read what Mr Justice Hope recommended or the Bill before the Senate because they are two completely different operations. I go back to what I said when I was speaking in reply in the second reading debate. I said that the Royal Commissioner basically said that he found that Australia’s intelligence community was fragmented, poorly co-ordinated and lacked proper guidance. That is what the Bill attempts to do. It attempts to co-ordinate.
– To make it more efficient.
– Yes, to make the Office more efficient. It will advise governments as to the priorities and attitudes governments ought to take. Senator Cavanagh raised a problem in clause 5, sub-clause ( 1) paragraph (b) in regard to ‘other appropriate persons’. He asked: ‘Who are appropriate persons?’ The interpretation which I have been given -
– I thought honourable senators opposite wanted to have a reasonable debate on this matter. If they want to clown their way through the rest of the night, I am prepared to oblige them. I thought that Senator Cavanagh regarded this as a serious piece of legislation. He was asking a number of serious and intelligent questions. I thought that he would expect to get some serious answers in a serious debate. I am attempting to oblige an honourable senator who is genuinely seeking information. ‘Appropriate’, I am instructed by my advisers, means senior Commonwealth Government employees only. That is the note I am given by the advisers.
Senator Cavanagh evidently has had some difficulty with sub-clause (2) and sub-clause (4). As I read these sub-clauses, while a Minister or a prescribed officer has the capacity to ask or to direct, if honourable senators like the DirectorGeneral to prepare a report or to make an assessment, the Director-General is obliged only to endeavour to comply with that request. The word endeavour’ is placed in sub-clause (2) quite deliberately. The importance of sub-clause (4) is that under no circumstances can the DirectorGeneral be directed as to what he shall put in a report. I think that is terribly important if this new statutory officer is to have the complete independence of direction which the Government intends him to have under this Bill. If a Minister or another public servant has the capacity to tell the Director-General not only that he should prepare a report but also what he should put in it, the Office of National Assessments would fail in its proper task. The Government wants totally independent reports and assessments. The Director-General is obliged only by the statute to endeavour to comply with the request. If he feels that he cannot comply with that request he is entitled to say so.
Senator Cavanagh spoke about clause 8 which relates to the duty of the Director-General to consult the relevant Assessments Board. Senator Cavanagh referred to sub-clause (2) and the words ‘significant difference’. I think that is a matter of judgment by the Director-General at any time of what is significant and what is not. I suppose in fact those words could have been left out altogether. What may seem significant to the honourable senator may not seem significant to the Director-General and vice versa. The words are quite deliberately put in. If there is no capacity to reach agreement, the person asking for the assessment should get both reports. If only one report was to come in, there would always be the danger in this sort of thing that the group would attempt to seek agreement and the advice would be that of the lowest common denominator of agreement. I put to honourable senators that it would not be in the best interest of the nation to have that sort of report coming. Senator Cavanagh would know from his own ministerial experience that one of the problems with interdepartmental committees is that they tend to seek agreement. They present the lowest common denominator of agreement among their members and as often as not reports of IDCs are not very useful. It is far better, if an IDC meets and there is a clash of ideas and attitudes, that those ideas and attitudes are exposed to the Ministers who are concerned within those departments. I think that is a reasonably sensible thing to do.
Senator Cavanagh raised a question in regard to sub-clause (2) of clause 9 of the Bill. That provision is in the Bill because there are a number of areas of common law into which nobody is allowed to intrude. Let me recall some of them. There are certainly the secrecy provisions in the Commonwealth Taxation Act. There are the confidentiality provisions in the Social Security Act. There are a number of Commonwealth statutes under which persons adminstering those statutes are forbidden to give information to anybody outside the relevant department. Wherever such a provision should apply in any Commonwealth Act, the Director-General of the Office of National Assessments is bound by the secrecy provisions. I put to the Committee that it is proper to put those provisions in a Bill like this, unless any honourable senator would like to propound the proposition that perhaps the DirectorGeneral ought to have access anywhere within the community. I would have thought that in these days where more and more people are worried about the right to privacy in the community that that is a proper sub-clause to place within the Bill.
One of the other matters raised by Senator Cavanagh concerned the composition of the two boards referred to in clauses 6 and 7. From reading the Bill, there is no limitation on the size of those boards and who shall serve on them. The Bill states the rninimum number of people who shall serve on the boards. As I read the BUI, that does not prevent other people with other skills from other departments serving on these two assessments boards. I am trying to recall the matter that Senator Georges raised.
– I raised the scrutiny responsibility.
-Oh, yes. As I understand it, there will be full disclosure in Estimates of the appropriations for the Office of National Assessments. There will be no intention of adopting the usual attitude that Minsiters will not answer questions about the Office. The Office will be subject to the Auditor-General, I take it, as it comes under the Appropriation Act. It will be in the same position as any other office or department of state for which funds are appropriated by the Parliament.
asked me some question. It is impossible, as I read the Bill, for the Office of National Assessments to get into a Bay of Pigs situation because the Office has no, what we might call, executive capacity. Its functions, as set out in clause S of the Bill, are to assemble and to correlate information relating to international matters. Honourable senators will understand that its function is to advise the various departments of state- be they the Treasury, the Foreign Department, the Defence Department or other departments- as to information relating to international matters. That is what this Bill is aimed at and that is what it intends to do. Again I suggest if honourable senators are in any doubt as to the real purpose and function of the Bill they should direct their attention to the abridged report of His Honour, Mr Justice Hope.
– I thank the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) for his reply. I raised the questions in earnest because of the lack of understanding. The Minister has completely satisfied me that there is no need to fear anything in the Bill. In fact, we should all appreciate it. It will be all right if the boards carry out Mr Justice Hope ‘s recommendations or carry out the promises made in the second reading speech. But boards have a funny habit of looking at their ambit and deciding to act in accordance with the Act of Parliament and in accordance with the legislation which established the particular board and not on the basis of a report which was presented to the Government. The Office may not act in accordance with the assurances given to us by the Minister, the assurances contained in the Minister’s second reading speech or even the recommendations contained in Mr Justice Hope’s report. It may prefer to act strictly in accordance with the legislation that this Parliament has passed. We are in danger of the assurances that have been given not being of much value when we do not have those assurances written into the legislation. I think it is pertinent to ask why the definitions that the Minister has now given us could not be included in the legislation so that the Office could interpret its authority from what is defined in the legislation and not be concerned about what the Government may have thought or intended when it used certain words in drafting the legislation.
I turn to the question of the Office not making any inquiry into the actions of individuals. I do not know how the Board will interpret its functions as to the assembling and correlation of information relating to international matters if the information relating to international matters is to be gained by assessing the actions of individuals. The Office may not feel inclined to assess the actions of individuals that are of political, strategic or economic significance to Australia. I would still like to know whether we could have a further interpretation of what is meant by ‘international matters that are of political significance to Australia’. Does that mean opposition to an existing or future government? The Minister told us that Mr Justice Hope referred to the appropriate authorities overseas and the Minister read from the report of Mr Justice Hope. Of course, that may not be restricted to overseas, as the Minister would seem to think, as there will be people in the relevant department who will have responsibility for handling certain information.
The term ‘prescribed Commonwealth officer’ is defined, but the legislation uses the words ‘appropriate persons’ and not the words ‘appropriate Commonwealth officers’. Therefore one would be forgiven for reading the legislation from which the Director-General may take his directions to mean an appropriate person in the literal sense. Let me give an illustration. Is it appropriate to report to the head of a particular trade union the elements of the trade union movement that Senator Sir Magnus Cormack found reporting to communist sources every day? It is reassuring to know that this is not an inquiry into clandestine operations in Australia; but, of course, that is not stated in the legislation. We have the assurance of the Minister about that. But if such operations come to the notice of the Director-General he may not have before him the second reading speech of the Minister or his reply to the debate, and the Director-General may look to his terms of reference in the legislation and find differently. The assurances we have been given have not been written into the legislation. I take it that the Minister’s assurances will be honoured while he is in office, but it might be a different story when an entirely different government is in office. The future holds many possibilities. We might have a National Democrat government under Mr Chipp or a Wentworth government, in a few years time.
– To be even more far fetched we might have a Labor government.
– A Labor government may place a different interpretation on the legislation from that of the Minister. The Minister has told us that he has been advised that the term appropriate person’ means a senior government adviser. Why not say so? The Minister says that it means a senior government adviser, but the Office will not be able to find that in the legislation and therefore will not know that. The Minister pointed out that under sub-clause (2) of clause 5 the Director-General shall endeavour to comply with a particular request- this is what I am getting at-but if he cannot comply with it he does not have to do so. The Director-General is not subject to direction in respect of sub-clause (2) as to any conclusions to be reached in any report or assessment under this legislation. The point I am making is that one would think that the Director-General would not be subject to any direction to report on information or to make an assessment of information, but we find that, subject to certain things, a Minister or prescribed officer can direct. Therefore sub-clause (4) suggests that he is subject to direction. Sub-clause (2) reads:
A Minister, or a prescribed Commonwealth officer, may, for the purpose of obtaining assistance in the formation of policies or plans by the Commonwealth Government, request the Director-General to prepare a report or make an assessment in accordance with paragraph ( 1 ) (a) and, where such a request is made, the Director-General shall endeavour to comply with the request.
Sub-clause (2) refers to a request, but if there is any power of direction sub-clause (4) does not make the Director-General independent. The Minister has given us an assurance in this regard. I think that the Director-General would not be under direction but again the legislation does not say so.
I acknowledge what the Minister has said about the composition of the Office not being the total composition. It is to be added to later. I accept that. But I should have thought that a security organisation that is making an assessment for the Government on international matters of political, strategic or economic significance to Australia would have power to examine every record possible and to obtain all information possible. But we see that there are certain Acts that prohibit that, such as the Income Tax Assessment Act and the Social Services Act. It may be alleged that someone who is in receipt of a social security payment is giving information to a foreign power on Australia’s defence and that he has a huge amount of money in the bank. If a strong allegation is made about that, the Director-General cannot verify it because of the secrecy of the Social Services Act. One would have thought that this legislation was of such importance that everything possible and every avenue of information would be available.
Senator Georges raised a point about the ability to give information on security matters.I have found that the Government not only will not give information on security matters but also will not give information on cablegrams from overseas that have come to the security section on the activities not of our branch but of someone overseas. The Government is using that as an excuse for not giving answers on anything that may even smell like it could be covered by security. I hope that this is not the same situation.
– Order! It being 1 1 p.m., in conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The Temporary Chairman having reported accordingly-
Rental Housing in Canberra -Assistance for Lone Fathers
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise this evening to draw the attention of the Senate to a very scandalous and unjust situation which now prevails in the Australian Capital Territory because of the recent decision of the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Staley) to introduce radical rent increases for all tenants of government houses in the Australian Capital Territory. Honourable senators may wonder why I choose this forum to raise this issue, which is indeed a local issue affecting only the people of the Australian Capital Territory. Mr President, I have to use the forum provided by the adjournment debate because there is no other forum in which these matters can be discussed. We have only one tier of government in the Australian Capital Territory. The Minister for the Capital Territory has failed to bring about a devolution of decision-making powers to a locally elected Legislative Assembly. The situation which we have at the moment, and which it seems we may have indefinitely, is that there is only one tier of government in the Australian Capital Territory and people in the Territory find that many decisions affecting their lives in the most basic ways are taken not by their elected representatives but by one person- the Minister for the Capital Territory, who of course is not answerable or accountable in any way to the residents of the Territory.
In the past the system of government rental housing, particularly in the Australian Capital Territory, was designed to allow people to rent modest dwellings at rents compatible with their incomes. Now this situation has been totally distorted. The Minister for the Capital Territory has used the rental housing system in the Australian Capital Territory simply as a revenue-raising tool, simply as a means of getting profits for the Fraser Government, for increasing revenue by raising rents, paying no attention to the ability of people to pay, the condition of the accommodation they are renting or indeed any other local consideration.
It has been a most scandalous and iniquitous decision by the Minister. Of course, it is not the first such decision. Rents have been increased several times since the Fraser Government came to power. Now many families and individuals renting accommodation from the Government in the Australian Capital Territory are faced with serious financial hardship. I have made many representations to the Minister on this matter, both for individual constituents facing hardship and in general, drawing his attention to the many inequalities and difficulties he has created. The Minister has not responded positively to any of my suggestions. For example, I wrote to him after receiving many representations from single parents, particularly single mothers, pointing out to him that the formula for working out a rental rebate took no account of the tenant’s dependants or the fact that single mothers had to pay up to $30 a week for child care for each child under school age before they could start living. Yesterday the Minister wrote back to me, refusing to recognise the particular needs of single parents who must pay for child care and refusing to recognise the anomalies that occur in that an individual is assessed for rental rebate in exactly the same way as a person with four or five dependent children. He refused to look at the anomalies in this situation and refused to take any action.
Similarly, in the Australian Capital Territory many people have become unemployed or selfemployed people have gone out of employment for a period of time because of illness, accident or something else. I have suggested to the Minister that he should consider applying a moratorium to the collection of rents from unemployed persons for the period that they are unemployed, with an agreement that those unemployed persons will repay the rent that accumulates during their period of unemployment at a reasonable rate once they return to employment. We have had no response from the Minister on that question.
Because I consider the situation of many tenants badly affected by the Minister’s decision to be quite desperate and because I have had no positive response from the Minister, or indeed from any Government supporter, I bring to the attention of the Senate tonight just a few extracts from letters I have received from constituents which illustrate the kind of problem that now prevails in Canberra. I do this in the hope that members and supporters of the Government might see the necessity of a change of policy. The first letter -
– Tell us how the rates compare.
– If Senator Archer will listen he will be able to make his own judgments about the comparison. The first letter is from a single mother who says:
I have a part time job working every morning. If I was on the pension the breakdown would be:
She then indicates that she would receive an income of $64 a week from the pension, would pay $15 in rent, $20 to run a car, leaving $29 a week for living expenses. She states that as it is, with her job and a part pension, she gets $100 a week income, pays $30 m rent, $20 in child care and $20 to run a car, which leaves her $30 a week on which to live. The letter continues:
So because of my job. I have $ I more to live on than just being solely on the pension! From this, I have to pay electricity, petrol, food, chemist, clothing . . . and incidentals. I do not agree that single people with no dependants should pay the same rate as those with dependants. I think it is deplorable that child-care costs are not tax deductible or in some way eased for those who need it.
That is the situation of the single mother. The situation of the family is similarly quite intolerable. The following is a letter from a person supporting a family:
I am writing to protest against an increase of rent of a government house which we occupy. We have been living in this house for over 17 years. The increase of the rent in the last few years has been crippling.
Over the years we have had to do our own maintenance and a lot of general repairs. Every time we write in for anything to be done, they never have the money or some excuse.
It is only quite a small house: 2 bedroom, kitchen, lounge. We have to go outside for the toilet; there is no mod cons at all.
I’m working to try and keep our heads above water. I am hoping there is something that can be done to help all of us. I think the government will have a lot of empty houses on their hands.
Indeed it has.
– Why do you not say what the rent is?
– It is a specific rental. I now read a letter from a bachelor concerning his rent on a bachelor flat:
As the tenant of a one-bedroom bachelor flat I have recently received notification from the Department of the Capital Territory that my rent is to be increased from $35 to $44. 10 a week.
This is for an unfurnished bachelor flat. The letter continues:
Whilst this increase does include a weekly rates payment of $3.10 I still feel that the rent is extremely high when compared to other Government dwellings such as two-bedroom flats and two and three-bedroom houses.
Furthermore, when the Fraser Government assumed office in 1975 they made it clear that they intended to increase the rent of Government dwellings to bring them into line with current market values. I would argue that in this case they have exceeded the current market value for onebedroom furnished flats . . .
I remind the Senate that the rent on this unfurnished, one-bedroom flat is now $44.10 a week. A cutting from the classified advertisements section of the Canberra Times is enclosed. It includes an advertisement on the commercial market of a bachelor flat in Lyons which is fully furnished and so on and so forth at $36 a week. That is evidence- indeed, there is plenty of other evidence- that not only has the Government pursued its shameful objectives of raising rents on government dwellings to commercial rates; it has exceeded commercial rates. It is acting in a more greedy and callous way than the worst type of private real estate agency.
I have another letter from a lone parent, a supporting mother, which states:
I am a ‘Lone Parent ‘ and with the exception of the doubtful rise in child endowment I depend entirely on my wages to bring up my son. But another big rip-off like the rents and the 50 per cent increase in rates and I’ll be better off on the pension, with the fringe benefits taken into account.
I have three ‘Lone Parent’ friends who weighed the pros and cons and left their jobs, because they were that much better off on the pension and they have the pleasure of bringing up their children and not having to pay the exorbitant money to somebody else to help them.
Just compare my take home pay now as against July 1976. In spite of the rises in gross pay and the high cost of living-I now take home $ 10 less.
The recent stiff rises in rent for my government flat has driven me close to despair. Why is your government determined to depress my already low living standard and why should my son be disadvantaged because my money is being continually eroded by Government action. Why cannot those on a low income be given some sort of rent concession? Must I join my friends on Welfare? I love to work and contribute something to the country, but your government’s actions are simply not making it worthwhile.
Another elderly single divorcee has written:
Originally, (five years ago) my rent was $6 per week, it increased to $21.30 per week and has now reached $29.40 per week. This is more than a 400 per cent increase in five years.
I am a temporary public servant, a single divorcee and I am approaching the age of retirement. No doubt in a few years my rent will decrease when I go on the pension but in the meantime, I am finding it increasingly difficult, not only to pay my rent but to meet day to day costs (food /clothing/ medical expenses etc).
Why has the Government adopted this deliberate policy to disadvantage people in the lower income bracket?
Indeed, I cannot answer that question. Other complaints have come to me in personal representations. One relates to a supporting mother who has lost two homes because of a drunken husband. She is now deserted and without any money. She has been struggling to make a home for herself and her 17-year-old daughter. She bought some furniture on hire purchase three and a half years ago when her rent was $48 a month. The rent is now $150 a month and she has to make hire purchase payments of $100 a month. She is in a position where she is going to lose the furniture she bought for the home she is trying to make for her child.
Another single parent, this time a male, complains that he has been in a house for 16 months, during which time no maintenance or repairs have been done. He has to pay $30 a week for after-school minding for his children and in school holidays $40 a week. His rent is now up to $70.80 a fortnight and his gross salary is $147 a week, which makes him ineligible for a rental rebate under the present system. Honourable senators can imagine the hardship facing that person. Another family has complained that they have been in a house for seven years and the rent was recently raised from $10 a fortnight to $70.80 a fortnight. The tenants have spent hundreds of dollars on improvements on the bathroom, the hot water supply and so on, but there is no recognition of the improvements they have made. I add that there are no paths laid around the house, there is no inside lavatory, and the house is a 50-year-old weatherboard for which the Department of the Capital Territory is now charging $70.80 a fortnight. I think that is quite indefensible.
I will not take up any more of the Senate’s time by reading other letters. Senator Knight has just come into the chamber and I have no doubt that he has received hundreds of letters to the same effect. The situation cannot be allowed to prevail. The rental rebate scheme, which is meant to operate to assist low income families, is simply not operating. Virtually no wage earner can get a rental rebate. Pensioners can do so, but virtually no wage earner can obtain a rebate because no allowance is made for dependent children or child care fees. In the Budget which has just been brought down there is an allocation of $3m for the entire rent rebate scheme and it is expected that there will be 2,300 recipients of rental rebates in the forthcoming year. The amount of $3m allocated to the rent rebate scheme for low income families is hopelessly inadequate. If we look at the estimated revenue from this profit-making exercise of renting government accommodation we find that the estimated revenue for the forthcoming financial year is $2 lm.
– Don’t talk rubbish.
– I am quoting from documents prepared by officers of your Minister’s Department, Senator. You do not need to express disbelief. The estimated revenue for this year is $21m, whereas last year’s revenue amounted to $15,594,607. That is an absolute increase of $5,405,393, or 34.7 per cent. That is pure profit made by the Housing Branch of the Department of the Capital Territory. It is running a profit making operation which is designed simply to extract as much money as possible from tenants, regardless of their ability to pay.
I raise this matter tonight because it is of great urgency. A number of very severe social problems arise out of this situation because families, individuals or single parents are being charged rents they simply cannot afford to pay. As I have said, the Minister has been totally unresponsive to any positive suggestions I have made. It seems to me that what has happened is that the Minister sees the government housing scheme in the Australian Capital Territory merely as a means of raising revenue for the Government. He has taken no account of the age of the dwelling, of the state of repair of the dwelling, of the ability of people to pay and of the length of time they have been tenants. Some of these people have been tenants for 20 years. Of course, the Minister takes no account of the overall economic situation which now prevails in the Australian Capital Territory because of the Government’s policy. The situation is one of high unemployment, of loss of income of self employed persons, of loss of profits for people in business and so forth. The situation is scandalous.
There is no way that the locally elected body, the Legislative Assembly, can affect the situation because it has been given no powers to do so. There is only one tier of government here. As a representative in that tier of government I feel obliged to raise the matter tonight, in the hope- I am not terribly optimistic judging from some of the comments which have been made as I have been speaking- that supporters of the Government and Senator Webster, who represents the Minister for the Capital Territory, will pay some attention to what is happening to families and individuals because of this iniquitous system. I hope supporters of the Government will prevail on the Minister for the Capital Territory to conduct a rational review of rental accommodation in the Australian Capital Territory with the objective of getting it back to the system which existed under a succession of coalition governments and under an Australian Labor Party government. Government rental accommodation was a means of providing modest accommodation for people on modest incomes without charging them beyond their means. That is what government housing in the Australian Capital Territory is for. At the moment government housing is being run like a racketeer real estate agency business. It is a scandal. I call on the Minister and on any supporters of the Government who might feel inclined to support me to press for a review of the situation and for a return to a just and equitable rental system.
– I undertook recently to present a petition to the Senate from a group of lone parents, particularly lone fathers who were demonstrating outside Parliament House. Because of the form in which the petition was prepared I was unable to present it to Parliament, so I would like to take the opportunity of the adjournment debate to read the material which it had been intended to present to the Senate in the form of a petition at the normal time. The petition read:
We the lone fathers of Australia petition the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, to have legislation passed giving assistance to fathers who have custody of and are sole supporters of their dependent children.
Pension for those supporting fathers who need them comparable to the Supporting Mothers Benefit.
Government assisted paid housekeepers.
More government funded child-care facilities.
Tax concessions for child minding expenses.
Equal rights with women when claiming custody of their children.
The petition as given to me was signed by 64 people, most of whom are from the Australian Capital Territory, but a number are from Melbourne. It is worth noting that at present the assistance available for lone fathers is not the same as that available to lone mothers. It is not analagous to the class A widows pension or the supporting mothers benefit. There are discretionary provisions under section 124 of the Social Services Act for the provision of special benefits, but that is short term, for example, for school holidays or in times of illness if assistance is not readily available from other sources.
– It is very rarely granted.
-Indeed. It is still lower, even when it is granted, than the Class A widow’s pension or the supporting mother’s benefit as special beneficiaries are not entitled, for example, to receive a mother’s or a guardian’s allowance. There is, in addition, a more stringent income test for the special benefit which is provided under section 124 of the Social Services Act. The problems involved with this are well illustrated when it is remembered that the lone mother can earn $26 a week, in addition to the benefits that are available with a reduction of 50c for each additional dollar earned over the $26 limit, whereas the lone father can earn only $6 and beyond the $6 point there is a dollar for dollar reduction.
I think it has to be recognised that sole parents, lone parents in large numbers, often with young children, represent a relatively new phenomenon in our society, but an increasingly prevalent one, to which governments have to give increasing attention and that adequate benefits have to be provided for these people. Lone fathers face some special disabilities. On the basis of the petition I have read out, there is a need for an inquiry into the needs and rights of lone fathers. There is need particularly for an examination of the possibility of establishing a single and equal lone parent’s pension. The general problems referred to in the petition presented by the lone parents who demonstrated outside Parliament, but particularly the lone fathers involved, ought to be examined in the general context of the problems faced in our society by lone parents.
– On behalf of two other Ministers, one of whom I represent and the other being the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle), I acknowledge the points that have been raised by both honourable senators. Senator Knight has mentioned matters that concern the Minister for Social Security. The matter of lone parents has been the subject of comment by that Minister. I shall bring to her attention the matters he has raised.
In relation to the matters raised by Senator Ryan for which the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Staley) is responsible, I acknowledge the honourable senator’s interest. Undoubtedly when rents are raised in any State or Territory, whether that increase be for privately owned dwellings or government owned instrumentalities, there is generally opposition to the increases. In my own State of Victoria, the Government, because of an assessment of the capital value of its investment, has required rents generally to be raised. Senator Ryan mentioned some unduly large increases. If I noted her correctly, she instanced a case where the rent had risen from $10 a fortnight to over $70 a fortnight. That seems to be quite a high escalation. I am sure that when I draw to the attention of the Minister for the Capital Territory instances such as this, he will react accordingly.
The matter can be looked at from one or two points of view. I think the honourable senator suggested that in the case she cited the property was an old weatherboard house. My understanding is that in the Territory general rates, water rates and sewerage rates are included in the charge. One could assess the honourable senator’s statement in relation to that by saying that there was a charge of $35 a week for a weatherboard house. I do not know the dimensions of the house but for what is purported to be an old weatherboard house, the average citizen would probably pay in the vicinity of $500 or $600 a year for the three particular services I have mentioned. In any of the States the rent paid in such a case would probably be $20 to $25 a week, which may not seem unduly high. All of those matters which the honourable senator drew to my attention will form the basis of an assessment by the Minister. I shall ensure that he does take some notice of them.
The honourable senator mentioned what was perhaps a racket in rent increases which brought $21m a year to the Government from the Australian Capital Territory. It always bothers me when an honourable senator cites a figure but does not cite the amount of capital investment upon which the return is made. I am quite sure that Senator Ryan, with her background and her experience in business, would be anxious to equate the capital cost of the public’s investment in government housing in the Territory with the value of rent income in order to see whether it does provide a reasonable return to the public. I am sure that houses in the Territory are built originally for the purpose not only of encouraging people to come to the Territory but also of providing them with accommodation at very low rentals. As a matter of fact, I well recall that, during the time that I have been a senator in this place, Mr Whitlam when earning an income equivalent to that of a Minister- this was in the late 1960s, as Leader of the Opposition- was paying $15 a week for the place at which he stayed. It always concerned me greatly that that should have occurred. Perhaps that fact came to light before the honourable senator entered this place.
- Mr Whitlam was not the only one.
-Many others received the same benefit. It is quite uncommon for people who earn an extremely high income to get accommodation at low rentals and, indeed, to take advantage of rentals as low as the figure I mentioned. However, my understanding is that, at the end of September, the Minister for the Capital Territory indicated that there was to be a $6 a week increase in rentals generally in the Territory. That may have resulted in some inconsistencies in rental returns. I shall refer the honourable senator’s comments to him. If a decision is forthcoming I shall certainly bring it to the attention of the Senate. I certainly hope that the Department of the Capital Territory will look very carefully at the instances of inconsistencies in rent requirements which the honourable senator has mentioned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.28 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Science the following question, upon notice, on 23 March 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 30 March 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
A similar survey conducted in July indicated a success rate of 48 per cent at the first attempt and 72 per cent following repeated calls up to 5.
At present overtime is being worked at a considerably reduced level. In the four weeks ended 30 September a total of 70 hours overtime was worked in the Melbourne office by 12 officers, in the U & S B Section.
Positive steps have been taken to minimise the risk of assault wherever possible and officers have been advised that the Department will suppOrt any legal action taken in cases of assault on staff members. Legal action has been instituted by the Depanment in two instances through the Commonwealth Police.
Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Section was disadvantaged by inadequate accommodation. Significant improvements have been achieved in upgrading the level of existing accommodation, and in the past three months the Department has relocated portion of the U & S B staff to two regional offices in the Melbourne metropolitan area. One further office will be opened in the next few months, providing better accommodation and a better level of client service.
The Depanment has recently completed a wide review of the structure, workload and operations of its benefits areas and a joint review (with the Public Service Board) of the Department has recently been announced. Further action will be considered when the report of the review team is received.
Projects Funded by the Commonwealth: Erection of Plaques (Question No. 531)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 20 April 1 977:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer the honourable senator to the answer provided by the Prime Minister to his Question No. S 1 3 (Senate Hansard, 26 May 1977, page 1519).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 28 April 1977:
Has there been considerable correspondence between the Professional Radio and Electronics Institute and the Government concerning staff shortages in the Radio Frequency Management Division of the Department of Post and Telecommunications; if so, will the Minister indicate what action is proposed to alleviate the situation, particularly in the Darwin region where the Regulatory and Licensing Section is unable to carry out its function.
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Science, upon notice, on 17 August 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 7 September 1977:
-The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 7 September 1977:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 1 5 September 1 977:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s question:
Australian Broadcasting Commission: News and Current Affairs Programs
– On 25 August 1977 Senator Colston asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, the following question without notice:
The Minister may recall that last year I raised the matter of rescheduling of radio news services and current affairs programs on the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Queensland while other eastern States operated under daylight saving time. Unfortunately, despite my representations, radio news programs from the Commission were still presented at unacceptable times for Queensland residents. Presuming that the same time difference will again occur in future months, I ask the Minister whether he can use his influence to see that Queensland residents are not disadvantaged and discriminated against this year as they were last year.
The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The ABC will attempt to provide the necessary additional staff in Queensland for the period of daylight saving in other
States in 1977-78 so that the majority of its radio news and current affairs programs may be broadcast in Queensland at their usual local dme. Of necessity the possibilities for retaining broadcasts at the same local time as at present will be limited by the broadcasting of Parliamentary proceedings from 4AQR Brisbane.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 October 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1977/19771012_senate_30_s75/>.